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Consolatione Philosophiae', by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Title: Chaucer's Translation of Boethius's 'De Consolatione Philosophiae'

Author: Geoffrey Chaucer

Editor: Richard Morris

Release Date: February 12, 2013 [EBook #42083]

Language: English

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ἕπου Θεῷ

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Index of First Lines
Tabula Libri Boicii (”Table of Contents”)
Chaucer’s Translation (with all notes)
Appendix (verse)
Translation (text only)
Glossarial Index

Chaucer’s Translation of Boethius’s “De Consolatione Philosophiæ”

Extra Series, No. 5

(Reprinted 1889, 1894, 1895, etc., 1969)

Price 40s.


Chaucer’s Translation of Boethius’s “De Consolatione Philosophiæ”





Published for
by the


REPRINTED 1889, 1894, 1895, ETC.,
AND 1969


Extra Series, No. 5




When master hands like those of Gibbon and Hallam have sketched the life of Boethius, it is well that no meaner man should attempt to mar their pictures. They drew, perhaps, the most touching scene in Middle-age literary history,—the just man in prison, awaiting death, consoled by the Philosophy that had been his light in life, and handing down to posterity for their comfort and strength the presence of her whose silver rays had been his guide as well under the stars of Fortune as the mirk of Fate. With Milton in his dark days, Boece in prison could say,—

‘I argue not

Against Heaven’s hand or will, nor bate a jot

Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer

Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?

The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied

In liberty’s defence, my noble task,

Of which all Europe rings from side to side.’

For, indeed, the echoes of Boethius, Boethius, rang out loud from every corner of European Literature. An Alfred awoke them in England, a Chaucer, a Caxton would not let them die; an Elizabeth revived them among the glorious music of her reign.1 To us, though far off, they come with a sweet sound. ‘The angelic’ Thomas Aquinas commented on him, and many others followed the saint’s steps. Dante read him, though, strange to say, he speaks of the ii Consolation as ‘a book not known by many.’2 Belgium had her translations—both Flemish3 and French4; Germany hers,5 France hers,6 Italy hers.7 The Latin editors are too numerous to be catalogued here, and manuscripts abound in all our great libraries.

No philosopher was so bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of Middle-age writers as Boethius. Take up what writer you will, and you find not only the sentiments, but the very words of the distinguished old Roman. And surely we who read him in Chaucer’s tongue, will not refuse to say that his full-circling meed of glory was other than deserved. Nor can we marvel that at the end of our great poet’s life, he was glad that he had swelled the chorus of Boethius’ praise; and ‘of the translacioun of Boece de Consolacioun,’ thanked ‘oure Lord Ihesu Crist and his moder, and alle the seintes in heuen.’

The impression made by Boethius on Chaucer was evidently very deep. Not only did he translate him directly, as in the present work, but he read his beloved original over and over again, as witness the following list, incomplete of course, of passages from Chaucer’s poems translated more or less literally from the De Consolatione:


Wost thou nat wel the olde clerkes sawe,

That who schal yeve a lover eny lawe,

Love is a grettere lawe, by my pan,

Then may be yeve to (of) eny erthly man?

(Knightes Tale, Aldine Series, vol. ii. p. 36, 37.)

But what is he þat may ȝeue a lawe to loueres. loue is a gretter lawe and a strengere to hym self þan any lawe þat men may ȝeuen.

(Chaucer’s Prose Translation, p. 108.)

Quis legem det amantibus?

Major lex amor est sibi.

(Boeth., lib. iii. met. 12.)



A dronke man wot wel he hath an hous,

But he not8 which the righte wey is thider.

(Knightes Tale, vol. ii. p. 39.)

Ryȝt as a dronke man not nat9 by whiche paþe he may retourne home to hys house.

(Chaucer’s Trans., p. 67.)

Sed velut ebrius, domum quo tramite revertatur, ignorat.

(Boeth., lib. iii. pr. 2.)


The firste moevere of the cause above,

Whan he first made the fayre cheyne of love,

Gret was theffect, and heigh was his entente;

Wel wist he why, and what therof he mente;

For with that faire cheyne of love he bond

The fyr, the watir, the eyr, and eek the lond

In certeyn boundes, that they may not flee.

(Knightes Tale, p. 92.)

That þe world with stable feith / varieth acordable chaungynges // þat the contraryos qualite of elementȝ holden amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / þat phebus the sonne with his goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the rosene day / þat the mone hath commaundement ouer the nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the eue sterre hat[h] browt // þat þe se gredy to flowen constreyneth with a certeyn ende hise floodes / so þat it is nat l[e]ueful to strechche hise brode termes or bowndes vp-on the erthes // þat is to seyn to couere alle the erthe // Al this a-cordaunce of thinges is bownden with looue / þat gouerneth erthe and see / and [he] hath also commaundementȝ to the heuenes / and yif this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges þat now louen hem to-gederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely and stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde / the which they now leden in acordable feith by fayre moeuynges // this looue halt to-gideres poeples / ioygned with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of maryages of chaste looues // And loue enditeth lawes to trewe felawes // O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke loue þat gouerneth heuene gouerned yowre corages /.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, bk. ii. met. 8.)

Quod mundus stabili fide

Concordes variat vices,

Quod pugnantia semina

Fœdus perpetuum tenent,

Quod Phœbus roseum diem

Curru provehit aureo,

Ut quas duxerit Hesperus


Phœbe noctibus imperet,

Ut fluctus avidum mare

Certo fine coerceat,

Ne terris liceat vagis

Latos tundere terminos;

Hanc rerum seriem ligat,

Terras ac pelagus regens,

Et cœlo imperitans amor.

Hic si fræna remiserit,

Quicquid nunc amat invicem,

Bellum continuo geret:

Et quam nunc socia fide

Pulcris motibus incitant,

Certent solvere machinam.

Hic sancto populos quoque

Junctos fœdere continet,

Hic et conjugii sacrum

Castis nectit amoribus,

Hic fidis etiam sua

Dictat jura sodalibus.

O felix hominum genus,

Si vestros animos amor,

Quo cælum regitur, regat.

(Boeth., lib. ii. met. 8.)

Love, that of erth and se hath governaunce!

Love, that his hestes hath in hevene hye!

Love, that with an holsom alliaunce

Halt peples joyned, as hym liste hem gye!

Love, that knetteth law and compaignye,

And couples doth in vertu for to dwelle!

(Troylus & Cryseyde, st. 243, vol. iv. p. 296.)

That, that the world with faith, which that is stable

Dyverseth so, his stoundes concordynge;—

That elementz, that ben so discordable,

Holden a bond, perpetualy durynge;—

That Phebus mot his rosy carte forth brynge,

And that the mone hath lordschip overe the nyghte;—

Al this doth Love, ay heryed be his myght!

That, that the se, that gredy is to flowen,

Constreyneth to a certeyn ende so

Hise flodes, that so fiersly they ne growen

To drenchen erth and alle for everemo;

And if that Love aught lete his brydel go,

Al that now loveth asonder sholde lepe,

And lost were al that Love halt now to kepe.

(Ibid. st. 244, 245.)



That same prynce and moevere eek, quod he,

Hath stabled, in this wrecched world adoun,

Certeyn dayes and duracioun

To alle that er engendrid in this place,

Over the whiche day they may nat pace,

Al mowe they yit wel here dayes abregge;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Than may men wel by this ordre discerne

That thilke moevere stabul is and eterne.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And therfore of his wyse purveaunce

He hath so wel biset his ordenaunce,

That spices of thinges and progressiouns

Schullen endure by successiouns

And nat eterne be, withoute any lye.

(Knightes Tale, vol. ii. p. 92, 93.)

Þe engendrynge of alle þinges quod she and alle þe progressiouns of muuable nature. and alle þat moeueþ in any manere takiþ hys causes. hys ordre. and hys formes. of þe stablenesse of þe deuyne þouȝt [and thilke deuyne thowht] þat is yset and put in þe toure. þat is to seyne in þe heyȝt of þe simplicite of god. stablisiþ many manere gyses to þinges þat ben to don.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, bk. iv. pr. 6, p. 134.)


Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool,

That every partye dyryveth from his hool.

For nature hath nat take his bygynnyng

Of no partye ne cantel of a thing,

But of a thing that parfyt is and stable,

Descendyng so, til it be corumpable.

(Knightes Tale, vol. ii. p. 92.)

For al þing þat is cleped inperfit . is proued inperfit by þe amenusynge of perfeccioun . or of þing þat is perfit . and her-of comeþ it . þat in euery þing general . yif þat . þat men seen any þing þat is inperfit . certys in þilke general þer mot ben somme þing þat is perfit. For yif so be þat perfeccioun is don awey . men may nat þinke nor seye fro whennes þilke þing is þat is cleped inperfit . For þe nature of þinges ne token nat her bygynnyng of þinges amenused and inperfit . but it procediþ of þingus þat ben al hool . and absolut . and descendeþ so doune in-to outerest þinges and in-to þingus empty and wiþ-oute fruyt . vi but as I haue shewed a litel her byforne . þat yif þer be a blisfulnesse þat be frele and vein and inperfit . þer may no man doute . þat þer nys som blisfulnesse þat is sad stedfast and perfit.’

(bk. iii. pr. 10, p. 89.)

Omne enim quod imperfectum esse dicitur, id deminutione perfecti imperfectum esse perhibetur. Quo fit ut si in quolibet genere imperfectum quid esse videatur, in eo perfectum quoque aliquod esse necesse sit. Etenim perfectione sublata, unde illud, quod imperfectum perhibetur, extiterit, ne fingi quidem potest. Neque enim ab diminutis inconsummatisque natura rerum cepit exordium, sed ab integris absolutisque procedens in hæc extrema atque effœta dilabitur. Quod si, uti paulo ante monstravimus, est quædam boni fragilis imperfecta felicitas, esse aliquam solidam perfectamque non potest dubitari.

(Boeth., lib. iii. pr. 10.)


For gentilnesse nys but renomé

Of thin auncestres, for her heigh bounté

Which is a straunge thing to thy persone.

(The Wyf of Bathes Tale, vol. ii. p. 241.)

For if þe name of gentilesse be referred to renoun and clernesse of linage. þan is gentil name but a foreine þing.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 78.)

Quæ [nobilitas], si ad claritudinem refertur, aliena est.

(Boethius, lib. iii. pr. 6.)


No teer out of his eyen for that sighte

Ne cam; but sayde, a fair womman was sche.

Gret wonder is how that he couthe or mighte

Be domesman on hir dede beauté.

(The Monkes Tale, vol. iii. p. 217.)

Ne no tere ne wette his face, but he was so hard-herted þat he myȝte ben domesman or iuge of hire dede beauté.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 55.)

Ora non tinxit lacrymis, sed esse

Censor extincti potuit decoris.

(Boethius, lib. ii. met. 6.)


In ‘Troylus and Cryseyde’ we find the following long passage taken from Boethius, book v. prose 2, 3.

Book iv. st. 134, vol. iv. p. 339.


Syn God seth every thynge, out of doutaunce,

And hem disponeth, thorugh his ordinaunce,


In hire merites sothely for to be,

As they shul comen by predesteyné



For som men seyn if God seth al byforne,

Ne God may not deseyved ben pardé!

Than moot it fallen, theigh men hadde it sworne,

That purveyaunce hath seyn befor to be,

Wherfor I seye, that, from eterne, if he

Hathe wiste byforn our thought ek as oure dede,

We have no fre choys, as thise clerkes rede.



For other thoughte, nor other dede also,

Myghte nevere ben, but swich as purveyaunce,

Which may nat ben deceyved nevere moo,

Hath feled byforne, withouten ignoraunce;

For if ther myghte ben a variaunce,

To wrythen out fro Goddes purveyinge,

Ther nere no prescience of thynge comynge;



But it were rather an opinyon

Uncertein, and no stedfast forseynge;

And certes that were an abusyon

That God shold han no parfit clere wetynge,

More than we men, that han douteous wenynge,

But swich an erroure upon God to gesse

Were fals, and foule, and wikked corsednesse.



They seyn right thus, that thynge is nat to come,

For that the prescience hath seyne byfore

That it shal come; but they seyn that therfore

That it shal come, therfor the purveyaunce

Woot it bifore, withouten ignorance.



And in this manere this necessité

Retourneth in his part contrarye agayn;

For nedfully byhoveth it not to be,

That thilke thynges fallen in certeyn

That ben purveyed; but nedly, as they seyne,

Bihoveth it that thynges, which that falle,

That thei in certein ben purveied alle.



I mene as though I labourede me in this,

To enqueren which thynge cause of whiche thynge be;


As, whether that the prescience of God is

The certein cause of the necessité

Of thynges that to comen ben, pardé!

Or, if necessité of thynge comynge

Be cause certein of the purveyinge.



But now nenforce I me nat in shewynge

How the ordre of causes stant; but wel woot I

That it bihoveth that the bifallynge

Of thynges, wiste bifor certeinly,

Be necessarie, al seme it nat therby

That prescience put fallynge necessaire

To thynge to come, al falle it foule or faire.



For, if ther sit a man yonde on a see, [seat]

Than by necessité bihoveth it,

That certes thyn opinioun soth be,

That wenest or conjectest that he sit;

And, further over, now ayeinwarde yit,

Lo right so is it on the part contrarie,

As thus,—nowe herkene, for I wol nat tarie:—



I sey, that if the opinion of the

Be soth for that he sit, than seye I this,

That he moot sitten by necessité;

And thus necessité in either is,

For in hym nede of sittynge is, ywis,

And in the, nede of soth; and thus forsoth

Ther mot necessité ben in yow bothe.



But thow maist seyne, the man sit nat therfore,

That thyn opinioun of his sittynge sothe is;

But rather, for the man sat there byfore,

Therfor is thyn opinioun soth, ywys;

And I seye, though the cause of soth of this

Cometh of his sittynge, yet necessité

Is interchaunged both in hym and the.



Thus in the same wyse, out of doutaunce,

I may wel maken, as it semeth me,

My resonynge of Goddes purveiaunce,

And of the thynges that to comen be; . . .



For although that for thynge shal come, ywys,

Therfor it is purveyed certeynly,

Nat that it cometh for it purveied is;

Yet, natheles, bihoveth it nedfully,

That thynge to come be purveied trewly;

Or elles thynges that purveied be.

That they bitiden by necessité.



And this sufficeth right ynough, certeyn,

For to distruye oure fre choys everydele.

(1) Quæ tamen ille ab æterno cuncta prospiciens providentiæ cernit intuitus, et suis quæque meritis prædestinata disponit. . . . . (Boethius, lib. v. pr. 2.)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(2) Nam si cuncta prospicit Deus neque falli ullo modo potest, evenire necesse est, quod providentia futurum esse præviderit. Quare si ab æterno non facta hominum modo, sed etiam consilia voluntatesque prænoscit, nulla erit arbitrii libertas;

(3) Neque enim vel factum aliud ullum vel quælibet existere poterit voluntas, nisi quam nescia falli providentia divina præsenserit. Nam si res aliorsum, quam provisæ sunt detorqueri valent, non jam erit futuri firma præscientia;

(4) Sed opinio potius incerta; quod de Deo nefas credere judico.

(5) Aiunt enim non ideo quid esse eventurum quoniam id providentia futurum esse prospexerit; sed e contrario potius, quoniam quid futurum est, id divinam providentiam latere non possit.

(6) Eoque modo necessarium est hoc in contrariam relabi partem; neque enim necesse est contingere quæ providentur, sed necesse est quæ futura sunt provideri.

(7) Quasi vero quæ cujusque rei causa sit,

(8) Præscientiane futurorum necessitatis an futurorum necessitas providentiæ, laboretur.

(9) At nos illud demonstrare nitamur, quoquo modo sese habeat ordo causarum, necessarium esse eventum præscitarum rerum, etiam si præscientia futuris rebus eveniendi necessitatem non videatur inferre.

(10) Etenim si quispiam sedeat, opinionem quæ eum sedere conjectat veram esse necesse est: at e converso rursus, x

(11) Si de quopiam vera sit opinio quoniam sedet eum sedere necesse est. In utroque igitur necessitas inest: in hoc quidem sedendi, at vero in altero veritatis.

(12) Sed non idcirco quisque sedet, quoniam vera est opinio: sed hæc potius vera est, quoniam quempiam sedere præcessit. Ita cum causa veritatis ex altera parte procedat, inest tamen communis in utraque necessitas.

(13) Similia de providentia futurisque rebus ratiocinari patet.

(14) Nam etiam si idcirco, quoniam futura sunt, providentur: non vero ideo, quoniam providentur, eveniunt: nihilo minus tamen a Deo vel ventura provideri, vel provisa evenire necesse est:

(15) Quod ad perimendam arbitrii libertatem solum satis est.

(lib. v. pr. 3.)

See Chaucer’s Boethius, pp. 154-6.


For, of fortunes scharp adversité,

The worste kynde of infortune is this,

A man to han ben in prosperité,

And it remembren, when it passed is.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, bk. iii. st. 226, vol. iv. p. 291.)

Sed hoc est, quod recolentem me vehementius coquit. Nam in omni adversitate fortunæ infelicissimum genus est infortunii, fuisse felicem.10

(Boethius, lib. ii. pr. 4.)


————Syciphus in Helle,

Whos stomak fowles tyren everemo,

That hyghten volturis.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, book i. st. 113, p. 140.)

Þe fowel þat hyȝt voltor þat etiþ þe stomak or þe giser of ticius.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 107.)


For if hire (Fortune’s) whiel stynte any thinge to torne

Thanne cessed she Fortune anon to be.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, bk. i. st. 122, p. 142.)

If fortune bygan to dwelle stable. she cesed[e] þan to ben fortune.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 32.)


(Compare stanzas 120, 121, p. 142, and stanza 136, p. 146, of ‘Troylus and Cryseyde’ with pp. 31, 33, 35, and p. 34 of Chaucer’s Boethius.)

At omnium mortalium stolidissime, si manere incipit, fors esse desistit.

(Boethius, lib. ii. prose 1.)


. . . . . . . . . . . .

Imedled is with many a bitternesse.

Ful angwyshous than is, God woote, quod she,

Condicion of veyn prosperité!

For oyther joies comen nought yfeere,

Or elles no wight hath hem alwey here.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, bk. iii. st. 110, p. 258.)

Þe swetnesse of mannes welefulnesse is yspranid wiþ many[e] bitternesses.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 42.)

—ful anguissous þing is þe condicioun of mans goodes. For eyþer it comeþ al to-gidre to a wyȝt. or ellys it lasteþ not perpetuely.

(Ib. p. 41.)

Quam multis amaritudinibus humanæ felicitatis dulcedo respersa est!

(Boethius, lib. ii. prose 4.)

Anxia enim res est humanorum conditio bonorum, et quæ vel nunquam tota proveniat, vel nunquam perpetua subsistat.


O, brotel wele of mannes joie unstable!

With what wight so thow be, or how thow pleye,

Oither he woot that thow joie art muable,

Or woot it nought, it mot ben on of tweyen:

Now if he woot it not, how may he seyen

That he hath veray joie and selynesse,

That is of ignoraunce ay in distresse?

Now if he woote that joie is transitorie,

As every joie of worldly thynge mot fle,

Thanne every tyme he that hath in memorie,

The drede of lesyng maketh hym that he

May in no parfyte selynesse be:

And if to lese his joie, he sette not a myte,

Than semeth it, that joie is worth ful lite.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, bk. iii. st. 111, 112, vol. iv. p. 258.)

(1) What man þat þis toumblyng welefulnesse leediþ, eiþer he woot þat [it] is chaungeable. or ellis he woot it nat. And yif he woot it not. what blisful fortune may þer be in þe blyndenesse of ignoraunce.

(2) And yif he woot þat it is chaungeable. he mot alwey ben adrad þat he ne lese þat þing. þat he ne douteþ nat but þat he may leesen it. xii  . . . . For whiche þe continuel drede þat he haþ ne suffriþ hym nat to ben weleful. Or ellys yif he leese it he wene[þ] to be dispised and forleten hit. Certis eke þat is a ful lytel goode þat is born wiþ euene hert[e] whan it is loost.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, pp. 43, 44.)

(1) Quem caduca ista felicitas vehit, vel scit eam, vel nescit esse mutabilem. Si nescit, quænam beata sors esse potest ignorantiæ in cæcitate?

(2) Si scit, metuat necesse est, ne amittat, quod amitti posse non dubitat; quare continuus timor non sinit esse felicem. An vel si amiserit, negligendum putat? Sic quoque perexile bonum est, quod æquo animo feratur amissum.

(Boethius, lib. ii. prose 4.)



That semeth trewest when she wol bigyle,

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

And, when a wight is from hire whiel ithrowe,

Than laugheth she, and maketh hym the mowe.

(Troylus and Cryseyde, bk. iii. st. 254, vol. iv. p. 299.)

She (Fortune) vseþ ful flatryng familarité wiþ hem þat she enforceþ to bygyle.

(Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 30.)

. . . . . . . She lauȝeþ and scorneþ þe wepyng of hem þe whiche she haþ maked wepe wiþ hir free wille  . . . . . . . Yif þat a wyȝt is seyn weleful and ouerþrowe in an houre.

(Ib. p. 33.)

In book v., stanza 260, vol. v. p. 75, Chaucer describes how the soul of Hector, after his death, ascended ‘up to the holughnesse of the seventhe spere.’ In so doing he seems to have had before him met. 1, book 4, of Boethius, where the ‘soul’ is described as passing into the heaven’s utmost sphere, and looking down on the world below. See Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 110, 111.

Ætas Prima is of course a metrical version of lib. ii. met. 5.

Hampole speaks of the wonderful sight of the Lynx; perhaps he was indebted to Boethius for the hint.—(See Boethius, book 3, pr. 8, p. 81.)

I have seen the following elsewhere:

(1) Value not beauty, for it may be destroyed by a three days’ fever.

(See Chaucer’s Boethius, p. 81.)

(2) There is no greater plague than the enmity of thy familiar friend.

(See Chaucer’s translation, p. 77.)


Chaucer did not English Boethius second-hand, through any early French version, as some have supposed, but made his translation with the Latin original before him.

Jean de Méung’s version, the only early French translation, perhaps, accessible to Chaucer, is not always literal, while the present translation is seldom free or periphrastic, but conforms closely to the Latin, and is at times awkwardly literal. A few passages, taken haphazard, will make this sufficiently clear.

Et dolor ætatem jussit inesse suam. And sorou haþ comaunded his age to be in me (p. 4).

Et ma douleur commanda a vieillesse

Entrer en moy / ains quen fust hors ieunesse.

Mors hominum felix, quæ se nec dulcibus annis

Inserit, et mæstis sæpe vocata venit.

Þilke deeþ of men is welful þat ne comeþ not in ȝeres þat ben swete (i. mirie). but comeþ to wrecches often yclepid. (p. 4)

On dit la mort des homes estre eureuse

Qui ne vient pas en saison plantureuse

Mais des tristes moult souuent appellee

Elle y affuit nue / seche et pelee.

Querimoniam lacrymabilem. Wepli compleynte (p. 5). Fr. ma complainte moy esmouuant a pleurs.

Styli officio. Wiþ office of poyntel (p. 5). Fr. (que ie reduisse) par escript.

Inexhaustus. Swiche . . . þat it ne myȝt[e] not be emptid (p. 5). Fr. inconsumptible.

Scenicas meretriculas. Comune strumpetis of siche a place þat men clepen þe theatre (p. 6). Fr. ces ribaudelles fardees.

Præcipiti profundo. In ouer-þrowyng depnesse (p. 7).

[L]As que la pensee de lomme

Est troublee et plongie comme

En abisme precipitee

Sa propre lumiere gastee.

Nec pervetusta nec incelebris. Neyþer ouer-oolde ne vnsolempne (p. 11). Fr. desquelz la memoire nest pas trop ancienne ou non recitee.

Inter secreta otia. Among my secre restyng whiles (p. 14). Fr. entre mes secrettes et oyseuses estudes.

Palatini canes. Þe houndys of þe palays (p. 15). Fr. les chiens du palais.


Masculæ prolis. Of þi masculyn children (p. 37). Fr. de ta lignie masculine.

Ad singularem felicitatis tuæ cumulum venire delectat. It deliteþ me to comen now to þe singuler vphepyng of þi welefulnesse (p. 37). Fr. Il me plait venir au singulier monceau de ta felicite.

Consulare imperium. Emperie of consulers (p. 51). Fr. lempire consulaire.

Hoc ipsum brevis habitaculi. Of þilke litel habitacle (p. 57). Fr. de cest trespetit habitacle.

Late patentes plagas. Þe brode shewyng contreys (p. 60).

QViconques tend a gloire vaine

Et le croit estre souueraine

Voye les regions patentes

Du ciel  .  .  .  .  . .

Ludens hominum cura. Þe pleiyng besines of men (p. 68).

Si quil tollist par doulz estude

Des hommes la solicitude  . .

Hausi cœlum. I took heuene (p. 10). Fr. ie . . . regarday le ciel.

Certamen adversum præfectum prætorii communis commodi ratione suscepi. I took strif aȝeins þe prouost of þe pretorie for comune profit (p. 15). Fr. ie entrepris lestrif a lencontre du prefect du parlement royal a cause de la commune vtilite.

At cujus criminis arguimur summam quæris? But axest þou in somme of what gilt I am accused? (p. 17). Fr. Mais demandes tu la somme du pechie duquel pechie nous sommes arguez?

Fortuita temeritate. By fortunouse fortune (p. 26). Fr. par fortuite folie.

Quos premunt septem gelidi triones. Alle þe peoples þat ben vndir þe colde sterres þat hyȝten þe seuene triones (p. 55). Fr. ceulx de septentrion.

Ita ego quoque tibi veluti corollarium dabo. Ryȝt so wil I ȝeue þe here as a corolarie or a mede of coroune (p. 91). Fr. semblablement ie te donneray ainsi que vng correlaire.

In stadio. In þe stadie or in þe forlonge (p. 119). Fr. ou (for au) champ.

Conjecto. I coniecte (p. 154). Fr. ie coniecture.

Nimium . . . adversari ac repugnare videtur. It semeþ . . . to repugnen and to contrarien gretly. Fr. Ce semble chose trop contraire et repugnante.

Universitatis ambitum. Envirounynge of þe vniuersite (p. 165). Fr. lauironnement de luniuersalite.


Rationis universum. Vniuersite of resoun (p. 165). Fr. luniuersalite de Raison.

Scientiam nunquam deficientis instantiæ rectius æstimabis. Þou shalt demen [it] more ryȝtfully þat it is science of presence or of instaunce þat neuer ne fayleþ (p. 174). Fr. mais tu la diras plus droittement et mieulx science de instante presentialite non iamais defaillant mais eternelle.

Many of the above examples are very bald renderings of the original, and are only quoted here to show that Chaucer did not make his translation from the French.

Chaucer is not always felicitous in his translations:—thus he translates clavus atque gubernaculum by keye and a stiere (p. 103), and compendium (gain, acquisition) by abreggynge (abridging, curtailment), p. 151. Many terms make their appearance in English for the first time,—and most of them have become naturalized, and are such as we could ill spare. Some few are rather uncommon, as gouernaile (gubernaculum), p. 27; arbitre (arbitrium), p. 154. As Chaucer takes the trouble to explain inestimable (inæstimabilis), p. 158, it could not have been a very familiar term.

Our translator evidently took note of various readings, for on p. 31 he notes a variation of the original. On p. 51 he uses armurers (= armures) to render arma, though most copies agree in reading arva.

There are numerous glosses and explanations of particular passages, which seem to be interpolated by Chaucer himself. Thus he explains what is meant by the heritage of Socrates (p. 10, 11); he gives the meaning of coemption (p. 15); of Euripus (p. 33); of the porch (p. 166).11 Some of his definitions are very quaint; as, for instance, that of Tragedy—‘a dité of a prosperité for a tyme þat endiþ in wrechednesse’ (p. 35). One would think that the following definition of Tragedian would be rather superfluous after this,—‘a maker of dites þat hyȝten (are called) tregedies’ (p. 77).

Melliflui . . . oris Homerus

is thus quaintly Englished: Homer wiþ þe hony mouþe, þat is to seyn. homer wiþ þe swete dites (p. 153).


The present translation of the De Consolatione is taken from Additional MS. 10,340, which is supposed to be the oldest manuscript that exists in our public libraries. After it was all copied out and ready for press, Mr Bradshaw was kind enough to procure me, for the purpose of collation, the loan of the Camb. University MS. Ii. 3. 21, from which the various readings at the foot of the pages are taken.

Had I had an opportunity of examining the Cambridge MS. carefully throughout before the work was so far advanced, I should certainly have selected it in preference to the text now given to the reader. Though not so ancient as the British Museum MS., it is far more correct in its grammatical inflexions, and is no doubt a copy of an older and very accurate text.

The Additional MS. is written by a scribe who was unacquainted with the force of the final -e. Thus he adds it to the preterites of strong verbs, which do not require it; he omits it in the preterites of weak verbs where it is wanted, and attaches it to passive participles (of weak verbs), where it is superfluous. The scribe of the Cambridge MS. is careful to preserve the final -e where it is a sign (1) of the definite declension of the adjective; (2) of the plural adjective; (3) of the infinitive mood; (4) of the preterite of weak verbs; (5) of present participles;12 (6) of the 2nd pers. pret. indic. of strong verbs; (7) of adverbs; (8) of an older vowel ending.

The Addit. MS. has frequently thilk (singular and plural), and -nes (in wrechednes, &c.), when the Camb. MS. has thilke13 and -nesse.

For further differences the reader may consult the numerous collations at the foot of the page.

If the Chaucer Society obtains that amount of patronage from the literary public which it deserves, but unfortunately has yet not succeeded in getting, so that it may be enabled to go on with the great work which has been so successfully commenced, then the time may come when I shall have the opportunity of editing the Camb. MS. of Chaucer’s Boethius for that Society, and lovers of Early English Literature will have two texts instead of one.

1 Other translations are by John Walton of Osney, in verse, in 1410 (Reg. MS. 18, A 13), first printed at Tavistock in 1525, and to be edited some time or other for the E.E.T.S. An anonymous prose version in the Bodleian. George Coluile, alias Coldewel, 1556; J. T. 1609; H. Conningesbye, 1664; Lord Preston, 1695, 1712; W. Causton, 1730; Redpath, 1785; R. Duncan, 1789; anon. 1792 (Lowndes).

2 Dante, in his Convito, says, “Misimi a legger quello non conosciuto da molti libro di Boezio, nel quale captivo e discacciato consolato s’avea.”

3 Printed at Ghent, 1485.

4 By Reynier de Seinct Trudon, printed at Bruges, 1477.

5 An old version of the 11th cent., printed by Graff, and a modern one printed at Nuremberg, 1473.

6 By Jean de Méung, printed at Paris, 1494.

7 By Varchi, printed at Florence, 1551; Parma, 1798.

8 The Harl. MS. reads not nat, to the confusion of the metre.

9 = ne wot nat = knows not.

10 Cf. Dante, Inferno, V. 121.

Nessun maggior dolore

Che recordarsi del tempo felice

Nella miseria; e ciò sa ’l tuo Dottore.

11 See pages 39, 50, 61, 94, 111, 133, 149, 153, 159.

12 In the Canterbury Tales we find participles in -yngë.

13 It is nearly always thilkë in the Canterbury Tales.



The last of the ancients, and one who forms a link between the classical period of literature and that of the middle ages, in which he was a favourite author, is Boethius, a man of fine genius, and interesting both from his character and his death. It is well known that after filling the dignities of Consul and Senator in the court of Theodoric, he fell a victim to the jealousy of a sovereign, from whose memory, in many respects glorious, the stain of that blood has never been effaced. The Consolation of Philosophy, the chief work of Boethius, was written in his prison. Few books are more striking from the circumstances of their production. Last of the classic writers, in style not impure, though displaying too lavishly that poetic exuberance which had distinguished the two or three preceding centuries, in elevation of sentiment equal to any of the philosophers, and mingling a Christian sanctity with their lessons, he speaks from his prison in the swan-like tones of dying eloquence. The philosophy that consoled him in bonds, was soon required in the sufferings of a cruel death. Quenched in his blood, the lamp he had trimmed with a skilful hand gave no more light; the language of Tully and Virgil soon ceased to be spoken; and many ages were to pass away, before learned diligence restored its purity, and the union of genius with imitation taught a few modern writers to surpass in eloquence the Latinity of Boethius.—(Hallam’s Literature of Europe, i. 2, 4th ed. 1854.)

The Senator Boethius is the last of the Romans whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their countryman. As a wealthy orphan, he inherited the patrimony and honours of the Anician family, a name ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age; and the appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from a race of consuls and dictators, who had repulsed the Gauls from the Capitol, and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the Republic. In the youth of Boethius the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned; a Virgil is now extant, corrected by the hand of a consul; and the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, were maintained in their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths. But the erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent curiosity; and xviii Boethius is said to have employed eighteen laborious years in the schools of Athens, which were supported by the zeal, the learning, and the diligence of Proclus and his disciples. The reason and piety of their Roman pupil were fortunately saved from the contagion of mystery and magic, which polluted the groves of the Academy, but he imbibed the spirit, and imitated the method, of his dead and living masters, who attempted to reconcile the strong and subtle sense of Aristotle with the devout contemplation and sublime fancy of Plato. After his return to Rome, and his marriage with the daughter of his friend, the patrician Symmachus, Boethius still continued, in a palace of ivory and [glass] to prosecute the same studies. The Church was edified by his profound defence of the orthodox creed against the Arian, the Eutychian, and the Nestorian heresies; and the Catholic unity was explained or exposed in a formal treatise by the indifference of three distinct though consubstantial persons. For the benefit of his Latin readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras, the arithmetic of Nicomachus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the indefatigable pen of the Roman senator. And he alone was esteemed capable of describing the wonders of art, a sun-dial, a water-clock, or a sphere which represented the motions of the planets. From these abstruse speculations, Boethius stooped, or, to speak more truly, he rose to the social duties of public and private life: the indigent were relieved by his liberality; and his eloquence, which flattery might compare to the voice of Demosthenes or Cicero, was uniformly exerted in the cause of innocence and humanity. Such conspicuous merit was felt and rewarded by a discerning prince: the dignity of Boethius was adorned with the titles of consul and patrician, and his talents were usefully employed in the important station of master of the offices. Notwithstanding the equal claims of the East and West, his two sons were created, in their tender youth, the consuls of the same year. On the memorable day of their inauguration, they proceeded in solemn pomp from their palace to the forum amidst the applause of the senate and people; and their joyful father, the true Consul of Rome, after pronouncing an oration in the praise of his royal benefactor, distributed a triumphal largess in the games of the circus. Prosperous in his fame and fortunes, in his public honours and private alliances, in the cultivation of science and the consciousness of virtue, Boethius might have been styled happy, if that precarious epithet could be safely applied before the last term of the life of man.

A philosopher, liberal of his wealth and parsimonious of his time, might be insensible to the common allurements of ambition, the thirst of gold and employment. And some credit may be due to the asseveration of Boethius, that he had reluctantly obeyed the divine Plato, who enjoins every virtuous citizen to rescue the state from the usurpation of vice and ignorance. For the integrity of his public conduct he appeals to the xix memory of his country. His authority had restrained the pride and oppression of the royal officers, and his eloquence had delivered Paulianus from the dogs of the palace. He had always pitied, and often relieved, the distress of the provincials, whose fortunes were exhausted by public and private rapine; and Boethius alone had courage to oppose the tyranny of the Barbarians, elated by conquest, excited by avarice, and, as he complains, encouraged by impunity. In these honourable contests his spirit soared above the consideration of danger, and perhaps of prudence; and we may learn from the example of Cato, that a character of pure and inflexible virtue is the most apt to be misled by prejudice, to be heated by enthusiasm, and to confound private enmities with public justice. The disciple of Plato might exaggerate the infirmities of nature, and the imperfections of society; and the mildest form of a Gothic kingdom, even the weight of allegiance and gratitude, must be insupportable to the free spirit of a Roman patriot. But the favour and fidelity of Boethius declined in just proportion with the public happiness; and an unworthy colleague was imposed to divide and control the power of the master of the offices. In the last gloomy season of Theodoric, he indignantly felt that he was a slave; but as his master had only power over his life, he stood without arms and without fear against the face of an angry Barbarian, who had been provoked to believe that the safety of the senate was incompatible with his own. The Senator Albinus was accused and already convicted on the presumption of hoping, as it was said, the liberty of Rome.

“If Albinus be criminal,” exclaimed the orator, “the senate and myself are all guilty of the same crime. If we are innocent, Albinus is equally entitled to the protection of the laws.” These laws might not have punished the simple and barren wish of an unattainable blessing; but they would have shown less indulgence to the rash confession of Boethius, that, had he known of a conspiracy, the tyrant never should. The advocate of Albinus was soon involved in the danger and perhaps the guilt of his client; their signature (which they denied as a forgery) was affixed to the original address, inviting the emperor to deliver Italy from the Goths; and three witnesses of honourable rank, perhaps of infamous reputation, attested the treasonable designs of the Roman patrician. Yet his innocence must be presumed, since he was deprived by Theodoric of the means of justification, and rigorously confined in the tower of Pavia, while the senate, at the distance of five hundred miles, pronounced a sentence of confiscation and death against the most illustrious of its members. At the command of the Barbarians, the occult science of a philosopher was stigmatized with the names of sacrilege and magic. A devout and dutiful attachment to the senate was condemned as criminal by the trembling voices of the senators themselves; and their ingratitude deserved the wish or prediction of Boethius, that, after him, none should be found guilty of the same offence.

While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment the sentence or the stroke of death, he composed in the tower of Pavia the xx Consolation of Philosophy; a golden volume not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the situation of the author. The celestial guide, whom he had so long invoked at Rome and Athens, now condescended to illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his wounds her salutary balm. She taught him to compare his long prosperity and his recent distress, and to conceive new hopes from the inconstancy of fortune. Reason had informed him of the precarious condition of her gifts; experience had satisfied him of their real value; he had enjoyed them without guilt; he might resign them without a sigh, and calmly disdain the impotent malice of his enemies, who had left him happiness, since they had left him virtue. From the earth, Boethius ascended to heaven in search of the Supreme Good; explored the metaphysical labyrinth of chance and destiny, of prescience and free-will, of time and eternity; and generously attempted to reconcile the perfect attributes of the Deity with the apparent disorders of his moral and physical government. Such topics of consolation, so obvious, so vague, or so abstruse, are ineffectual to subdue the feelings of human nature. Yet the sense of misfortune may be diverted by the labour of thought; and the sage who could artfully combine in the same work the various riches of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, must already have possessed the intrepid calmness which he affected to seek. Suspense, the worst of evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death, who executed, and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. A strong cord was fastened round the head of Boethius, and forcibly tightened till his eyes almost started from their sockets; and some mercy may be discovered in the milder torture of beating him with clubs till he expired. But his genius survived to diffuse a ray of knowledge over the darkest ages of the Latin world; the writings of the philosopher were translated by the most glorious of the English kings, and the third emperor of the name of Otho removed to a more honourable tomb the bones of a Catholic saint, who, from his Arian persecutors, had acquired the honours of martyrdom and the fame of miracles. In the last hours of Boethius, he derived some comfort from the safety of his two sons, of his wife, and of his father-in-law, the venerable Symmachus. But the grief of Symmachus was indiscreet, and perhaps disrespectful; he had presumed to lament, he might dare to revenge, the death of an injured friend. He was dragged in chains from Rome to the palace of Ravenna; and the suspicions of Theodoric could only be appeased by the blood of an innocent and aged senator.—Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, 1838, vol. vii. p. 45-52 (without the notes).



(Giving the first line of each Metre, the first words of each Prose,
and the corresponding page of the translation).

Book Metre Prose Page
I 1 Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi 4
1 Hæc dum mecum tacitus ipse reputarem 5
2 Heu, quam præcipiti mersa profundo 7
2 Sed medicinæ, inquit, potius tempus est 8
3 Tunc me discussa liquerunt nocte tenebræ 9
3 Haud aliter tristitiæ nebulis dissolutis, hausi cœlum 10
4 Quisquis composito serenus ævo 12
4 Sentisne, inquit, hæc, atque animo illabuntur tuo? 13
5 O stelliferi conditor orbis 21
5 Hæc ubi continuato dolore delatravi 23
6 Cum Phœbi radiis grave 25
6 Primum igitur paterisne me pauculis rogationibus 26
7 Nubibus atris 29
II 1 Posthæc paulisper obticuit 29
1 Hæc cum superba verterit vices dextra 33
2 Vellem autem pauca tecum fortunæ ipsius 33
2 Si quantas rapidis flatibus incitus 35
3 His igitur si pro se tecum fortuna loqueretur 36
3 Cum polo Phœbus roseis quadrigis 39
4 Tum ego, Vera, inquam, commemoras 39
4 Quisquis volet perennem 44
xxii 5 Sed quoniam rationum jam in te mearum fomenta 45
5 Felix nimium prior ætas 50
6 Quid autem de dignitatibus, potentiaque disseram 51
6 Novimus quantas dederit ruinas 55
7 Tum ego, Scis, inquam, ipsa 56
7 Quicumque solam mente præcipiti petit 60
8 Sed ne me inexorabile contra fortunam 61
8 Quod mundus stabili fide 62
III 1 Jam cantum illa finierat 63
1 Qui serere ingenuum volet agrum 64
2 Tum defixo paululum visu 64
2 Quantas rerum flectat habenas 68
3 Vos quoque, o terrena animalia 69
3 Quamvis fluente dives auri gurgite 71
4 Sed dignitates honorabilem reverendumque 72
4 Quamvis se Tyrio superbus ostro 74
5 An vero regna regumque familiaritas efficere potentem valent? 75
5 Qui se volet esse potentem 77
6 Gloria vero quam fallax sæpe, quam turpis est! 77
6 Omne hominum genus in terris 78
7 Quid autem de corporis voluptatibus loquar? 79
7 Habet omnis hoc voluptas 80
8 Nihil igitur dubium est, quin 80
8 Eheu, quam miseros tramite devio 81
9 Hactenus mendacis formam felicitatis ostendisse 82
9 O qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas 87
10 Quoniam igitur quæ sit imperfecti 88
10 Huc omnes pariter venite capti 94
11 Assentior, inquam. 95
11 Quisquis profunda mente vestigat verum 100
12 Tum ego, Platoni, inquam, vehementer assentior 101
12 Felix qui potuit boni 106
IV 1 Hæc cum Philosophia, dignitate 108
xxiii 1 Sunt etenim pennæ volucres mihi 110
2 Tum ego, Papæ, inquam, ut magna promittis! 112
2 Quos vides sedere celso 118
3 Videsne igitur quanto in cœno probra volvantur 119
3 Vela Neritii ducis 122
4 Tum ego, Fateor, inquam, nec injuria dici video 123
4 Quid tantos juvat excitare motus 130
5 Hic ego, Video, inquam, quæ sit vel felicitas 131
5 Si quis Arcturi sidera nescit 132
6 Ita est, inquam. 133
6 Si vis celsi jura tonantis 143
7 Jamne igitur vides, quid hæc omnia quæ diximus, consequatur? 144
7 Bella bis quinis operatus annis 147
V 1 Dixerat, orationisque cursum ad alia quædam 149
1 Rupis Achæmeniæ scopulis, ubi versa sequentum 151
2 Animadverto, inquam, idque uti tu dicis, ita esse consentio. 152
2 Puro clarum lumine Phœbum 153
3 Tum ego, En, inquam, difficiliori rursus ambiguitate confundor. 154
3 Quænam discors fœdera rerum 159
4 Tum illa, Vetus, inquit, hæc est de Providentia querela 161
4 Quondam porticus attulit 166
5 Quod si in corporibus sentiendis, quamvis 168
5 Quam variis terras animalia permeant figuris! 170
6 Quoniam igitur, uti paulo ante monstratum est 171
Appendix.— Ætas Prima 180
Balades de Vilage sanz Peinture 182



[Additional MS. 10,340, fol. 3.]

[fol. 3.] LIBER PRIMUS.

1 Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi.

2 Hic dum mecum tacitus.

3 Heu quam precipiti.

4 Set medicine inquit tempus.

5 Tunc me discussa.

1 MS. hanc.

6 Haut1 aliter tristicie.

7 Quisquis composito.

8 Sentis ne inquit.

9 O stelliferi conditor orbis.

10 Hic ubi continuato dolore.

11 Cum phebi radijs.

12 Primum igitur pateris rogacionibus.

13 Nubibus atris condita.



2 MS. luper.

1 Postea paulisper2 conticuit.

2 Hec cum superba.

3 Uellem autem pauca.

4 Si quantas rapidis.

5 His igitur si et pro se.


6 Cum primo polo.

7 Tunc ego uera inquam.

8 Contraque.

9 Quisquis ualet perhennem cantus.

10 Set cum racionum iam in te.

11 Felix in mirum iam prior etas.

12 Quid autem de dignitatibus.

13 Nouimus quantos dederat.

14 Tum ego scis inquam.

15 Quicunque solam mente.

16 Set ne me inexorabile.

17 Quod mundus stabile fide.



1 Iam tantum illa.

2 Qui serere ingenium.

3 Tunc defixo paululum.

4 Quantas rerum flectat.

5 Uos quoque terrena animalia.

6 Quamuis fluenter diues.

7 Set dignitatibus.

8 Quamuis se tirio.

9 An uero regna.

10 Qui se ualet esse potentem.

11 Gloria uero quam fallax.

12 Omne hominum genus in terris.

13 Quid autem de corporibus.

14 Habet hoc uoluptas.

15 Nichil igitur dubium est.

16 Heu que miseros tramite.

17 Hactenus mendacio formam.

18 O qui perpetua.

19 Quoniam igitur qui scit.

20 Nunc omnes pariter.

21 Assencior inquam cuncta.


22 Quisque profunda.

23 Tunc ego platoni inquam.

24 Felix qui poterit.



1 Hec cum philosophia.

2 Sunt etenim penne.

3 Tunc ego pape inquam.

4 Quos uides sedere celsos.

5 Uides ne igitur quanto.

6 U[e]la naricij ducis.

7 Tunc ego fateor inquam.

8 Quid tantos iuuat.

9 Huic ego uideo inquam.

3 MS. arituri.

10 Si quis arcturi3 sydera.

11 Ita est inquam.

12 Si uis celsi iura.

13 Iam ne igitur uides.

14 Bella bis quinis.



1 Dixerat oracionis que cursum.

2 Rupis achemenie.

3 Animaduerto inquam.

4 Puro clarum lumine.

5 Tamen ego en inquam.

6 Que nam discors.

7 Tamen illa uetus.

8 Quondam porticus attulit.

9 Quod si in corporibus.

10 Quam uarijs figuris.

11 Quoniam igitur uti paulo ante.




*LIBER PRIMUS. [* fol. 3 b.]

[The fyrste Metur.]


Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi.

Allas I wepyng Boethius deplores his misfortunes in the following pathetic elegy. am constreined to bygynne vers of
sorouful matere. ¶ Þat whilom in florysching
studie made delitable ditees. For loo rendyng muses
of poetes enditen to me þinges to be writen. and drery 4
vers of wrecchednes weten my face wiþ verray teers.
¶ At þe leest no drede ne myȝt[e] ouer-come þo muses.
þat þei ne weren felawes and folweden my wey. þat is
to seyne when I was exiled. ypalage antithesis þei þat weren glorie of 8
my youȝth whilom weleful and grene conforten now þe
sorouful werdes of me olde man. Laments his immature old age. for elde is comen vnwarly
vpon me hasted by þe harmes þat I haue. and
sorou haþ comaunded his age to be in me. ¶ Heeres 12
hore ben schad ouertymelyche vpon myne heued. and
þe slak[e] skyn trembleþ vpon myn emty body.
Death turns a deaf ear to the wretched. þilk[e] deeþ of men is welful þat ne comeþ not in ȝeres þat
ben swete (.i. mirie.) but comeþ to wrecches often 16

1 of—MS. of of.

2 florysching—floryssynge

3 rendyng—rendynge

4 be—ben

5 wrecchednes—wrecchednesse

6 leest—leeste
myȝt[e] ouer-come—myhte ouercomen

8 seyne when—seyn whan

9 youȝth—MS. þoȝt, C. yowthe

10 sorouful werdes—sorful wierdes [i. fata]

12 sorou—sorwe
haþ—MS. haþe

13 hore—hoore

14 slak[e]—slake

15 welful—weleful
comeþ not—comth nat

16 .i. mirie—omitted

¶ Allas allas wiþ how deef an eere deeþ cruel
tourneþ awey fro wrecches and naieþ to closen wepyng
eyen. When Fortune was favourable Death came near Boethius, ¶ While fortune vnfeiþful fauored[e] me 20
wiþ lyȝte goodes (.s. temporels.) þe sorouful houre þat
is to seyne þe deeþ had[de] almost dreynt myne heued.
but in his adversity life is unpleasantly protracted. ¶ But now for fortune clowdy haþ chaunged hir disceyuable
chere to me warde. myn vnpitouse lijf draweþ 24
a long vnagreable dwellynges in me. Why did his friends call him happy? He stood not firm that hath thus fallen. ¶ O ȝe my
5 frendes what or wherto auaunted[e] ȝe me to be weleful:
for he þat haþ fallen stood not in stedfast degree.

19 tourneþ—torneth

20 While—Whil

21 lyȝte—lyhte
.s. temporels—omitted
sorouful houre—sorwful howre

22 seyne—seyn

23 haþ—MS. haþe
chaunged hir disceyuable—chaungyd hyre deceyuable

24 vnpitouse lijf—vnpietous lyf


[The firste prose.]


IN þe mene while Philosophy appears to Boethius, like a beautiful woman, and of great age. þat I stille recorded[e] þise þinges 28
wiþ my self. and markede my wepli compleynte wiþ
office of poyntel. I saw stondyng aboue þe heyȝt of my
heued a woman of ful greet reuerence by semblaunt
hir eyen brennyng and clere seing ouer þe comune 32
myȝt of men. wiþ a lijfly colour and wiþ swiche vigoure
and strenkeþ þat it ne myȝt[e] not be emptid. ¶ Al
were it so þat sche was ful of so greet age. þat men ne
wolde not trowe in no manere þat sche were of oure 36
elde. Her height could not be determined, for there were times when she raised her head higher than the heavens. þe stature of hir was of a doutous iugement. for
sumtyme sche constreyned[e] and schronk hir seluen
lyche to þe comune mesure of men. and sumtyme it
semed[e] þat sche touched[e] þe heuene wiþ þe heyȝte 40
of hir heued. and when sche hef hir heued heyer sche
perced[e] þe selue heuene. so þat þe syȝt of men lokyng
was in ydel. Her clothes were finely wrought and indissoluble, but dark and dusky, like old besmoked images. ¶ Hir cloþes weren maked of ryȝt delye
þredes and subtil crafte of perdurable matere. þe wyche 44
cloþes sche hadde wouen wiþ hir owen hondes: as I
knew wel aftir by hir selfe. declaryng and schewyng
to me þe beaute. þe wiche cloþes a derkenes of a forleten
and dispised elde had[de] duskid and dirkid as 48
it is wont to dirken by-smoked ymages. On the lower hem of her garment was the letter Π and on the upper Θ. ¶ In þe neþerest[e]
6 hem or bordure of þese cloþes men redden
ywouen in swiche a gregkysche .P. þat signifieþ þe lijf
actif. And abouen þat lettre in þe heyȝest[e] bordure 52
a grekysche T. þat signifieþ þe lijf contemplatif.


Between the letters were steps like a ladder. ¶ And by-twene þese two lettres þere weren seien degrees
nobly wrouȝt in manere of laddres. By wyche
degrees men myȝt[en] clymbe fro þe neþemast[e] lettre 56
to þe ouermast[e]. Philosophy’s garments were tattered and torn, and pieces had been carried violently off. ¶ Naþeles hondes of sum men
hadde korue þat cloþe by vyolence and by strenkeþ.
¶ And eueryche man of hem hadde born away syche
peces as he myȝte geet[e]. In her right hand she bore her books, and in her left a sceptre. ¶ And forsoþe þis forsaide 60
woman ber bookes in hir ryȝt honde. and in hir lefte
honde sche ber a ceptre. ¶ And when sche sauȝ þese
poetical muses aprochen aboute my bedde. and endytyng
wordes to my wepynges. sche was a lytel ameued 64
and glowed[e] wiþ cruel eyen. Philosophy bids the Muses leave Boethius, as they only increase his sorrow with their sweet venom. ¶ Who quod sche haþ
suffred aprochen to þis seek[e] man þise comune strumpetis
[* fol. 4.] of siche a place þat *men clepen þe theatre.
¶ Þe wyche only ne asswagen not his sorowes. wiþ no 68
remedies. but þei wolde fede and norysche hem wiþ
swete venym. ¶ Forsoþe þise ben þo þat wiþ þornes
and prykkynges of talentȝ or affecciouns wiche þat
ben no þing frutefiyng nor profitable destroyen þe 72
cornes plenteuouse of frutes of reson. They may accustom the mind to bear grief, but cannot free it from its malady. ¶ For þei
holden þe hertes of men in usage. but þei ne delyuere
not folk fro maladye. but if ȝe muses hadde wiþdrawen
7 fro me wiþ ȝoure flateries. any vnkonnyng and vnprofitable 76
man as men ben wont to fynde comunely amonges
þe peple. I wolde wene suffre þe lasse greuously.


Philosophy is deeply grieved, because they have not seduced one of the profane, but one who has been brought up in Eleatic and Academic studies. ¶ For-why in syche an vnprofitable man myne ententes
weren no þing endamaged. ¶ But ȝe wiþdrawen me 80
þis man þat haþ ben norysched in studies or scoles of
Eleaticis and of achademicis in grece. She bids the syrens begone. ¶ But goþ now
raþer awey ȝe meremaydenes wyche ben swete til it
be at þe laste. and suffreþ þis man to be cured and 84
heled by myne muses. þat is to say by notful sciences.
Blushing for shame they pass the threshold. ¶ And þus þis compaygnie of muses I-blamed casten
wroþely þe chere adounward to þe erþe and schewyng
by redenesse hir schame þei passeden sorowfuly þe 88
þreschefolde. ¶ And I of whom þe syȝt plonged in
teres was derked so þat I ne myȝt[e] not knowe what
þat woman was of so imperial auctorite. Boethius is astonished at the presence of the august dame. ¶ I wex al
a-besid and astoned. and caste my syȝt adoune in to þe 92
erþe. and bygan stille forto abide what sche wolde don
afterwarde. ¶ Þo come sche nere and sette hir doun
vpon þe vterrest[e] corner of my bedde. Philosophy expresses her concern for Boethius. and sche byholdyng
my chere þat was cast to þe erþe heuy and 96
greuous of wepyng. compleinede wiþ þise wordes þat I
schal sey þe perturbacioun of my þouȝt.

26 auaunted[e]—auauntede

27 haþ—MS. haþe

28 In þe mene—omitted

30 saw—MS. sawe, C. sawh
stondyng above—MS. studiyng aboue, C. stondinge abouen

31 greet—gret

32 brennyng—brennynge
clere seing—cleer seynge

33 swiche—swych

34 strenkeþ—strengthe
it——emptid—it myhte nat ben emted

36 wolde——trowe—wolden nat trowen

37 iugement—Iuggement

38 sumtyme—somtyme
schronk—MS. schronke, C. shronk

39 lyche—lyk

40 semed[e]—semede

41 when—whan
hef—MS. heued, C. hef

42 perced[e]—percede

44 crafte—craft

45 wouen—MS. wonnen, C. wouen
owen hondes—owne handes

46 knew—MS. knewe, C. knewh
selfe declaryng—self declarynge

47 derkenes—dirknesse

48 dispised—despised
had[de] duskid—hadde dusked

49 by-smoked—the smokede

50 þese—thise

51 swiche—omitted

52 heyȝest[e]—heyeste

54 by-twene þese—bytwixen thise

55 nobly wrouȝt—nobely ywroght

56 myȝt[en] clymbe—myhten clymbyn

57 ouermast[e]—vppereste

58 hadde korue—hadden koruen

59 born—MS. borne, C. born
away syche—awey swiche

60 geet[e]—geten

61 ber—MS. bere, C. bar
bookes—smale bookes
lefte honde—left hand

62 ber—MS. bere, C. baar
sauȝ þese—say thise

63 bedde—bed

64 ameued—amoued

65 glowed[e]—glowede
haþ—MS. haþe, C. hath

66 seek[e]—sike

67 siche—swich

68 only ne—nat oonly ne
not his—nat hise

69 wolde fede—wolden feeden
norysche hem—noryssyn hym

72 ben—ne ben

73 cornes plenteuouse—corn plentyuos

74 þe and ne—both omitted

75 not—nat
if ȝe—MS. if þe, C. yif ye

76 vnkonnyng—vnkunnynge

78 peple—poeple

79 syche—swhiche

80 weren—ne weeren

81 haþ—MS. haþe, C. hath

82 goþ—MS. goþe, C. goth

83 wyche—whiche þat

85 say—seyn

86 I-blamed—Iblamyd

87 wroþely—wrothly

88 redenesse—rednesse

89 þreschefolde—thresshfold

90 derked—dyrked
myȝt[e]——knowe—myhte nat knowen

91 wex—wax

92 a-besid—abaysshed
adoune in to—down to

93 don—MS. done

95 vterrest[e] corner—vttereste cornere

97 compleinede—compley[n]de

98 sey—seyen


[The 2de Metur.]


Allas how þe þouȝt of Drowned in the depth of cares the mind loses its proper clearness. man dreint in ouer þrowyng
depnesse dulleþ and forletiþ hys propre clerenesse. 100
myntynge to gone in to foreyne derknesses as
ofte as hys anoious bisines wexiþ wiþ-outen mesure.
8 þat is dryuen to and fro wiþ worldly wyndes. Man in his freedom knew each region of the sky, the motions of the planets, and was wont to investigate the causes of storms, the nature and properties of the seasons, and the hidden causes of nature. ¶ Þis
man þat sumtyme was fre to whom þe heuene was open 104
and knowen and was wont to gone in heuenelyche
paþes. and sauȝ þe lyȝtnesse of þe rede sunne. and sauȝ
þe sterres of þe colde moone. and wyche sterre in
heuene vseþ wandryng risorses yflit by dyuerse speres. 108
¶ Þis man ouer comere hadde comprehendid al þis by
noumbre. of accountyng in astronomye. ¶ And ouer
þis he was wont to seche þe causes whennes þe sounyng
wyndes moeuen and bisien þe smoþe water of þe 112
see. and what spirit turneþ þe stable heuene. and
whi þe sterre ryseþ oute of þe reede eest. to falle
in þe westren wawes. and what attempriþ þe lusty
houres of þe fyrste somer sesoun þat hiȝteþ and apparaileþ 116
þe erþe wiþ rosene floures. ¶ And who
makeþ þat plenteuouse autumpne in fulle ȝeres fletiþ
wiþ heuy grapes. ¶ And eke þis man was wont to
telle þe dyuerses causes of nature þat weren yhid. 120
But now, alas, he is constrained to keep his face to the ground. ¶ Allas now lieþ he emptid of lyȝt of hys þouȝt. and
hys nekke is pressid wiþ heuy cheynes and bereþ his
chere enclined adoune for þe greet[e] weyȝt. and is
constreyned to loke on foule erþe. 124

101 gone—goon

102 bisines—bysynesse

103 worldly—wordely

104 sumtyme—whilom

105 gone—goon

106 paþes—paathes
sauȝ—MS. sue, C. sawgh

107 wyche—which

108 risorses—recourses

111 seche—seken

114 ryseþ oute—aryseth owt

115 westren—westrene

116 fyrste—fyrst

119 eke—ek

120 dyuerses—diuerse
yhid—MS. yhidde

121 lieþ—lith

123 adoune—adown
greet[e] weyȝt—grete weyhte

124 loke——foule—looken on the fool


[The ijde prose.]


Bvt tyme is now More need of medicine than of complaint. quod sche of medicine more þen of
compleynte. ¶ Forsoþe þen sche entendyng to
me warde wiþ al þe lokyng of hir eyen saide. Philosophy addresses Boethius. ¶ Art
not þou he quod sche þat sumtyme I-norschid wiþ my 128
mylke and fostre[d] wiþ my meetes were ascaped and
comen to corage of a perfit man. ¶ Certys I ȝaf þe
9 syche armures þat ȝif þou þi self ne haddest first caste
hem away. þei schulden haue defendid þe in sykernesse 132
þat may not be ouer-comen. ¶ Knowest þou me not.
[* fol. 4 b.] She fears his silence proceeds from shame rather than from stupidity. *Why art þou stille. is it for schame or for astonynge.
It were me leuer þat it were for schame. but it semeþ
me þat astonynge haþ oppressed þe. She finds him, however, in a lethargy, the distemper of a disordered mind. ¶ And whan 136
sche say me not oonly stille. but wiþ-outen office of
tonge and al doumbe. sche leide hir honde softely vpon
my brest and seide. ¶ Here nis no peril quod sche.
¶ He is fallen in to a litargie. whiche þat is a comune 140
sekenes to hertes þat ben desceiued. ¶ He haþ a litel
forȝeten hym self. but certis he schal lyȝtly remembren
hym self. ¶ Ȝif so be þat he haþ knowen me or now.
To make his recovery an easy matter, she wipes his eyes, which were darkened by the clouds of mortal things, and dries up his tears. and þat he may so done I wil wipe a litel hys eyen. 144
þat ben derked by þe cloude of mortel þinges ¶ Þise
wordes seide sche. and wiþ þe lappe of hir garment
yplitid in a frounce sche dried[e] myn eyen þat were
ful of þe wawes of my wepynges. 148

125, 126 þen—than

127 al—alle

128 sumtyme—whilom
I-norschid—MS. I-norschide, C. noryssed

129 fostre[d]—fostered

130 Certys—Certes
ȝaf, yaf

131 syche—swiche
caste—C. cast

132 away—awey
schulden haue—sholden han

133 not be—nat ben
Knowest þou—knowestow

134 art þou—artow

136 haþ—MS. haþe

138 tonge—tunge

139 Here—her

140 litargie whiche—litarge which

141 sekenes—sykenesse

141, 143 haþ—MS. haþe

144 done—doon
wil wipe—wol wypen

146 garment—garnement

147 dried[e]—dryede

148 ful—fulle


[The 3de Metur.]


Þus when þat Her touch dispels the darkness of his soul, just as the heavy vapours, that darken the skies and obscure the sunlight, are chased away by the north wind, causing the return of the hidden day, when the sun smites our wondering sight with his sudden light. nyȝt was discussed and chased awey.
derknesses forleften me. and to myn eyen repeyre
aȝeyne her firste strenkeþ. and ryȝt by ensample as
þe sonne is hid when þe sterres ben clustred. þat is to 152
sey when sterres ben couered wiþ cloudes by a swifte
wynde þat hyȝt chorus. and þat þe firmament stont
derked by wete ploungy cloudes. and þat þe sterres not
apperen vpon heuene. ¶ So þat þe nyȝt semeþ sprad 156
vpon erþe. ¶ Yif þan þe wynde þat hyȝt borias
10 sent out of þe kaues of þe contre of Trace betiþ þis
nyȝt. þat is to seyn chasiþ it away and descouereþ þe
closed day. ¶ Þan schineþ phebus yshaken wiþ 160
sodeyne lyȝt and smyteþ wiþ hys bemes in meruelyng

149 when—whan

150 myn—myne

151 aȝeyne—omitted
her firste—hir fyrst

152 hid—MS. hidde, C. hid

153 sey—seyn

154 hyȝt—heyhte
chorus—MS. thorus
stont—MS. stonde, C. stant

157 þan—thanne

158 sent—isent

160 þan—thanne

161 sodeyne—sodeyn


[The 3de prose.]


Ryȝt so The clouds of sorrow being dispelled, Boethius recollects the features of his Physician, whom he discovers to be Philosophy. and none oþer wyse þe cloudes of sorowe
dissolued and don awey. ¶ I took heuene. and 164
receyuede mynde to knowe þe face of my fyciscien.
¶ So þat I sette myne eyen on hir and festned[e] my
lokyng. I byholde my norice philosophie. in whos
houses I hadde conuersed and haunted fro my ȝouþe. 168
and I seide þus. He addresses her. ¶ O þou maistresse of alle uertues
descendid fro þe souereyne sete. Whi art þou comen
in to þis solitarie place of myn exil. ¶ Art þou comen
for þou art mad coupable wiþ me of fals[e] blames. 172
She expresses her concern for him, and tells him that she is willing to share his misfortunes. ¶ O quod sche my norry scholde I forsake þe now. and
scholde I not parte wiþ þe by comune trauaille þe charge
þat þou hast suffred for envie of my name. ¶ Certis
it nar[e] not leueful ne sittyng to philosophie to leten 176
wiþ-outen compaignie þe wey of hym þat is innocent.
She fears not any accusation, as if it were a new thing. ¶ Scholde I þan redoute my blame and agrisen as þouȝ
þer were byfallen a newe þing. q. d. non. ¶ For
trowest þou þat philosophi be now alþerfirst assailed 180
in perils by folk of wicked[e] maneres. For before the age of Plato she contended against folly, and by her help Socrates triumphed over an unjust death. ¶ Haue I not
stryuen wiþ ful greet strife in olde tyme byfore þe
age of my plato aȝeins þe foolhardines of foly and
eke þe same plato lyuyng. hys maistre socrates 184
deserued[e] victorie of vnryȝtful deeþ in my presence.
Of the inheritance of Socrates the rout of Epicureans and Stoics wanted to get a part. ¶ Þe heritage of wyche socrates. þe heritage is to seyne
11 þe doctrine of þe whiche socrates in hys oppinioun of
felicite þat I clepe welfulnesse ¶ Whan þat þe people 188
of epicuriens and stoyciens and many oþer enforceden
hem to go rauische eueryche man for his part þat is
to seyne. þat to eueryche of hem wolde drawen to þe
defence of his oppinioun þe wordes of socrates. Philosophy withstood them, whereupon they tore her robe, and, departing with the shreds, imagined that they had got possession of her. ¶ Þei 192
as in partie of hir preye todrowen me criynge and
debatyng þer aȝeins. and tornen and torenten my cloþes
þat I hadde wouen wiþ myn handes. and wiþ þe
cloutes þat þei hadden arased oute of my cloþes. þei 196
wenten awey wenyng þat I hadde gon wiþ hem euery
dele. Thus, clothed with her spoils, they deceived many. In whiche epicuryens and stoyciens. for as
myche as þer semed[e] somme traces and steppes of
myne habit. þe folye of men wenyng þo epicuryens 200
[* fol. 5.] and stoyciens my *familers peruertede (.s. persequendo)
somme þoruȝ þe errour of þe wikked[e] or vnkunnyng[e]
multitude of hem. Philosophy adduces examples of wise men, who had laboured under difficulties on account of being her disciples. ¶ Þis is to seyne for þei
semeden philosophres: þei weren pursued to þe deeþ 204
and slayn. ¶ So yif þou hast not knowen þe exilynge
of anaxogore. ne þe empoysenyng of socrates. ne þe
tourmentȝ of ȝeno for þei [weren] straungers.
¶ Ȝit myȝtest þou haue knowen þe senectiens and þe Canyos 208
and þe sorancis of wyche folk þe renoun is neyþer ouer
oolde ne vnsolempne. ¶ Þe whiche men no þing ellys
ne brouȝt[e] hem to þe deeþ but oonly for þei weren
enfourmed of my maneres. and semeden moste vnlyke 212
to þe studies of wicked folk. ¶ And forþi þou auȝtest
not to wondre þouȝ þat I in þe bitter see of þis lijf be
12 fordryuen wiþ tempestes blowyng aboute. It is the aim of Philosophy to displease the wicked, who are more to be despised than dreaded, for they have no leader. in þe whiche
tempeste þis is my most purpos þat is to seyn to displese 216
to wikked[e] men. ¶ Of whiche schrews al be
þe oost neuer so grete it is to dispyse. for it nis gouerned
wiþ no leder of resoune. but it is rauysched only by
flityng errour folyly and lyȝtly. If Philosophy is attacked by the wicked, she retires within her fortress, leaving the enemy busy among the useless baggage, and laughing to scorn such hunters of trifles. ¶ And if þei somtyme 220
makyng an ost aȝeynest vs assaile vs as strengere. oure
leder draweþ to gedir hys rycchesse in to hys toure.
and þei ben ententif aboute sarpulers or sachels vnprofitable
forto taken. but we þat ben heyȝ abouen syker 224
fro al tumulte and wode noise. ben stored and enclosed
in syche a palays. whider as þat chateryng or anoying
folye ne may not attayne. ¶ We scorne swiche
rauiners and honters of foulest[e] þinges. 228

163 none oþer—non oother

165 knowe—knowen

166 myne—myn

170 fro—from

170, 171 art þou—artow

172 mad—MS. made, C. maked

174 parte—parten

176 nar[e]—nere

178 þan—thanne

179 þing—thing
q.d. non—omitted

180 trowest þou—trowestow

181 wicked[e]—wikkede

182 strife—strif

183 aȝeins—ayenis

184 eke—ek

185 deserued[e]—desseruede

186 wyche—the which

188 welfulnesse—welefulnesse

189 oþer—oothre

190 go—gon

191 seyne—seyn

194 tornenread coruen, C. koruen

195 wouen—MS. wonnen, C. wouen

196 arased—arraced

197 gon—MS. gone, C. gon

198 dele—del

199 myche—moche

200 myne—myn
wenyng—MS. wevyng, C. weninge

202 þoruȝ—thorw

203 seyne—seyn þat

204 semeden—semede
pursued—MS. pursuede, C. pursued

205 slayn—MS. slayne, C. slayn

207 [weren]—weeren

208 myȝtest þou haue—myhtestow han

209 sorancis—sorans

210 oolde—MS. colde, C. old

211 brouȝt[e]—browhte

212 enfourmed—MS. vnfourmed, C. enformyd

213 wicked folk—wikkede foolke

214 wondre—wondren

216 displese—displesen

217 wikked[e]—wikkede

218 oost—glossed acies in C.

219, 222 leder—ledere

220 flityng—fleetynge

221 aȝeynest—ayenis

222 to——rycchesse, to gydere hise rychesses

224 heyȝ—heye

225 al—alle

226 syche—swich

227 scorne—schorne

228 rauiners——þinges—rauyneres & henteres of fowleste thinges


[The ferthe Metur.]


Who so it be He who hath triumphed over fate, and remained insensible to the changes of Fortune, shall not be moved by storms, nor by the fires of Vesuvius, nor by the fiercest thunderbolts. þat is clere of vertue sad and wel ordinat
of lyuyng. þat haþ put vnderfote þe prowed[e]
wierdes and lokiþ vpryȝt vpon eyþer fortune. he may
holde hys chiere vndiscomfited. ¶ Þe rage ne þe manace 232
of þe commoeuyng or chasyng vpwarde hete fro þe
botme. ne schal not moeue þat man. ne þe vnstable
mountaigne þat hyȝt veseuus. þat wircheþ oute þoruȝ
hys broken[e] chemineys smokyng fires. ¶ Ne þe wey 236
of þonder lyȝt þat is wont to smyte heyȝe toures ne
schal not mouene þat man. Fear not the tyrant’s rage. ¶ Wherto þen wrecches
drede ȝe tyrauntes þat ben wode and felownes wiþ-outen
ony strenkeþ. He who neither fears nor hopes for anything disarms the tyrant. ¶ Hope after no þing ne drede nat. and 240
13 so schalt þou desarmen þe ire of þilke vnmyȝty tyraunt.
He whose heart fails him, yields his arms, and forges his own fetters. ¶ But who so þat quakyng dredeþ or desireþ þing þat
nis not stable of his ryȝt. þat man þat so doþ haþ cast
awey hys schelde and is remoeued fro hys place. and 244
enlaceþ hym in þe cheyne wiþ whiche he may be

229 clere—cleer

230 lyuyng—leuynge
haþ—MS. haþe

231 may——chiere—may his cheere holde

232 manace—manesses

233 þe—þe see

235 hyȝt—hihte
veseuus—MS. vesenus

236 broken[e]—brokene

237 smyte—smyten

238 Wherto þen—wharto thanne

239 felownes——ony—felonos withowte any

241 schalt þou desarmen—shaltow deseruien

243 doþ—MS. doþe, C. doth
haþ—MS. haþe, C. hath
cast—MS. caste, C. cast

244 schelde—sheld
remoeued fro—remwed from

245 whiche—the which


[The verthe prose.]


FElest þou Philosophy seeks to know the malady of Boethius. quod sche þise þinges and entren þei ouȝt
in þi corage. ¶ Art þou like an asse to þe harpe. 248
Whi wepest þou whi spillest þou teres. ¶ Yif þou
abidest after helpe of þi leche. þe byhoueþ discouere þi
wounde. Boethius complains of Fortune’s unrelenting rage. ¶ Þo .I. þat hadde gadered strenkeþ in my
corage answered[e] and seide. and nedeþ it ȝitte quod 252
.I. of rehersyng or of amonicioun. and scheweþ it not
ynouȝ by hym self þe scharpnes of fortune þat wexeþ
woode aȝeynes me. Is not she moved, he asks, with the aspect of his prison? ¶ Ne moeueþ it nat þe to seen þe
face or þe manere of þis place (.i. prisoun.). His library, his habit, and his countenance are all changed. ¶ Is þis 256
þe librarie wyche þat þou haddest chosen for a ryȝt
certeyne sege to þe in myne house. ¶ Þere as þou
desputest of[te] wiþ me of þe sciences of þinges touching
diuinitee and touchyng mankynde. ¶ Was þan 260
myn habit swiche as it is now. was þan my face or
quasi diceret non.
my chere swiche as now. ¶ Whan I souȝt[e] wiþ þe
secretys of nature. whan þou enfourmedest my maners
and þe resoun of al my lijf. to þe ensaumple of þe ordre 264
Is this, he asks, the reward of his fidelity?   ironice
of heuene. ¶ Is nat þis þe gerdoun þat I refere to þe
to whom I haue be obeisaunt. ¶ Certis þou enfourmedist
by þe mouþe of plato þis sentence. Plato (de Rep. v.) says that those Commonwealths are most happy that are governed by philosophers, or by those who study to be so. þat is to
seyne þat commune þinges or comunabletes weren 268
14 blysful yif þei þat haden studied al fully to wisdom
gouerneden þilke þinges. or ellys yif it so by-felle þat
[* fol. 5 b.] þe gouernours *of communalites studieden in grete wisdomes.


The same Plato urged philosophers to take upon them the management of public affairs, lest it should fall into the hands of unprincipled citizens. ¶ Þou saidest eke by þe mouþe of þe same 272
plato þat it was a necessarie cause wyse men to taken
and desire þe gouernaunce of comune þinges. for þat þe
gouernementes of comune citees y-left in þe hondes of
felonous tourmentours Citiȝenis ne scholde not brynge 276
inne pestilence and destruccioun to goode folk. Boethius declares that he desired to put in practice (in the management of public affairs) what he had learnt in his retirement. ¶ And
þerfore I folowynge þilk auctoritee (.s. platonis). desiryng
to put[te] furþe in execusioun and in acte of comune
administracioun þo þinges þat .I. hadde lerned of þe 280
among my secre restyng whiles. ¶ Þou and god þat
put[te] þee in þe þouȝtis of wise folk ben knowen wiþ
me þat no þing brouȝt[e] me to maistrie or dignite: but
þe comune studie of al goodenes. He sought to do good to all, but became involved in discord with the wicked. ¶ And þer-of comeþ 284
it þat by-twixen wikked folk and me han ben greuouse
discordes. þat ne myȝten not be relesed by prayeres.
Consciousness of integrity made him despise the anger of the most powerful. ¶ For þis libertee haþ fredom of conscience þat þe wraþþe
of more myȝty folk haþ alwey ben despised of me for 288
saluacioun of ryȝt. He opposed Conigastus, and put a stop to the doings of Triguilla. ¶ How ofte haue .I. resisted and
wiþstonde þilk man þat hyȝt[e] conigaste þat made
alwey assautes aȝeins þe propre fortunes of poure feble
folke. ¶ How ofte haue .I. ȝitte put of. or cast out 292
hym trigwille prouost of þe kynges hous boþe of þe
wronges þat he hadde bygon[ne] to done and eke fully
performed. ¶ How ofte haue I couered and defended
by þe auctorite of me put aȝeins perils. He put his authority in peril for the defence of poor folk. þat is to seine put 296
myne auctorite in peril for þe wreched pore folke. þat
15 þe couetise of straungeres vnpunysched tourmentid alwey
wiþ myseses and greuaunces oute of noumbre.


I never deviated, he says, from the path of justice. ¶ Neuer man drow me ȝitte fro ryȝt to wrong. When I say þe 300
fortunes and þe rychesse of þe people of þe prouinces
ben harmed eyþer by priue rauynes or by comune
tributis or cariages. I felt for those that were wrongfully oppressed. as sory was I as þei þat suffred[e]
þe harme. Glosa. ¶ Whan þat theodoric þe kyng of 304
gothes in a dere ȝere hadde hys gerners ful of corne
and comaundede þat no man ne schold[e] bie no corne
til his corne were solde and þat at a dere greuous pris.
¶ But I withstod þat ordinaunce and ouer-com it 308
knowyng al þis þe kyng hym self. ¶ Coempcioun þat
is to seyn comune achat or bying to-gidere þat were
establissed vpon poeple by swiche a manere imposicioun
as who so bouȝt[e] a busshel corn he most[e] ȝeue þe 312
kyng þe fifte part. Textus. I opposed successfully Coemption in Campania. ¶ Whan it was in þe
soure hungry tyme þere was establissed or cried greuous
and inplitable coempcioun þat men seyn wel it schulde
greetly tourmentyn and endamagen al þe prouince of 316
compaigne I took strif aȝeins þe prouost of þe pretorie
for comune profit. ¶ And þe kyng knowyng of it I
ouercom it so þat þe coempcioun ne was not axed ne
took effect. I saved Paulinus out of the hands of the hounds of the palace (Palatini canes). ¶ Paulyn a counseiller of Rome þe rychesse 320
of þe whyche paulyn þe houndys of þe palays. þat is to
seyn þe officeres wolde han deuoured by hope and
couetise ¶ Ȝit drow I hym out of þe Iowes .s. faucibus
of hem þat gapeden. I defended Albinus against Cyprian. ¶ And for as myche as þe peyne 324
of þe accusacioun aiuged byforn ne scholde not sodeynly
henten ne punischen wrongfuly Albyn a counseiller of
16 Rome. I put[te] me aȝenis þe hates and indignaciouns
of þe accusour Ciprian. ¶ Is it not þan ynought yseyn 328
þat I haue purchased greet[e] discordes aȝeins my self.
For the love of justice I forfeited all favour at Court. but I aughte be more asseured aȝenis alle oþer folk þat
for þe loue of ryȝtwisnesse .I. ne reserued[e] neuer no
þing to my self to hem ward of þe kynges halle .s. officers. 332
by þe whiche I were þe more syker. ¶ But þoruȝ þe
same accusours accusyng I am condempned.


Boethius makes mention of his accusers, Basilius, Opilio, Gaudentius, men who had been commanded to leave the city on account of their many crimes. ¶ Of þe noumbre of whiche accusours one basilius þat somtyme
was chased out of þe kynges seruice. is now compelled 336
in accusyng of my name for nede of foreine
moneye. ¶ Also opilion and Gaudencius han accused
me. al be it so þat þe Iustice regal hadde sumtyme demed
hem boþe to go in to exil. for her treccheries and fraudes 340
wiþ-outen noumbre. ¶ To whiche iugement þei wolde
not obeye. but defended[e] hem by sykernesse of holy
houses. [* fol. 6.] *þat is to seyne fledden in to seyntuaries. and
whan þis was aperceiued to þe kyng. he comaunded[e] 344
but þat þei voided[e] þe citee of Rauenne by certeyne
day assigned þat men scholde merken hem on þe forheued
wiþ an hoke of iren and chasen hem out of toune.
¶ Now what þing semeþ þe myȝt[e] be lykned to þis 348
cruelte. But, on the day this sentence was to be executed, they accused him, and their testimony against him was accepted. For certys þilk same day was receyued þe accusyng
of my name by þilk[e] same accusours. ¶ What
may be seid herto. haþ my studie and my konnyng
deserued þus. or ellys þe forseide dampnacioun of me. 352
made þat hem ryȝtful accusours or no (q.d. non).
Fortune, if not ashamed at this, might at least blush for the baseness of the accusers. ¶ Was not fortune asshamed of þis. [Certes alle hadde
nat fortune ben asshamyd] þat innocence was accused.
ȝit auȝt[e] sche haue had schame of þe filþe of myn accusours. 356



¶ But axest þou in somme of what gilt .I.
am accused. Boethius says he is accused of trying to save the Senate, and of having embarrassed an informer against the Senate. men seyne þat I wolde sauen þe compaignie
of þe senatours. ¶ And desirest þou to here
in what manere .I. am accused þat I scholde han distourbed 360
þe accusour to beren lettres. by whiche he
scholde han maked þe senatours gilty aȝeins þe kynges
Real maieste. ¶ O meistresse what demest þou of
þis. schal .I. forsake þis blame þat I ne be no schame to 364
þe (q. d. non). It is true that he tried to save the Senate, for he has and will have its best interests always at heart. ¶ Certis .I. haue wold it. þat is to
seyne þe sauuacioun of þe senat. ne I schal neuer leten
to wilne it. and þat I confesse and am a-knowe. but
þe entent of þe accusour to be destourbed schal cese. 368
¶ For schal I clepe it a felonie þan or a synne þat I
haue desired þe sauuacioun of þe ordre of þe senat.
and certys ȝit hadde þilk same senat don by me þoruȝ
her decretȝ and hire iugementys as þouȝ it were a synne 372
or a felonie þat is to seyne to wilne þe sauuacioun of
hem (.s senatus). (Folly cannot change the merit of things. ¶ But folye þat lieth alwey to hym
self may not chaunge þe merit of þinges. According to Socrates’ judgment it is not lawful to hide the truth nor assent to a falsehood.) ¶ Ne .I.
trowe not by þe iugement of socrates þat it were leueful 376
to me to hide þe soþe. ne assent[e] to lesynges.
¶ But certys how so euer it be of þis I put[te] it to gessen
or preisen to þe iugement of þe and of wise folk. ¶ Of
whiche þing al þe ordinaunce and þe soþe for as moche 380
as folk þat ben to comen aftir oure dayes schollen
knowen it. Boethius determines to transmit an account of his prosecution to posterity. ¶ I haue put it in scripture and remembraunce.
for touching þe lettres falsly maked. by
whiche lettres I am accused to han hooped þe fredom of 384
Rome. What apperteneþ me to speken þer-of.
Boethius says that he could have defeated his accusers had he been allowed the use of their confessions. Of whiche lettres þe fraude hadde ben schewed apertly if
18 I hadde had libertee forto han vsed and ben at þe
confessioun of myn accusours. ¶ Þe whiche þing in 388
alle nedys haþ grete strenkeþ. ¶ For what oþer fredom
may men hopen. But there is now no remains of liberty to be hoped for. Certys I wolde þat some oþer fredom
myȝt[e] be hoped. ¶ I wolde þan haue answered by
þe wordes of a man þat hyȝt[e] Canius. for whan he was 392
accused by Gayus Cesar Germeins son þat he (canius)
was knowyng and consentyng of a coniuracioun maked
aȝeins hym (.s. Gaius). ¶ Þis Canius answered[e]
þus. ¶ Yif I had[de] wist it þou haddest not wist it. 396


It is not strange that the wicked should conspire against virtue. In whiche þing sorwe haþ not so dulled my witte
þat I pleyne oonly þat schrewed[e] folk apparailen
folies aȝeins vertues. ¶ But I wondre gretly how þat
þei may performe þinges þat þei had[de] hoped forto 400
done. The will to do ill proceeds from the defects of human nature. For why. to wylne schrewednesse þat comeþ
parauenture of oure defaute. ¶ But it is lyke to a
monstre and a meruaille. It is a marvel how such evil acts can be done under the eye of an Omniscient God. ¶ How þat in þe present
syȝt of god may ben acheued and performed swiche 404
þinges. as euery felonous man haþ conceyued in hys
þouȝt aȝeins innocent. ¶ For whiche þing oon of þi
familers not vnskilfully axed þus. If there be a God, whence proceeds evil? If there is none, whence arises good? ¶ Ȝif god is. whennes
comen wikked[e] þinges. and yif god ne is whennes 408
comen goode þinges. but al hadde it ben leueful þat
felonous folk þat now desiren þe bloode and þe deeþ of
alle goode men. and eke of al þe senat han wilned to
gone destroien me. whom þei han seyn alwey batailen 412
and defenden goode men and eke al þe senat. Ȝit
hadde I not desserued of þe fadres. þat is to seyne of
þe senatours þat þei scholde wilne my destruccioun.
19 Boethius defends the integrity of his life. ¶ Þou remembrest wele as I gesse þat whan I wolde 416
[* fol. 6 b.] don or *seyn any þing. þou þi self alwey present
reweledest me. He defended the Senate at Verona. ¶ At þe citee of verone whan þat þe
kyng gredy of comune slauȝter. caste hym to transporten
vpon al þe ordre of þe senat. þe gilt of his real 420
maieste of þe whiche gilt þat albyn was accused. wiþ
how grete sykernesse of peril to me defended[e] I al
þe senat. He spake only the truth, and did not boast. ¶ Þou wost wel þat I seide soþe. ne I
auaunted[e] me neuer in preysyng of my self. (Boasting lessens the pleasure of a self approving conscience.) ¶ For 424
alwey when any wyȝt resceiueþ preciouse renoun in
auauntyng hym self of hys werkes: he amenusiþ þe
secre of hys conscience. ¶ But now þou mayst wel
seen to what ende I am comen for myne innocence. 428


But as the reward of his innocence he is made to suffer the punishment due to the blackest crime. I receiue peyne of fals felonie in gerdoun of verray
vertue. ¶ And what open confessioun of felonie
had[de] euer iugis so accordaunt in cruelte. þat is to
seyne as myne accusyng haþ. ¶ Þat oþer errour of 432
mans witte or ellys condicioun of fortune þat is vncerteyne
to al mortal folk ne submytted[e] summe of hem. þat is
to seyne þat it ne cheyned[e] summe iuge to han pitee
or compassioun. Had he been accused of a design to burn temples, massacre priests, he would have been allowed to confront his accusers. ¶ For al þouȝ I had[de] ben accused 436
þat I wolde brenne holy houses. and strangle prestys
wiþ wicked swerde. ¶ or þat .I. had[de] grayþed deeþ
to alle goode men algatis þe sentence scholde han
punysched me present confessed or conuict. 440
But now this is denied him, and he is proscribed and condemned to death. ¶ But now I am remewed fro þe Citee of rome almost
fyue-hundreþ þousand pas. I am wiþ outen defence dampned
to proscripcioun and to þe deeþ. for þe studie and
bountees þat I haue done to þe senat. ¶ But o wel ben 444
þei worþi of mercye (as who seiþ nay.) þer myȝt[e] neuer
20 ȝit non of hem ben conuicte. Of swiche a blame as
myn is of swiche trespas myn accusours seyen ful wel þe dignitee.


Boethius says that his enemies accused him of sorcery. þe wiche dignite for þei wolde derken it 448
wiþ medelyng of some felonye. þei beren me on honde
and lieden. þat I hadde polute and defouled my conscience
wiþ sacrelege. for couetise of dignite. ¶ And
certys þou þi self þat art plaunted in me chacedest oute 452
þe sege of my corage al couetise of mortal þinges. ne
sacrilege ne had[de] no leue to han a place in me byforne
þine eyen. He affirms that he has always followed the golden maxim of Pythagoras,— ἕπου Θεῷ [Greek: hepou Theô]. ¶ For þou drouppedest euery day in myn
eeres and in my þouȝt þilk comaundement of pictogoras. 456
þat is to seyne men schal seruen to god. and not to
goddes. ¶ Ne it was no couenaunt ne no nede to
taken helpe of þe foulest spirites. ¶ I þat þou hast
ordeyned or set in syche excellence þat [þou] makedest 460
me lyke to god. and ouer þis þe ryȝt clene secre
chaumbre of myn house. His family and friends could clear him from all suspicion of the crime of sorcery. þat is to seye my wijf and þe
compaignie of myn honeste frendis. and my wyues
fadir as wel holy as worþi to ben reuerenced þoruȝ 464
hys owen dedis. defenden me of al suspeccioun of syche
blame. ¶ But o malice. ¶ For þei þat accusen me
taken of þe philosophie feiþe of so grete blame. Because he has given himself up to Philosophy, his enemies accuse him of using unlawful arts. ¶ For
þei trowen þat .I. haue had affinite to malyfice or enchauntementȝ 468
by cause þat I am replenissed and fulfilled
wiþ þi techynges. and enformed of þi maners.
¶ And þus it sufficeþ not only þat þi reuerence ne auayle
me not. but ȝif þat þou of þi fre wille raþer be blemissed 472
wiþ myne offensioun. ¶ But certys to þe harmes þat I
haue þere bytydeþ ȝit þis encrece of harme.


þat þe gessinge and þe iugement of myche folk ne loken no
þing to þe[de]sertys of þinges but only to þe auenture 476
of fortune. Most people imagine that that only should be judged to be undertaken with prudent foresight which is crowned with success. ¶ And iugen þat only swiche þinges ben
purueied of god. whiche þat temporel welefulnesse
commendiþ. Glosa. ¶ As þus þat yif a wyȝt haue
prosperite. he is a good man and worþi to haue þat 480
prosperite. The unfortunate lose the good opinion of the world. and who so haþ aduersite he is a wikked
man. and god haþ forsake hym. and he is worþi to
haue þat aduersite. ¶ Þis is þe opinioun of somme
folke. [* Text begins again.] *and þer of comeþ þat good gessyng. ¶ Fyrste of 484
al þing forsakeþ wrecches certys it greueþ me to þink[e]
ryȝt now þe dyuerse sentences þat þe poeple seiþ of
me. ¶ And þus moche I seye þat þe laste charge of
contrarious fortune is þis. [* fol. 7.] *þat whan þat ony blame is 488
laid vpon a caytif. men wenen þat he haþ deserued þat
he suffreþ. Boethius laments the loss of his dignities and reputation. ¶ And I þat am put awey from goode men
and despoiled from dignitees and defoulid of my name
by gessyng haue suffred torment for my goode dedis. 492
The wicked, he says, sin with impunity, while the innocent are deprived of security, protection, and defence. ¶ Certys me semeþ þat I se þe felonus couines of
wikked men abounden in ioie and in gladnes. ¶ And
I se þat euery lorel shapiþ hym to fynde oute newe
fraudes forto accusen goode folke. and I se þat goode 496
men ben ouerþrowen for drede of my peril. ¶ and
euery luxurious tourmentour dar don alle felonie vnpunissed
and ben excited þerto by ȝiftes. and innocentȝ
ne ben not oonly despoiled of sykernesse but of defence 500
and þerfore me list to crien to god in þis manere.

247 Felest þou—Felistow

248 art þou—artow

249 wepest þou—wepistow
spillest þou—spillestow

252 answered[e]—answerede

255 woode—wood

257 wyche—which

258 myne house þere—myn hows ther

259 desputest of[te]—desputedest ofte

260 þan—thanne

261 it and þan—both omitted

261, 262 swiche—swich

262 souȝt[e]—sowhte

263 secretys—secretȝ
my—MS. me, C. my

264 al—alle

265 gerdoun—gerdouns

266 enfourmedist—conformedest

267 mouþe—mowht

268 comunabletes—comunalitees

270 by-felle—byfille

271 in grete wisdomes—to geten wysdom

272 eke—ek

275 comune—omitted
y-left—MS. ylefte, C. yleft

276 Citiȝenis—citesenes
brynge inne—bryngen in

278 þerfore—therfor

279 put[te] furþe—putten forth

280 þo—thilke

282 put[te]—putte

283 brouȝt[e]—ne browhte

284 þe—omitted
al goodenes—alle goodnesse

287, 288 haþ—MS. haþe

289 saluacioun—sauacioun

290 þilk—thilke

290 conigaste—MS. coniugaste

292 ofte—ofte ek

294 bygon[ne]—bygunne

295 couered—MS. couerede, C. couered

296 put—MS. putte, C. put

297 myne—myn

298 vnpunysched—vnpunyssed

299 myseses—myseyses

300 drow—MS. drowe, C. weth drowh

301 rychesse—richesses
þe (2)—omitted

302 harmed eyþer—harmyd or amenused owther

303 tributis—tributȝ

304 harme—harm

305 ȝere—yer

305, 306, 307 corne—corn

306 schold[e] bie—sholde byen

308 But I withstod—Boece withstood (MS. withstode)
com—MS. come, C. com

311 swiche—swich

312 bouȝt[e]—bowhte
most[e] ȝeue—moste yeue

315 inplitable—vnplitable

319 ouercom—MS. ouercome, C. ouer com

320 counseiller—consoler

321 whyche—which

322 wolde—wolden

323 drow—MS. drowe, C. drowh

324 myche—moche

326 punischen—punisse

327 putt[e]—putte

328 yseyn—MS. yseyne

329 greet[e]—grete

330 aughte be—owhte be the

333 by þe whiche—by which
þoruȝ þe—thorw tho

335 whiche—the whiche

339 sumtyme—whilon

340 go—gon

341 wiþ-outen—withowte
wolde not—nolden nat

342 defended[e]—defendedyn
by—by the

343 seyne—seyn

344 was—omitted

345 voided[e]—voidede

346 men—me

347 hoke of iren—hoot yren

348 þe—omitted
myȝt[e] be—myhte ben

349 þilk—thilke

350 þilk[e]—thilke

351 be—ben
seid—MS. seide, C. seyd
haþ—MS. haþe

354, 355 [Certes——asshamyd]—from C.

356 auȝt[e]—owte
haue had—han had, MS. hadde

357 axest þou—axestow

358 seyne—seyn

359 desirest þou—desires thow

362 maked—MS. maken, C. makyd

363 demest þou—demestow

365 wold—MS. wolde, C. wold

366 seyne—seyn

367 þat—omitted
am—I am

368 be—ben

369 it—it thanne

371 þilk—thilke

372 her—hir

373 or—and

374 lieth—MS. lieþe, C. lieth

377 assent[e]—assente

381 schollen—shellen

382 andand in

385 speken—speke
of——lettres—C. omits

386 if—yif

387 had—MS. hade, C. had

388 myn—myne

389 haþ—MS. haþe, C. hath

390 some—som

391 myȝt[e] be—myhte ben
þan haue—thanne han

392 hyȝt[e]—hyhte

394 maked—ymaked

395 answered[e]—answerede

396 had[de]—hadde

397 whiche—which
haþ—MS. haþe

398 schrewed[e]—shrewede

399 folies—felonies

400 had[de]—han

401 done—don

402 lyke to a—lyk a

404 syȝt—syhte

405 haþ—MS. haþe

406 innocent—innocentȝ

408 wikked[e]—wykkede

410 bloode—blod

411 eke—ek

412 gone—gon and

413 eke—ek

414 seyne—seyn

415 scholde—sholden

416 wele—wel

417 don—MS. done, C. doon

418 þe (1)—omitted

419 slauȝter—slawhtre

420 transporten vpon—transpor vp

422 grete—gret

423 seide soþe—seye soth

424 auaunted[e]—auauntede

425 when—whan

429 in—for

430 vertue—vertu

431 had[de]—hadde

432 seyne—seyn
haþ—MS. haþe

433 witte—wit

434 al—alle

435 seyne—seyn

436 had[de]—hadde

438 wicked—wykkede

441 almost—almest

442 þousand—MS. þousas
wiþ outen—withowte

444 done—doon

445 myȝt[e]—myhte

446 ben—be

447 myn (both)—myne

448 wolde—wolden

449 some—som
on honde—an hand

450 polute—polut

451 sacrelege—C. has sorcerie as a gloss to sacrilege

453 al—alle

454 had[de]—hadde

455 drouppedest—droppedest

456 þilk—thilke

457 seyne—seyn

459 helpe—help

460 set—MS. sette, C. set

461 lyke—lyk

462 house—hows

463 myn—my

465 owen—owne
of al—from alle

467 philosophie—philosophre

468 had—MS. hadde, C. had

473 myne—myn

474 þere—ther

475 myche—moche

476 þe[de]sertys—the desertȝ

479 Glosa—glose

480 good—MS. goode, C. good

481 so—omitted in C.

481, 482 haþ—MS. haþe

483 haue—han

484 Fyrste—fyrst

485 al—alle

488 ony—any

489 laid—MS. laide, C. leyd
haþ—MS. haþe

490 put—MS. putte, C. put

491 from—of

494 abounden—habownden

495 oute—owt

496 accusen—accuse

497 ben—beth

501 manere—wise


[The fifthe metur.]


O  þou maker Author of the starry sky, Thou, seated on high, turnest the spheres, and imposest laws upon the stars and planets. of þe whele þat bereþ þe sterres. whiche
þat art fastned to þi perdurable chayere. and
22 turnest þe heuene wiþ a rauyssyng sweighe and constreinest 504
þe sterres to suffren þi lawe. ¶ So þat þe
mone somtyme schynyng wiþ hir ful hornes metyng
wiþ alle þe bemes of þe sonne. The sun obscures the lesser lights, and quenches even the moon’s light. ¶ Hir broþer hideþ þe
sterres þat ben lasse. and somtyme whan þe mone 508
pale wiþ hir derke hornes approcheþ þe sonne. leesith
hir lyȝtes. Thou raisest Hesperus to usher in the shades of night, and again causest him to be the harbinger of day, whence his name Lucifer. ¶ And þat þe euesterre esperus whiche
þat in þe first[e] tyme of þe nyȝt bryngeþ furþe hir
colde arysynges comeþ eft aȝeynes hir vsed cours. and 512
is pale by þe morwe at þe rysynge of þe sonne. and is
þan cleped lucifer. ¶ Þou restreinest þe day by schorter
dwellyng in þe tyme of colde wynter þat makeþ þe
leues to falle. ¶ Þou diuidest þe swifte tides of þe 516
nyȝt when þe hote somer is comen. Thou controllest the changing seasons of the year. ¶ Þi myȝt attempre[þ]
þo variauntȝ sesons of þe ȝere. so þat
ȝepherus þe deboneire wynde bringeþ aȝein in þe first[e]
somer sesoun þe leues þat þe wynde þat hyȝt[e] boreas 520
haþ reft awey in autumpne. þat is to seyne in þe laste
eende of somer. and þe sedes þat þe sterre þat hyȝt arcturus
saw ben waxen hey[e] cornes whan þe sterre
sirius eschaufeþ hym. All nature is bound by thy eternal law. ¶ Þere nis no þing vnbounde 524
from hys olde lawe ne forleteþ hym of hys propre estat.


Why, then, leavest thou man’s actions uncontrolled? ¶ O þou gouernour gouernyng alle þinges by certeyne
ende. why refusest þou oonly to gouerne þe werkes of
men by dewe manere. Why should fickle fortune be allowed to work such mighty changes in the world? ¶ Whi suffrest þou þat slidyng 528
fortune turneþ to grete vtter chaungynges of þinges.
so þat anoious peyne þat scholde duelly punisshe felouns
punissitȝ innocentȝ. The wicked are prosperous, while the righteous are in adversity. ¶ And folk of wikked[e]
maneres sitten in heiȝe chaiers. and anoienge folk 532
23 treden and þat vnryȝtfully in þe nekkes of holy men.
¶ And vertue clere and schynyng naturely is hid in
dirke dirkenesses. and þe ryȝtful man beriþ þe blame
and þe peyne of þe felowne. ¶ Ne þe forsweryng ne 536
þe fraude couered and kembd wiþ a fals colour ne
a-noyeþ not to schrewes. ¶ Þe whiche schrewes whan
hem lyst to vsen her strengþe þei reioisen hem to
putten vndir hem þe souerayne kynges. whiche þat 540
poeple wiþ[outen] noumbre dreden. O thou that bindest the disagreeing elements, look upon this wretched earth, and, as thou dost govern the spacious heavens, so let the earth be firmly bound. ¶ O þou what so
euer þou be þat knyttes[t] alle bondes of þinges loke
on þise wrecched[e] erþes. we men þat ben nat a
foule party but a faire party of so grete a werke we 544
ben turmentid in þe see of fortune. ¶ Þou gouernour
wiþdraw and restreyne þe rauyssinge flodes and fastne
and forme þise erþes stable wiþ þilke [bonde] wiþ
whiche þou gouernest þe heuene þat is so large. 548

502 whele—whel

503 fastned—yfastned

504 sweighe—sweyh
constreinest, MS. contreuiest, C. constreynest

506 hir—here

508 lasse—lesse

510 esperus whiche—hesperus which

511 first[e]—fyrste

512 eft—est

514 restreinest—MS. restreniest

516 to—omitted

518 attempre[þ] þo—atempreth the

519 wynde bringeþ—wynd brengeth

520 wynde—wynd

521 reft—MS. refte, C. reft

522 hyȝt—hihte
arcturus—MS. ariturus

523 saw—MS. saweþ, C. sawgh

524 hym—hem

525 from—fram
forleteþ hym of—forleetheth þe werke of

527 refusest þou—refowsestow

529 to——þinges—so grete entrechaunginges of thynges

531 punissitȝ—punysshe

532 heiȝe—heere

533 in—oon

534 and—omitted

536 Ne þe forsweryng—Ne forswerynge

537 kembd—MS. kembde, C. kembd

541 wiþ[outen]—withhowtyn

542 knyttes[t]—knyttest

543 wrecched[e]—wrecchede

544 a (2)—omitted

545 þe—this

546 wiþdraw—MS. wiþdrawe, C. withdrawh

547 forme—ferme
[bonde]—from C.


[The fyfthe prose.]


Whan I hadde Philosophy consoles Boethius. wiþ a continuel sorwe sobbed or
broken out þise þinges sche wiþ hir chere peisible
and no þing amoeued. wiþ my compleyntes seide þus.
whan I say þe quod sche sorweful and wepyng I wist[e] 552
on-one þat þou were a wrecche and exiled. but I
wist[e] neuer how fer þine exile was: ȝif þi tale ne
hadde schewed it to me. but certys al be þou fer fro þi
[* fol. 7 b.] contre. þou nart *nat put out of it. but þou hast 556
fayled of þi weye and gon amys. She speaks to him of his country. ¶ and yif þou hast
leuer forto wene þan þou be put out of þi contre. þan
hast þou put oute þi self raþer þen ony oþer wyȝt haþ.


¶ For no wyȝt but þi self ne myȝt[e] neuer haue don 560
24 þat to þe. She reminds him that he is a citizen of a country not governed by a giddy multitude, but εἷς κοίρανός ἐστιν, εἷς βασιλεύς. ¶ For ȝif þou remembre of what contre þou
art born. it nis not gouerned by emperoures. ne by
gouernement of multitude. as weren þe contres of hem
of athenes. ¶ But o lorde and o kyng and þat is god 564
þat is lorde of þi contree. whiche þat reioiseþ hym of
þe dwellyng of hys Citeȝenis. and not forto putte hem
in exile. Of þe whiche lorde it is a souerayne fredom
to be gouerned by þe bridel of hym and obeie to his 568
iustice. The Commonwealth of Boethius. ¶ Hast þou forȝeten þilke ryȝt olde lawe of þi
Citee. in þe whiche Citee it is ordeyned and establissed
þat what wyȝt þat haþ leuer founden þer inne hys sete
or hys house. þen ellys where: he may not be exiled 572
by no ryȝt fro þat place. ¶ For who so þat is contened
in-wiþ þe paleis [and the clos] of þilke Citee. þer nis
no drede þat he may deserue to ben exiled. ¶ But
who þat letteþ þe wille forto enhabit[e] þere. he forleteþ 576
also to deserue to ben Citeȝein of þilke Citee.
Philosophy says she is moved more by the looks of Boethius than by his gloomy prison. ¶ So þat I seye þat þe face of þis place ne amoeueþ me
nat so myche as þine owen face. Ne .I. ne axe not
raþer þe walles of þi librarie apparailled and wrouȝt 580
wiþ yvory and wiþ glas þan after þe sete of þi þouȝt.
Books are to be valued on account of the thoughts they contain. In whiche I putte nat somtyme bookes. but .I. putte
þat þat makeþ bookes worþi of pris or precious þat is
to sein þe sentence of my books. ¶ And certeinly of 584
þi decertes by-stowed in commune good. þou hast seid
soþe but after þe multitude of þi goode dedys. þou hast
seid fewe. and of þe vnhonestee or falsnesse of þinges
þat ben opposed aȝeins þe. þou hast remembred þinges 588
þat ben knowe to alle folk. Boethius has rightfully and briefly recounted the frauds of his accusers. and of þe felonies and
fraudes of þine accusours. it semeþ þe haue I-touched
it forsoþe ryȝtfully and schortly. ¶ Al myȝten þo
25 same þinges bettere and more plentiuousely be couth 592
in þe mouþe of þe poeple þat knoweþ al þis. ¶ Þou
hast eke blamed gretly and compleyned of þe wrongful
dede of þe senat. ¶ And þou hast sorwed for my
blame. Thou hast, said Philosophy, bewailed the loss of thy good name, thou hast complained against Fortune, and against the unequal distribution of rewards and punishments. and þou hast wepen for þe damage of þi renoune 596
þat is appaired. and þi laste sorwe eschaufed
aȝeins fortune and compleinest þat gerdouns ne ben not
euenliche ȝolde to þe desertes of folk. and in þe lattre
ende of þi woode muse þou priedest þat þilke pees þat 600
gouerneþ þe heuene scholde gouerne þe erþe ¶ But
for þat many tribulaciouns of affecciouns han assailed
þe. and sorwe and Ire and wepyng todrawen þee
dyuersely Strong medicines are not proper for thee now, distracted by grief, anger, and sadness. ¶ As þou art now feble of þouȝt. myȝtyer 604
remedies ne schullen not ȝit touchen þe for whiche
we wil[e] vsen somedel lyȝter medicines. Light medicines must prepare thee for sharper remedies. So þat þilk[e]
passiouns þat ben woxen harde in swellyng by perturbacioun
folowyng in to þi þouȝt mowen woxe esy 608
and softe to receyuen þe strenkeþ of a more myȝty and
more egre medicine by an esier touchyng.

550 broken—borken

552 wist[e]—wyste

553 on-one—anon

554 wist[e]—wyste

555 ne hadde—nadde

557 gon—MS. gone, C. gon

558 leuer—leuere

558, 559 put—MS. putte, C. put

559 haþ—MS. haþe

560 myȝt[e]—myhte
don—MS. done, C. don

562 born—MS. borne, C. born

566 hys—hise

568 be—ben

571 haþ—MS. haþe

572 house—hows

574 [and——clos]—from C.

576 wille—wyl

578 seye—sey

579 myche—mochel
ne (2)—omitted

582 putte (both)—put

585 decertes—desertes
seid—MS. seide, C. seyde

586 soþe—soth

587 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

588 opposed—aposyd

599 knowe—knowyn

592 be couth—MS. be couthe, C. ben cowth

596 wepen—wopen

597 laste—last

598 not—omitted

599 ȝolde—yolden

602 many—manye

604 myȝtyer—myhtyere

605 whiche—which

606 wil[e]—wol

607 harde—hard

608 folowyng—Flowyng

610 esier—esyere


[The sixte metur.]


Whan þat þe He who sows his seed when the sun is in the Sign of Cancer, must look for no produce. heuy sterre of þe cancre eschaufeþ by
þe beme of phebus. þat is to seyne whan þat phebus 612
þe sonne is in þe signe of þe Cancre. Who so ȝeueþ
þan largely hys sedes to þe feldes þat refuse to receiuen
hem. lete hym gon bygyled of trust þat he
hadde to hys corn. to acorns or okes. Think not to ingather violets in the wintry and stormy season. yif þou wilt 616
gadre violettȝ. ne go þou not to þe purper wode whan
þe felde chirkynge agriseþ of colde by þe felnesse of
þe wynde þat hyȝt aquilon If you wish for wine in autumn let the tendrils of the vine be free in the spring. ¶ Yif þou desirest or
26 wolt vsen grapes ne seke þou nat wiþ a glotonus hande 620
to streine and presse þe stalkes of þe vine in þe first
somer sesoun. for bachus þe god of wyne haþ raþer
ȝeuen his ȝiftes to autumpne þe latter ende of somer.
[* fol. 8.] To every work God assigns a proper time, nor suffers anything to pass its bounds. ¶ God tokeniþ and assigneþ *þe tymes. ablyng hem 624
to her propre offices. ¶ Ne he ne suffreþ not stoundes
whiche þat hym self haþ deuided and constreined to
be medeled to gidre Success does not await him who departs from the appointed order of things. ¶ And forþi he þat forleteþ
certeyne ordinaunce of doynge by ouerþrowyng wey. 628
he ne haþ no glade issue or ende of hys werkes.

612 beme—beemes

614 hys—hise

615 after hem C. adds [s. corn]
lete hym gon (MS. gone)—lat hym gon

616 or—of
wilt gadre—wolt gadery

618 felde—feeld

619 hyȝt—hyhte

620 hande—hond

622 haþ—MS. haþe

625 her propre—heere propres
not—nat the

626 haþ—MS. haþe

627 be medeled—ben I-medled

628 certeyne—certeyn

629 haþ—MS. haþe


[The syxte prose.]


FIrst wolt Philosophy proposes to question Boethius. þou suffre me to touche and assaie þe stat
of þi þouȝt by a fewe demaundes. so þat I may
vnderstonde what be þe manere of þi curacioun. ¶ Axe 632
me quod .I. atte þi wille what þou wilt. and I schal
answere. P. Is the world governed by Chance? ¶ Þo saide sche þus. wheþer wenest þou quod
sche þat þis worlde be gouerned by foolisshe happes
and fortunes. or elles wenest þou þat þer be in it any 636
gouernement of resoun. B. By no means. The Creator presides over his own works. Certes quod .I. ne trowe not
in no manere þat so certeyne þinges scholde be moeued
by fortunouse fortune. but I wot wel þat god maker
and mayster is gouernour of þis werk. I shall never swerve from this opinion. Ne neuer nas 640
ȝit day þat myȝt[e] putte me oute of þe soþenesse of
þat sentence. P. Yes! Thou didst say as much when thou didst declare man alone to be destitute of divine care. ¶ So is it quod sche. for þe same þing
songe þou a lytel here byforne and byweyledest and
byweptest. þat only men weren put oute of þe cure of 644
god. ¶ For of alle oþer þinges þou ne doutest nat
þat þei nere gouerned by reson. Still thou seemest to labour under some defect even in this conviction. but how (.i. pape.).
I wondre gretly certes whi þat þou art seek. siþen þou
art put in to so holesom a sentence. but lat vs seken 648
27 depper. I coniecte þat þere lakkeþ I not what. Tell me how the world is governed. but
sey me þis. siþen þat þou ne doutest nat þat þis worlde
be gouerned by god ¶ wiþ swycche gouernailes takest
þou hede þat it is gouerned. B. I do not thoroughly comprehend your question. ¶ vnneþ quod .I. knowe 652
.I. þe sentence of þi questioun. so þat I ne may nat
ȝit answeren to þi demaundes. P. I was not deceived, then, when I said there was some defect in thy sentiment. ¶ I nas nat deceiued
quod sche þat þere ne faileþ sumwhat. by whiche þe
maladie of perturbacioun is crept in to þi þouȝt. so 656
as þe strengþe of þe paleys schynyng is open. Tell me what is the chief end of all things; and whither all things tend. ¶ But
seye me þis remembrest þou ouȝt what is þe ende of
þi þinges. whider þat þe entencioun of al kynde tendeþ.
¶ I haue herd told it somtyme quod .I. but drerynesse 660
haþ dulled my memorie. ¶ Certys quod sche
þou wost wel whennes þat alle þinges ben comen and
proceded. B. God is the beginning of all things. I wot wel quod .I. and ansewered[e] þat
god is þe bygynnyng of al. P. How, then, art thou ignorant of their end? ¶ And how may þis be 664
quod sche þat siþen þou knowest þe bygynnyng of
þinges. þat þou ne knowest not what is þe endyng of
þinges. But it is the nature of these perturbations (which thou endurest) to unsettle men’s minds. but swiche ben þe customes of perturbaciouns.
and þis power þei han. þat þei may moeue a man fro 668
hys place. þat is to seyne from þe stablenes and perfeccioun
of hys knowyng. but certys þei may not al
arace hym ne alyene hym in al. ¶ But I wolde þat
þou woldest answere to þis. Dost thou remember that thou art a man? ¶ Remembrest þou þat 672
þou art a man B. Certainly I do.Boice. ¶ Whi scholde I nat remembre
þat quod .I. P. What is man? Philosophie. ¶ Maiste þou not telle
me þan quod sche what þing is a man. B. If you ask me whether I am a rational and mortal creature, I know and confess I am. ¶ Axest not
me quod I. wheþir þat be a resonable best mortel. I 676
wot wel and I confesse wel þat I am it. P. But dost thou not know that thou art more than this? ¶ Wistest
þou neuer ȝit þat þou were ony oþer þing quod she.



B. No. No quod .I. P. Now I know the principal cause of thy distemper. now wot I quod she oþer cause of þi
maladie and þat ryȝt grete ¶ Þou hast left forto 680
knowe þi self what þou art. þoruȝ whiche I haue pleynelyche
knowen þe cause of þi maladie. or ellis þe
entre of recoueryng of þin hele. Thou hast lost the knowledge of thyself, thou knowest not the end of things, and hast forgotten how the world is governed. ¶ Forwhy for þou
art confounded wiþ forȝetyng of þi self. forþi sorwest 684
þou þat þou art exiled of þi propre goodes. ¶ And
for þou ne wost what is þe ende of þinges. for[þi] demest
[þou] þat felonous and wikked men ben myȝty and weleful
for þou hast forȝeten by whiche gouernementȝ þe worlde 688
is gouerned. ¶ Forþi wenest þou þat þise mutaciouns
of fortune fleten wiþ outen gouernour. These are not only great occasions of disease, but also causes of death itself. þise ben grete
causes not oonly to maladie. but certes grete causes to
deeþ I thank God that Reason hath not wholly deserted thee. ¶ But I þanke þe auctour and þe makere of 692
heele þat nature haþ not al forleten þe. I have some hope of thy recovery since thou believest that the world is under Divine Providence, for this small spark shall produce vital heat. and I haue
g[r]ete norissinges of þi hele. and þat is þe soþe sentence
of gouernaunce of þe worlde. þat þou byleuest
þat þe gouernynge of it nis nat subgit ne vnderput 696
[* fol. 8 b.] to þe folie *of þise happes auenterouses. but to þe
resoun of god ¶ And þer fore doute þe noþing.
For of þis litel spark þine heet of lijf schal shine. But as this is not the time for stronger remedies, and because it is natural to embrace false opinions so soon as we have laid aside the true, from whence arises a mist that darkens the understanding, I shall endeavour therefore to dissipate these vapours so that you may perceive the true light. ¶ But
for as muche as it is not tyme ȝitte of fastere remedies 700
¶ And þe nature of þouȝtes disseiued is þis þat as ofte
as þei casten aweye soþe opyniouns: þei cloþen hem in
fals[e] opiniouns. [of whiche false opyniouns] þe derknesse
of perturbacioun wexeþ vp. þat comfoundeþ þe verray 704
insyȝt. and þat derkenes schal .I. say somwhat to
maken þinne and wayk by lyȝt and meenelyche remedies.
so þat after þat þe derknes of desseyuynge
desyrynges is don awey. þou mow[e] knowe þe schynyng 708
of verray lyȝt.

630 wolt þou—woltow

633 atte—at

635 worlde—world

636 fortunes—fortunows

638 scholde—sholden

639 wot—MS. wote, C. woot

641 myȝt[e] putte—myhte put

644 put—MS. putte

645 doutest—dowtedest

646 how—owh

647 seek siþen—syke syn

648 put—MS. putte, C. put

649 depper—deppere
not what—not nere what

650 siþen—syn

651 takest þou—takestow

658 seye—sey
remembrest þou—remenbres thow

659 al—alle

660 herd told—MS. herde tolde
herd told it—herd yt toold

661 haþ—MS. haþe

663 proceded—procedeth

664 þe—omitted

665 siþen—syn

668 fro—owt of

669 seyne from—seyn fro

672 Remembrest þou—Remenbresthow

674 Maiste þou—Maysthow

675 þan—þanne

677 Wistest þou—wystesthow

678 þing—thinge

680 hast left—MS. haste lefte, C. hast left

681 knowe—knowen
pleynelyche knowen—pleynly fwonde [= founde]

684 sorwest þou—sorwistow

686 for[þi] demest [þou]—For thy demesthow

687 wikked—MS. wilked, C. wykkyd

688 worlde—world

689 wenest þou—wenestow

690 outen—owte

693 haþ—MS. haþe

694 þi—thin

696 vnderput—vndyrputte

697 to (2)—omitted

698 fore—for

699 spark þine heet—sparke thin hete

700 muche—meche

702 aweye—away

703 [of——opyniouns]—from C.

705 insyȝt—insyhte

706 lyȝt—lyhte

708 don—MS. done



[The seuende Metyr.]


ÞE sterres Black clouds obscure the light of the stars. couered wiþ blak[e] cloudes ne mowen
geten a doun no lyȝt. If the south wind renders the sea tempestuous, the waves, fouled with mud, will lose their glassy clearness. Ȝif þe trouble wynde þat
hyȝt auster stormynge and walwyng þe see medleþ þe 712
heete þat is to seyne þe boylyng vp from þe botme
¶ Þe wawes þat somtyme weren clere as glas and
lyke to þe fair[e] bryȝt[e] dayes wiþstant anon þe
syȝtes of men. by þe filþe and ordure þat is resolued. 716
and þe fletyng streme þat royleþ doun dyuersely fro
heyȝe mountaignes is arestid and resisted ofte tyme
by þe encountrynge of a stoon þat is departid and
fallen from some roche. If thou wouldst see truth by the clearest light, pursue the path of right. ¶ And forþi yif þou wilt 720
loken and demen soþe wiþ clere lyȝt. and holde þe
weye wiþ a ryȝt paþe. Away with joy, fear, hope, and sorrow. ¶ Weyue þou ioie. drif fro þe
drede. fleme þou hope. ne lat no sorwe aproche. Let none of these passions cloud thy mind. þat is
to sein lat noon of þise four passiouns ouer come þe. 724
or blynde þe. Where these things control, the soul is bound by strong fetters. for cloudy and dirke is þilk þouȝt and
bounde with bridles. where as þise þinges regnen.


710 blak[e]—blake

712 stormynge—turnyng

713 from—fro

714 somtyme—whilom

715 lyke—lyk
fair[e]——wiþstant (MS. wiþstante)—fayre cleere dayes and brihte withstand

716 syȝtes—syhtes

717 streme—strem

718 heyȝe—hy

720 from some—fram som

721 soþe—soth

722 weye—wey

724 come—comen

725 blynde—blende



[The fyrst prose.]


After þis she Philosophy exhorts Boethius not to torment himself on account of his losses. stynte a litel. and after þat she hadde
gadred by atempre stillenesse myn attencioun she 728
seide þus. Thou art, she says, affected by the loss of thy former fortune. ¶ As who so myȝt[e] seye þus. After þise
þinges she stynt[e] a lytel. and whanne she aperceiued[e]
by atempre stillenesse þat I was ententif to
herkene hire. she bygan to speke in þis wyse. ¶ Yif 732
30 I quod she haue vnderstonden and knowe vtterly þe
causes and þe habit of þi maladie. þou languissed and
art deffeted for talent and desijr of þi raþer fortune.
It hath perverted thy faculties. ¶ She þat ilke fortune only þat is chaunged as þou 736
feinest to þe ward. haþ peruerted þe clerenesse and þe
astat of þi corage. I am well acquainted with all the wiles of that Prodigy (i. e. Fortune). ¶ I vnderstonde þe felefolde
colour and deceites of þilke merueillous monstre fortune.
and how she vseþ ful flatryng familarite wiþ hem 740
þat she enforceþ to bygyle. so longe til þat she confounde
wiþ vnsuffreable sorwe hem þat she haþ left
in despeir vnpurueyed. Though she has left thee, thou hast not lost anything of beauty or of worth. ¶ and if þou remembrest wel
þe kynde þe maners and þe desert of þilke fortune. þow 744
shalt wel knowe as in hir þou neuer ne haddest ne
hast ylost any fair þing. But as I trowe I shal not
gretly trauaile to don þe remembren of þise þinges.
Thou wert once proof against her allurements. ¶ For þou were wont to hurtlen [and despysen] hir 748
wiþ manly wordes whan she was blaundissinge and
presente and pursewedest hir wiþ sentences þat were
drawen oute of myne entre. þat is to seyne out of
myn informacioun But sudden change works a great alteration in the minds of men, hence it is that thou art departed from thy usual peace of mind. ¶ But no sudeyne mutacioun ne 752
bytideþ nat wiþ outen a maner chaungyng of curages.
and so is it byfallen þat þou art departed a litel fro
þe pees of þi þouȝt. But with some gentle emollients I shall prepare thee for stronger medicines. but now is tyme þat þou drynke
and atast[e] some softe and delitable þinges. so þat whan 756
þei ben entred wiþ inne þe. it mow make weye to
strenger drynkes of medycynes. Approach then, Rhetoric, with thy persuasive charms, and therewith let Music also draw near. ¶ Com nowe furþe
þerfore þe suasioun of swetnesse Rethoryen. whiche
þat goþ oonly þe ryȝt wey whil she forsakeþ not myne 760
estatutȝ. ¶ And wiþ Rethorice com forþe musice a
damoisel of oure house þat syngeþ now lyȝter moedes
31 or prolaciouns now heuyer. [* fol. 9.] *what ayleþ þe man. what
is it þat haþ cast þe in to murnyng and in to wepyng. 764
I trow[e] þat þou hast sen some newe þing and uncouþe.
Thou thinkest that Fortune is changed towards thee. ¶ Þou wenest þat fortune be chaunged aȝeins
þe But thou art deceived. ¶ But þou wenest wrong. yif þou [þat] wene.
In this misadventure of thine she hath preserved her constancy in changing. Alwey þo ben hire maners. she haþ raþer [kept] as to 768
þe ward hire propre stablenes in þe chaungyng of hyre
self. ¶ Ryȝt swyche was she whan she flatered[e]
þe. and desseiued[e] þe wiþ vnleueful lykynges of
false welefulnesse. You have seen the double face of this blind divinity. þou hast now knowen and ataynt 772
þe doutous or double visage of þilke blynde goddesse
fortune. ¶ She þat ȝit couereþ hir and wympleþ hir
to oþer folk. haþ shewed hir euerydel to þe. ¶ Ȝif
þou approuest hir and þenkest þat she is good. vse 776
hir maners and pleyne þe nat. If thou dost abhor her perfidy cast her off, for her sports are dangerous. ¶ And if þou agrisest
hir fals[e] trecherie. dispise and cast aweye hir þat
pleyeþ so harmefully. for she þat is now cause of so
myche sorwe to þe. sholde be to þe cause of pees and 780
[of] ioie. ¶ she haþ forsaken þe forsoþe. þe whiche
þat neuer man may be syker þat she ne shal forsake
hym. Glose. ¶ But naþeles some bookes han þe text
þus. For soþe she haþ forsaken þe ne þer nis no man 784
syker þat she ne haþ not forsaken. Is that happiness which is so transient? ¶ Holdest þou
þan þilke welefulnesse preciouse to þe þat shal passen.
Is the attendance of Fortune so dear to thee, whose stay is so uncertain, and whose removal causes such grief? and is present fortune derworþi to þe. whiche þat nis
not feiþful forto dwelle. and whan she goþ aweye þat 788
she bryngeþ a wyȝt in sorwe ¶ For syn she may nat
be wiþholden at a mans wille. she makeþ hym a wrecche
when she departeþ fro hym. What is she (Fortune) but the presage of future calamity? ¶ What oþer þing is
32 flitting fortune but a manere shewyng of wrycchednesse 792
þat is to comen. ne it ne suffriþ nat oo[n]ly to loken
of þing þat is present byforne þe eyen of man. but
wisdom lokeþ and mesureþ þe ende of þinges. Her mutability should make men neither fear her threats nor desire her favours. and þe
same chaungyng from one to an oþer. þat is to seyne 796
fro aduersite to prosperite makeþ þat þe manaces of
fortune ne ben not forto dreden. ne þe flatrynges of
hir to ben desired. ¶ Þus atte þe last it byhoueþ þe
to suffren wiþ euene wille in pacience al þat is don 800
inwiþ þe floor of fortune. þat is to seyne in þis worlde.


If you submit to her yoke you must patiently endure her inflictions. ¶ Syþen þou hast oones put þi nekke vnder þe ȝokke
of hir. for if þou wilt write a lawe of wendyng and of
dwellyng to fortune whiche þat þou hast chosen frely 804
to be þi lady Impatience will only embitter your loss. ¶ Art þou nat wrongful in þat and
makest fortune wroþe and aspere by þin inpacience.
and ȝit þou mayst not chaungen hir. You cannot choose your port if you leave your vessel to the mercy of the winds. ¶ Yif þou committest
[and] bitakest þi sayles to þe wynde. þou shalt 808
be shouen not þider þat þou woldest(:) but whider þat
þe wynde shoueþ þe ¶ Yif þou castest þi seedes in þe
feldes þou sholdest haue in mynde þat þe ȝeres ben
oþer while plenteuous ander while bareyne. You have given yourself up to Fortune; it becomes you therefore to obey her commands. ¶ Þou 812
hast bytaken þiself to þe gouernaunce of fortune.
and forþi it byhoueþ þe to ben obeisaunt to þe manere
of þi lady. Would you stop the rolling of her wheel? and enforcest þou þe to aresten or wiþstonden
þe swyftnesse and þe sweyes of hir tournyng 816
whele. Fool! if Fortune once became stable she would cease to exist. ¶ O þou fool of alle mortel fooles if fortune
bygan to dwelle stable. she cesed[e] þan to ben fortune.

727 she (2)—I

729 myȝt[e] seye—myhte seyn

730 stynt[e]—stynte

732 hire—here

733 knowe vtterly—knowen owtrely

734 languissed—languyssest

737 haþ—MS. haþe

738 astat—estat

739 colour—colours
deceites (MS. decrites)—deceytes

742 haþ—MS. haþe

743 if—yif

746 any (MS. my)—any

747 trauaile—travaylen
remembren of—remenbre on

748 [and despysen]—from C.

749 was—omitted

750 were—weren

751 myne—myn

752 sudeyne—sodeyn

753 outen—owte

757 inne—in
mow——weye—mowe maken way

758 strenger—strengere
Com nowe furþe—MS. Come; C. Com now forth

760 goþ—MS. goþe

761 com—MS. come, C. com

762 house—hows

763 prolaciouns—probasyons

765 trow[e]—trowe
sen—MS. sene, C. seyn

766 aȝeins—ayein

767 wenest—weenes
[þat]—C. that

768 haþ—MS. haþe
[kept]—from C.

769 stablenes in þe—stabylnesse standeth in the

770 swyche—swich

771 vnleueful—vnlefful

775 haþ—MS. had, C. hat

776 good—MS. goode, C. god

777 agrisest—MS. agrised, C. agrysyst

778 fals[e]—false

780 myche—mochel

781 [of]—from C.
haþ—MS. haþe

783 text—texte

784 haþ—MS. haþe

785 forsaken—forsake
Holdest þou—holdestow

786 þan—thanne

787 derworþi—dereworthe

788 feiþful—feythfulle
goþ—MS. goþe

790 mans—mannys

791 when—wan

793 suffriþ—suffiseth

794 of þing—on thynge
byforne—MS. byforne byforne
man—a man

795 mesureþ—amesureth

796 from one—fram oon

797 fro—from

799 atte þe last—at the laste

801 seyne—seyn

802 Syþen—Syn

803 if—yif

804 whiche—which

805 lady—ladye
Art þou—Artow

806 wroþe—wroth

807 chaungen—chaunge

808 [and]—from C.

809 þider—thedyr

811 haue—han

814 manere—maneres

815 and—omitted

816 sweyes—sweyȝ

818 cesed[e]—cesede



[The fyrst metur.] 


Whan fortune Fortune is as inconstant as the ebb and flow of Euripus. wiþ a proude ryȝt hande haþ turnid
hir chaungyng stoundes she fareþ lyke þe maners 820
of þe boillyng eurippe. Glose. Eurippe is an arme of
þe see þat ebbith and flowiþ. and somtyme þe streme
is on one syde and somtyme on þat oþer. Texte She hurls kings from their thrones, and exalts the captive. ¶ She
cruel fortune kasteþ adoune kynges þat somtyme weren 824
ydred. and she deceiuable enhaunseth vp þe humble
chere of hym þat is discomfited. She turns a deaf ear to the tears and cries of the wretched. and she neyþer hereþ
ne reccheþ of wrecched[e] wepynges. and she is so harde
þat she lauȝeþ and scorneþ þe wepyng of hem þe whiche 828
she haþ maked wepe wiþ hir free wille. Thus she sports and boasts her power and presents a marvel to her servants if, in the space of an hour, a man is hurled from happiness into adversity. ¶ Þus she
pleyeþ and þus she preueþ hir strengþe and sheweþ a
grete wondre to alle hir seruauntȝ. ¶ Yif þat a wyȝt
is seyn weleful and ouerþrowe in an houre. 832

819 proude—prowd
haþ—MS. haþe

820 lyke—lik

821 arme—arm

822 streme—strem

823 one—o

821 adoune—adown

825 ydred (MS. ydredde)—ydrad

827 reccheþ—rekkeþ

828 lauȝeþ—lyssheth

830 strengþe—strengthes


[The secunde prose.]


CErtis I Philosophy expostulates with Boethius in the name of Fortune. wolde plete wiþ þee a fewe þinges vsynge
þe wordes of fortune tak heede now þi self. yif þat
she axeþ ryȝt. [* fol. 9 b.] Why do you accuse me (Fortune) as guilty? *¶ O þou man wher fore makest þou
me gilty by þine euerydayes pleynynges. what wronges 836
haue I don þe. What goods or advantages have I deprived you of? what goodes haue I byreft þe þat weren
þine. stryf or plete wiþ me by fore what iuge þat þou
wilt of þe possessioun of rycchesse or of dignites Can you prove that ever any man had a fixed property in his riches? ¶ And
yif þou maist shewe me þat euer any mortal man haþ 840
receyued any of þese þinges to ben his in propre. þan
wol I graunt[e] frely þat [alle] þilke þinges weren þine
whiche þat þou axest. You came naked into the world, and I cherished you and encompassed you with affluence. ¶ Whan þat nature brouȝt[e] þe
forþe out of þi moder wombe. I receyued[e] þe naked 844
34 and nedy of al þing. and I norysshed[e] þe wiþ my
rychesse. and was redy and ententif þoruȝ my fauour to
sustene þe. ¶ And þat makeþ þe now inpacient aȝeins me.
and I envirounde þe wiþ al þe habundaunce and 848
shinyng of al goodes þat ben in my ryȝt. Now that I have a mind to withdraw my bounty, be thankful and complain not. ¶ Now it
lykeþ me to wiþ drawe myne hande. þou hast had grace
as he þat haþ vsed of foreyne goodes. þou hast no ryȝt to
pleyne þe. as þouȝ þou haddest vtterly lorn alle þi 852
þinges. whi pleynest þou þan. I haue don þe no wrong.
Riches and honours are subject to me. Ricches honoures and swyche oþer þinges ben of my
ryȝt. They are my servants, and come and go with me. ¶ My seruauntes knowen me for hir lady. þei
comen wiþ me and departen whan I wende. I dar wel 856
affermen hardyly. þat yif þo þinges of whiche þou
pleynest þat þou hast forlorn hadde ben þine. þou ne
haddest not lorn hem. Shall I alone be forbidden to use my own right? ¶ shal I þan only be defended
to vse my ryȝt. Doth not heaven give us sunny days and obscure the same with dark nights? ¶ Certis it is leueful to þe heuene to 860
make clere dayes. and after þat to keuere þe same dayes
wiþ derke nyȝtes. Is not the earth covered with frost as well as with flowers? ¶ Þe erþe haþ eke leue to apparaile
þe visage of þe erþe now with floures and now wiþ
fruyt. and to confounde hem somtyme wiþ raynes and 864
wiþ coldes. The sea sometimes appears calm, and at other times terrifies us with its tempestuous waves. ¶ Þe see haþ eke hys ryȝt to be somtyme
calme and blaundyshing wiþ smoþe water. and
somtyme to be horrible wiþ wawes and wiþ tempestes.
Shall I be bound to constancy by the covetousness of men? ¶ But þe couetyse of men þat may not be staunched 868
shal it bynde me to be stedfast. syn þat stedfastnesse
is vnkouþ to my maneres. ¶ Swyche is my strengþe.
I turn my rolling wheel and amuse myself with exalting what was low, and bringing down what was high. and þis pley. I pley[e] continuely. I tourne þe whirlyng
whele wiþ þe tournyng cercle ¶ I am glade to chaunge 872
þe lowest to þe heyeste. and þe heyest to þe loweste.



Ascend if you will, but come down when my sport requires it. worþe vp yif þou wilt. so it be by þis lawe. þat þou
ne holde not þat I do þe wronge þouȝ þou descende
doun whanne resoun of my pleye axeþ it. Know you not the history of Crœsus and of Paulus Æmilius? Wost þou 876
not how Cresus kyng of lyndens of whiche kyng Cirus
was ful sore agast a litel byforne þat þis rewlyche
Cresus was cauȝt of Cirus and lad to þe fijr to be
brent. but þat a reyne descended[e] doun from heuene 880
þat rescowed[e] hym ¶ And is it out of þi mynde how
þat Paulus consul of Rome whan he hadde take þe
kyng of perciens weep pitou[s]ly for þe captiuitee of þe
self[e] kyng. What else does the weeping muse of Tragedy deplore but the overthrow of kingdoms by the indiscriminate strokes of Fortune? What oþer þinges bywaylen þe criinges of 884
Tragedies. but only þe dedes of fortune. þat wiþ an
vnwar stroke ouerturneþ þe realmes of grete nobley
Glose. Tragedie is to seyne a dite of a prosperite for
a tyme þat endiþ in wrechednesse. Did you not learn whilst a youth, that at the gates of Jove’s palace stand two vessels, one full of blessings, the other of woes? Lernedest nat þou 888
in grek whan þou were ȝonge þat in þe entre or in þe
seler of Iuppiter þer ben couched two tunnes. þat on
is ful of good þat oþer is ful of harme. What if you have drunk too deep of the first vessel? ¶ What ryȝt
hast þou to pleyne. yif þou hast taken more plenteuously 892
of þe goode syde þat is to seyne of my rycchesse and
prosperites. and what eke. yif I be nat departed fro þe.
My mutability gives thee hope of happier days. What eke. yif my mutabilitee ȝiueþ þe ryȝtful cause of
hope to han ȝit better þinges. Desire not to be exempted from the vicissitudes of humanity. ¶ Naþeles desmaie þe 896
nat in þi þouȝt. and þou þat art put in comune realme
of alle: ne desijr[e] nat to lyue by þine oonly propre ryȝt.

833 plete—pleten

834 tak—MS. take, C. tak

835 makest þou—makes thow

836 wronges—wronge

837 don—MS. done, C. don
byreft—MS. byrefte, C. byreft

838 stryf—MS. stryue, C. stryf
by fore—by forn

839 wilt—wolt

840 shewe—shewyn
haþ—MS. haþe

841 þese—tho

842 graunt[e]—graunte
[alle]—from C.

845 al þing—alle thinges

846 rychesse—rychesses

848, 849 al—alle

848 habundaunce—aboundaunce

850 wiþ——hande—withdrawen myn hand
had—MS. hadde, C. had

851 haþ—MS. haþe

852 vtterly—outrely
lorn—MS. lorne, C. for lorn.

853 don—MS. done, C. don

854 Ricches—Rychesses

858 forlorn—MS. forlorne, C. forlorn

859 lorn—MS. lorne, C. lorn

860 vse—vsen

861 keuere þe—coeueryn tho

862 derke—dirk
haþ—MS. haþe

864 confounde—confownden

865 haþ—MS. haþe

866 calme—kalm

867 (2nd) wiþ—omitted

869 stedfast—stidefast

870 vnkouþ—MS. vnkouþe, C. vnkowth

871 pley[e]—pleye

872 whele—wheel

874 worþe—worth

876 doun—adoun
Wost þou—wistesthow

877 kyng (1)—the kyng

878 byforne—byforn

880 reyne descended[e]—rayn dessendede

881 rescowed[e]—rescowede

882 take—takyn

885 an—a

886 þe—omitted

887 seyne—seyn

890 tunnes—tonnes

891 harme—harm

892 hast þou—hasthow

893 seyne—seyn

894 I be nat—I ne be nat al

896 better—betere

898 lyue—lyuen


[the secunde metur.]


ÞOuȝ plentee Though Plenty, from her teeming horn, poured down as many riches on the world as there are sands on the sea-shore, or stars in heaven, mankind would not cease to complain. þat is goddesse of rycches hielde adoun
wiþ ful horn. and wiþdraweþ nat hir hand. ¶ As 900
many recches as þe see turneþ vpwardes sandes whan it
36 is moeued wiþ rauysshing blastes. or ellys as many
rycches as þer shynen bryȝt[e] sterres on heuene on þe
sterry nyȝt. Ȝit for al þat mankynde nolde not cesce to 904
wope wrecched[e] pleyntes. [* fol. 10.] Though Heaven may grant every desire, they will still cry for more. ¶ And al be it so *þat
god receyueþ gladly her prayers and ȝeueþ hem as ful
large muche golde and apparaileþ coueytous folk wiþ
noble or clere honours. ȝit semeþ hem haue I-gete noþing. 908
but alwey her cruel ravyne deuourynge al þat þei
han geten shewiþ oþer gapinges. þat is to seye gapen
and desiren ȝit after moo rycchesse. What rein can restrain unbounded avarice? ¶ What brideles
myȝten wiþholde to any certeyne ende þe desordene 912
coueitise of men ¶ Whan euere þe raþer þat it fletiþ in
large ȝiftis: þe more ay brenneþ in hem þe þrest of
hauyng. He who thinks himself poor, though he be rich, doth truly labour under poverty. ¶ Certis he þat quakyng and dredeful weneþ
hym seluen nedy. he ne lyueþ neuere mo ryche. 916

899 rycches—rychesses

901 recches—rychesses

902 rauysshing—rauyssynge

903 rycches—rychesses
on (1)—in

904 nyȝt—nyhtes

905 wope wrecched[e]—wepe wrecchede

906 her—hir

907 muche—meche

908 haue—hauen

909 her—hir

910 seye—seyn

911 rycchesse—rychesses

912 wiþholde—wytholden

914 þrest—thurst

915 dredeful—dredful

916 lyueþ—leueth


[The thrydde prose.]


Þerfore yif If Fortune spake thus to you, you could not defend your complaint. þat fortune spake wiþ þe for hir self in
þis manere. For soþe þou ne haddest [nat] what
þou myȝtest answere. and if þou hast any þing wherwiþ.
þou mayist ryȝtfully tellen þi compleynt. ¶ It 920
byhoueþ þe to shewen it. and .I. wol ȝeue þe space to
tellen it. B. What you have said is very specious, but such discourses are only sweet while they strike our ears. ¶ Certeynely quod I þan þise ben faire
þinges and enoyntid wiþ hony swetnesse of rethorike
and musike. and only while þei ben herd þei ben 924
deliciouse. They cannot efface the deep impressions that misery has made in the heart. ¶ But to wrecches is a deppere felyng of
harme. þis is to seyn þat wrecches felen þe harmes þat
þei suffren more greuously þan þe remedies or þe delites
of þise wordes mowe gladen or comforten hem. so þat 928
37 whan þise þinges stynten forto soun[e] in eres. þe sorwe
þat is inset greueþ þe þouȝt. P. So it is indeed; for my arguments are not designed as remedies, but as lenitives only. Ryȝt so is it quod she.
¶ For þise ne ben ȝit none remedies of þi maladie. but
þei ben a manere norissinges of þi sorwe ȝit rebel 932
aȝeyne þi curacioun. When time serves, I will administer those things that shall reach the seat of your disease. ¶ For whan þat tyme is. I shal
moue swiche þinges þat percen hem self depe. But you are not among the number of the wretched. ¶ But
naþeles þat þou shalt not wilne to leten þi self a
wrecche. ¶ Hast þou forȝeten þe noumbre and þe 936
manere of þi welefulnesse. I shall not speak of your happiness in being provided for (in your orphanage) by the chief men of the city; nor of your noble alliance with Festus and Symmachus; I holde me stille how þat
þe souerayn men of þe Citee token þe in cure and
kepynge whan þou were orphelyn of fadir and modir.
and were chosen in affinite of princes of þe Citee. 940
¶ And þou bygunne raþer to ben leef and deere þan
forto ben a neyȝbour. þe whiche þing is þe most preciouse
kynde of any propinquitee or aliaunce þat may
ben. ¶ Who is it þat ne seide þou nere ryȝt weleful 944
wiþ so grete a nobley of þi fadres in lawe. nor of your virtuous wife, and manly sons.And wiþ
þe chastite of þi wijf. and wiþ þe oportunite and
noblesse of þi masculyn children. þat is to seyne þi
sones and ouer al þis me lyst to passe of comune þinges. 948
¶ How þou haddest in þi þouȝt dignitees þat weren
warned to olde men. but it deliteþ me to comen now to
þe singuler vphepyng of þi welefulnesse. ¶ Yif any
fruyt of mortal þinges may han any weyȝte or price of 952
welefulnesse. Can you ever forget the memorable day that saw your two sons invested with the dignity of Consuls? ¶ Myȝtest þou euere forȝeten for any
charge of harme þat myȝt[e] byfallen. þe remembraunce
of þilke day þat þou sey[e] þi two sones maked conseillers.
and ylad to gidre from þin house vndir so gret 956
assemble of senatours. and vndir þe blyþenesse of poeple.
and whan þou say[e] hem sette in þe court in her
38 chaieres of dignites. ¶ Þou rethorien or pronouncere
of kynges preysinges. deseruedest glorie of wit and of 960
eloquence. When in the circus you satisfied the expectant multitude with a triumphal largess? whan þou sittyng bytwix þi two sones conseillers
in þe place þat hyȝt Circo. and fulfildest þe
abydyng of multitude of poeple þat was sprad about þe
wiþ large praysynge and laude as men syngen in victories. 964
By your expressions you flattered Fortune, and obtained from her a gift which never before fell to any private person. þo ȝaue þou wordes of fortune as I trowe. þat
is to seyne. þo feffedest þou fortune wiþ glosynge
wordes and desseiuedest hir. whan she accoied[e] þe
and norsshed[e] þe as hir owen delices. ¶ Þou hast 968
had of fortune a ȝifte þat is to seyn swiche gerdoun
þat she neu[er]e ȝaf to preue man Will you therefore call Fortune to account? ¶ Wilt þou þerfore
leye a rekenyng wiþ fortune. She now begins, I own, to look unkindly on you; but if you consider the number of your blessings, you must confess that you are still happy. she haþ now twynkeled
first vpon þe wiþ a wykked eye. ¶ Yif þou considere 972
þe noumbre and þe manere of þi blysses. and of þi
sorwes. [* fol. 10 b.] *þou maist nat forsake þat þou nart ȝit blysful.


These evils that you suffer are but transitory. For if þou þerfore wenest þi self nat weleful for þinges
þat þo semeden ioyful ben passed. ¶ Þer nis nat whi 976
þou sholdest wene þi self a wrecche. for þinges þat now
semen soory passen also. ¶ Art þou now comen firste
a sodeyne gest in to þe shadowe or tabernacle of þis
lijf. Can there be any stability in human affairs, when the life of man is exposed to dissolution every hour? or trowest þou þat any stedfastnesse be in mannis 980
þinges. ¶ Whan ofte a swifte houre dissolueþ þe same
man. þat is to seyne whan þe soule departiþ fro þe
body. For al þouȝ þat yelde is þer any feiþ þat fortunous
þinges willen dwelle. The last day of life puts an end to Prosperity. ȝit naþeles þe last[e] day 984
of a mannis lijf is a manere deeþ to fortune. and also
to þilke þat haþ dwelt. What matters it then, whether you by death leave it, or it (Fortune) by flight doth leave you? and þerfore what wenist þou
þar recche yif þou forlete hir in deynge or ellys þat she
fortune forlete þe in fleenge awey. 988

918 [nat]—from C.

919 if—yif

920 mayist—mayst

921 ȝeue—yeuyn

922 þan—thanne
ben—bet (= beth)

923 swetnesse—swetenesse

924 while—whil
herd—MS. herde

926 harme—harm

928 mowe—mowen

929 soun[e]-sowne

930 inset—MS. insette, C. inset

932 sorwe—sorwes

933 aȝeyne—ayein

934 moue swiche—moeue swych

938 souerayn—souerane

943 neyȝbour—neysshebour

944 nere—were

945 nobley—nobleye

947 seyne—seyn

948 lyst—lyste
passe of—passen the

949 þouȝt—yowthe

950 warned—werned

952 fruyt—frute

953 Myȝtest þow—myhtes-thow

954 harme—harm
myȝt[e] byfallen—myhte befalle

955 sey[e]—saye

956 from—fro
gret—MS. grete, C. gret

958 say[e]—saye

961 bytwix—bytwyen

962 hyȝt—hihte

963 of (1)—of the

964 wiþ—with so

965 ȝaue—MS. þan, C. yaue

966 seyne—seyn

967 accoied[e]—acoyede

968 norsshed[e]—noryssede
þou——of—thow bar away of

969 had—MS. hadde

970 preue—pryue

971 leye—lye
haþ—MS. haþe

972 wykked—wyckede

973 blysses—blysse

974 forsake—forsakyn

978 soory—sorye

979 sodeyne—sodeyn

980 stedfastnesse—stedefastnesse

981 swifte—swyft

983 al þouȝ þat—al þat thowgh

984 willen dwelle—wolen dwellyn

986 haþ—MS. haþe
wenist þou—weenestow

987 þar recche—dar recke

988 awey—away



[The .iij. Metur.]


Whan phebus The stars pale before the light of the rising sun. þe sonne bygynneþ to spreden his clerenesse
with rosene chariettes. þan þe sterre ydimmyd
paleþ hir white cheres. by þe flamus of þe sonne þat
ouer comeþ þe sterre lyȝt. ¶ Þis is to seyn whan þe 992
sonne is risen þe day sterre wexiþ pale and lesiþ hir
lyȝt for þe grete bryȝtnesse of þe sonne. Westerly winds deck the wood with roses, but easterly winds cause their beauty to fade. ¶ Whan þe
wode wexeþ redy of rosene floures in þe first somer
sesoun þoruȝ þe breþe of þe wynde Zephirus þat wexeþ 996
warme. ¶ Yif þe cloudy wynde auster blowe felliche.
þan goþ awey þe fayrnesse of þornes. Now the sea is calm, and again it is tempestuous. Ofte þe see is
clere and calme wiþoute moeuyng floodes. And ofte
þe horrible wynde aquilon moeueþ boylyng tempestes 1000
and ouer whelweþ þe see. If all things thus vary, will you trust in transitory riches? ¶ Yif þe forme of þis worlde
is so [ȝeelde] stable. and yif it tourniþ by so many
entrechaungynges. wilt þou þan trusten in þe trublynge
fortunes of men. wilt þou trowen in flittyng goodes. 1004
All here below is unstedfast and unstable. It is certeyne and establissed by lawe perdurable þat no
þing þat is engendred nys stedfast no stable.

989 his—hyr

990 þan—thanne

991 flamus—flambes

995 redy—rody

997 warme—warm

998 goþ—MS. goþe, C. goth

999 clere—cleer

1000 wynde—wynd

1001 whelweþ—welueeth

1002 [ȝeelde]—from C.

1003, 1004 wilt þou—wolthow

1003 þan—thanne

1004 in flittyng—on flettynge

1005 It is—is it

1006 no—ne


[The ferthe prose.]


ÞAnne seide I B. I cannot deny my sudden and early prosperity. þus. O norice of alle uertues þou
seist ful soþe. ¶ Ne I may nat forsake þe ryȝt[e] 1008
swifte cours of my prosperitee. þat is to seine. þat
prosperitee ne be comen to me wondir swiftly and
soone. but þis is a þing þat gretly smertiþ me whan it
remembreþ me. It is the remembrance of former happiness that adds most to man’s infelicity. ¶ For in alle aduersitees of fortune þe 1012
most vnsely kynde of contrariouse fortune is to han
ben weleful. P. Recollect that you have yet much affluence. ¶ But þat þou quod she abaist þus þe
tourment of þi fals[e] opinioun þat maist þou not ryȝtfully
40 blamen ne aretten to þinges. as who seiþ for þou 1016
hast ȝitte many habundaunces of þinges. ¶ Textus.
For al be it so þat þe ydel name of auenterouse welefulnesse
moeueþ þe now. it is leueful þat þou rekene
with me of how many[e] þinges þou hast ȝit plentee. 1020
What you esteemed most precious in your happy days, you still retain, and ought therefore not to complain. ¶ And þerfore yif þat þilke þing þat þou haddest for
most precious in alle þi rycchesse of fortune be kept
to þe by þe grace of god vnwemmed and vndefouled.
Mayst þou þan pleyne ryȝtfully vpon þe myschief of fortune. 1024
syn þou hast ȝit þi best[e] þinges. ¶ Certys ȝit
lyueþ in goode poynt þilke precious honour of mankynde.
Symmachus, dear to you as life, is safe and in health. ¶ Symacus þi wyues fadir whiche þat is a
man maked al of sapience and of vertue. þe whiche 1028
man þou woldest b[i]en redely wiþ þe pris of þin owen
lijf. he byweyleþ þe wronges þat men don to þee. and
not for hym self. for he liueþ in sykernesse of any
sentence put aȝeins him. Your wife Rusticiana is also alive, and bewails her separation from you. ¶ And ȝit lyueþ þi wif þat 1032
is attempre of witte and passyng oþer women in clennes
of chastitee. and for I wol closen shortly her bountes
she is lyke to hir fadir. I telle þe welle þat she lyueþ
looþ of hir life. and kepiþ to þee oonly hir goost. and 1036
is al maat and ouer-comen by wepyng and sorwe for
desire of þe ¶ In þe whiche þing only I mot graunten
þat þi welefulnesse is amenused. Why need I mention your two sons, in whom so much of the wit and spirit of their sire and grandsire doth shine? ¶ What shal I seyn
eke of þi two sones conseillours of whiche as of children 1040
[* fol. 11.] of hir age þer shineþ *þe lyknesse of þe witte of
hir fadir and of hir eldefadir. And since it is the chief care of man to preserve life; you are still most happy in the possession of blessings which all men value more than life. and siþen þe souereyn
cure of alle mortel folke is to sauen hir owen lyues.


¶ O how weleful art þou þouȝ þou knowe þi goodes. 1044
41 ¶ But ȝitte ben þer þinges dwellyng to þe wardes þat no
man douteþ þat þei ne ben more derworþe to þe þen
þine owen lijf. Dry up thy tears, thou hast still present comfort and hope of future felicity. ¶ And forþi drie þi teres for ȝitte nys
nat eueriche fortune al hateful to þe warde. ne ouer 1048
greet tempest haþ nat ȝit fallen vpon þe. whan þat þin
ancres cliue fast[e] þat neiþer wole suffre þe comfort of þis
tyme present. ne þe hope of tyme comynge to passen
ne to fallen. B. I hope these will never fail me. ¶ And I preie quod I þat fast[e] mot[en] 1052
þei holden. ¶ For whiles þat þei halden. how so euere
þat þinges ben. I shal wel fleten furþe and eschapen.
But do you not see how low I am fallen? ¶ But þou mayst wel seen how greet[e] apparailes and
aray þat me lakkeþ þat ben passed awey fro me. P. I should think that I had made progress if you did not repine so at your fate. ¶ I 1056
haue sumwhat auaunced and forþered þe quod she. if
þat þou anoie nat or forþenke nat of al þi fortune. As
who seiþ. ¶ I haue somwhat comforted þe so þat þou
tempest nat þe þus wiþ al þi fortune. syn þou hast 1060
ȝit þi best[e] þinges. It grieves me to hear you complain while you possess so many comforts. ¶ But I may nat suffre þin
delices. þat pleinst so wepyng. and anguissous for þat
oþer lakkeþ somwhat to þi welefulnesse. Every one, however happy, has something to complain of. ¶ For what
man is so sad or of so perfit welefulnesse. þat he ne 1064
stryueþ or pleyneþ on some half aȝeine þe qualitee of
his estat. The condition of human enjoyment is anxious; for either it comes not all at once, or makes no long stay when it does come. ¶ For whi ful anguissous þing is þe condicioun
of mans goodes. ¶ For eyþer it comeþ al to
gidre to a wyȝt. or ellys it lasteþ not perpetuely. 1068


One man is very wealthy, but his birth is obscure. ¶ For som man haþ grete rycchesse. but he is asshamed
of hys vngentil lynage. Another is conspicuous for nobility of descent, but is surrounded by indigence. and som man is renomed
of noblesse of kynrede. but he is enclosed in so
grete angre for nede of þinges. þat hym were leuer þat 1072
he were vnknowe. A third is blest with both advantages, but is unmarried. and som man habundeþ boþe in
rychesse and noblesse. but ȝit he bywaileþ hys chast[e]
42 lijf. for he haþ no wijf. This man is happy in a wife, but is childless, while that other man has the joy of children, but is mortified by their evil ways. ¶ and som man is wel and
selily maried but he haþ no children. and norissheþ his 1076
ricchesse to þe heires of straunge folk. ¶ And som
man is gladded wiþ children. but he wepiþ ful sory for
þe trespas of his son or of his douȝtir. Thus we see that no man can agree easily with the state of his fortune. ¶ and for þis
þer accordeþ no wyȝt lyȝtly to þe condicioun of his fortune. 1080
for alwey to euery man þere is in mest somwhat
þat vnassaieþ he ne wot not or ellys he drediþ þat he
haþ assaied. The senses of the happy are refined and delicate, and they are impatient if anything is untoward.And adde þis also þat euery weleful
man haþ a wel delicat felyng. ¶ So þat but yif alle 1084
þinges fallen at hys owen wille for he inpacient or is
nat vsed to han none aduersitee. an-oone he is þrowe
adoũne for euery lytel þing. The happiness of the most fortunate depends on trifles. ¶ And ful lytel þinges
ben þo þat wiþdrawen þe somme or þe perfeccioun of 1088
blisfulnesse fro hem þat ben most fortunat. How many would think themselves in heaven if they had only a part of the remnant of thy fortune! ¶ How
many men trowest þou wolde demen hem self to ben
almost in heuene yif þei myȝten atteyne to þe leest[e]
partie of þe remenaunt of þi fortune. ¶ Þis same place 1092
þat þou clepist exil is contre to hem þat enhabiten
here. Thy miseries proceed from the thought that thou art miserable. and forþi. Noþing wrecched. but whan þou
wenest it Every lot may be happy to the man who bears his condition with equanimity and courage. ¶ As who seiþ. þouȝ þi self ne no wyȝt
ellys nys no wrecche but whan he weneþ hym self a 1096
wrecche by reputacioun of his corage.

1008 soþe—soth
Ne I may—Ne I ne may

1009 seine—seyn

1011 a—omitted

1012 aduersitees—aduersyte

1013 most—mooste

1014 abaist—abyest

1015 tourment—tormentȝ

1016 seiþ—MS. seiþe, C. seyh

1017 ȝitte—yit

1019 leueful—leefful

1020 many[e] þinges—manye grete thinges

1022 alle—al

1023 þe by—the yit by

1024 myschief—meschef

1025 best[e]—beste

1026 lyueþ—leueth

1027 whiche—which

1028 al—alle
of (2)—omitted

1029 b[i]en—byen

1030 byweyleþ—bewayleth
don—MS. done, C. don

1031 liueþ—leueth

1033 witte—wyt

1034 shortly—shortely

1035 lyke—lik

1036 hir life—this lyf

1037 maat—maad

1038 whiche—weche

1039 amenused—amenyssed
seyn—(MS. seyne) seyn

1041 lyknesse—lykenesse

1042 and (1)—or
eldefadir—eldyr fadyr

1043 folke—folk

1044 art þou þouȝ—arthow yif

1045 But ȝitte—for yit

1046 þat—than
þen þine—than thin

1047 ȝitte—yit

1049 haþ—MS. haþe

1050 cliue fast[e]—cleuen faste
wole suffre—wolen suffren

1052 fallen—faylen
fast[e] mot[en]—faste moten

1053 holden—halden

1054 furþe—forth

1055 mayst—mayste

1058 forþenke—forthinke

1061 best[e]—beste
suffre þin—suffren thi

1063 oþer—ther

1064 perfit—parfyt

1065 or—and
some half aȝeine—som halue ayen

1067 mans—mannes
comeþ al—comth nat al

1068 lasteþ—last

1069 rycchesse—Rychesses

1070 renomed—renowned

1072 angre for—Angwysshe of

1074 chast[e]—caste

1075, 1076 haþ—MS. haþe

1076 maried—ymaryed

1077 ricchesse—Rychesses

1080 þer—þer ne

1081 mest—omitted

1082 vnassaieþ—vnassaied
wot—MS. wote, C. wot

1083, 1084 haþ—MS. haþe

1084 wel—ful

1085 fallen—byfalle

1086 none—non

1087 adoũne—adoun

1090 wolde—wolden

1095 it—hyt

1096 no—a



And aȝeinewarde al fortune is blisful to a man by þe
agreablete or by þe egalite of hym þat suffreþ it.
When patience is lost then a change of state is desired. ¶ What man is þat. þat is so weleful þat nolde chaungen 1100
his estat whan he haþ lorn pacience. þe swetnesse of
mannes welefulnesse is yspranid wiþ many[e] bitternesses.
43 þe whiche welefulnesse al þouȝ it seme swete and
ioyeful to hym þat vseþ it. ȝit may it not be wiþ-holden 1104
þat it ne goþ away whan it wol. How much is human felicity embittered! ¶ Þan is it wel sen
how wrecched is þe blisfulnesse of mortel þinges. It will not stay with those that endure their lot with equanimity, nor bring comfort to anxious minds. þat
neiþer it dwelliþ perpetuel wiþ hem þat euery fortune
receyuen agreablely or egaly. ¶ Ne it ne deliteþ not in 1108
al. to hem þat ben anguissous. Why then, O mortals, do ye seek abroad for that felicity which is to be found within yourselves? ¶ O ye mortel folkes
[* fol. 11 b.] what seke *ȝe þan blisfulnesse oute of ȝoure self. whiche
þat is put in ȝoure self. Errour and folie confoundeþ
ȝow ¶ I shal shewe þe shortly. þe poynt of souereyne 1112
blisfulnesse. Nothing is more precious than thyself. Is þer any þing to þe more preciouse þan
þi self ¶ Þou wilt answere nay. If thou hast command over thyself, Fortune cannot deprive thee of it. ¶ Þan if it so be þat
þou art myȝty ouer þi self þat is to seyn by tranquillitee
of þi soule. þan hast þou þing in þi power þat þou 1116
noldest neuer lesen. ne fortune may nat by-nyme it þe.
Happiness does not consist in things transitory. and þat þou mayst knowe þat blisfulnesse [ne] may
nat standen in þinges þat ben fortunous and temperel.
If happiness be the supreme good of nature, then that thing cannot be it which can be withdrawn from us. ¶ Now vndirstonde and gadir it to gidir þus 1120
yif blisfulnesse be þe souereyne goode of nature þat
liueþ by resoun ¶ Ne þilke þing nis nat souereyne
goode þat may be taken awey in any wyse. for more
worþi þing and more digne is þilke þing þat may nat be 1124
taken awey. Instability of fortune is not susceptive of true happiness. ¶ Þan shewiþ it wele þat þe vnstablenesse
of fortune may nat attayne to receyue verray
blisfulnes. ¶ And ȝit more ouer. He who is led by fading felicity, either knows that it is changeable or does not know it. ¶ What man þat
þis toumblyng welefulnesse leediþ. eiþer he woot þat 1128
[it] is chaungeable. or ellis he woot it nat. If he knows it not, what happiness has he in the blindness of his ignorance? ¶ And yif
he woot it not. what blisful fortune may þer be in þe
blyndenesse of ignoraunce. and yif he woot þat it is
chaungeable. he mot alwey ben adrad þat he ne lese 1132
þat þing. þat he ne douteþ nat but þat he may leesen it.



If he knows it is fleeting he must be afraid of losing it, and this fear will not suffer him to be happy. ¶ As whoo seiþ he mot ben alwey agast lest he
leese þat he wot wel he may leese. ¶ For whiche þe
continuel drede þat he haþ ne suffriþ hym nat to ben 1136
weleful. ¶ Or ellys yif he leese it he wene to be
dispised and forleten hit. ¶ Certis eke þat is a ful
lytel goode þat is born wiþ euene hert[e] whan it is
loost. ¶ Þat is to seyne þat men don no more force. 1140
of þe lost þan of þe hauynge. Since thou art convinced of the soul’s immortality, thou canst not doubt that if death puts an end to human felicity, that all men when they die, are plunged into the depths of misery. ¶ And for as myche as
þou þi self art he to whom it haþ ben shewid and proued
by ful many[e] demonstraciouns. as I woot wel þat þe
soules of men ne mowen nat dien in no wise. and eke 1144
syn it is clere. and certeyne þat fortunous welefulnesse
endiþ by þe deeþ of þe body. ¶ It may nat ben douted
þat yif þat deeþ may take awey blysfulnesse þat al þe
kynde of mortal þingus ne descendiþ in to wrecchednesse 1148
by þe ende of þe deeþ. But we know that many have sought to obtain felicity, by undergoing not only death, but pains and torments. ¶ And syn we knowen
wel þat many a man haþ souȝt þe fruit of blisfulnesse
nat only wiþ suffryng of deeþ. but eke wiþ suffryng of
peynes and tourmentes. How then can this present life make men truly happy, since when it is ended they do not become miserable? how myȝt[e] þan þis present 1152
lijf make men blisful. syn þat whanne þilke self[e]
lijf is endid. it ne makeþ folk no wrecches.

1098 aȝeinewarde al—ayeinward alle

1099 it—hyt

1101 whan—what
haþ—MS. haþe
lorn—MS. lorne, C. lost

1102 yspranid—spraynyd

1104 hym—hem

1105 goþ—MS. geþe
sen—MS. sene

1107 dwelliþ—dureth

1109 folkes—folke

1110 oute—owt

1112 shortly—shortely

1114 wilt—MS. wilte, C. wolt

1117 by-nyme—be-neme

1118 blisfulnesse [ne]—blyssefulnesse ne

1120 to gidir—to gidere

1121, 1122 souereyne goode—souereyn good

1125 wele—wel

1126 receyue—resseyuen

1129 [it]—from C.

1130 be—ben

1131 blyndenesse—blyndnesse

1134 it—hyt
seiþ—MS. seiþe, C. seyth

1135 wot—MS. wote, C. wot
leese (2)—leese it

1136 haþ—MS. haþe

1137 ellys—omitted

1138 hit—omitted

1139 goode—good
born—MS. borne, C. born

1140 seyne—seyn
don—MS. done, C. do

1142 haþ—MS. haþe

1143 many[e]—manye

1144 mowen—mowe

1145 clere—cleer

1147 al—alle

1150 haþ—MS. haþe

1152 myȝt[e]—myhte

1153 make—maken


[The ferthe metur.]


What maner He who would have a stable and lasting seat must not build upon lofty hills; nor upon the sands, if he would escape the violence of winds and waves. man stable and war þat wil founden hym
a perdurable sete and ne wil not be cast doune 1156
wiþ þe loude blastes of þe wynde Eurus. and wil dispise
þe see manassynge wiþ floodes ¶ Lat hym eschewe to
bilde on þe cop of þe mountayngne. or in þe moyste
sandes. ¶ For þe fel[le] wynde auster tourmenteþ þe cop 1160
of þe mountayngne wiþ alle his strengþes. ¶ and þe
45 lowe see sandes refuse to beren þe heuy weyȝte. If thou wilt flee perilous fortune, lay thy foundation upon the firmer stone, so that thou mayst grow old in thy stronghold. and
forþi yif þou wolt flee þe perilous auenture þat is to
seine of þe worlde ¶ Haue mynde certeynly to ficchyn 1164
þi house of a myrie site in a lowe stoone. ¶ For al
þouȝ þe wynde troublyng þe see þondre wiþ ouereþrowynges
¶ Þou þat art put in quiete and welful by
strengþe of þi palys shalt leden a cleer age. scornyng 1168
þe wodenesses and þe Ires of þe eir.

1155, 1156, 1157 wil—wole

1156 be cast—MS. be caste, C. ben cast

1157 wynde—wynd

1158 eschewe—eschewen

1160 fel[le]—felle

1161 his—hise

1162 lowe—lavse

1163 flee—fleen

1164 seine—seyn

1165 þi—thin
lowe stoone—lowh stoon

1167 welful—weleful

1169 wodenesses—woodnesses


[The fyfthe prose.]


But for as It is now time to use stronger medicines, since lighter remedies have taken effect. moche as þe noryssinges of my resouns
descenden now in to þe. I trowe it were tyme to
vsen a litel strenger medicynes. What is there in the gifts of Fortune that is not vile and despicable? ¶ Now vndirstonde 1172
here al were it so þat þe ȝiftis of fortune nar[e] nat
brutel ne transitorie. what is þer in hem þat may be
[* fol. 12.] þine *in any tyme. or ellis þat it nys foule if þat it be
considered and lokid perfitely. Are riches precious in themselves, or in men’s estimation? ¶ Richesse ben þei 1176
preciouse by þe nature of hem self. or ellys by þe
nature of þe. What is most precious in them, quantity or quality? What is most worþi of rycchesse. is it
nat golde or myȝt of moneye assembled. Bounty is more glorious than niggardliness. ¶ Certis
þilke golde and þilke moneye shineþ and ȝeueþ better 1180
renoun to hem þat dispenden it. þen to þilke folke þat
mokeren it. Avarice is always hateful, while liberality is praise-worthy. For auarice makeþ alwey mokeres to be
hated. and largesse makeþ folke clere of renoun
¶ For syn þat swiche þing as is transfered from o 1184
man to an oþer ne may nat dwellen wiþ no man.
Money cannot be more precious than when it is dispensed liberally to others. Certis þan is þilke moneye precious. whan it is translated
in to oþer folk. and stynteþ to ben had by
vsage of large ȝeuyng of hym þat haþ ȝeuen it. If one man’s coffers contained all the money in the world, every one else would be in want of it. and 1188
also yif al þe moneye þat is ouer-al in þe world were
46 gadered towar[d] o man. it sholde maken al oþer men
to ben nedy as of þat. ¶ And certys a voys al hool
þat is to seyn wiþ-oute amenusynge fulfilleþ to gyder 1192
þe heryng of myche folke. Riches cannot be dispensed without diminution. but Certys ȝoure rycchesse
ne mowen nat passen vnto myche folk wiþ-oute amenussyng
¶ And whan þei ben apassed. nedys þei maken
hem pore þat forgon þe rycchesses. O the poverty of riches, that cannot be enjoyed by many at the same time, nor can be possessed by one without impoverishing others! ¶ O streite and 1196
nedy clepe I þise rycchesses. syn þat many folke [ne]
may nat han it al. ne al may it nat comen to on man
wiþ-oute pouerte of al oþer folke. ¶ And þe shynynge
of gemmes þat I clepe preciouse stones. draweþ it nat 1200
þe eyen of folk in to hem warde. þat is to seyne for þe
beaute. The beauty of precious stones consists only in their brightness, wherefore I marvel that men admire that which is motionless, lifeless, and irrational. ¶ For certys yif þer were beaute or bounte
in shynyng of stones. þilke clerenesse is of þe stones
hem self. and nat of men. ¶ For whiche I wondre 1204
gretly þat men merueilen on swiche þinges. ¶ For
whi what þing is it þat yif it wanteþ moeuyng and
ioynture of soule and body þat by ryȝt myȝt[e] semen
a faire creature to hym þat haþ a soule of resoun. 1208
Precious stones are indeed the workmanship of the Creator, but their beauty is infinitely below the excellency of man’s nature. ¶ For al be it so þat gemmes drawen to hem self a
litel of þe laste beaute of þe worlde. þoruȝ þe entent
of hir creatour and þoruȝ þe distinccioun of hem self.
ȝit for as myche as þei ben put vndir ȝoure excellence. 1212
þei han not desserued by no weye þat ȝe shullen
merueylen on hem. Doth the beauty of the field delight thee? ¶ And þe beaute of feeldes deliteþ
it nat mychel vnto ȝow. B. Why should it not? for it is a beautiful part of a beautiful whole. Boyce. ¶ Whi sholde it nat
deliten vs. syn þat it is a ryȝt fayr porcioun of þe ryȝt 1216
fair werk. þat is to seyn of þis worlde. Hence, we admire the face of the sea, the heavens, as well as the sun, moon, and stars. ¶ And ryȝt
so ben we gladed somtyme of þe face of þe see whan
it is clere. And also merueylen we on þe heuene and
47 on þe sterres. and on þe sonne. and on þe mone. 1220
P. Do these things concern thee? darest thou glory in them? Philosophie. ¶ Apperteineþ quod she any of þilke
þinges to þe. whi darst þou glorifie þe in þe shynynge
of any swiche þinges. Do the flowers adorn you with their variety? Art þou distingwed and embelised
by þe spryngyng floures of þe first somer 1224
sesoun. or swelliþ þi plente in fruytes of somer. whi
art þou rauyshed wiþ ydel ioies. Why embracest thou things wherein thou hast no property? why enbracest þou
straunge goodes as þei weren þine. Fortune can never make that thine which the nature of things forbids to be so. Fortune shal neuer
maken þat swiche þinges ben þine þat nature of þinges 1228
maked foreyne fro þe. The fruits of the earth are designed for the support of beasts. ¶ Syche is þat wiþ-outen
doute þe fruytes of þe erþe owen to ben on þe
norssinge of bestes. If you seek only the necessities of nature, the affluence of Fortune will be useless. ¶ And if þou wilt fulfille þi
nede after þat it suffiseþ to nature þan is it no nede 1232
þat þou seke after þe superfluite of fortune. Nature is content with a little, and superfluity will be both disagreeable and hurtful. ¶ For
wiþ ful fewe þinges and with ful lytel þing nature
halt hire appaied. and yif þou wilt achoken þe fulfillyng
of nature wiþ superfluites ¶ Certys þilke 1236
þinges þat þou wilt þresten or pouren in to nature
shullen ben vnioyeful to þe or ellis anoies. Does it add to a man’s worth to shine in variety of costly clothing? ¶ Wenest
þou eke þat it be a fair þinge to shine wiþ dyuerse
cloþing. The things really to be admired are the beauty of the stuff or the workmanship of it. of whiche cloþing yif þe beaute be agreable 1240
to loken vpon. I wol merueylen on þe nature of þe
matere of þilke cloþes. or ellys on þe werkeman þat
wrouȝt[e] hem. Doth a great retinue make thee happy? but al so a longe route of meyne. makiþ
[* fol. 12 b.] þat a blisful *man. If thy servants be vicious, they are a great burden to the house, and pernicious enemies to the master of it. þe whiche seruauntes yif þei ben 1244
vicioũs of condiciouns it is a greet charge and a
destruccioun to þe house. and a greet enmye to þe lorde
hym self If they be good, why should the probity of others be put to thy account?And yif þei ben goode men how shal
straung[e] or foreyne goodenes ben put in þe noumbre 1248
of þi rycchesse. Upon the whole, then, none of those enjoyments which thou didst consider as thy own did ever properly belong to thee. so þat by alle þise forseide þinges. it is
clerly shewed þat neuer none of þilke þinges þat þou
accoumptedest for þin goodes nas nat þi goode. If they be not desirable, ¶ In
þe whiche þinges yif þer be no beaute to ben desired. 1252



why shouldst thou grieve for the loss of them? whi sholdest þou be sory yif þou leese hem. or whi
sholdest þou reioysen þe to holden hem. If they are fair by nature, what is that to thee? ¶ For if þei
ben fair of hire owen kynde. what apperteneþ þat to þe.
They would be equally agreeable whether thine or not. for as wel sholde þei han ben faire by hem self. 1256
þouȝ þei weren departid from alle þin rycchesse. They are not to be reckoned precious because they are counted amongst thy goods, but because they seemed so before thou didst desire to possess them. ¶ For-why
faire ne precioũs ne weren þei nat. for þat þei
comen amonges þi rycchesse. but for þei semeden fair
and precious. þerfore þou haddest leuer rekene hem 1260
amonges þi rycchesse. What, then, is it we so clamorously demand of Fortune? but what desirest þou of fortune
wiþ so greet a noyse and wiþ so greet a fare
Is it to drive away indigence by abundance? ¶ I trowe þou seke to dryue awey nede wiþ habundaunce
of þinges. But the very reverse of this happens, for there is need of many helps to keep a variety of valuable goods. ¶ But certys it turneþ to ȝow al in þe 1264
contrarie. for whi certys it nediþ of ful many[e] helpynges
to kepen þe dyuersite of preciouse ostelmentȝ.
They want most things who have the most. and soþe it is þat of many[e] þinges han þei nede þat
many[e] þinges han. They want the fewest who measure their abundance by the necessities of nature, and not by the superfluity of their desires. and aȝeyneward of litel nediþ 1268
hem þat mesuren hir fille after þe nede of kynde and
nat after þe outrage of couetyse Is there no good planted within ourselves, that we are obliged to go abroad to seek it? ¶ Is it þan so þat ye
men ne han no propre goode. I-set in ȝow. For
whiche ȝe moten seken outwardes ȝoure goodes in 1272
foreine and subgit þinges. Are things so changed and inverted, that god-like man should think that he has no other worth but what he derives from the possession of inanimate objects? ¶ So is þan þe condicioun
of þinges turned vpso doun. þat a man þat is a devyne
beest by merit of hys resoun. þinkeþ þat hym
self nys neyþer fair ne noble. but if it be þoruȝ 1276
possessioun of ostelmentes. þat ne han no soules.


Inferior things are satisfied with their own endowments, while man (the image of God) seeks to adorn his nature with things infinitely below him, not understanding how much he dishonours his Maker. ¶ And certys al oþer þinges ben appaied of hire owen
beautes. but ȝe men þat ben semblable to god by ȝoure
resonable þouȝt desiren to apparaille ȝoure excellent 1280
kynde of þe lowest[e] pinges. ne ȝe ne vndirstonde nat
how gret a wrong ȝe don to ȝoure creatour. God intended man to excel all earthly creatures, yet you debase your dignity and prerogative below the lowest beings. for he
wolde þat man kynde were moost worþi and noble of
49 any oþer erþely þinges. and ȝe þresten adoun ȝoure 1284
dignitees by-neþen þe lowest[e] þinges. In placing your happiness in despicable trifles, you acknowledge yourselves of less value than these trifles, and well do you merit to be so esteemed. ¶ For if þat al
þe good of euery þing be more preciouse þan is þilk
þing whos þat þe good is. syn ȝe demen þat þe
foulest[e] þinges ben ȝoure goodes. þanne summytten 1288
ȝe and putten ȝoure self vndir þo foulest[e] þinges by
ȝoure estimacioun. ¶ And certis þis bitidiþ nat wiþ
out ȝoure desert. Man only excels other creatures when he knows himself. For certys swiche is þe condicioun
of al man kynde þat oonly whan it haþ knowyng of it 1292
self. þan passeþ it in noblesse alle oþer þinges. When he ceases to do so, he sinks below beasts. and
whan it forletiþ þe knowyng of it self. þan it is
brouȝt byneþen alle beestes. Ignorance is natural to beasts, but in men it is unnatural and criminal. ¶ For-why alle oþer
[leuynge] beestes han of kynde to knowe not hem 1296
self. but whan þat men leten þe knowyng of hem self.
it comeþ hem of vice. How weak an error is it to believe that anything foreign to your nature can be an ornament to it. but how brode sheweþ þe errour
and þe folie of ȝow men þat wenen þat ony þing may
ben apparailled wiþ straunge apparaillementȝ ¶ but 1300
for-soþe þat may nat be don. If a thing appear beautiful on account of its external embellishments, we admire and praise those embellishments alone. for yif a wyȝt shyneþ wiþ
þinges þat ben put to hym. as þus. yif þilke þinges
shynen wiþ whiche a man is apparailled. ¶ Certis
þilke þinges ben commendid and preised wiþ whiche 1304
he is apparailled. The thing covered still continues in its natural impurity. ¶ But naþeles þe þing þat is
couered and wrapped vndir þat dwelleþ in his filþe.
I deny that to be a good which is hurtful to its owner. and I denye þat þilke þing be good þat anoyeþ hym
þat haþ it. Am I deceived in this? You will say no; for riches have often hurt their possessors. ¶ Gabbe I of þis. þou wolt seye nay. 1308
¶ Certys rycchesse han anoyed ful ofte hem þat han þe
rycchesse. Every wicked man desires another’s wealth, and esteems him alone happy who is in possession of riches. ¶ Syn þat euery wicked shrew and for
hys wickednesse þe more gredy aftir oþer folkes rycchesse
wher so euer it be in any place. be it golde or 1312
50 precious stones. [* fol. 13.] and weniþ hym *only most worþi þat
haþ hem You, therefore, who now so much dread the instruments of assassination, if you had been born a poor wayfaring man, might, with an empty purse, have sung in the face of robbers. ¶ þou þan þat so besy dredest now þe swerde
and þe spere. yif þou haddest entred in þe paþe of þis
lijf a voide wayfaryng man. þan woldest þou syng[e] 1316
by-fore þe þeef. ¶ As who seiþ a poure man þat bereþ
no rycchesse on hym by þe weye. may boldly syng[e]
byforne þeues. for he haþ nat wher-of to ben robbed.
O the transcendant felicity of riches! No sooner have you obtained them, than you cease to be secure. ¶ O preciouse and ryȝt clere is þe blysfulnesse of 1320
mortal rycchesse. þat whan þou hast geten it. þan hast
þou lorn þi syke[r]nesse.

1172 strenger—strengere

1173 nar[e]—ne weere

1174 be þine—ben thyn

1175 foule—fowl

1176 Richesse—Rychessis

1178 rycchesse—rychesses

1179, 1180 golde—gold

1180 better—betere

1181 þen—thanne

1182 mokeres—mokereres

1183 folke clere—folk cler

1184 swiche—swich

1187 stynteþ—stenteth

1188 haþ—MS. haþe

1189 world—worlde

1190 al—alle

1191 al hool—omitted

1193 myche folke—moche folke

1194 myche—moche

1196 forgon—MS. forgone

1197 þise—this
[ne]—from C.

1198 on—o

1199 wiþ-oute—with-owten

1200 preciouse—presyous

1201 in—omitted

1202 beaute (1)—beautes

1203 in—in the

1204 whiche—which

1207 ioynture—Ioyngture

1208 faire—fayr
haþ—MS. haþe

1210 laste—last

1212 myche—mochel

1213 desserued—MS. desseyued, C. desseruyd

1215 mychel—mochel

1217 fair werk—fayre werke

1219 clere—cler

1222 darst þou glorifie—darsthow gloryfyen

1225 in—in the

1229 Syche—Soth

1230 on—to

1231, 1235, 1237 wilt—wolt

1238 shullen—shollen

1239 fair—fayre

1240 whiche—which

1242 werkeman—werkman

1246 house—hows

1248 goodenes—goodnesse

1250 shewed—I-shewyd

1251 þin—thine

1255 fair—fayre
hire owen—hyr owne

1256 sholde—sholden

1257 þin rycchesse—thyne rychesses

1259 amonges—amonge

1259, 1261 rycchesse—Rychesses

1259 fair—fayre

1260 leuer rekene—leuere rekne

1262 greet (2)—grete

1265, 1267 many[e]—manye

1267 soþe—soth

1272 outwardes—owtward

1276 fair—fayre

1278 hire owen—hir owne

1281 ne (2)—omitted

1282 gret—MS. grete, C. gret

1284 oþer erþely—oothre worldly

1285 by-neþen—by-nethe

1286 good—MS. goode, C. good
þilk þing—thilke thinge

1287 þe (2)—tho

1288 summytten—submitten

1289 self—seluen

1290 bitidiþ—tydeth

1291 out—owte

1292 al—alle

1293 self—selue

1294 it is—is it

1296 [leuynge]—from C.

1297 þat—omitted

1298 comeþ—comth

1299 þing—thinge

1302 put—MS. putte, C. put

1303 whiche—which

1306 filþe—felthe

1307 þing—thinge
good—MS. goode, C. good

1308 haþ—MS. haþe

1309 rycchesse—Rychesses

1310 rycchesse—Rychesses

1311 rycchesse—rychesses

1312 golde—gold

1314 haþ—MS. haþe, C. hat

1315 paþe—paath

1316 wayfaryng—wayferynge

1317 by-fore—by-forn
seiþ—MS. seiþe, C. seyth

1318 boldly syng[e]—boldely synge

1319 haþ—MS. haþe

1320 preciouse—precyos

1321 rycchesse—rychesses

1322 lorn—MS. lorne, C. lorn


[The fyfthe metur.]


Blysful was Happy was the first age of men. They were contented with what the faithful earth produced. þe first age of men. þei helden hem
apaied wiþ þe metes þat þe trewe erþes brouȝten 1324
furþe. ¶ þei ne destroyed[e] ne desceyued[e] not hem
self wiþ outerage. With acorns they satisfied their hunger. ¶ þei weren wont lyȝtly to slaken
her hunger at euene wiþ acornes of okes They knew not Hypocras nor Hydromel. ¶ þei ne
couþe nat medle þe ȝift of bacus to þe clere hony. 1328
þat is to seyn. þei couþe make no piment of clarre.
They did not dye the Serian fleece in Tyrian purple. ne þei couþe nat medle þe briȝt[e] flies of þe contre
of siriens wiþ þe venym of tirie. þis is to seyne. þei
couþe nat dien white flies of sirien contre wiþ þe 1332
blode of a manar shelfysshe. þat men fynden in tyrie.
wiþ whiche blode men deien purper. They slept upon the grass, and drank of the running stream, and reclined under the shadow of the tall pine. ¶ þei slepen
holesom slepes vpon þe gras. and dronken of þe rynnyng
watres. and laien vndir þe shadowe of þe heyȝe 1336
pyne trees. No man yet ploughed the deep, nor did the merchant traffick with foreign shores. ¶ Ne no gest ne no straunger [ne] karf
ȝit þe heye see wiþ oores or wiþ shippes. ne þei ne
51 hadden seyne ȝitte none newe strondes to leden merchaundyse
in to dyuerse contres. The warlike trumpet was hushed and still. ¶ þo weren þe cruel 1340
clariouns ful whist and ful stille. Bloodshed had not yet arisen through hateful quarrels. ne blode yshed by
egre hate ne hadde nat deied ȝit armurers. Nothing could stimulate their rage to engage in war, when they saw that wounds and scars were the only meeds. for wherto
or whiche woodenesse of enmys wolde first moeuen
armes. whan þei seien cruel woundes ne none medes 1344
ben of blood yshad O that those days would come again! ¶ I wolde þat oure tymes sholde
turne aȝeyne to þe oolde maneres. The thirst of wealth torments all; it rages more fiercely than Ætna’s fires. ¶ But þe anguissous
loue of hauyng brenneþ in folke moore cruely þan þe
fijr of þe Mountaigne of Ethna þat euer brenneþ. 1348
Cursed be the wretch who first brought gold to light. ¶ Allas what was he þat first dalf vp þe gobets or
þe weyȝtys of gold couered vndir erþe. and þe precious
stones þat wolden han ben hid. he dalf vp precious
perils. þat is to seyne þat he þat hem first vp dalf. he 1352
dalf vp a precious peril. It has since proved perilous to many a man. for-whi. for þe preciousnesse
of swyche haþ many man ben in peril.

1324 erþes—feeldes

1325 furþe—forth

1327 her—hyr
at—MS. as, C. at

1328 couþe—cowde

1329 couþe—cowde

1330 couþe—cowde
briȝt[e] flies—bryhte fleeȝes

1331 siriens—Seryens

1332 couþe—cowde

1333 blode—blood

1334 blode—blood

1335 holesom—holsom
rynnyng watres—rennynge wateres

1337 pyne—pyn
no (2)—omitted
[ne]—from C.

1339 hadden seyne ȝitte—hadde seyn yit

1341 whist—hust
blode yshed—blod I-shad

1343 whiche woodenesse—whych wodnesse

1344 seien—say

1346 turne aȝeyne—torne ayein

1347 folke—folk

1348 þe—omitted

1351 hid—MS. hidde, C. hydd

1352 seyne—seyn
he (2)—omitted

1354 swyche—swych thinge
haþ—MS. haþe


[The sixte prose.]


But what shal But why should I discourse of dignities and powers which (though you are ignorant of true honour and real power) you extol to the skies? I seyne of dignitees and of powers.
þe whiche [ye] men þat neiþer knowen verray dignitee 1356
ne verray power areysen hem as heye as þe
heuene. When they fall to the lot of a wicked man, they produce greater calamities than the flaming eruption of Ætna, or the most impetuous deluge. þe whiche dignitees and powers yif þei come
to any wicked man þei don [as] greet[e] damages and
distruccioun as doþ þe flamme of þe Mountaigne 1360
Ethna whan þe flamme wit walwiþ vp ne no deluge
ne doþ so cruel harmes. You remember that your ancestors desired to abolish the Consular government (the commencement of the Roman liberty), because of the pride of the Consuls; as their ancestors before for the same consideration had suppressed the title of King. ¶ Certys ye remembriþ wel
as I trowe þat þilke dignitee þat men clepiþ þe emperie
of consulers þe whiche þat somtyme was bygynnyng 1364
of fredom. ¶ Ȝoure eldres coueiteden to han
don a-wey þat dignitee for þe pride of þe conseilers.



¶ And ryȝt for þe same pride ȝoure eldres byforne þat
tyme hadden don awey out of þe Citee of rome þe 1368
kynges name. þat is to seien. þei nolden haue no
lenger no kyng ¶ But now yif so be þat dignitees
and powers ben ȝeuen to goode men. þe whiche þing
is ful ȝelde. what agreable þinges is þer in þo dignitees. 1372
or powers. but only þe goodenes of folk þat vsen hem.


Virtue is not embellished by dignities, but dignities derive honour from virtue. ¶ And þerfore it is þus þat honour ne comeþ nat to
vertue for cause of dignite. but aȝeinward. honour
comeþ to dignite by cause of vertue. But what is this power, so much celebrated and desired? but whiche is 1376
ȝoure derworþe power þat is so clere and so requerable
What are they over whom you exercise authority? ¶ O ȝe erþelyche bestes considere ȝe nat ouer whiche
þing þat it semeþ þat ȝe han power. If thou sawest a mouse assuming command over other mice, wouldst thou not almost burst with laughter? ¶ Now yif þou
[* fol. 13 b.] say[e] a mouse amongus *oþer myse þat chalenged[e] to 1380
hymself ward ryȝt and power ouer alle oþer myse. how
gret scorne woldest þou han of hit. ¶ Glosa. ¶ So
fareþ it by men. þe body haþ power ouer þe body.
What is more feeble than man, to whom the bite of a fly may be the cause of death? For yif þow loke wel vpon þe body of a wyȝt what 1384
þing shalt þou fynde moore frele þan is mannes kynde.
þe whiche ben ful ofte slayn wiþ bytynge of smale
flies. or ellys wiþ þe entryng of crepyng wormes in to
þe priuetees of mennes bodyes. But how can any man obtain dominion over another, unless it be over his body, or, what is inferior to his body,—over his possessions, the gifts of Fortune? ¶ But wher shal 1388
men fynden any man þat may exercen or haunten any
ryȝt vpon an oþer man but oonly vpon hys body. or
ellys vpon þinges þat ben lower þen þe body. whiche
I clepe fortunous possessiouns Can you ever command a freeborn soul? ¶ Mayst þou euer haue 1392
any comaundement ouer a fre corage Can you disturb a soul consistent with itself, and knit together by the bond of reason? ¶ Mayst þou
remuen fro þe estat of hys propre reste. a þouȝt þat is
cleuyng to gider in hym self by stedfast resoun. ¶ As
somtyme a tiraunt wende to confounde a freeman of 1396
53 corage ¶ And wende to constreyne hym by tourment
to maken hym dyscoueren and acusen folk þat wisten
of a coniuracioun. whiche I clepe a confederacie þat
was cast aȝeins þis tyraunt Have you not read how Anaxarchus bit off his tongue and spat it in the face of Nicocreon? ¶ But þis free man boot 1400
of hys owen tunge. and cast it in þe visage of þilke
woode tyraunte. ¶ So þat þe tourmentȝ þat þis
tyraunt wende to han maked matere of cruelte. þis
wyse man maked[e it] matere of vertues. What is it that one man can do to another that does not admit of retaliation? ¶ But what 1404
þing is it þat a man may don to an oþer man. þat he
ne may receyue þe same þing of oþer folke in hym
self. or þus. ¶ What may a man don to folk. þat folk
ne may don hym þe same. Busiris used to kill his guests, but at last himself was killed by Hercules, his guest. ¶ I haue herd told of 1408
busirides þat was wont to sleen hys gestes þat herburghden
in hys hous. and he was slayn hym self of
ercules þat was hys gest Regulus put his Carthaginian prisoners in chains, but was afterwards obliged to submit to the fetters of his enemies. ¶ Regulus had[de] taken in
bataile many men of affrike. and cast hem in to fetteres. 1412
but sone after he most[e] ȝiue hys handes to
ben bounden with þe cheynes of hem þat he had[de]
somtyme ouercomen. Is he mighty that dares not inflict what he would upon another for fear of a requital? ¶ Wenest þou þan þat he be
myȝty. þat may nat don a þing. þat oþer ne may don 1416
hym. þat he doþ to oþer. If powers and honours were intrinsically good, they would never be attained by the wicked. and ȝit more ouer yif it so
were þat þise dignites or poweres hadden any propre
or naturel goodnesse in hem self neuer nolden þei
comen to shrewes. An union of things opposite is repugnant to nature. ¶ For contrarious þinges ne ben 1420
not wont to ben yfelawshiped togidres. ¶ Nature refuseþ
þat contra[r]ious þinges ben yioigned. But as wicked men do obtain the highest honours, it is clear that honours are not in themselves good, otherwise they would not fall to the share of the unworthy. ¶ And so
as I am in certeyne þat ryȝt wikked folk han dignitees
ofte tymes. þan sheweþ it wel þat dignitees and powers 1424
ne ben not goode of hir owen kynde. syn þat þei suffren
hem self to cleuen or ioynen hem to shrewes.
The worst of men have often the largest share of Fortune’s gifts. ¶ And certys þe same þing may most digneliche Iugen
54 and seyen of alle þe ȝiftis of fortune þat most plenteuously 1428
comen to shrewes. We judge him to be valiant who has given evidence of his fortitude. ¶ Of þe whiche ȝiftys I
trowe þat it auȝt[e] ben considered þat no man doutiþ
þat he nis strong. in whom he seeþ strengþe. and in
whom þat swiftnesse is ¶ Soþe it is þat he is swyfte. 1432
So music maketh a musician, &c. Also musyk makeþ musiciens. and fysik makeþ phisiciens.
and rethorik rethoriens. The nature of everything consists in doing what is peculiar to itself, and it repels what is contrary to it. ¶ For whi þe nature
of euery þing makiþ his propretee. ne it is nat
entermedled wiþ þe effectis of contrarious þinges. 1436


¶ And as of wil it chaseþ oute þinges þat to it ben
contrarie Riches cannot restrain avarice. Power cannot make a man master of himself if he is the slave of his lusts. ¶ But certys rycchesse may nat restreyne
auarice vnstaunched ¶ Ne power [ne] makeþ nat a
man myȝty ouer hym self. whiche þat vicious lustis 1440
holden destreined wiþ cheins þat ne mowen nat ben
vnbounden. Dignities conferred upon base men do not make them worthy, but rather expose their want of merit. and dignitees þat ben ȝeuen to shrewed[e]
folk nat oonly ne makiþ hem nat digne. but it sheweþ
raþer al openly þat þei ben vnworþi and vndigne. 1444
Why is it so? ’Tis because you give false names to things. You dignify riches, power, and honours, with names they have no title to. ¶ And whi is it þus. ¶ Certis for ȝe han ioye to
clepen þinges wiþ fals[e] names. þat beren hem al in
þe contrarie. þe whiche names ben ful ofte reproued
by þe effect of þe same þinges. [* fol. 14.] so þat *þise ilke rycchesse 1448
ne auȝten nat by ryȝt to ben cleped rycchesse.
ne whiche power ne auȝt[e] not ben cleped power. ne
whiche dignitee ne auȝt[e] nat ben cleped dignitee.
In fine, the same may be said of all the gifts of Fortune, in which nothing is desirable, nothing of natural good in them, since they are not always allotted to good men, nor make them good to whom they are attached. ¶ And at þe laste I may conclude þe same þinge of 1452
al þe ȝiftes of fortune in whiche þer nis no þing to
ben desired. ne þat haþ in hym self naturel bounte.
¶ as it is ful wel sene. for neyþer þei ne ioygnen
hem nat alwey to goode men. ne maken hem alwey 1456
goode to whom þei ben y-ioigned.

1355 seyne—seye

1358 come—comen

1359 don—MS. done, C. don
[as] greet[e]—as grete

1360 distruccioun—destrucciouns
doþ—MS. doþe, C. doth

1361 flamme—flawmbe

1362 doþ—MS. doþe, C. doth

1363 clepiþ—clepyn

1364 whiche—whych

1366 for—MS. of, C. for

1368 don—MS. done, C. don

1369 seien—seyn

1370 lenger—lengere

1371 whiche—which

1373 folk—foolkys

1374 comeþ—comth

1375, 1376 vertue—vertu

1376 comeþ—comth

1377 derworþe—dereworthe

1378 whiche—which

1379 han—MS. hanne, C. han

1380 say[e]—saye
mouse amongus—mous amonges

1382 scorne—scorn

1383 haþ—MS. haþe

1385 mannes—man

1386 þe——slayn—the whiche men wel ofte ben slayn

1388 mennes bodyes—mannes body

1391 lower—lowere
whiche—the which

1395 stedfast—stidefast

1396 somtyme—whylom

1399 whiche—which

1401 owen—owne

1406 receyue—resseyuen

1408 herd told—MS. herde tolde, C. herd told

1409 hys—hise

1410 slayn—sleyn

1411 had[de]—hadde

1413 most[e]—moste

1414 bounden—bownde
cheynes—MS. þeues, C. cheynes

1415 somtyme—whylom

1416 þat——þing—that hath no power to don a thinge

1417 hym—in hym
doþ—MS. doþe, C. doth
to oþer—in oothre

1421 togidres—to-gidere

1423 certeyne—certein

1424 tymes—tyme

1425 owen—owne

1429 whiche—which

1430 auȝt[e]—owhte

1432 Soþe—soth

1435 is—nis

1436 effectis—effect

1437 oute—owt

1441 ben—be

1442 shrewed[e]—shrewede

1446 fals[e]—false

1447 whiche—which

1449 auȝten—owhten

1450 whiche—swich

1451 whiche—swich

1453 al—alle

1454 haþ—MS. haþe

1455 sene—I-seene



[The sixte Metur.]


WE han wel We know what ruin Nero did. knowen how many greet[e] harmes and
destrucciouns weren doñ by þe Emperoure Nero.
He burnt Rome, he slew the conscript fathers, murdered his brother, and spilt his mother’s blood. ¶ He letee brenne þe citee of Rome and made slen þe 1460
senatours. and he cruel somtyme slouȝ hys broþer. and
he was maked moyst wiþ þe blood of hys modir. þat is
to seyn he let sleen and slitten þe body of his modir to
seen where he was conceiued. He looked unmoved upon his mother’s corpse, and passed judgment upon her beauty. and he loked[e] on euery 1464
half vpon hir colde dede body. ne no tere ne wette
his face. but he was so hard herted þat he myȝt[e] ben
domesman or Iuge of hire dede beaute. Yet this parricide ruled over all lands, illumined by the sun in his diurnal course, and controlled the frozen regions of the pole. ¶ And ȝitte
neuerþeles gouerned[e] þis Nero by Ceptre al þe peoples 1468
þat phebus þe sonne may seen comyng from his outerest
arysyng til he hidde his bemes vndir þe wawes. ¶ þat
is to seyne. he gouerned[e] alle þe peoples by Ceptre imperial
þat þe sonne goþ aboute from est to west ¶ And 1472
eke þis Nero goueyrende by Ceptre. alle þe peoples þat
ben vndir þe colde sterres þat hyȝten þe seuene triones.
þis is to seyn he gouerned[e] alle þe poeples þat ben vndir
þe parties of þe norþe. He governed, too, the people in the torrid zone. ¶ And eke Nero gouerned[e] 1476
alle þe poeples þat þe violent wynde Nothus scorchiþ
and bakiþ þe brennynge sandes by his drie hete. þat
is to seyne. alle þe poeples in þe souþe. But yet Nero’s power could not tame his ferocious mind. [but yit ne
myhte nat al his heye power torne the woodnesse of 1480
this wykkyd nero / It is a grievous thing when power strengthens the arm of him whose will prompts him to deeds of cruelty. Allas it is greuous fortune it is]. as
ofte as wicked swerde is ioygned to cruel venym. þat is
to sein. venimous cruelte to lordshipe.

1458 greet[e]—grete

1460 letee—let

1461 somtyme slouȝ—whilom slow

1463 let—lette

1464 where—wher

1465 half—halue

1466 myȝt[e]—myhte

1467 hire—hyr

1468 neuerþeles—natheles

1469 from—fram

1470 hidde—hide

1471 seyne—seyn

1472 goþ—MS. goþe, C. goth

1473 goueyrende—gouernyd

1474 triones—tyryones

1475 gouerned[e]—gouernede

1476 parties—party

1477 wynde—wynd

1479 seyne—seyn

1479-81 [but——it is]—MS. has: but ne how greuous fortune is

1482 swerde—swerd



[The seuende prose.]


ÞAnne seide I B. Thou knowest that I did not covet mortal and transitory things. þus. þou wost wel þiself þat þe 1484
couetise of mortal þinges ne hadden neuer lordshipe
of me. but I haue wel desired matere of þinges
to done. as who seiþ. I only wished to exercise my virtue in public concerns, lest it should grow feeble by inactivity. I desired[e] to han matere of
gouernaunce ouer comunalites. ¶ For vertue stille ne 1488
sholde not elden. þat is to seyn. þat list þat or he wex
olde ¶ His uertue þat lay now ful stille. ne sholde
nat perisshe vnexcercised in gouernaunce of comune.
¶ For whiche men myȝten speke or writen of his 1492
goode gouernement. P. A love of glory is one of those things that may captivate minds naturally great, but not yet arrived at the perfection of virtue.Philosophie. ¶ For soþe quod
she. and þat is a þing þat may drawen to gouernaunce
swiche hertes as ben worþi and noble of hir nature.
but naþeles it may nat drawen or tollen swiche hertes as 1496
ben y-brouȝt to þe ful[le] perfeccioun of vertue. þat is
to seyn couetyse of glorie and renoun to han wel
administred þe comune þinges. or doon goode decertes
to profit of þe comune. But consider how small and void of weight is that glory. for se now and considere how 1500
litel and how voide of al prise is þilke glorie. Astronomy teaches us that this globe of earth is but a speck compared with the extent of the heavens, and is as nothing if compared with the magnitude of the celestial sphere. ¶ Certeine
þing is as þou hast lerned by demonstracioun of
astronomye þat al þe envyronynge of þe erþe aboute
ne halt but þe resoun of a prykke at regard of þe gretnesse 1504
of heuene. þat is to seye. þat yif þat þer were
maked comparisoun of þe erþe to þe gretnesse of
heuene. men wolde Iugen in alle þat erþe [ne] helde
no space Ptolemy shows that only one-fourth of this earth is inhabited by living creatures. ¶ Of þe whiche litel regioun of þis worlde 1508
þe ferþe partie is enhabitid wiþ lyuyng beestes þat
we knowen. as þou hast þi self lerned by tholome þat
prouitħ it. Deduct from this the space occupied by seas, marshes, lakes, and deserts, and there remains but a small proportion left for the abode of man. ¶ yif þou haddest wiþ drawen and abated
in þi þouȝte fro þilke ferþe partie as myche space as þe 1512
see and [the] mareys contenen and ouergon and as
myche space as þe regioun of droughte ouerstreccheþ.



þat is to seye sandes and desertes wel vnneþ sholde
[* fol. 14 b.] *þer dwellen a ryȝt streite place to þe habitacioun of 1516
men. And do you, who are confined to the least point of this point, think of nothing but of blazing far and wide your name and reputation? and ȝe þan þat ben environed and closed wiþ
inne þe leest[e] prikke of þilk prikke þenke ȝe to
manifesten ȝoure renoun and don ȝoure name to ben
born forþe. What is there great in a glory so circumscribed? but ȝoure glorie þat is so narwe and so 1520
streyt yþrongen in to so litel boundes. how myche
conteinþe it in largesse and in greet doynge. Even in this contracted circle, there is a great variety of nations, to whom not only the fame of particular men, but even of great cities, cannot extend. And also
sette þis þer to þat many a nacioun dyuerse of tonge
and of maneres. and eke of resoun of hir lyuyng ben 1524
enhabitid in þe cloos of þilke litel habitacle. ¶ To þe
whiche naciouns what for difficulte of weyes. and what
for diuersite of langages. and what for defaute of
vnusage entercomunynge of marchaundise. nat only þe 1528
names of singler men ne may [nat] strecchen. but eke
þe fame of Citees ne may nat strecchen. In the time of Marcus Tullius the fame of Rome did not reach beyond Mount Caucasus. ¶ At þe
last[e] Certis in þe tyme of Marcus tulyus as hym
self writeþ in his book þat þe renoun of þe comune of 1532
Rome ne hadde nat ȝitte passed ne cloumben ouer þe
mountaigne þat hyȝt Caucasus. and ȝitte was þilk
tyme rome wel wexen and gretly redouted of þe parthes.
and eke of oþer folk enhabityng aboute. How narrow, then, is that glory which you labour to propagate. ¶ Sest þou 1536
nat þan how streit and how compressed is þilke glorie
þat ȝe trauailen aboute to shew and to multiplie. Shall the glory of a Roman citizen reach those places where the name even of Rome was never heard? May
þan þe glorie of a singlere Romeyne strecchen þider
as þe fame of þe name of Rome may nat clymben ne 1540
passen. Customs and institutions differ in different countries. ¶ And eke sest þou nat þat þe maners of
diuerse folk and eke hir lawes ben discordaunt amonge
hem self. What is praise-worthy in one is blame-worthy in another. so þat þilke þing þat sommen iugen worþi of
preysynge. oþer folk iugen þat it is worþi of torment. 1544
It is not the interest of any man who desires renown to have his name spread through many countries.


¶ and þer of comeþ þat þouȝ a man delite hym in
58 preysyng of his renoun. he ne may nat in no wise
bryngen furþe ne spreden his name to many manere
peoples. He ought, therefore, to be satisfied with the glory he has acquired at home. ¶ And þerfore euery maner man auȝte to ben 1548
paied of hys glorie þat is puplissed among hys owen
neyȝbores. But of how many personages, illustrious in their times, have the memorials been lost through the carelessness and neglect of writers. ¶ And þilke noble renoun shal be
restreyned wiþ-inne þe boundes of o maner folk but how
many a man þat was ful noble in his tyme. haþ þe 1552
nedy and wrecched forȝetynge of writers put oute of
mynde and don awey. But writings do not preserve the names of men for ever. ¶ Al be it so þat certys þilke
writynges profiten litel. þe whiche writynges longe and
derke elde doþ aweye boþe hem and eke her autours. But perhaps you suppose that you shall secure immortality if your names are transmitted to future ages. but 1556
ȝe men semen to geten ȝow a perdurablete whan ȝe
þenke þat in tyme comyng ȝoure fame shal lasten. If you consider the infinite space of eternity you will have no reason to rejoice in this supposition. ¶ But
naþeles yif þou wilt maken comparisoun to þe endeles
space of eternite what þing hast þou by whiche þou 1560
maist reioysen þe of long lastyng of þi name. If a moment be compared with 10,000 years, there is a proportion between them, though a very small one. ¶ For
if þer were maked comparysoun of þe abidyng of a
moment to ten þousand wynter. for as myche as boþe
þo spaces ben endid. ¶ For ȝit haþ þe moment some 1564
porcioun of hit al þouȝ it a litel be. But this number of years, multiplied by whatever sum you please, vanishes when compared with the infinite extent of eternity. ¶ But naþeles
þilke self noumbre of ȝeres. and eke as many ȝeres as
þer to may be multiplied. ne may nat certys be comparisound
to þe perdurablete þat is een[de]les. There may be comparison between finite things, but none between the infinite and finite. ¶ For of 1568
þinges þat han ende may be mad comparisoun [but of
thinges that ben with-owtyn ende to thinges þat han ende
may be maked no comparysoun]. Hence it is, that Fame (however lasting), compared with eternity, will seem absolutely nothing. ¶ And for þi is it al
þouȝ renoun of as longe tyme as euer þe lyst to þinken 1572
were þouȝt by þe regard of eternite. þat is vnstauncheable
and infinit. it ne sholde nat oonly semen litel. but
pleinliche ryȝt nouȝt. But yet you do good from no other view than to have the empty applause of the people, foregoing the pleasures of a good conscience in order to have the insignificant praises of other people. ¶ But ȝe men certys ne konne
59 don no þing aryȝt. but ȝif it be for þe audience of poeple. 1576
and for ydel rumours. and ȝe forsaken þe grete worþinesse
of conscience and of vertue. and ȝe seken ȝoure
gerdouns of þe smale wordes of strange folke.


This silly vanity was once thus ingeniously and pleasantly rallied. ¶ Haue now here and vndirstonde in þe lyȝtnesse of whiche 1580
pride and veyne glorie. how a man scorned[e] festiualy
and myrily swiche vanite. A certain man, who had assumed the name of a philosopher through a love of vain-glory, was told by a man of humour that he could prove he was a philosopher by bearing patiently the injuries offered him. somtyme þere was a man þat
had[de] assaied wiþ striuyng wordes an oþer man. ¶ þe
whiche nat for vsage of verrey vertue. but for proude 1584
veyne glorie had[de] taken vpon hym falsly þe name
of a philosopher. ¶ þis raþer man þat I speke of
þouȝt[e] he wolde assay[e] where he þilke were a
philosopher or no. þat is to seyne yif he wolde han suffred 1588
[* fol. 15.] lyȝtly in pacience þe wronges *þat weren don vnto
hym. After counterfeiting patience for a while, the sophist said to the other, ‘You must surely confess that I am a philosopher.’ ¶ þis feined[e] philosophre took pacience a
litel while. and whan he hadde receiued wordes of
outerage he as in stryuynge aȝeine and reioysynge of 1592
hym self seide at þe last[e] ryȝt þus. ¶ vndirstondest
þou nat þat I am a philosophere. ‘I might have believed it,’ said the other, ‘had you held your tongue.’ þat oþer man answered[e]
aȝein ful bityngly and seide. ¶ I had[de]
wel vndirstonden [yt]. yif þou haddest holden þi tonge 1596
stille. What advantage is it to great and worthy men to be extolled after death? ¶ But what is it to þise noble worþi men.
For certys of swyche folk speke .I. þat seken glorie wiþ
vertue. what is it quod she. what atteiniþ fame to
swiche folk whan þe body is resolued by þe deeþ. atte 1600
þe last[e]. If body and soul die, then there can be no glory; nor can there be when he (to whom it is ascribed) does not exist. ¶ For yif so be þat men dien in al. þat is
to seyne body and soule. þe whiche þing oure resoun
defendiþ vs to byleuen þanne is þere no glorie in no
wyse. For what sholde þilke glorie ben. for he of 1604
whom þis glorie is seid to be nis ryȝt nouȝt in no wise.
But if the soul is immortal when it leaves the body, it takes no thought of the joys of this world. and ȝif þe soule whiche þat haþ in it self science of
60 goode werkes vnbounden fro þe prisoun of þe erþe
wendeþ frely to þe heuene. dispiseþ it nouȝt þan alle 1608
erþely occupaciouns. and beynge in heuene reioiseþ þat
it is exempt from alle erþely þinges [as wo seith /
thanne rekketh the sowle of no glorye of renoun of this
world]. 1612

1487 desired[e]—desyre

1489 wex olde—wax old

1492 whiche—which

1496 tollen—MS. tellen, C. tollen

1497 ful[le]—fulle

1501 al prise—alle prys

1505 seye—seyn

1507 wolde—woldyn
[ne]—from C.

1510 lerned—ylerned

1512 þouȝte—thowht

1513 [the]—from C.

1514 myche space—moche spaces

1515 seye—seyn

1516 streite—streyt

1517 þan—thanne

1518 inne—in
þenke ȝe—thinken ye

1520 born forþe—MS. borne, C. born, forth

1521 streyt—streyte

1522 conteinþe—coueyteth

1525 habitacle—MS. habitache, C. habytacule

1529 [nat]—from C.

1531 last[e]—laste

1532 writeþ—writ

1533 hadde—hadden

1534 hyȝt—hyhte

1535 wexen—waxen

1536 Sest þou—sestow

1538 shew—shewe

1539 singlere—singler

1545 comeþ—comth it

1547 furþe—forth

1548 þerfore—ther-for

1549 paied—apayed
hys owen—hise owne

1550 neyȝbores—nesshebours

1552 haþ—MS. haþe

1553 put (MS. putte) oute—put owt

1556 derke—derk
doþ aweye—MS. doþe, C. doth a-wey
her autours—hir actorros

1557 ȝe—yow

1558 comyng—to comynge

1559 wilt—wolt

1560 whiche—which

1563 myche—mochel

1564 þo—the
haþ—MS. haþe

1566 self—selue

1567 be (2)—ben

1568 een[de]les—endeles

1569 mad—MS. made, C. maked
[but——comparysoun]—from C.

1573 by—to

1580 whiche—swych

1581 scorned[e]—scornede

1582 swiche—swych

1583 had[de]—hadde

1584 whiche—which

1586 speke—spak

1587 þouȝt[e]—thowhte

1588 seyne—seyn

1590 feined[e]—feynede

1592 aȝeine—ayein

1593 last[e]—laste
vndirstondest þou—vndyrstondow

1594 answered[e]—answerde

1595 had[de]—hadde

1596 [yt]—from C.

1601 last[e]—laste

1602 seyne—seyn

1604 for (2)—whan

1605 þis—thilke
seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

1606 haþ—MS. haþe

1608 nouȝt þan—nat thanne

1610 from—fro

1610-1612 [as——world]—from C.


[The 7th Metre.]


Who so þat Let him who seeks fame, thinking it to be the sovereign good, look upon the broad universe and this circumscribed earth; and he will then despise a glorious name limited to such a confined space. wiþ ouerþrowyng þouȝt only sekeþ glorie
of fame. and weniþ þat it be souereyne good
¶ Lete hym loke vpon þe brode shewyng contreys of
þe heuen. and vpon þe streite sete of þis erþe. and 1616
he shal be ashamed of þe encres of his name. þat may
nat fulfille þe litel compas of þe erþe. ¶ O what
coueiten proude folke to liften vpon hire nekkes in
ydel and dedely ȝok of þis worlde. Will splendid titles and renown prolong a man’s life? ¶ For al þouȝ 1620
at] renoune y-spradde passynge to ferne poeples goþ
by dyuerse tonges. and al þouȝ grete houses and kynredes
shyne wiþ clere titles of honours. In the grave there is no distinction between high and low. ȝit naþeles
deeþ dispiseþ al heye glorie of fame. and deeþ wrappeþ 1624
to gidre þe heye heuedes and þe lowe and makeþ egal
and euene þe heyest[e] to þe lowest[e]. Where is the good Fabricius now? ¶ where
wonen now þe bones of trewe fabricius. Where the noble Brutus, or stern Cato? what is
now brutus or stiern Caton þe þinne fame ȝit lastynge 1628
of hir ydel names is markid wiþ a fewe lettres. Their empty names still live, but of their persons we know nothing. but
al þouȝ we han knowen þe faire wordes of þe fames of
hem. it is nat ȝeuen to knowe hem þat ben dede and
consumpt. Fame cannot make you known. Liggiþ þanne stille al vtterly vnknowable 1632
ne fame ne makeþ ȝow nat knowe. and yif ȝe wene
to lyuen þe lenger for wynde of ȝoure mortal name.
whan o cruel day shal rauyshe ȝow. þan is þe secunde
deeþ dwellyng in ȝow. It will be effaced by conquering Time, so that death will be doubly victorious. Glosa. þe first deeþ he clepiþ 1636
61 here þe departynge of þe body and þe soule. ¶ and
þe secunde deeþ he clepeþ as here. þe styntynge of
þe renoune of fame.3 3 The next three chapters are from the Camb. MS.

1615 Lete—Lat

1616 sete—Cyte

1617 be—ben

1619 vpon—vp

1620 and dedely—in the dedly

1621 y-spradde—ysprad
[þat]—from C.
ferne—MS. serue, C. ferne
goþ—MS. goþe, C. goth

1622 and (2)—or

1623 shyne—shynen

1624 al—alle

1626 heyest[e]—heyoste

1628 stiern—MS. sciern, C. stierne

1632 consumptconsumpte

1634 lenger—longere

1637 þe (1)—omitted

1639 renoune—renoun


[The viij prose.]


BVt ‘But do not believe,’ said Philosophy, ‘that I am an implacable enemy to Fortune. for-as-mochel as thow shalt nat wenen quod she 1640
þat I bere vntretable batayle ayenis fortune // This inconstant dame sometimes deserves well of men, when she appears in her true colours. yit
som-tyme it by-falleth þat she desseyuable desserueth
to han ryht good thank of men // And þat is whan she
hire self opneth / and whan she descouereth hir frownt / 1644
and sheweth hir maneres par-auenture yit vndirstondesthow
nat þat .I. shal seye // And what I say may perhaps appear paradoxical. it is a wondyr þat .I.
desyre to telle / That is, that adverse fortune is more beneficial than prosperous fortune. and forthi vnnethe may I. vnpleyten my
sentense with wordes for I. deme þat contraryos fortune 1648
profiteth more to men than fortune debonayre // The latter lies and deceives us, the former displays her natural inconstancy. For
al-wey whan fortune semeth debonayre than she lyeth
falsly in by-hetynge the hope of welefulnesse // but forsothe
contraryos fortune is alwey sothfast / whan she 1652
sheweth hir self vnstable thorw hyr chaungynge // That deceives us, this instructs us; that, by a fallacious show of good, enslaves the mind; this, by the knowledge of her fickleness, frees and absolves it. the
amyable fortune desseyueth folk / the contrarye fortune
techeth // the amyable fortune byndeth with the beaute
of false goodys the hertes of folk þat vsen hem / the 1656
contrarye fortune vnbyndeth hem by þe knowynge of
freele welefulnesse // The one is wavering and incapable of reflection, the other is staid and wise through experience of adversity. the amyable fortune maysthow sen
alwey wyndynge and flowynge / and euere mysknowynge
of hir self // the contrarye fortune is a-tempre and restreynyd 1660
and wys thorw excersyse of hir aduersyte // Lastly, prosperous fortune leads men astray. Adversity teaches them wherein real happiness consists. at
the laste amyable fortune with hir flaterynges draweth
mys wandrynge men fro the souereyne good // the contraryos
fortune ledith ofte folk ayein to sothfast goodes / 1664
and haleth hem ayein as with an hooke / It renders us no inconsiderable service in enabling us to recognize our true friends. weenesthow
thanne þat thow owhtest to leten this a lytel thing / þat
this aspre and horible fortune hath discoueryd to the / the
thowhtes of thy trewe frendes // For-why this ilke fortune 1668
62 hath departyd and vncoueryd to the bothe the
certeyn vysages and ek the dowtos visages of thy
felawes // whan she departyd awey fro the / she took
awey hyr frendes and lafte the thyne frendes // At what price would you not have bought this knowledge in your prosperity? now 1672
whan thow were ryche and weleful as the semede / with
how mochel woldesthow han bowht the fulle knowynge
of this // þat is to seyn the knowynge of thy
verray freendes // Complain not, then, of loss of wealth, since thou hast found infinitely greater riches in your true friends. now pleyne the nat thanne of Rychesse 1676
.I.-lorn syn thow hast fowndyn the moste presyos kynde
of Rychesses þat is to seyn thy verray frendes.


[The viij Metur.]


THat This world, by an invariable order, suffers change. þe world with stable feith / varieth acordable
chaungynges // Elements, that by nature disagree, are restrained by concord. þat the contraryos qualite of elementȝ 1680
holden amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / þat phebus
the sonne with his goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the
rosene day / þat the mone hath commaundement ouer the
nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the eue sterre hat browt // 1684
The sea is thus kept within its proper bounds. þat þe se gredy to flowen constreyneth with a certeyn ende
hise floodes / so þat it is nat l[e]ueful to strechche hise
brode termes or bowndes vp-on the erthes // þat is to seyn
to couere alle the erthe // This concord is produced by love, which governeth earth and sea, and extends its influence to the heavens. Al this a-cordaunce of thinges 1688
is bownden with looue / þat gouerneth erthe and see / and
hath also commaundementȝ to the heuenes / If this chain of love were broken all things would be in perpetual strife, and the world would go to ruin. and yif
this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges þat now
louen hem to gederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely 1692
and stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde /
the which they now leden in acordable feith by fayre
moeuynges // Love binds nations together, it ties the nuptial knot, and dictates binding laws to friendship. this looue halt to gideres poeples Ioygned
with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of maryages 1696
of chaste looues // And loue enditeth lawes to
trewe felawes // Men were truly blest if governed by this celestial love!’ O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke
loue þat gouerneth heuene gouerned[e] yowre corages /


1690 hath—H. he hath




[The fyrste prose.]


By this she Philosophy now ended her song. hadde endid hire songe / whan the swetnesse 1700
of hire ditee hadde thorw perced me þat was desirous
of herkninge / I was so charmed that I kept a listening as if she were still speaking. and .I. astoned hadde yit streyhte myn
Eres / þat is to seyn to herkne the bet / what she wolde
seye // At last I said, O sovereign comforter of dejected minds, how much hast thou refreshed me with the energy of thy discourse, so that I now think myself almost an equal match for Fortune and able to resist her blows. so þat a litel here after .I. seyde thus // O thow 1704
þat art souereyn comfort of Angwissos corages // So thow
hast remounted and norysshed me with the weyhte of thy
sentenses and with delit of thy syngynge // so þat .I. trowe
nat now þat .I. be vnparygal to the strokes of fortune / as 1708
who seyth. I. dar wel now suffren al the assautes of fortune
and wel deffende me fro hyr // I fear not, therefore, thy remedies, but earnestly desire to hear what they are. and tho remedies
whyche þat thow seydest hire byforn weren ryht sharpe
Nat oonly pat .I. am nat agrysen of hem now // but .I. desiros 1712
of herynge axe gretely to heeren tho remedyes //
P. When I perceived that, silent and attentive, you received my words, I expected to find such a state of mind in you, or rather, I created in you such an one. than seyde she thus // þat feelede .I. ful wel quod she //
whan þat thow ententyf and stylle rauysshedest my
wordes // and .I. abood til þat thow haddest swych habyte 1716
of thy thowght as thow hast now // or elles tyl þat .I.
my self had[de] maked to the the same habyt / which
þat is a moore verray thinge // What remains to be said is of such a nature that when it is first tasted it is pungent and unpleasant, but when once swallowed it turns sweet, and is grateful to the stomach. And certes the remenaunt
of thinges þat ben yit to seye / ben swyche // þat fyrst 1720
whan men tasten hem they ben bytynge / but whan
they ben resseyuyd with-inne a whyht than ben they
swete // But because you say you would now gladly hear, with what desire would you burn if you could imagine whither I am going to lead you? but for thow seyst þat thow art so desirous to
herkne hem // wit[h] how gret brennynge woldesthow 1724
glowen / yif thow wystest whyder .I. wol leden the //
B. Whither is that, I pray? whydyre is þat quod .I. // P. To that true felicity, of which you seem to have but a faint foretaste. to thilke verray welefulnesse
quod she // of whyche thynge herte dremeth // But your sight is clouded with false forms, so that it cannot yet behold this same felicity. but
for as moche as thy syhte is ocupied and distorbed / by 1728
Imagynasyon of herthely thynges / thow mayst nat yit
sen thilke selue welefulnesse // B. Show me, I pray, that true happiness without delay. do quod .I. and shewe
64 me / what is thilke verray welefulnesse / .I. preye the
with-howte tarynge // P. I will gladly do so at your desire, but I will first describe that false cause (of happiness), so that you may be better able to comprehend the exact model. þat wole .I. gladly don quod she / 1732
for the cause of the // but .I. wol fyrst marken the by
wordes / and I wol enforcen me to enformen the //
thilke false cause of blysfulnesse þat thow more knowest /
so þat whan thow hast fully by-holden thilke false 1736
goodes and torned thyne eyen to þat oother syde / thow
mowe knowe the clernesse of verray blysfulnesse //]

1702 streyhte—H. strenghed

1712 am nat—H. nam nought

1718 had[de]—H. hade

1734 wol—H. shalle

1739 wil—wole


Here the Add. MS. begins again. [The fyrst metur.]


He who would sow seed must first clear the ground of useless weeds, so that he may reap an abundant harvest. ¶ Who so wil sowe a felde plentiuous. lat hym first
delyuer it of þornes and kerue asondre wiþ his hooke 1740
þe bushes and þe ferne so þat þe corne may comen heuy
of eres and of greins. Honey tastes all the sweeter to a palate disgusted by offensive flavours. hony is þe more swete yif mouþes
han firste tastid sauoures þat ben wikke. The stars shine all the clearer when the southern showery blasts cease to blow. ¶ þe sterres
shynen more agreably whan þe wynde Nothus letiþ his 1744
ploungy blastes. When Lucifer has chased away the dark night, then Phœbus mounts his gay chariot. and aftir þat lucifer þe day sterre haþ
chased awey þe derke nyȝt. þe day þe feirer lediþ þe
rosene horse of þe sonne. So you, beholding the false felicity, and withdrawing your neck from the yoke of earthly affections, will soon see the sovereign good. ¶ Ryȝt so þou byholdyng
first þe fals[e] goodes. bygynne to wiþdrawe þi nek[ke] 1748
fro þe ȝok of erþely affecciouns. and afterwarde þe
verrey goodes shollen entre in to þi corage.

1740 delyuer—delyuere

1741 bushes—bosses

1743 firste—fyrst

1744 wynde—wynd

1745 haþ—MS. haþe

1746 feirer—fayrere

1747 horse—hors
Ryȝt—And Ryht

1748 fals[e]—false
wiþdrawe—with drawen

1749 afterwarde—affterward

1750 entre—entren


[The 2de prose.]


ÞO fastned[e] Philosophy, with a serious air, and appearing to recollect herself, and to rouse up all her faculties, thus began. she a lytel þe syȝt of hir eyen and wiþdrow
hir ryȝt as it were in to þe streite sete of hir 1752
þouȝt. and bygan to speke ryȝt þus. All the cares and desires of men seek one end—happiness. Alle þe cures
quod she of mortal folk whiche þat trauaylen hem in
many manere studies gon certys by diuerse weies.
[* fol. 15 b.] ¶ But naþeles þei enforced hem *to comen oonly to on 1756
65 ende of blisfulnesse True happiness is that complete good which, once obtained, leaves nothing more to be desired. [And blysfulnesse] is swiche a goode
þat who so haþ geten it he ne may ouer þat no þing more
desiire. It is the sovereign good, and comprehends all others. It lacks nothing, otherwise it could not be the supreme good. and þis þing for soþe is þe souereyne good þat conteiniþ
in hym self al manere goodes. to þe whiche goode 1760
yif þere failed[e] any þing. it myȝt[e] nat ben souereyne
goode. ¶ For þan were þere som goode out of þis ilke souereyne
goode þat myȝt[e] ben desired. Happiness is, therefore, that perfect state, in which all other goods meet and centre. Now is it clere and
certeyne þan þat blisfulnesse is a perfit estat by þe congregacioun 1764
of alle goodes. It is the object which all men strive after. ¶ þe whiche blisfulnesse as
I haue seid alle mortal folke enforcen hem to geten by
dyuerse weyes. A desire of the true good is a natural instinct, but error misleads them to pursue false joys. ¶ For-whi þe couetise of verray goode
is naturely y-plaunted in þe hertys of men. ¶ But þe 1768
myswandryng errour myslediþ hem in to fals[e] goodes.
Some, imagining the supreme good to consist in lacking nothing, labour for an abundance of riches; others, supposing that this good lies in the reverence and esteem of their fellow men, strive to acquire honourable positions. ¶ of þe whiche men some of hem wenen þat souereygne
goode is to lyue wiþ outen nede of any þing.
and traueilen hem to ben habundaunt of rycchesse. 1772
and some oþer men demen. þat souerein goode be forto
be ryȝt digne of reuerences. and enforcen hem to ben
reuerenced among hir neyȝbours. by þe honours þat þei
han ygeten There are some, again, who place it in supreme power, and seek to rule, or to be favoured by the ruling powers.and some folk þer ben þat halden þat 1776
ryȝt heyȝe power to be souereyn goode. and enforcen
hem forto regnen or ellys to ioignen hem to hem þat
regnen. There are those who fancy fame to be the height of happiness, and seek by the arts of war or peace to get renown. ¶ And it semeþ to some oþer folk þat noblesse
of renoun be þe souerein goode. and hasten hem to 1780
geten glorious name by þe artes of werre or of pees.
Many there are who believe nothing to be better than joy and gladness, and think it delightful to plunge into luxury. and many folke mesuren and gessen þat souerein goode
be ioye and gladnesse and wenen þat it be ryȝt blisful
[thynge] to ploungen hem in uoluptuous delit. Some there are who use these causes and ends interchangeably, as those who desire riches as a means of getting power; or who desire power in order to get money or renown. ¶ And 1784
þer ben folk þat enterchaungen þe causes and þe endes
66 of þise forseide goodes as þei þat desiren rycchesse to
han power and delices. Or ellis þei desiren power forto
han moneye or for cause of renoun. In all they do they have a particular end in view. ¶ In þise þinges 1788
and in swyche oþer þinges is tourned al þe entencioun
of desirynges and [of] werkes of men. ¶ As þus.


Nobility and popular favour are sought after by some in order to become famous. ¶ Noblesse and fauour of poeple whiche þat ȝiueþ as it
semeþ a manere clernesse of renoun. By others, wives and children are only desired as sources of pleasure. ¶ and wijf and 1792
children þat men desiren for cause of delit and mirinesse.
Friendship must not be reckoned among the goods of fortune, but among those of virtue, for it is a very sacred thing. ¶ But forsoþe frendes ne shollen nat ben rekkened
among þe goodes of fortune but of vertue. for it
is a ful holy manere þing. All else are desired either for the power or pleasure they afford. alle þise oþer þinges forsoþe 1796
ben taken for cause of power. or ellis for cause of
delit. The goods of the body fall under the same predicament. ¶ Certis now am I redy to referen þe goodes of
þe body to þise forseide þinges abouen. Strength and a good stature seem to give power and worthiness. ¶ For it semeþ
þat strengþe and gretnesse of body ȝeuen power and 1800
worþinesse. Beauty and swiftness give glory and fame; and health gives delight. ¶ and þat beaute and swiftenesse ȝeuen
noblesse and glorie of renoun. and hele of body semeþ
ȝiuen delit. In all these happiness alone is sought. ¶ In alle þise þingus it semeþ oonly þat
blisfulnesse is desired. What a man most wishes for, that he esteems the supreme good, which, as we have defined, is happiness. ¶ For-whi þilke þing þat euery 1804
man desireþ moost ouer alle þinges. he demiþ þat be þe
souereyne goode. ¶ But I haue diffined þat blisfulnesse
is þe souereyne goode. for whiche euery wyȝt
demiþ þat þilke estat þat he desireþ ouer alle þinges þat 1808
it be þe blisfulnesse. Thou hast now before thee a view of human felicity (falsely so called), that is, riches, honours, power, glory, and delight, which last Epicurus considered as the sovereign good. ¶ Now hast þou þan byforne
[thy eyen] almost al þe purposed forme of þe welfulnesse
of mankynde. þat is to seyne rycchesse. honours.
power. glorie. and delitȝ. þe whiche delit oonly considered 1812
Epicurus Iuged and establissed. þat delit is þe
souereyne goode. for as myche as alle oþer þinges as
hym þouȝt[e] by-refte awey ioie and myrþe from þe
herte. I now return to the inclinations and pursuits of mankind. ¶ But I retourne aȝeyne to þe studies of meen. 1816
67 of whiche men þe corage alwey rehersiþ and seekeþ þe
souereyne goode of alle be it so þat it be wiþ a derke
memorie [but he not by whiche paath]. Their minds are bent upon the chief good, and are ever seeking it with a darkened understanding, like a drunken man, who cannot find his way home. ¶ Ryȝt as a
dronke man not nat by whiche paþe he may retourne 1820
home to hys house. Do they go astray who strive to keep themselves from want? ¶ Semeþ it þanne þat folk folyen
and erren þat enforcen hem to haue nede of no þing


By no means. No state is happier than that in which a man is above want, and independent of others. ¶ Certys þer nys non oþer þing þat may so weel perfourny
[* fol. 16.] blisfulnesse as an estat plenteuous *of alle 1824
goodes þat ne haþ nede of none oþer þing. but þat it is
suffisant of hym self. vnto hym self. Are they guilty of folly that seek esteem and reverence? and foleyen
swyche folk þanne. þat wenen þat þilk þing þat is
ryȝt goode. þat it be eke ryȝt worþi of honour and of 1828
reuerence. No; for that is not contemptible for which all men strive. ¶ Certis nay. for þat þing nys neyþer foule
ne worþi to ben dispised þat al þe entencioun of mortel
folke trauaille forto geten it. Is not power to be reckoned amongst desirable goods? ¶ And power auȝt[e]
nat þat eke to be rekened amonges goodes Why not? For that is not an insignificant good which invests a man with authority and command. what ellis. 1832
for it nys nat to wene þat þilke þing þat is most
worþi of alle þinges be feble and wiþ out strengþe and
clernesse of renoun auȝte þat to ben dispised. Fame also is to be regarded, for everything excellent is also shining and renowned. ¶ Certys
þer may no man forsake þat al þing þat is ryȝt excellent 1836
and noble. þat it ne semeþ to be ryȝt clere and renomed.
We hardly need say that happiness is not an unjoyous and melancholy state, for in the pursuit of the smallest matters men seek only pleasure. ¶ For certis it nediþ nat to seie. þat blisfulnesse
be anguissous ne dreri ne subgit to greuances ne
to sorwes. syn þat in ryȝt litel þingus folk seken to 1840
haue and to vsen þat may deliten hem. Hence it is that mankind seek riches, &c., because by them they hope to get independence, honour, &c. ¶ Certys þise
ben þe þinges þat men wolen and desyren to geten.
and for þis cause desiren þei rycches. dignites. regnes.
glorie and delices ¶ For þerby wenen þei to han suffisaunce 1844
honour power. renoun and gladnesse. However varied their desires, happiness is their sole pursuit. ¶ þanne
is it goode. þat men seken þus by so many dyuerse
studies. In whiche desijr it may lyȝtly be shewed.
68 how grete is þe strengþe of nature. However various men’s opinions are respecting happiness, all agree in pursuing it as the end of their actions and desires. ¶ For how so þat 1848
men han dyuerse sentences and discordyng algates men
accordyn alle in lyuynge þe ende of goode.

1751 fastned[e]—fastnede
wiþdrow—MS. wiþdrowen, C. with drowh

1752 sete—Cyte

1756 enforced—enforsen

1757 [And blysfulnesse]—from C.

1758 so—so þat
haþ—MS. haþe

1759 souereyne—souereyn

1760 al—alle

1761 þere—ther
souereyne goode—souereyn good

1762 þan—thanne

1763 goode—good

1764 certeyne—certein

1766 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

1767 goode—good

1769 fals[e]—false

1770 souereygne goode is—souereyn good be

1771 lyue wiþ outen—lyuen with owte

1772 rycchesse—Rychesses

1773 some—som
goode be—good ben

1774 be—ben

1775 neyȝbours—nesshebors

1776 halden—holden

1777 heyȝe—heyh

1780 goode—good

1781 orand

1782 folke—folk

1783 be—by

1784 [thynge]—from C.

1786 rycchesse—rychesses

1787 delices—delytes

1789 oþer—oothre

1790 [of]—from C.

1794 shollen—sholden

1795 þe—tho

1796 oþer—oothre

1801 swiftenesse—sweftnesse

1803 ȝiuen—MS. ȝiueþ, C. yeuen

1806, 1807 souereyne goode—souereyn good

1807 whiche—whych

1809 þe—omitted
þan byforne—thanne byforn

1810 [thy eyen]—from C.; MS. has ȝeuen aȝeyne

1811 seyne rycchesse—seyn Rychesses

1814 souereyne goode—souereyn good

1815 þouȝt[e]—thowhte

1816 aȝeyne—ayein

1818 souereyne goode—souereyn good

1819 [but——paath]—from C.

1820 dronke—dronken

1821 home—hym

1823 perfourny—performe

1825 haþ—MS. haþe

1827 þilk—thilke

1828 goode—good

1829 foule—fowl

1830 al—welneyh alle

1831 trauaille—trauaylen

1832 be—ben

1834 out—owte

1835 auȝte—owhte

1836 al—alle

1837 be—ben

1843 rycches—Rychesses

1846 goode—good

1847 be—ben

1848 grete—gret

1849 algates—Allegates

1850 goode—good


[The 2de Metur.]


IT likeþ me I will now sing of Nature’s laws, by which the universe is governed. to shew[e] by subtil songe wiþ slakke and
delitable soun of strenges how þat nature myȝty enclineþ 1852
and flitteþ gouernementȝ of þinges ¶ and by
whiche lawes she purueiable kepiþ þe grete worlde. and
how she bindynge restreineþ alle þingus by a bonde þat
may nat be vnbounden. [j] The Punic lion submits to man, and dreads the keeper’s lash; yet, if he once taste blood, his savage instincts revive, and his keeper falls a victim to his fury. ¶ Al be it so þat þe liouns of 1856
þe contree of pene beren þe fair[e] cheines. and taken
metes of þe handes of folk þat ȝeuen it hem. and
dreden her sturdy maystres of whiche þei ben wont to
suffren [betinges]. yif þat hir horrible mouþes ben bi-bled. 1860
þat is to sein of bestes devoured. ¶ Hir corage
of tyme passeþ þat haþ ben ydel and rested. repaireþ
aȝein þat þei roren greuously. and remembren on hir
nature. and slaken hir nekkes from hir cheins vnbounden. 1864
and hir maistre first to-teren wiþ blody toþe
assaieþ þe woode wraþþes of hem. ¶ þis is to sein þei
freten hir maister. [ij] If the caged bird though daintily fed, gets a sight of the pleasant grove where she was wont to sing, she will spurn her food, and pine for the beloved woods. ¶ And þe Iangland brid þat syngiþ
on þe heye braunches. þis is to sein in þe wode and 1868
after is inclosed in a streit cage. ¶ al þouȝ [þat] þe
pleiyng besines of men ȝeueþ hem honied[e] drinkes
and large metes. wiþ swete studie. ¶ ȝit naþeles yif
þilke brid skippynge oute of hir streite cage seeþ þe 1872
agreable shadewes of þe wodes. she defouleþ wiþ hir
fete hir metes yshad and sekeþ mournyng oonly þe
wode and twitriþ desirynge þe wode wiþ hir swete
voys. [iij] The sapling, bent down by a mighty hand, will resume its natural position as soon as the restraining force is removed. ¶ þe ȝerde of a tree þat is haled adoun by myȝty 1876
69 strengþe bowiþ redely þe croppe adoun. but yif þat þe
hande of hym þat it bente lat it gon aȝein. ¶ An oon
þe crop lokeþ vp ryȝt to heuene. [iiij] Though the sun sets in the western main at eve, yet by a secret path he takes his wonted journey toward the east. ¶ þe sonne phebus
þat failleþ at euene in þe westrene wawes retorniþ aȝein 1880
eftsones his cart by a priue paþe þere as it is wont
aryse. All things pursue their proper course, obedient to the source of order. ¶ Alle þinges seken aȝein in to hir propre
cours. and alle þinges reioisen hem of hir retournynge
aȝein to hir nature ne noon ordinaunce nis bytaken to 1884
þinges but þat. Hence, throughout the world entire stability is found, for all things, having fulfilled their appointed course, return from whence they came. þat haþ ioignynge þe endynge to þe
bygynnynge. and haþ makid þe cours of it self stable
þat it chaungeþ nat from hys propre kynde.

1851 shew[e]—shewe

1854 whiche—MS. swiche, C. whyche

1856 be—ben

1857 fair[e]—fayre

1860 [betinges]—from C.

1862 passeþ—passed

1864 from—fram

1865 to-teren—to-torn

1867 Iangland—Iangelynge

1869 streit—streyht

1870 pleiyng—MS. pleinyng, C. pleyynge

1872 oute—owt

1873 agreable—agreables

1874 fete—feet

1875 twitriþ—twiterith

1877 croppe—crop

1878 hande—hand

1880 failleþ—falleth

1881 cart—carte

1883 of—MS. of of

1885 haþ—MS. haþe

1886 haþ—MS. haþe


[The 3de prose.]


*CErtis also [* fol. 16 b.] O earthly animals, you have an indistinct perception of your beginning, and you have ever the true end of felicity in view, but your natural instincts are perverted by many errors.ȝe men þat ben erþeliche bestes dremen 1888
alwey [yowre bygynnynge] al þouȝ it be wiþ a
þinne ymaginacioun. and by a maner þouȝt al be it
nat clerly ne perfitly ȝe looken from a fer til þilk
verray fyn of blisfulnesse. and þerfore þe naturel entencioun 1892
ledeþ ȝow to þilk verray good ¶ But
many manere errours mistourniþ ȝow þer fro. Can men obtain the end they have in view by the means they usually employ in the pursuit of happiness? ¶ Considere
now yif þat be þilke þinges by whiche a man
weniþ to gete hym blysfulnesse. yif þat he may comen 1896
to þilke ende þat he weneþ to come by nature If riches and honours and the like make men happy, so that they shall want for nothing, then happiness may be procured by these acquisitions. ¶ For
yif þat moneye or honours or þise oþer forseide þinges
bryngen to men swiche a þing þat no goode ne faille
hem. ne semeþ faille. ¶ Certys þan wil I graunt[e] 1900
þat þei ben maked blisful. by þilke þinges þat þei han
geten. But if these things cannot make good what they promise, if there still be something to be desired, then they are delusions, and the felicity after all is a counterfeit. ¶ but yif so be þat þilke þinges ne mowe nat
perfourmen þat þei by-heten and þat þer be defaute of
many goodes. ¶ Sheweþ it nat þan clerely þat fals 1904
beaute of blisfulnesse is knowe and a-teint in þilke
þinges. ¶ First and forward þou þi self þat haddest
70 haboundaunces of rycchesses nat long agon. In your prosperity were you never annoyed by some wrong or grievance? ¶ I axe
ȝif þat in þe haboundaunce of alle þilk[e] rycchesses 1908
þou were neuer anguissous or sory in þi corage of any
wrong or greuaunce þat by-tidde þe on any syde.


B. I must confess that I cannot remember ever being wholly free from some trouble or other. ¶ Certys quod I it remembreþ me nat þat euere I was
so free of my þouȝt. þat I ne was al-wey in anguyshe of 1912
somwhat. P. That was because something was absent which you did desire, or something present which you would fain be quit of. þat was þat þou lakkedest þat þou noldest
han lakked. or ellys þou haddest þat þou noldest
han had. B. That’s quite true. ryȝt so is it quod I þan. P. Then you did desire the presence of the one and the absence of the other? desiredest þou
þe presence of þat oon and þe absence of þat oþer. 1916
B. I confess I did. I graunt[e] wel quod .I. P. Every man is in need of what he desires. for soþe quod she þan nediþ þer
somwhat þat euery man desireþ. B. Certainly he is. ȝe þer nediþ quod I. P. If a man lack anything can he be supremely happy?
¶ Certis quod she and he þat haþ lakke or nede of a
wyȝt nis nat in euery way suffisaunt to hym self. B. No. no quod .I. 1920
P. Did you not in your abundance want for somewhat? and þou quod she in alle þe plente of þi
rycchesse haddest þilke lak of suffisaunce. B. What then if I did? ¶ what
ellis quod .I. P. It follows that riches cannot put a man beyond all want, although this was what they seemed to promise. ¶ þanne may nat rycchesse maken þat a
man nis nedy. ne þat he be suffisaunt to hym self. and 1924
þat was it þat þei byhyȝten as it semeþ. Money may part company with its owner, however unwilling he may be to lose it. ¶ and eke
certys I trowe þat þis be gretly to consydere þat moneye
ne haþ nat in hys owen kynde þat it ne may ben by-nomen
of hem þat han it maugre hem. B. I confess that’s true. ¶ I by-knowe 1928
it wel quod I P. It ought to be confessed when every day we see might prevailing over right. ¶ whi sholdest þou nat by-knowen it
quod she. whan euery day þe strenger folke by-nymen
it fram þe febler maugre hem. From whence springs so much litigation, but from this, that men seek to recover their own of which they have been unjustly deprived? ¶ Fro whennes comen
ellys alle þise foreine compleintes or quereles of 1932
pletyngus. ¶ But for þat men axen aȝeine her moneye
þat haþ be by-nomen hem by force or by gyle. and
alwey maugre hem. B. Nothing is more true. ¶ Ryȝt so it is quod I. P. Then a man needs the assistance of others in order to keep his riches. þan quod
she haþ a man nede to seken hym foreyne helpe by 1936
whiche he may defende hys moneye. who may say nay quod .I.



If he had no money to lose he would not stand in need of this help? ¶ Certis quod she and hym nediþ no helpe
yif he ne hadde no moneye þat he myȝt[e] leese. B. That is beyond all doubt. ¶ þat
is doutles quod .I. P. Then the very reverse of what was expected (from riches) takes place? For riches add to a man’s necessities. þanne is þis þing turned in to þe contrarie 1940
quod she ¶ For rycchesse þat men wenen sholde
make suffisaunce. þei maken a man raþer han nede of
foreine helpe. Tell me how do riches drive away necessity? Are not rich men liable to hunger, thirst, and cold? ¶ whiche is þe manere or þe gise quod
she þat rycches may dryuen awey nede. ¶ Riche folk 1944
may þei neiþer han hungre ne þrest. þise ryche men
may þei feele no colde on hir lymes in wynter. You will say that the rich have wherewithal to satisfy these wants. ¶ But
þou wilt answere þat ryche men han y-nouȝ wher wiþ
þei may staunchen her hunger. and slaken her þrest 1948
and don awey colde. By riches indigence may be alleviated, but they cannot satisfy every want. ¶ In þis wise may nede be conforted
by rycchesses. but certys nede ne may nat al
outerly be don awey. Even if gaping and greedy necessity be filled with riches, yet some cravings will remain. for þouȝ þis nede þat is alwey
gapyng and gredy be fulfilled wiþ rycchesses. and axe 1952
any þing ȝit dwelleþ þanne a nede þat myȝt[e] ben fulfilled.
A little suffices for nature, but avarice never has enough. ¶ I holde me stille and telle nat how þat litel
þing suffiseþ to nature. but certys to auarice ynouȝ ne
suffiseþ no þinge. If riches, then, add to our wants, why should you think that they can supply all your necessities? [* fol. 17.] *¶ For syn þat rychesse ne may nat 1956
al don awey nede. but rychesse maken nede. what may
it þanne be þat ȝe wenen þat rychesses mowen ȝeuen
ȝow suffisaunce.

1889 [yowre bygynnynge]—from C.
al—MS. as, C. Al

1891 from—fram
til þilk—to thylke

1892 þe—omitted

1893 þilk—thylke

1895 be—by

1896 gete—geten

1899 swiche—swych

1900 wil—wole

1904 many—manye

1905 knowe—knowen

1908 þilk[e]—thylke

1913 þat——lakkedest—And was nat þat quod she for þat the lacked som-what

1915 had—MS. hadde, C. had

1917 graunt[e]—graunte

1919 haþ—MS. haþe
a wyȝt—awht

1921 alle—al

1922 rycchesse—Rychesses

1923 rycchesse—Rychesses

1927 haþ—MS. haþe

1930 strenger folke by-nymen—strengere folk by-nemyn

1931 fram—fro

1933 aȝeine—ayeyn

1934 haþ—MS. haþe

1936 haþ—MS. haþe

1937 say—sey

1938 nediþ no helpe—nedede non help

1939 myȝt[e]—myhte

1940 doutles—dowteles

1941 rycchesse—Rychesses

1943 helpe—help

1944 rycches—Rychesse

1945 hungre—hungyr

1946 þei—the

1947 wilt answere—wolt Answeren

1948 þrest—thurst

1949 colde—coold

1950 nat—omitted

1951 outerly—vtrely

1953 myȝt[e] ben—myhte be

1957 rychesse—Rychesses

[The 3de Metur.]


Al were it so The rich man, had he a river of gold, would never rest content. þat a ryche couetous man hadde riuer 1960
fletynge alle of golde ȝitte sholde it neuer staunche
hys couetise. Though his neck be loaded with precious pearls, and his fields be covered with innumerable herds, yet shall unquiet care never forsake him; and at his death his riches shall not bear him company. ¶ And þouȝ he hadde his nekke I-charged
wiþ preciouse stones of þe rede see. and þouȝ he do
erye his feldes plentiuous wiþ an hundreþ oxen neuere 1964
ne shal his bytyng bysynesse forleten hym while he
72 lyueþ. ne þe lyȝt[e] rychesses ne shal nat beren hym
compaignie whanne he is dede.

1960 riuer—a Ryuer

1961 alle—al

1962, 1963 þouȝ—thow

1964 erye—Ere

1965 while—whyl

1966 lyȝt[e]—lyhte

1967 dede—ded


[The 4the prose.]

SET DIGNITATIBUS.4 4 Read dignitates.

Bvt dignitees It may be said that dignities confer honour on their possessors. to whom þei ben comen make þei hym 1968
honorable and reuerent. But have they power to destroy vice or implant virtue in the heart? han þei nat so grete strengþe
þat þei may putte vertues in þe hertis of folk. þat vsen
þe lordshipes of hem. or ellys may þei don awey þe
vices. So far from expelling vicious habits, they only render them more conspicuous. Certys þei [ne] ben nat wont to don awey wikkednesses. 1972
but þei ben wont raþer to shew[en] wikkednesses.
Hence arises the indignation when we see dignities given to wicked men. and þer of comeþ it þat I haue ryȝt grete desdeyne.
þat dignites ben ȝeuen ofte to wicked men.
Hence Catullus’ resentment against Nonius, whom he calls the botch, or impostume of the State. ¶ For whiche þing catullus clepid a consul of Rome þat 1976
hyȝt nonius postum. or boch. as who seiþ he clepiþ
hym a congregacioun of uices in his brest as a postum
is ful of corrupcioun. al were þis nonius set in a
chayere of dignitee. The deformities of wicked men would be less apparent if they were in more obscure situations. Sest þou nat þan how gret vylenye 1980
dignitees don to wikked men. ¶ Certys vnworþines of
wikked men sholde ben þe lasse ysen yif þei nere renomed
of none honours. Would you free yourself from peril by accepting a magistracy along with Decoratus a buffoon and informer? ¶ Certys þou þi self ne
myȝtest nat ben brouȝt wiþ as many perils as þou 1984
myȝtest suffren þat þou woldest bere þi magistrat wiþ
decorat. þat is to seyn. þat for no peril þat myȝt[e] bifallen
þe by þe offence of þe kyng theodorik þou noldest
nat ben felawe in gouernaunce with decorat. whanne 1988
þou say[e] þat he had[de] wikkid corage of a likerous
shrewe and of an acusor. Honours do not render undeserving persons worthy of esteem. ¶ Ne I ne may nat for swiche
honours Iugen hem worþi of reuerence þat I deme and
holde vnworþi to han þilke same honours. If you find a man endowed with wisdom you deem him worthy of respect and of the wisdom which he professes. ¶ Now yif 1992
þou saie a man þat were fulfilled of wisdom. certys þou
73 ne myȝtest nat demen þat he were vnworþi to þe
honour. or ellys to þe wisdom of whiche he is fulfilled.
B. I could not do otherwise. No quod .I. P. Virtue has her proper worth, which she ever transfers to her votaries. ¶ Certys dignitees quod she appertienen 1996
properly to vertue. and uertue transporteþ dignite anon
to þilke man to whiche she hir self is conioigned.


Honours conferred by the populace do not make men worthy of them, for they have no intrinsic merit to bestow. ¶ And for as moche as honours of poeple ne may nat
maken folk digne of honour. it is wel seyn clerly þat 2000
þei ne han no propre beaute of dignite. ¶ And ȝit men
auȝten take more hede in þis. Dignities conferred upon shrews only make their vices the more conspicuous. ¶ For if it so be þat he
is most out cast þat most folk dispisen. or as dignite ne
may nat maken shrewes worþi of no reuerences. þan 2004
makeþ dignites shrewes more dispised þan preised. þe
whiche shrewes dignit[e] scheweþ to moche folk Nor do dignities themselves escape without injury; for worthless men take their revenge upon them, and defile them by their contagious villanies.and
for soþe nat vnpunissed. þat is forto sein. þat shrewes
reuengen hem aȝeinward vpon dignites. for þei ȝelden 2008
aȝein to dignites as gret gerdoun whan þei byspotten
and defoulen dignites wiþ hire vylenie. These shadowy honours have nothing in their nature to procure respect; for if a man, having borne the honours of the consulate, should go among barbarians would this honour gain him their respect? ¶ And for as
moche as þou mow[e] knowe þat þilke verray reuerence
ne may nat comen by þe shadewy transitorie dignitees. 2012
vndirstonde now þis. yif þat a man hadde vsed and
hadde many manere dignites of consules and were
comen perauenture amonges straunge naciouns. sholde
þilke honour maken hym worshipful and redouted of 2016
straunge folk If respect were an attribute of honour it would infallibly bring esteem everywhere, just as heat is ever an attribute of fire. ¶ Certys yif þat honour of poeple were
a naturel ȝifte to dignites. it ne myȝte neuer cesen
nowher amonges no maner folke to done hys office.


¶ Ryȝt as fire in euery contre ne stinteþ nat to 2020
[* fol. 17 b.] enchaufen and *to ben hote. Honours arise from the false opinions of men, and vanish when they come among those who do not esteem them, that is, among foreign nations. but for as myche as forto
be holden honorable or reuerent ne comeþ nat to folk of
74 hir propre strengþe of nature. but only of þe fals[e]
opinioun of folk. þat is to sein. þat wenen þat dignites 2024
maken folk digne of honour. An on þerfore whan þat
þei comen þer as folk ne knowen nat þilke dignites.
her honours vanissen awey and þat on oon. but þat is
a-mong straung folk. maist þou sein. Do they always endure in those places that gave birth to them? but amongus 2028
hem þat þei weren born duren þilk[e] dignites alwey.
The Prætorate was once a great honour, but now it is only an empty name and a heavy expense. ¶ Certys þe dignite of þe prouostrie of Rome was somtyme
a grete power. now is it no þing but an ydel
name. and þe rente of þe senatorie a gret charge. What is more vile than the office of the superintendency of provisions? and 2032
yif a whiȝt somtyme hadde þe office to taken he[de] to
þe vitailes of þe poeple as of corne and what oþer þinges
he was holden amonges grete. but what þing is more
nowe out cast þanne þilke prouostrie That which hath no innate beauty must lose its splendour or value according as popular opinion varies concerning it. ¶ And as I haue 2036
seid a litel here byforne. þat þilke þing þat haþ no
propre beaute of hym self resceyueþ somtyme pris and
shinynge and somtyme lesiþ it by þe opinioun of
vsaunces. If dignities cannot confer esteem, if they become vile through filthy shrews, if they lose their lustre by the change of times, if they become worthless by the change of popular opinion, what beauty do they possess which should make them desirable, or what dignity can they confer on others? ¶ Now yif þat dignites þanne ne mowen 2040
nat maken folk digne of reuerence. and yif þat dignites
wexen foule of hir wille by þe filþe of shrewes. ¶ and
yif þat dignites lesen hir shynynge by chaungyng of
tymes. and yif þei wexen foule by estimacioun of 2044
poeple. what is it þat þei han in hem self of beaute
þat auȝte ben desired. as who seiþ none. þanne ne
mowen þei ȝiuen no beaute of dignite to none oþer.

1969 make—maken

1969 grete—gret

1972 [ne]—from C.

1972, 1973 wikkednesses—wykkydnesse

1973 to—omitted

1974 comeþ—comth
grete desdeyne—gret desdaign

1976 whiche—which

1977 hyȝt—hyhte
nonius—MS. vonnus, C. nomyus
boch—MS. boþe, C. boch

1979 nonius—MS. uonnus, C. nomyus
set—MS. sette, C. set

1980 Sest þou—Sesthow

1981 vnworþines—vnworthynesse

1982 ben—be
ysen—MS. ysene, C. I-sene

1984 many—manye

1985 bere—beren

1986 myȝt[e]—myhte

1987 þe (2)—omitted

1988 whanne—whan

1989 say[e]—saye

1994 demen—deme

1995 whiche—which

1996 quod she—omitted

1997 vertue—vertu

1998 whiche—whych

2000 clerly—MS. clerkly, C. clerly

2002 auȝten——hede—owhten taken mor heed

2002-3 For——dignite—For yif so be þat a wykkyd whyght be so mochel the fowlere and the moore owt cast þat he is despised of most folk so as dignete

2004-2007 maken——soþe—maken shrewes digne of Reuerence the whych shrewes dignete sheweth to moche foolk thanne makith dignete shrewes rather so moche more despised than preysed and forsothe

2008 ȝelden—yilden

2009 byspotten—by-spetten

2010 hire—hyr

2011 moche—mochel

2012 þe shadewy—thyse shadwye

2013 vndirstonde—vndyrstond

2014 hadde—had

2018 ȝifte—yift

2019 folke—foolk

2020 enchaufen—eschaufen

2021 myche—mochel

2022 be—ben

2023 fals[e]—false

2024 þat (2)—omitted

2027 her—hyr

2028 a-mong—amonges

2029 þat—ther
duren þilk[e]—ne duren nat thylke

2030 somtyme—whylom

2031 grete—gret

2032 þe (2)—omitted

2033 somtyme—whylom
þe—MS. þe þe

2034 corne—corn

2035 more nowe—now more

2036 cast—MS. caste, C. cast

2037 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd
here byforne—her by-forn
haþ—MS. haþe

2042 filþe—felthe

2043 þat—omitted

2046 auȝte—owhte

2047 þei—MS. ȝe, C. they

[The 4the Metur.]


Al be it so Nero, though invested with the purple and adorned with pearls, was hated by all men. þat þe proude nero wiþ al his woode luxurie 2048
kembed hym and apparailed hym wiþ faire purpers
of Tirie and wiþ white perles. Algates ȝitte throf he
75 hateful to alle folk ¶ þis is to seyn þat al was he by-hated
of alle folk. Yet he had lordship, and gave to the senators the dishonoured seats of dignity. ¶ ȝitte þis wicked Nero hadde gret 2052
lordship and ȝaf somtyme to þe dredeful senatours þe
vnworshipful setes of dignites. ¶ vnworshipful setes
he clepiþ here fore þat Nero þat was so wikked ȝaf þo
dignites. Who then can think that felicity resides in honours given by vicious shrews? who wolde þanne resonably wenen þat blysfulnesse 2056
were in swiche honours as ben ȝeuen by vicious

2048 al (2)—alle

2049 kembed—kembde
apparailed—MS. apparailen, C. a-paraylede

2050 ȝitte—yit

2053 lordship—lorshippe
ȝaf somtyme—yaf whylom

2055 fore—for


[The 5the prose.]


Bvt regnes P. Do kingdoms and a familiarity with princes make a man mighty? and familarites of kynges may þei maken a
man to ben myȝty. B. Why should they not if they are durable? how ellys. ¶ whanne hir 2060
blysfulnesse dureþ perpetuely P. Past ages, as well as the present, furnish us with many examples of princes who have met with dismal reverses of fortune. but certys þe olde age of
tyme passeþ. and eke of present tyme now is ful of
ensaumples how þat kynges þat han chaunged in to
wrechednesse out of hir welefulnesse. O then how noble and glorious a thing is power that is too weak to preserve itself! ¶ O a noble þing 2064
and a cler þing is power þat is nat founden myȝty to
kepe it self. If dominion brings felicity, then misery will follow if it be defective. ¶ And yif þat power of realmes be auctour
and maker of blisfulnesse. yif þilke power lakkeþ on
any side. amenusiþ it nat þilke blisfulnesse and bryngeþ 2068
in wrechednesse. But human rule has its limits, therefore wherever power ceases there impotence enters, bringing misery along with it. but yif al be it so þat realmes of mankynde
stretchen broode. ȝit mot þer nede ben myche
folk ouer whiche þat euery kyng ne haþ no lordshipe
no comaundement ¶ and certys vpon þilke syde þat 2072
power failleþ whiche þat makiþ folk blisful. ryȝt on þat
same side nounpower entriþ vndirneþ þat makeþ hem
wreches. Kings, therefore, have a larger portion of misery than of felicity. ¶ In þis manere þanne moten kynges han
more porcioun of wrechednesse þan of welefulnesse. 2076


Dionysius of Sicily, conscious of this condition, exhibited the fears and cares of royalty by the terror of a naked sword hanging over the head of his friend and flatterer Damocles. ¶ A tyraunt þat was kyng of sisile þat had[de] assaied
þe peril of his estat shewid[e] by similitude þe dredes
of realmes by gastnesse of a swerde þat heng ouer þe
heued of his familier. What then is this thing called Power, which cannot do away with care or fear? what þing is þan þis power þat 2080
76 may nat don awey þe bytynges of besines ne eschewe
þe prikkes of drede. Men would live in security but cannot, and yet they glory in their power. and certys ȝit wolden þei lyuen
[* fol. 18.] *in sykernesse. but þei may nat. and ȝit þei glorifien
hem in her power Is he powerful who cannot do what he wishes? ¶ Holdest þou þan þat þilk[e] man 2084
be myȝty þat þou seest þat he wolde don þat he may
nat don. Is he a mighty man who goes surrounded with an armed guard, to terrify those whom he himself fears, and whose power depends solely upon his numerous retinue? ¶ And holdest þou þan hym a myȝty man
þat haþ environed hise sydes wiþ men of armes or
seruauntes and dredeþ more [hem] þat he makeþ agast. 2088
þen þei dreden hym. and þat is put in þe handes of hise
seruauntȝ. for he sholde seme myȝty but of familiers
[or] seruauntȝ of kynges. Why need I enlarge upon the favourites of princes having thus displayed the imbecility of kings! ¶ what sholde I telle þe
any þing. syn þat I my self haue shewed þe þat realmes 2092
hem self ben ful of gret feblenesse. Their prosperity is affected by the caprice of their fortunate masters as well as by the adversity to which they are incident. þe whiche familiers
certis þe real power of kynges in hool estat and in estat
abated ful [ofte] þroweþ adoun. Nero only allowed his master Seneca to choose the manner of his death. ¶ Nero constreined[e]
his familier and his maistre seneca to chesen on what 2096
deeþ he wolde deien. Antonius (Caracalla) commanded Papinian to be slain by the swords of his soldiers. ¶ Antonius comaundid[e] þat
knyȝtis slowen wiþ her swerdis Papinian his familier
whiche Papinian had[de] ben long tyme ful myȝty
a-monges hem of þe courte. Yet both would have given up all they possessed. and ȝit certis þei wolde boþe 2100
han renounced her power. Seneca begged for poverty and exile. But relentless fortune precipitated them to destruction, and did not permit them to choose their fate. of whiche [two] senek enforced[e]
hym to ȝiuen to Nero his rychesses. and also
to han gon in to solitarie exil. ¶ But whan þe grete
weyȝt. þat is to sein of lordes power or of fortune 2104
draweþ hem þat sholden falle. neyþer of hem ne
myȝt[e] do þat he wolde. What then is Power, which terrifies its possessors, and which cannot be got rid of at pleasure? what þing is þanne þilke
power þat þouȝ men han it þat þei ben agast. ¶ and
whan þou woldest han it þou nart nat siker. ¶ And 2108
yif þou woldest forleten it þou mayst nat eschewen it.
No advantage is to be gained by friendship based on prosperity instead of virtue. ¶ But wheþir swiche men ben frendes at nede as ben
conseiled by fortune and nat by vertue. Adversity will turn this sort of friendship into enmity. And what greater plague can there be than the enmity of thy familiar friend? Certys swiche
77 folk as weleful fortune makeþ frendes. contrarious fortune 2112
makeþ hem enmyse. ¶ And what pestilence is
more myȝty forto anoye a wiȝt þan a familier enemy.

2060 myȝty—MS. vnmyȝty, C. myhty

2062 passeþ—passed
of (2)—omitted

2063 kynges þat han—kynges ben

2066 kepe—kepen

2067 maker—makere

2069 yif—yit
realmes—the Reaumes

2070 stretchen—strechchen

2071 haþ—MS. haþe

2073 whiche—whych

2074 vndirneþ—vndyr-nethe

2077 had[de]—hadde

2078 shewid[e]—shewede

2079 realmes—Reaumes
heng—MS. henge, C. heng

2081 besines—bysynesse

2083 ȝit—yif

2084 þilk[e]—thylke

2087 haþ—MS. haþe

2088 [hem]—from C.

2089 þen—than

2091 [or]—from C.

2092 realmes—Reames

2093 feblenesse—feblesse

2094 real—Ryal

2095 [ofte]—from C.

2096 his (1)—hyr

2097 comaundid[e]—comaundede

2098 her—hyr

2099 whiche—which
had[de] ben long—þat hadde ben longe

2100 courte—court

2101 [two]—from C.

2102 ȝiuen—yeuen

2104 weyȝt—weyhte

2105 sholden—sholen

2106 myȝt[e]—myhte


[The 5the Metur.]


Who so wolde He who would obtain sovereign power must obtain conquest over himself, and not yield to his passions. ben myȝty he mot daunten hys cruel
corage. ne put[te] nat his nekke ouercomen vndir 2116
þe foule reines of lecherie. Though your dominion extended from India to Thule, yet if thou art tormented by care thou hast no real power. for al be it so þat þi lordship[e]
strecche so fer þat þe contre Inde quakiþ at þi
comaundement. or at þi lawes. and þat þe leest isle in
þe see þat hyȝt tile be þral to þe ¶ ȝit yif þou mayst 2120
nat puten awey þi foule derk[e] desijres and dryuen
oute fro þe wreched compleyntes. Certis it nis no
power þat þou hast.

2115 wolde ben—wole be

2116 put[te]—putte

2117 lordship[e]—lordshype

2119 comaundement—comaundementȝ
leest isle—last Ile

2120 hyȝt—hyhte

2121 puten—putten

2122 oute—owt


[The 6the prose.]


Bvt glorie How deceptive and deformed a thing is glory! Well did the Tragedian exclaim—ὦ δόξα δόξα μυρίοισι δὴ βροτῶν, οὐδὲν γεγῶσι βίοτον ὤγκωσας μέγαν, for the undeserving have been crowned with glory and renown by popular and erring opinion. how deceiuable and how foule is it ofte. for 2124
whiche þing nat vnskilfully a tregedien þat is to
sein a maker of dites þat hyȝten tregedies cried[e] and
seide. ¶ O glorie glorie quod he. þou nart no þing
ellys to þousandes of folkes. but a gret sweller of eres. 2128
for many[e] han had ful gret renoun by þe fals[e] oppinioun
of poeple. What can be more infamous than renoun founded on the prejudices of the vulgar? and what þing may ben þouȝt fouler
þen swiche preisynge Those that are undeservedly praised ought to blush for shame. for þilk[e] folk þat ben preised
falsly. þei moten nedes han shame of hir preisynges. 2132
If a wise man gets well-merited praise it does not add to his felicity. and yif þat folk han geten hem þank or preysyng by
her desertes. what þing haþ þilk pris echid or encresed
to þe conscience of wise folk þat mesuren hire
good. not by þe rumour of þe poeple. but by þe soþefastnesse 2136
of conscience. If it be a good thing to spread abroad one’s fame, it must be dishonourable not to do so. and yif it seme a fair þing a
man to han encresid and sprad his name. þan folweþ
78 it. þat it is demed to ben a foule þinge yif it ne be
ysprad ne encresed. But a good name cannot penetrate everywhere, and the most illustrious names must be unknown to the greatest part of the world. but as I seide a litel her byforne. 2140
þat syn þer mot nedes ben many folk to whiche folk þe
renoun of a man ne may nat comen. it byfalleþ þat he
þat þou wenest be glorious and renomed. semiþ in þe
nexte parties of þe erþe to ben wiþ out glorie. and wiþ 2144
out renoun. The favour of the people is worth but little as it is seldom judicious and never permanent. ¶ and certis amonges þise þinges I ne trowe
nat þat þe pris and grace of þe poeple nis neiþer worþi
[* fol. 18 b.] *to ben remembrid ne comeþ of wise iugement. ne is
ferm perdurably. How empty and transitory are titles of nobility! ¶ But now of þis name of gentilesse. 2148
what man is it þat ne may wel seen how veyne and
how flittyng a þing it is. Gentility is wholly foreign to renown, and to those who boast of noble birth. ¶ For if þe name of gentilesse
be referred to renoun and clernesse of linage. þan
is gentil name but a for[e]ine þing. þat is to sein to 2152
hem þat glorifien hem of hir linage. Nobility is fame derived from the merits of one’s ancestors. ¶ For it semeþ
þat gentilesse be a maner preysynge þat comeþ of decert
of auncestres. If praise can give nobility they are noble who are praised. ¶ And yif preysynge makeþ gentilesse
þan moten þei nedes be gentil þat ben preysed. Then if thou hast no nobility of thy own, thou canst not derive any splendour from the merits of others. For 2156
whiche þing it folweþ. þat yif þou ne haue no gentilesse
of þi self. þat is to sein pris þat comeþ of þi deserte
foreine gentilesse ne makeþ þe nat gentil. If there be any good in nobleness of birth, it consists alone in this, that it imposes an obligation upon its possessors not to degenerate from the virtues of their ancestors. ¶ But certis
yif þer be any goode in gentilesse. I trowe it be in al 2160
oonly þis. þat it semeþ as þat a maner necessitee be imposed
to gentil men. for þat þei ne sholden nat outraien
or forliuen fro þe uertues of hire noble kynrede.

2124 foule—fowl

2125 whiche—whych

2126 maker—makere

2127 he—she

2128 sweller—swellere

2129 many[e]—manye
had—MS. hadde, C. had

2130 fouler—fowlere

2131 þen—thanne

2133 or—of

2134 haþ—MS. haþe

2139 foule þinge—fowl thing

2140 neand

2144 parties—partye

2145 out—owhte

2148 ferm—ferme

2149 veyne—veyn

2150 if—yif

2154 comeþ of—comth of the

2157 whiche—which

2158 pris—preys

2160 goode—good
in (2)—omitted

2161 maner—manere

[The 6th Metre.]


Al þe linage All men have the same origin. of men þat ben in erþe ben of semblable 2164
burþe. They have one father and one king, who gave the moon her horns, and adorned the sun with his rays. On al one is fadir of þinges. On alone
minyst[r]eþ alle þinges. ¶ He ȝaf to þe sonne hys
bemes. he ȝaf to þe moone hir hornes. The same gave the earth to man and adorned the sky with stars. he ȝaf þe men to
þe erþe. he ȝaf þe sterres to þe heuene. He breathed into man the breath of life. ¶ he encloseþ 2168
79 wiþ membres þe soules þat comen fro hys heye sete.
All men spring from this illustrious source. ¶ þanne comen alle mortal folk of noble seed. Why then do they boast of pedigree? whi
noysen ȝe or bosten of ȝoure eldris He alone is ignoble who submits to vice and forgets his noble origin. ¶ For yif þou
look[e] ȝoure bygynnyng. and god ȝoure auctour and 2172
ȝoure makere. þan is þer no forlyued wyȝt but ȝif he
norisse his corage vnto vices and forlete his propre

2166 hys—hyse

2167 hir—hyse

2169 fro hys—fram hyse

2170 seed—sede

2171 bosten—MS. voscen, C. bosten

2172 look[e]—loke


[The 7the prose.]

QUID AUTEM DE CORPORIBUS.6 6 Read corporis voluptatibus.

But what shal But what shall I say with respect to sensual pleasures, the desire of which is full of anxiety, and the enjoyment of them full of repentance? I seie of delices of body. of whic[h]e 2176
delices þe desiringes ben ful of anguisse. and þe
fulfillinges of hem ben ful of penaunce. What diseases and intolerable pains (the merited fruits of vice) are these delights wont to bring upon those who enjoy them! ¶ How grete
sekenesse and how grete sorwes vnsuffrable ryȝt as a
manere fruit of wickednesse ben þilke delices wont to 2180
bryngen to þe bo[d]ies of folk þat vsen hem. I am unable to see what joy is to be found in the gratification of them. ¶ Of
whiche delices I not what ioye may ben had of hir
moeuyng. The remembrance of criminal indulgence brings with it bitter remorse. ¶ But þis woot I wel þat who so euere wil
remembren hym of hys luxuries. he shal wel vndirstonde. 2184
þat þe issues of delices ben sorowful and sory.
If such things make men happy, then may brutes attain to felicity, since by their instinct they are urged to satisfy their bodily delights. ¶ And yif þilke delices mowen make folk blisful. þan
by þe same cause moten þise bestes ben clepid blisful.
¶ Of whiche bestes al þe entencioun hasteþ to fulfille 2188
hire bodyly iolyte. A wife and children do not always bring happiness, for some have found tormentors in their own offspring. and þe gladnesse of wijf [and]
children were [an] honest þing. but it haþ ben seid.
þat it is ouer myche aȝeins kynde þat children han ben
founden tormentours to hir fadres I not how many. 2192
¶ Of whiche children how bitynge is euery condicioun.
It nedeþ nat to tellen it þe þat hast or þis tyme assaied
it. and art ȝit now anguyssous. I approve of this opinion of Euripides, that he who is childless is happy in his misfortune. In þis approue I þe
sentence of my disciple Euridippus. þat seide þat he 2196
þat haþ no children is weleful by infortune.

2173 is—nis

2176 delices—delites

2177 anguisse—Angwyssh

2178 grete—gret

2179 sekenesse—sykenesse
grete sorwes—gret soruwes

2180 fruit—frut

2182 had—MS. hadde, C. had

2183 wil—wole

2184 hys—hyse

2185 sorowful—sorwful

2186 make—makyn

2189 [and]—from C.

2190 [an]—from C.
seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

2191 myche—mochel

2192 many—manye

2196 Euridippus—Eurydyppys; read Euripides

2197 haþ—MS. haþe



[The 7de Metur.]


Euery delit Pleasure leaves a pain behind it. haþ þis. þat it anguisseþ hem wiþ prikkes
þat vsen it. The bee gives us agreeable honey, but try to hold it, and it quickly flies, leaving its sting behind. ¶ It resembliþ to þise flying flyes þat
we clepen been. þat aftre þat þe bee haþ shed hys agreable 2200
honies he fleeþ awey and styngeþ þe hertes of hem
þat ben ysmyte wiþ bytynge ouer longe holdynge.

2198 Euery—MS. Ouery, C. Every

2198, 2200 haþ—MS. haþe
shed hys—shad hyse


[The 8the prose.]


Now nis it no It appears then that happiness is not to be found in the above-mentioned external things. doute þan þat þise weyes ne ben a
maner mysledyng to blisfulnesse. ne þat þei ne 2204
mowe nat leden folke þider as þei byheten to leden
hem. [* fol. 19.] These false ways are perplexed with many evils, as I shall presently show thee. ¶ But wiþ how grete harmes þise *forseide weyes
ben enlaced. ¶ I shal shewe þe shortly. Do you want to amass wealth, then you must take it from your neighbours. ¶ For whi
yif þou enforcest þe to assemble moneye. þou most by-reuen 2208
hym his moneye þat haþ it. Would you shine in dignities, then you must beg for them and disgrace yourself by a humiliating supplication. and yif þou wilt
shynen wiþ dignites. þou most bysechen and supplien
hem þat ȝiuen þo dignitees. ¶ And yif þou coueitest
by honour to gon by-fore oþer folk þou shalt defoule þi 2212
self by humblesse of axing. If power be your ambition, you expose yourself to the snares of inferiors. yif þou desiryst power.
þou shalt by awaites of þi subgitȝ anoyously be cast
vndir many periles. Do you ask for glory, to be distracted by vexations and so lose all security. axest þou glorie þou shalt ben so
destrat by aspre þinges þat þou shalt forgone sykernesse. 2216
Do you prefer a voluptuous life? Think then that all men will despise him who is a thrall to his body. ¶ And yif þou wilt leden þi lijf in delices.
euery whiȝt shal dispisen þe and forleten þe as þou þat
art þral to þing þat is ryȝt foule and brutel. þat is [to]
sein seruaunt to þi body. They build upon a weak foundation that place bodily delights above their own reason. ¶ Now is it þan wel yseen 2220
how lytel and how brutel possessioun þei coueiten þat
putten þe goodes of þe body abouen hire owen resoun.
Can you surpass the elephant in bulk, or the bull in strength? ¶ For mayst þou sourmounten þise olifuñtȝ in gretnesse
or weyȝt of body. Or mayst þou ben strenger þan þe 2224
bole. Art thou swifter than the tiger? Mayst þou ben swifter þan þe tigre. Behold the immense extent of the heavens and cease to admire vile or lesser things. biholde þe
81 spaces and þe stablenesse and þe swyfte cours of þe
heuene. and stynte somtyme to wondren on foule
þinges. Admire what is still more admirable, the consummate wisdom that governs them. þe whiche heuene certys nis nat raþer for þise 2228
þinges to ben wondred vpon. þan for þe resoun by
whiche it is gouerned. How fleeting is beauty! but þe shynynge of þi forme þat
is to seien þe beaute of þi body. how swiftly passyng is
it and how transitorie. It fades sooner than the vernal flowers. ¶ Certis it is more flittynge 2232
þan þe mutabilite of floures of þe somer sesoun. For, as Aristotle says, if a man were lynx-eyed and could look into the entrails of Alcibiades (so fair outwardly) he would find all foul and loathsome. For so
as aristotil telleþ þat yif þat men hadden eyen of a
beest þat hiȝt lynx. so þat þe lokyng of folk myȝt[e]
percen þoruȝ þe þinges þat wiþstonden it. who so lokid 2236
þan in þe entrailes of þe body of alcibiades þat was
ful fayr in þe superfice wiþ oute. it shulde seme ryȝt
foule. Thy nature does not make thee seem beautiful, but the imperfect view of thy admirers. and for þi yif þou semest faire. þi nature ne
makiþ nat þat. but þe desceiuaunce of þe fieblesse of þe 2240
eyen þat loken. Prize bodily perfections as much as you will, yet a three days’ fever will destroy them. ¶ But preise þe goodes of þi body as
moche as euer þe list. so þat þou know[e] algates þat
what so it be. þat is to seyn of þe goodes of þi body
whiche þat þou wondrest vpon may ben destroied or 2244
dessolued by þe hete of a feuere of þre dayes. ¶ Of
alle whiche forseide þinges I may reducen þis shortly in
a somme. Worldly goods do not give what they promise, do not comprise every good, are not the paths to felicity, nor can of themselves make any one happy. ¶ þat þise worldly goodes whiche þat ne
mowen nat ȝiuen þat þei byheten. ne ben nat perfit by 2248
þe congregacioun of alle goodes. þat þei ne ben nat
weyes ne paþes þat bryngen men to blysfulnesse ne
maken men to ben blysful.

2203 nis—is

2204 mysledyng—mysledynges

2205 folke—folk

2208 enforcest—MS. enforced, C. enforcest

2209 haþ—MS. haþe

2211 ȝiuen—yeuen

2212 gon—MS. gone, C. gon

2213 by—thorw

2214 by—be

2216 destrat—MS. destralle, C. destrat

2217 wilt—wolt

2218 whiȝt—wyht

2219 foule—fowl
[to]—from C.

2220 yseen—seen

2221 brutel—brotel

2222 owen—owne

2224 weyȝt—weyhty

2225 swifter—swyftere

2227 stynte—stynt

2228 whiche—whych

2230 whiche—wych

2231 seien—seyn

2234 as—omitted

2235 hiȝt—hyhte

2237 alcibiades—MS. alcidiades

2238 fayr—fayre

2239 foule—fowl

2240 desceiuaunce of þe fieblesse—deceyuable or the feblesse

2242 moche—mochel

2243 þe—omitted
þi body whiche—the body whych

2247 a—omitted


[The 8the Metur.]


Allas whiche Alas! how through folly and ignorance do men stray from the path of true happiness! folie and whiche ignoraunce myslediþ 2252
wandryng wrecches fro þe paþe of verrey good.
Ye do not seek gold upon trees nor diamonds from the vine. ¶ Certis ȝe ne seken no golde in grene trees. ne ȝe ne
82 gadren [nat] precious stones in þe vines. Ye lay not your nets to catch fish upon the lofty hills. ne ȝe ne
hiden nat ȝoure gynnes in heyȝe mountaignes to kachen 2256
fisshe of whiche ȝe may maken ryche festes. The hunter goes not to the Tyrrhene waters to hunt the roe. and yif
ȝow lykeþ to hunte to roos. ȝe ne gon nat to þe foordes
of þe water þat hyȝt tyrene. Men know where to look for white pearls, and for the fish that yields the purple dye. and ouer þis men knowen
wel þe crikes and þe cauernes of þe see yhidd in þe 2260
floodes. and knowen eke whiche water is most plentiuous
of white perles. and knowen whiche water habundeþ
most of rede purpre. þat is to seyen of a maner shelfisshe
with whiche men dien purpre. They know where the most delicate of the finny race abound and where the fierce sea-urchin is to be found. and knowen 2264
whiche strondes habounden most of tendre fisshes or
of sharpe fisshes þat hyȝten echynnys. But where the Sovereign Good abides blinded mortals never know, but plunge into the earth below to look for that which has its dwelling in the heavens. but folk suffren
hem self to ben so blynde þat hem ne recchiþ nat to
knowe where þilk[e] goodes ben yhidd whiche þat þei 2268
coueiten but ploungen hem in erþe and seken þere
þilke goode þat sourmounteþ þe heuene þat bereþ þe
sterres. [* fol. 19 b.] What doom do the silly race deserve? ¶ what *preyere may I make þat be digne to
þe nice þouȝtis of men. May they pursue such false joys, and having obtained them, too late find out the value of the true. but I preye þat þei coueiten 2272
rycches and honours so þat whan þei han geten þo
false goodes wiþ greet trauayle þat þerby þei mowe
knowen þe verray goodes.

2252 whiche (both)—whych

2253 paþe—paath

2254 golde—gold


[The 9ne prose.]


IT suffisiþ P. I have been describing the form of counterfeit happiness, and if you have considered it attentively I shall proceed to give you a perfect view of the true. þat I haue shewed hider to þe forme of 2276
false wilfulnesse. so þat yif þou look[e] now clerely
þe ordre of myn entencioun requeriþ from hennes forþe
to shewen þe verray wilfulnesse. B. I now see that there is no sufficiency in riches, no power in royalty, no esteem in dignities, nor nobility in renown, nor joy in carnal pleasures. ¶ For quod .I. (b) [I.]
se wel now þat suffisaunce may nat comen by richesse. ne 2280
power by realmes. ne reuerence by dignitees. ne gentilesse
by glorie. ne ioye by delices. and (p) hast þou wel
knowen quod she þe cause whi it is. Certis me semeþ
83 quod .I. þat .I. se hem ryȝt as þouȝ it were þoruȝ a litel 2284
clifte. I have a glimpse of the cause of all this, but I should like a more distinct view. but me were leuer knowen hem more openly of
þe. Certys quod she þe resoun is al redy P. The cause is obvious—for that which is by nature one and indivisible human ignorance separates and divides, and reverses the true order of things. ¶ For
þilk þing þat symply is on þing wiþ outen ony
diuisioun. þe errour and folie of mankynde departeþ 2288
and diuidiþ it. and mislediþ it and transporteþ from
verray and perfit goode. to goodes þat ben false and
inperfit. Does that state which needs nothing stand in need of power? ¶ But seye me þis. wenest þou þat he þat haþ
nede of power þat hym ne lakkeþ no þing. B. I should say no. P. Right! That which wants power needs external aid. Nay quod 2292
.I ¶ Certis quod she þou seist aryȝt. For yif so be
þat þer is a þing þat in any partie be fieble of power.
B. That is true! P. Sufficiency and power therefore are of one nature. B. It seems so indeed. Certis as in þat it most[e] nedes be nedy of foreine
helpe. ¶ Riȝt so it is quod .I. Suffisaunce and power 2296
ben þan of on kynde ¶ So semeþ it quod I. P. Are power and sufficiency to be despised? Are they not rather worthy of universal respect? ¶ And
demyst þou quod she þat a þing þat is of þis manere.
þat is to seine suffisaunt and myȝty auȝt[e] to ben dispised.
or ellys þat it be ryȝt digne of reuerences abouen 2300
alle þinges. B. They are doubtless highly estimable. P. Add respect to sufficiency and power, and consider all three as one and the same thing. ¶ Certys quod I it nys no doute þat it
nis ryȝt worþi to ben reuerenced. ¶ Lat vs quod she þan
adden reuerence to suffisaunce and to power ¶ So þat
we demen þat þise þre þinges ben alle o þing. B. I see no objection to that view. ¶ Certis 2304
quod I lat vs adden it. yif we willen graunten þe soþe.
P. But can that be obscure and ignoble which possesses three such attributes? is it not noble and worthy of a shining reputation? what demest þou þan quod she is þat a dirke þing and
nat noble þat is suffisaunt reuerent and myȝty. or ellys
þat is ryȝt clere and ryȝt noble of celebrete of renoun. 2308


He who is most powerful and worthy of renown—if he lack fame which he cannot give to himself, must (by this defect) seem in some measure more weak and abject. ¶ Considere þan quod she as we han grauntid her byforne.
þat he þat ne haþ ne[de] of no þing and is most
myȝty and most digne of honour yif hym nediþ any
clernesse of renoun whiche clernesse he myȝt[e] nat 2312
graunten of hym self. ¶ So þat for lakke of þilke
clerenesse he myȝt[e] seme febler on any syde or þe
84 more outcaste. Glosa. þis is to seyne nay. He that is sufficiently mighty and esteemed will have necessarily an illustrious name. ¶ For who
so þat is suffisaunt myȝty and reuerent. clernesse of 2316
renoun folweþ of þe forseide þinges. he haþ it alredy of
hys suffisaunce. B. I cannot deny it, for reputation seems inseparable from the advantages you have just mentioned. boice. I may nat quod I denye it.
¶ But I mot graunten as it is. þat þis þing be ryȝt
celebrable by clernesse of renoun and noblesse. P. Therefore Renown differs in no wise from the three above-mentioned attributes. ¶ þan 2320
folweþ it quod she þat we adden clernesse of renoun to
þe þre forseide þinges. so þat þer ne be amonges hem
no difference. and þis is a consequente quod .I. And if any one then stands in need of no external aid, can have all he wants, and is illustrious and respected—is not his condition very agreeable and pleasant? þis
þing þan quod she þat ne haþ no nede of no foreine 2324
þing. and þat may don alle þinges by his strengþes.
and þat is noble and honourable. nis nat þat a myrie
þing and a ioyful. B. I cannot conceive how such a one can have grief or trouble. boice. but wenest quod I þat any
sorow myȝt[e] comen to þis þing þat is swiche. ¶ Certys 2328
I may nat þinke. P. It must then be a state of happiness; and we may also affirm that sufficiency, power, nobility, differ only in name, but not in substance. P. ¶ þanne moten we graunt[e] quod
she þat þis þing be ful of gladnesse yif þe þorseide þinges
be soþe. ¶ And also certys mote we graunten. þat
suffisaunce power noblesse reuerence and gladnesse ben 2332
only dyuerse bynames. but hir substaunce haþ no
diuersite. B. It is a necessary conse­quence. Boice. It mot nedely be so quod .I. P. The depravity of mankind then divides that which is essentially indivisible; and, seeking for a part of that which has no parts, they miss the entire thing which they so much desire. P. þilke
þinge þan quod she þat is oon and simple in his nature.
[* fol. 20.] þe wikkednesse of men departiþ it *diuidiþ it. and 2336
whan þei enforcen hem to gete partie of a þing þat ne
haþ no part. þei ne geten hem neiþer þilk[e] partie þat
nis none. ne þe þing al hole þat þei ne desire nat. B. How is that? .b.
In whiche manere quod .I. P. He that seeks riches in order to avoid poverty, is not solicitous about power; he prefers meanness and obscurity, and denies himself many natural pleasures that he may not lessen his heaps of pelf. p. þilke man quod she þat 2340
sekeþ rychesse to fleen pouerte. he ne trauayleþ hym
nat to for to gete power for he haþ leuer ben dirk and
vile. and eke wiþdraweþ from hym selfe many naturel
delitȝ for he nolde lesen þe moneye þat he haþ assembled. 2344
85 He who lacks power, is pricked with trouble, and rendered an outcast and obscure by his sordid ways, does not possess sufficiency. but certis in þis manere he ne getiþ hym nat
suffisaunce þat power forletiþ. and þat moleste prekeþ.
and þat filþe makeþ outcaste. and þat derknesse hideþ.
He who only aims at power squanders his riches, and despises delights and honours unaccompanied by power. and certis he þat desireþ only power he wastiþ and 2348
scatriþ rychesse and dispiseþ delices and eke honour
þat is wiþ out power. ne he ne preiseþ glorie no þing.


Such a one must be subject to many anxieties. ¶ Certys þus seest þou wel þat many þingus failen to
hym. for he haþ somtyme faute of many necessites. 2352
and many anguysses biten hym And when he cannot get rid of these evils he ceases to have what he most desired—power.and whan he may
nat don þo defautes awey. he forleteþ to ben myȝty.
and þat is þe þing þat he most desireþ. In the same way honour, glory, and pleasure, are all inseparable; he that seeks one without the other will fail to obtain his desires. and ryȝt þus
may I make semblable resouns of honours and of glorie 2356
and of delices. ¶ For so as euery of þise forseide
þinges is þe same þat þise oþer þinges ben. þat is to
sein. al oon þing. who so þat euer sekeþ to geten þat
oon of þise and nat þat oþer. he ne geteþ nat þat he 2360
desireþ. B. What then if a man should desire to gain them all at once? Boice. ¶ what seist þou þan yif þat a man
coueiteþ to geten alle þise þinges to gider. P. He would then indeed desire perfect felicity—but can he ever expect to find it in the acquisitions above mentioned, which do not perform what they promise? P. Certys
quod she .I. wolde seie þat he wolde geten hym souereyne
blisfulnes. but þat shal he nat fynde in þo þinges 2364
þat .I. haue shewed þat ne mowe nat ȝeuen þat þei by-heten.
B. No, surely! boice. Certys no quod .I. P. Then happiness is not to be sought in these things which are falsely supposed capable of satisfying our desires? ¶ þan quod she ne
sholden men nat by no weye seken blysfulnesse in
swiche þinges as men wenen þat þei ne mowe 2368
ȝeuen but o þing senglely of alle þat men seken.
B. I confess it, and nothing can be more truly affirmed than this. I graunt[e] wel quod .I. ne no soþer þing ne may nat
ben said. Turn your mind’s eye upon the reverse of all this false felicity and you will perceive the true happiness. P. ¶ Now hast þou þan quod she þe forme
and þe causes of false welefulnesse. ¶ Now turne and 2372
flitte þe eyen of þi þouȝt. for þere shalt þou seen an oon
þilk verray blysfulnesse þat I haue byhyȝt þee. B. It is very clear, and I had a complete view of it when you explained to me the causes of its counterfeit. b.
Certys quod .I. it is cler and opyn. þouȝ þat it were to
a blynde man. and þat shewedest þou me [ful wel] a 2376
86 lytel her byforne. whan þou enforcedest þe to shewe me
þe causes of þe false blysfulnesse True felicity consists in a state of sufficiency, of power, and honour—as well as of a shining reputation and every desirable pleasure: and I must confess that true felicity is that which is bestowed by these advantages, as they are in reality all one and the same. ¶ For but yif I be by-giled.
þan is þilke þe verray perfit blisfulnesse þat perfitly
makiþ a man suffisaunt. myȝty. honourable noble. 2380
and ful of gladnesse. and for þou shalt wel knowe þat I
haue wel vndirstonden þise þinges wiþ inne myne herte.
I knowe wel þilke blisfulnesse þat may verrayly ȝeuen
on of þe forseide þinges syn þei ben al oon .I. knowe 2384
douteles þat þilke þing is þe fulle of blysfulnesse.

P. O my nursling, how happy are you in this conviction, provided you add but one limitation. P. O my nurry quod she by þis oppinioun quod she I
sey[e] þat þou art blisful yif þou putte þis þer to þat I
shal seine. B. What is that? what is þat quod .I. P. Thinkest thou that any thing in this world can confer this happiness? (the sovereign good). ¶ Trowest þou þat 2388
þer be any þing in þis erþely mortal toumblyng þinges
þat may bryngen þis estat. B. I think not; for nothing can be desirable beyond such a state of perfection. Certys quod I trowe it nat.
and þou hast shewed me wel þat ouer þilke goode þer
is no þing more to ben desired. P. These imperfect things above mentioned only confer the shadow of the supreme good, or at most only an imperfect felicity, but they cannot bestow true and perfect happiness. P. þise þinges þan 2392
quod she. þat is to seyne erþely suffisaunce and power.
and swiche þinges eyþer þei semen likenesse of verray
goode. or ellys it semeþ þat þei ȝeuen to mortal folk a
maner of goodes þat ne ben nat perfit. ¶ But þilke 2396
goode þat is verray and perfit. þat may þei nat ȝeuen.
B. I quite agree with you. boice. I. accorde me wel quod .I. P. Then, knowing the difference between true and false felicity you must now learn where to look for this supreme felicity. þan quod she for as
moche as þou hast knowen whiche is þilke verray blisfulnesse.
and eke whiche þilke þinges ben þat lien 2400
falsly blisfulnesse. þat is to seyne. þat by desceit
semen verray goodes. ¶ Now byhoueþ þe to knowen
[* fol. 20 b.] *whennes and where þou mowe seek[e] þilke verray
blisfulnesse. ¶ Certys quod I þat desijr I gretly and 2404
haue abiden longe tyme to herkene it. P. But, as Plato says that even in the least things the Divine assistance ought to be implored, what ought we do, to render us worthy of so important a discovery as the true source and seat of the sovereign good? ¶ But for as
moche quod she as it likeþ to my disciple plato in his
book of in thimeo. þat in ryȝt lytel þinges men sholde
bysechen þe helpe of god. ¶ what iugest þou þat be 2408
87 [now] to done so þat we may deserue to fynde þe sete of
þilke souereyne goode. B. Let us invoke the Father of all things. B. ¶ Certys quod .I. I. deme
þat we shulle clepen to þe fadir of alle goodes. ¶ For
wiþ outen hym nis þer no þing founden aryȝt. You are right, said Philosophy, and thus she sang:— þou seist 2412
a-ryȝt quod she. and bygan on-one to syngen ryȝt þus.

2256 heyȝe—the hyye

2257 fisshe—fyssh

2258 hunte—honte

2259 hyȝt—hyhte

2260 crikes—brykes
yhidd—MS. yhidde, C. I-hyd

2261, 2262 whiche—whych

2263 shelfisshe—shelle fysh

2264, 2265 whiche—whych

2264 dien—deyen

2265 of—with

2266 echynnys—MS. ethynnys, C. Echynnys

2268 yhidd—MS. yhidde, C. I-hydd

2270 goode—good

2271 make—maken

2273 rycches—Rychesse

2277 wilfulnesse—welefulnesse

2279 wilfulnesse—welefulnesse
[I.]—from C.

2280 richesse—Rychesses

2281 realmes—Reames

2287 þilk—thylke

2290 goode—good

2291 seye—sey
haþ—MS. haþe

2294 fieble—feblere

2295 most[e]—mot

2296 helpe—help

2297 on—o

2298 demyst þou—demesthow

2299 seine—seyn

2300 reuerences—Reuerence

2302 nis ryȝt—is ryht

2304 alle—al

2305 willen—wolen

2306 dirke—dyrk

2308 clere—cler
of celebrete—by celebryte

2310 haþ—MS. haþe

2312 whiche—whych

2314 clerenesse—clernesse
febler—the febelere

2315 seyne—seyn

2317 haþ—MS. haþe

2324 haþ—MS. haþe

2325 his—hyse

2326 myrie—mery

2327 wenest—whennes

2328 sorow myȝt[e]—sorwe myhte

2329 graunt[e]—graunte

2331 be—ben
also certys—certes also

2333 haþ—MS. haþe

2334 nedely—nedly

2335 þinge—thing

2337 gete—geten

2338 haþ—MS. haþe

2339 none—non

2340 whiche—whych

2341 rychesse—Rychesses
fleen—MS. sleen, C. flen

2342 leuer—leuer

2343 vile—vyl

2344 delitȝ—delices
haþ—MS. haþe

2346 prekeþ—prykketh

2347 derknesse—dyrknesse

2349 scatriþ—schatereth

2350 wiþ out—with owte

2351 many—manye

2352 haþ—MS. haþe

2353 may—ne may

2354 don—MS. done, C. don

2356 make—maken

2357 forseide—MS. sorseide

2363 souereyne—souereyn

2365 mowe—mowen

2368 wenen—wene

2370 graunt[e]—graunte

2371 said—MS. saide, C. sayd

2376 [ful wel]—from C.

2377 byforne—by-forn

2378 blysfulnesse—MS. blyndenesse, C. blysfulnesse

2385 of—omitted

2386 nurry—norye

2387 sey[e]—seye

2388 seine—seyn

2389 þis—thise

2390 nat—nawht

2393 seyne—sey

2395 ȝeuen—yeue

2397 goode—good

2399 whiche—which

2401 seyne—seyn

2402 knowen—knowe

2403 seek[e]—seke

2405 herkene—herknen

2407 sholde—sholden

2408 bysechen—by-shechen

2409 [now]—from C.

2410 souereyne goode—verray good

2411 shulle—shollen

2413 on-one—anon


[The 9ne Metur.]


O  þou fadir O Father and Maker of heaven and earth, by whose eternal reason the world is governed, and by whose supreme command Time flows from the birth of ages, Thou, firm and unchanged thyself, makest all things else to move! creatour of heuene and of erþes þat
gouernest þis worlde by perdurable resoun þat comaundist
þe tymes for to gon from tyme þat age had[de] 2416
bygynnyng. þou þat dwellest þi self ay stedfast and
stable and ȝiuest alle oþer þinges to ben moeued. Thy sovereign will to floating matter gave its various forms, impelled by no exterior causes, but by the Idea of the Best in thy great mind conceived void of malice. ne
forein causes necesseden þe neuer to compoune werke
of floterynge mater. but only þe forme of souereyne 2420
goode y-set wiþ inne [þe] wiþ outen envie þat moeued[e]
þe frely. Fairest thyself bearing the world’s figure in thy thought, thou didst create the world after that prototype, and dost draw all things from the image of the fair Supreme, and dost command that this world should have perfect parts. þou þat art alþerfairest beryng þe faire worlde
in þi þouȝt. formedest þis worlde to þe likkenesse
semblable of þat faire worlde in þi þouȝt. þou drawest 2424
alle þinges of þi souereyne ensampler. and comaundedist
þat þis worlde perfitlyche ymaked haue frely and
absolut hyse perfit parties. By harmonious measures thou dost bind fast the elements, so that there is no discordance between things cold and hot, or between the moist and the dry. ¶ þou byndest þe elementȝ
by noumbres proporcionables. þat þe colde þinges 2428
mowen accorde wiþ þe hote þinges. and þe drye þinges
wiþ þe moyst þinges. That the fire may not fly too high, and that weight may not press the earth and water lower than they are now placed, þat þe fire þat is purest ne fleye
nat ouer heye. ne þat þe heuynesse ne drawe nat adoun
ouer lowe þe erþes þat ben plounged in þe watres. 2432


thou didst join the Middle Soul (of a threefold nature) moving all things, and then by agreeing numbers didst resolve it. ¶ þou knyttest to-gidre þe mene soule of treble kynde
moeuyng alle þinges. and diuidest it by membres accordynge.
When that is done, cut into two orbs, it moves about returning to itself, and then encompassing the profound mind doth by that fair idea turn the heaven. ¶ And whan it is þus diuided it haþ assembled
a moeuyng in two roundes. ¶ It goþ to tourne 2436
88 aȝein to hym owen self. and environeþ a fulle deep
þouȝt. and tourniþ þe heuene by semblable ymage. Thou by such causes dost raise all souls and lesser lives, and adaptest them to their light vehicles. þou
by euenlyk causes enhaunsest þe soules and þe lasse
liues and ablynge hem heye by lyȝt[e] cartes. Thou sowest them in heaven and earth, and they return to thee by thy kind law like a recoiling flame. þou 2440
sewest hem in to heuene and in to erþe. and whan þei
ben conuertid to þe by þi benigne lawe. ¶ þou makest
hem retorne aȝeine to þe by aȝein ledyng fijr.
O Father, elevate our souls and let them behold thy august throne. ¶ O fadir yif þou to þi þouȝt to stien vp in to þi streite sete. 2444
and graunte [hym] to enviroune þe welle of good. Let them behold the fountain of all good. Dispel the mists of sense, remove the weights of earth-born cares, and in thy splendour shine (in our minds). and
þe lyȝte yfounde graunte hym to ficchen þe clere syȝtes
of hys corage in þe. ¶ And scatre þou and to-breke
[thow] þe weyȝtes and þe cloudes of erþely heuynesse. 2448
and shyne þou by þi bryȝtnes. For thou art ever clear, and to the good art peace and rest. He who looks on thee beholds beginning, support, guide, path and goal, combined! for þou art clernesse þou
art peisible to debonaire folke. ¶ þou þi self art bygynnynge.
berere. ledere. paþ and terme to loke on þe
[þat] is oure ende. Glose. 2452

2415 worlde—world

2416 from——age—from syn þat age

2417 stedfast—stedefast

2418 oþer—oothre

2419 forein—foreyne

2420 souereyne goode—souereyn good

2421 y-set—MS. y-sette, C. Iset
wiþ inne—with in
wiþ outen—with owte

2422 alþerfairest—alderfayrest

2422-24-26 worlde—world

2423 likkenesse—lyknesse

2426 and absolut—C. omits

2427 hyse—hys

2430 fire—fyr

2431 drawe—drawen

2435 haþ—MS. haþe

2436 goþ—MS. goþe

2437 owen—C. omits

2438 tourniþ—MS. tourniþe

2439 euenlyk—euene lyke

2440 lyȝt[e]—lyhte

2442 benigne—bygynnynge

2444 yif—yiue
þi streite—the streyte

2445 [hym]—from C.

2446 lyȝte—lyht

2448 [thow]—from C.

2449 bryȝtnes—bryhtnesse

2451 paþ—MS. paþe; paath

2452 [þat]—that


[The 10the prose.]


FOr as moche Now that thou hast had a faithful representation of future felicity as well as of the true happiness, I shall show thee in what the Perfection of Happiness consists. þan as þou hast seyn. whiche is þe
forme of goode þat nys nat perfit. and whiche is þe
forme of goode þat is perfit. now trowe I þat it were
goode to shewe in what þis perfeccioun of blisfulnesse is 2456
set. Our best plan will be to inquire whether there be in nature such a good as thou hast lately defined, lest we be deceived by the vanity of Imagination and be carried beyond the truth of the matter subjected to our inquiry. and in þis þing I trowe þat we sholden first enquere
forto witen yif þat any swiche manere goode as þilke
goode þat þou hast diffinissed a lytel her byforne. þat
is to seine souereyne goode may be founden in þe nature 2460
of þinges. For þat veyne ymaginacioun of þouȝt ne
desceiue vs nat. and putte vs oute of þe soþefastnesse
of þilke þinge þat is summyttid to vs. þis is to seyne.
but it may nat ben denoyed þat þilke goode ne is. 2464
¶ and þat it nis ryȝt as a welle of alle goodes. The sovereign good does exist, and is the source of all other good. ¶ For
89 al þing þat is cleped inperfit. is proued inperfit by þe
amenusynge of perfeccioun. or of þing þat is perfit. When we say that a thing is imperfect we assert that there is something else of its kind perfect. and
her of comeþ it. þat in euery þing general. yif þat. * fol. 21. þat 2468
men seen any þing þat is inperfit *certys in þilke general
þer mot ben somme þing þat is perfit. ¶ For yif so
be þat perfeccioun is don awey. men may nat þinke
nor seye fro whennes þilke þing is þat is cleped inperfit. 2472
Nature takes not her origin from things diminished and imperfect; but, proceeding from an entire and absolute substance, descends into the remotest and most fruitless things. ¶ For þe nature of þinges ne token nat her bygynnyng
of þinges amenused and inperfit. but it procediþ of
þingus þat ben al hool. and absolut. and descendeþ so
doune in to outerest þinges and in to þingus empty and 2476
wiþ oute fruyt. If there be an imperfect and fading felicity there must also be one stable and perfect. but as I haue shewed a litel her byforne.
þat yif þer be a blisfulnesse þat be frele and vein and
inperfit. þer may no man doute. þat þer nys som blisfulnesse
þat is sad stedfast and perfit. b. þis is concludid 2480
quod I fermely and soþefastly. But now consider wherein this felicity resides. That God is the governor of all things is proved by the universal opinion of all men. P. But considere
also quod she in wham þis blisfulnesse enhabiteþ. þe
commune acordaunce and conceite of þe corages of men
proueþ and graunteþ þat god prince of alle þingus is 2484
good. For since nothing may be conceived better than God, then He who has no equal in goodness must be good. ¶ For so as no þing ne may ben þouȝt bettre þan
god. it may nat ben douted þan þat [he þat] no þing is
bettre. þat he nys good. Reason clearly demonstrates (1) that God is good, and (2) that the sovereign good exists in him. ¶ Certys resoun sheweþ þat
god is so goode þat it proueþ by verray force þat perfit 2488
goode is in hym. If it were not so He could not be the Ruler of all things, for there would be some other being excelling him who possesses the supreme good and who must have existed before Him. ¶ For yif god ne is swiche. he ne
may nat ben prince of alle þinges. for certis som þing
possessyng in hym self perfit goode sholde ben more
þan god. and [it] sholde seme þat þilke þing were first 2492
and elder þan god. And we have already shown that the perfect precedes the imperfect; ¶ For we han shewed apertly þat
alle þinges þat ben perfit. ben first or þinges þat ben inperfit.


wherefore, that our reasonings may not run on with infinity, we must confess that the Supreme God is full of perfect and consummate good. ¶ And for þi for as moche as [that] my resoun
or my proces ne go nat awey wiþoute an ende. we 2496
ouȝt[e] to graunten þat þe souereyne god is ryȝt ful of
90 souereyne perfit goode. And as we have seen that the perfect good is true happiness, it follows that the true felicity resides in the Supreme Divinity. and we han establissed þat þe
souereyne goode is verrey blisfulnesse. þan mot it nedes
ben [þat verray blysfulnesse is] yset in souereyne god. 2500
B. þis take I wel quod .I. ne þis ne may nat be wiþseid
in no manere. But let us see how we can firmly and irrefragably prove that the Supreme God contains in his own nature a plenitude of perfect and consummate good. ¶ But I preie þe quod she see now how
þou mayst preuen holily and wiþ-outen corrupcioun þis
þat I haue seid. þat þe souereyne god is ryȝt ful of 2504
souereyne goode. [In whych manere quod I.] wenest
þou ouȝt quod she þat þis prince of alle þinges haue
ytake þilke souereyne good any where þan of hym self.
¶ of whiche souereyne goode men proueþ þat he is ful 2508
ryȝt as þou myȝtest þinken. þat god þat haþ blisfulnesse
in hym self. and þat ilke blisfulnesse þat is in hym
were diuers in substaunce. If you think that God has received this good from without, then you must believe that the giver of this good is more excellent than God the receiver. ¶ For yif þou wene þat
god haue receyued þilke good oute of hym self. þou 2512
mayst wene þat he þat ȝaf þilke good to god. be more
goode þan is god. But we have concluded that there is nothing more excellent than God. ¶ But I am byknowen and confesse
and þat ryȝt dignely þat god is ryȝt worþi abouen alle
þinges. But if this supreme good is in Him by nature, and is nevertheless of a different substance, we cannot conceive, since God is the author of all things, what could have united these two substances differing one from another. ¶ And yif so be þat þis good be in hym by 2516
nature. but þat it is diuers from [hym] by wenyng
resoun. syn we speke of god prince of alle þinges feyne
who so feyne may. who was he þat [hath] conioigned
þise diuers þinges to-gidre. Lastly, a thing which essentially differs from another cannot be the same with that from which it is supposed to differ. and eke at þe last[e] se 2520
wel þat o þing þat is diuers from any þing. þat þilke
þing nis nat þat same þing. fro whiche it is vndirstonden
to ben diuers. Consequently, what in its nature differs from the chief good cannot be the supreme good. þan folweþ it. þat þilke þing þat
by hys nature is dyuers from souereyne good. þat þat 2524
þing nys nat souereyne good. But it would be impious and profane thus to conceive of God, since nothing can excel Him in goodness and worth. but certys þat were a
felonous corsednesse to þinken þat of hym. þat no þing
nis more worþe. In fact, nothing can exist whose nature is better than its origin. For alwey of alle þinges. þe nature
91 of hem ne may nat ben better þan his bygynnyng. 2528


We may therefore conclude that the Author of all things is really and substantially the supreme Good. ¶ For whiche I may concluden by ryȝt uerray resoun.
þat þilke þat is bygynnyng of alle þinges. þilke same
þing is good in his substaunce. B. Most rightly said! B. þou hast seid ryȝtfully
quod .I. P. But you have owned that true felicity is the sovereign good; then you must also grant that God is that true felicity. P. But we han graunted quod she þat 2532
souereyne good is blysfulnes. þat is soþe quod .I. þan
quod she mote we nedes graunten and confessen þat
þilke same souereyne goode be god. [* fol. 21 b.] B. Your conclusions follow from your premises. ¶ Certys *quod
.I. I ne may nat denye ne wiþstonde þe resouns purposed. 2536
and I see wel þat it folweþ by strengþe of þe
premisses. P. Let us see whether we cannot prove this more convincingly by considering it in this view, that there cannot be two sovereign goods which differ in themselves. ¶ Loke nowe quod she yif þis be proued
[yit] more fermely þus. ¶ þat þer ne mowen nat ben
two souereyne goodes þat ben diuerse amo[n]ges hem 2540
self. For it is plain that of the goods that differ one cannot be what the other is; wherefore neither of them can be perfect where one wants the other. þat on is nat þat þat oþer is. þan [ne] mowen
neiþer of hem ben perfit. so as eyþer of hem lakkiþ to
oþir. That which is not perfect cannot be the supreme good. but þat þat nis nat perfit men may seen apertly
þat it nis nat souereyne. Neither can the chief good be essentially different. þe þinges þan þat ben 2544
souereynely goode ne mowen by no wey ben diuerse.
But it has been shown that God and happiness are the chief good, wherefore the sovereign felicity and the Supreme Divinity are one and the same. ¶ But I haue wel conclude þat blisfulnesse and god ben
[the] souereyne goode. For whiche it mot nedes be þat
souereyne blisfulnesse is souerey[ne] dyuynite. ¶ No 2548
þing quod I nis more soþefast þan þis ne more ferme by
resoun. ne a more worþi þing þan god may nat ben
concluded. Following then the examples of geometricians who deduce their conse­quences from their propositions, I shall deduce to thee something like a corollary as follows:— P. vpon þise þinges þan quod she. ryȝt as
þise geometriens whan þei han shewed her proposiciouns 2552
ben wont to bryngen in þinges þat þei clepen porismes
or declaraciouns of forseide þinges. ryȝt so wil I ȝeue
þe here as a corolarie or a mede of coroune. Because by the attainment of felicity men become happy, and as felicity is the same as Divinity itself, therefore by the attainment of Divinity men are made happy. For whi.
for as moche as by þe getynge of blisfulnesse men ben 2556
maked blysful. and blisfulnesse is diuinite. ¶ þan is
it manifest and open þat by þe getyng of diuinite men
ben makid blisful. But as by the participation of justice or of wisdom men become just or wise, ryȝt as by þe getynge of iustice . . .
92 and by þe getyng of sapience þei ben maked wise. 2560


so by partaking of Divinity they must necessarily, and by parity of reason, become gods. ¶ Ryȝt so nedes by þe semblable resoun whan þei han getyn
diuinite þei ben maked goddys. Every happy man then is a god. But by nature there is only One; but by participation of Divine essence there may be many gods. þan is euery blisful
man god. ¶ But certis by nature. þer nys but oon god.
but by þe participaciouns of diuinite þere ne letteþ ne 2564
disturbeþ no þing þat þer ne ben many goddes. ¶ þis
is quod .I. a faire þing and a precious. ¶ Clepe it as
þou wolt. be it corolarie or porisme or mede of coroune
or declarynges ¶ Certys quod she no þing nis fairer. 2568
þan is þe þing þat by resoun sholde ben added to þise
forseide þinges. what þing quod .I. But as happiness seems to be an assemblage of many things, ought we not to consider whether these several things constitute conjointly the body of happiness, or whether there is not some one of these particular things that may complete the substance or essence of it, and to which all the rest have a relation? ¶ So quod she as
it semeþ þat blisfulnesse conteniþ many þinges. it were
forto witen wheþir [þat] alle þise þinges maken or 2572
conioignen as a maner body of blysfulnesse by diuersite
of parties or [of] membris. Or ellys yif any of alle
þilke þingus be swyche þat it acomplise by hym self þe
substaunce of blisfulnesse. so þat alle þise oþer þinges 2576
ben referred and brouȝt to blisfulnesse. þat is to seyne
as to þe chief of hem. B. Illustrate this matter by proper examples. ¶ I wolde quod I þat þou
makedest me clerly to vndirstonde what þou seist. and
þat þou recordest me þe forseide þinges. P. As you grant that happiness is a good, you may say the same of all the other goods; for perfect sufficiency is identical with supreme felicity; so is supreme power, likewise high rank, a shining reputation, and perfect pleasure. ¶ Haue I nat 2580
iuged quod she. þat blisfulnesse is goode. ȝis forsoþe
quod .I. and þat souereyne goode. ¶ Adde þan quod
she þilke goode þat is maked blisfulnes to alle þe forseide
þinges. ¶ For þilke same blisfulnesse þat is 2584
demed to ben souereyne suffisaunce. þilke self is
souereyne power. souereyne reuerence. souereyne clernesse
or noblesse and souereyne delit. What say you, then; are all these things, sufficiency, power, and the rest, to be considered as constituent parts of felicity? or are they to be referred to the sovereign good as their source and principal? what seist þou
þan of alle þise þinges. þat is to seyne. suffisance power 2588
and þise oþer þinges. ben þei þan as membris of blisfulnesse.
or ben þei referred and brouȝt to souereyne good.
¶ Ryȝt as alle þinges þat ben brouȝt to þe chief of hem.


93 B. I see what you are aiming at, and I am desirous to hear your arguments. b. I vndirstonde wel quod .I. what þou purposest to 2592
seke. but I desijr[e] to herkene þat þou shewe it me.
P. If all these things were members of felicity, they would differ one from another, for it is the property of diverse parts to compose one body. p. Take now þus þe discressioun of þis questioun quod
she. yif al þise þinges quod she weren membris to
felicite. þan weren þei diuerse þat oon fro þat oþer. 2596
¶ And swiche is þe nature of parties or of membris.
þat dyuerse membris compounen a body. But it has been well shown that all these things are the same and do not differ—therefore they are not parts, for if they were, happiness might be made up of one member—which is absurd and impossible. ¶ Certis
quod I it haþ wel ben shewed her byforne. þat alle þise
þinges ben alle on þing. þan ben þei none membris quod 2600
she. for ellys it sholde seme þat blisfulnesse were
[* fol. 22.] conioigned *al of one membre alone. but þat is a þing
þat may nat ben doon. B. This I doubt not, but I desire to hear the sequel. þis þing quod .I. nys nat
doutous. but I abide to herkene þe remenaunt of þe 2604
questioun. P. All the things above-mentioned must be tried by Good, as the rule and square. þis is open and clere quod she. þat alle oþer
þinges ben referred and brouȝt to goode. Sufficiency, power, &c., are all desired, because they are esteemed a good. ¶ For þerfore
is suffisaunce requered. For it is demed to ben
good. and forþi is power requered. for men trowen also 2608
þat it be goode. and þis same þing mowe we þinken and
coueiten of reuerence and of noblesse and of delit. Good is the cause why all things are desired. þan
is souereyne good þe soume and þe cause of alle þat
auȝt[e] be desired. For that which contains no good, either in reality or appearance, can never be desired. forwhi þilke þing þat wiþ-holdeþ no 2612
good in it self ne semblaunce of goode it ne may nat
wel in no manere be desired ne requered. On the contrary, things not essentially good are desired because they appear to be real goods. and þe contrarie.
For þouȝ þat þinges by hir nature ne ben nat
goode algates yif men wene þat þei ben goode ȝit ben 2616
þei desired as þouȝ [þat] þei were verrayly goode. Hence, Good is esteemed as the cause and end of all things that we desire. and
þerfore is it þat men auȝten to wene by ryȝt þat bounte
be souereyne fyn and þe cause of alle þinges þat ben to
requeren. That which is the cause of our desiring any thing is itself what we chiefly want. ¶ But certis þilke þat is cause for whiche 2620
men requeren any þing. ¶ it semeþ þat þilke same
þing be most desired. If a man desire to ride on account of health—it is not the ride he wants so much as its salutary effects. as þus yif þat a wyȝt wolde ryde
for cause of hele. he ne desireþ nat so mychel þe
94 moeuyng to ryden as þe effect of his heele. Since all things are sought after for the sake of Good, they cannot be more desirable than the good itself. Now þan 2624
syn þat alle þinges ben requered for þe grace of good.
þei ne ben [nat] desired of alle folk more þan þe same
good It has been shown that all the aforesaid things are only pursued for the sake of happiness—hence it is clear that good and happiness are essentially the same. ¶ But we han graunted þat blysfulnesse is þat
þing for whiche þat alle þise oþer þinges ben desired. 2628
þan is it þus þat certis only blisfulnesse is requered and
desired ¶ By whiche þing it sheweþ clerely þat good
and blisfulnesse is al oone and þe same substaunce.
B. I see no cause to differ from you. ¶ I se nat quod I wher fore þat men myȝt[en] discorden 2632
in þis. P. It has been proved that God and happiness are identical and inseparable. p. and we han shewed þat god and verrey blysfulnesse
is al oon þing B. That is true. ¶ þat is soþe quod .I. Therefore the substance of God is also the same as that of the Supreme Good. þan
mowe we conclude sikerly þat þe substaunce of god is
set in þilke same good and in noon oþer place. 2636

2453 whiche—which

2454-55-56-58-59 goode—good

2454 whiche—whych

2457 set—MS. sette, C. set

2460 seine—seyn
souereyne goode—souereyn good
be founden—ben fownde

2461 veyne—veyn

2463 þis is to seyne—C. omits

2464 denoyed—MS. deuoyded, C. denoyed

2465 of—MS. of of

2466 al þing—alle thing

2468 her of comeþ—ther of comht

2470 somme—som

2471 don—MS. done, C. don

2473 token—took

2475 hool—hoole

2476 doune—down

2477 wiþ oute fruyt—with owten frut

2480 stedfast—stydefast

2481 fermely—MS. fennely, C. fermely

2486 [he þat]—from C.
is bettre—nis bettre

2488-89-91 goode—good

2489 swiche—swych

2492 [it]—from C.

2493 elder—eldere

2495 [that]—from C.

2496 proces—processes

2497 ouȝt[e]—owen

2498 goode—good

2499 souereyne goode—souereyn good

2500 [þat——is]—from C.
yset—MS. ysette, C. set

2501 be—ben
wiþseid—MS. wiþseide, C. withseid

2503 wiþ-outen—with-owte

2504 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

2505 souereyne goode—souereyn good
[In——I]—from C.

2506 ouȝt—awht

2507 þan of—owt of

2508 whiche—whych
souereyne goode—souereyn good

2509 haþ—MS. haþe

2510 þat ilke—thilke

2511 were—weren

2514 goode—worth

2517 from—fro
[hym]—from C.

2518 feyne—faigne

2519 feyne—feigne
[hath]—from C.

2520 last[e]—laste

2521 o—a

2522 whiche—whych

2524 from—fro

2527 nis—is

2528 better—bettre

2529 whiche—whych

2531 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

2533 soþe—soth

2534 mote—moten

2539 [yit]—from C.

2541 is (1)—nis
[ne]—from C.

2546 conclude—concluded

2547 [the] from C.

2549 soþefast—sothfast
ferme—MS. forme, C. ferme

2552 proposiciouns—MS. proporsiouns, C. proposiciouns

2553 porismes—MS. poeismes, C. porysmes

2554 wil—wole

2563 oon—o

2564 letteþ—let

2566 faire—fayr

2567 porisme—MS. pousme, C. porisme

2572 [þat]—from C.

2573 maner—manere

2574 [of]—from C.

2575 swyche—swych

2576 oþer—oothre

2577 seyne—seyn

2578 chief—chef

2581 goode ȝis—good ys

2582 souereyne goode—souereyn good

2583 goode—good

2585 self—selue

2588 þise—C. omits

2589 oþer—oothre

2591 brouȝt—MS wrouȝt, C. browht

2593 desijr[e] to herkene—desire for to herkne

2594 Take—tak

2596 fro—from

2597 swiche—swhych

2600 on þing—othing

2602 one—on

2603 ben doon—be don

2604 herkene—herknen

2605 clere—cler

2606 goode—good

2609 goode—good

2617 [þat]—from C.
were verrayly—weeren verraylyche

2618 þerfore—therfor

2619 alle—alle the

2620 whiche—whych

2623 mychel—mochel

2624 moeuyng—moeuynge

2626 [nat]—from C.

2628 oþer—oothre

2630 clerely—clerly
good and blisfulnesse—of good and of blysfulnesse

2631 oone—oon

2632 myȝt[en]—myhten

2634 oon—oo

2635 mowe—mowen

2636 set—MS. sette, C. set


[The 10the Metur.]


O Comeþ alle Come hither, all ye that are captives—bound and fettered with the chains of earthly desires;—come to this source of goodness, where you shall find rest and security. to-gidre now ȝe þat ben ycauȝt and
ybounde wiþ wicked[e] cheines by þe deceiuable
delit of erþely þinges inhabytynge in ȝoure þouȝt. here
shal ben þe reste of ȝoure laboures. here is þe hauene 2640
stable in peisible quiete. þis al oone is þe open refut to
wreches. [Chaucer’s gloss upon the Text.]  Glosa. þis is to seyn. þat ȝe þat ben combred
and deceyued wiþ worldly affecciouns comeþ now
to þis souereyne good þat is god. þat is refut to hem þat 2644
wolen come to hym. Not the gold of Tagus or of Hermus, nor the gems of India, can clear the mental sight from vain delusions, but rather darken it. Textus. ¶ Alle þe þinges þat þe
ryuere Tagus ȝiueþ ȝow wiþ his golden[e] grauels. or
ellys alle þe þynges þat þe ryuere hermus. ȝiueþ wiþ his
rede brynke. or þat yndus ȝiueþ þat is nexte þe hote 2648
partie of þe worlde. þat medeleþ þe grene stones
(smaragde) wiþ þe white (margarits). ne sholde nat
cleren þe lokynge of ȝoure þoȝt. but hiden raþer ȝoure
blynde corages wiþ inne hire dirkenesse Such sources of our delight are found in the earth’s gloomy caverns,—but the bright light that rules the heavens dispels the darkness of the soul. ¶ Alle þat 2652
likeþ ȝow here and excitiþ and moeueþ ȝoure þouȝtes.
95 þe erþe haþ noryshed it in hys lowe caues. but þe
shynyng by þe whiche þe heuene is gouerned and
whennes þat it haþ hys strengþe þat chaseþ þe derke 2656
ouerþrowyng of þe soule. He who has seen this light will confess that the beams of the sun are weak and dim. ¶ And who so euer may
knowen þilke lyȝt of blisfulnesse. he shal wel seine þat
þe white bemes of þe sonne ne ben nat cleer.

2638 wicked[e]—wyckyde

2639, 2640 here—her

2640 hauene—MS. heuene, C. hauene

2641 al oone—allone

2643 worldly—worldely

2645 come—comyn

2646 golden[e] grauels—goldene grauayles

2647 þynges—MS. rynges, C. thinges
hermus—MS. herinus, C. herynus

2648 nexte—next

2649 worlde—world

2654, 2656 haþ—MS. haþe

2654 hys—hyse

2656 chaseþ þe derke—eschueth the dyrke

2657 euer—C. omits

2658 seine—seyn


[The 11 prose.]


I assent[e] B. I assent, and am convinced by the force of your arguments. me quod .I. For alle þise þinges ben 2660
strongly bounden wiþ ryȝt ferme resouns. P. But how greatly would you value it, did you fully know what this good is? how
mychel wilt þou preisen it quod she. yif þat þou
knowe what þilke goode is. B. I should value it infinitely if at the same time I might attain to the knowledge of God, who is the sovereign good. I wol preise it quod I by
price wiþ outen ende. ¶ yif it shal bytyde me to 2664
knowe also to-gidre god þat is good. P. I shall elucidate this matter by incontrovertible reasons if thou wilt grant me those things which I have before laid down as conclusions. ¶ certys quod she
þat shal I do þe by verray resoun. yif þat þo þinges þat
[* fol. 22 b.] I haue conclude[d] a litel her by *forne dwellen oonly
in hir first[e] grauntyng. B. I grant them all. Boice. þei dwellen graunted 2668
to þe quod .I. þis is to seyne as who seiþ .I. graunt þi
forseide conclusiouns. P. Have I not shown that the things which the majority of mankind so eagerly pursue are not true and perfect goods, for they differ from one another; and because where one of them is absent the others cannot confer absolute happiness (or good)? ¶ Haue I nat shewed þe quod
she þat þe þinges þat ben requered of many folke. ne
ben nat verray goodes ne perfit. for þei ben diuerse þat 2672
oon fro þat oþer. and so as eche of hem is lakkyng to
oþer. þei ne han no power to bryngen a good þat is ful
and absolute. Have I not shown, too, that the true and chief good is made up of an assemblage of all the goods in such a way, that if sufficiency is an attribute of this good, ¶ But þan atte arst ben þei verray good
whan þei ben gadred to-gidre al in to a forme and in 2676
to oon wirchyng. so þat þilke þing þat is suffisaunce.

it must at the same time possess power, reverence, &c. þilk same be power and reuerence. and noblesse and
mirþe. If they be not one and the same, why should they be classed among desirable things? ¶ And forsoþe but alle þise þinges ben alle o
same þing þei ne han nat wher by þat þei mowen ben 2680
put in þe noumbre of þinges. þat auȝten ben requered
or desired. b. ¶ It is shewed quod .I. ne her of may
þer no man douten. While these things differ from one another they are not goods; but as soon as they become one then they are made goods.—Do not they owe their being good to their unity? p. þe þinges þan quod she þat ne
96 ben none goodes whan þei ben diuerse. and whan þei 2684
bygynnen to ben al o þing. þan ben þei goodes. ne
comiþ it hem nat þan by þe getynge of unite þat þei ben
maked goodes. B. So it appears. b. so it semeþ quod .I. P. Do you confess that everything that is good becomes such by the participation of the sovereign good or no? but alle þing þat
is good quod she grauntest þou þat it be good by participacioun 2688
of good or no. B. It is so. ¶ I graunt[e] it quod .I.


P. Then you must own that unity and good are the same (for the substance of those things must be the same, whose effects do not naturally differ). ¶ þan mayst þou graunt[en] it quod she by sembleable
resoun þat oon and good ben o same þing. ¶ For of
þinges [of] whiche þat þe effect nis nat naturely diuerse 2692
nedys þe substaunce mot ben o same þinge. B. I cannot gainsay it. I ne may
nat denye it quod I. P. Do you not perceive that everything which exists is permanent so long as it preserves its unity—but as soon as it loses this, it is dissolved and annihilated? ¶ Hast þou nat knowen wel quod
she. þat al þing þat is haþ so longe his dwellyng and
his substaunce. as longe is it oone. ¶ but whan it 2696
forletiþ to ben oone it mot nedis dien and corrumpe togidre.
B. How so? ¶ In whiche manere quod .I. P. In the animal creation as long as the soul and the body are united and conjoined in one, this being is called an animal or beast, but when the union is dissolved by the separation of these, the animal perishes and is no longer a beast. ¶ Ryȝt as in
beestes quod she. whan þe soule and þe body ben
conioigned in oon and dwellen to-gidre it is cleped a 2700
beest. and whan hire vnite is destroied by disseueraunce
þat oon fram þat oþir. þan sheweþ it wel þat it is a
dede þing. and þat it is no lenger no beste. The same may be said of man and all other things; they subsist while unity is preserved, but as soon as that is destroyed the things themselves lose their existence. and þe
body of a wyȝt while it dwelleþ in oon forme by coniunccioun 2704
of membris it is wel seyn þat it is a figure of
mankynde. and yif þe partyes of þe body ben [so]
diuide[d] and disseuered þat oon fro þat oþir þat þei
destroien vnite. þe body forletiþ to ben þat it was byforne. 2708
¶ And who so wolde renne in þe same manere
by alle þinges he sholde seen þat wiþ outen doute euery
þinge is in his substaunce as longe as it is oon. and
whan it forletiþ to ben oon it dieþ and perissiþ. B. I believe we should find this true in every case. boice. 2712
whan I considre quod I many þinges I see noon oþer.


P. Is there anything which acts naturally that forgoes this desire of existence and wishes for death and corruption? ¶ Is þer any þing þanne quod she þat in as moche as
it lyueþ naturely. þat forletiþ þe appetit or talent of
97 hys beynge. and desireþ to come to deeþ and to corrupcioun. 2716
B. I do not find any creature endowed with volition, which, of itself and without constraint, renounces or despises life and self-preservation or willingly hastens to destruction. ¶ yif I considere quod I þe beestes þat han
any manere nature of willynge or of nillynge I ne
fynde no þing. but yif it be constreyned fro wiþ out
forþe. þat forletiþ or dispiseþ to lyue and to duren 2720
or þat wole his þankes hasten hym to dien. ¶ For
euery beest trauayleþ hym to defende and kepe þe
sauuacioun of lijf. and escheweþ deeþ and destruccioun.
But with regard to herbs and trees, I am doubtful whether I ought to have the same opinion of them, for they have no sensitive soul, nor any natural volition like animals. b. but certys I doute me of herbes and of trees. þat is 2724
to seyn þat I am in a doute of swiche þinges as herbes
or trees þat ne han no felyng soule. ne no naturel
wirchynges seruyng to appetite as beestes han wheþer
þei han appetite to dwellen and to duren. P. There is no cause for doubt in respect to these. ¶ Certis 2728
quod she ne þer of þar þe nat doute. Herbs and trees first choose a convenient place to grow in, where, agreeably to their respective natures, they are sure to thrive, and are in no danger of perishing; for some grow on plains, some on mountains, &c.; ¶ Now look
vpon þise herbes and þise trees. þei waxen firste in
swiche place as ben couenable to hem. in whiche place
þei ne mowen nat sone dien ne dryen as longe as hire 2732
nature may defenden hem. ¶ For some of hem waxen
in feldes and some in mountaignes. and oþir waxen in
mareis. [A leaf lost here, and supplied from C.]

[and oothre cleuyn on Roches / and soume waxen plentyuos 2736
in sondes / and if you try to transplant them, they forthwith wither and die. and yif þat any wyht enforce hym to
beryn hem in to oother places / they wexen drye // To everything that vegetates, nature gives what is needful for its subsistence, and takes care that they should not perish before their time. For
nature yeueth to euery thing þat / þat is conuenient to
hym and trauaylith þat they ne dye nat as longe as they 2740
han power to dwellyn and to lyuen // Need I tell you that plants are nourished by their roots (which are so many mouths hid in the earth), and diffuse strength throughout the whole plant, as through their marrow? what woltow seyn
of this / þat they drawen alle hyr norysshynges by hyr
rootes / ryht as they haddyn hyr Mowthes I.-plounged
with in the erthes / and shedyn by hyr maryes (i. medullas) 2744
hyr wode and hyr bark / And further, it is admirably contrived that the pith, the most tender part of plants, is hid in the middle of the trunk, surrounded with hard and solid wood, and with an outer coat of bark to ward off the storms and weather. and what woltow seyn
of this þat thilke thing / þat is ryht softe as the marye (i.
sapp) is / þat is alwey hidd in the feete al with inne and
þat it is defendid fro with owte by the stidefastnesse of 2748
wode // and þat the vttereste bark is put ayenis the destempraunce
98 of the heuene / as a defendowr myhty to suffren
harm / Admire, too, the diligence of nature in propagating plants by a multiplicity of seeds, which are as a foundation for a building, not to remain for a time, but as it were for ever. and thus certes maystow wel sen / how gret is
the diligence of nature / For alle thinges renouelen and 2752
pupllisen hem with seed .I.-multiplyed / nether nis no man
þat ne wot wel þat they ne ben ryht as a foundement and
edyfice for to duren / nat only for a tyme / but ryht as forto
duren perdurablely by generacyoun // Things inanimate incline to what is most suitable to their beings, and to preserve continuance. and the thinges ek 2756
þat men wenen ne hauen none sowles / ne desire they nat ech
of hem by sem[b]lable resoun to kepyn þat that is hirs / þat
is to seyn þat is acordynge to hyr nature in conseruacioun
of hyr beynge and endurynge // For why should the flame mount upwards by lightness, and the earth tend towards its centre by gravity (weight), unless these motions were agreeable to their respective natures? For wher for elles berith 2760
lythnesse the flaumbes vp / and the weyhte presseth the
erthe a-doun // but For as moche as thilke places and
thilke moeuynges ben couenable to euerich of hem //


Whatever is agreeable to the nature of a thing preserves it. So what is contrary to its nature destroys it. and forsothe euery thing kepith thilke þat is acordynge 2764
and propre to hym // ryht as thinges þat ben contraryes
and enemys corompen hem // Dense bodies, such as stones, resist an easy separation of parts; whereas the particles of liquid or flowing things, such as air and water, are easily separated and soon reunited. and yit the harde thinges
as stoones clyuen and holden hyr partyes to gydere
ryht faste and harde / and deffenden hem in withstondenge 2768
þat they ne departe nat lyhtly a twyne // and the
thinges þat ben softe and fletynge as is water and Eyr
they departyn lyhtly // and yeuen place to hem þat
brekyn or deuyden hem // but natheles they retornen 2772
sone ayein in to the same thinges fro whennes they ben
arraced // Fire avoids and utterly refuses any such division. but fyr [fleetħ] and refuseth alle deuysyoun /
I am not now treating of the voluntary motion of a conscious soul, but of the natural intention and instinct. ne I. ne trete nat heere now of weleful moeuynges of the
sowle þat is knowynge // but of the naturel entencioun 2776
of thinges // We swallow our meat without thinking of it, and we draw our breath in sleep without perception. As thus ryht as we swolwe the mete þat we
resseyuen and ne thinke nat on it / and as we drawen
owre breth in slepynge þat we wite it nat whil we slepyt //
The love of life in animals is not derived from an intellectual will, but from natural principles implanted in them. For certes in the beestys the loue of hyr lyuynges ne of 2780
hyr beeinges ne comth nat of the wilnynges of the sowle //
but of the bygynnyngis of nature // For the will, induced by powerful reasons, sometimes chooses and embraces death, although nature dreads and abhors it. For certes thorw
constreynynge causes / wil desireth and embraceth ful
99 ofte tyme / the deth þat nature dredith // that is to seyn 2784
as thus that a man may ben constreynyd so by som
cause that his wil desireth and taketh the deth which
þat nature hateth and dredeth ful sore // And, on the contrary, we see that concupiscence (by which alone the human race is perpetuated) is often restrained by the will. And som tyme
we seeth the contrarye / as thus that the wil of a wight / 2788
destorbeth and constreyneth þat þat nature desireth / and
requereth al-wey // that is to sein the werk of generacioun /
by the whiche generacioun only / dwelleth and is sustenyd
the longe durablete of mortal thinges // Self-love possessed by every creature is not the product of volition, but proceeds from a natural impression or intention of nature. And thus 2792
this charite and this Loue þat euery thing hath to hym
self ne comth nat of the moeuynge of the sowle / but of
the entencioun of nature // Providence has implanted in all created things an instinct, for the purpose of self-preservation, by which they desire to prolong existence to its utmost limits. For the puruyance of god
hat yeuen to thinges þat ben creat of hym / this þat is 2796
a ful gret cause / to lyuen and to duren / for which they
desiren naturelly hyr lyf as longe as euer they mowen //


Doubt not, therefore, that everything which exists desires existence and avoids dissolution. For w[h]ych thou maist nat drede by no manere / that
alle the thinges / that ben anywhere / that they ne requeren 2800
naturelly / the ferme stablenesse of perdurable
dwellynge / and ek the eschuynge of destruccyoun // B. You have made those things perfectly plain and intelligible, which before were obscure and doubtful. B //
now confesse I. wel quod I. that I. see wel now certeynly /
with owte dowtes / the thinges that whylom semeden 2804
vncerteyn to me / P. That which desires to subsist desires also to retain its unity for if this be taken away it cannot continue to exist. P. // but quod she thilke thyng þat
desiretħ to be and to dwellyn perdurablely / he desireth
to ben oon // For yif þat that oon weere destroied // certes
beinge ne shulde ther non dwellyn to no wiht // B. That is very true! that 2808
is sotħ quod I. // P. All things then desire one thing—unity. Thanne quod she desirin alle thinges
oon // B. They do. .I. assente quod .I. // P. Unity then is the same as good. and I haue shewyd quod she
that thilke same oon is thilke that is good // B. Yes. B // ye forsothe
quod I. // P. Thus all things desire good—and it is one and the same good that all creatures desire. Alle thinges thanne quod she requyren 2812
good // And thilke good thanne [þow] maist descryuen
ryht thus // Good is thilke thing þat euery wyht desireth //
B. Nothing is more true. For either all things must be reduced to nothing (or have no relation to anything else), and, destitute of a head, float about without control or order; or if there be anything to which all things tend, that must be the supreme good. Ther ne may be thowht quod .I. no moore
verray thing / for either alle thinges ben referred and 2816
browht to nowht / and floteryn with owte gouernour
100 despoiled of oon / as of hir propre heued / or elles yif
ther be any thinge / to which þat alle thinges tenden
and hyen / that thing moste ben the souereyn good of 2820
alle goodes / P. I rejoice greatly, my dear pupil, that you so clearly apprehend this truth, of which but just now you were ignorant. P /. thanne seyde she thus // O my norry
quod she I haue gret gladnesse of the // For thow
hast fichched in thin herte the myddel sothtfastnesse //
that is to seyn the prykke // but this thing hath ben 2824
descouered to the / in that thow seydyst þat thow
wystest nat a lytel her by-forn // B. What was that? what was that quod I. //


P. The End of all things. And this is what every one desires; but we have shown that good is the thing desired by all, therefore Good is the End of all things. That thow ne wystest nat quod she whych was
the ende of thinges // and Certes that is the thing þat 2828
euery wiht desireth // and for as mochel as we han
gaderid / and comprehendyd that good is thilke thing
that is desired of alle / thanne moten we nedes confessun /
that good is the fyn of alle thinges. 2832

2660 assent[e]—assente

2662 mychel—mochel

2663 goode—good

2664 price—prys

2669 is—omitted

2671 folke—folkes

2673 oþer—oothre

2675 absolute—absolut
atte arst—at erste

2676 al—alle

2677 to—omitted

2678 þilk—thilke

2681 put—MS. putte, C. put

2684 none—no

2685 al o—alle oon

2686 comiþ—comth

2689 graunt[e]—graunte

2690 mayst þou graunt[en]—mosthow graunten

2692 [of]—from C.

2695 al—alle
haþ—MS. haþe

2696, 2697 oone—oon

2698 whiche—which

2703 dede—ded

2704 while—whil

2706 [so] diuide[d]—so deuydyd

2709 so—omitted

2713 many—manye

2718 willynge—wylnynge

2719 þing—beest
out forþe—owte forth

2720 lyue—lyuen

2723 of lijf—of hys lyf

2726 soule—sowles

2727 appetite—appetites

2729 look—loke

2730 waxen firste—wexen fyrst

2733, 2734 some—som

2734 oþir—oothre

2753 pupllisen—H. publisshen)

2755 edyfice—MS. edyfite
a tyme—H. oon) tyme

2758 that—H. omits
hirs—H. his

2774 [fleeth]—from H.

2775 weleful—H. wilfulle

2779 slepyt—H. slepen

2788 seeth—H. seen)
wil—H. wille

2792 And—H. as

2796 hat—H. haue

2800 the—H. þo

2806 perdurablely—H. perdurably

2807 destroied—H. destrued

2811 thilke (1)—H. ilke

2818 heued or elles—H. hede or els

2820 hyen—H. hyen) to
moste—H. must


[The .11. Metrum.]


WHo so that sekith He who seeks truth with deep research and is unwilling to go wrong, should collect his slumbering thoughts, and turn the inner light upon the soul itself. sotħ by a deep thoght And
coueyteth nat to ben deseyuyd by no mys-weyes //
lat hym rollen and trenden with Inne hym self / the Lyht
of his inward syhte // And lat hym gadere ayein enclynynge 2836
in to a compas the longe moeuynges of hys
thowhtes / The knowledge that he seeks without he will find treasured up in the recesses of the mind. And lat hym techen his corage that he hath
enclosed and hyd / in his tresors / al þat he compaseth or
sekith fro with owte // The light of Truth will disperse Error’s dark clouds, and shine forth brighter than the sun. And thanne thilke thing that the 2840
blake cloude of errour whilom hadde y-couered / shal
lyhten more clerly thanne phebus hym self ne shyneth //
[Chaucer’s gloss.] Glosa // who so wole seken the dep[e] grounde / of soth
in his thowht / and wol nat be deceyuyd by false proposiciouns / 2844
that goon amys fro the trouthe // lat hym wel
examine / and rolle with inne hym self the nature and
the propretes of the thing // and lat hym yit eft sones
examine and rollen his thowhtes by good deliberacioun 2848
101 or that he deme // and lat hym techen his sowle that it
hat by naturel pryncyplis kyndeliche y-hyd with in
it self alle the trowthe the whiche he ymagynith to ben
in thinges with owte // And thanne alle the dyrknesse of 2852
his mysknowynge shal seen more euydently to [þe]
syhte of his vndyrstondynge thanne the sonne ne semyth
to [þe] syhte with owte forth / For when the body enclosed the soul and cast oblivion o’er its powers it did wholly exterminate the heaven-born light. For certes the body
bryngynge the weyhte of foryetynge / ne hath nat chasyd 2856
owt of yowre thowhte al the clernesse of yowre knowyng //
The germs of truth were latent within, and were fanned into action by the gentle breath of learning. For certeynly the seed of sooth haldith and clyueth
with in yowre corage / and it is a-waked and excited by
the wynde and by the blastes of doctryne // Were not truth implanted in the heart, how could man distinguish right from wrong? For where 2860
for elles demen ye of yowre owne wyl the ryhtes whan
ye ben axed // but yif so were þat the noryssynges of
resoun ne lyuede .I.-plowngyd in the depthe of yowre
herte // this [is] to seyn how sholden men demen þe 2864
sooth of any thing þat weere axed / yif ther neere a
Roote of sothfastnesse þat weere yplowngyd and hyd in
the nature[l] pryncyplis / the whiche sothfastnesse
lyued with in the depnesse of the thowght // So, if what Plato taught is true, ‘to learn is no other than to remember what had been before forgotten.’ and yif 2868
so be þat the Muse and the doctryne of plato syngyth
sooth // al þat euery whyht lerneth / he ne doth no
thing elles thanne but recordeth as men recordyn thinges
þat ben foryetyn. 2872

2838 his—H. þis
that—H. and þat

2841 blake—H. blak
hadde y-couered—H. had couered

2842 lyhten—H. light

2843 dep[e]—C. dep, H. depe

2847 thing—H. þynges

2863 depthe—H. depe

2864 [is]—from H.
sholden—H. shulde

2867 nature[l]—H. naturelle


[The .12. prose.]


THanne seide B. I am quite of Plato’s opinion, for you have now a second time recalled these things to my remembrance which had been forgotten, first by the contagious union of soul and body, and afterwards by the pressure of my afflictions. I thus // I acorde me gretly to plato / for
thow remenbrist and recordist me thise thinges yit]
[*Addit. MS. 10,340, fol. 23.] *þe seconde tyme. þat is to seyn. first whan I lost[e] my
memorie by þe contagioũs coniunccioun of þe body wiþ 2876
þe soule. and eftsones afterward whan I lost[e] it confounded
by þe charge and by þe burden of my sorwe.
P. If you will reflect upon the concessions you have already made, you will soon call to mind that truth, of which you lately confessed your ignorance. ¶ And þan sayde she þus. ¶ If þou look[e] quod she
firste þe þinges þat þou hast graunted it ne shal nat 2880
102 ben ryȝt feer þat þou ne shalt remembren þilke þing þat
þou seidest þat þou nistest nat. B. What is that? what þing quod I.
P. It was, by what power the world is governed. ¶ by whiche gouerment quod she þat þis worlde is
gouerned. B. With regard to that, I own I confessed my ignorance, but though I now remotely see what you infer, yet I wish for further explanation from you. Me remembriþ it wel quod I. and I confesse 2884
wel þat I ne wist[e] it nat ¶ But al be it so þat
I se now from afer what þou purposest ¶ Algates I
desire ȝit to herkene it of þe more pleynely. P. You acknowledged a little while ago that this world was governed by God? ¶ þou ne
wendest nat quod she a litel here byforne þat men 2888
sholden doute þat þis worlde is gouerned by god.
B. I still cling to this opinion, and will give you my reasons for this belief. ¶ Certys quod I ne ȝitte doute I it nauȝt. ne I nil
neuer wene þat it were to doute. as who seiþ. but I
wot wel þat god gouerneþ þis worlde. ¶ And I shal 2892
shortly answere þe by what resouns I am brouȝt to þis.
The discordant elements of this world would never have assumed their present form unless there had been a wise Intelligence to unite them; and even after such a union, the joining of such opposites would have disunited and ruined the fabric made up of them, had not the same conjoining hand kept them together. ¶ þis worlde quod I of so many dyuerse and contrarious
parties ne myȝten neuer han ben assembled in o forme.
but yif þere ne were oon þat conioigned so many[e 2896
diuerse] þinges. ¶ And þe same diuersite of hire
natures þat so discordeden þat oon fro þat oþer most[e]
departen and vnioignen þe þinges þat ben conioigned.
yif þere ne were oon þat contened[e] þat he haþ conioigned 2900
and ybounde. The order that reigns throughout nature could not proceed so regularly and uniformly if there were not a Being, unchangeable and stedfast, to order and dispose so great a diversity of changes. ne þe certein ordre of nature ne
sholde. nat brynge furþe so ordinee moeuynge. by
places. by tymes. by doynges. by spaces. by qualites.
yif þere ne were oon þat were ay stedfast dwellynge. 2904
þat ordeyned[e] and disposed[e] þise diuersites of
moeuynges. This Being, the creator and ruler of all things, I call God. ¶ and þilke þinge what so euer it be. by
whiche þat alle þinges ben maked and ylad. I clepe
hym god þat is a worde þat is vsed to alle folke. P. As thy sentiments on these points are so just I have but little more to do—for thou mayest be happy and secure, and revisit thy own country. þan 2908
seide she. syn þou felest þus þise þinges quod she. I
trowe þat I haue lytel more to done. þat þou myȝty of
103 wilfulnesse hool and sounde ne se eftsones þi contre.


But let us reflect a little more upon these matters. ¶ But lat vs loken þe þinges þat we han purposed her-byforn. 2912
Did we not agree that Sufficiency is of the nature of true happiness? ¶ Haue I nat noumbred and seid quod she
þat suffisaunce is in blisfulnesse. And have we not seen that God is that true felicity, and that He needs no external aid nor instruments? and we han accorded
þat god is and þilke same blisfulnesse. ¶ yis forsoþe quod
I. and þat to gouerne þis worlde quod she. ne shal he 2916
neuer han nede of none helpe fro wiþoute. For if he should, he would not be self-sufficient. for ellys yif
he had[de] nede of any helpe. he ne sholde not haue
[no] ful suffisaunce. ȝis þus it mot nedes be quod I.
And he directs all things by himself alone? ¶ þan ordeyneþ he by hym self al oon alle þinges quod 2920
she. B. It cannot be gainsaid. þat may nat ben denied quod I. P. I have shown that God is the chief good; God must, therefore, direct and order all things by good, since he governs them by himself, whom we have proved to be the supreme good, and he is that helm and rudder, by which this machine of the world is steadily and securely conducted. ¶ And I haue
shewed þat god is þe same good. ¶ It remembreþ me
wel quod I. ¶ þan ordeineþ he alle þinges by þilke
goode quod she. Syn he whiche we han accorded to 2924
ben good gouerneþ alle þingus by hym self. and he is a
keye and a stiere by whiche þat þe edifice of þis worlde
is ykept stable and wiþ oute corumpynge B. I entirely agree to this, and partly anticipated your remarks. ¶ I accorde
me gretly quod I. and I aperceiuede a litel here byforn 2928
þat þou woldest seyne þus. Al be it so þat it were by
a þinne suspecioun. P. I believe it; for your eyes are now more intent upon these great truths relating to true felicity; but what I am going to say is not less open to your view. I trowe it wel quod she. ¶ For as
I trowe þou leedest nowe more ententifly þine eyen to
loken þe verray goodes ¶ but naþeles þe þinges þat I 2932
shal telle þe ȝit ne sheweþ nat lasse to loken. B. What is that? what is
þat quod I. P. As we believe that God governs all things by his goodness, and that all things have a natural tendency towards the good, can it be doubted but that they all voluntarily submit to the will and control of their ruler? ¶ So as men trowen quod she and þat
ryȝtfully þat god gouerneþ alle þinges by þe keye of his
goodnesse. ¶ And alle þise same þinges as I [haue] 2936
tauȝt þe. hasten hem by naturel entencioun to comen
to goode þer may no man douten. þat þei ne ben
gouerned uoluntariely. and þat þei ne conuerten [hem]
nat of her owen wille to þe wille of hire ordenour. 2940


B. It cannot be otherwise. There would be no safety for those who obey, if the discord of a portion were allowed. as þei þat ben accordyng and enclinynge to her gouernour
104 and her kyng. ¶ It mot nedys be so quod. I. [* Fol. 23 b.]
*¶ For þe realme ne sholde not seme blisful ȝif þere were a ȝok
of mysdrawynges in diuerse parties ne þe sauynge of 2944
obedient þinges ne sholde nat be. P. Is there anything that follows the dictates of nature that seeks to counteract the will of God? þan is þere no þing
quod she þat kepiþ hys nature; þat enforceþ hym to
gone aȝeyne god. B. No. ¶ No quod. I. P. If there should be any such, it could not prevail against him, who is supremely happy and consequently omnipotent. ¶ And if þat any þing
enforced[e] hym to wiþstonde god. myȝt[e] it auayle at 2948
þe laste aȝeyns hym þat we han graunted to ben al
myȝty by þe ryȝt of blisfulnesse. ¶ Certis quod I al
outerly it ne myȝt[e] nat auaylen hym. Then there is nothing that either will or can withstand this supreme good? þan is þere no
þing quod she þat eyþer wol or may wiþstonde to þis 2952
souereyne good. B. Nothing, certainly. ¶ I trowe nat quod. I P. It is then the supreme good that governs and orders all things powerfully and benignly. ¶ þan is
þilke þe souereyne good quod she þat alle þingus
gouerneþ strongly and ordeyneþ hem softly. B. I am delighted with your conclusions, but much more with your language; so that fools may be ashamed of their objections to the divine government. þan seide I
þus. I delite me quod I nat oonly in þe endes or in þe 2956
sommes of [the] resouns þat þou hast concludid and
proued. ¶ But þilke wordes þat þou vsest deliten me
moche more. ¶ So at þe last[e] fooles þat somtyme
renden greet[e] þinges auȝten ben asshamed of hem 2960
self. [Chaucer’s gloss.] ¶ þat is to seyne þat we fooles þat reprehenden
wickedly þe þingus þat touchen goddes gouernaunce we
auȝten ben asshamed of oure self. As I þat seide god
refuseþ oonly þe werkes of men. and ne entremetiþ nat 2964
of hem. P. You have read the Poets’ fables, how the Giants stormed heaven—how they were repulsed and punished according to their deserts; but may we not compare our reasons together, for by so doing some clear spark of truth may shine forth? p. þou hast wel herd quod she þe fables of þe
poetes. how þe geauntes assailden þe heuene wiþ þe
goddes. but for soþe þe debonaire force of god disposed[e]
hem so as it was worþi. þat is to seyne distroied[e] þe 2968
geauntes. as it was worþi. ¶ But wilt þou þat we
ioygnen togedre þilke same resouns. for perauenture of
swiche coniunccioun may sterten vp some faire sperkele
of soþe B. As you please. ¶ Do quod I as þe list. P. Is God omnipotent? wenest þou quod she 2972
105 þat god ne is almyȝty. no man is in doute of it. B. No one doubts it. Certys
quod I no wyȝt ne defendiþ it if he be in hys mynde.


P. If he is almighty, there are, then, no limits to his power? but he quod she þat is al myȝty þere nis no þing þat he
ne may do. B. He can doubtless do all things. þat is soþe quod I. P. May God do evil? May god done yuel 2976
quod she. B. No. nay for soþe quod. I. P. Is evil nothing, since God, who is almighty, cannot do it? ¶ þan is yuel no þing
quod she. ¶ Syn þat he ne may not done yuel þat
may done alle þinges. B. Dost thou mock me or play with me, leading me with thy arguments into an inextricable labyrinth, and enclosing me in a wonderful circle of Divine Simplicity? scornest þou me quod. I. or ellys
pleyest þou or deceiuest þou me. þat hast so wouen me 2980
wiþ þi resouns. þe house of didalus so entrelaced. þat it
is vnable to ben vnlaced. þou þat oþer while entrest
þere þou issest and oþer while issest þere þou entrest.
ne fooldest þou nat to gidre by replicacioun of wordes a 2984
maner wondirful cercle or envirounynge of symplicite
deuyne. For thou didst first begin with happiness, and didst say that it was the sovereign good, and that it resided in God; then, that God was that Good and the perfection of happiness; and, hence, thou didst infer that nobody could be happy unless he became likewise a God. ¶ For certys a litel her byforne whan þou bygunne
atte blisfulnesse þou seidest þat it is souereyne
good. and seidest þat it is set in souereyne god. and þat 2988
god is þe ful[le] blisfulnesse. for whiche þou ȝaf[e] me
as a couenable ȝifte. þat is to seyne þat no wyȝt nis
blisful. but yif he be good al so þer wiþ Again, thou saidst that the very form of good was the substance whereof God and happiness were composed, and that it was the object and desire of all things in nature. and seidest
eke þat þe forme of goode is þe substaunce of god. and 2992
of blisfulnesse. and seidest þat þilke same oone is þilke
same goode þat is requered and desired of al þe kynde
of þinges. Thou didst prove that God rules the world by his goodness, and that all things willingly obeyed him; and that evil has no existence. and þou proeuedest in disputynge þat god
gouerneþ alle [the] þinges of þe worlde by þe gouernementys 2996
of bountee. and seydest þat alle þinges wolen
ybeyen to hym. and seidest þat þe nature of yuel nis
no þing. These truths you established by forcible and natural arguments, and by no strained and far-fetched reasons. and þise þinges ne shewedest þou nat wiþ no
resouns ytake fro wiþoute but by proues in cercles and 3000
homelyche knowen. ¶ þe whiche proeues drawen to hem
self hir feiþ and hir accorde eueriche [of] hem of oþer. þan
seide she þus. P. I have not deluded you, for by the Divine aid we have accomplished our chief task. I ne scorne þe nat ne pleye ne desseyue
106 þe. but I haue shewed to þe þinge þat is grettest ouer 3004
alle þinges by þe ȝifte of god þat we some tyme prayden


I have proved to you that it is an essential property of the Divine nature not to go out of itself, nor to receive into itself anything extraneous. ¶ For þis is þe forme of [the] deuyne substaunce. þat
is swiche þat it ne slydeþ nat in to outerest foreine
þinges. ne ne rec[e]yueþ no strange þinges in hym. Parmenides says of the Deity that God is like a well-rounded sphere. but 3008
ryȝt as parmaynws seide in grek of þilke deuyne substaunce.
he seide þus þat þilke deuyne substaunce
torneþ þe worlde and þilke cercle moeueable of þinges
while þilke dyuyne substaunce kepiþ it self wiþ outen 3012
moeuynge. [* fol. 24.] He causes the moving globe to revolve, but is himself immovable. þat *is to seyne þat it ne moeuiþ neuere mo.
and ȝitte it moeueþ alle oþer þinges. If I have chosen my arguments from the subjects within range of our discussion, do not let that surprise you, for, as Plato has taught us, there ought to be an alliance between the words and the subject of discourse. but na-þeles yif I
[haue] stered resouns þat ne ben nat taken fro wiþ oute
þe compas of þe þinge of whiche we treten. but resouns 3016
þat ben bystowed wiþ inne þat compas þere nis nat whi
þat þou sholde[st] merueylen. sen þou hast lerned by
þe sentence of plato þat nedes þe wordes moten ben
cosynes to þo þinges of whiche þei speken. 3020

2875, 2877 lost[e]—loste

2878 burden—burdene

2879 look[e]—looke

2880 firste—fyrst

2883 whiche—which

2885 wist[e]—wiste

2887 pleynely—pleynly

2888 here byforne—her byforn

2889 worlde is—world nis

2890 ȝitte doute—yit ne dowte

2892 wot—MS. wote, C. wot

2892, 2894 worlde—world

2893 answere—answeren

2894 many—manye

2895 myȝten—myhte

2896 þere—ther

2897 [diuerse]—from C.

2898 most[e]—moste

2900 þere—ther
haþ—MS. haþe

2902 furþe—forth
ordinee moeuynge—ordene moeuynges

2904 þere—ther

2905 ordeyned[e]—ordeynede

2907 whiche—which
ylad—MS. yladde, C. I-ladd

2908 worde—word

2911 wilfulnesse—welefulnesse

2912 han—ha

2913 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

2916 worlde—world

2917 none helpe—non help

2918 had[de]—hadde

2919 [no]—from C.

2920 al oon—allone

2921 ben denied—be denoyed

2924, 2926 whiche—which

2925 ben—be

2926 worlde—world

2928 gretly—gretely

2929 seyne—seye

2931 nowe—now

2932 naþeles—nat[h]les

2935 ryȝtfully—MS. on ryȝtfully

2936 [haue]—from C.

2938 goode—good

2939 [hem]—from C.

2940 nat—omitted
wille (both)—wil

2941 her—hyr

2943 realme—Reaume

2945 þere—ther

2947 gone aȝeyne—goon ayein

2948 enforced[e]—enforcede

2949 aȝeyns—a-yenis

2951 outerly—owtrely
auaylen—MS. aualeyne, C. auaylen

2952 wol—wole
þis souereyne—his souereyn

2955 softly—softtely

2957 sommes—somme
[the]—from C.

2959 last[e]—laste

2960 greet[e]—grete

2960, 2963 auȝten—owhten

2961 seyne—seyn

2965 of hem—of it
herd—MS. herde, C. herd

2967 disposed[e]—desposede

2968 seyne distroied[e]—seyn destroyede

2971 swiche—swych

2972 soþe—soth

2973 is (1)—be
is (2)—nis

2974 defendiþ—dowteth

2975 þere—ther

2976 do—C. omits

2978, 2979 done—don

2980 wouen—MS. wonnen, C. wouen

2981 house—hows

2983 þere (both)—ther

2987 atte—at

2988 set—MS. sette, C. set

2989 ful[le]—fulle

2990 ȝifte—yift

2992, 2994 goode—good

2993 oone—oon

2994 al—alle

2996 [the]—from C.

2998 ybeyen—obeyen

2999 no (2)—none

3000 ytake—I-taken

3001 homelyche—hoomlich

3002 eueriche—euerich
[of]—from C.

3004 þe þinge—the the thing

3005 ȝifte—yift
some tyme prayden—whilom preyeden

3006 [the]—from C.

3007 swiche—swich

3009 parmaynws—a parmanides

3011 worlde—world

3012 while—whil
wiþ outen—with owte

3013 seyne—seyn

3014 ȝitte—yit

3015 [haue]—from C.

3016 whiche—which

3017 wiþ inne—with in

3020 cosynes—MS. conceyued, C. cosynes


[The .12. Metur.]


Blisful is Happy is he that hath seen the lucid spring of truth! Happy the man that hath freed himself from terrestrial chains! þat man þat may seen þe clere welle of good.
blisful is he þat may vnbynde hym fro þe bonde of
heuy erþe. The Thracian poet, consumed with grief for the loss of his wife, sought relief from music. ¶ þe poete of trace [orpheus] þat somtyme
hadde ryȝt greet sorowe for þe deeþ of hys wijf. His mournful songs drew the woods along; the rolling rivers ceased to flow; the savage beasts became heedless of their prey; the timid hare was not aghast at the hound. aftir þat 3024
he hadde maked by hys wepely songes þe wodes meueable
to rennen. and hadde ymaked þe ryueres to stonden
stille. and maked þe hertys and hyndes to ioignen
dredles hir sides to cruel lyouns to herkene his songe. 3028
and had[de] maked þat þe hare was nat agast of þe
hounde whiche þat was plesed by hys songe. But the songs that did all things tame, could not allay their master’s ardent love. so þat
whane þe most[e] ardaunt loue of hys wijf brende þe
107 entrailes of his brest. ne þe songes þat hadde ouer 3032
comen alle þinges ne myȝten nat assuage hir lorde
orpheus. He bewailed the cruelty of the gods above, and descended to Pluto’s realm. ¶ He pleyned[e] hym of þe godes þat weren
cruel to hym. he wente hym to þe houses of helle There he struck his tuneful strings and sang, exhausting all the harmonious art imparted to him by his mother Calliope. and
þere he tempred[e] hys blaundissyng songes by resounyng 3036
of hys strenges. ¶ And spak and song in
wepynge alle þat euer he hadde resceyued and laued
oute of þe noble welles of hys modir calliope þe goddesse.
In songs dictated both by grief and love, he implored the infernal powers to give him back his Eurydice. and he song wiþ as mychel as he myȝt[e] of 3040
wepynge. and wiþ as myche as loue þat doubled[e] his
sorwe myȝt[e] ȝeuen hym and teche hym in his seke
herte. ¶ And he commoeuede þe helle and requered[e]
and souȝte by swete preiere þe lordes of soules in helle 3044
of relesynge. þat is to seyne to ȝelden hym hys wif.
Cerberus, Hell’s three-headed porter, stood amazed; ¶ Cerberus þe porter of helle wiþ his þre heuedes was
cauȝt and al abaist for þe new[e] songe. the Furies, tormentors of guilty souls, did weep; and þe þre goddesses
furijs and vengerisse of felonies þat tourmenten 3048
and agasten þe soules by anoye wexen sorweful and sory
and wepen teres for pitee. Ixion, tormented by the revolving wheel, found rest; þan was nat þe heued of
Ixione ytourmented by þe ouerþrowing whele. Tantalus, suffering from a long and raging thirst, despised the stream; ¶ And
tantalus þat was destroied by þe woodnesse of longe 3052
þrust dispiseþ þe flodes to drynke. and the greedy vulture did cease to eat and tear the growing liver of Tityus. þe fowel þat hyȝt
voltor þat etiþ þe stomak or þe giser of ticius is so fulfilled
of his songe þat it nil etyn ne tyren no more.


At length Pluto himself relented, crying out, ‘We are overcome! Let us give him back his wife, he hath well won her by his song. ¶ Atte þe laste þe lorde and Iuge of soules was moeued 3056
to misericordes and cried[e] we ben ouer comen quod
he. yif[e] we to orpheus his wijf to bere hym compaignye
he haþ welle I-bouȝt hir by his faire songe and
108 his ditee. But we will lay this injunction upon him. Till he escape the infernal bounds, he shall not cast a backward look.’ but we wil putten a lawe in þis. and couenaunt 3060
in þe ȝifte. þat is to seyne. þat til he be out of
helle yif he loke byhynden hym [þat] hys wijf shal
comen aȝeine to vs But, who shall give a lover any law? Love is a greater law than may be given to any earthly man. ¶ but what is he þat may ȝeue a
lawe to loueres. loue is a gretter lawe and a strengere to 3064
hym self þan any lawe þat men may ȝeuen. Alas! having left the realms of night, Orpheus cast a look behind and lost his too-much-loved Euridice. ¶ Allas
whan Orpheus and his wijf were al most at þe termes of
þe nyȝt. þat is to seyne at þe last[e] boundes of helle.
Orpheus loked[e] abakwarde on Erudice his wijf and 3068
lost[e] hir and was deed. This fable belongs to all you, whose minds would view the Sovereign Good. ¶ þis fable apperteineþ to
ȝow alle who so euer desireþ or sekiþ to lede his þouȝte
in to þe souereyne day. þat is to seyne to clerenes[se]
of souereyne goode. For he who fixes his thoughts upon earthly things and low, must lose the noble and heaven-imparted Good. ¶ For who so þat euere be so ouer 3072
comen þat he fycche hys eyen in to þe put[te] of helle.
þat is to seyne who so setteþ his þouȝtes in erþely
þinges. al þat euer he haþ drawen of þe noble good
celestial he lesiþ it whan he lokeþ þe helles. þat is to 3076
seyne to lowe þinges of þe erþe.


3022 vnbynde—vnbyndyn

3023 [orpheus]—from C.

3024 sorowe—sorwe

3028 dredles—dredeles
to herkene—forto herknen

3029 had[de]—hadde

3030 þat (2)—omitted

3031 most[e]—moste

3032 hadde—hadden

3033 assuage—asswagen

3034 pleyned[e]—pleynede
godes—heuene goodes

3035 wente—MS. wenten, C. wente

3036 tempred[e] hys—temprede hise

3037 of hys—C. omits
spak—MS. spakke, C. spak
song—MS. songe, C. soonge

3038 alle—al

3039 oute—owt

3040 song—MS. songe, C. soonge

3041 myche—moche

3042 myȝt[e]—myhte

3043 commoeuede—MS. comaunded, C. commoeuede

3044 souȝte—by-sowhte

3045 ȝelden—yilden

3046 his—hise

3047 cauȝt—MS. cauȝte, C. cawht
new[e] songe—newe song

3049 anoye——sorweful—anoy woxen soruful

3050 þan—tho ne

3051 whele—wheel

3053 þrust—thurst

3054 fulfilled—fulfyld

3055 songe—song

3056 Atte—At

3057 cried[e]—cryde

3058 yif[e]—yiue

3059 haþ—MS. haþe
faire—C. omits

3060 wil putten—wol putte

3062 byhynden—by-hynde
[þat]—from C.

3063 to—vn-to

3064 gretter—gret

3066 were al most—weren almest

3067 last[e]—laste

3068 loked[e] abakwarde—lookede abacward

3069 lost[e]—loste

3070 þouȝte—thowht

3071 clerenes[se]—clernesse

3072 souereyne goode—souereyn god

3073 put[te]—putte

3074 setteþ—sette

3075 haþ—MS. haþe


*INCIPIT LIBER QUARTUS. [* fol. 24 b.]

[The 1ma prose.]


Whanne When P. with grace and dignity had poured forth her songs, I, not quite quit of my load of grief, interrupted her as she was continuing her discourse. philosophie hadde songen softly and delitably
þe forseide þinges kepynge þe dignitee of hir
choere in þe weyȝte of hir wordes. I þan þat ne hadde 3080
nat al outerly forȝeten þe wepyng and mournyng
þat was set in myne herte for-brek þe entencioun of hir
þat entended[e] ȝitte to seyne oþer þinges. All your discourses, O my conductress to the true light! have been very clear and unanswerable, both by the divine testimony which they carry along with them, and by thy irrefragable arguments. ¶ Se quod
I. þou þat art gideresse of verray lyȝte þe þinges þat þou 3084
109 hast seid [me] hider to ben to me so clere and so shewyng
by þe deuyne lokyng of hem and by þi resouns þat
þei ne mowe nat ben ouercomen. Through the oppression of grief I had forgotten these truths, but was not wholly ignorant of them. ¶ And þilke þingus
þat þou toldest me. al be it so þat I hadde som tyme 3088
fo[r]ȝeten hem for [the] sorwe of þe wronge þat haþ ben
don to me. ȝit naþeles þei ne were nat alouterly vnknowen
to me. The principal cause of my trouble is this—that, whilst the absolute Ruler of all things is goodness itself, but þis same is namly a gret cause of
my sorwe. þat so as þe gouernoure of þinges is goode. 3092

evil exists and is allowed to pass unpunished. yif þat yuelys mowen ben by any weyes. or ellys yif
þat yuelys passen wiþ outen punyssheinge. This, to say the least, is astonishing. þe whiche
þinge oonly how worþi it is to ben wondred vpon. þou
considerest it weel þi self certeynly. Moreover, while vice flourishes virtue is not only unrewarded, but trampled under foot by base and profligate men, and suffers the punishment due to impiety. but ȝitte to þis 3096
þing þere is an oþer þing y-ioigned more to ben ywondred
vpon. ¶ For felonie is emperisse and flowreþ ful of
rycchesse. and vertues nis nat al oonly wiþ outen medes.
but it is cast vndir and fortroden vndir þe feet of felonous 3100
folk. and it abieþ þe tourmentes in sted of
wicked felouns Here is cause for wonderment, since such things are possible under the government of an omniscient and omnipotent God, who wills nothing but what is the best. ¶ Of al[le] whiche þing þer nis no wyȝt
þat [may] merueyllen ynouȝ ne compleyne þat swiche
þinges ben don in þe regne of god þat alle þinges woot. 3104
and alle þinges may and ne wool nat but only goode
þinges. P. It were indeed, not only marvellous, but also horribly monstrous, if, in the well-regulated family of so great a master, the worthless vessels should be honoured and the precious ones be despised:—but it is not so. ¶ þan seide she þus. certys quod she þat were
a grete meruayle and an enbaissynge wiþouten ende.
and wel more horrible þan alle monstres yif it were as 3108
þou wenest. þat is to sein. þat in þe ryȝt ordeyne house
of so mochel a fader and an ordenour of meyne. þat þe
vesseles þat ben foule and vyle sholde ben honoured
and heried. and þe precious uesseles sholde ben defouled 3112
and vyle. but it nis nat so. For if the conclusions we have come to, be sound and irrefragable, we must confess that under God’s rule the good are always powerful and mighty, and the wicked weak and contemptible; For yif þe þinges
110 þat I haue concluded a litel here byforne ben kept hoole
and vnraced. þou shalt wel knowe by þe auctorite of
god. of þe whos regne I speke þat certys þe good[e] 3116
folk ben alwey myȝty. and shrewes ben alwey yuel and
feble. that vice never passes unpunished, nor virtue goes unrewarded; ne þe vices ben neuere mo wiþ outen peyne; ne
þe vertues ne ben nat wiþ outen mede. that happiness attends good men, and misfortune falls to the lot of the wicked. and þat blisfulnesses
comen alwey to goode folke. and infortune comeþ 3120
alwey to wicked folke. These and many other truths of like nature shall be proved to thee, and shall put an end to thy complaints, ¶ And þou shalt wel knowe
many[e] þinges of þis kynde þat sholle cessen þi pleyntes.

and strengthen thee with firmness and solidity. and stedfast þe wiþ stedfast saddenesse. Having shown you a picture of true felicity, and wherein it resides, I shall now trace out the way which will lead you to your home. ¶ And for þou
hast seyn þe forme of þe verray blisfulnesse by me þat 3124
[haue] somtyme I-shewed it þe. And þou hast knowen
in whom blysfulnesse is set. alle þinges I treted þat I
trowe ben nessessarie to put[te] furþe ¶ I shal shewe
þe. þe weye þat shal brynge þe aȝeyne vnto þi house 3128
I will give your soul wings to soar aloft, so that all tribulation being removed, you may, under my guiding, by my road, and with my vehicle, return whole and sound into your own country. and I shal ficche feþeres in þi þouȝt by whiche it may
arysen in heyȝte. so þat al tribulacioun don awey þou
by my gidyng & by my paþe and by my sledes shalt
mowen retourne hool and sounde in to þi contre. 3132

3078 softly—softely

3080 choere in—cheere and

3082 set—MS. sette, C. set
for-brek—MS. for-breke, C. Forbrak

3083 entended[e]—entendede

3084 lyȝte—lyht

3085 seid—MS. seide, C. seid
[me]—from C.

3086 þi—the

3087 mowe—mowen

3088 som tyme—whilom

3089 [the]—from C.
haþ—MS. haþe

3090 don—MS. done, C. don

3091 namly—namely

3092 goode—good

3094 wiþ outen—with owte

3095 þinge—thing

3097 þere—ther
ben ywondred—be wondryd

3098 flowreþ—MS. folweþ, C. flowrith

3099 rycchesse—Rychesses
wiþ outen—with owte

3101 in sted—in stide

3102 wicked—wikkede

3103 [may]—from C.

3104 don—MS. done, C. doon

3105 wool—wole

3107 grete—gret

3108 alle—al

3109 ordeyne house—ordenee hows

3111, 3113 vyle—vyl

3112 heried—he heryed

3113 þe—tho

3114 here byforne—her byforn
kept—MS. kepte, C. kept

3116 good[e]—goode

3117 alwey (2)——feble—alwey owt cast and feble

3118, 3119 wiþ outen—with owte

3119 vertues—vertuus

3122 many[e]—manye
sholle cessen—shollen cesen

3123 stedfast——stedfast—strengthyn the with stidfast

3124 seyn—MS. seyne, C. seyn

3125 [haue]—from C.

3126 set—MS. sette, C. I-set

3127 put[te] furþe—putten forth

3128 weye—wey
þi house—thin hows

3129 ficche—fycchen

3130 arysen—areysen
don—MS. done, C. ydoñ

3131 paþe—paath
shalt mowen—shal mowe

3132 sounde—sownd


[The fyrste metur.]


I Haue for I have nimble wings that enable the mind to rise from earth to heaven, to leave the clouds behind, to pass the region of perpetual flame, and to reach the starry mansion, journeying either by Phœbus’ radiant path, or accompanying cold and aged Saturn, or riding, as a soldier, with Mars. soþe swifte feþeres þat surmounten þe heyȝt
of þe heuene whan þe swifte þouȝt haþ cloþed it self.
in þo feþeres it dispiseþ þe hat[e]ful erþes. and surmounteþ
þe heyȝenesse of þe greet[e] eyir. and it seiþ þe 3136
cloudes by-hynde hir bak and passeþ þe heyȝt of þe
regioun of þe fire þat eschaufiþ by þe swifte moeuyng of
þe firmament. til þat she a-reisiþ hir in til þe houses þat
111 beren þe sterres. and ioygneþ hir weyes wiþ þe sonne 3140
phebus. and felawshipeþ þe weye of þe olde colde
saturnus. and she ymaked a knyȝt of þe clere sterre.
[Chaucer’s Gloss.] þat is to seyne þat þe soule is maked goddys knyȝt by
þe sekyng of treuþe to comen to þe verray knowlege of 3144
god. Through every sphere she (the mind) runs where night is most cloudless and where the sky is decked with stars, until she reaches the heaven’s utmost sphere— [* fol. 25.] and þilke soule renne[þ] by þe cercle *of þe sterres
in alle þe places þere as þe shynyng nyȝt is depeynted.
þat is to seyne þe nyȝt þat is cloudeles. for on nyȝtes þat
ben cloudeles it semeþ as þe heuene were peynted wiþ 3148
dyuerse ymages of sterres. and whan þe soule haþ gon
ynouȝ she shal forleten þe last[e] poynt of þe heuene.


then pressing on she shall be prepared to see the true Source of Light, where the great King of kings bears his mighty sceptre, and holds the reins of the universe. and she shal pressen and wenden on þe bak of þe swifte
firmament. and she shal ben maked perfit of þe dredefulle 3152
clerenesse of god. ¶ þere haldeþ þe lorde of kynges
þe ceptre of his myȝt and attempereþ þe gouernementes
of þis worlde. Here the great Judge, standing in shining robes, firmly guides his winged chariot, and rules the tumultuous affairs of the world. and þe shynynge iuge of þinges stable in
hym self gouerneþ þe swifte carte. þat is to seyne þe 3156
circuler moeuyng of [the] sonne. If you at length shall arrive at this abode, you will say this is my country—here I was born—and here will I abide. and yif þi weye ledeþ
þe aȝeyne so þat þou be brouȝt þider. þan wilt þou seye
now þat þat is þe contre þat þou requeredest of whiche þou
ne haddest no mynde. but now it remenbreþ me wel 3160
here was I born. here wil I fastne my degree. here wil
I dwelle. And should you deign to look on the gloomy earth, you’ll see those tyrants, the fear of wretched folk, banished from those fair realms. but yif þe lyke þan to loken on þe derkenesse
of þe erþe þat þou hast for-leten. þan shalt þou seen þat
þise felonous tyrauntes þat þe wrecched[e] poeple dredeþ 3164
now shule ben exiled from þilke faire contre.

3133 heyȝt of þe heuene—heyhte of heuene

3134 haþ—MS. haþe

3136 heyȝenesse——eyir—Roundnesse of the grete ayr

3137 hir—his

3138 fire—Fyr
eschaufiþ—MS. eschaufiþe

3139 she—he

3140 hir—his

3141 weye—wey
þe——saturnus—MS. saturnus þe olde colde

3142 saturnus—saturnis

3143 soule—thowght

3144 treuþe—trowthe

3145 soule—thoght

3146 depeynted—painted

3149-50 and whan——she shaland whanne he hath I-doon there I-nowh he shal

3149 haþ—MS. haþe

3150 þe last[e]——heuene—the laste heuene

3151-2 she—he

3152-3 of þe——of god—of the worshipful lyht of god

3153 þere haldeþ—ther halt

3155 þis worlde—the world

3156 carte—cart or wayn

3157 [the]—from C.

3159 whiche—which

3161 here (1, 2, 3)—her
born—MS. borne, C. born
wil (1)—wol
wil (2)—wole

3162 lyke—liketh

3164 wrecched[e]—wrecchede

3165 shule—shollen



[The 2e prose.]


ÞAnne seide I B. Ah! thou promisest me great things indeed!—but without delay, satisfy the expectations you have raised. þus. [owh] I wondre me þat þou by-hetest
me so grete þinges. ne I ne doute nat þat þou
ne mayst wel performe þat þou by-hetest. but I preie þe 3168
oonly þis. þat þou ne tarie nat to telle me þilke þinges
þat þou hast meoued. P. You must first be convinced that the good are always strong and powerful and the wicked destitute of strength. first quod she þou most nedes
knowen. þat good[e] folk ben al wey strong[e] and
myȝty. and þe shrewes ben feble and desert and naked 3172
of alle strengþes. These assertions do mutually demonstrate each other. and of þise þinges certys eueryche of
hem is declared and shewed by oþer. For since good and evil are contrary, if good be powerful evil must be impotent. ¶ For so as good
and yuel ben two contraries. yif so be þat goode be
stedfast. þan sheweþ þe fieblesse of yuel al openly. And if the frailty of evil is known, the strength and stability of good must also be known to you. and 3176
yif þou knowe clerely þe freelnesse of yuel. þe stedfastnesse
of goode is knowen. But to convince you I shall proceed to prove it from both these principles, establishing these truths, by arguments drawn first from one of these topics and then from the other. but for as moche as þe fey of
my sentence shal be þe more ferme and haboundaunt. I
wil goon by þat oon wey and by þat oþer and I wil conferme 3180
þe þinges þat ben purposed now on þis side and
now on þat syde. Two things are necessary to every action—the Will and the Power; if either be wanting, nothing can be effected. ¶ Two þinges þer ben in whiche þe
effect of alle þe dedes of man kynde standiþ. þat is to
seyn. wil and power. and yif þat oon of þise two fayleþ 3184
þere nis no þing þat may be don. A man can do nothing without the concurrence of his will, and if power faileth the will is of no effect. for yif þat wil lakkeþ
þere nys no wyȝt þat vndirtakeþ to done þat he wol not
don. and yif power fayleþ þe wille nis but in ydel and
stant for nauȝt. Hence, if you see a person desirous of getting what he cannot procure, you are sure he lacks power to obtain it. and þer of comeþ it þat yif þou se a 3188
wyȝt þat wolde geten þat he may nat geten. þou mayst
nat douten þat power ne fayleþ hym to hauen þat he
wolde. ¶ þis is open and clere quod I. ne it may nat
ben denyed in no manere. And if you see another do what he had a mind to do, can you doubt that he had the power to do it? and yif þou se a wyȝt quod 3192
she. þat haþ don þat he wolde don þou nilt nat douten
þat he ne haþ had power to done it. B. No, surely. no quod. I. and in
þat. þat euery wyȝt may. P. A man, then, is esteemed powerful in respect of what he is able to do, and weak in relation to what he is unable to perform. in þat þat men may holden
113 hym myȝty. as who seiþ in as moche as a man is myȝty 3196
to done a þing. in so moche men halden hym myȝty.
and in þat þat he ne may. in þat men demen hym to
ben feble. B. That is true. I confesse it wel quod I. P. Do you remember that I proved that the will of man, following different pursuits, seeks happiness only? Remembriþ þe quod
she þat I. haue gadred and shewed by forseide resouns 3200
þat al þe entencioun of þe wil of mankynde whiche þat
is lad by diuerse studies hastiþ to comen to blisfulnesse.
¶ It remembreþ me wel quod I þat it hath ben shewed.


Do you recollect too, that it has been shown that happiness is the supreme good of men—and all desire this good, since all seek happiness? and recordeþ þe nat þan quod she. þat blisfulnesse is 3204
þilke same goode þat men requeren. so þat whan þat
[* fol. 25 b.] blisfulnesse is requered *of alle. þat goode [also] is
requered and desired of al. It recordeþ me wel quod I.
for haue it gretly alwey ficche[d] in my memorie. All men, then, good and bad, seek to acquire good? alle 3208
folk þan quod she goode and eke badde enforcen hem
wiþ oute difference of entencioun to comen to goode.
þat is a uerray conse­quence quod I. And it is certain that when men obtain good they become good? and certeyne is quod
she þat by þe getyng of goode ben men ymaked goode. 3212

B. It is most certain. þis is certeyne quod. I. P. Do good men, then, get what they desire? ¶ þan geten goode men þat þei
desiren. B. It seems so. so semeþ it quod I. P. If evil men obtain the good, they can be no longer evil? but wicked[e] folk quod
she yif þei geten þe goode þat þei desiren þei [ne]
mowen nat ben wicked. B. It is so. so is it quod .I. P. Since then both parties pursue the good, which only the virtuous obtain, we must believe that good men are powerful, and that the wicked are weak and feeble? ¶ þan so as 3216
þat oon and þat oþer [quod she] desiren good. and þe
goode folk geten good and nat þe wicked folk ¶ þan
nis it no doute þat þe goode folk ne ben myȝty and þe
wicked folk ben feble. B. None can doubt this, save such as either consider not rightly the nature of things, or are incapable of comprehending the force of any reasoning. ¶ who so þat euer quod I 3220
douteþ of þis. he ne may nat considre þe nature of
þinges. ne þe conse­quence of resoun. and ouer þis quod she.


P. If two beings have the same end in view—and one of them accomplishes his purpose by the use of natural means, while the other not using legitimate means does not attain his end—which of these two is the most powerful? ¶ yif þat þer ben two þinges þat han o same
purpos by kynde. and þat one of hem pursueþ and performeþ 3224
þilke same þinge by naturel office. and þat oþer
ne may nat done þilk naturel office. but folweþ by
oþer manere þan is couenable to nature ¶ Hym þat
114 acomplisiþ hys purpos kyndely. and ȝit he ne acomplisiþ 3228
nat hys owen purpos. wheþer of þise two demest
þou for more myȝty. B. Illustrate your meaning more clearly. ¶ yif þat I coniecte quod .I. þat
þou wilt seye algates. ȝit I desire to herkene it more
pleynely of þe. P. The motion of walking is natural to man? And this motion is the natural office of the feet? Do you grant this? þou nilt nat þan denye quod she þat þe 3232
moeuementȝ of goynge nis in men by kynde. no for soþe
quod I. ne þou ne doutest nat quod she þat þilke naturel
office of goynge ne be þe office of feet. B. I do. I ne doute
it nat quod .I. P. If, then, he who is able to use his feet walks, whilst another lacking this power creeps on his hands—surely he that is able to move naturally upon his feet is more powerful than he who cannot. þan quod she yif þat a wyȝt be myȝty to 3236
moeue and goþ vpon hys feet. and anoþer to whom
þilke naturel office of feet lakkeþ. enforceþ hym to gone
crepynge vpon hys handes. ¶ whiche of þise two auȝte
to ben holden more myȝty by ryȝt. knyt furþe þe remenaunt 3240
quod I. ¶ For no wyȝt ne douteþ þat he þat
may gone by naturel office of feet. ne be more myȝty
þan he þat ne may nat P. The good and bad seek the supreme good: the good by the natural means of virtue—the wicked by gratifying divers desires of earthly things (which is not the natural way of obtaining it). ¶ but þe souereyne good quod
she þat is euenlyche purposed to þe good folk and to 3244
badde. þe good folke seken it by naturel office of
uertues. and þe shrewes enforcen hem to geten it by
dyuerse couetise of erþely þinges. whiche þat nis no
naturel office to geten þilke same souereyne goode. 3248

Do you think otherwise? trowest þou þat it be any oþer wyse. B. The conse­quence is plain, and that follows from what has been granted—that the good are powerful, while the wicked are feeble. nay quod .I. for þe
consequence is open and shewynge of þinges þat I haue
graunted. ¶ þat nedes goode folk moten ben myȝty.
and shrewes feble and vnmyȝty. P. You rightly anticipate me; for it is a good sign, as physicians well know, when Nature exerts herself and resists the malady. ¶ þou rennest aryȝt 3252
byfore me quod she. and þis is þe iugement þat is to
seyn. ¶ I iuge of þe ryȝt as þise leches ben wont forto
hopen of seke folk whan þei aperceyuen þat nature is
redressed and wiþstondeþ to þe maladie. But, as you are so quick of apprehension, I shall continue this mode of reasoning. ¶ But for I 3256
see þe now al redy to þe vndirstandynge I shal shewe
þe more þilke and continuel resouns. The weakness of the wicked is conspicuous—they cannot attain the end to which their natural disposition prompts and almost compels them; what would become of them without this natural prompting, so powerful and irresistible? ¶ For loke now
115 how gretly shewiþ þe feblesse and infirmite of wicked
folke. þat ne mowen nat come to þat hire naturel 3260
entencioun ledeþ hem. and ȝitte almost þilk naturel
entencioun constreineþ hem. ¶ and what were to deme
þan of shrewes. yif þilke naturel helpe hadde for-leten
hem. ¶ þe whiche naturel helpe of entencioun goþ alwey 3264
byforne hem. and is so grete þat vnneþ it may be
ouercomen. Consider how great is the impotence of the wicked. (The greater the things desired, but unaccomplished, the less is the power of him that desires, and is unable to attain his end.) ¶ Considre þan how gret defaute of power
and how gret feblesse þere is in grete felonous folk as
who seiþ þe gretter þinges þat ben coueited and þe desire 3268
nat accomplissed of þe lasse myȝt is he þat coueiteþ it
and may nat acomplisse. ¶ And forþi philosophie seiþ
þus by souereyne good. The wicked seek after no trivial things—which they fail to obtain; but they aspire in vain to the sovereign good, which they endeavour day and night to obtain. ¶ Sherewes ne requere nat
lyȝt[e] medes ne veyne gaines whiche þei ne may nat 3272
folwen ne holden. but þei faylen of þilke some of þe
heyȝte of þinges þat is to seyne souereyne good. ne þise
wrecches ne comen nat to þe effect of souereyne good.
[* fol. 26.] *þe whiche þei enforcen hem oonly to geten by nyȝtes 3276
and by dayes. The good attain the end of their desires, and therein their power is manifested. ¶ In þe getyn[g] of whiche goode þe
strengþe of good folk. is ful wel ysen. For as you deem him a good walker that goes to the end of his journey, so you must esteem him powerful that attains his desires, beyond which there is nothing to desire. For ryȝt so as
þou myȝtest demen hym myȝty of goynge þat goþ on
hys feet til he myȝt[e] come to þilke place fro þe whiche 3280
place þere ne lay no wey forþer to be gon. Ryȝt so
most þou nedes demen hym for ryȝt myȝty þat getiþ
and atteiniþ to þe ende of alle þinges þat ben to desire.
by-ȝonde þe whiche ende þat þer nis no þing to desire. 3284


Wicked men, then, are destitute of those powers which the good so amply possess. ¶ Of whiche power of good folk men may conclude þat
wicked men semen to ben bareyne and naked of alle
strengþe. Wherefore do they leave virtue, and follow vice? Is it because they are ignorant of good? For whi forleten þei vertues and folwen
vices. nis it nat for þat þei ne knowen nat þe goodes. 3288
116 What is more weak and base than the blindness of ignorance? Or do they know the way they ought to follow, but are led astray by lust and covetousness? ¶ But what þing is more feble and more caitif þan is þe
blyndenesse of ignoraunce. or ellys þei knowen ful wel
whiche þinges þat þei auȝten to folwen ¶ but lecherye
and couetise ouerþroweþ hem mysturned. And so, indeed, weak-minded men are overpowered by intemperance, for they cannot resist vicious temptations. ¶ and certis 3292
so doþ distemperaunce to feble men. þat ne mowen nat
wrastle aȝeins þe vices Do they willingly desert Good and turn to Evil? If they do so, they not only cease to be powerful, but even cease to exist. ¶ Ne knowen þei nat þan wel
þat þei foreleten þe good wilfully. and turnen hem vilfully
to vices. ¶ And in þis wise þei ne forleten nat 3296
oonly to ben myȝty. but þei forleten al outerly in any
wise forto ben For those who neglect the common end of all beings, cease to exist. ¶ For þei þat forleten þe comune fyn of
alle þinges þat ben. þei for-leten also þerwiþ al forto
ben. You may marvel that I assert that the wicked, the majority of the human race, have no existence—but it is, however, most true. and perauenture it sholde semen to som folk þat 3300
þis were a merueile to seyne þat shrewes whiche þat
contienen þe more partie of men ne ben nat. ne han no
beynge. ¶ but naþeles it is so. and þus stant þis þing
That the wicked are bad I do not deny— for þei þat ben shrewes I denye nat þat þei ben shrewes. 3304

but I do not admit that they have any real existence. but I denye and sey[e] symplely and pleynly þat þei
[ne] ben nat. ne han no beynge. You may call a corpse a dead man, but you cannot with propriety call it a man. for ryȝt as þou myȝtest
seyn of þe careyne of a man þat it were a ded man.
¶ but þou ne myȝtest nat symplely callen it a man. 3308
So the vicious are profligate men, but I cannot confess they absolutely exist. ¶ So graunt[e] I wel for soþe þat vicious folk ben
wicked. but I ne may nat graunten absolutely and
symplely þat þei ben. That thing exists that preserves its rank, nature, and constitution, but when it loses these essentials it ceases to be. ¶ For þilk þing þat wiþ
holdeþ ordre and kepiþ nature. þilk þing is and haþ 3312
beynge. but þat þing þat faileþ of þat. þat is to seyne
he þat forletiþ naturel ordre he for-letiþ þilk beyng
þat is set in hys nature. But, you may say that the wicked have a power to act, nor do I deny it; but their power is an effect of weakness. but þou wolt sein þat shrewes
mowen. ¶ Certys þat ne denye I nat. ¶ but certys 3316
hir power ne descendeþ nat of strengþe but of feblesse.
They can do evil, but this they could not do, if they retained the power of doing good. for þei mowen don wickednesses. þe whiche þei ne
myȝten nat don yif þei myȝten dwelle in þe forme and
117 in þe doynge of goode folke. This power, then, clearly shows their impotence. ¶ And þilke power 3320
sheweþ ful euydently þat þei ne mowen ryȝt nauȝt.


For as evil is nothing, it is clear that while the wicked can only do evil they can do nothing. ¶ For so as I haue gadered and proued a lytel her byforn
þat yuel is nauȝt. and so as shrewes mowen oonly
but shrewednesse. þis conclusioun is al clere. þat 3324
shrewes ne mowen ryȝt nat to han power. That you may understand the force of this power, I have proved that nothing is more powerful than the sovereign good. and for as
moche as þou vndirstonde whiche is þe strengþe þat is
power of shrewes. I haue diffinised a lytel here byforn
þat no þing nis so myȝty as souereyne good B. That is true. ¶ þat is 3328
soþe quod .I. P. And that supreme good can do no evil? [and thilke same souereyn good may don
non yuel // B. Certainly not. Certes no quod I] P. Is there any one who thinks that man can do all things? ¶ Is þer any wyȝt þan
quod she þat weniþ þat men mowen don alle þinges.
B. No sane man can think so. No man quod .I. but yif he be out of hys witte. P. But men may do evil. ¶ but 3332
certys sherewes mowen doñ yuel quod she. B. I would to God they could not. ¶ ȝe wolde
god quod I þat þei ne myȝten don none. P. Since he that can do good, can do all things, and he that has power to do evil cannot do all things, therefore the evil-doers are less powerful. þat quod she
so as he þat is myȝty to done oonly but good[e] þinges
may don alle þinges. and þei þat ben myȝty to done 3336
yuel[e] þinges ne mowen nat alle þinges. þan is þis open
þing and manifest þat þei þat mowen don yuel ben of
lasse power. Let me add too that power is one of the things to be desired, and that all such things are to be referred to the chief good (the perfection of their nature). and ȝitte to proue þis conclusioun þere
helpeþ me þis þat I haue shewed here byforne. þat al 3340
power is to be noumbred amonge þinges þat men auȝten
requere. and haue shewed þat alle þinges þat auȝten ben
desired ben referred to good ryȝt as to a manere heyȝte
of hyr nature. But the power of doing evil has no relation to that Good, therefore it is not desirable; ¶ But for to mowen don yuel and 3344
felonye ne may nat ben referred to good. þan nis nat
yuel of þe noumbre of þinges þat auȝten. [* fol. 26 b.] *be desired.

but as all power is desirable, it is clear that the ability to do evil is not power. but al power auȝt[e] ben desired and requered. ¶ þan is
it open and cler þat þe power ne þe moeuyng of shrewes 3348
nis no powere. It clearly follows from this reasoning, that the good only are powerful while the vicious are feeble. and of alle þise þinges it sheweþ wel þat
118 þe goode folk ben certeynly myȝty. and þe shrewes ben
douteles vnmyȝty And Plato’s opinion is hereby verified that the wise only have the power to do what they desire; the wicked may follow the dictates of their lusts, but their great aim and desire, i. e. HAPPINESS, they can never attain. ¶ And it is clere and open þat þilke
sentence of plato is uerray and soþe. þat seyþ þat oonly 3352
wisemen may [doon] þat þei desiren. and shrewes
mowen haunten þat hem lykeþ. but þat þei desiren þat
is to seyne to comen to souereyne good þei ne han no
power to acomplissen þat. The wicked may gratify their desires, thinking to attain the chief good (for which they wish), but they can never possess it, for impiety and vice can never be crowned with happiness. ¶ For shrewes don þat hem 3356
list whan by þo þinges in whiche þei deliten þei wenen
to atteyne to þilke good þat þei desiren. but þei ne geten
ne atteynen nat þer to. ¶ for vices ne comen nat to
blisfulnesse. 3360

3166 [owh]—from C.

3171 good[e]—goode

3172 desert—dishert

3173 eueryche—euerich

3175 goode—good

3176 stedfast—stidefast

3177 freelnesse—frelenesse

3178 goode—good

3180 oon—oo
wil (2)—wole

3185-6 þere—ther

3185 don—MS. done, C. don

3186 done—don

3187 wille—wil

3188 comeþ—comht

3189 mayst—MS. mayste, C. mayst

3191 clere—cler

3192 denyed—denoyed

3193-4 haþ—MS. haþe

3193 don (both)—MS. done, C. doon

3194 had—MS. hadde, C. had

3196 as moche—so moche

3197 done—doon

3201 whiche—which

3202 lad—MS. ladde, C. lad

3203 it hath ben—MS. I herde þe, C. it hath ben

3205-6 goode—good

3206 [also]—from C.

3207 al—alle
It——I—it ne recordeth me nat quod I

3210-12(1)-15 goode—good

3214 wicked[e]—wikkede

3215 [ne]—from C.

3216 mowen—mowe

3217 [quod she]—from C.

3218 wicked—wilke (? wikke)

3220 wicked—wikkede

3226 þilk—thilke

3229 owen—owne

3231 wilt—wolt

3232 pleynely—pleynly

3233 moeuementȝ—Moeuement

3237 goþ—MS. goþe

3238 gone—goon

3239 hys—hise

3240 more—the Moore

3242 gone—gon

3245 good—goode

3246 uertues—vertuus

3247 whiche—which

3248 goode—good

3253 byfore—by-forn

3254 forto—to

3255 seke—sike

3259 wicked—wikkede

3260 come—comyn

3261 þilk—thilke

3262 deme—demen

3263-4 helpe—help

3264 whiche—which
goþ—MS. goþe

3265 grete—gret
be ouercomen—ben ouercome

3267 þere—ther

3268 þinges—thing

3271 Sherewes ne requere—ne shrewes ne requeren

3272 lyȝt[e]—lyhte

3276 whiche—which

3277 getyn[g]—getinge
whiche goode—which good

3278 ysen—MS. and C. ysene

3279 goþ—MS. goþe

3280 myȝt[e]—myhte

3281 þere—ther

3283 desire—desired

3284 þat—omitted

3285 whiche—the which
þat—þat the

3286 ben—be

3291 auȝten to folwen—owhten folwe

3293 doþ—MS. doþe, C. doth

3394 wrastle—wrastlen

3295 vilfully—wilsfully

3297 outerly—owtrely

3301 seyne—seyen

3304-5 denye—denoye

3305 sey[e] symplely—seye sympeli

3306 [ne]—from C.

3307 seyn—seyen

3309 graunt[e]—graunte

3311-12 þilk—thilke

3312 haþ—MS. haþe

3313 þat (1)—what

3314 þilk—thilke

3315 set—MS. sette, C. set

3316 denye—denoye

3318 don—MS. done, C. don

3319 myȝten (1)—myhte

3320 goode—good

3324 shrewednesse—shrewednesses

3325 nat——power—nawht ne han no power

3326 whiche—which
þat is—of this

3327 here—her

3328 nis—is

3329 soþe—soth

3329, 3330 [and thilke——quod I]—from C.

3334 don—MS. done, C. don
none þat—non thanne

3335 done—doon

3336 don—MS. done, C. don

3337 yuel[e]—yuele

3338 don—MS. done, C. don

3339 ȝitte—yit

3340 shewed here byforne—Ishewed her by-forn

3341 amonge—among

3344 don—MS. done, C. don

3346 auȝten be—owhte ben

3347 al—alle

3351 clere—cler

3352 soþe—soth
þat seyþ—MS. but siþe, C. þat seyth

3353 [doon]—from C.

3355 seyne—seyn

3357 whiche—which


[The ijde Metur.]


Who so þat þe Whosoever might strip of their purple coverings, proud kings, who, surrounded by their guards, sit on lofty thrones, and whose stern looks wear fierce threatenings, and boiling breasts breathe fury; would see those mighty lords inwardly fettered, and tormented by lust, passion, grief, and delusive hopes. couertures of her veyn apparailes
myȝt[e] strepen of þise proude kynges þat þou
seest sitten on heyȝe in her chayeres glyterynge in
shynynge purpre envyroned wiþ sorweful armures 3364
manasyng wiþ cruel mouþe. blowyng by woodnesse of
herte. ¶ He sholde se þan þat ilke lordes beren wiþ
inne hir corages ful streyte cheynes for leccherye tormentiþ
hem on þat oon syde wiþ gredy venyms and 3368
troublable Ire þat araiseþ in hem þe floodes of troublynges
tourmentiþ vpon þat oþer side hir þouȝt. or sorwe halt
hem wery or ycauȝt. or slidyng and disseyuyng hope
tourmentiþ hem. Since, then, so many tyrants bear sway over one head—that lord, oppressed by so many masters (i. e. vices), is weak and feeble, and his actions are not obedient to his will. And þerfore syn þou seest on heed. 3372
þat is to seyne oon tyraunt bere so many[e] tyrauntis.
þan ne doþ þilk tyraunt nat þat he desiriþ. syn he
is cast doune wiþ so many[e] wicked lordes. þat is to
seyn wiþ so many[e] vices. þat han so wicked lordshipes 3376
ouer hym.

3361-63 her—hir

3362 myȝt[e]—myhte

3363 heyȝe—heygh

3364 sorweful—sorwful

3365 mouþe—Mowth

3366 se—seen

3368 on—in

3369 hem—hym

3371 disseyuyng—deceyuynge

3373 seyne—seyn

3373-75-76 many[e]—manye

3373 tyrauntis—tyranyes

3374 doþ—MS. doþe

3375 doune—down

3376 wicked—wikkedly



[The prose.]


SEest þou nat See you not in how great and filthy a mire the wicked wallow? þan in how gret filþe þise shrewes ben
ywrapped. and wiþ whiche cleernesse þise good
folk shynen. This is a proof that good folks do not go unrewarded, nor do the evil-doers escape punishment. In þis sheweþ it wel þat to good folk ne 3380
lakkeþ neuer mo hir medes. ne shrewes ne lakken
neuer mo tourmentis. Every action is done for a certain end, and that end is the reward of the action. for of alle þinges þat ben ydon
þilke þing for whiche any þing is doon. it semeþ as by
ryȝt þat þilke þing be þe mede of þat. as þus. ¶ yif a 3384
man renneþ in þe stadie or in þe forlonge for þe corone.
þan lieþ þe mede in þe corone for whiche he renneþ.
But Happiness is that good for which all things are done. Therefore happiness is the reward which all the human race seek as the reward of their actions. ¶ And I haue shewed þat blisfulnesse is þilke same
good for whiche þat alle þingus ben don. þan is þilke 3388
same good purposed to þe werkes of mankynde ryȝt as
a comune mede. This good is inseparable from the virtuous, therefore virtue can never want its reward. whiche mede ne may ben disseuered
fro good folk. for no wyȝt as by ryȝt fro þennes forþe
þat hym lakkiþ goodnesse ne shal ben cleped good. 3392
For whiche þing folk of good[e] maneres her medes ne
forsaken hem neuer mo. Evil men may rage as they please against the good, but the crown of the wise shall not fall nor fade. For al be it so þat sherewes
waxen as wood as hem list aȝeynes good[e] folk. ȝitte
neuer þe les þe corone of wise men ne shal nat fallen 3396
ne faden. The wickedness of another cannot deprive a virtuous soul of its own honour. ¶ For foreine shrewednesse ne bynymeþ
nat fro þe corages of good[e] folk hire propre honoure.


If a man pride himself on the possession of an advantage received from another, he may be deprived of it, either by the giver or by others. but yif þat any wyȝt reioiseþ hem of goodnesse þat þei
had[de] taken fro wiþoute. as who seiþ yif [þat] any 3400
wyȝt had[de] hys goodnesse of any oþer man þan of
hym self. certys he þat ȝaf hym þilke goodnesse or
ellys som oþer wyȝt myȝt[e] bynym[e] it hym. But, as the reward of the virtuous is derived from virtue, a man cannot lose this meed unless he ceases to be virtuous. but for
as moche as to euery wyȝt hys owen propre bounte 3404
ȝeueþ hym hys mede. þan at arst shal he faylen of
mede whan he forletiþ to ben good. Lastly, since a reward is desired because it is supposed to be a good, can we believe that he who is capable of good is deprived of the recompence? and at þe laste so
as alle medes ben requered for men wenen þat þei ben
120 good[e]. who is he þat wolde deme þat he þat is ryȝt 3408
myȝty of goode were partles of mede. [* fol. 27.] What reward shall he receive? *and of what
mede shal he be gerdoned. Certainly the fairest and richest of all rewards. certys of ryȝt faire mede
and ryȝt greet abouen alle medes. Call to mind that excellent corollary I have already given thee, and reason thus:— ¶ Remembre þe of
þilk noble corolarie þat I ȝaf þe a lytel here byforne. 3412
and gadre it to gidre in þis manere. Since the supreme good is happiness, it follows that all good men are happy in as much as they are good; but if they are happy they must become as it were gods. so as god hym self
is blisfulnesse. þan is it clere and certeyn. þat alle good
folk ben makid blisful for þei ben good[e]. and þilke
folk þat ben blisful it accordiþ and is couenable to ben 3416
godde[s]. The reward (i. e. divinity) of the righteous is such that no time can impair it, no power can diminish it, nor can any wickedness obscure it. þan is þe mede of goode folk swiche. þat no
day [ne] shal enpeyren it. ne no wickednesse shal endirken
it. ne power of no wyȝt ne shal nat amenusen it
þat is to seyn to ben maked goddes. Since, then, happiness belongs to good men, punishment inseparably attends the wicked. ¶ and syn it is 3420
þus þat goode men ne faylen neuer mo of hire medes.
¶ certys no wise man ne may doute of þe vndepartable
peyne of shrewes. ¶ þat is to seyn þat þe peyne of
shrewes ne departiþ nat from hem self neuer mo. 3424


For since good and evil are contraries, so are rewards and punishments. ¶ For so as goode and yuel and peyne and medes ben
contrarie it mot nedes ben þat ryȝt as we seen by-tiden
in gerdoun of goode. It is evident that rewards follow good actions, and punishments attend evil actions; then as virtue itself is the reward of the virtuous, so vice is the punishment of the vicious. þat also mot þe peyne of yuel
answere by þe contrarie partye to shrewes. now þan so 3428
as bounte and prowesse ben þe medes to goode folk.
also is shrewednesse it self torment to shrewes He who is punished with pain and uneasiness knows that he is afflicted with evil. ¶ þan
who so þat euer is entecched and defouled wiþ yuel.
If, then, the wicked did rightly understand themselves they would perceive that they are not exempted from punishment. yif shrewes wolen þan preisen hem self may it semen 3432
to hem þat þei ben wiþ outen partye of tourment. Since vice, the extreme and worst kind of evil, not only afflicts them, but infects and entirely pollutes them. syn
þei ben swiche þat þe [vtteriste wikkednesse / þat is to
seyn wikkede thewes / which þat is the] outereste and
þe w[or]ste kynde of shrewednesse ne defouliþ nat ne 3436
entecehiþ nat hem oonly but infectiþ and enuenemyþ
hem gretely But contemplate the punishment of the wicked. ¶ And al so loke on shrewes þat ben þe
121 contrarie partye of goode men. how grete peyne felawshipeþ
and folweþ hem. You have been taught that unity is essential to being and is good—and all that have this unity are good; whatsoever, then, fails to be good ceases to exist. ¶ For þou hast lerned a litel 3440
here byforn þat al þing þat is and haþ beynge is oon.
and þilke same oon is good. þan is þis conse­quence þat
it semeþ wel. þat al þat is and haþ beynge is good. þis
is to seyne. as who seiþ þat beynge and vnite and 3444
goodnesse is al oon. and in þis manere it folweþ þan.
þat al þing þat faileþ to ben good. it styntiþ forto be.
and forto haue any beynge. So that it appears that evil men must cease to be what they were. wher fore it is þat shrewes
stynten forto ben þat þei weren. That they were once men, the outward form of the body, which still remains, clearly testifies. but þilke oþer forme 3448
of mankynde. þat is to seyne þe forme of þe body wiþ
oute. shewiþ ȝit þat þise shrewes were somtyme men.


Wherefore, when they degenerate into wickedness they lose their human nature. ¶ wher fore whan þei ben peruerted and torned in to
malice. certys þan han þei forlorn þe nature of mankynde. 3452
But as virtue alone exalts one man above other men, it is evident that vice, which divests a man of his nature, must sink him below humanity. but so as oonly bounte and prowesse may enhawnse
euery man ouer oþer men. þan mot it nedes be
þat shrewes whiche þat shrewednesse haþ cast out of þe
condicioun of mankynde ben put vndir þe merite and 3456
þe deserte of men. You cannot, therefore, esteem him to be a man whom you see thus transformed by his vices. þan bitidiþ it þat yif þou seest a
wyȝt þat be transformed in to vices. þou ne mayst nat
wene þat he be a man. The greedy robber, you will say, is like a wolf. ¶ For ȝif he [be] ardaunt in
auarice. and þat he be a rauynour by violence of 3460
foreine rychesse. þou shalt seyn þat he is lyke to a
wolf. He who gives no rest to his abusive tongue, you may liken to a hound. and yif he be felonous and wiþ out reste and
exercise hys tonge to chidynges. þou shalt lykene hym
to þe hounde. Does he delight in fraud and trickery? then is he like young foxes. and yif he be a preue awaitour yhid and 3464
reioyseþ hym to rauysshe by wyles. þou shalt seyne
hym lyke to þe fox whelpes. Is he intemperate in his anger? then men will compare him to a raging lion. ¶ And yif he be distempre
and quakiþ for ire men shal wene þat he bereþ
þe corage of a lyoun. If he be a coward, he will be likened to a hart. and yif he be dredeful and fleynge 3468
and dredeþ þinges þat ne auȝten nat ben dred. men
122 shal holde hym lyke to þe herte. If he be slow, dull, and lazy, then is he like an ass. and yif he be slowe
and astoned and lache. he lyueþ as an asse. Is he fickle and inconstant? Then is he like a bird. and yif he
be lyȝt and vnstedfast of corage and chaungeþ ay his 3472
studies. he is lickened to briddes. Doth he wallow in filthy lusts? Then doth he roll himself in the mire like a nasty sow.and yif he be
plounged in foule and vnclene luxuries. he is wiþholden
in þe foule delices of þe foule soowe. It follows, then, that he who ceases to be virtuous, ceases to be a man; and, since he cannot attain divinity, he is turned into a beast. ¶ þan folweþ it
þat he þat forletiþ bountee and prowesse. he forletiþ to 3476
ben a man. syn he ne may nat passe in to þe condicioun
of god. he is tourned in to a beest.

3379 whiche—which

3380 good—goode

3381 ne (2)—omitted

3383 whiche—which

3385 forlonge—forlong

3386-88-90 whiche—which

3391 forþe—forth

3393 whiche—which

3395 wood—woode

3396 les—leese

3398 good[e]—goode

3399 reioiseþ—reioyse
þei had[de]—he hadde

3400 [þat]—from C.

3401 had[de]—hadde

3402 self—MS. selk

3403 myȝt[e] bynym[e]—myhte be-nyme

3404 owen—owne

3406 laste—last

3408 good[e]—goode

3409 goode—good
of (2)—of the

3411 greet—grete

3412 here byforne—her by-forn

3413 god—good

3414 is (1)—his

3415 good[e]—goode

3417 godde[s]—goddes

3418 [ne]—from C.

3422 wise man—wysman
vndepartable—MS. vndirpartable, C. vndepartable

3423 of (1)—of the

3428 answere—answery

3434 [vtteriste——is the]—from C.

3438 gretely—gretly

3439 grete—gret

3441 al—alle
haþ—MS. haþe

3443 al—alle
haþ—MS. haþe

3446 al—alle

3447 haue—han

3448 stynten—MS. styntent

3450 were somtyme—weeren whilom

3452 forlorn—MS. forlorne, C. forlorn

3453 as—omitted

3455 whiche—which
haþ—MS. haþe

3459 [be]—from C.

3464 yhid—MS. yhidde, C. I-hidd

3465 seyne—seyn

3468 dredeful—dredful

3469 ben—to ben
dred—MS. dredde, C. dredd

3470 holde—holden

3472 vnstedfast—vnstidefast

3475 þan—MS. þat, C. thanne

3477 passe—passen

[The 3de Metur.]

*V[E]LA NARICII DUCIS. [* fol. 27 b.]

Evrus þe Ulysses was driven by the eastern winds upon the shores of that isle where Circe dwelt, who, having entertained her guests with magic draughts, transformed them into divers shapes—one into a boar, another into a lion; wynde aryueþ þe sayles of vlixes duc of þe
contre of narice. and hys wandryng shippes by þe 3480
see in to þe isle þere as Circe þe fayre goddesse douȝter
of þe sonne dwelleþ þat medlyþ to hir newe gestes
drynkes þat ben touched and maked wiþ enchauntmentȝ.
and after þat hir hande myȝty of þe herbes 3484
had[de] chaunged hir gestes in to dyuerse maneres. þat
oon of hem is couered his face wiþ forme of a boor. þat
oþer is chaunged in to a lyoun of þe contre of marmorike.
and his nayles and his teþe wexen. some into howling wolves, and others into Indian tigers. ¶ þat 3488
oþer of hem is newliche chaunged in to a wolf. and
howeliþ whan he wolde wepe. þat oþer goþ debonairly
in þe house as a tigre of Inde. But Mercury, the Arcadian god, rescued Ulysses from the Circean charms. Yet his mariners, having drunk of her infected drinks, were changed to swine, and fed on acorns. but al be it so þat þe
godhed of mercurie þat is cleped þe bride of arcadie haþ 3492
had mercie of þe duc vlixes byseged wiþ diuerse yueles
and haþ vnbounden hym fro þe pestilence of hys
oosteresse algates þe rowers and þe maryners hadden by
þis ydrawen in to hir mouþes and dronken þe wicked[e] 3496
123 drynkes þei þat were woxen swyne hadden by þis
chaunged hire mete of brede forto ete acorns of ookes.
All traces of the human form were lost, and they were bereft of speech. non of hir lymes ne dwelliþ wiþ hem hoole. but
þei han lost þe voys and þe body. Their souls, unchanged, bewailed their dreadful fate. Oonly hire þouȝt 3500
dwelleþ wiþ hem stable þat wepiþ and bywailiþ þe
monstruous chaungynge þat þei suffren. O most weak, are Circe’s powers compared with the potency of vice, to transform the human shape! ¶ O ouer lyȝt
hand. as who seiþ. ¶ O feble and lyȝt is þe hand of
Circes þe enchaunteresse þat chaungeþ þe bodies of folk 3504
in to bestes to regarde and to comparisoun of mutacioun
þat is makid by vices. Circe’s herbs may change the body, but cannot touch the mind, the inward strength of man. ne þe herbes of circes ne ben nat
myȝty. for al be it so þat þei may chaungen þe lymes
of þe body. ¶ algates ȝit þei may nat chaunge þe 3508
hertes. for wiþ inne is yhid þe strengþe and þe vigour
of men in þe secre toure of hire hertys. þat is to seyn
þe strengþe of resoun. But vice is more potent than Circe’s poisonous charms. but þilke uenyms of vices to-drawen
a man to hem more myȝtily þan þe venym of 3512
circes. Though it leaves the body whole, it pierces the inner man, and inflicts a deadly wound upon the soul. ¶ For vices ben so cruel þat þei percen and
þoruȝ passen þe corage wiþ inne. and þouȝ þei ne anoye
nat þe body. ȝitte vices wooden to distroien men by
wounde of þouȝt. 3516

3479 aryueþ—aryuede
vlixes—MS. vluxies, C. vlixes

3481 Circe—Circes

3483 enchauntmentȝ—enchauntementȝ

3484 hande—hand

3485 had[de]—hadde
gestes—MS. goostes, C. gestes

3486 boor—boere

3488 his (1)—hise
his teþe—hise teth

3489 newliche—neweliche

3490 goþ—MS. goþe

3491 house—hows

3492 bride—bryd
haþ—MS. haþe

3493 mercie—MS. mercurie, C. mercy

3494 haþ—MS. haþe

3495 oosteresse—oostesse

3496 wicked[e]—wikkede

3497 were woxen swyne—weeren wexen swyn

3498 chaunged—Ichaunged
forto—MS. and forto
ete acorns—eten akkornes

3499 hoole—hool

3501 wepiþ—MS. kepiþ, C. weepith

3502 monstruous—MS. monstronous, C. Monstruos

3504 Circes—MS. Cirtes

3509 yhid—MS. yhidde, C. I-hydd

3515 wooden—MS. wolden, C. wooden


[The ferthe prose.]


Þan seide I B. I confess that vicious men are rightly called beasts. þus I confesse and am aknowe quod I. ne
I ne se nat þat men may seyn as by ryȝt. They retain the outward form of man, but the qualities of their souls prove them to be beasts. þat
shrewes ne ben nat chaunged in to beestes by þe
qualite of hir soules. ¶ Al be it so þat þei kepen ȝitte 3520
þe forme of þe body of mankynde. I wish, however, that the wicked were without the power to annoy and hurt good men. but I nolde nat of
shrewes of whiche þe þouȝt cruel woodeþ alwey in to
destruccioun of good[e] men. þat it were leueful to hem
to done þat. P. They have no power, as I shall presently show you. ¶ Certys quod she ne it nis nat leueful 3524
to hem as I shal wel shewen þe in couenable place.

But were this power, which men ascribe to them, taken away from the wicked, they would be relieved of the greatest part of their punishment. ¶ But naþeles yif so were þat þilke þat men wenen ben
124 leueful for shrewes were bynomen hem. so þat þei ne
myȝten nat anoyen or don harme to goode men. ¶ Certys 3528
a gret party of þe peyne to shrewes shulde ben allegged
and releued. The wicked are more unhappy when they have accomplished their evil designs than when they fail to do so. ¶ For al be it so þat þis ne seme nat
credible þing perauenture to somme folk ȝit mot it
nedes be þat shrewes ben more wrecches and vnsely. 3532
whan þei may don and performe þat þei coueiten [than
yif they myhte nat complyssen þat they coueyten]. If it is a miserable thing to will evil, it is a greater unhappiness to have the power to execute it, without which power the wicked desires would languish without effect. ¶ For
yif so be þat it be wrecchednesse to wilne to don yuel;
þan is it more wrecchednesse to mowen don yuel. 3536
wiþ oute whiche moeuyng þe wrecched wille sholde
languisshe wiþ oute effecte. Since, then, each of these three things (i. e. the will, the power, and the accomplishment of evil) hath its misery, therefore a threefold wretchedness afflicts those who both will, can, and do commit sin. ¶ þan syn þat eueryche of
þise þinges haþ hys wrecchednesse. þat is to seyne wil
to done yuel. and moeuynge to done yuel. it mot nedes 3540
be. þat þei (shrewes) ben constreyned by þre vnselynesses
þat wolen and mowen and performen felonyes
and shrewednesses. B. I grant it—but still I wish the vicious were without this misfortune. ¶ I accorde me quod I. but I
desire gretely þat shrewes losten sone þilke vnselynesses. 3544
þat is to seyne þat shrewes were despoyled of moeuyng
to don yuel. P. They shall be despoiled of it sooner than you wish perhaps, or than they themselves imagine. ¶ so shullen þei quod she. sonnere
[* fol. 28.] perauenture þen þou woldest *or sonnere þen þei hem
self wenen to lakken mowynge to done yuel. In the narrow limits of this life, nothing, however tardy it appears, can seem to an immortal soul to have a very long duration. ¶ For 3548
þere nis no þing so late in so short boundes of þis lijf
þat is longe to abide. namelyche to a corage inmortel.
The great hopes, and the subtle machinations of the wicked, are often suddenly frustrated, by which an end is put to their wickedness. Of whiche shrewes þe grete hope and þe heye compassyngus
of shrewednesse is often destroyed by a 3552
sodeyne ende or þei ben war. and þat þing establiþ to
shrewes þe ende of hir shrewednesse. If vice renders men wretched, the longer they are vicious the longer must they be miserable. ¶ For yif þat
shrewednesse makiþe wrecches. þan mot he nedes be
most wrecched þat lengest is a shrewe. And they would be infinitely wretched if death did not put an end to their crimes. þe whiche 3556
wicked shrewes wolde ydemen aldirmost vnsely and
125 caytifs yif þat hir shrewednes ne were yfinissed. at þe
leste weye by þe outerest[e] deeþ. It is clear, as I have already shown, that eternal misery is infinite. for [yif] I haue concluded
soþe of þe vnselynesse of shrewednesse. þan sheweþ 3560
it clerely þat þilke shrewednesse is wiþ outen ende þe
whiche is certeyne to ben perdurable. B. This conse­quence appears to be just, but difficult to assent to. ¶ Certys quod I
þis [conclusion] is harde and wonderful to graunte. ¶ But
I knowe wel þat it accordeþ moche to [the] þinges þat I 3564
haue graunted her byforne. P. You think rightly; but if you cannot assent to my conclusion you ought to show that the premises are false, or that the conse­quences are unfairly deduced; for if the premises be granted, you cannot reject the inferences from them. ¶ þou hast quod she þe ryȝt
estimacioun of þis. but who so euere wene þat it be an
harde þing to acorde hym to a conclusioun. it is ryȝt
þat he shewe þat somme of þe premisses ben fals. or 3568
ellys he mot shewe þat þe colasioun of preposiciouns
nis nat spedful to a necessarie conclusion. ¶ and yif it
be nat so. but þat þe premisses ben ygranted þer nis
nat whi he sholde blame þe argument. What I am about to say is not less wonderful, and it follows necessarily from the same premises. for þis þing þat 3572
I shal telle þe nowe ne shal not seme lasse wondirful.

þilke shrewednesse is wiþ outen ende (l. 3561):
text printed as shown, but may be an error for “wrecchednesse” as in Skeat; see sidenote (“eternal misery”).


but of þe þinges þat ben taken al so it is necessarie as
who so seiþ it folweþ of þat whiche þat is purposed
byforn. B. What is that? what is þat quod I. P. That the wicked who have been punished for their crimes, are happier than if justice had allowed them to go unpunished. ¶ certys quod she þat is 3576
þat þat þise wicked shrewes ben more blysful or ellys
lasse wrecches. þat byen þe tourmentes þat þei han
deserued. þan yif no peyne of Iustice ne chastied[e]
hem. I do not appeal to popular arguments, that punishment corrects vice, that the fear of chastisement leads them to take the right path, and that the sufferings of evil-doers deter others from vice, but I believe that guilty men, unpunished, become much more unhappy in another way. ne þis ne seye I nat now for þat any man myȝt[e] 3580
þenk[e] þat þe maneres of shrewes ben coriged and
chastised by veniaunce. and þat þei ben brouȝt to þe
ryȝt wey by þe drede of þe tourment. ne for þat þei
ȝeuen to oþer folk ensample to fleyen from vices. ¶ But 3584
I vndirstonde ȝitte [in] an oþer manere þat shrewes
ben more vnsely whan þei ne ben nat punissed al be it
so þat þere ne ben had no resoun or lawe of correccioun.
ne none ensample of lokynge. B. In what way do you mean? ¶ And what manere 3588
126 shal þat ben quod I. ouþer þan haþ ben told here
byforn P. Are not good people happy, and evil folk miserable? ¶ Haue we nat graunted þan quod she þat
good[e] folk ben blysful. and shrewes ben wrecches.
B. Yes. ȝis quod I. P. If good be added to the wretchedness of a man, will not he be happier than another whose misery has no element of good in it? [thanne quod she] ȝif þat any good were 3592
added to þe wrecchenesse of any wyȝt. nis he nat more
blisful þan he þat ne haþ no medelyng of goode in hys
solitarie wrecchednesse. B. It seems so. so semeþ it quod I. P. And if to the same wretched being another misery be annexed, does not he become more wretched than he whose misery is alleviated by the participation of some good? and what
seyst þou þan quod she of þilke wrecche þat lakkeþ alle 3596
goodes. so þat no goode nis medeled in hys wrecchednesse.
and ȝitte ouer alle hys wickednesse for whiche
he is a wrecche þat þer be ȝitte anoþer yuel anexid and
knyt to hym. shal not men demen hym more vnsely 3600
þan þilke wrecche of whiche þe vnselynesse is re[le]ued
by þe participacioun of som goode. B. He does. whi sholde he nat
quod I. P. When evil men are punished they have a degree of good annexed to their wretchedness, to wit, the punishment itself, which as it is the effect of justice is good. ¶ þan certys quod she han shrewes whan þei
ben punissed somwhat of good anexid to hir wrecchednesse. 3604
þat is to seyne þe same peyne þat þei suffren
whiche þat is good by þe resoun of Iustice. And when these wretches escape punishment something more of ill (i. e. exemption from punishment) is added to their condition. And whan
þilke same shrewes ascapen wiþ outen tourment. þan
han þei somwhat more of yuel ȝit ouer þe wickednesse 3608
þat þei han don. þat is to seye defaute of peyne.
whiche defaute of peyne þou hast graunted is yuel.

B. I cannot deny it. ¶ For þe desert of felonye I ne may nat denye it quod I.
P. Much more unhappy are the wicked when they enjoy an unmerited impunity than when they suffer a lawful chastisement. ¶ Moche more þan quod she ben shrewes vnsely 3612
whan þei ben wrongfully delyuered fro peyne. þan
whan þei beþ punissed by ryȝtful vengeaunce. It is just to punish evil-doers, and unjust that they should escape punishment. but þis is
open þing and clere þat it is ryȝt þat shrewes ben
punissed. and it is wickednesse and wrong þat þei 3616
escapin vnpunissed. [* fol. 28 b.] B. Nobody denies that. ¶ who myȝt[e] denye *þat quod I.
P. Everything, too, which is just is good; and, on the contrary, whatsoever is unjust is evil. but quod she may any man denye. þat al þat is ryȝt nis
good. and also þe contrarie. þat alle þat is wrong nis
127 wicked. B. These are just inferences from our former premises. certys quod I þise þinges ben clere ynouȝ. and 3620
þat we han concludid a litel here byforne. But is there any punishment for the soul after death of the body? but I preye
þe þat þou telle me yif þou accordest to leten no tourment
to þe soules aftir þat þe body is dedid by þe deþe.
þis [is] to seyn. vndirstondest þou ouȝt þat soules han 3624
any tourment after þe deþe of þe body. P. Yes, and great ones too. Some punishments are rigorous and eternal. ¶ Certis quod
she ȝe and þat ryȝt grete. of whiche soules quod she I
trowe þat somme ben tourmentid by asprenesse of
peyne. Others have a corrective and purifying force, and are of finite duration. and somme soules I trowe be excercised by a 3628
purging mekenesse. But this is not to our purpose. but my conseil nys nat to determyne
of þis peyne. but I haue trauayled and told it
hider to. I want you to see that the power of the wicked is in reality nothing, that the wicked never go unpunished; that their licence to do evil is not of long duration, and that the wicked would be more unhappy if it were longer, and infinitely wretched if it were to continue for ever. ¶ For þou sholdest knowe þat þe mowynge
[.i. myght] of shrewes whiche mowynge þe semeþ to 3632
ben. vnworþi nis no mowynge. and eke of shrewes of
whiche þou pleynedest þat þei ne were nat punissed.
þat þou woldest seen þat þei ne weren neuer mo wiþ
outen þe torment of hire wickednesse. and of þe licence 3636
of mowynge to done yuel. þat þou preidest þat it
myȝt[e] sone ben endid. and þat þou woldest fayne
lerne. þat it ne sholde nat longe endure. and þat
shrewes ben more vnsely yif þei were of lenger duryng. 3640
and most vnsely yif þei weren perdurable. After this I showed that evil men are more unhappy, having escaped punishment, than if justly chastised. and after
þis I haue shewed þe þat more vnsely ben shrewes
whan þei escapen wiþ oute ryȝtful peyne. þan whan þei
ben punissed by ryȝtful uengeaunce. Wherefore when they are supposed to get off scot-free they suffer most grievously. and of þis sentence 3644
folweþ it þat þan ben shrewes constreyned atte laste wiþ
most greuous tourment. whan men wene þat þei ne ben
nat ypunissed. B. Your reasoning appears convincing and conclusive. But your arguments are opposed to current opinions, and would hardly command assent, or even a hearing. whan I considre þi resouns quod I. I.
ne trowe nat þat men seyn any þing more verrely. and 3648
yif I tourne aȝeyn to þe studies of men. who is [he] to
whom it sholde seme þat [he] ne sholde nat only leuen
þise þinges. but eke gladly herkene hem. P. It is so. For those accustomed to the darkness of error cannot fix their eyes on the light of perspicuous truth, like birds of night which are blinded by the full light of day. Certys quod
128 she so it is. but men may nat. for þei han hire eyen so 3652
wont to derkenesse of erþely þinges. þat þei may nat
liften hem vp to þe lyȝt of clere soþefastnes. ¶ But
þei ben lyke to briddes of whiche þe nyȝt lyȝtneþ hyre
lookyng. and þe day blyndeþ hem. They consider only the gratification of their lusts, they think there is happiness in the liberty of doing evil and in exemption from punishment. for whan men loken 3656
nat þe ordre of þinges but hire lustes and talentȝ. þei
wene þat oþir þe leue or þe mowynge to done wickednesse
or ellys þe escaping wiþ oute peyne be weleful.


but considere þe iugement of þe perdurable lawe. for Do you attend to the eternal law written in your own heart. Conform your mind to what is good, and you will stand in no need of a judge to confer a reward upon you—for you have it already in the enjoyment of the best of things (i. e. virtue). if 3660
þou conferme þi corage to þe beste þinges. þou ne hast
no nede to no iuge to ȝiuen þe pris or meede. for þou
hast ioigned þi self to þe most excellent þing. If you indulge in vice, you need no other chastisement—you have degraded yourself into a lower order of beings. and yif
þou haue enclined þi studies to þe wicked þinges. ne 3664
seek no foreyn wrekere out of þi self. for þou þi self
hast þrest þe in to wicked þinges. ryȝt as þou myȝtest
loken by dyuerse tymes þe foule erþe and þe heuene.
and þat alle oþer þinges stynten fro wiþ oute. so þat 3668
þou [nere neyther in heuene ne in erthe] ne say[e] no
þing more. þan sholde it semen to þe as by only resoun
of lokynge. þat þou were in þe sterres. and now in þe
erþe. The multitude doth not consider this. but þe poeple ne lokeþ nat on þise þinges. What then? Shall we take them as our models who resemble beasts? what 3672
þan shal we þan approchen vs to hem þat I haue
shewed þat þei ben lyke to þe bestes. (q. d. non)


If a man who had lost his sight, having even forgotten his blindness, should declare that his faculties were all perfect, shall we weakly believe that those who retain their sight are blind? ¶ And what wilt þou seyne of þis ¶ yif þat a man
hadde al forlorn hys syȝt. and had[de] forȝeten þat he 3676
euer saw and wende þat no þing ne fayled[e] hym of
perfeccioun of mankynde. now we þat myȝten sen þe
same þing wolde we nat wene þat he were blynde (q. d.
sic). The vulgar will not assent to what I am going to say, though supported by conclusive arguments—to wit, that persons are more unhappy that do wrong than those who suffer wrong. ne also ne accordeþ nat þe poeple to þat I shal 3680
seyne. þe whiche þing is susteyned by a stronge foundement
of resouns. þat is to seyn þat more vnsely ben þei
129 þat don wrong to oþer folk. þen þei þat þe wrong
suffren. [* fol. 29.] B. I would willingly hear your reasons. ¶ I wolde heren þilke *same resouns quod I 3684

P. Do you deny that every wicked man deserves punishment? ¶ Deniest þou quod she þat alle shrewes ne ben worþi
to han tourment. B. No, I do not. nay quod I. P. I am satisfied that impious men are in many ways miserable. but quod she I am certeyne
by many resouns þat shrewes ben vnsely. B. They are so. it accordeþ
quod I. P. Then those that deserve punishment are miserable. þan [ne] dowtest þou nat quod she þat 3688
þilke folk þat ben worþi of tourment þat þei ne ben
wrecches. B. I admit it. It accordeþ wel quod I. P. If you were a judge, upon whom would you inflict punishment? upon the wrong-doer, or upon the injured? yif þou were þan
quod she yset a Iuge or a knower of þinges. wheþer
trowest þou þat men sholde tourment[e] hym þat haþ 3692
don þe wronge. or hym þat haþ suffred þe wronge.
B. I should not hesitate to punish the offender as a satisfaction to the sufferer. I ne doute nat quod I. þat I nolde don suffissaunt satisfaccioun
to hym þat had[de] suffred þe wrong by þe
sorwe of hym þat had[de] don þe wronge. P. Then you would deem the injuring person more unhappy than he who had been wronged? ¶ þan 3696
semeþ it quod she þat þe doar of wrong is more wrecche
þan he þat haþ suffred þe wrong. B. That follows naturally. þat folweþ wel quod
[I]. P. From this then, and other reasons of like nature, it seems that vice makes men miserable, and an injury done to any man is the misery of the doer, and not of the sufferer. þan quod she by þise causes and by oþer causes
þat ben enforced by þe same roate þat filþe or synne by 3700
þe propre nature of it makeþ men wretches. and it
sheweþ wel þat þe wrong þat men don nis nat þe
wrecchenesse of hym þat receyueþ þe wrong. but þe
wrecchednesse of hym þat doþ þe wronge But our advocates think differently—they try to obtain pity for those that have suffered cruelty and oppression; ¶ but certys 3704
quod she þise oratours or aduocatȝ don al þe contrarie
for þei enforcen hem to commoeue þe iuges to han pite
of hem þat han suffred and resceyued þe þinges þat ben
greuous and aspre. but the juster pity is really due to the oppressors, who ought, therefore, to be led to judgment as the sick are to the physician, not by angry but by merciful and kind accusers, so that, by the physic of chastisement, they may be cured of their vices. and ȝitte men sholden more ryȝtfully 3708
han pitee on hem þat don þe greuaunces and þe
wronges. þe whiche shrewes it were a more couenable
þing þat þe accusours or aduocatȝ not wroþe but pitous
and debonaire ladden þe shrewes þat han don wrong to 3712
þe Iugement. ryȝt as men leden seke folk to þe leche.


for þat þei sholden seken out þe maladies of synne by
130 tourmentȝ. I would not have the guilty defrauded by their advocates. Their duty is to accuse, and not to excuse offenders. and by þis couenaunt eyþer þe entent of þe
defendours or aduocatȝ sholde fayle and cesen in al. or 3716
ellys yif þe office of aduocatȝ wolde bettre profiten to
men. it sholde be tourned in to þe habit of accusacioun.
þat is [to] s[e]yn þei sholden accuse shrewes. and nat
excuse hem. Were it permitted the wicked to get a slight view of virtue’s beauty, which they have forsaken, and could they be persuaded of the purifying effects of lawful chastisement, they surely would not consider punishment as an evil, but would willingly give themselves up to justice and refuse the defence of their advocates. and eke þe shrewes hem self. ȝit it were 3720
leueful to hem to seen at any clifte þe vertue þat þei
han forleten. and sawen þat þei sholde putten adoun
þe filþes of hire vices by [the] tourmentȝ of peynes. þei
ne auȝten nat ryȝt for þe recompensacioun forto geten 3724
hem bounte and prowesse whiche þat þei han lost demen
ne holden þat þilke peynes weren tourmentes to hem.
and eke þei wolden refuse þe attendaunce of hir aduocatȝ
and taken hem self to hire iuges and to hir accusours. 3728
The wise hate nobody, only a fool hates good men; and it is as irrational to hate the wicked. for whiche it bytideþ [þat] as to þe wise folk
þer nis no place ylete to hate. þat is to seyn. þat hate
ne haþ no place amonges wise men. ¶ For no wyȝt
wolde haten gode men. but yif he were ouer moche a 3732
fole. ¶ and forto haten shrewes it nis no resoun.
Vice is a sickness of the soul, and needs our compassion, and not our hate, for the distempers of the soul are more deplorable than those of the body, and have more claims upon our compassion. ¶ For ryȝt so as languissing is maladie of body. ryȝt
so ben vices and synne maladies of corage. ¶ and so as
we ne deme nat þat þei þat ben seek of hire body ben 3736
worþi to ben hated. but raþer worþi of pite. wel more
worþi nat to ben hated. but forto ben had in pite ben
þei of whiche þe þouȝtes ben constreined by felonous
wickednesse. þat is more cruel þan any languissinge of 3740

3517 aknowe—aknowe it

3518 seyn—sayn

3523 good[e]—goode

3524 done—don

3526 ben—be

3527 for—to

3528 myȝten—myhte
don—MS. done, C. doon

3529 gret—MS. grete, C. gret

3533-36 don—MS. done, C. doon

3533-34 [than——coueyten]—from C.

3537 moeuyng—mowynge

3539 haþ—MS. haþe

3540 done (1)—doon
moeuynge to done—Mowynge to don
mot—MS. mote, C. mot

3544 gretely—gretly

3545 seyne—seyn

3548 wenen—weene
to lakken——yuel—omitted

3549 þere—ther
so (2)—the

3550 longe—long

3552 shrewednesse—shrewednesses

3558 shrewednes—shrewednesse

3559 weye—wey
[yif]—from C.

3560 soþe—soth

3561 clerely—cleerly

3563 [conclusion]—from C.

3564 [the]—from C.

3567 harde—hard

3568 fals—false

3573 nowe—now

3575 who so seiþ—ho seyth

3578 byen—a-byen

3579 chastied[e]—chastysede

3580 myȝt[e]—myhte

3581 þenk[e]—thinke

3584 ȝeuen—MS. ȝeuene, C. yeuen

3585 ȝitte—yif
[in]—from C.

3588 none—non

3589 ouþer—oother
haþ—MS. haþe
told—MS. tolde, C. told

3591 good[e]—goode

3592 [thanne——she]—from C.

3594 blisful—weleful
haþ—MS. haþe

3594-97 goode—good

3598 alle—al

3600 knyt—knytte

3601 re[le]ued—releued

3602 goode—good

3605 seyne—seyn

3606 whiche—which

3607 outen—owte

3609 don—MS. done

3610 whiche—which

3611 desert—deserte

3614 beþ—MS. beþe, C. ben

3615 clere—cler

3617 myȝt[e]—myhte

3618 is ryȝt nis—MS. nis ryȝt is

3619 alle—al
nis wicked—is wykke

3621 here—her

3623 dedid—endyd

3624 [is]—from C.

3625 deþe—deth

3626 grete—gret

3628 be—ben

3629 determyne—determenye

3630 peyne—peynes
told—MS. tolde

3632 [.i. myght]—from C.

3632-34 whiche—which

3633 eke—ek

3635 seen—seyn

3637 done—don

3638 myȝt[e]—myhte
fayne lerne—fayn lernen

3639 endure—dure

3645 atte—at the
laste—MS. þast, C. laste

3647 resouns—resoun

3649-50 [he]—from C.

3651 eke—ek

3653 derkenesse—derknesse

3654 clere soþefastnes—cleer sothfastnesse

3655 whiche—which

3658 oþir—eyther

3659 escaping—schapynge

3662 to (1)—of

3665 foreyn—foreyne

3666 þrest—thryst

3669 [nere——erthe]—from C.
heuene—C. heuenene
say[e]—C. saye

3672 on—in

3674 lyke—lyk
q. d.—MS. quod

3675 wilt þou seyne—woltow seyn

3676 forlorn—MS. forlorne, C. for-lorn

3677 saw—MS. sawe, C. sawh

3678 sen—MS. sene, C. sen

3679 þing—thinges
q. d.—MS. quod

3681 whiche—which

3683 don—MS. done, C. don

3688 [ne]—from C.

3691 yset—MS. ysette, C. yset

3692 tourment[e]—tormenten

3692-3 haþ—MS. haþe

3693 wronge (2)—wrong

3695 had[de]—hadde

3696 had[de]—hadden

3697 doar—doere

3698 haþ—MS. haþe

3699 [I]—from C.

3700 ben—ben of

3703-4 but——wronge—omitted

3704 doþ—MS. doþe

3711 wroþe—wroth

3712 þe—tho
don—MS. done, C. don

3713 seke—syke

3715 tourmentȝ—torment
þe (2)—omitted

3719 [to] s[e]yn—to seyn

3722 sawen—sawh

3723 [the]—from C.

3724 auȝten—owhte

3725-29 whiche—which

3729 bytideþ—MS. byndeþ, C. bytidith
[þat]—from C.

3730 ylete—I-leten

3731 haþ—MS. haþe

3732 wolde—nyl

3733 fole—fool

3736 seek—syke


[The ferthe Metur.]


What deliteþ What frenzy causes man to hasten on his fate, that is, by war or by strife. it ȝow to exciten so grete moewynges of
hatredes and to hasten and bisien [the] fatal disposicioun
of ȝoure deeþ wiþ ȝoure propre handes. þat is 3744
to seyn by batailes or [by] contek. If death is desired he delays not to come. for yif ȝe axen þe
131 deeþ it hastisiþ hym of hys owen wille. ne deeþ ne
tarieþ nat hys swifte hors. Why do they who are exposed to the assaults of beasts of prey and venomous reptiles seek to slay each other with the sword. and [the] men þat þe serpentȝ
and þe lyouns. and þe tigre. and þe beere and þe 3748
boore seken to sleen wiþ her teþe. ȝit þilke same men
seken to sleen eueryche of hem oþer wiþ swerde. Lo! their manners and opinions do not accord, wherefore they engage in unjust wars, and fiercely urge on each other’s destiny. loo for
[* fol. 29 b.] her maners ben *diuerse and discordaunt ¶ þei
moeuen vnryȝtful oostes and cruel batailes. and wilne 3752
to perisse by enterchaungynge of dartes. But this is no just reason for shedding blood. but þe resoun
of cruelte nis nat ynouȝ ryȝtful. Wouldst thou reward each as he deserves? Then love the good as they deserve, and have pity upon the wicked. wilt þou þan ȝelden a
couenable gerdoun to þe desertes of men ¶ Loue ryȝtfully
goode folk; and haue pite on shrewes. 3756

3743 [the]—from C.

3745 [by]—from C.

3746 hastisiþ—hasteth
owen wille—owne wyl

3747 [the]—from C.

3749 boore—boor

3750 swerde—swerd

3751 her—hir

3752 wilne—wylnen

3753 enterchaungynge—entrechaungynges


[The fyfthe prose.]


Þus see I wel B. I see plainly the nature of that felicity which attends the virtues of the good, and of the misery that follows the vices of the wicked. quod I. eyþer what blisfulnesse or ellys
what vnselinesse is estab[l]issed in þe desertys of
goode men and of shrewes. But in Fortune I see a mixture of good and evil. The wise man prefers riches, &c., to poverty, &c. ¶ but in þis ilke fortune
of poeple I see somwhat of goode. and somwhat of 3760
yuel. for no wise man haþ nat leuer ben exiled pore
and nedy and nameles. þan forto dwellen in hys Citee
and flouren of rychesses. and be redoutable by honoure.
and stronge of power And wisdom appears more illustrious, when wise men are governors and impart their felicity to their subjects; and when imprisonment, torture, &c., are inflicted only upon bad citizens. for in þis wise more clerely and 3764
more witnesfully is þe office of wise men ytretid whan
þe blisfulnes and [the] pouste of gouernours is as it
were yshad amonges poeples þat ben neyȝboures and
subgitȝ. syn þat namely prisoun lawe and þise oþer 3768
tourmentȝ of lawful peynes ben raþer owed to felonous
Citeȝeins. for þe whiche felonous Citeȝeins þo peynes
ben establissed. þan for goode folk. Why, then, should things undergo so unnatural a change? ¶ þan I merueile
me gretly quod I. whi [þat] þe þinges ben so mys 3772
Why should the worthy suffer and the vicious receive the reward of virtue? entrechaunged. þat tourmentȝ felounes pressen and
confounden goode folk. and shrewes rauyssen medes of
132 vertue and ben in honours. and in grete estatis.
I should like to hear the reason of so unjust a distribution. and I desire eke to witen of þe. what semeþ þe to ben þe 3776
resoun of þis so wrongful a confusioun I should not marvel so much if Chance were the cause of all this confusion. ¶ For I wolde
wondre wel þe lasse yif I trowed[e] þat alle þise þinges
were medeled by fortuouse hap. But I am overwhelmed with astonishment when I reflect, that God the director of all things thus unequally distributes rewards and punishments. ¶ But now hepeþ
and encreseþ myne astonyenge god gouernour of þinges. 3780
þat so as god ȝeueþ ofte tymes to good[e] men goodes
and myrþes. and to shrewes yuel and aspre þinges.
and ȝeueþ aȝeynewarde to goode folk hardnesse. and to
shrewes [he] graunteþ hem her wille and þat þei desiren. 3784
What difference is there, then, unless we know the cause, between God’s proceedings and the operations of Chance? what difference þan may þer be bitwixen þat þat
god doþ. and þe hap of fortune. yif men ne knowe nat
þe cause whi þat [it] is. P. It is not at all surprising that you think you see irregularities, when you are ignorant of that order by which God proceeds. it nis no merueile quod she þouȝ
þat men wenen þat þer be somwhat folysche and confus 3788
whan þe resoun of þe order is vnknowe. But, forasmuch as God, the good governor, presides over all, rest assured that all things are done rightly and as they ought to be done. ¶ But alle
þouȝ þou ne know nat þe cause of so gret a disposicioun.
naþeles for as moche as god þe good[e] gouernour attempreþ
and gouerneþ þe world. ne doute þe nat þat 3792
alle þinges ne ben doon aryȝt.

3760 goode—good

3761 haþ—MS. haþe

3762 þan—MS. þat, C. than

3763 redoutable—MS. redentable, C. redowtable

3764 stronge—strong

3766 [the]—from C.

3767 neyȝboures—nesshebors

3769 lawful—laweful

3771 goode—good

3772 [þat]—from C.

3775 grete—gret

3776 to witen—forto weten

3778 trowed[e]—trowede

3779 were—weeren

3780 myne—myn

3781 good[e]—goode

3782 yuel—yuelis

3783 hardnesse—hardnesses

3784 [he]—from C.

3785 difference—MS. differenee

3786 doþ—MS. doþe

3787 [it]—from C.
it—ne it

3788 confus—confuse

3789 alle—al

3791 good[e]—goode

3793 ne—omitted


[The fyfthe Metur.]


Who so þat ne He who knows not that the Bear is seen near the Pole, nor has observed the path of Boötes, will marvel at their appearance. knowe nat þe sterres of arctour
ytourned neye to þe souereyne contre or point.
þat is to seyne ytourned neye to þe souereyne pool of þe 3796
firmament and woot nat whi þe sterre boetes passeþ or
gaderiþ his wey[n]es. and drencheþ his late flaumbes in
þe see. and whi þat boetes þe sterre vnfoldiþ his ouer
swifte arisynges. þan shal he wondren of þe lawe of þe 3800
heye eyre. The vulgar are alarmed when shadows terrestrial obscure the moon’s brightness, causing the stars to be displayed. and eke if þat he ne knowe nat why þat þe
hornes of þe ful[le] moene waxen pale and infect by þe
boundes of þe derke nyȝt ¶ and how þe moene dirk
133 and confuse discouereþ þe sterres. þat she had[de] 3804
ycouered by hir clere visage. Thinking the eclipse the result of enchantment, they sought to destroy the charms by the tinkling of brazen vessels or cymbals. þe commune errour moeueþ
folk and makiþ wery hir bacines of bras by þikke
strookes. þat is to seyne þat þer is a maner poeple þat
hyȝt[e] coribandes þat wenen þat whan þe moone is in 3808
þe eclips þat it be enchauntid. and þerfore forto rescowe
þe moone þei betyn hire basines wiþ þikke strokes.
Yet none marvel when the north-west wind renders the sea tempestuous; nor when vast heaps of congealed snow are melted by the warm rays of the sun, because the causes are apparent. ¶ Ne no man ne wondreþ whan þe blastes of þe wynde
chorus betyn þe strondes of þe see by quakynge floodes. 3812
ne no man ne wondreþ whan þe weyȝte of þe snowe
yhardid by þe colde. is resolued by þe brennynge hete
of phebus þe sonne. ¶ For here seen men redyly þe
causes. [* fol. 30.] Things whose causes are unknown disquiet the human mind. but þe *causes yhid þat is to seye in heuene 3816
trouble þe brestes of men. The fickle mob stands amazed at every rare or sudden phenomenon. ¶ þe moeueable poeple is
a-stoned of alle þinges þat comen selde and sodeynely in
oure age. Fear and wonder, however, soon cease when ignorance given place to certain knowledge. but yif þe troubly errour of oure ignorance
departid[e] from vs. so þat we wisten þe causes whi þat 3820
swiche þinges bitiden. certys þei sholden cesse to seme

3794 arctour—MS. aritour

3795 neye—neygh

3796 seyne—seyn

3797-99 boetes—MS. boeces, C. boetes

3798 his (1)—hise

3802 ful[le]—fulle

3804 had[de]—hadde

3806 bacines—MS. batines
þikke—MS. þilke, C. thilke

3807 seyne—seyn

3808 hyȝt[e]—hihte

3809 eclips—eclypse

3812 chorus—MS. thorus, C. chorus

3813 snowe—sonwh = snowh

3815 here—her

3816 yhid—MS. yhidde, C. I-hid

3817 trouble—trowblen

3820 departid[e] from—departede fro


[The syxte prose.]


Þvs is B. So it is. But as thou hast promised to unfold the hidden causes of things, and unveil things wrapt up in darkness; I pray thee deliver me from my present perplexity, and explain the mystery I mentioned to you. it quod I. but so as þou hast ȝeuen or byhyȝt
me to vnwrappen þe hidde causes of þinges ¶ and 3824
to discoueren me þe resouns couered with dirknesses I
preye þe þat þou diuise and Iuge me of þis matere. and
þat þou do me to vndrestonden it. ¶ For þis miracle
or þis wondre troubleþ me ryȝt gretely. P. You ask me to declare to you the most intricate of all questions, which I am afraid can scarce be answered. and þan she a 3828
litel [what] smylyng seide. ¶ þou clepest me quod
she to telle þing. þat is grettest of alle þinges þat mowen
ben axed. ¶ And to þe whiche questioun vnneþ[e]s is
þere auȝt ynow to lauen it. as who seiþ. vnneþes is þer 3832
suffisauntly any þing to answere perfitly to þi questioun.
134 For the subject is of such a kind, that when one doubt is removed, innumerable others, like the heads of the hydra, spring up. ¶ For þe matere of it is swiche þat whan oon doute is
determined and kut awey þer wexen oþer doutes wiþ-outen
noumbre. ryȝt as þe heuedes waxen of ydre þe 3836
serpent þat hercules slouȝ. Nor would there be any end of them unless they were restrained by a quick and vigorous effort of the mind. ¶ Ne þere ne were no
manere ne noon ende. but yif þat a wyȝt constreined[e]
þo doutes. by a ryȝt lyuely and a quik fire of þouȝt. þat
is to seyn by vigour and strengþe of witte. The question whereof you want a solution embraces the five following points: 1. Simplicity, or unity of Providence. 2. The order and course of Destiny. ¶ For in 3840
þis matere men weren wont to maken questiouns of þe
simplicite of þe purueaunce of god and of þe ordre of
destine. 3. Sudden chance. 4. Prescience of God, and divine predestination. 5. Free-will. and of sodeyne hap. and of þe knowyng and
predestinacioun deuine and of þe lyberte of fre wille. 3844
þe whiche þing þou þi self aperceiust wel of what weyȝt
þei ben. but for as mochel as þe knowynge of þise
þinges is a manere porcioun to þe medicine to þe. al be it
so þat I haue lytel tyme to don it. I will try to treat of these things:— ȝit naþeles I wole 3848
enforcen me to shewe somwhat of it. ¶ but al þouȝ
þe norissinges of dite of musike deliteþ þe þow most
suffren. and forberen a litel of þilk delite while þat I
weue (contexo) to þe resouns yknyt by ordre ¶ As it likeþ 3852
to þe quod I so do. Resuming her discourse as from a new principle, Philosophy argued as follows:— ¶ þo spak she ryȝt a[s] by an oþer
bygynnyn[ge] and seide þus. The generation of all things, every progression of things liable to change, and everything that moveth, derive their causes, order, and form from the immutability of the divine understanding. ¶ þe engendrynge of alle
þinges quod she and alle þe progressiouns of muuable
nature. and alle þat moeueþ in any manere takiþ hys 3856
causes. hys ordre. and hys formes. of þe stablenesse of þe
deuyne þouȝt Providence directs all things by a variety of means. [and thilke deuyne thowht] þat is yset and
put in þe toure. þat is to seyne in þe heyȝt of þe simplicite
of god. stablisiþ many manere gyses to þinges þat 3860
ben to don.


These means, referred only to the divine intelligence, are called Providence; but when contemplated in relation to the things which receive motion and order from them, are called Destiny. ¶ þe whiche manere whan þat men loken
it in þilke pure clerenesse of þe deuyne intelligence. it
is ycleped purueaunce ¶ but whan þilke manere is referred
135 by men to þinges þat it moeueþ and disponeþ þan 3864
of olde men. it was cleped destine. Reflection on the efficacy of the one and the other will soon cause us to see their differences. ¶ þe whiche
þinges yif þat any wyȝt lokeþ wel in his þouȝt.
þe strengþe of þat oon and of þat oþer he shal lyȝtly mowen
seen þat þise two þinges ben diuers. Providence is the divine intelligence manifested in the disposition of worldly affairs. ¶ For purueaunce 3868
is þilke deuyne resoun þat is establissed in þe souereyne
prince of þinges. þe whiche purueaunce disponiþ alle
þinges. Destiny or Fate is that inherent state or condition of movable things by means whereof Providence retains them in the order in which she has placed them. but destine is þe disposicioun and ordenaunce
cleuynge to moeuable þinges. by þe whiche disposicioun 3872
þe purueaunce knyteþ alle þinges in hire ordres.

Providence embraces all things, although diverse and infinite; but Fate gives motion to every individual thing, and in the place and under the form appropriated to it. ¶ For purueaunce enbraceþ alle þinges to hepe. al þouȝ þat
þei ben dyuerse and al þouȝ þei ben wiþ outen fyn. but
destynie departeþ and ordeyneþ alle þinges singlerly 3876
and diuideþ. in moeuynges. in places. in formes. in
tymes. departiþ [as] þus. So that the explication of this order of things wrapt up in the divine intelligence is Providence; and being unfolded according to time and other circumstances, may be called Fate. so þat þe vnfoldyng of temporel
ordenaunce assembled and ooned in þe lokyng of
þe deuyne þouȝt ¶ Is purueaunce and þilke same 3880
assemblynge. and oonyng diuided and vnfolden by
tymes. lat þat ben called destine. [* fol. 30 b.] Though these things appear to differ, yet one of them depends on the other, for the order of Fate proceeds from the unity of Providence. and al be *it so þat
þise þinges ben dyuerse. ȝitte naþeles hangeþ þat oon
on þat oþer. forwhi þe ordre destinal procediþ of þe 3884
simplicite of purueaunce.

For as a workman, who has formed in his head the plan of a work which he is desirous to finish, executes it afterwards, and produces after a time all the different parts of the model which he has conceived; for ryȝt as a werkman þat
aperceiueþ in hys þouȝt þe forme of þe þing þat he wil
make moeueþ þe effect of þe werke. and lediþ þat he
had[de] loked byforne in hys þouȝt symply and presently 3888
by temporel þouȝt. so God in the plan of his Providence disposes everything to be brought about in a certain order and in a proper time; ¶ Certys ryȝt so god disponiþ
in hys purueaunce singlerly and stably þe þinges
þat ben to done. but he amynistreþ in many maneres
and in dyuerse tymes by destyne. þilke same þinges 3892
þat he haþ disponed þan wheþir þat destine be excercised.


and afterwards, by the ministry of Fate, he accomplishes what he has planned, conformably to that order and that time. eyþer by somme dyuyne spirites seruaunteȝ to
þe deuyne purueaunce. or ellys by somme soule (anima
136 mundi). or ellys by al nature seruynge to god. or ellys 3896
by þe celestial moeuyng of sterres. or ellys by þe vertue
of aungels. or ellys by þe dyuerse subtilite of deueles.
or ellys by any of hem. or ellys by hem alle þe destynal
ordynaunce is ywouen or accomplissed. certys it is open 3900
þing þat þe purueaunce is an vnmoeueable and symple
forme of þinges to done. and þe moeueable bonde and
þe temporel ordynaunce of þinges whiche þat þe deuyne
simplicite of purueaunce haþ ordeyned to done. þat is 3904
destine. So then, however Fate be exercised, it is evident that things subject to Destiny are under the control of Providence, which disposes Destiny. For whiche it is þat alle þinges þat ben put
vndir destine ben certys subgitȝ to purueaunce. to
whiche purueaunce destine it self is subgit and vndir.

But some things under Providence are exempt from the control of Fate; being stably fixed near to the Divinity himself, and beyond the movement of Destiny. ¶ But somme þinges ben put vndir purueaunce þat 3908
sourmounten þe ordinaunce of destine. and þo ben
þilke þat stably ben yficched ney to þe first godhed þei
sourmounten þe ordre of destinal moeuablite. For even, as among several circles revolving round one common centre, that which is innermost approaches nearest to the simplicity of the middle points, and is, as it were, a centre, round which the outward ones revolve; ¶ For
ryȝt as cercles þat tournen aboute a same Centre or 3912
about a poynt. þilke cercle þat is inrest or moost wiþ-ynne
ioineþ to þe symplesse of þe myddel and is as it
were a Centre or a poynt to þat oþer cercles þat tournen
abouten hym. whilst the outermost, revolving in a wider circumference, the further it is from the centre describes a larger space—but yet, if this circle or anything else be joined to the middle point, it is constrained to be immovable. ¶ and þilke þat is outerest compased by 3916
larger envyronnynge is vnfolden by larger spaces in so
mochel as it is forþest fro þe mydel symplicite of þe
poynt. and yif þer be any þing þat knytteþ and felawshippeþ
hym selfe to þilke mydel poynt it is constreyned 3920
in to symplicite. þat is to seyn in to [vn]moeueablete.
and it ceseth to ben shad and to fletin dyuersly. By parity of reason, the further anything is removed from the first intelligence, so much the more is it under the control of Destiny; ¶ Ryȝt
so by semblable resoun. þilke þinge þat departiþ firþest
fro þe first þouȝt of god. it is vnfolden and summittid 3924
to grettere bondes of destine. and the nearer anything approaches to this Intelligence, the centre of all things, the more stable it becomes, and the less dependent upon Destiny. and in so moche is þe
þing more free and lovs fro destyne as it axeþ and
holdeþ hym ner to þilke Centre of þinges. þat is to 137
seyne god.


And if we suppose that the thing in question is joined to the stability of the supreme mind, it then becomes immovable, and is beyond the necessity and power of destiny. ¶ and if þe þinge cleueþ to þe stedfastnesse 3928
of þe þouȝt of god. and be wiþ oute moeuyng certys it
sourmounteþ þe necessite of destyne. As reasoning is to the understanding, as that which is produced to that which exists of itself, as time to eternity, as the circle to the centre, so is the movable order of Fate to the stable simplicity of Providence. þan ryȝt swiche
comparisoun as [it] is of skilynge to vndirstondyng and
of þing þat is engendred to þing þat is. and of tyme to 3932
eternite. and of þe cercle to þe Centre. ryȝt so is þe
ordre of moeueable destine to þe stable symplicite of
purueaunce. Destiny rules nature. ¶ þilke ordinaunce moeueþ þe heuene
and þe sterres and attempreþ þe elymentȝ to gider 3936
amonges hem self. and transformeþ hem by enterchaungable
mutacioun. ¶ and þilke same ordre neweþ
aȝein alle þinges growyng and fallyng a-doune by sembleables
progressiouns of seedes and of sexes. þat is 3940
to sein. male and female. It controls the actions of men by an indissoluble chain of causes, and is, like their origin, immutable. and þis ilke ordre constreyneþ
þe fortunes and þe dedes of men by a bonde of causes
nat able to ben vnbounden (indissolubili). þe whiche
destinal causes whanne þei passen oute fro þe bygynnynges 3944
of þe vnmoeueable purueaunce it mot nedes
be þat þei ne be nat mutable. Thus, then, are all things well conducted, since that invariable order of cause has its origin in the simplicity of the Divine mind, and þus ben þe þinges ful
wel ygouerned. [* fol. 31.] yif þat þe symplicite dwellynge *in þe
deuyne þouȝt sheweþ furþe þe ordre of causes. and by its inherent immutability exercises a restraint upon mutable things, and preserves them from irregularity. vnable to 3948
be I-bowed. and þis ordre constreyneþ by hys propre
stablete þe moeueable þinges. or ellys þei sholde fleten
folily To those who understand not this order, things appear confused—nevertheless, the proper condition of all things directs and inclines it to their true good. for whiche it is þat alle þinges semen to be confus
and trouble to vs men. for we ne mowe nat considere 3952
þilke ordinaunce. ¶ Naþeles þe propre manere of
euery þing dressynge hem to goode disponit hem alle.
For there is nothing done for the sake of evil, not even by the wicked, who, in seeking for felicity, are led astray by crooked error. for þere nis no þinge don for cause of yuel. ne þilke
þing þat is don by wicked[e] folk nis nat don for yuel 3956
þe whiche shrewes as I haue shewed [ful] plentiuously
138 seken goode. but wicked errour mystourniþ hem.


But the order proceeding from the centre of supreme goodness does not mislead any. ¶ Ne þe ordre comynge fro þe poynt of souereyne goode ne
declineþ nat fro hys bygynnynge. But you may say, what greater confusion can there be than that both prosperous and adverse things should at times happen to good men, and that evil men should at one time enjoy their desires and at another be tormented by hateful things. but þou mayst sein 3960
what vnreste may ben a wors confusioun þan þat goode
men han somme tyme aduersite. and somtyme prosperite.
¶ and shrewes also han now þinges þat þei
desiren. and now þinges þat þei haten ¶ wheþer men 3964
lyuen now in swiche hoolnesse of þouȝt. as who seiþ.

Are men wise enough to discover, whether those whom they believe to be virtuous or wicked, are so in reality? ben men now so wise. þat swiche folk as þei demen to
ben goode folk or shrewes þat it mot nedes ben þat folk
ben swiche as þei wenen. Opinions differ as to this matter. Some who are deemed worthy of reward by one person, are deemed unworthy by another. but in þis manere þe domes 3968
of men discorden. þat þilke men þat somme folk demen
worþi of mede. oþer folk demen hem worþi of tourment.
But, suppose it were possible for one to distinguish with certainty between the good and the bad? but lat vs graunt[e] I pose þat som man may wel demen
or knowen þe goode folk and þe badde. Then he must have as accurate a knowledge of the mind as one has of the body. May he þan 3972
knowen and seen þilke inrest attemperaunce of corages.
as it haþ ben wont to be said of bodyes. as who saiþ
may a man speken and determine of attemperaunce in
corages. as men were wont to demen or speken of complexiouns 3976
and attemperaunces of bodies (q’ non).
ne it [ne] is nat an vnlyke miracle to hem þat ne knowen
it nat. It is miraculous to him who knows it not, why sweet things are agreeable to some bodies, and bitter to others; why some sick persons are relieved by lenitives and others by sharper remedies. ¶ As who seiþ. but is lyke a merueil or a
miracle to hem þat ne knowen it nat. whi þat swete 3980
þinges [ben] couenable to some bodies þat ben hool and
to some bodies bittre þinges ben couenable. and also
whi þat some seke folk ben holpen with lyȝt medicines
[and some folk ben holpen with sharppe medicynes] It is no marvel to the leech, who knows the causes of disease, and their cures. but 3984
naþeles þe leche þat knoweþ þe manere and þe attemperaunce
of heele and of maladie ne merueileþ of it no
þing. What constitutes the health of the mind, but goodness? And what are its maladies, but vice? but what oþer þing semeþ hele of corages but
bounte and prowesse. and what oþer þing semeþ maladie 3988
of corages but vices. Who is the preserver of good, or the driver away of evil, but God, the physician of souls, who knows what is necessary for men, and bestows it upon them? who is ellys kepere of good or
139 dryuere awey of yuel but god gouernour and leecher of
þouȝtes. þe whiche god whan he haþ by-holden from þe
heye toure of hys purueaunce he knoweþ what is 3992
couenable to euery wyȝt. and leneþ hem þat he wot
[þat] is couenable to hem. From this source springs that great marvel—the order of destiny—wrought by the wisdom of God, and marveled at by ignorant men. Loo here of comeþ and
here of is don þis noble miracle of þe ordre destinal.


whan god þat alle knoweþ doþ swiche þing. of whiche 3996
þing [þat] vnknowyng folk ben astoned But, now let us notice a few things concerning the depth of the Divine knowledge which human reason may comprehend. but forto constreine
as who seiþ ¶ But forto comprehende and telle
a fewe þinges of þe deuyne depnesse þe whiche þat mans
resoun may vnderstonde. The man you deem just, may appear otherwise to the omniscient eye of Providence. ¶ þilk man þat þou wenest 4000
to ben ryȝt Iuste and ryȝt kepyng of equite. þe contrarie
of þat semeþ to þe deuyne purueaunce þat al woot.
¶ And lucan my familier telleþ þat þe victories cause
liked[e] to þe goddes and causes ouercomen liked[e] to 4004
catoun. When you see apparent irregularities—unexpected and unwished for—deem them to be rightly done. þan what so euer þou mayst seen þat is don in
þis [world] vnhoped or vnwened. certys it is þe ryȝt[e]
ordre of þinges. but as to þi wicked[e] oppinioun it is a
confusioun. Let us suppose a man so well behaved, as to be approved of God and man—but not endowed with firmness of mind, so that the reverses of fortune will cause him to forgo his probity, since with it he cannot retain his prosperity. but I suppose þat som man be so wel yþewed. 4008
þat þe deuyne Iugement and þe Iugement of mankynde
accorden hem to gidre of hym. but he is so vnstedfast
of corage [þat] yif any aduersite come to hym he wolde
for-leten perauenture to continue innocence by þe 4012
whiche he ne may nat wiþholden fortune. A wise Providence, knowing that adversity might destroy this man’s integrity, averts from him that adversity which he is not able to sustain. ¶ þan þe
wise dispensacioun of god spareþ hym þe whiche
[* fol. 31 b.] manere aduersite *myȝt[e] enpeyren. ¶ For þat god
wil nat suffren hym to trauaile. to whom þat trauayl 4016
nis nat couenable. Another man is thoroughly virtuous, and approaches to the purity of the deity—him Providence deems it an injustice to oppress by adversity, and therefore exempts him even from bodily disease. ¶ An oþer man is perfit in alle
uertues. and is an holy man and neye to god so þat þe
purueaunce of god wolde demen þat it were a felony
þat he were touched wiþ any aduersites. so þat he ne 4020
140 wil nat suffre þat swiche a man be moeued wiþ any
manere maladie. ¶ But so as seide a philosophre [the
moore excellent by me]. þe aduersites comen nat (he
seide in grec;) þere þat uertues han edified þe bodie 4024
of þe holy man. Providence often gives the direction of public affairs to good men, in order to curb and restrain the malice of the wicked. and ofte tyme it bitideþ þat þe
somme of þinges þat ben to don is taken to good folk
to gouerne. for þat þe malice habundaunt of shrewes
sholde ben abatid. To some is given a mixture of good and evil, according to what is most suitable to the dispositions of their minds. and god ȝeueþ and departiþ to oþer 4028
folk prosp[er]ites and aduersites ymedeled to hepe aftir
þe qualite of hire corages and remordiþ som folk by
aduersites. Upon some are laid moderate afflictions, lest they wax proud by too long a course of prosperity. for þei ne sholden nat wexen proude by
longe welefulnesse. Others suffer great adversities that their virtues may be exercised, and strengthened by the practice of patience. and oþer folk he suffreþ to ben 4032
trauayled wiþ harde þinges. ¶ For þat þei sholden conferme
þe vertues of corage by þe vsage and exercitacioun
of pacience. Some fear to be afflicted with what they are able to endure. Others despise what they are unable to bear; and God punishes them with calamities, to make them sensible of their presumption. and oþer folke dreden more þen þei auȝten
þe wiche þei myȝt[en] wel beren. and þilke folk god 4036
lediþ in to experience of hem self by aspre and sorweful
þinges. Many have purchased a great name by a glorious death. ¶ And many oþer folk han bouȝt honorable
renoune of þis worlde by þe pris of glorious deeþ.
Others by their unshaken fortitude, have shown that virtue cannot be overcome by adversity. and som men þat ne mowen nat ben ouer-comen by 4040
tourment han ȝeuen ensample to oþer folk þat vertue ne
may nat be ouer-comen by aduersites.

The sidenote “Others despise what they are unable to bear” does not correspond to anything in the text. Skeat’s edition includes the phrase “and somme dispyse that they mowe nat beren” (Book IV, Prose 6: Ita Est Inquam).


These things are done justly, and in order, and are for the good of those to whom they happen. ¶ and of alle
þise þinges þer nis no doute þat þei ne ben don ryȝtfully
and ordeinly to þe profit of hem to whom we 4044
seen þise þinges bitide. From the same causes it happens, that sometimes adversity and sometimes prosperity falls to the lot of the wicked. ¶ For certys þat aduersite
comeþ some tyme to shrewes. and some tyme þat þei
desiren it comeþ of þise forseide causes None are surprised to see bad men afflicted—they get what they deserve. and of sorweful
þinges þat bytyden to shrewes. Certys no man ne 4048
wondreþ. For alle men wenen þat þei han wel deserued it.
Their punishment, too, may cause amendment, or deter others from like vices. and þei ben of wicked merite of whiche
141 shrewes þe tourment som tyme agasteþ oþer to done
folies. and som tyme it amendeþ hem þat suffren þe 4052
tourmentis. When the wicked enjoy felicity—the good should learn how little these external advantages are to be prized, which may fall to the lot of the most worthless. ¶ And þe prosperite þat is ȝeuen to
shrewes sheweþ a grete argument to good[e] folk what
þing þei sholde demen of þilk wilfulnesse þe whiche
prosperite men seen ofte serue to shrewes. Another reason for dispensing worldly bliss to the wicked is, that indigence would prompt naturally violent and rapacious minds to commit the greatest enormities. in þe whiche 4056
þing I trowe þat god dispensiþ. for perauenture þe nature
of som man is so ouerþrowyng to yuel and so vncouenable
þat þe nedy pouerte of hys house-hold myȝt[e]
raþer egren hym to done felonies. Their disease God cures by the medicine of money. and to þe maladie 4060
of hym god puttiþ remedie to ȝiuen hym rychesse. Some men will cease to do wrong for fear, lest their wealth be lost through their crimes. and
som oþer man byholdiþ hys conscience defouled wiþ
synnes and makiþ comparisoun of his fortune and of
hym self ¶ and drediþ perauenture þat hys blisfulnesse 4064
of whiche þe vsage is ioyful to hym þat þe lesynge of
þilke blisfulnesse ne be nat sorweful to hym. and þerfore
he wol chaunge hys maneres. and for he drediþ
to lese hys fortune. he forletiþ hys wickednesse. Upon others unmerited happiness is conferred, which at last precipitates them into deserved destruction. to 4068
oþer folk is welefulnesse yȝeuen vnworþily þe whiche
ouerþroweþ hem in to destruccioun þat þei han deserued.
To some there is given the power of chastisement, in order both to exercise the virtues of the good and to punish the wicked. and to som oþer folk is ȝeuen power to
punissen. for þat it shal be cause of continuacioun and 4072
exercisinge to good[e] folk. and cause of tourment to
shrewes. For as there is no alliance between good and bad, so neither can the vicious agree together. ¶ For so as þer nis none alyaunce bytwixe
good[e] folke and shrewes. ne shrewes ne mowen nat
accorden amonges hem self And how should they? Their vices make them at war with themselves, rending and tearing their consciences, and there is scarce anything they do, but what afterwards they disapprove of. and whi nat. for shrewes 4076
discorden of hem self by her vices þe whiche vices al to
renden her consciences. and don oft[e] tyme þinges þe
whiche þinges whan þei han don hem. þei demen þat
þo þinges ne sholde nat han ben don. Hence arises a signal miracle brought about by Providence—that evil men have often made wicked men good. for whiche þinge 4080
þilke souereyne purueaunce haþ maked oft[e] tyme
142 [faire] miracle so þat shrewes han maked oftyme
shrewes to ben good[e] men. For these latter having suffered injuries from the former, have become virtuous, in order that they might not resemble those whom they so detested. for whan þat som shrewes
[* fol. 32.] *seen þat þei suffren wrongfully felonies of oþer shrewes 4084
þei wexen eschaufed in to hat[e] of hem þat anoien
hem. and retournen to þe fruit of uertue. when þei
studien to ben vnlyke to hem þat þei han hated.


It is only the Divine power that can turn evil to good, overruling it for his own purposes. ¶ Certys þis only is þe deuyne myȝt to þe whiche myȝt 4088
yueles ben þan good. whan it vseþ þo yueles couenably
and draweþ out þe effect of any good. as who seiþ þat
yuel is good oonly by þe myȝt of god. for þe myȝt of
god ordeyneþ þilk yuel to good. For oon ordre enbrasiþ 4092
alle þinges. so þat what wyȝt [þat] departiþ fro
þe resoun of þe ordre whiche þat is assigned to hym.
algates ȝit he slideþ in to an oþer ordre. Nothing occurs by the caprice of chance in the realms of Divine Providence. so þat noþing
nis leueful to folye in þe realme of þe deuyne purueaunce. 4096
as who seiþ no þing nis wiþouten ordinaunce in
þe realme of þe deuyne purueaunce. Since God is the governor of all things, it is not lawful to man to attempt to comprehend the whole of the Divine economy, or to explain it in words. ¶ Syn þat þe ryȝt
strong[e] god gouerniþ alle þinges in þis worlde for it
nis nat leueful to no man to comprehenden by witte ne 4100
vnfolden by worde alle þe subtil ordinaunces and disposiciouns
of þe deuyne entent. Let it suffice to know that God orders all things for the best. for oonly it auȝt[e]
suffice to han loked þat god hym self makere of alle
natures ordeyniþ and dressiþ alle þinges to good. And while he retains things created after his own likeness conformably to his goodness, he banishes evil by the cause of destiny out of his empire. while 4104
þat he hastiþ to wiþhalden þe þinges þat he haþ maked
in to hys semblaunce. þat is to seyn forto wiþholden
þinges in to good. for he hym self is good he chaseþ
oute al yuel of þe boundes of hys communalite by þe 4108
ordre of necessite destinable. So that those evils which you seem to see are only imaginary. For whiche it folweþ þat
yif þou loke þe purueaunce ordeynynge þe þinges þat
men wenen ben haboundaunt in erþes. þou ne shalt not
seen in no place no þing of yuel. But you are exhausted and weary with the prolixity of my reasoning, and look for relief from the harmony of my verse. ¶ but I se now þat 4112
143 þou art charged wiþ þe weyȝte of þe questiou[n] and
wery wiþ lengþe of my resoun. and þat þou abidest som
swetnesse of songe. Take, then, this draught, with which when refreshed, you may more strongly proceed to higher matters. tak þan þis drauȝt and whan þou
art wel refresshed and refet þou shalt ben more stedfast 4116
to stye in to heyere questiouns.

3823 byhyȝt—by-hyhte

3824 hidde—hyd

3826 preye—preey

3827 do—don

3828 gretely—gretly

3829 [what]—from C.

3832 þere auȝt—ther awht

3834 swiche—swych

3835 wiþouten noumbre—with-owte nowmbyr

3836 waxen—wexen

3837 þere—ther

3838 constreined[e]—constreynede

3839 lyuely—lyfly

3840 witte—wit

3843 hap—happe

3845 weyȝt—wyht

3848 wole—wol

3850 þow—MS. now, C. þou
most suffren—MS. moste to souereyne; C. most suffren

3851 þilk—thilke

3853 þo—so
spak—MS. spake, C. spak

3856 alle—al

3858 [and——thowht]—from C.
yset—MS. ysette, C. yset

3859 toure—towr

3861 don—done

3862 clerenesse—klennesse

3872 cleuynge—clyuynge

3875 wiþ outen fyn—Infynyte

3876 singlerly—syngulerly

3877 in (3)—MS. and, C. in

3878 departiþ—omitted
[as]—from C.
so þat—lat

3884 on—of

3886 wil—wol

3888 had[de]—hadde

3889 þouȝt—ordinaunce

3890 singlerly—syngulerly

3893 haþ—MS. haþe

3894 eyþer—owther
seruaunteȝ—MS. seruaunceȝ

3895 somme—som

3896 al—alle

3897 moeuyng—moeuynges

3900 ywouen—MS. ywonnen, C. ywouen

3902 bonde—bond

3904 haþ—MS. haþe

3905 whiche—which

3912 as—as of

3913 about—a-bowte

3917 larger (1)—a large

3918 mochel—moche

3920 selfe—self

3921 [vn]moeueablete—vnmoeuablete

3922 ceseth—MS. fleþe, C. cesith

3923 þinge—thing

3924 of—MS. to, C. of

3926 lovs—laus

3927 ner—nere

3928 seyne—seyn
þinge cleueþ—thing clyueth

3930 swiche—swych

3931 [it]—from C.

3932 to (2)—MS. of, C. to

3937 enterchaungable—MS. enterchaungyngable, C. entrechaungeable

3939 a-doune—a-down

3942 bonde—bond

3943 ben vnbounden—be vnbownde

3944 oute—owt

3948 furþe—forth

3949 I-bowed—MS. vnbounden, C. I-bowed

3950 sholde—sholden

3951 whiche—which

3952 mowe—mowen

3956 wicked[e]—wykkede

3957 [ful]—from C.

3958-9 goode—good

3960 declineþ—MS. enclineþ, C. declynyth

3961 wors—worse

3962 somme tyme—somtyme

3965 swiche—swych

3967 goode—good

3971 graunt[e]—graunte

3973 inrest—Inneryste

3974 haþ—MS. haþe
said—MS. saide, C. seyd

3975 determine—determinen

3978 [ne]—from C.

3979 lyke—lik

3981 [ben]—from C.

3984 [and——medicynes]—from C.

3991 haþ—MS. haþe

3993 wot—MS. wote, C. wot

3994 [þat]—from C.

3995 don—MS. done, C. don
miracle—MS. mirache, C. myracle
ordre—MS. ordre of

3996 alle—al
doþ—MS. doþe

3997 [þat]—from C.

3999 mans—mannes

4000 þilk—thilke

4004 liked[e] (both)—lykede

4005 is don—MS. is to don

4006  [world]—from C.

4007 wicked[e]—wykkede

4010 vnstedfast—vnstydefast

4011 [þat]—from C.

4015 manere—man

4016 wil—wol

4018 neye—negh

4021 wil—wol

4022 manere—bodyly

4022-3 [the——me]—from C.

4023 þe aduersites——nat—omitted

4024 þere—omitted

4026 don—done
to (2)—MS. so
to good——gouerne—to gouerne to goode folk

4028 oþer—oothre

4030 som—some

4031 sholden—sholde

4033 conferme—confermen

4034 corage—corages

4036 myȝt[en]—myhten

4037 hem—hym

4038 oþer—oothre

4039 worlde—world
of (2)—of the

4041 oþer—othre

4046 comeþ—comth
some (both)—som
þat þei—MS. þei þat, C. þat that they

4047 comeþ—comth

4050 wicked—wykkede
merite—MS. uerite, C. meryte

4051 oþer—oothre

4052 folies—felonies

4054 grete—gret

4055 sholde—sholden

4056 serue—seruen

4057 dispensiþ—MS. dispisiþ, C. dispensith

4059 myȝt[e]—myhte

4060 done—don

4061 rychesse—Rychesses

4065 whiche—which

4068 MS. wrongly inserts welefulnesse after wickednesse

4069-71 oþer—oothre

4073 good[e]—goode

4074 none—non

4075 good[e]—goode

4076 accorden—acordy

4078 don—MS. done, C. don

4079 don—MS. done, C. don

4080 sholde—sholden
whiche þinge—which thing

4081 haþ—MS. haþe

4082 [faire]—from C.

4083 good[e]—goode

4085 hat[e]—hate

4087 studien—omitted

4089-90 good—goode

4092 þilk—thilke

4093 [þat]—from C.

4094 þe (2)—thilke

4096 realme—Reame

4099 strong[e]—stronge

4100 no—omitted

4101 worde alle—word al

4102 auȝt[e]—owhte

4104 good while—goode wyl

4105 haþ—MS. haþe

4108 of (1)—fro

4109 whiche—which

4111 ben haboundaunt—ben outraious / or habowndant

4115 tak—MS. take, C. tak

4116 refet—refect
shalt ben—shal be


[The syxte Metur.]


Yif þou wolt If thou wouldst explore the laws of the high Thunderer, behold the lofty heavens, where, bound by fixed laws, the stars keep their ancient peace. demen in þi pure þouȝt þe ryȝtes or þe
lawes of þe heye þund[ere]re. þat is to seyne of god.
loke þou and bihold þe heyȝtes of souereyne heuene. 4120
¶ þere kepen þe sterres by ryȝtful alliaunce of þinges
hir olde pees. There the rosy Sun does not invade the moon’s colder sphere. Nor doth the Bear stray from his appointed bounds, to quench his light in the western main. þe sonne ymoeued by hys rody fire. ne
destourbiþ nat þe colde cercle of þe moone. ¶ Ne þe
sterre yclepid þe bere. þat encliniþ hys rauyssynge 4124
courses abouten þe souereyne heyȝt of þe worlde. ne þe
same sterre vrsa nis neuer mo wasshen in þe depe
westerne see. ne coueitiþ nat to dyȝen hys flaumbes in
þe see of [the] occian. al þouȝ he see oþer sterres yplounged 4128
in to þe see. Vesper always makes its wonted appearance at eve. Lucifer ushers in the morn. ¶ And hesperus þe sterre
bodiþ and telliþ alwey þe late nyȝtes. And lucifer þe
sterre bryngeþ aȝeyne þe clere day. So mutual love moves all things, and from the starry region banishes all strife. ¶ And þus makiþ
loue enterchaungeable þe perdurable courses. and þus 4132
is discordable bataile yput oute of þe contre of þe sterres.
This concord in equal measures tempers the elements, so that the moist atoms war no more with the dry, nor heat with cold contends; but the aspiring flame soars aloft, while down the heavy earth descends. þis accordaunce attempreþ by euene-lyke manere[s] þe
elementes. þat þe moyste þinges striuen nat wiþ þe
drye þinges. but ȝiuen place by stoundes. and þat þe 4136
colde þinges ioynen hem by feiþ to þe hote þinges. and
þat þe lyȝt[e] fyre arist in to heyȝte. and þe heuy erþes
aualen by her weyȝtes. By these same causes the flowing year yields sweet smells in the warm spring-tide; the hot summer ripens the corn. ¶ by þise same cause þe floury
yere ȝeldeþ swote smellys in þe fyrste somer sesoun 4140
warmynge. and þe hote somer dryeþ þe cornes. Autumn comes crowned with plenty, and winter wets the earth with showers. and
144 autumpne comeþ aȝeyne heuy of apples. and þe fletyng
reyne bydeweþ þe wynter. þis attemperaunce noryssiþ
and brynggeþ furþe al þinge þat brediþ lyfe in þis 4144
worlde. These changes give life and growth to all that breathe; and at last by death efface whatever has had birth. ¶ and þilk same attemperaunce rauyssyng hideþ
[* fol. 32 b.] and bynymeþ and drencheþ vndir þe last[e] deþe alle
*þinges yborn. Meanwhile the world’s Creator, the Source of all, the Lawgiver, the wise Judge, sits above equitably directing all things. ¶ Amonges þise þinges sitteþ þe heye
makere kyng and lorde. welle and bygynnynge. lawe 4148
and wise Iuge. to don equite and gouerniþ and encliniþ
þe bridles of þinges. Those things which have been set in motion by him are also checked and forced to move in an endless round, lest they go from their source, and become chaotic. and þo þinges þat he stireþ to don
by moeuynge he wiþdraweþ and arestiþ and affermiþ þe
moeueable or wandryng þinges. ¶ For ȝif þat he ne 4152
clepiþ nat aȝein þe ryȝt goynge of þinges. and ȝif þat he
ne constreyned[e] hem nat eftesones in to roundenesse
enclined þe þinges þat ben now continued by stable
ordinaunce. þei sholde deperten from hir welle. þat is 4156
to sein from hir bygynnynge and failen. þat is to sein
tournen in to nauȝt. This love is common to all things, and all things tend to good; so, urged by this, they all revert to that First Cause that gave them being. ¶ þis is þe commune loue of alle
þinges. and alle þinges axen to be holden by þe fyn of
good. For ellys ne myȝten þei nat lasten yif þei ne 4160
come nat eftesones aȝeine by loue retourned to þe cause
þat haþ ȝeuen hem beynge. þat is to seyn to god.

4118 þou wolt—þou wys wilt

4119 þund[ere]re—thonderere

4120 bihold—MS. biholde, C. byhold

4122 rody—MS. redy, C. rody

4123 cercle—clerke

4125 courses—cours

4127 westerne—westrene

4128 [the]—from C.
he see—MS. it sewe, C. he see

4131 aȝeyne—ayein

4133 oute—owt

4134 euene-lyke manere[s]—euenelyk maneres

4135 striuen—stryuynge

4136 but—omitted

4138 lyȝt[e] fyre arist—lyhte fyr arysith

4140 yere—ȝer

4142 comeþ aȝeyne—comth ayein

4143 reyne—reyn

4144 furþe al þinge—forth alle thing
brediþ lyfe—berith lyf

4145 worlde—world

4146 last[e] deþe—laste deth

4147 yborn—MS. yborne, C. I-born

4148 lorde—lord

4149 wise—wys

4150 stireþ—sterith

4151 þe—omitted

4153 clepiþ—klepede

4154 constreyned[e]—constreynede

4156 sholde—sholden

4158 tournen—torne

4159 be—ben

4161 eftesones aȝeine—eft sones ayein

4162 haþ—MS. haþe


[The seuende prose.]


Sest þou nat P. Do you see what follows from our arguments? þan what þing folweþ alle þe þinges þat I
haue seid. B. What is it? what þing quod I. P. That all fortune is good. ¶ Certys quod she 4164
outerly þat al fortune is good. B. How can that be? and how may þat be
quod .I. P. Since all fortune, whether prosperous or adverse, is for the reward of the good or the punishment of the bad, all fortune is good which is either just or useful. ¶ Now vndirstand quod she so as [alle
fortune wheyther so it be Ioyeful fortune / or aspre]
fortune is ȝiuen eiþer by cause of gerdonynge or ellys of 4168
exercisynge of goode folk or ellys by cause to punissen.
145 or ellys to chastysen shrewes. ¶ þan is alle fortune
good. þe whiche fortune is certeyne þat it be eiþer ryȝtful
or profitable. But let us put this opinion among those positions which thou saidst were not commonly believed by the people. ¶ For soþe þis is a ful verray resoun 4172
quod I. and yif I considere þe purueaunce and þe
destine þat þou tauȝtest me a litel here byforne þis sentence
is susteyned by stedfast resouns. but yif it like
vnto þe lat vs noumbre hem amonges þilk[e] þinges of 4176
whiche þou seidest a litel here byforne þat þei ne were
nat able to ben ywened to þe poeple. P. Why so? ¶ whi so quod she.
B. Because it is a common expression that the fortune of such a one is bad. for þat þe comune worde of men mysusiþ quod I.
þis manere speche of fortune. and sein ofte tymes [þat] 4180
þe fortune of som wyȝt is wicked.


P. Do you wish me to conform for awhile to the language of the people, lest we should seem to depart too much from the popular mode of expression? wilt þou þan quod
she þat I proche a litel to þe wordes of þe poeple so it
seme nat to hem þat I be ouer moche departid as fro þe
vsage of man kynde. B. As you please. as þou wolt quod I. P. Is everything profitable that is good? ¶ Demest 4184
þou nat quod she þat al þing þat profitiþ is good. B. Yes, certainly. ȝis
quod I. P. That which exercises or corrects is profitable? certis þilk þing þat exercisiþ or corigiþ profitiþ.
B. It is. I confesse it wel quod I. P. Therefore it is good? þan is it good quod she.
B. Yes. whi nat quod I. P. This is the fortune of the virtuous who combat with adversity, or of those who, relinquishing vice, pursue the path of virtue? but þis is þe fortune [quod she] of 4188
hem þat eiþer ben put in vertue and batailen aȝeins
aspre þinges. or ellys of hem þat eschewen and declinen
fro vices and taken þe weye of vertue. B. It is. ¶ þis ne may
nat I denye quod I P. The vulgar regard that prosperity which is bestowed as a reward on the good to be beneficial, and they believe those calamities by which the wicked are punished as the most miserable things that can be imagined. ¶ But what seist þou of þe myrye 4192
fortune þat is ȝeuen to good folk in gerdoun deuiniþ
ouȝt þe poeples þat it is wicked. nay forsoþe quod I. but
þei demen as it soþe is þat it is ryȝt good. ¶ And what
seist þou of þat oþer fortune quod she. þat al þouȝ it 4196
be aspre and restreiniþ þe shrewes by ryȝtful tourment.
weniþ ouȝt þe poeple þat it be good. nay quod I. ¶ But
þe poeple demiþ þat it be most wrecched of alle þinges
þat may ben þouȝt. But in following the popular opinion, let us beware of being involved in some new and incredible conse­quence. war now and loke wel quod she 4200
lest þat we in folwyng þe opynioun of poeple haue confessed
146 and concluded þing þat is vnable to be wened to
þe poeple. B. What is that? what is þat quod I P. We have decided that the fortune of the virtuous or of those growing up in virtue must needs be good—but that the fortune of the wicked must be most wretched. ¶ Certys quod she it
folweþ or comeþ of þinges þat ben graunted þat alle 4204
fortune what so euer it be. of hem þat eyþer ben in
possessioun of vertue. [or in the encres of vertu] or ellys
in þe purchasynge of vertue. þat þilke fortune is good.
¶ And þat alle fortune is ryȝt wicked to hem þat 4208
dwellen in shrewednesse. as who seiþ. and þus weneþ
nat þe poeple.


B. That’s true, though none dare acknowledge it. ¶ þat is soþe quod I. ¶ Al be it so
þat noman dar confessen it ne byknowen it. P. Why so? The wise man ought not to be cast down, when he has to wage war with Fortune, no more than the valiant man ought to be dismayed on hearing the noise of the battle. ¶ whi so
quod she. For ryȝt as no strong man ne semeþ nat to 4212
[* fol. 33.] abassen or disdaignen as *ofte tyme as he hereþ þe noise
of þe bataile. ne also it ne semeþ nat to þe wyse man to
beren it greuously as oft[e] as he is lad in to þe strif of
fortune. The dangers of war enable the one to acquire more glory, and the difficulties of the other aid him to confirm and improve his wisdom. for boþe to þat on man and eke to þat oþer 4216
þilke difficulte is þe matere to þat oon man of encrese
of his glorious renoun. and to þat oþer man to conferme
hys sapience. þat is to seine þe asprenesse of hys estat.

Thus virtue, in its literal acceptation, is a power that, relying on its own strength, overcomes all obstacles. ¶ For þerfore is it called uertue. for þat it susteniþ and 4220
enforceþ by hys strengþes þat it nis nat ouer-comen by
aduersites. You, who have made so much progress in virtue, are not to be carried away by delights and bodily lusts. ¶ Ne certys þou þat art put in þe encrese
or in þe heyȝt of uertue ne hast nat comen to fleten wiþ
delices and forto welken in bodyly lust. You must engage in a fierce conflict with every fortune—with adversity, lest it dismay you—with prosperity, lest it corrupt you. ¶ þou sowest 4224
or plauntest a ful egre bataile in þi corage aȝeins euery
fortune. for þat þe sorweful fortune ne confounde þe nat.
ne þat þe myrye fortune ne corrumpe þe nat. Seize the golden mean with all your strength. All below or above this line is a contemptible and a thankless felicity. ¶ Occupy
þe mene by stedfast strengþes. for al þat euer is vndir 4228
þe mene. or ellys al þat ouer-passeþ þe mene despiseþ
welefulnesses. ¶ As who seiþ. it is vicious and ne haþ
no mede of hys trauaile. The choice of fortune lies in your own hands, but remember that even adverse fortune, unless it exercises the virtues of the good or chastises the wicked, is a punishment. ¶ For it is set in ȝoure hand.
as who seiþ it lieþ in ȝoure power what fortune ȝow is 4232
leuest. þat is to seyne good or yuel. ¶ For alle fortune
147 þat semeþ sharpe or aspre yif it ne exercise nat þe good
folk. ne chastisiþ þe wicked folk. it punisseþ.

4163 þing—thinge

4165 outerly—al owtrely

4166-7 [alle——aspre]—from C.

4169 goode—good

4174 here byforne—her by-forn

4175 stedfast—stydefast

4176 noumbre—nowmbren

4177 here byforne—her by-forn

4178 ywened—weened

4179 worde—word

4180 [þat]—from C.

4181 wicked—wykkede

4182 proche—aproche

4185 al—alle

4186 þilk—thilke

4188 [quod she]—from C.

4191 weye—wey

4193 deuiniþ—demyth

4194 ouȝt—awht

4195 soþe—soth

4198 ouȝt—awht

4199 be—is

4204 comeþ—comth

4206 [or——vertu] from C.

4208 wicked—wykkede

4210 soþe—soth

4211 confessen—confesse

4212 no strong—the stronge

4213 abassen—abayssen

4215 oft[e]—ofte

4219 seine—seyn

4223 heyȝt—heyhte

4224 welken—wellen

4226 confounde—MS. confounded, C. confownde

4227 Occupy—Ocupye

4228 stedfast—stydefast

4230 haþ—MS. haþe

4231 set—MS. sette, C. set

4232 lieþ—lith

4233 seyne—seyn

4234 sharpe—sharp


[The seuende Metur.]


ÞE wrekere Atrides carried on a ten years’ war to punish the licentious Paris. attrides ¶ þat is to seyne agamenon þat 4236
wrouȝt[e] and continued[e] þe batailes by ten ȝere
recouered[e] and purged[e] in wrekyng by þe destruccioun
of troie þe loste chambres of mariage of hys broþer
þis is to seyn þat [he] agamenon wan aȝein Eleine þat 4240
was Menelaus wif his broþer. With blood he purchased propitious gales for the Grecian fleet, by casting off all fatherly pity, and sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia to the vengeance of Diana. In þe mene while þat
þilke agamenon desired[e] to ȝeuen sailes to þe grekysshe
nauye and bouȝt[e] aȝein þe wyndes by blode. he
vncloþed[e] hym of pite as fader. and þe sory prest 4244
ȝiueþ in sacrifiynge þe wreched kuyttyng of þrote of þe
douȝter. ¶ þat is to sein þat agamenon lete kuytten þe
þrote of hys douȝter by þe prest. to maken alliaunce wiþ
hys goddes. and for to haue wynde wiþ whiche he 4248
myȝt[e] wende to troie. Ulysses bewailed his lost mates, devoured by Polyphemus, but, having deprived the Cyclop of his sight, he rejoiced to hear the monster’s roar. ¶ Itakus þat is to sein vlixies
bywept[e] hys felawes ylorn þe whiche felawes þe
fiers[e] pholifemus ligginge in his grete Caue had[de]
freten and dreint in hys empty wombe. but naþeles 4252
polifemus wood for his blinde visage ȝeld to vlixies ioye
by hys sorowful teres. þis is to seyn þat vlixes smot
oute þe eye of poliphemus þat stod in hys forhede.


for whiche vlixes hadde ioie whan he saw poliphemus 4256
wepyng and blynde. Hercules is renowned for his many labours, so successfully overcome. ¶ Hercules is celebrable for hys
hard[e] trauaile He overthrew the proud Centaurs; he dawntede þe proude Centauris half
hors half man. he slew the Nemean lion and wore his skin as a trophy of his victory; and he rafte þe despoylynge fro þe
148 cruel lyoun þat is to seyne he slouȝ þe lyoun and 4260
rafte hym hys skyn. he smote the Harpies with his arrows; he smot þe brids þat hyȝten
arpijs [in þe palude of lyrne] wiþ certeyne arwes.
he caried off the golden apples of the Hesperides, and killed the watchful dragon; he rauyssed[e] applis fro þe wakyng dragoun. and
hys hand was þe more heuy for þe golde[ne] 4264
metal. he bound Cerberus with a threefold chain; He drouȝ Cerberus þe hound of helle by
hys treble cheyne. he gave the body of proud Diomede as food for the tyrant’s horses; he ouer-comer as it is seid haþ
put an vnmeke lorde fodre to hys cruel hors ¶ þis is
to sein. þat hercules slouȝ diomedes and made his hors 4268
to etyn hym. he slew the serpent Hydra; and he hercules slouȝ Idra þe serpent and
brend[e] þe venym. he caused Achelous to hide his blushing head within his banks; and achelaus þe flode defouled[e] in
his forhede dreint[e] his shamefast visage in his
strondes. þis is to sein þat achelaus couþe transfigure 4272
hym self in to dyuerse lykenesse. and as he fauȝt wiþ
orcules at þe laste he turnid[e] hym in to a bole and
hercules brak of oon of hys hornes. and achelaus for
shame hidde hym in hys ryuer. he left Antæus dead upon the Lybian shore; ¶ And [he] hercules 4276
[* fol. 33 b.] *cast[e] adoun Antheus þe geaunt in þe strondes of
libye. he appeased Evander’s wrath by killing Cacus; and kacus apaised[e] þe wraþþes of euander. þis
is to sein þat hercules slouȝ þe Monstre kacus and
apaised[e] wiþ þat deeþ þe wraþþe of euander. he slew the Erymanthean boar; ¶ And 4280
þe bristled[e] boor marked[e] wiþ scomes þe sholdres of
hercules. þe whiche sholdres þe heye cercle of heuene
sholde þreste. and bore the weight of Atlas upon his shoulders. and þe laste of his labours was þat he
sustened[e] þe heuene vpon his nekke vnbowed. These labours justly raised him to the rank of a god. and he 4284
deserued[e] eftsones þe heuene to ben þe pris of his
laste trauayle Go then, ye noble souls, and follow the path of this great example. ¶ Goþ now þan ȝe stronge men þere as
þe heye weye of þe grete ensample ledeþ ȝou. ¶ O nice
men whi nake ȝe ȝoure bakkes. as who seiþ. O ye slothful ones, wherefore do ye basely fly! ¶ O ȝe 4288
149 slowe and delicat men whi fley ȝe aduersites. and ne
fyȝten nat aȝeins hem by vertue to wynnen þe mede of
þe heuene. He who conquers earth doth gain the heavens. for þe erþe ouer-comen ȝeueþ þe sterres.
¶ þis is to seyne þat whan þat erþely lust is ouer-comen. 4292
a man is maked worþi to þe heuene.


4236 seyne—seyn

4237 wrouȝt[e]—wrowhte

4238 purged[e]—purgede

4240 [he]—from C.
wan—MS. wanne, C. wan

4242 desired[e]—desirede

4243 bouȝt[e]—bowhte

4244 vncloþed[e]—vnclothede

4245 kuyttyng—MS. knyttyng, C. kuttynge

4246 lete—let
kuytten—MS. knytten, C. kuttyn

4248 haue—han

4249 myȝt[e] wende—myhte wenden

4250 bywept[e]—by-wepte
ylorn—MS. ylorne, C. y-lorn

4251 fiers[e]—feerse

4253 ȝeld—yald

4254 sorowful—sorwful
smot—MS. smote, C. smot

4255 oute—owt
stod—MS. stode, C. stood

4256 saw—say

4258 hard[e] trauaile—harde trauayles
dawntede—MS. dawnded, C. dawntede

4259 half—MS. hals

4260 seyne—seyn

4261 smot—MS. smote, C. smot

4262 [in——lyrne]—from C.

4263 rauyssed[e]—rauysshede

4266 seid—MS. seide, C. sayd
haþ—MS. haþe

4267 lorde—lord

4269 etyn—freten

4270 brend[e]—brende
flode defouled[e]—flood defowlede

4271 forhede dreint[e]—forhed dreynte

4273 lykenesse—lyknesses

4274 turnid[e]—tornede

4275 brak—MS. brake, C. brak

4276 [he]—from C.

4278-80 apaised[e]—apaysede

4281 bristled[e]—brystelede

4282 cercle—clerke

4283 þreste—thriste

4285 deserued[e]—deseruede

4286 Goþ—MS. Goþe

4287 weye—way

4288 nake—MS. make, C. nake

4289 slowe—MS. slouȝ, C. slowe

4292 seyne—seyn



[The fyrste prose.]


She hadde When Philosophy had thus spoken, and was about to discuss other matters I interrupted her. seid and tourned[e] þe cours of hir resoun to
somme oþer þinges to ben tretid and to ben ysped.
B. Thy exhortation is just and worthy of thy authority, but thou saidst that the question of the Divine Superintendence or Providence is involved with many others—and this I believe. þan seide I. Certys ryȝtful is þin amonestyng and ful 4296
digne by auctorite. but þat þou seidest som tyme þat
þe questioun of þe deuyne purueaunce is enlaced wiþ
many oþer questiouns. I vndir-stonde wel and proue it
by þe same þinge. I am desirous, however, of knowing whether there be such a thing as Chance, and what thou thinkest it is. but I axe yif þat þou wenest þat hap 4300
be any þing in any weys. and if þou wenest þat hap be
any [thing] what is it. P. I hasten to fulfil my promise and to show the road to your own country. þan quod she. I haste me to
ȝelden and assoilen þe to þe dette of my byheste and
to shewen and opnen þe wey by whiche wey þou maist 4304
come aȝein to þi contre. But although these things you question me about are profitable to know, yet they lead us a little out of our way. ¶ but al be it so þat þe þinges
whiche þat þou axest ben ryȝt profitable to knowe.
ȝitte ben þei diuers somwhat fro þe paþe of my purpos.

And by straying from the path you may be too fatigued to return to the right road. And it is to douten þat þou ne be maked weery by 4308
mysweys so þat þou ne mayst nat suffise to mesuren þe
ryȝt weye. B. Don’t be afraid of that, for it will refresh me as much as rest to know these things in which I am delightfully interested. ¶ Ne doute þe þer-of no þing quod I. for
forto knowen þilke þinges to-gidre in þe whiche þinges
I delite me gretly. þat shal ben to me in stede of reste. 4312
Syn it nis nat to douten of þe þinges folwynge whan
euery side of þi disputisoun shal be stedfast to me by
vndoutous feiþ. þan seide she. þat manere wol I don
150 þe. and bygan to speken ryȝt þus P. I will then comply with thy requests. ¶ Certys quod she 4316
yif any wyȝt diffinisse hap in þis manere. þat is to seyn.


If we define Chance to be an event produced by an unintelligent motion, and not by a chain or connection of causes, I should then affirm that Chance is nothing and an empty sound. þat hap is bytidynge y-brouȝt forþe by foelyshe
moeuynge. and by no knyttyng of causes. ¶ I conferme
þat hap nis ryȝt nauȝt in no wise. and I deme al 4320
outerly þat hap nis ne dwelliþ but a voys. ¶ As who
seiþ. but an ydel worde wiþ outen any significacioun of
þing summittid to þat vois. What room is there for folly and disorder where all things are restrained by order, through the ordinance of God? for what place myȝt[e] ben
left or dwellynge to folie and to disordinaunce. syn þat 4324
god lediþ and streyniþ alle þinges by ordre. For it is a great truth that nothing can spring out of nothing. ¶ For þis
sentence is verray and soþe þat no þinge ne haþ his
beynge of nouȝt. to [the] whiche sentence none of þise
olde folk ne wiþseide neuere al be it so þat þei ne 4328
vndirstoden ne moeueden it nauȝt by god prince and
gynner of wirkyng. but þei casten as a manere foundement
of subgit material. þat is to seyn of [the] nature
of alle resoun. Now, if anything arises without the operation of a cause, it proceeds from nothing. and ȝif þat ony þinge is woxen or comen 4332
of no causes. þan shal it seme þat þilke þinge is comen
or woxen of nouȝt. But if this is impossible, then there can be no such a thing as Chance, as we have defined it. but yif þis ne may nat ben don.
þan is it nat possible þat þere haþ ben any swiche þing
as I haue diffinissid a litel here byforne. B. Is there nothing, then, that may be called Chance or Fortune? ¶ How shal 4336
it þan ben quod I. nis þer þan no þing þat by ryȝt may
be cleped eyþer happe or ellis auenture of fortune. Is there nothing (hid from the vulgar) to which these words may be applied? or is
[* fol. 34.] þer ouȝt al *be it so þat it is hidd fro þe poeple to
whiche þise wordes ben couenable.

P. Aristotle defines this matter with much precision and probability. Myn aristotul quod 4340
she. in þe book of his phisik diffinisseþ þis þing by
short resoun and neyȝe to þe soþe. B. How? ¶ In whiche manere
quod I. P. So often as a man does anything for the sake of any other thing, and another thing than what he intended to do is produced by other causes, that thing so produced is called Chance. ¶ As ofte quod she as men don any þing for
grace of any oþer þing. and an oþer þinge þan þilke 4344
þing þat men ententen to doon bytideþ by som[e] causes
it is ycleped happe. As if a man trench the ground for tillage and find gold, then this is believed to happen by chance, although it is not so. ¶ Ryȝt as a man dalf þe erþe by
151 cause of tylienge of þe felde. and fond þere a gobet of
golde by-doluen. þan wenen folk þat it is fallen by fortunous 4348
bytydyng. but for soþe it nis nat for nauȝt for
it haþ hys propre causes of whiche causes þe cours vnforseyn
and vnwar semiþ to han maked happe. For if the tiller had not ploughed the field, and if the hider of the gold had not concealed it in that spot, the gold had not been found. ¶ For
yif þe tilier in þe erþe ne delue nat in þe felde. and yif 4352
þe hider of þe golde ne hadde hidd þe golde in þilke
place. þe golde ne had[de] nat ben founde. These, then, are the causes of a fortuitous acquisition which proceeds from a conflux of encountering causes, and not from the intention of the doer. þise ben
þan þe causes of þe abreggynge of fortune hap. þe whiche
abreggynge of fortune hap comeþ of causes encountrynge 4356
and flowyng to-gidre to hem selfe. and nat by þe entencioun
of þe doer. For neither the hider of the gold ¶ For neiþer þe hider of þe gold.

nor the husbandman intended or understood that the gold should be found. ne þe deluer of þe felde ne vndirstanden nat þat þe
golde sholde han be founde. but as I seide. But it happened by the concurrence of these two causes that the one did dig where the other had hidden the money. it bytidde 4360
and ran to-gidre þat he dalf þere as þat oþer hadde hidd
þe golde. Chance, then, is an unexpected event, by a concurrence of causes, following an action designed for a particular purpose. Now may I þus diffinissen happe. ¶ Happe
is an vnwar bytydyng of causes assembled in þinges þat
ben don for som oþer þinge. but þilke ordre procedynge 4364
by an vneschewable byndynge to-gidre. This concurrence of causes proceeds from that order which flows from the fountain of Providence and disposes all things as to place and time. whiche þat
descendeþ fro þe wel of purueaunce þat ordeineþ alle
þinges in hire places and in hire tymes makeþ þat þe
causes rennen and assemblen to-gidre. 4368

4294 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

4297 som tyme—whilom

4298 þe (2)—thy

4300 þinge—thing

4302 [thing]—from C.

4303 ȝelden—yilden
assoilen—MS. assailen, C. assoylen

4304-6 whiche—which

4306 ben—MS. bene

4307 paþe—paath

4312 stede—styde

4314 disputisoun—disputacioun
be—han ben

4317 seyn—seyng

4318 forþe—forth

4322 worde—word

4323 myȝt[e]—myhte

4324 left—lefte

4325 streyniþ—constreynyth

4326 soþe—soth
no þinge—nothing
haþ—MS. haþe

4327 [the]—from C.

4330 gynner—bygynnere

4331 [the]—from C.

4332 ȝif—MS. ȝit, C. yif

4335 þat——ben—þat hap be
haþ—MS. haþe

4338 happe—hap

4339 hidd—MS. hidde, C. hidd

4340 whiche—which

4342 neyȝe—nehg

4343 don—MS. done, C. don

4344 þinge—thing

4345 som[e]—some

4346 happe—hap

4347 of (1)—to
fond—MS. fonde, C. fownde

4348 golde—gold

4349 for (2)—of

4350 haþ—MS. haþe

4351 happe—hap

4352 tilier—tylyere

4353 hider—hydere
hidd—MS. hidde

4353-4 golde—gold

4354 had[de]—hadde

4355 fortune—fortuit

4356 fortune—fortuit

4357 flowyng—MS. folwyng, C. flowynge

4358 doer—doere

4359 deluer—deluere

4360 golde—gold

4361 hidd—MS. hidde, C. hyd

4362 happe (both)—hap

4365 whiche—which

4366 descendeþ—MS. defendeþ, C. descendith

[The fyrste Metur.]


TIgris Where the flying Parthian doth pierce his pursuers with his shafts, there from the Achemenian heights flow the Tigris and Euphrates, but soon their streams divide and flow into separate channels. [and] eufrates resoluen and spryngen of a welle in
þe kragges of þe roche of þe contre of achemenye þere
as þe fleenge [batayle] ficchiþ hire dartes retournid in
þe brestes of hem þat folwen hem. ¶ And sone aftre 4372
þe same ryueres tigris and eufrates vnioygnen and departen
152 hire watres. But should they unite again, in the impetuous stream, boats, ships, and trees would be all intermingled, whirled about; and blind Chance seems to direct the current’s course. and yif þei comen to-gidre and ben
assembled and clepid to-gidre in to o cours. þan moten
þilke þinges fletyn to-gidre whiche þat þe water of þe 4376
entrechaungyng flode bryngeþ þe shippes and þe stokkes
araced wiþ þe flood moten assemble. and þe watres
ymedlyd wrappiþ or implieþ many fortunel happes or
maneres. But the sloping earth, the laws of fluids, govern these things. þe whiche wandryng happes naþeles þilke enclinyng 4380
lowenes of þe erþe. and þe flowynge ordre of
þe slidyng water gouerniþ. So though Chance seems to wander unrestrained, it is nevertheless curbed and restrained by Divine Providence. ¶ Ryȝt so fortune þat
semeþ as [þat] it fletiþ wiþ slaked or vngouerned[e]
bridles. It suffriþ bridles þat is to seyn to ben gouerned 4384
and passeþ by þilke lawe. þat is to sein by þe deuyne

4369 [and]—from C.

4371 [batayle]—from C.

4373 þe—tho

4374 to-gidre—to-gyderes

4376 whiche—which

4377 flode—flod

4378 assemble—assemblyn

4380 enclinyng—declynynge

4381 lowenes—lownesse

4383 [þat]—from C.

4385 þe—thilke


[The .2de. prose.]


Þis B. Is there any free-will in this chain of cohering causes? vndirstonde I wel quod I. and accorde wel þat it
is ryȝt as þou seist. but I axe yif þer be any liberte 4388
or fre wil in þis ordre of causes þat cliuen þus to-gidre
in hem self. Or doth the chain of destiny constrain the motions of the human mind? ¶ or ellys I wolde witen yif þat þe
destinal cheine constreiniþ þe moeueuynge of þe corages
of men. P. There is a freedom of the will possessed by every rational being. yis quod she þer is liberte of fre wille. ne þer 4392
ne was neuer no nature of resoun þat it ne hadde liberte
of fre wille. A rational being has judgment to judge of and discern everything. ¶ For euery þing þat may naturely vsen
resoun. it haþ doom by whiche it discerniþ and demiþ
euery þing. Of himself he knows what he is to avoid or to desire. He seeks what he judges desirable, and he shuns what he deems should be avoided. ¶ þan knoweþ it by it self þinges þat ben 4396
to fleen. and þinges þat ben to desiren. and þilk þing
þat any wyȝt demeþ to ben desired þat axeþ or desireþ
he and fleeþ [thilke] þing þat he troueþ ben to fleen.


A rational being possesses, then, the liberty of choosing and rejecting. ¶ wher-fore in alle þinges þat resoun is. in hem also is 4400
libertee of willyng and of nillynge. This liberty is not equal in all beings. ¶ But I ne ordeyne
nat. as who seiþ. I ne graunte nat þat þis libertee be
euene like in alle þinges. In heavenly substances, as spirits, &c., judgment is clear, and the will is incorruptible, and has a ready and efficacious power of doing things which are desired. forwhi in þe souereyns deuynes
substaunces. [* fol. 34 b.] þat is to *seyn in spiritȝ ¶ Iugement is 4404
153 more clere and wil nat be corumped. and haþ myȝt
redy to speden þinges þat ben desired. The souls of men must needs be more free when employed in the contemplation of the Divine Mind, and less so when they enter into a body, and still less free when enclosed and confined in earthly members; but the most extreme servitude is when they are given over to vice and wholly fallen from their proper reason. ¶ But þe soules
of men moten nedes ben more free whan þei loken hem
in þe speculacioun or lokynge of þe deuyne þouȝt. and 4408
lasse free whan þei sliden in to þe bodies. and ȝit lasse
free whan þei ben gadred to-gidre and comprehendid in
erþely membris. but þe last[e] seruage is whan þat þei
ben ȝeuen to vices. and han yfalle fro þe possessioun of 4412
hire propre resoun For at once they are enveloped by the cloud of ignorance and are troubled by pernicious desires, by yielding to which they aid and increase that slavery which they brought upon themselves, and thus even under the liberty proper to them, they remain captives. ¶ For after þat þei han cast aweye
hir eyen fro þe lyȝt of þe souereyn soþefastnesse to lowe
þinges and dirke ¶ Anon þei dirken by þe cloude of
ignoraunce and ben troubled by felonous talentȝ. to þe 4416
whiche talentȝ whan þei approchen and assenten. þei
hepen and encresen þe seruage whiche þei han ioigned
to hem self. and in þis manere þei ben caitifs fro hire
propre libertee. Yet the eye of Providence, beholding all things from eternity, sees all this and disposes according to their merit all things as they are predestinated. þe whiche þinges naþeles þe lokynge of 4420
þe deuyne purueaunce seeþ þat alle þinges byholdeþ
and seeþ fro eterne. and ordeyneþ hem eueryche in her
merites. as þei ben prodestinat. He, as Homer says of the sun, sees and hears all things. and it is seid in grek.
þat alle þinges he seeþ and alle þinges he hereþ. 4424

4389 or—of

4390 hem—hym

4392 yis—MS. yif, C. yis

4392-94 wille—wil

4395 whiche—which

4397 þilk—thilke

4399 [thilke]—from C.

4405 haþ—MS. haþe

4411 last[e]—laste

4412 fro—from

4415 cloude—clowdes

4418 whiche—which

4423 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd


[The .2de. Metur.]


HOmer wiþ þe The sweet-tongued Homer sings of the sun’s pure light. Yet the sun’s beams cannot pierce into the inner bowels of the earth, nor into the depths of the sea. hony mouþe. þat is to seyn. homer
wiþ þe swete dites syngeþ þat þe sonne is cleer by
pure lyȝt. naþeles ȝit ne may it nat by þe inferme lyȝt
of hys bemes breken or percen þe inwarde entrailes of 4428
þe erþe. or ellys of þe see. But God, the world’s maker, beholding from on high, has his vision impeded neither by earth nor cloud. ¶ so ne seeþ nat god makere
of þe grete worlde to hym þat lokeþ alle þinges from on
heye ne wiþstandiþ nat no þinges by heuynesses of erþe.
ne þe nyȝt ne wiþstondeþ nat to hym by þe blake 4432
cloudes. At a glance he sees all events, present, past, and future. ¶ þilke god seeþ in o strook of þouȝt alle
þinges þat ben or weren or schullen come. God, then, that alone sees all things, may indeed be called the true Sun. ¶ and þilke
154 god for he lokeþ and seeþ alle þinges al oon. þou maist
seyn þat he is þe verray sonne. 4436

4425 mouþe—Mowth

4428 percen—MS. perten, C. percen

4430 worlde—world
on heye—an hegh

4431 nat—omitted

4434 schullen come—shollen comyn

4435 al oon—alone

[The .3de. prose.]


ÞAn seide I B. I am distracted by a more difficult doubt than ever. now am I confounded by a more harde
doute þan I was. what doute is þat quod she.
¶ For certys I coniecte now by whiche þinges þou art
troubled. God’s foreknowledge seems to me inconsistent with man’s free-will. It semeþ quod I to repugnen and to contrarien 4440
gretly þat god knoweþ byforn alle þinges. and
þat þer is any fredom of liberte. For if God foresees all things, and cannot be deceived, then that which Providence hath foreseen must needs happen. for yif so be þat god
lokeþ alle þinges byforn. ne god ne may nat ben
desseiuid in no manere. þan mot it nedes ben þat alle 4444
þinges bytyden þe whiche þat þe purueaunce of god haþ
sein byforn to comen. If God from eternity doth foreknow not only the works, but the designs and wills of men, there can be no liberty of will—nor can there be any other action or will than that which a Divine and infallible Providence hath foreseen. ¶ For whiche yif þat god
knoweþ by-forn nat oonly þe werkes of men. but also
hir conseils and hir willes. þan ne shal þer be no 4448
liberte of arbitre. ne certys þer ne may ben noon oþer
dede ne no wille but þilke whiche þe deuyne purueaunce
þat ne may nat ben desseiued haþ feled byforn For if things fall out contrary to such foreseeing, and are wrested another way, the prescience of God in regard to futurity would not be sure and unerring—it would be nothing but an uncertain opinion of them: but I take it to be impious and unlawful to believe this of God. ¶ For
yif þat þei myȝten wryþen awey in oþer manere þan þei 4452
ben purueyed. þan ne sholde þer ben no stedfast prescience
of þinge to comen but raþer an vncerteyn
oppinioun. þe whiche þinge to trowen on god I deme it
felonie and vnleueful. Nor do I approve of the reasoning made use of by some. For they say that a thing is not necessarily to happen because God hath foreseen it, but rather because it is to happen it cannot be hid from the divine Providence. ¶ Ne I ne proeue nat þilk 4456
same resoun. as who seiþ I ne allowe nat. or I ne preise
nat þilke same resoun by whiche þat som men wenen
þat þei mowen assoilen and vnknytten þe knot of þis
questioun. ¶ For certys þei seyn þat þing nis nat to 4460
come for þat þe purueaunce of god haþ seyn it byforne.
þat is to comen but raþer þe contrarie. ¶ And þat
is þis þat for þat þe þing is to comen þat þerfore
ne may it nat ben hyd fro þe purueaunce of god. 4464
155 [* fol. 35.] Now by this reason necessity appears to change sides. For it is not necessary that the things which are foreseen should happen, but it is necessary that the things which are to befall should be foreseen. *and in þis manere þis necessite slydiþ aȝein in to þe
contrarie partie. ne it ne byhoueþ [nat] nedes þat þinges
bytiden þat ben ypurueid. [but it by-houeth nedes /
þat thinges þat ben to comyn ben yporueyid] but as it 4468
were ytrauailed. As if the question was, which was the cause of the other—prescience the cause of the necessity of future events, or the necessity the cause of the prescience of future events? as who seiþ. þat þilke answere procediþ
ryȝt as þouȝ men trauailden or weren bysy to
enqueren þe whiche þing is cause of whiche þinges. as
wheþer þe prescience is cause of þe necessite of þinges to 4472
comen. or ellys þat þe necessite of þinges to comen is
cause of þe purueaunce. But I will prove that, however the order of causes may stand, the event of things foreseen is necessary, although prescience doth not seem to impose a necessity upon future things to fall out. ¶ But I ne enforce me nat now
to shewen it þat þe bytidyng of þinges y-wist byforn is
necessarie. how so or in what manere þat þe ordre of 4476
causes haþ it self. al þouȝ þat it ne seme nat þat þe
prescience brynge in necessite of bytydynge of þinges
to comen. For if a man sit—the belief in the sitting is true; and, on the other hand, if the opinion is true of his sitting, he must needs sit. ¶ For certys yif þat any wyȝt sitteþ it byhoueþ
by necessite þat þe oppinioun be soþe of hym 4480
þat coniectiþ þat he sitteþ. and aȝeinward. al so is it of
þe contrarie. yif þe oppinioun be soþe of any wyȝt for
þat he sitteþ it byhoueþ by necessite þat he sitte In both cases there is a necessity—in the latter that the person sits—in the former, that the opinion concerning the other is true. ¶ þan
is here necessite in þat oon and in þat oþer. for in þat 4484
oon is necessite of sittynge. But the man does not sit because the opinion of his sitting is true, but the opinion is true because the action of his being seated was antecedent in time. and certys in þat oþer is
necessite of soþe but þerfore ne sitteþ nat a wyȝt for þat
þe oppinioun of sittyng is soþe. but þe oppinioun is
raþer soþe for þat a wyȝt sitteþ by-forn. So that although the cause of truth arises from the sitting, there is a common necessity in both. and þus al 4488
þouȝ þat þe cause of soþe comeþ of [þe] syttyng. and
nat of þe trewe oppinioun. Algates ȝitte is þer comune
necessite in þat oon and in þat oþer. Thus may we reason concerning Providence and future events. ¶ þus sheweþ it
þat I may make semblable skils of þe purueaunce of god 4492
and of þinges to come. For allowing things are foreseen because they are to happen, and that they do not befall because they are foreseen, it is necessary that future events should be foreseen of God, or if foreseen that they should happen; and this alone is sufficient to destroy all idea of free-will. ¶ For al þouȝ for þat þat þinges
ben to comen. þer-fore ben þei purueid. nat certys for
þei ben purueid. þer-fore ne bytide þei nat. ȝit naþeles
byhoueþ it by necessite þat eiþer þe þinges to comen 4496
ben ypurueied of god. or ellys þat þe þinges þat ben
156 purueied of god bitiden [.s.] by necessite. ¶ And þis
þing oonly suffiseþ I-nouȝ to distroien þe fredome of
oure arbitre. þat is to seyn of oure fre wille But it is preposterous to make the happening of temporal things the cause of eternal prescience, which we do in imagining that God foresees future events because they are to happen. ¶ But now 4500
[certes] sheweþ it wel how fer fro þe soþe and how vp
so doun is þis þing þat we seyn þat þe bytidinge of
temporel þinges is þe cause of þe eterne prescience.
¶ But forto wenen þat god purueiþ [the] þinges to comen. 4504
for þei ben to comen. what oþer þing is it but forto
wene þat þilke þinges þat bitiden som tyme ben causes
of þilke souereyne purueaunce þat is in god. And, moreover, when I know that anything exists, it is necessary for my belief that it should be. ¶ And
her-to I adde ȝitte þis þing þat ryȝt as whan þat I woot 4508
þat o þing is it byhoueþ by necessite þat þilke self þing
be. So also when I know that an event shall come to pass, it must needs happen. and eke þat whan I haue knowe þat any þinge shal
bitiden so byhoueþ it by necessite þat þilk[e] same
þing bytide. The event, therefore, of a thing foreseen must befall. so folweþ it þan þat þe bytydynge of þe 4512
þinge Iwist by-forn ne may nat ben eschewed. Lastly, if a person judge a thing to be different to what it is—this is not knowledge, but a false opinion of it, and far from the true knowledge. ¶ And
at þe last[e] yif þat any wyȝt wene a þing to ben oþer
weyes þan it is. it nys nat oonly vnscience. but it is deceiuable
oppinioun ful diuerse and fer fro þe soþe of 4516
science. If, therefore, a thing be so to happen that the event of it is neither necessary nor certain, how can any one foresee what is to happen? ¶ wher-fore yif any þing be so to comen so þat
þe bytydynge of it ne be nat certeyne ne necessarie.
¶ who may weten [byforn] þat þilke þing is to come.


For as pure knowledge has no element in it of falsehood, so what is comprehended by true knowledge cannot be otherwise than as comprehended. ¶ For ryȝt as science ne may nat be medelyd wiþ falsnesse. 4520
as who seiþ þat yif I woot a þing. it ne may nat
be fals þat I ne woot it. ¶ Ryȝt so þilk þing þat
is conceyued by science ne may [nat] ben noon
er weyes þan [as] it is conceiued. Hence it is that true knowledge cannot err, because everything must precisely be what true knowledge perceives it to be. For þat is þe cause 4524
whi þat science wantiþ lesynge. as who seiþ. whi þat
witynge ne receyueþ nat lesynge of þat it woot. ¶ For
it byhoueþ by necessite þat euery þinge [be] ryȝt as science
comprehendiþ it to be. What follows, then? How does God foreknow these uncertain contingencies? what shal I þan sein. ¶ In 4528
whiche manere knoweþ god byforn þe þinges to comen.
157 ¶ yif þei ne be nat certeyne. For if he thinks that a thing will inevitably happen, which possibly may not, he is deceived—but this is sheer blasphemy. ¶ For yif þat he deme
þat þei ben to comen vneschewably. and so may be þat
[* fol. 35 b.] it is possible þat þei ne shullen *nat comen. god is 4532
desseiued. but nat only to trowen þat god is desseiued.
but for to speke it wiþ mouþe it is a felonous synne.
But if God discerns that just as things are to come they shall come; if he knows that they may or may not come, what sort of prescience is this, which comprehends nothing certain, nothing invariable? ¶ But yif þat god woot þat ryȝt so as þinges ben to
comen. so shulle þei comen. so þat he wit[e] egaly. as 4536
who seiþ indifferently þat þinges mowen ben don or
ellys nat don. what is þilke prescience þat ne comprehendiþ
no certeyne þinge ne stable. Or how does divine prescience differ from human opinion, if He hath an uncertain judgment of things, whereof the events are uncertain and unfixed? or ellys what difference
is þer bytwixe þe prescience. and þilke iape-worþi 4540
dyuynynge of Tiresie þe diuinour þat seide. ¶ Al þat
I seie quod he eyþer it shal be. or ellys it ne shal nat
be. Or ellis how moche is worþe þe diuyne prescience
more þan þe oppinioun of mankynde yif so be þat it 4544
demeþ þe þinges vncerteyne as men don. of þe whiche
domes of men þe bytydynge nis nat certeyne. But if there can be no uncertainty in his knowledge, who is the source of all certainty; the event of all things which he foreknows must be fixed and inevitable. ¶ But
yif so be þat noon vncerteyne þinge may ben in hym
þat is ryȝt certeyne welle of alle þinges. þan is þe 4548
bytydynge certeyne of þilke þinges whiche he haþ wist
byforn fermely to comen. Whence it follows that men have no freedom in their designs and actions; because the Divine Mind, endowed with an infallible foresight, constrains and binds them to a certain event. For whiche it folweþ þat þe
fredom of þe conseils and of þe werkes of mankynde nis
non syn þat þe þouȝt of god seeþ alle þinges with outen 4552
errour of falsnesse byndeþ and constreiniþ hem to a
bitidynge by necessite. and yif [this] þing be on-is
grauntid and receyued. þat is to seyn. þat þer nis no
fre wille. þan sheweþ it wel how gret distruccioun and 4556
how grete damages þer folwen of þinges of mankynde.


¶ For in ydel ben þer þan purposed and byhyȝt medes
of goode folk. and peynes to badde folk. syn þat no
moeuynge of free corage uoluntarie ne haþ nat deserued 4560
hem. þat is to seyn neiþer mede nor peyne. Rewards and punishments now deemed just and equitable, will be considered most unjust, when, it is allowed, that mankind are not prompted by any will of their own, to either virtue or vice, but in all their actions are impelled by a fatal necessity. ¶ And it
sholde seme þan þat þilke þinge is alþer worste whiche
158 þat is nowe demed. for alþer moste iuste and moste
ryȝtful. þat is to seyn þat shrewes ben punyssed. or 4564
ellys þat good[e] folk ben ygerdoned. þe whiche folk
syn þat þe propre wille [ne] sent hem nat to þat oon ne
to þat oþer. þat is to seyn. neþer to good[e] ne to
harme. but constreineþ hem certeyne necessite of þinges 4568
to comen. Nor would there be such things as virtue or vice, but such a medley of the one and the other as would be productive of the greatest confusion. ¶ þanne ne shollen þer neuer ben ne neuer
weren vice ne vertue. but it sholde raþer ben confusioun
of alle desertes medlid wiþoute discresioun. ¶ And
ȝitte þer folweþ an oþer inconuenient of þe whiche þer 4572
ne may ben þouȝt ne more felonous ne more wikke. And from this it will follow—that since all order comes of Divine Providence, and that there is no freedom of the human will, that also our vices must be referred to the author of all good—which is a most impious opinion. and
þat is þis þat so as þe ordre of þinges is yledd and
comeþ of þe purueaunce of god. ne þat no þing nis
leueful to þe conseils of mankynde. as who seiþ þat 4576
men han no power to done no þing. ne wilne no þing.
þan folweþ it þat oure vices ben refferred to þe mak[er]e
of alle good. as who seiþ þan folweþ it. þat god auȝt[e]
han þe blame of oure vices. syn he constreiniþ by 4580
necessite to don vices. Then is it useless to hope for anything from God, or to pray to him. þan nis þer no resoun to han
hopen in god. ne forto preien to god. For why should men do either, when all they can desire is irreversibly predestined? ¶ For what
sholde any wyȝt hopen to god. or whi sholde he preien
to god. syn þat þe ordenaunce of destine whiche þat ne 4584
may nat ben enclined. knytteþ and streiniþ alle þinges
þat men may desiren. Hope and prayer being thus ineffectual, all intercourse is cut off between God and man. ¶ þan sholde þere be don awey
þilke oonly alliaunce bytwixen god and men. þat is to
seien to hopen and to preien. By reverent and humble supplication we earn divine grace, a most inestimable favour, and are able to associate with the Deity, and to unite ourselves to the inaccessible light. but by þe preis of ryȝtfulnesse 4588
and of veray mekenesse we deserue þe gerdoun
of þe deuyne grace whiche þat is inestimable. þat is to
sein þat it is so grete þat it ne may nat ben ful ypreised.
and þis is oonly þe manere. þat is to seyen hope and 4592
prayeres. for whiche it semeþ þat [men] mowen speken
159 wiþ god. and by resoun of supplicacioun ben conioigned
to þilk clernesse þat nis nat approched no raþer or
þat men byseken it and emprenten it. If men believe that hope and prayer have no power because of the necessity of future events, by what other way can we be united, and hold fast to the sovereign Lord of all things? And yif men 4596
ne wene [nat] þat [hope] ne preiers ne han no strengþes.
by þe necessite of þinges to comen y-resceiued. what
þing is þer þan by whiche we mowen be conioygned
and clyuen to þilke souereyne prince of þinges. Wherefore mankind must be dissevered and disunited from the source of its existence, and shrink from its beginning. ¶ For 4600
whiche it byhoueþ by necessite þat þe lynage of mankynde
[* fol. 36.] as *þou songe a litel here byforne ben departed
and vnioyned from hys welle and faylen of hys bygynnynge.
þat is to seien god. 4604

4437 harde—hard

4445 haþ—MS. haþe

4446 whiche—which

4450 wille—wil
whiche—which þat

4451 haþ—MS. haþe

4453 stedfast—stydefast

4454-55 þinge—thing

4455 on—of

4456 þilk—thilke

4458 whiche—which

4459 knot—knotte

4461 come—comyn
haþ—MS. haþe

4464 hyd—MS. hydde, C. hidde

4466 [nat]—from C.

4467-8 [but——yporueyid]—from C.

4471 þinges—thing

4477 haþ—MS. haþe

4480-82 soþe—soth

4486 soþe—sooth

4487 soþe—soth

4488 soþe—sooth

4489 soþe comeþ—sooth comth
[þe]—from C.

4490 comune—MS. comme, C. comune

4493 come—comyn

4494 to—omitted

4494-95 purueid—MS. purueide, C. purueyid

4498 [.s.]—from C.

4499 fredome—freedom

4500 wille—wil

4501 [certes]—from C.

4504 purueiþ—MS. purueiþe
[the]—from C.

4506 bitiden—bytydden
som tyme—whilom

4509 o—a

4510 þinge—thing

4511 þilk[e]—thilke

4513 þinge—thing

4514 last[e]—laste

4515 nys—is

4518 it—hit

4519 [byforn]—from C.

4522 fals—false

4523 [nat]—from C.
ben—MS. by, C. ben

4524 þan [as] it is—MS. þan it is be

4527 [be]—from C.

4529 whiche—which

4534 mouþe—Mowth

4536 shulle—shullyn

4538 don—MS. done, C. y-doon

4543 moche—mochel

4549 haþ—MS. haþe

4550 whiche—which

4551 mankynde—man-kynd

4554 [this]—from C.

4555 grauntid—ygraunted

4558 medes of—Meedes to

4560 haþ—MS. haþe

4562 alþer worste whiche—alderworst which

4563 nowe—MS. newe, C. now
alþer moste iuste—alder moost Iust

4565-67 good[e]—goode

4566 wille—wil
[ne]—from C.

4571 wiþoute—with-owten

4573 þouȝt—thoght

4574 yledd—MS. yledde, C. yled

4575 comeþ—comth

4577 done—doon

4578 mak[er]e—makere

4579 auȝt[e]—owhte

4584 whiche—which

4588 preis—prys

4589 deserue—desseruyn

4590 deuyne—MS. deuynes, C. dyuyne

4590-93 whiche—which

4591 grete—gret

4593 [men]—from C.

4595 þilk—thilke

4596 emprenten—impetrent

4597 [nat]—from C.
[hope]—from C.

4601 whiche—which

4602 byforne—by-forn


[The .3de. Metur.]


What Say what discordant cause looses the bonds of things? discordable cause haþ to-rent and vnioigned þe
byndyng or þe alliaunce of þinges. þat is to seyne
þe coniunccioun of god and of man. What power doth make these two great truths (i. e. Providence and Free-will) contend, which when separate are plain and clear, but united appear dark and perplexed? ¶ whiche god
haþ establissed so grete bataile bitwixen þise two soþefast 4608
or verray þinges. þat is to sein bytwixen þe purueaunce
of god and fre wille. þat þei ben synguler and
diuided. ne þat þei ne wolen nat ben medeled ne
coupled to-gidre. but þer nis no discorde to [tho] verray 4612
þinges. but þei cleuen certeyne al wey to hem self. The mind of man encumbered by the earthly body, can never, with her cloudy sight, discover the subtle and close bonds of things. but
þe þouȝt of man confounded and ouerþrowen by þe dirke
membris of þe body ne may nat by fir of his dirk[ed]
lokynge. þat is to seyn by þe vigour of hys insyȝt while 4616
þe soule is in þe body knowen þe þinne subtil knyttynges
of þinges. But why does man burn with ardour to learn the hidden notes of truth? ¶ But wherfore eschaufiþ it so by so
grete loue to fynden þilke note[s] of soþe y-couered. (glosa)
þat is to sein wherfore eschaufiþ þe þouȝt of man by so 4620
grete desir to knowen þilke notificaciouns þat ben yhidd
vndir þe couertours of soþe. Why gropes he for he knows not what? None seek to know what is known. woot it ouȝt þilke þinges
160 þat it anguissous desireþ to knowe. as who seiþ nay.
¶ For no man ne trauaileþ forto witen þinges þat he woot. 4624
and þerfore þe texte seiþ þus. ¶ [Glosa] Si enim anima
ignorat istas subtiles connexiones. responde. vnde est
quod desiderat scire cum nil ignotum possit desiderare.
¶ But who traua[i]leþ to wyten þinges y-knowe. If he knows them not, what does he so blindly seek? and yif 4628
þat he ne knoweþ hem nat. what sekiþ þilke blynde
þouȝt. Who wishes for things he hath never known? what is he þat desireþ any þinge of whiche he
woot ryȝt nat. as who seiþ who so desiriþ any þing
nedis som what he knoweþ of it. or ellys he ne couþe 4632
nat desire it. or who may folwen þinges þat ne ben nat
ywist Or if he seek, where shall he find them? Or if he find, how shall he be sure that he has found what he sought for? ¶ and þouȝ [þat] he seke þo þinges where shal
he fynden hem. what wyȝt þat is al vnknowynge and
ignoraunt may knowe þe forme þat is yfounde. The pure soul that sees the divine thought, knows all the secret chains of things. ¶ But 4636
whan þe soule byholdeþ and seeþ þe heye þouȝt. þat is
to seyn god. þan knoweþ it to-gidre þe somme and þe
singularites. þat is to seyn þe principles and eueryche
by hym self. Yet, though now hidden in its fleshly members, it hath some remembrance of its pure state—it retains the sums of things, but has lost their particulars. ¶ But now while þe soule is hidd in þe 4640
cloude and in þe derknesse of þe membris of þe body.
it ne haþ nat al forȝeten it selfe. but it wiþholdeþ þe
somme of þinges and lesiþ þe singularites. He who seeks truth is not in either circumstance (i. e. seeking for what he knows or knows not), he knoweth not all things, nor hath he wholly forgotten all. þan who so
þat sekeþ soþenesse. he nis in neiþer nouþir habit. for 4644
he not nat alle ne he ne haþ nat alle for-ȝeten. But he ponders on what he knows, that he may add those things that he hath forgotten to those that he retains. ¶ But
ȝitte hym remembriþ þe somme of þinges þat he wiþholdeþ
and axeþ counseil and tretiþ depelyche þinges
ysein byforne. [Glosa] þat is to sein þe grete somme in 4648
hys mynde. [textus] so þat he mowe adden þe parties
þat he haþ forȝeten. to þilke þat he haþ wiþholden.

4605 haþ—MS. haþe

4606 seyne—seyn

4607 whiche—which

4608 haþ—MS. haþe

4610 wille—wil

4612 discorde—discord
[tho]—from C.

4613 cleuen—clyuen

4615 dirk[ed]—derkyd

4616 while—whil

4617 knowen—knowe

4619-21 grete—gret

4619 soþe—soth

4621 yhidd—MS. yhidde, C. Ihyd

4622 soþe—sooth

4625 [Glosa]—from C.

4630 þinge—thing

4631 woot—not

4632 couþe—kowde

4634 [þat]—from C.

4635 what—MS. þat, C. what

4639 eueryche—euerych

4640 while—whil
þe—MS. þe þe
hidd—MS. hidde, C. hidde

4641 derknesse—derkenesse

4642 haþ—MS. haþe

4644 nouþir habit—nother habite

4645 alle (both)—al
haþ—MS. haþe

4648 [Glosa]—from C.

4649 [textus]—from C.

4650 haþ (both)—MS. haþe



[The 4the prose.]


Þanne seide P. This is the old objection against Providence, so ably handled by Cicero in his Book of Divination; and you yourself have anxiously discussed it. she. þis is quod she þe olde questioun of
þe purueaunce of god. and marcus tulius whan he 4652
deuided[e] þe deuinaciouns. þat is to sein in hys booke
þat he wroot of deuinaciouns. he moeued[e] gretly þis
questioun. and þou þi self hast souȝt it mochel and
outerly and long[e]. But neither of you have offered a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. but ȝit ne haþ it nat ben determined 4656
ne yspedd fermely and diligently of any of yow.
The cause of this mystery is that the human understanding cannot conceive the simplicity of the divine prescience, for if it were possible to comprehend this, every difficulty would at once disappear. ¶ And þe cause of þis derkenesse and [of this] difficulte
is for þat þe moeuynge of þe resoun of mankynde ne
may nat moeuen to. þat is to sein applien or ioygnen to 4660
þe simplicite of þe deuyne prescience. ¶ þe whiche
symplicite of þe deuyne prescience ȝif þat men [myhten
thinken it in any manere / þat is to seyn / þat yif men] myȝte
þinken and comprehenden þe þinges as god seeþ hem. 4664
þan ne sholde þer dwellen outerly no doute. I shall, therefore, try to explain and solve this difficult question. þe whiche
resoun and cause of difficulte I shal assaie at þe laste
to shewen and to speden. [* fol. 36 b.] ¶ whan I haue *firste
[yspendyd / and] ansewered to þo resouns by whiche þou 4668
art ymoeued. I ask, then, why you do not approve the reasoning of such as think—that Prescience does not obstruct the liberty of the will, because it is not the necessitating cause of future events? ¶ For I axe whi þou wenest þat þilk[e]
resouns of hem þat assoilen þis questioun ne ben nat
spedeful ynouȝ ne sufficient þe whiche solucioun or þe
whiche resoun for þat it demiþ þat þe prescience nis nat 4672
cause of necessite to þinges to comen. þan ne weneþ it
nat þat fredom of wille be distourbed or ylett by prescience.


Do you draw an argument of the necessity of future events, from any other topic than this,—that those things which are foreknown must of necessity happen? for ne drawest þou nat argumentes from ellys
where of þe necessite of þinges to comen. As who seiþ 4676
any oþer wey þan þus. but þat þilke þinge[s] þat þe prescience
woot byforn [ne] mowen nat vnbitide. þat is to
seyn þat þei moten bitide. If divine prescience imposes no necessity upon future things, must not the issue of things be voluntary, and man’s will free and unconstrained? ¶ But þan yif þat prescience
ne putteþ no necessite to þinges to comen. as þou þi self 4680
162 hast confessed it and byknowen a litel herbyforne. ¶ what
cause [or what] is it. as who seiþ þere may no cause be.
by whiche þat þe endes (exitus) uoluntarie of þinges
myȝten be constreyned to certeyne bitydyng. For argument sake let us suppose there is no prescience, would, then, the events which proceed from free-will alone be under the power of necessity? ¶ For 4684
by grace of possessioun. so þat þou mowe þe better vndirstonde
þis þat folweþ. ¶ I pose (inpossibile) þat
þer ne be no prescience. þan axe I quod she in as
moche as apperteniþ to þat. sholde þan þinges þat 4688
comen of frewille ben constreined to bytiden by
necessite. B. No. Boicius. nay quod I. P. Let us, then, admit Prescience, but that it imposes no necessity on what is to happen; the freedom of the will would still remain entire and absolute. þan aȝeinward quod
she. I suppose þat þere be prescience but þat ne putteþ
no necessite to þinges. þan trowe I þat þilk self fredom 4692
of wille shal dwellen al hool and absolut and vnbounden.
But although Prescience, you may say, is not the necessary cause of future events, yet it is a sign that they shall necessarily happen, and hence it follows that, although there were no prescience, future events would still be an inevitable necessity. but þou wolt sein þat al be it so þat prescience
nis nat cause of þe necessite of bitidynge to þinges to
comen. ¶ Algates ȝitte it is a signe þat þe þinges ben 4696
to bytiden by necessite. by þis manere þan al þouȝ þe
prescience ne hadde neuer yben. ȝit algate or at þe
lest[e] wey. it is certeyne þing þat þe endys and þe
bitydynges of þinges to comen sholde ben necessarie. 4700

For the sign of a thing is not really the thing itself, but only points out what the individual is. ¶ For euery sygne sheweþ and signifieþ oonly what þe
þing is ¶ but it ne makiþ nat þe þing þat it signifieþ.
Wherefore, it must be first proved that everything happens by necessity before we can conclude that prescience is a sign of that necessity. ¶ For whiche it byhoueþ firste to shewen þat no þing
ne bitidiþ [þat it ne bytydith] by necessite. so þat it 4704
may apere þat þe prescience is signe of þis necessite
For if there be no necessity, prescience cannot be the sign of that which has no existence. ¶ or ellys yif þere nere no necessite. certys þilke prescience
ne myȝt[e] nat ben signe of þinge þat nis nat.


The assertion that nothing happens but by necessity, must be proved by arguments drawn from causes connected and agreeing with this necessity, and not from signs or foreign causes. ¶ But certys it is nowe certeyne þat þe preue of þis 4708
susteniþ by stedfast resoun ne shal nat ben ladd ne
proued by signes ne by argumentys ytaken fro wiþ oute.
but by causes couenable and necessarie ¶ But þou
mayst sein how may it be þat þe þinges ne bitiden nat 4712
163 þat ben ypurueyed to comen. but certys ryȝt as we
trowen þat þo þinges whiche þat þe purueaunce woot byforn
to comen. ne ben nat to bitiden. but [þat] ne sholde
we nat demen. but raþer al þouȝ [þat] þei schal bitiden. 4716
ȝit ne haue þei no necessite of hire kynde to bitiden.
and þis maist þou lyȝtly aperceyuen by þis þat I shal
seyn. We see many things when they are done before our eyes; such as a charioteer driving his chariot, and other things of like nature. but we seen many þinges whan þei ben don byforn
oure eyen ryȝt as men seen þe karter worken in þe 4720
tournynge and in attempryng or in adressyng of hys
kartes or chariottes. ¶ and by þis manere as who seiþ
mayst þou vnderstonde of alle manere oþir werkemen.
Now, is there any necessity which compels these things to be done? ¶ Is þere þanne any necessite as who seiþ in oure lokynge 4724
at] constreineþ or compelliþ any of þilke þinges
to ben don so. B. No. For if all things were moved by compulsion—the efforts of art would be vain and fruitless. b. nay quod I ¶ For in ydel and in
veyne were alle þe effect of crafte yif þat alle þinges
weren moeued by constreynynge. þat is to seyn by constreynynge 4728
of oure eyen or of oure syȝt. P. The things, then, which are done are under no necessity that they should be done; then first before they were done, they were under no necessity of coming to pass; wherefore some things happen, the event of which is unconstrained by necessity. P. þise þingus
þan quod she þat whan men don hem ne han non
necessite þat men don hem. eke þo same þinges first or
þei be don. þei ben to comen wiþ out necessite. for whi 4732
þer ben somme þinges to bytide of whiche þe endys
[* fol. 37.] and þe bitidynges of hem ben absolut *and quit of alle
necessite. These things therefore, although foreknown, have free events: for as the knowledge of present things imposes no necessity upon things which are now done, so neither does the foreknowledge of futurities necessitate the things which are to come. for certys I ne trowe nat þat any man wolde seyn
þis. þat þo þinges þat men don now þat þei ne weren 4736
to bitiden. first or þei were ydon ¶ and þilk same
þinges al þouȝ þat men hadden ywyst hem by-forn.
ȝitte þei han fre bitidynges. for ryȝt as science of
þinges present ne bryngeþ in no necessite to þinges 4740
at men doon // Ryht so the prescience of thinges to
comen ne bryngeth in no necessite to thinges] to bytiden
But you may doubt whether there can be any certain prescience of things, of which the event is not necessitated: for here there seems to be an evident contradiction. but þou mayst seyn þat of þilke same it is ydouted. as
wheþer þat of þilke þinges þat ne han non endes and 4744
164 bytidynges necessaryes yif þer-of may ben any prescience


If things are foreknown, you may contend they must necessarily happen; and if their event is not necessary, they cannot be foreseen, because true knowledge can comprehend nothing but what is absolutely certain. ¶ For certys þei seme to discorde. for þou
wenest þat yif þat þinges ben yseyn byforn þat necessite
folweþ hem. and yif (et putas) necessite faileþ hem þei ne 4748
myȝten nat ben wist byforn. and þat no þinge ne may
ben comprehendid by science but certeyne. And if things uncertain in their events are foreseen as certain, this knowledge is nothing more than a false opinion. and yif þo
þinges þat ne han no certeyne bytidynges ben ypurueied
as certeyn. For it is very remote from true knowledge to judge of things otherwise than they really are. it sholde ben dirkenesse of oppinioun nat 4752
soþefastnesse of science [and þou weenyst þat it be diuerse
fro the hoolnesse of science / þat any man sholde deme
a thing to ben oother weys thanne it is it self]. The cause of this error is that men imagine that their knowledge is wholly derived from the nature of the things known, whereas it is quite the reverse. and þe
cause of þis errour is. þat of alle þe þinges þat euery 4756
wyȝt haþ yknowe. þei wenen þat þo þinges ben y-knowe
al oonly by þe strengþe and by þe nature of þe þinges
þat ben ywyst or yknowe. and it is al þe contrarie. for
alle þat euere is yknowe. Things are not known from their inherent properties, but by the faculties of the observer. it is raþer comprehendid and 4760
yknowen nat after his strengeþ and hys nature. but after
þe faculte þat is to seyn þe power and [the] nature of
hem þat knowen. The roundness of a body affects the sight in one way, and the touch in another. and for þat þis shal mowe shewen by
a short ensample þe same roundenes of a body .O. oþer 4764
weyes þe syȝt of þe eye knoweþ it. and oþer weyes þe
touching. The eye, from afar, darts its rays upon the object, and by beholding it comprehends its form. þe lokynge by castynge of his bemes waiteþ
and seeþ fro afer alle þe body to-gider wiþ oute mouynge
of it self. But the object is not distinguished by the touch unless the hand comes in contact with it and feels it all round. but þe touchinge cliuiþ and conioigneþ to þe 4768
rounde body (orbi) and moueþ abouten þe environynge.
and comprehendiþ by parties þe roundenesse.


Man himself is surveyed in divers ways—by the senses, by the imagination, by reason, and by the intelligence (of the Deity). ¶ and þe man hym self oþer weies wyt byholdiþ hym. and
erweyes ymaginacioun and oþer weyes resoun. and 4772
oþer weyes intelligence. The senses take note of his material figure—the imagination considers the form alone, exclusive of the matter. ¶ For þe wit comprehendiþ
fro wiþ outen furþe þe figure of þe body of þe man. þat
is establissed in þe matere subiect. But þe ymaginacioun
[comprehendith only the figure with owte the matere / 4776

165 Reason transcends the imaginations, and examining existences in general discovers the particular species, but the eye of Intelligence soars still higher; for, going beyond the bounds of what is general, it surveys the simple forms themselves, by its own pure and subtle thought: Resoun surmounteth ymaginacioun] and comprehendeþ
by an vniuersel lokynge þe commune spece (speciem)
þat is in þe singuler peces. ¶ But þe eye of intelligence
is heyȝer for it sourmounteþ þe envirounynge of þe 4780
vniuersite and lookeþ ouer þat by pure subtilite of þouȝt.

in which this is chiefly to be considered, that the higher power of perception embraces the lower; but the inferior cannot attain to the energy of the superior: þilk same symple forme of man þat is perdurably in þe
deuyne þouȝt. in whiche þis auȝt[e] gretely to ben considered
þat þe heyest strengþe to comprehenden þinges 4784
enbraceþ and conteyneþ þe lower[e] strengþe [but the
lowere strengthe ne arysith nat in no manere to heyere
strengthe]. for the senses cannot go beyond the perception of matter; the imagination cannot comprehend existences in general, nor can the reason conceive the simple form. for wit ne may no þinge comprehende oute of
matere. ne þe ymagynacioun ne lokeþ nat þe vniuerseles 4788
speces. ne resoun ne takeþ nat þe symple forme. so as
intelligence takeþ it. But the Intelligence looking down (as from above) and having conceived the form, discerns all things that are below it, and comprehends what does not fall within the reach of the other faculties of the mind. but þe intelligence þat lokeþ al
abouen whan it haþ comprehendid þe forme it knoweþ
and demeþ alle þe þinges þat ben vndir þat forme. but 4792
she knoweþ hem vndir þilke manere in þe whiche it
comprehendiþ þilke same symple forme þat ne may
neuer be knowen to non of þat oþer. þat is to seyn to
non of þo þre forseide strengþes of þe soule. Without the aid of those faculties Intelligence comprehends things formally (i. e. by beholding their simple forms) by one effort of mind. for it 4796
knoweþ þe vniuersite of resoun and þe figure of þe ymaginacioun.
and þe sensible material conseiued. and þou
wenest þat it be diuerse fro þe hoolnesse of science. þat
any man sholde deme a þing to ben oþerweyes þan it is 4800
it self and þe cause of þis errour etc’. vt supra. by wit.
Reason, without the aid of Imagination and Sense, in considering things in general, comprehends all imaginable and sensible things. ne it ne vseþ nat nor of resoun ne of ymaginacioun ne
of wit wiþ oute forþe but it byholdeþ alle þinges so as I
shal seye. by a strok of þouȝt formely wiþ oute discours 4804
or collacioun ¶ Certys resoun whan it lokeþ any þing
vniuersel it ne vseþ nat of ymaginacioun nor of wit and
algates ȝit [it] comprendiþ þe þinges ymaginable and
sensible. For instance, reason defines her general conceptions thus:— [* fol. 37 b.] for resoun is she þat *diffinisseþ þe vniuersel 4808
166 of hir conseite ryȝt þus. Man is a rational two-footed animal, which, though it be a general idea, yet every one knows that man thus defined is perceived both by the imagination and the senses, notwithstanding that in this instance reason does not make use of imagination or the senses, but of her own rational conception. ¶ Man is a resonable t[w]o-footid
beest. and how so þat þis knowynge [is] vniuersel.
ȝit nys þer no wyȝt þat ne woot wel. þat a man is [a thing]
ymaginable and sensible ¶ and þis same considereþ wel 4812
resoun. but þat nis nat by ymaginacioun. nor by witte.
but it lokiþ it by [a] resonable concepcioun.

The imagination also, although it derives its power of seeing and forming figures from the senses, yet in the absence and without the use of the senses it considers and comprehends all sensible things by its own imaginative power. ¶ Also ymaginacioun
al be it so. þat it takeþ of wit þe bygynyngus
to seen and to formen þe figures. algates al þouȝ þat wit 4816
ne ware not present. ȝit it envirouniþ and comprehendiþ
alle þinges sensible. nat by resoun sensible of demynge.
but by resoun ymaginatif. Do not you see that men attain to the knowledge of things more by their own faculties, than by the inherent property of things? ¶ sest þou nat þan þat alle
þe þinges in knowynge vsen more of hir faculte or of hir 4820
power. þan þei don of [the] faculte or of power of þinges
þat ben yknowen. Nor is it unreasonable that it should be so—for since every judgment is the act of the person judging; every one must needs do his own work by the help of his own faculties, and not by the aid of foreign power. ne þat nis no wronge. for so as euery
iugement is þe dede or þe doynge of hym þat demeþ. It
byhoueþ þat euery wyȝt performe þe werke and hys entencioun 4824
nat of forein power; but of hys propre power.

4653 deuided[e]—deuynede

4654 moeued[e]—moeuede

4655 souȝt—I-sowht

4656 long[e]—longe
haþ—MS. haþe

4657 yspedd—MS. yspedde, C. Isped
fermely—MS. feruently, C. fermely

4658 derkenesse—dirknesse
[of this]—from C.

4662-3 [myhten——men]—from C.

4663 myȝte—myhten

4667 firste—fyrst

4668 [yspendyd and]—from C.

4669 art—MS. arte

4671 spedeful—spedful

4672 whiche—which

4674 wille—wyl

4677 þinge[s]—thinges

4683 whiche—which

4685 better—betere

4688 moche—mochel

4689 frewille—free wyl

4691 þat ne—þat is ne

4692 þat—MS. þan
þilk self—thilke selue

4693 wille—wil

4699 lest[e]—leeste

4700 sholde—sholden

4703 whiche—which

4704 [þat——bytydith]—from C.

4707 myȝt[e]—myhte

4708 nowe—now

4709 susteniþ—ysustenyd
ladd—MS. ladde, C. lad

4714 whiche—which

4715 [þat]—from C.

4716 demen—MS. denyen
[þat]—from C.

4717 necessite—MS. necessites

4721 hys—hise

4725 [þat]—from C.

4727 veyne—veyn

4729 þise—MS. þise þise, C. the

4732 wiþ out—with-owte

4733 bytide—bytyden

4737 were—weeren
ydon—MS. ydone, C. I-doon

4741-2 [þat——thinges]—from C.

4744 endes—issues

4746 seme—semyn

4749 þat—yif

4753-5 [and——self]—from C.

4757 haþ—MS. haþe

4760 alle—al

4763 mowe—mowen

4764 roundenes—Rowndnesse

4765 syȝt—sihte

4767 alle—al

4769 abouten—abowte

4770 roundenesse—Rowndnesse

4774 fro wiþ outen furþe—with owte forth

4776-7 [comprehendith——ymaginacioun]—from C.

4777 comprehendeþ—MS. comprehendynge

4778 an—omitted

4780 heyȝer—heyere

4783 whiche—which

4784 heyest—heyiste

4785 lower[e]—lowere

4785-7 [but——strengthe]—from C.

4787 wit—witte

4791 haþ—MS. haþe

4793 whiche—which

4795-6 non—none

4796 strengþes—thinges

4798-4801 and þou——vt supra—omitted

4805 collacioun—MS. callacioun, C. collacioun

4806 wit—witte

4810 [is]—from C.

4813 witte—wit

4821 don—MS. done, C. doon
[the]—from C.

4822 yknowen—Iknowe]
no wronge—nat wrong

4824 werke—werk

4825 forein—foreyne


[The 4the Metur.]


ÞE porche þat Fallacious and obscure was the lore of the Stoics, is to sein a gate of þe toune of athenis
þer as philosophres hadde hir congregacioun to dispoyten.
and þilke porche brouȝt[e] somtyme olde men ful 4828
derke in hire sentences. þat is to sein philosophers þat
hyȝten stoiciens. who taught that images of things obvious to the senses were imprinted on the mind by external objects, and that the soul is at first like a mirror or a clean parchment, free from figures and letters. þat wenden þat ymages [and] sensibilites
þat is to sein sensible ymaginaciouns. or ellys ymaginacioun
of sensible þinges weren inprentid in to soules 4832
fro bodies wiþ oute forþe. ¶ As who seiþ þat þilke
stoiciens wenden þat þe soule hadde ben naked of it
self. as a mirour or a clene parchemyn. so þat alle
fygures mosten [fyrst] comen fro þinges fro wiþ oute in to 4836
soules. and ben inprentid in to soules. Textus. Ryȝt
as we ben wont some tyme by a swift poyntel to ficchen
lettres emprentid in þe smoþenesse or in þe plainesse of
167 þe table of wex. or in parchemyn þat ne haþ no figure 4840
[ne] note in it. But if the mind is passive in receiving the impressions of outward objects, whence proceeds the knowledge by which the mind comprehends all things? Glosa. But now arguiþ boece aȝeins þat
oppinioun and seiþ þus. but yif þe þriuyng soule ne
vnplitiþ no þing. þat is to sein ne doþ no þing by hys
propre moeuynges. but suffriþ and lieþ subgit to þe 4844
figures and to þe notes of bodyes wiþ oute forþe. and
ȝeldeþ ymages ydel and veyne in þe manere of a
mirour. whennes þriueþ þan or whennes comeþ þan
þilke knowyng in oure soule. þat discerniþ and byholdeþ 4848
alle þinges. Whence its force to conceive individual existences, to separate those things when known, to unite divided things, and to choose and change its path, soaring to the highest and descending to the lowest things—and returning to itself, to confute false things by the true? and whennes is þilke strengþe þat
byholdeþ þe syngulere þinges. or whennes is þe strengþe
þat dyuydeþ þinges yknowe. and þilke strengþe þat
gadereþ to-gidre þe þinges deuided. and þe strengþe þat 4852
cheseþ hys entrechaunged wey for som tyme it heueþ
vp þe heued. þat is to sein þat it heueþ vp þe entencioun
to ryȝt heye þinges. and som tyme it discendiþ in
to ryȝt lowe þinges. and whan it retourniþ in to hym 4856
self. it repreuiþ and destroieþ þe false þinges by þe
trewe þinges. This cause is more efficacious and powerful to see and to know things, than that cause which receives the characters impressed like servile matter. ¶ Certys þis strengþe is cause more
efficient and mochel more myȝty to seen and to knowe
þinges. þan þilke cause þat suffriþ and resceyueþ þe 4860
notes and þe figures inpressed in manere of matere Yet the sense in the living body excites and moves the mental powers; as when the light striking the eyes causes them to see, or as the voice rushing into the ear excites hearing. algates
þe passioun þat is to seyn þe suffraunce or þe wit
in þe quik[e] body goþ byforne excitynge and moeuyng
þe strengþes of þe þouȝte. ryȝt so as whan þat 4864
clerenesse smyteþ þe eyen and moeuiþ hem to seen. or
ryȝt so as voys or soune hurtliþ to þe eres and commoeuiþ
hem to herkne. Then is the force of thought excited; it calls forth the images within itself, and adds to them the outward forms, blending external images with the counterparts concealed within. þan is þe strengþe of þe þouȝt
ymoeuid and excitid and clepeþ furþe þe semblable 4868
moeuynges þe speces þat it halt wiþ inne it self. and
addiþ þo speces to þe notes and to þe þinges wiþ out
forþe. and medeleþ þe ymages of þinges wiþ out forþe
to þe forme[s] yhid wiþ inne hym self. 4872

4827 hadde—hadden

4828 brouȝt[e]—browhte

4830 [and]—from C.

4837 inprentid—aprentyd

4838 some tyme—somtyme

4840 haþ—MS. haþe

4843 vnplitiþ—vnpleyteth
doþ—MS. doþe

4845 þe—tho

4863 quik[e]—qwyke
goþ—MS. goþe

4864 þouȝte—thoght

4865 clerenesse—cleernesse

4866 soune—sown

4868 furþe—forth

4870 out—owte

4871 out forþe—owte forth

4872 forme[s]—formes



[The .5.the prose.]


[* fol. 38.]

But what Although there are in objects certain qualities which strike externally upon the senses, and put their instruments in motion; although the passive impression upon the body precedes the action of the mind, [yif] þat in bodies to ben feelid þat is
to sein in þe takynge of knowelechinge of bodyly
þinges. and al be it so þat þe qualites of bodies þat ben
obiect fro wiþ oute forþe moeuen and entalenten þe instrumentes 4876
of þe wittes. and although the former rouses the latter to action, yet if in the perception of bodily things, the soul is not by the impression of external things made to know these things, but by its own power judgeth of these bodily impressions, and al be it so þat þe passioun
of þe body þat is to seyn þe witte [or the] suffraunce
[goth to-forn the strengthe of the workynge corage / the
which passioun or suffraunce] clepiþ furþe þe dede of 4880
þe þouȝt in hym self. and moeueþ and exiteþ in þis
mene while þe formes þat resten wiþ in forþe. and yif
þat in sensible bodies as I haue seid oure corage nis nat
ytauȝt or enprentid by passioun to knowe þise þinges. 4884
but demiþ and knoweþ of hys owen strengþe þe passioun
or suffraunce subiect to þe body. how much more shall those pure spiritual beings (as God or angels) discern things by an act of their understanding alone, without the aid of impressions from external objects? Moche more þan þoo
þinges þat ben absolut and quit fram alle talentȝ or
affecciouns of bodies. as god or hys aungels ne folwen 4888
nat in discernynge þinges obiect from wiþ oute forþe.
but þei accomplissen and speden þe dede of hir þouȝt For this reason, then, there are several sorts of knowing distributed among various beings. by þis resoun.
¶ þan þere comen many manere knowynges
to dyuerse and differyng substaunces. For sense (or sensation) destitute of all other knowledge is allotted to those creatures that have no motion, as shell-fish. for þe wit 4892
of þe body þe whiche witte is naked and despoyled of
alle oþer knowynges. þilke witte comeþ to bestes þat ne
mowen nat moeuen hem self here ne þere. as oystres
and muscles and oþer swiche shelle fysshe of þe see. 4896
þat cliuen and ben norissed to roches. But imagination is given to such brutes capable of motion, and having in some degree the power of desiring or refusing. but þe ymaginacioun
comeþ to remuable bestes þat semen to han talent
to fleen or to desiren any þinge. Reason, however, is the attribute of man alone, as Intelligence is that of God. but resoun is al only to
þe lynage of mankynde ryȝt as intelligence is oonly þe 4900
deuyne nature. Hence His (i. e. God’s) knowledge exceeds all other, comprehending both what belongs to His own nature, and what is comprehended by all inferior creatures. of whiche it folweþ þat þilke knowyng
is more worþe þan [th]is[e] oþer. syn it knoweþ by hys
169 propre nature nat only hys subiect. as who seiþ it ne
knoweþ nat al oonly þat apperteiniþ proprely to hys 4904
knowynge. but it knoweþ þe subgitȝ of alle oþer knowynges.


But how shall it be then, if sense and imagination oppose reason, affirming that the general idea of things, which reason thinks it so perfectly sees, is nothing? but how shal it þan be yif þat wit and ymaginacioun
stryuen aȝeins resonynge and sein þat of þilke
vniuersel þinges. þat resoun weneþ to seen þat it nis 4908
ryȝt nauȝt. For what falls under the cognisance of the senses and imagination cannot be general. for wit and ymaginacioun seyn þat þat. þat
is sensible or ymaginable it ne may nat ben vniuersel.
þan is eiþer þe iugement of resoun [soth]. ne þat
þer nis no þinge sensible. or ellys for þat resoun woot 4912
wel þat many þinges ben subiect to wit and to ymaginacioun.
þan is þe consepcioun of resoun veyn and fals
whiche þat lookeþ and comprehendiþ. þat þat is
sensible and synguler as uniuersele. But if reason should answer to this—that in her idea of what is general she comprehends whatever is sensible and imaginable; but as to the senses and imagination, they cannot attain to the knowledge of what is general, since their knowledge is confined to material figures; and therefore in all real knowledge of things we must give the greatest credit to that faculty which has a more steadfast and perfect judgment of things. and ȝif þat resoun 4916
wolde answeren aȝein to þise two þat is to sein to wit
and to ymaginacioun. and sein þat soþely she hir self.
þat is to seyn þat resoun lokeþ and comprehendiþ by
resoun of vniuersalite. boþe þat þat is sensible and þat 4920
þat is ymaginable. and þat þilke two þat is to seyn wit
and ymaginacioun ne mowen nat strecchen ne enhaunsen
hem self to knowynge of vniuersalite for þat
þe knowyng of hem ne may exceden nor sourmounten 4924
þe bodyly figure[s] ¶ Certys of þe knowyng of þinges
men auȝten raþer ȝeue credence to þe more stedfast and
to þe more perfit iugement. In a controversy of this kind ought not we, who possess faculties of reason, &c., to side with reason and espouse her cause? In þis manere stryuynge
þan we þat han strengþe of resonynge and of ymaginynge 4928
and of wit þat is to seyn by resoun and by ymaginacioun
and by wit. [and] we sholde raþer preise þe cause
of resoun. as who seiþ þan þe cause of wit or ymaginacioun.


The case is entirely similar when human reason thinks the Divine Intelligence cannot behold future events in any other way than she herself is capable of perceiving them. semblable þinge is it þat þe resoun of mankynde 4932
ne weneþ nat þat þe deuyne intelligence byholdeþ or
knoweþ þinges to comen. but ryȝt as þe resoun of mankynde
knoweþ hem. For thus you argue:— for þou arguist and seist þus.

What things are not necessitated cannot be foreknown; therefore there is no prescience of these things, for, if there were, everything would be fixed by an absolute necessity. 170 þat yif it ne seme nat to men þat somme þinges han certeyne 4936
and necessarie bytidynges. þei ne mowen nat ben wist
byforn certeynely to bytiden. þan nis [ther] no prescience
of þilke þinges. and yif we trowen þat prescience
ben in þise þinges. þan is þer no þinge þat it ne 4940
bitidiþ by necessite. If it were possible to enjoy the intelligence of the Deity, we should then deem it right that sense and imagination should yield to reason, and also judge it proper that human reason should submit to the Divine Intelligence. but certys yif we myȝten han þe
[* fol. 38 b.] iugement of þe deuyne þouȝt as we *ben parsoners of
resoun. ryȝt so as we han demed. it byhoueþ þat ymaginacioun
and wit ben byneþe resoun. ryȝt so wolde 4944
we demen þat it were ryȝtful þing þat mans resoun
auȝt[e] to summitten it self and to ben byneþe þe deuyne
þouȝt. Let us, therefore, strive to elevate ourselves to the height of the supreme intelligence—there shall reason see what she cannot discover in herself; and that is in what manner the prescience of God sees and defines all things; although they have no certain event; and she will see that this is no mere conjecture, but rather simple, supreme, and unlimited knowledge. for whiche þat yif we mowen. as who seiþ.
þat yif þat we mowen I conseil[e] þat we enhanse vs in 4948
to þe heyȝt of þilke souereyne intelligence. for þere shal
resoun wel seen þat þat it ne may nat by-holden in it
self. and certys þat is þis in what manere þe prescience
of god seeþ alle þinges certeins and difinissed al þouȝ þei 4952
ne han no certein issues or by-tydynges. ne þis is non
oppinioun but it is raþer þe simplicite of þe souereyn
science þat nis nat enclosed nor yshet wiþinne no boundes.

4873 [yif]—from C.

4878 [or the]—from C.
suffraunce—MS. suffisaunce, C. suffraunce

4879-80 [goth——suffraunce]—from C.

4883 seid—MS. seide, C. seyd

4887 quit—quite

4888 hys—hise

4889 discernynge—MS. discryuyng, C. discernynge

4893-94 witte—wit

4895 mowen—mowe
here ne þere—her and ther

4901 whiche—which

4902 [th]is[e] oþer—thise oothre

4907 aȝeins—ayein

4908 vniuersel—vniuersels

4911 [soth]—from C.

4914 fals whiche—false which

4917 wit—witte

4918 soþely—soothly

4923 knowynge—knowy

4926 ȝeue—yeuen

4930 [and]—from C.

4931 orand of

4938 [ther]—from C.

4939 trowen—trowe

4942 parsoners—parsoneres

4945 mans—mannes

4946 auȝt[e]—owte

4947 whiche—which

4948 þat yif—yif þat

4949 heyȝt—heihte

4952 þouȝ—MS. þouȝt

4955 no—none

[The 5the Metur.]


ÞE bestes Various are the shapes of created beings. Some creep along the ground and trace the dust in furrows as they go; passen by þe erþes by ful dyuerse figures 4956
for somme of hem han hir bodies strauȝt and
crepen in þe dust and drawen after hem a trais or a
forghe contynued. þat is to sein as addres or snakes.
others with nimble wings float through the air; and oþer bestes by [the] wandryng lyȝtnesse of hir 4960
wenges beten þe wyndes and ouer-swymmen þe spaces
of þe longe eyer by moist flee[y]nge. some with their feet impress the ground, or tread lightly o’er the meads, or seek the shady grove. and oþer bestes
gladen hem to diggen her traas or her stappes in þe
erþe wiþ hir goynge or wiþ her feet. or to gone eyþe[r] 4964
by þe grene feldes or [elles] to walken vnder þe wodes.
171 Though we see an endless variety of forms, yet all are prone; to the earth they bend their looks, increasing the heaviness of their dull sense. and al be it so þat þou seest þat þei alle discorden by
dyuerse formes. algate hire [faces] enclini[n]g heuieþ hire
dulle wittes. Man alone doth raise aloft his noble head; light and erect he spurns the earth. Onlyche þe lynage of man heueþ heyest hys 4968
heyȝe heued and stondeþ lyȝt wiþ hys vpryȝt body and
byholdeþ þe erþe vndir hym. Thou art admonished by this figure then, unless by sense deceived, that whilst taught by thy lofty mien to look above, thou shouldst elevate thy mind lest it sink below its proper level. [and] but-ȝif þou erþely man
wexest yuel oute of þi witte. þis figure amonesteþ þe þat
axest þe heuene wiþ þi ryȝt[e] visage. and hast areised 4972
þi forhede to beren vp on heye þi corage so þat þi þouȝt
ne be nat yheuied ne put lowe vndir foot. sen þat þi
body is so heye areised.

4957 somme—som

4959 forghe contynued—forwh Ikonntynued

4960 [the]—from C.

4963 hem—hem self

4964 or to goneand to gon

4965 [elles]—from C.

4967 [faces]—from C.

4968 Onlyche—Oonly

4970 erþe—erthes

4971 oute—owt

4972 ryȝt[e]—ryhte
hast—MS. haþe, C. hast

4973 forhede—foreheuyd
on heye—a heygh

4974 foot sen—foote syn


[The 6te prose and the laste.]



ÞEr-fore þan Since everything which is known is not, as I have shown, perceived by its own inherent properties, but by the faculties of those comprehending them, let us now examine the disposition of the Divine nature. as I haue shewed a litel her byforne þat 4976
al þinge þat is ywist nis nat knowen by hys nature
propre. but by þe nature of hem þat comprehenden it.
¶ Lat vs loke now in as moche as it is leueful to vs. as
who seiþ lat vs loken now as we mowen whiche þat þe 4980
estat is of þe deuyne substaunce so þat we mowen [ek]
knowen what his science is. All rational creatures agree in affirming that God is eternal. þe comune iugement of alle
creatures resonables þan is þis þat god is eterne. lat vs
considere þan what is eternite. For certys þat shal 4984
shewen vs to-gidre þe deuyne nature and þe deuyne
science And eternity is a full, total, and perfect possession of a life which shall never end. This will appear more clearly from a comparison with temporal things. ¶ Eternite þan is perfit possessioun and al
togidre of lijf interminable and þat sheweþ more clerely
by þe comparisoun or collacioun of temporel þinges. Temporal existence proceeds from the past to the present, and thence to the future. for 4988
al þing þat lyueþ in tyme it is present and procediþ fro
preteritȝ in to futures. þat is to sein. fro tyme passed
in to tyme comynge. And there is nothing under the law of time, which can at once comprehend the whole space of its existence. ne þer nis no þing establissed in
tyme þat may enbracen to-gidre al þe space of hys lijf. 4992


Having lost yesterday it does not as yet enjoy to-morrow; and as for to-day it consists only in the present transitory moment. for certys ȝit ne haþ it nat taken þe tyme of þe morwe.
and it haþ lost þat of ȝister-day. and certys in þe lijf
172 of þis day ȝe ne lyuen no more but ryȝt as in þis moeueable
and transitorie moment. Whatever, therefore, is subjected to a temporal condition, as Aristotle thought of the world, may be without beginning and without end; and although its duration may extend to an infinity of time, yet it cannot rightly be called eternal: for it doth not comprehend at once the whole extent of its infinite duration, having no knowledge of things future which are not yet arrived. þan þilke þinge þat suffriþ 4996
temporel condicioun. a[l]þoughe þat [it] bygan neuer
to be. ne þoughe it neuere cese forto be. as aristotle
demde of þe worlde. and al þouȝ þat þe lif of it be
strecchid wiþ infinite of tyme. [* fol. 39.] ȝit al*gates nis it no 5000
swiche þing þat men myȝten trowen by ryȝt þat it is
eterne. for al þouȝ þat it comprehende and embrace þe
space of life infinite. ȝit algates ne [em]braceþ it nat þe
space of þe lif alto-gidre. for it ne haþ nat þe futures 5004
þat ne ben nat ȝit. ne it ne haþ no lenger þe preteritȝ
þat ben ydon or ypassed. For what is eternal must be always present to itself and master of itself, and have always with it the infinite succession of time. but þilke þing þan þat haþ
and comprehendiþ to-gidre alle þe plente of þe lif interminable.
to whom þere ne failiþ nat of þe future. 5008
and to whom þer nis nat of þe preterit escapid nor
ypassed. þilk[e] same is ywitnessed or yproued by ryȝt
to ben eterne. and it byhoueþ by necessite þat þilke
þinge be alwey present to hym self and compotent. as 5012
who seiþ alwey present to hym self and so myȝty þat al
by ryȝt at hys plesaunce. and þat he haue al present
þe infinit of þe moeuable tyme. Therefore some philosophers, who had heard that Plato believed that this world had neither beginning nor end, falsely concluded, that the created universe was coeternal with its Creator. wherfore som men
trowen wrongefully þat whan þei heren þat it semid[e] 5016
to plato þat þis worlde ne had[de] neuer bygynnynge
of tyme. ne þat it neuere shal haue faylynge. þei wenen
in þis manere þat þis worlde ben maked coeterne wiþ
his makere. as who seiþ. þei wenen þat þis worlde and 5020
god ben maked to-gidre eterne. and it is a wrongful
wenynge. But it is one thing to be conducted through a life of infinite duration, which was Plato’s opinion of the world, and another thing to comprehend at once the whole extent of this duration as present which, it is manifest, can only belong to the Divine mind. for oþer þing is it to ben yladd by lif interminable
as plato graunted[e] to þe worlde. and oþer
þing is it to embracen to-gidre alle þe presence to þe lif 5024
interminable. þe whiche þing it is clere and manifest
173 þat it is propre to þe deuine þouȝt. Nor ought it to seem to us that God is prior to and more ancient than his creatures by the space of time, but rather by the simple and undivided properties of his nature. ne it ne sholde nat
semen to vs þat god is elder þan þinges þat ben ymaked
by quantite of tyme. but raþer by þe proprete of hys 5028
symple nature. The infinite progression of temporal things imitates the ever-present condition of an immovable life: for þis ilke infinit[e] moeuyng of temporel
þinges folwiþ þis presentarie estat of þe lijf inmoeueable.


and since it cannot copy nor equal it from an immovable and simply present state, it passes into motion and into an infinite measure of past and future time. and so as it ne may nat contrefeten it ne feynen
it ne ben euene lyke to it. for þe inmoeueablete. þat is 5032
to seyn þat is in þe eternite of god. ¶ it faileþ and
falleþ in to moeuynge fro þe simplicite of [the] presence
of god. and disencresiþ to þe infinite quantite of
future and of preterit. But since it cannot possess at once the whole extent of its duration, yet, as it never ceases wholly to be, it faintly emulates that whose perfection it can neither attain nor express, by attaching itself to the present fleeting moment, which, because it resembles the durable present time, imparts to those things that partake of it an appearance of existence. and so as it ne may nat han togidre 5036
al þe plente of þe lif. algates ȝitte for as moche as
it ne cesiþ neuere forto ben in som manere it semeþ
somde[l] to vs þat it folwiþ and resembliþ þilke þing
þat it ne may nat attayne to. ne fulfille. and byndeþ it 5040
self to som manere presence of þis litel and swifte
moment. þe whiche presence of þis lytele and swifte
moment. for þat it bereþ a manere ymage or lykenesse
of þe ay dwellynge presence of god. it graunteþ to 5044
swiche manere þinges as it bitidiþ to þat it semeþ hem
þat þise þinges han ben and ben But as it cannot stop or abide it pursues its course through infinite time, and by gliding along it continues its duration, the plenitude of which it could not comprehend, by abiding in a permanent state. and for [þat] þe presence
of swiche litel moment ne may nat dwelle þer-for
[it] rauyssid[e] and took þe infinit[e] wey of tyme. þat 5048
is to seyn by successioun. and by þis manere it is ydon.
for þat it sholde continue þe lif in goynge of þe whiche
lif it ne myȝt[e] nat embrace þe plente in dwellynge.
If we would follow Plato in giving things their right names, let us say that God is eternal and the world perpetual. and for þi yif we willen putte worþi name[s] to þinges 5052
and folwen plato. lat vs seyn þan soþely þat god is
eterne. and þat þe worlde is perpetuel. His knowledge, surpassing the progression of time, is ever present, containing the infinite space of past and future times, and embraces in his clear insight all things, as if they were now transacting. þan syn þat
euery iugement knoweþ and comprehendiþ by hys owen
nature þinges þat ben subiect vnto hym. þere is soþely 5056
al-wey to god an eterne and presentarie estat. and þe
174 science of hym þat ouer-passeþ alle temporel moe[ue]ment
dwelliþ in þe symplicite of hys presence and embraceþ
and considereþ alle þe infinit spaces of tymes 5060
preteritȝ and futures and lokeþ in þis symple knowynge
alle þinges of preterit ryȝt as þei weren ydoon presently
ryȝt now Prescience is, then, a foreknowledge, not of what is to come, but of the present and never-failing now (in which God sees all things as if immovably present). ¶ yif þou wolt þan þenke and avisen þe
[* fol. 39 b.] prescience by whiche it knoweþ al[le] þinges *þou ne 5064
shalt nat demen it as prescience of þinges to comen.


but þou shalt demen [it] more ryȝtfully þat it is science
of presence or of instaunce þat neuer ne fayleþ. Therefore foreknowledge is not so applicable a term as providence—for God looks down upon all things from the summit of the universe. for
whiche it nis nat ycleped prouidence but it sholde raþer 5068
be cleped purueaunce þat is establissed ful fer fro ryȝt
lowe þinges. and byholdeþ from a-fer alle þinges ryȝt as
it were fro þe heye heyȝte of þinges. Do you think that God imposes a necessity on things by beholding them? It is not so in human affairs. whi axest þou þan
or why disputest þou þan þat þilke þinges ben don by 5072
necessite whiche þat ben yseyen and yknowen by þe
deuyne syȝt. syn þat for soþe men ne maken nat þilke
þinges necessarie. whiche þat þe[i] seen be ydoon in
hire syȝt. Does your view of an action lay any necessity upon it? for addiþ þi byholdynge any necessite to þilke 5076
þinges þat þou byholdest present. B. No. ¶ Nay quod I. P. By parity of reason it is clear that whilst you see only some things in a limited instant, God sees all things in his ever-present time. p.
Certys þan yif men myȝte maken any digne comparisoun
or collacioun of þe presence diuine. and of þe presence
of mankynde. ryȝt so as ȝe seen somme þinges in þis 5080
temporel presente. ryȝt so seeþ god alle þinges by hys
eterne present. His Divine prescience therefore does not change the nature of things—but only beholds those things as present to him which shall in time be produced. ¶ wherfore þis dyuyne prescience ne
chaungeþ nat þe nature ne þe proprete of þinges but
byholdeþ swyche þinges present to hym ward. as þei 5084
shollen bytiden to ȝow ward in tyme to come. Nor does he judge confusedly of them, but knows at one view what will necessarily and what will not necessarily happen. ne it ne
confoundeþ nat þe Iugementȝ of þinges but by of syȝt
of hys þouȝt he knoweþ þe þinges to comen as wel
necessarie as nat necessarie. ryȝt so as whan ȝe seen togidre 5088
a man walke on þe erþe and þe sonne arysen in
[the] heuene. al be it so þat ȝe seen and byholden þat
175 oon and þat oþer to-gidre. ȝit naþeles ȝe demen and
discerne þat þat oon is uoluntarie and þat oþer is necessarie. 5092


The eye of God, seeing all things, doth not alter the properties of things, for everything is present to him, though its temporal event is future. ¶ Ryȝt so þan [the] deuyne lokynge byholdynge
alle þinges vndir hym ne troubleþ nat þe qualite of
þinges þat ben certeynely present to hym ward. but as
to þe condicioun of tyme for soþe þei ben future. When God knows that anything is to be, he knows at the same time that it is not under the necessity of being—but this is not conjecture, but certain knowledge founded upon truth. for 5096
whiche it folwiþ þat þis nis non oppinioun. but raþer a
stedfast knowyng ystrengeþed by soþenes. þat whan
þat god knoweþ any þinge to be he ne vnwoot nat þat
þilke þinge wanteþ necessite to be. þis is to seyn þat 5100
whan þat god knoweþ any þinge to bitide. he woot wel
þat it ne haþ no necessite to bitide. If you insist that what God foresees shall and must happen; and that which cannot do otherwise than happen, must needs happen, and so bind me to admit a necessity, I must confess that things are under such a restraint; but it is a truth that we scarce can comprehend, unless we be acquainted with the Divine counsels. and yif þou seist
here þat þilke þinge þat god seeþ to bytide it ne may
nat vnbytide. as who seiþ it mot bitide. ¶ and þilke 5104
þinge þat þat ne may nat vnbytide it mot bitide by
necessite. and þat þou streine me to þis name of necessite.
certys I wol wel confessen and byknowe a þinge of
ful sadde trouþe. but vnneþ shal þere any wyȝt [mowe] 5108
seen it or comen þer-to. but yif þat he be byholder of þe
deuyne þouȝte. For I will answer you thus. That the thing which is to happen in relation to the Divine knowledge is necessary; but, considered in its own nature, seems free and absolute. ¶ for I wol answere þe þus. þat þilke
þinge þat is future whan it is referred to þe deuyne
knowyng þan is it necessarie. but certys whan it is vndirstonden 5112
in hys owen kynde men sen it [is] vtterly fre
and absolut from alle necessite. There are two kinds of necessity—one simple; as men must necessarily die—the other is conditional, as if you know a man walks he must necessarily walk—for that which is known cannot be otherwise than what it is apprehended to be. for certys þer ben two
maneres of necessites. þat oon necessite is symple as
þus. þat it byhoueþ by necessite þat alle men be mortal 5116
or dedely. an oþer necessite is condicionel as þus. yif
þou wost þat a man walkiþ. it byhoueþ by necessite þat
he walke. þilke þinge þan þat any wyȝt haþ yknowe to
be. it ne may ben non oþer weyes þan he knoweþ it to be. 5120


But this condition does not infer the absolute necessity, for the nature of the thing itself does not here constitute the necessity, but the necessity arises from the conjunction of the condition. ¶ but þis condicioun ne draweþ nat wiþ hir þilke
necessite symple. For certys þis necessite condicionel.
176 þe propre nature of it ne makeþ it nauȝt. but þe adieccioun
of þe condicioun makiþ it. No necessity compels a man to walk who does so willingly, but it must be necessary that he walk when he does step forward. for no necessite ne constreyneþ 5124
a man to [gon / þat] gooþ by his propre wille. al be it
so þat whan he gooþ þat it is necessarie þat he gooþ.

So everything that is present to the eye of Providence must assuredly be, although there is nothing in its own nature to constitute that necessity. ¶ Ryȝt on þis same manere þan. yif þat þe purueaunce
of god seeþ any þing present. [* fol. 40.] þan mot þilke *þinge be 5128
by necessite. al þouȝ þat it ne haue no necessite of hys
owen nature. Since God beholds all future events proceeding from free-will as actually present—these events in relation to Divine sight are necessary—yet in relation to themselves they are absolutely free. but certys þe futures þat bytyden by fredom
of arbitre god seeþ hem alle to-gidre presentȝ. þise
þinges þan [yif] þei ben referred to þe deuyne syȝt. 5132
þan ben þei maked necessarie to þe condicioun of þe
deuyne knowynge. but certys yif þilke þinges ben considred
by hem self þei ben absolut of necessite. and ne
forleten nat ne cesen nat of þe liberte of hire owen 5136
nature. All things which God foresees shall surely come to pass; but some of these things proceed from free-will, which although they happen, yet do not thereby change their nature, þan certys wiþ outen doute alle þe þingus
shollen be doon whiche þat god woot by-forn þat þei
ben to comen. but somme of hem comen and bitiden of
[free] arbitre or of fre wille. þat al be it so þat þei bytiden. 5140


as before they happened they had it in their power not to happen. ȝit algates ne lese þei nat hire propre nature ne
beynge. by þe whiche first or þat þei were doon þei
hadden power nat to han bitidd. But it is a thing of no moment then, whether things are necessary in their own nature or not, since by the condition of the Divine knowledge they fell out as if they were necessitated. Boece. what is þis
to seyn þan quod I. þat þinges ne ben nat necessarie by 5144
hire propre nature. so as þei comen in alle maneres in
þe lykenesse of necessite by þe condicioun of þe deuyne
science. P. The difference is explained in the instances lately given you, of the man walking, &c. Philosophie. þis is þe difference quod she. þat
þo þinges þat I purposed[e] þe a litel here byforn. þat 5148
is to seyn þe sonne arysynge and þe man walkynge þat
þerwhiles þat þilke þinges ben ydon. þei ne myȝten nat
ben vndon. The event of the former was necessary before it befell, whereas that of the latter was altogether free. naþeles þat oon of hem or it was ydon it
byhoued[e] by necessite þat it was ydon. but nat þat 5152
er. ryȝt so it is here þat þe þinges þat god haþ present.
177 wiþ outen doute þei shulle ben. but somme of hem descendiþ
of þe nature of þinges as þe sonne arysynge.
and somme descendiþ of þe power of þe doers as þe man 5156
walkynge. B. Then I did not go from the truth when I said that some things referred to the Divine knowledge are necessary, while considered in themselves they are not under the bond of necessity. ¶ þan seide I. no wronge þat yif þat þise
þinges ben referred to þe deuyne knowynge þan ben þei
necessarie. and yif þei ben considered by hem selfe þan
ben þei absolut from þe bonde of necessite. In the same way everything that is an object of sense is general when considered in relation to reason—but particular when considered by itself. ryȝt so [as] 5160
alle þinges þat appiereþ or sheweþ to þe wittes yif þou
referre it to resoun it is vniuersel. and yif þou referre
it or look[e] it to it self. þan is it synguler. But you may say—If I am able to change my purpose I can deceive providence by changing that which she hath foreseen I would do. but now
yif þou seist þus þat yif it be in my power to chaunge 5164
my purpose. þan shal I voide þe purueaunce of god.
whan þat perauenture I shal han chaunged þo þinges
þat he knoweþ byforn. þan shal I answere þe þus


P. You may perhaps alter your purpose—but as providence takes note of your intentions, you cannot deceive her; for you cannot escape the divine prescience though you have the power, through a free-will, to vary and diversify your actions. ¶ Certys þou maist wel chaungen þi purpos but for as 5168
mochel as þe present soþenesse of þe deuyne purueaunce
byholdeþ þat þou mayst chaungen þi purpose. and
wheþir þou wolt chaunge it or no. and whider-ward
þat þou tourne it. þou maist nat eschewen þe deuyne 5172
prescience ryȝt as þou ne mayst nat fleen þe syȝt of þe
present eye. al þouȝ þat þou tourne þi self by þi fre
wille in to dyuerse accioun. But you may say—Shall the divine knowledge be changed according to the mutability of my disposition, and the apprehensions of the Deity fluctuated with my changing purposes? ¶ But þou mayst seyn
aȝeyne how shal it þan be. shal nat þe dyuyne science 5176
ben chaunged by my disposicioun whan þat I wol o
þing now and now an oþer. and þilke prescience ne
semeþ it nat to enterchaunge stoundes of knowynges.
as who seiþ. ne shal it nat seme to vs þat þe deuyne 5180
prescience enterchaungeþ hys dyuers stoundes of knowynge.
so þat it knowe somme tyme o þing and somme tyme
þe contrarie. No, indeed! The view of the Deity foreruns every future event, and brings it back into the presence of his own knowledge, which does not vary, as you imagine, to conform to your caprices, but remaining fixed, at once foresees and comprehends all your changes. ¶ No for soþe. [quod I] for þe deuyne syȝt
renneþ to-forne and seeþ alle futures and clepeþ hem aȝein 5184
178 and retourniþ hem to þe presence of hys propre knowynge.
ne he ne entrechaungeþ nat [so] as þou wenest þe
stoundes of forknowyng [as] now þis now þat. but he
ay dwellynge comiþ byforn and enbraceþ at o strook 5188
alle þi mutaciouns. This faculty of comprehending and seeing all things as present, God does not receive from the issue of futurities, but from the simplicity of his own nature. and þis presence to comprehenden
and to sen alle þinges. god ne haþ nat taken it of þe
bitydynge of þinges forto come. but of hys propre symplicite.


Here, then, is an answer to your former objection—that it is folly to think that our future actions and events are the causes of the prescience of God. ¶ and her by is assoiled þilke þing þat þou 5192
puttest a litel her byforne. þat is to seyne þat it is vnworþi
þinge to seyn þat oure futures ȝeuen cause of þe
science of god For the Divine mind, embracing and comprehending all things by a present knowledge, plans and directs all things and is not dependent upon futurity. [* fol. 41 b.] ¶ For certys *þis strengþe of þe deuyne
science whiche þat enbraceþ alle þinge by his presentarie 5196
knowynge establisseþ manere to alle þingus and it
ne awiþ nat to lattere þinges. Since no necessity is imposed upon things by the Divine prescience, there remains to men an inviolable freedom of will. and syn þat þise þinges
ben þus. þat is to seyn syn þat necessite nis nat in
þinges by þe deuyne prescience. þan is þer fredom of 5200
arbitre. þat dwelleþ hool and vnwemmed to mortal men.
And those laws are just which assign rewards and punishments to men possessing free-will. ne þe lawes ne purpose nat wikkedly meedes and peynes
to þe willynges of men þat ben vnbounde and quit of
alle necessite.

Moreover, God, who sits on high, foreknows all things, and the eternal presence of his knowledge concurs with the future quality of our actions, dispensing rewards to good and punishments to evil men. ¶ And god byholder and forwiter of 5204
alle þinges dwelliþ aboue and þe present eternite of hys
syȝt renneþ alwey wiþ þe dyuerse qualite of oure dedes
dispensyng and ordeynynge medes to good[e] men. and
tourmentȝ to wicked men. Nor are our hopes and prayers reposed in, and addressed to God in vain, which when they are sincere cannot be inefficacious nor unsuccessful. ne in ydel ne in veyn ne ben 5208
þer nat put in god hope and prayeres. þat ne mowen
nat ben vnspedful ne wiþ oute effect whan þei ben ryȝtful

Resist and turn from vice—honour and love virtue, exalt your mind to God (the truest hope), offer up your prayers with humility. ¶ wiþstond þan and eschewe þou vices. worshippe
and loue þou vertus. areise þi corage to ryȝtful hoopes. 5212
ȝelde þou humble preiers an heyȝe. If you are sincere you will feel that you are under an obligation to lead a good and virtuous life, inasmuch as all your actions and works are done in the presence of an all-discerning Judge. grete necessite of
prowesse and vertue is encharged and comaunded to
ȝow yif ȝe nil nat dissimulen. ¶ Syn þat ȝe worchen
and doon. þat is to seyn ȝoure dedes and ȝoure workes 5216
179 by-fore þe eyen of þe Iuge þat seeþ and demeþ alle
þinges. [To whom be goye and worshipe bi Infynyt
tymes / AMEN.]


4977 al þinge—alle thinges

4979 moche—mochel

4980 loken—loke

4981 [ek]—from C.

4987 clerely—cleerly

4989 al—alle

4993-4 haþ—MS. haþe

4993 þe (2)—to

4994 þat—the tyme

4997 a[l]þoughe—al-thogh
[it]—from C.

4999 worlde—world

5001 swiche—swych

5002 eterne—from C., MS. eternite

5003 life—lyf

5004-5-6 haþ—MS. haþe

5006 ydon—MS. ydone, C. I-doon

5007 alle—al

5008-9 nat—nawht

5010 þilk[e]—thilke

5014 by—be

5016 semid[e]—semede

5017 worlde—world

5018 haue—han

5019-20 worlde—world

5022 yladd—MS. yladde, C. I-lad

5023 worlde—world

5024 embracen—enbrace
presence to—present of

5025 clere—cleer

5032 lyke—lyk

5034 [the]—from C.

5039 somde[l]—somdel

5040 fulfille—fullfyllen

5041 litel—from C., MS. lykly

5042 whiche—which
lytele—from C., MS. lykly

5046 ben (1)—yben
[þat]—from C.

5047 swiche—swych

5048 [it]—from C.

5051 myȝt[e]—myhte

5052 willen putte—wollen putten

5053 soþely—sothly

5054 worlde—world

5055 owen—owne

5056 soþely—sothly

5057 al-wey—al-weys

5058 alle—al

5063 þenke—thinken

5064 whiche—which

5066 shalt—shal
[it]—from C.

5068 whiche—which

5074-76 syȝt—syhte

5075 whiche—which

5085 come—comyn

5086 of syȝt—O syhte

5087 he knoweþ—MS. repeats

5090 [the]—from C.

5092 discerne—discernen

5093 [the]—from C.

5097 whiche—which

5098 stedfast—stidefast

5102 haþ—MS. haþe

5104 bitide—bide

5108 sadde—sad
[mowe]—from C.

5109 comen—come

5110 þouȝte—thoght

5113 sen—MS. sene, C. sen
[is]—from C.

5117 dedely—dedly

5119 haþ—MS. haþe

5121 condicioun—from C., MS. necessite

5123 nauȝt—nat

5125 [gon þat]—from C.

5128 mot—MS. mote, C. mot

5131 presentȝ—present

5132 [yif]—from C.

5137 wiþ outen—with-owte

5138 whiche—which

5139 somme—som

5140 [free]—from C.

5141 ne (2)—C. in

5142 whiche—which
were doon—weeryn Idoon

5143 bitidd—MS. bitidde, C. bityd

5148 purposed[e]—purposede

5150 ydon—MS. ydone, C. I-doon

5151 vndon—MS. vndone, C. vndoon

5151-2 ydon—MS. ydone, C. I-doon

5152 byhoued[e]—houyd

5153 haþ—MS. haþe

5154 wiþ outen—with-owte

5156 doers—doeres

5157 wronge—wrong

5159 selfe—self

5160 from—fro
[as]—from C.

5163 look[e]—loke

5166 þo—the

5169 soþenesse—sothnesse

5170 chaungen—chaunge

5173 syȝt—syhte

5175 wille—wyl

5177 wol—wole

5179 enterchaunge—MS. enterchaungyng, C. entrechaunge

5181 hys—hise

5182 somme (1)—sum
somme (2)—som

5183 syȝt—syhte

5184 to-forne—to-forn

5186 [so]—from C.

5187 [as]—from C.

5188 comiþ—comth

5190 haþ—MS. haþe

5193 seyne—seyn

5196 whiche—which

5198 awiþ—oweth

5199 þat is to——prescience—omitted

5203 vnbounde—vnbownden

5206 syȝt—sihte

5207 good[e]—goode

5211 wiþstond—MS. wiþstonde, C. withstond

5213 an heyȝe—a heygh

5215 worchen—workyn

5216 and (2)—or

5217 by-fore—by-forn

5218 [To whom——Amen]—from C.; MS. reads et cetera after ‘þinges.’ C. ends with the following rubric:

Explicit expliceat ludere scriptor eat

Finito libro sit laus et gloria Christo

Corpore scribentis sit gratia cunctipotentis




[Camb. Univ. MS. Ii. 3. 21, fol. 52 b.]

Chawcer vp-on this fyfte metur of the second book

A Blysful lyf a paysyble and a swete

Ledden the poeples in the former age

They helde hem paied of the fructes þat þey ete

Whiche þat the feldes yaue hem by vsage 4

They ne weere nat forpampred with owtrage

Onknowyn was þe quyerne and ek the melle

They eten mast hawes and swych pownage

And dronken water of the colde welle 8

¶ Yit nas the grownd nat wownded with þe plowh

But corn vp-sprong vnsowe of mannes hond

Þe which they gnodded and eete nat half .I.-nowh

No man yit knewe the forwes of his lond 12

No man the fyr owt of the flynt yit fonde

Vn-koruen and vn-grobbed lay the vyne

No man yit in the morter spices grond

To clarre ne to sawse of galentyne 16

¶ No Madyr welde or wod no litestere

Ne knewh / the fles was of is former hewe

No flessh ne wyste offence of egge or spere

No coyn ne knewh man which is fals or trewe 20

No ship yit karf the wawes grene and blewe

No Marchaunt yit ne fette owt-landissh ware

No batails trompes for the werres folk ne knewe

Ne towres heye and walles rownde or square 24


¶ What sholde it han avayled to werreye

Ther lay no profyt ther was no rychesse

[fol. 53.]

But corsed was the tyme .I. dar) wel seye

Þat men fyrst dede hir swety bysynesse 28

To grobbe vp metal lurkynge in dirkenesse

And in þe Ryuerys fyrst gemmys sowhte

Allas than sprong+ vp al the cursydnesse

Of coueytyse þat fyrst owr sorwe browhte 32

¶ Thyse tyrauntȝ put hem gladly nat in pres

No places wyldnesse ne no busshes for to wynne

Ther pouerte is as seith diogenes

Ther as vitayle ek is so skars and thinne 36

Þat nat but mast or apples is ther Inne

But þer as bagges ben and fat vitaile

Ther wol they gon and spare for no synne

With al hir ost the Cyte forto a-sayle 40

¶ Yit was no paleis chaumbres ne non halles

In kaues and wodes softe and swete

Sleptin this blyssed folk+ with-owte walles

On gras or leues in parfyt Ioye reste and quiete 44

No down of fetheres ne no bleched shete

Was kyd to hem but in surte they slepte

Hir hertes weere al on with-owte galles

Euerych of hem his feith to oother kepte 48

¶ Vnforged was the hawberke and the plate

Þe lambyssh poeple voyded of alle vyse

Hadden no fantesye to debate

But eche of hem wolde oother wel cheryce 52

No pride non enuye non Auaryce

No lord no taylage by no tyranye

Vmblesse and pes good feith the emperice

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 56


¶ Yit was nat Iuppiter the lykerous

Þat fyrst was fadyr of delicasie

Come in this world ne nembroth desyrous

To regne had nat maad his towres hye 60

Allas allas now may [men] wepe And crye

For in owre dayes nis but couetyse

Dowblenesse and tresoun and enuye

Poyson and manslawhtre and mordre in sondry wyse 64

39, 40 MS. transposes the lines

44 On—MS. Or

56 A line omitted, but no gap left for one.


Causer / Balades de vilage sanz peinture

¶ This wrecched worlde-is transmutacioun

As wele / or wo / now poeere and now honour

With-owten ordyr or wis descresyoun

Gouerned is by fortunes errour 4

But natheles the lakke of hyr fauowr)

Ne may nat don me syngen thowh I. deye

[fol. 53 b.]

Iay tout perdu moun temps et moun labour

For fynaly fortune .I. the deffye 8

¶ Yit is me left the lyht of my resoun

To knowen frend fro foo in thi merowr)

So mochel hath yit thy whirlynge vp and down

I-tawht me for to knowe in an howr 12

But trewely no fors of thi reddowr)

To hym þat ouer hym self hath the maystrye

My suffysaunce shal be my socour)

For fynaly fortune I. thee deffye 16

¶ O socrates þou stidfast chaumpyoun

She neuer myht[e] be thi tormentowr

Thow neuer dreddest hyr oppressyoun

Ne in hyr chere fownde thow no sauour) 20

Thow knewe wel the deseyte of hyr colour)

And þat hir most[e] worshipe is to lye

I knew hir ek a fals dissimulour)

For fynaly fortune .I. the deffye 24

Le respounce de fortune a pleintif.

¶ No man ys wrechchyd but hym self yt wene

And he þat hath hym self hat suffisaunce

Whi seysthow thanne y am [to] the so kene

Þat hast thy self owt of my gouernaunce 28

Sey thus graunt mercy of thyn haboundaunce

That thow hast lent or this why wolt þou stryue

What woost thow yit how y the wol auaunce

And ek thow hast thy beste frende a-lyue 32

¶ I haue the tawht deuisyoun by-twene

Frend of effect+ and frende of cowntenaunce

The nedeth nat the galle of no hyene

Þat cureth eyen derkyd for penaunce 36

Now se[st] thow cleer þat weere in ignoraunce

Yit halt thin ancre and yit thow mayst aryue

Ther bownte berth the keye of my substaunce

And ek þou hast thy beste frende alyue 40

¶ How manye haue .I. refused to sustigne

Syn .I. the fostred haue in thy plesaunce

Wolthow thanne make a statute on þy quyene

Þat .I. shal ben ay at thy ordynaunce 44

Thow born art in my regne of varyaunce

Abowte the wheel with oother most thow dryue

My loore is bet than wikke is thi greuaunce

And ek þou hast thy beste frende a-lyue 48

37 se[st]—partly erased and ist written on it in a later hand.

41 igne of sustigne is in a later hand.

Le Respounce du pleintif countre fortune.
[fol. 54.]

¶ Thy loore y dempne / it is aduersyte

My frend maysthow nat reuen blynde goddesse

Þat .I. thy frendes knowe .I. thanke to the

Tak hem agayn / lat hem go lye on presse 52

The negardye in kepynge hyr rychesse

Prenostik is thow wolt hir) towr) asayle


Wikke appetyt comth ay before sykenesse

In general this rewle may nat fayle 56

Le respounce de fortune countre le pleintif

¶ Thow pynchest at my mutabylyte

For .I. the lente a drope of my rychesse

And now me lykyth to with-drawe me

Whi sholdysthow my realte apresse 60

The see may ebbe and flowen moore or lesse

The welkne hath myht to shyne reyne or hayle

Ryht so mot .I. kythen my brutelnesse

In general this rewle may nat fayle 64

Le pleintif

¶ Lo excussyoun of the maieste

Þat al purueyeth of his ryhtwysnesse

That same thinge fortune clepyn ye

Ye blynde beestys ful of lewednesse 68

The heuene hath proprete of sykyrnesse

This world hath euer resteles trauayle

Thy laste day is ende of myn inter[e]sse

In general this rewele may nat fayle 72

Lenuoy de fortune

¶ Prynses .I. prey yow of yowre gentilesses

Lat nat this man on me thus crye and pleyne

And .I. shal quyte yow yowre bysynesse

At my requeste as thre of yow or tweyne 76

Þat but yow lest releue hym of hys peyne

Preyeth hys best frend of his noblesse

That to som betere estat he may attayne


The following section contains the text alone of Chaucer’s translation of De Consolatione Philosophiae, without the editor’s annotations. It is followed by the Glossarial Index.



[The fyrste Metur.]
Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi.

Allas I wepyng am constreined to bygynne vers of sorouful matere. ¶ Þat whilom in florysching studie made delitable ditees. For loo rendyng muses of poetes enditen to me þinges to be writen. and drery vers of wrecchednes weten my face wiþ verray teers. ¶ At þe leest no drede ne myȝt[e] ouer-come þo muses. þat þei ne weren felawes and folweden my wey. þat is to seyne when I was exiled. þei þat weren glorie of my youȝth whilom weleful and grene conforten now þe sorouful werdes of me olde man. for elde is comen vnwarly vpon me hasted by þe harmes þat I haue. and sorou haþ comaunded his age to be in me. ¶ Heeres hore ben schad ouertymelyche vpon myne heued. and þe slak[e] skyn trembleþ vpon myn emty body. þilk[e] deeþ of men is welful þat ne comeþ not in ȝeres þat ben swete (.i. mirie.) but comeþ to wrecches often yclepid.

¶ Allas allas wiþ how deef an eere deeþ cruel tourneþ awey fro wrecches and naieþ to closen wepyng eyen. ¶ While fortune vnfeiþful fauored[e] me wiþ lyȝte goodes (.s. temporels.) þe sorouful houre þat is to seyne þe deeþ had[de] almost dreynt myne heued. ¶ But now for fortune clowdy haþ chaunged hir disceyuable chere to me warde. myn vnpitouse lijf draweþ a long vnagreable dwellynges in me. ¶ O ȝe my [5] frendes what or wherto auaunted[e] ȝe me to be weleful: for he þat haþ fallen stood not in stedfast degree.

[The firste prose.] HIC DUM MECUM TACITUS.

IN þe mene while þat I stille recorded[e] þise þinges wiþ my self. and markede my wepli compleynte wiþ office of poyntel. I saw stondyng aboue þe heyȝt of my heued a woman of ful greet reuerence by semblaunt hir eyen brennyng and clere seing ouer þe comune myȝt of men. wiþ a lijfly colour and wiþ swiche vigoure and strenkeþ þat it ne myȝt[e] not be emptid. ¶ Al were it so þat sche was ful of so greet age. þat men ne wolde not trowe in no manere þat sche were of oure elde. þe stature of hir was of a doutous iugement. for sumtyme sche constreyned[e] and schronk hir seluen lyche to þe comune mesure of men. and sumtyme it semed[e] þat sche touched[e] þe heuene wiþ þe heyȝte of hir heued. and when sche hef hir heued heyer sche perced[e] þe selue heuene. so þat þe syȝt of men lokyng was in ydel. ¶ Hir cloþes weren maked of ryȝt delye þredes and subtil crafte of perdurable matere. þe wyche cloþes sche hadde wouen wiþ hir owen hondes: as I knew wel aftir by hir selfe. declaryng and schewyng to me þe beaute. þe wiche cloþes a derkenes of a forleten and dispised elde had[de] duskid and dirkid as it is wont to dirken by-smoked ymages. ¶ In þe neþerest[e] [6] hem or bordure of þese cloþes men redden ywouen in swiche a gregkysche .P. þat signifieþ þe lijf actif. And abouen þat lettre in þe heyȝest[e] bordure a grekysche T. þat signifieþ þe lijf contemplatif. ¶ And by-twene þese two lettres þere weren seien degrees nobly wrouȝt in manere of laddres. By wyche degrees men myȝt[en] clymbe fro þe neþemast[e] lettre to þe ouermast[e]. ¶ Naþeles hondes of sum men hadde korue þat cloþe by vyolence and by strenkeþ. ¶ And eueryche man of hem hadde born away syche peces as he myȝte geet[e]. ¶ And forsoþe þis forsaide woman ber bookes in hir ryȝt honde. and in hir lefte honde sche ber a ceptre. ¶ And when sche sauȝ þese poetical muses aprochen aboute my bedde. and endytyng wordes to my wepynges. sche was a lytel ameued and glowed[e] wiþ cruel eyen. ¶ Who quod sche haþ suffred aprochen to þis seek[e] man þise comune strumpetis of siche a place þat men clepen þe theatre. ¶ Þe wyche only ne asswagen not his sorowes. wiþ no remedies. but þei wolde fede and norysche hem wiþ swete venym. ¶ Forsoþe þise ben þo þat wiþ þornes and prykkynges of talentȝ or affecciouns wiche þat ben no þing frutefiyng nor profitable destroyen þe cornes plenteuouse of frutes of reson. ¶ For þei holden þe hertes of men in usage. but þei ne delyuere not folk fro maladye. but if ȝe muses hadde wiþdrawen [7] fro me wiþ ȝoure flateries. any vnkonnyng and vnprofitable man as men ben wont to fynde comunely amonges þe peple. I wolde wene suffre þe lasse greuously. ¶ For-why in syche an vnprofitable man myne ententes weren no þing endamaged. ¶ But ȝe wiþdrawen me þis man þat haþ ben norysched in studies or scoles of Eleaticis and of achademicis in grece. ¶ But goþ now raþer awey ȝe meremaydenes wyche ben swete til it be at þe laste. and suffreþ þis man to be cured and heled by myne muses. þat is to say by notful sciences. ¶ And þus þis compaygnie of muses I-blamed casten wroþely þe chere adounward to þe erþe and schewyng by redenesse hir schame þei passeden sorowfuly þe þreschefolde. ¶ And I of whom þe syȝt plonged in teres was derked so þat I ne myȝt[e] not knowe what þat woman was of so imperial auctorite. ¶ I wex al a-besid and astoned. and caste my syȝt adoune in to þe erþe. and bygan stille forto abide what sche wolde don afterwarde. ¶ Þo come sche nere and sette hir doun vpon þe vterrest[e] corner of my bedde. and sche byholdyng my chere þat was cast to þe erþe heuy and greuous of wepyng. compleinede wiþ þise wordes þat I schal sey þe perturbacioun of my þouȝt.


Allas how þe þouȝt of man dreint in ouer þrowyng depnesse dulleþ and forletiþ hys propre clerenesse. myntynge to gone in to foreyne derknesses as ofte as hys anoious bisines wexiþ wiþ-outen mesure. [8] þat is dryuen to and fro wiþ worldly wyndes. ¶ Þis man þat sumtyme was fre to whom þe heuene was open and knowen and was wont to gone in heuenelyche paþes. and sauȝ þe lyȝtnesse of þe rede sunne. and sauȝ þe sterres of þe colde moone. and wyche sterre in heuene vseþ wandryng risorses yflit by dyuerse speres. ¶ Þis man ouer comere hadde comprehendid al þis by noumbre. of accountyng in astronomye. ¶ And ouer þis he was wont to seche þe causes whennes þe sounyng wyndes moeuen and bisien þe smoþe water of þe see. and what spirit turneþ þe stable heuene. and whi þe sterre ryseþ oute of þe reede eest. to falle in þe westren wawes. and what attempriþ þe lusty houres of þe fyrste somer sesoun þat hiȝteþ and apparaileþ þe erþe wiþ rosene floures. ¶ And who makeþ þat plenteuouse autumpne in fulle ȝeres fletiþ wiþ heuy grapes. ¶ And eke þis man was wont to telle þe dyuerses causes of nature þat weren yhid. ¶ Allas now lieþ he emptid of lyȝt of hys þouȝt. and hys nekke is pressid wiþ heuy cheynes and bereþ his chere enclined adoune for þe greet[e] weyȝt. and is constreyned to loke on foule erþe.


Bvt tyme is now quod sche of medicine more þen of compleynte. ¶ Forsoþe þen sche entendyng to me warde wiþ al þe lokyng of hir eyen saide. ¶ Art not þou he quod sche þat sumtyme I-norschid wiþ my mylke and fostre[d] wiþ my meetes were ascaped and comen to corage of a perfit man. ¶ Certys I ȝaf þe [9] syche armures þat ȝif þou þi self ne haddest first caste hem away. þei schulden haue defendid þe in sykernesse þat may not be ouer-comen. ¶ Knowest þou me not. Why art þou stille. is it for schame or for astonynge. It were me leuer þat it were for schame. but it semeþ me þat astonynge haþ oppressed þe. ¶ And whan sche say me not oonly stille. but wiþ-outen office of tonge and al doumbe. sche leide hir honde softely vpon my brest and seide. ¶ Here nis no peril quod sche. ¶ He is fallen in to a litargie. whiche þat is a comune sekenes to hertes þat ben desceiued. ¶ He haþ a litel forȝeten hym self. but certis he schal lyȝtly remembren hym self. ¶ Ȝif so be þat he haþ knowen me or now. and þat he may so done I wil wipe a litel hys eyen. þat ben derked by þe cloude of mortel þinges ¶ Þise wordes seide sche. and wiþ þe lappe of hir garment yplitid in a frounce sche dried[e] myn eyen þat were ful of þe wawes of my wepynges.

[The 3de Metur.] TUNC ME DISCUSSA.

Þus when þat nyȝt was discussed and chased awey. derknesses forleften me. and to myn eyen repeyre aȝeyne her firste strenkeþ. and ryȝt by ensample as þe sonne is hid when þe sterres ben clustred. þat is to sey when sterres ben couered wiþ cloudes by a swifte wynde þat hyȝt chorus. and þat þe firmament stont derked by wete ploungy cloudes. and þat þe sterres not apperen vpon heuene. ¶ So þat þe nyȝt semeþ sprad vpon erþe. ¶ Yif þan þe wynde þat hyȝt borias [10] sent out of þe kaues of þe contre of Trace betiþ þis nyȝt. þat is to seyn chasiþ it away and descouereþ þe closed day. ¶ Þan schineþ phebus yshaken wiþ sodeyne lyȝt and smyteþ wiþ hys bemes in meruelyng eyen.


Ryȝt so and none oþer wyse þe cloudes of sorowe dissolued and don awey. ¶ I took heuene. and receyuede mynde to knowe þe face of my fyciscien. ¶ So þat I sette myne eyen on hir and festned[e] my lokyng. I byholde my norice philosophie. in whos houses I hadde conuersed and haunted fro my ȝouþe. and I seide þus. ¶ O þou maistresse of alle uertues descendid fro þe souereyne sete. Whi art þou comen in to þis solitarie place of myn exil. ¶ Art þou comen for þou art mad coupable wiþ me of fals[e] blames. ¶ O quod sche my norry scholde I forsake þe now. and scholde I not parte wiþ þe by comune trauaille þe charge þat þou hast suffred for envie of my name. ¶ Certis it nar[e] not leueful ne sittyng to philosophie to leten wiþ-outen compaignie þe wey of hym þat is innocent. ¶ Scholde I þan redoute my blame and agrisen as þouȝ þer were byfallen a newe þing. q. d. non. ¶ For trowest þou þat philosophi be now alþerfirst assailed in perils by folk of wicked[e] maneres. ¶ Haue I not stryuen wiþ ful greet strife in olde tyme byfore þe age of my plato aȝeins þe foolhardines of foly and eke þe same plato lyuyng. hys maistre socrates deserued[e] victorie of vnryȝtful deeþ in my presence. ¶ Þe heritage of wyche socrates. þe heritage is to seyne [11] þe doctrine of þe whiche socrates in hys oppinioun of felicite þat I clepe welfulnesse ¶ Whan þat þe people of epicuriens and stoyciens and many oþer enforceden hem to go rauische eueryche man for his part þat is to seyne. þat to eueryche of hem wolde drawen to þe defence of his oppinioun þe wordes of socrates. ¶ Þei as in partie of hir preye todrowen me criynge and debatyng þer aȝeins. and tornen and torenten my cloþes þat I hadde wouen wiþ myn handes. and wiþ þe cloutes þat þei hadden arased oute of my cloþes. þei wenten awey wenyng þat I hadde gon wiþ hem euery dele. In whiche epicuryens and stoyciens. for as myche as þer semed[e] somme traces and steppes of myne habit. þe folye of men wenyng þo epicuryens and stoyciens my familers peruertede (.s. persequendo) somme þoruȝ þe errour of þe wikked[e] or vnkunnyng[e] multitude of hem. ¶ Þis is to seyne for þei semeden philosophres: þei weren pursued to þe deeþ and slayn. ¶ So yif þou hast not knowen þe exilynge of anaxogore. ne þe empoysenyng of socrates. ne þe tourmentȝ of ȝeno for þei [weren] straungers. ¶ Ȝit myȝtest þou haue knowen þe senectiens and þe Canyos and þe sorancis of wyche folk þe renoun is neyþer ouer oolde ne vnsolempne. ¶ Þe whiche men no þing ellys ne brouȝt[e] hem to þe deeþ but oonly for þei weren enfourmed of my maneres. and semeden moste vnlyke to þe studies of wicked folk. ¶ And forþi þou auȝtest not to wondre þouȝ þat I in þe bitter see of þis lijf be [12] fordryuen wiþ tempestes blowyng aboute. in þe whiche tempeste þis is my most purpos þat is to seyn to displese to wikked[e] men. ¶ Of whiche schrews al be þe oost neuer so grete it is to dispyse. for it nis gouerned wiþ no leder of resoune. but it is rauysched only by flityng errour folyly and lyȝtly. ¶ And if þei somtyme makyng an ost aȝeynest vs assaile vs as strengere. oure leder draweþ to gedir hys rycchesse in to hys toure. and þei ben ententif aboute sarpulers or sachels vnprofitable forto taken. but we þat ben heyȝ abouen syker fro al tumulte and wode noise. ben stored and enclosed in syche a palays. whider as þat chateryng or anoying folye ne may not attayne. ¶ We scorne swiche rauiners and honters of foulest[e] þinges.

[The ferthe Metur.] QUISQUIS COMPOSITO.

Who so it be þat is clere of vertue sad and wel ordinat of lyuyng. þat haþ put vnderfote þe prowed[e] wierdes and lokiþ vpryȝt vpon eyþer fortune. he may holde hys chiere vndiscomfited. ¶ Þe rage ne þe manace of þe commoeuyng or chasyng vpwarde hete fro þe botme. ne schal not moeue þat man. ne þe vnstable mountaigne þat hyȝt veseuus. þat wircheþ oute þoruȝ hys broken[e] chemineys smokyng fires. ¶ Ne þe wey of þonder lyȝt þat is wont to smyte heyȝe toures ne schal not mouene þat man. ¶ Wherto þen wrecches drede ȝe tyrauntes þat ben wode and felownes wiþ-outen ony strenkeþ. ¶ Hope after no þing ne drede nat. and [13] so schalt þou desarmen þe ire of þilke vnmyȝty tyraunt. ¶ But who so þat quakyng dredeþ or desireþ þing þat nis not stable of his ryȝt. þat man þat so doþ haþ cast awey hys schelde and is remoeued fro hys place. and enlaceþ hym in þe cheyne wiþ whiche he may be drawen.

[The verthe prose.] SENTIS NE INQUIT.

FElest þou quod sche þise þinges and entren þei ouȝt in þi corage. ¶ Art þou like an asse to þe harpe. Whi wepest þou whi spillest þou teres. ¶ Yif þou abidest after helpe of þi leche. þe byhoueþ discouere þi wounde. ¶ Þo .I. þat hadde gadered strenkeþ in my corage answered[e] and seide. and nedeþ it ȝitte quod .I. of rehersyng or of amonicioun. and scheweþ it not ynouȝ by hym self þe scharpnes of fortune þat wexeþ woode aȝeynes me. ¶ Ne moeueþ it nat þe to seen þe face or þe manere of þis place (.i. prisoun.). ¶ Is þis þe librarie wyche þat þou haddest chosen for a ryȝt certeyne sege to þe in myne house. ¶ Þere as þou desputest of[te] wiþ me of þe sciences of þinges touching diuinitee and touchyng mankynde. ¶ Was þan myn habit swiche as it is now.
quasi diceret non.
was þan my face or my chere swiche as now. ¶ Whan I souȝt[e] wiþ þe secretys of nature. whan þou enfourmedest my maners and þe resoun of al my lijf. to þe ensaumple of þe ordre of heuene.
¶ Is nat þis þe gerdoun þat I refere to þe to whom I haue be obeisaunt. ¶ Certis þou enfourmedist by þe mouþe of plato þis sentence. þat is to seyne þat commune þinges or comunabletes weren [14] blysful yif þei þat haden studied al fully to wisdom gouerneden þilke þinges. or ellys yif it so by-felle þat þe gouernours of communalites studieden in grete wisdomes. ¶ Þou saidest eke by þe mouþe of þe same plato þat it was a necessarie cause wyse men to taken and desire þe gouernaunce of comune þinges. for þat þe gouernementes of comune citees y-left in þe hondes of felonous tourmentours Citiȝenis ne scholde not brynge inne pestilence and destruccioun to goode folk. ¶ And þerfore I folowynge þilk auctoritee (.s. platonis). desiryng to put[te] furþe in execusioun and in acte of comune administracioun þo þinges þat .I. hadde lerned of þe among my secre restyng whiles. ¶ Þou and god þat put[te] þee in þe þouȝtis of wise folk ben knowen wiþ me þat no þing brouȝt[e] me to maistrie or dignite: but þe comune studie of al goodenes. ¶ And þer-of comeþ it þat by-twixen wikked folk and me han ben greuouse discordes. þat ne myȝten not be relesed by prayeres. ¶ For þis libertee haþ fredom of conscience þat þe wraþþe of more myȝty folk haþ alwey ben despised of me for saluacioun of ryȝt. ¶ How ofte haue .I. resisted and wiþstonde þilk man þat hyȝt[e] conigaste þat made alwey assautes aȝeins þe propre fortunes of poure feble folke. ¶ How ofte haue .I. ȝitte put of. or cast out hym trigwille prouost of þe kynges hous boþe of þe wronges þat he hadde bygon[ne] to done and eke fully performed. ¶ How ofte haue I couered and defended by þe auctorite of me put aȝeins perils. þat is to seine put myne auctorite in peril for þe wreched pore folke. þat [15] þe couetise of straungeres vnpunysched tourmentid alwey wiþ myseses and greuaunces oute of noumbre. ¶ Neuer man drow me ȝitte fro ryȝt to wrong. When I say þe fortunes and þe rychesse of þe people of þe prouinces ben harmed eyþer by priue rauynes or by comune tributis or cariages. as sory was I as þei þat suffred[e] þe harme. Glosa. ¶ Whan þat theodoric þe kyng of gothes in a dere ȝere hadde hys gerners ful of corne and comaundede þat no man ne schold[e] bie no corne til his corne were solde and þat at a dere greuous pris. ¶ But I withstod þat ordinaunce and ouer-com it knowyng al þis þe kyng hym self. ¶ Coempcioun þat is to seyn comune achat or bying to-gidere þat were establissed vpon poeple by swiche a manere imposicioun as who so bouȝt[e] a busshel corn he most[e] ȝeue þe kyng þe fifte part. Textus. ¶ Whan it was in þe soure hungry tyme þere was establissed or cried greuous and inplitable coempcioun þat men seyn wel it schulde greetly tourmentyn and endamagen al þe prouince of compaigne I took strif aȝeins þe prouost of þe pretorie for comune profit. ¶ And þe kyng knowyng of it I ouercom it so þat þe coempcioun ne was not axed ne took effect. ¶ Paulyn a counseiller of Rome þe rychesse of þe whyche paulyn þe houndys of þe palays. þat is to seyn þe officeres wolde han deuoured by hope and couetise ¶ Ȝit drow I hym out of þe Iowes .s. faucibus of hem þat gapeden. ¶ And for as myche as þe peyne of þe accusacioun aiuged byforn ne scholde not sodeynly henten ne punischen wrongfuly Albyn a counseiller of [16] Rome. I put[te] me aȝenis þe hates and indignaciouns of þe accusour Ciprian. ¶ Is it not þan ynought yseyn þat I haue purchased greet[e] discordes aȝeins my self. but I aughte be more asseured aȝenis alle oþer folk þat for þe loue of ryȝtwisnesse .I. ne reserued[e] neuer no þing to my self to hem ward of þe kynges halle .s. officers. by þe whiche I were þe more syker. ¶ But þoruȝ þe same accusours accusyng I am condempned. ¶ Of þe noumbre of whiche accusours one basilius þat somtyme was chased out of þe kynges seruice. is now compelled in accusyng of my name for nede of foreine moneye. ¶ Also opilion and Gaudencius han accused me. al be it so þat þe Iustice regal hadde sumtyme demed hem boþe to go in to exil. for her treccheries and fraudes wiþ-outen noumbre. ¶ To whiche iugement þei wolde not obeye. but defended[e] hem by sykernesse of holy houses. þat is to seyne fledden in to seyntuaries. and whan þis was aperceiued to þe kyng. he comaunded[e] but þat þei voided[e] þe citee of Rauenne by certeyne day assigned þat men scholde merken hem on þe forheued wiþ an hoke of iren and chasen hem out of toune. ¶ Now what þing semeþ þe myȝt[e] be lykned to þis cruelte. For certys þilk same day was receyued þe accusyng of my name by þilk[e] same accusours. ¶ What may be seid herto. haþ my studie and my konnyng deserued þus. or ellys þe forseide dampnacioun of me. made þat hem ryȝtful accusours or no (q.d. non). ¶ Was not fortune asshamed of þis. [Certes alle hadde nat fortune ben asshamyd] þat innocence was accused. ȝit auȝt[e] sche haue had schame of þe filþe of myn accusours. [17] ¶ But axest þou in somme of what gilt .I. am accused. men seyne þat I wolde sauen þe compaignie of þe senatours. ¶ And desirest þou to here in what manere .I. am accused þat I scholde han distourbed þe accusour to beren lettres. by whiche he scholde han maked þe senatours gilty aȝeins þe kynges Real maieste. ¶ O meistresse what demest þou of þis. schal .I. forsake þis blame þat I ne be no schame to þe (q. d. non). ¶ Certis .I. haue wold it. þat is to seyne þe sauuacioun of þe senat. ne I schal neuer leten to wilne it. and þat I confesse and am a-knowe. but þe entent of þe accusour to be destourbed schal cese. ¶ For schal I clepe it a felonie þan or a synne þat I haue desired þe sauuacioun of þe ordre of þe senat. and certys ȝit hadde þilk same senat don by me þoruȝ her decretȝ and hire iugementys as þouȝ it were a synne or a felonie þat is to seyne to wilne þe sauuacioun of hem (.s senatus). ¶ But folye þat lieth alwey to hym self may not chaunge þe merit of þinges. ¶ Ne .I. trowe not by þe iugement of socrates þat it were leueful to me to hide þe soþe. ne assent[e] to lesynges. ¶ But certys how so euer it be of þis I put[te] it to gessen or preisen to þe iugement of þe and of wise folk. ¶ Of whiche þing al þe ordinaunce and þe soþe for as moche as folk þat ben to comen aftir oure dayes schollen knowen it. ¶ I haue put it in scripture and remembraunce. for touching þe lettres falsly maked. by whiche lettres I am accused to han hooped þe fredom of Rome. What apperteneþ me to speken þer-of. Of whiche lettres þe fraude hadde ben schewed apertly if [18] I hadde had libertee forto han vsed and ben at þe confessioun of myn accusours. ¶ Þe whiche þing in alle nedys haþ grete strenkeþ. ¶ For what oþer fredom may men hopen. Certys I wolde þat some oþer fredom myȝt[e] be hoped. ¶ I wolde þan haue answered by þe wordes of a man þat hyȝt[e] Canius. for whan he was accused by Gayus Cesar Germeins son þat he (canius) was knowyng and consentyng of a coniuracioun maked aȝeins hym (.s. Gaius). ¶ Þis Canius answered[e] þus. ¶ Yif I had[de] wist it þou haddest not wist it. In whiche þing sorwe haþ not so dulled my witte þat I pleyne oonly þat schrewed[e] folk apparailen folies aȝeins vertues. ¶ But I wondre gretly how þat þei may performe þinges þat þei had[de] hoped forto done. For why. to wylne schrewednesse þat comeþ parauenture of oure defaute. ¶ But it is lyke to a monstre and a meruaille. ¶ How þat in þe present syȝt of god may ben acheued and performed swiche þinges. as euery felonous man haþ conceyued in hys þouȝt aȝeins innocent. ¶ For whiche þing oon of þi familers not vnskilfully axed þus. ¶ Ȝif god is. whennes comen wikked[e] þinges. and yif god ne is whennes comen goode þinges. but al hadde it ben leueful þat felonous folk þat now desiren þe bloode and þe deeþ of alle goode men. and eke of al þe senat han wilned to gone destroien me. whom þei han seyn alwey batailen and defenden goode men and eke al þe senat. Ȝit hadde I not desserued of þe fadres. þat is to seyne of þe senatours þat þei scholde wilne my destruccioun. [19] ¶ Þou remembrest wele as I gesse þat whan I wolde don or seyn any þing. þou þi self alwey present reweledest me. ¶ At þe citee of verone whan þat þe kyng gredy of comune slauȝter. caste hym to transporten vpon al þe ordre of þe senat. þe gilt of his real maieste of þe whiche gilt þat albyn was accused. wiþ how grete sykernesse of peril to me defended[e] I al þe senat. ¶ Þou wost wel þat I seide soþe. ne I auaunted[e] me neuer in preysyng of my self. ¶ For alwey when any wyȝt resceiueþ preciouse renoun in auauntyng hym self of hys werkes: he amenusiþ þe secre of hys conscience. ¶ But now þou mayst wel seen to what ende I am comen for myne innocence. I receiue peyne of fals felonie in gerdoun of verray vertue. ¶ And what open confessioun of felonie had[de] euer iugis so accordaunt in cruelte. þat is to seyne as myne accusyng haþ. ¶ Þat oþer errour of mans witte or ellys condicioun of fortune þat is vncerteyne to al mortal folk ne submytted[e] summe of hem. þat is to seyne þat it ne cheyned[e] summe iuge to han pitee or compassioun. ¶ For al þouȝ I had[de] ben accused þat I wolde brenne holy houses. and strangle prestys wiþ wicked swerde. ¶ or þat .I. had[de] grayþed deeþ to alle goode men algatis þe sentence scholde han punysched me present confessed or conuict. ¶ But now I am remewed fro þe Citee of rome almost fyue-hundreþ þousand pas. I am wiþ outen defence dampned to proscripcioun and to þe deeþ. for þe studie and bountees þat I haue done to þe senat. ¶ But o wel ben þei worþi of mercye (as who seiþ nay.) þer myȝt[e] neuer [20] ȝit non of hem ben conuicte. Of swiche a blame as myn is of swiche trespas myn accusours seyen ful wel þe dignitee. þe wiche dignite for þei wolde derken it wiþ medelyng of some felonye. þei beren me on honde and lieden. þat I hadde polute and defouled my conscience wiþ sacrelege. for couetise of dignite. ¶ And certys þou þi self þat art plaunted in me chacedest oute þe sege of my corage al couetise of mortal þinges. ne sacrilege ne had[de] no leue to han a place in me byforne þine eyen. ¶ For þou drouppedest euery day in myn eeres and in my þouȝt þilk comaundement of pictogoras. þat is to seyne men schal seruen to god. and not to goddes. ¶ Ne it was no couenaunt ne no nede to taken helpe of þe foulest spirites. ¶ I þat þou hast ordeyned or set in syche excellence þat [þou] makedest me lyke to god. and ouer þis þe ryȝt clene secre chaumbre of myn house. þat is to seye my wijf and þe compaignie of myn honeste frendis. and my wyues fadir as wel holy as worþi to ben reuerenced þoruȝ hys owen dedis. defenden me of al suspeccioun of syche blame. ¶ But o malice. ¶ For þei þat accusen me taken of þe philosophie feiþe of so grete blame. ¶ For þei trowen þat .I. haue had affinite to malyfice or enchauntementȝ by cause þat I am replenissed and fulfilled wiþ þi techynges. and enformed of þi maners. ¶ And þus it sufficeþ not only þat þi reuerence ne auayle me not. but ȝif þat þou of þi fre wille raþer be blemissed wiþ myne offensioun. ¶ But certys to þe harmes þat I haue þere bytydeþ ȝit þis encrece of harme. þat þe [21] gessinge and þe iugement of myche folk ne loken no þing to þe[de]sertys of þinges but only to þe auenture of fortune. ¶ And iugen þat only swiche þinges ben purueied of god. whiche þat temporel welefulnesse commendiþ. Glosa. ¶ As þus þat yif a wyȝt haue prosperite. he is a good man and worþi to haue þat prosperite. and who so haþ aduersite he is a wikked man. and god haþ forsake hym. and he is worþi to haue þat aduersite. ¶ Þis is þe opinioun of somme folke. and þer of comeþ þat good gessyng. ¶ Fyrste of al þing forsakeþ wrecches certys it greueþ me to þink[e] ryȝt now þe dyuerse sentences þat þe poeple seiþ of me. ¶ And þus moche I seye þat þe laste charge of contrarious fortune is þis. þat whan þat ony blame is laid vpon a caytif. men wenen þat he haþ deserued þat he suffreþ. ¶ And I þat am put awey from goode men and despoiled from dignitees and defoulid of my name by gessyng haue suffred torment for my goode dedis. ¶ Certys me semeþ þat I se þe felonus couines of wikked men abounden in ioie and in gladnes. ¶ And I se þat euery lorel shapiþ hym to fynde oute newe fraudes forto accusen goode folke. and I se þat goode men ben ouerþrowen for drede of my peril. ¶ and euery luxurious tourmentour dar don alle felonie vnpunissed and ben excited þerto by ȝiftes. and innocentȝ ne ben not oonly despoiled of sykernesse but of defence and þerfore me list to crien to god in þis manere.


O þou maker of þe whele þat bereþ þe sterres. whiche þat art fastned to þi perdurable chayere. and [22] turnest þe heuene wiþ a rauyssyng sweighe and constreinest þe sterres to suffren þi lawe. ¶ So þat þe mone somtyme schynyng wiþ hir ful hornes metyng wiþ alle þe bemes of þe sonne. ¶ Hir broþer hideþ þe sterres þat ben lasse. and somtyme whan þe mone pale wiþ hir derke hornes approcheþ þe sonne. leesith hir lyȝtes. ¶ And þat þe euesterre esperus whiche þat in þe first[e] tyme of þe nyȝt bryngeþ furþe hir colde arysynges comeþ eft aȝeynes hir vsed cours. and is pale by þe morwe at þe rysynge of þe sonne. and is þan cleped lucifer. ¶ Þou restreinest þe day by schorter dwellyng in þe tyme of colde wynter þat makeþ þe leues to falle. ¶ Þou diuidest þe swifte tides of þe nyȝt when þe hote somer is comen. ¶ Þi myȝt attempre[þ] þo variauntȝ sesons of þe ȝere. so þat ȝepherus þe deboneire wynde bringeþ aȝein in þe first[e] somer sesoun þe leues þat þe wynde þat hyȝt[e] boreas haþ reft awey in autumpne. þat is to seyne in þe laste eende of somer. and þe sedes þat þe sterre þat hyȝt arcturus saw ben waxen hey[e] cornes whan þe sterre sirius eschaufeþ hym. ¶ Þere nis no þing vnbounde from hys olde lawe ne forleteþ hym of hys propre estat. ¶ O þou gouernour gouernyng alle þinges by certeyne ende. why refusest þou oonly to gouerne þe werkes of men by dewe manere. ¶ Whi suffrest þou þat slidyng fortune turneþ to grete vtter chaungynges of þinges. so þat anoious peyne þat scholde duelly punisshe felouns punissitȝ innocentȝ. ¶ And folk of wikked[e] maneres sitten in heiȝe chaiers. and anoienge folk [23] treden and þat vnryȝtfully in þe nekkes of holy men. ¶ And vertue clere and schynyng naturely is hid in dirke dirkenesses. and þe ryȝtful man beriþ þe blame and þe peyne of þe felowne. ¶ Ne þe forsweryng ne þe fraude couered and kembd wiþ a fals colour ne a-noyeþ not to schrewes. ¶ Þe whiche schrewes whan hem lyst to vsen her strengþe þei reioisen hem to putten vndir hem þe souerayne kynges. whiche þat poeple wiþ[outen] noumbre dreden. ¶ O þou what so euer þou be þat knyttes[t] alle bondes of þinges loke on þise wrecched[e] erþes. we men þat ben nat a foule party but a faire party of so grete a werke we ben turmentid in þe see of fortune. ¶ Þou gouernour wiþdraw and restreyne þe rauyssinge flodes and fastne and forme þise erþes stable wiþ þilke [bonde] wiþ whiche þou gouernest þe heuene þat is so large.

[The fyfthe prose.] HIC UBI CONTINUATO DOLORE.

Whan I hadde wiþ a continuel sorwe sobbed or broken out þ