From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Mel 967 A yong man called Melibeus, myghty and riche, bigat upon his wyf, that called was Prudence,
Mel 967A a doghter which that called was Sophie.
Mel 968 Upon a day bifel that he for his desport is went into the feeldes hym to pleye.
Mel 969 His wyf and eek his doghter hath he left inwith his hous, of which the dores weren faste yshette.
Mel 970 Thre of his olde foes han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous,
Mel 970A and by wyndowes been entred,
Mel 971 and betten his wyf, and wounded his doghter with fyve mortal woundes in fyve sondry places —
Mel 972 this is to seyn, in hir feet, in hire handes, in hir erys, in hir nose,
Mel 972A and in hire mouth — and leften hire for deed, and wenten awey.
Mel 973 Whan Melibeus retourned was into his hous, and saugh al this meschief, he,
Mel 973A lyk a mad man rentynge his clothes, gan to wepe and crie.
Mel 974 Prudence, his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste, bisoghte hym of his wepyng for to stynte,
Mel 975 but nat forthy he gan to crie and wepen evere lenger the moore.
Mel 976 This noble wyf Prudence remembred hire upon the sentence of Ovide, in his book
Mel 976A that cleped is the Remedie of Love, where as he seith,
Mel 977 “He is a fool that destourbeth the mooder to wepen in the deeth of hire child
Mel 977A til she have wept hir fille as for a certein tyme,
Mel 978 and thanne shal man doon his diligence with amyable wordes hire to reconforte,
Mel 978A and preyen hire of hir wepyng for to stynte.”
Mel 979 For which resoun this noble wyf Prudence suffred hir housbonde
Mel 979A for to wepe and crie as for a certein space,
Mel 980 and whan she saugh hir tyme, she seyde hym in this wise:
Mel 980A “Allas, my lord,” quod she, “why make ye youreself for to be lyk a fool?
Mel 981 For sothe it aperteneth nat to a wys man to maken swich a sorwe.
Mel 982 Youre doghter, with the grace of God, shal warisshe and escape.
Mel 983 And, al were it so that she right now were deed,
Mel 983A ye ne oughte nat, as for hir deeth, youreself to destroye.
Mel 984 Senek seith: ‘The wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort for the deeth of his children,
Mel 985 but, certes, he sholde suffren it in pacience
Mel 985A as wel as he abideth the deeth of his owene propre persone.'”
Mel 986 This Melibeus answerde anon and seyde, “What man,” quod he, “sholde of his wepyng stente
Mel 986A that hath so greet a cause for to wepe?
Mel 987 Jhesu Crist, oure Lord, hymself wepte for the deeth of Lazarus hys freend.”
Mel 988 Prudence answerde: “Certes, wel I woot attempree wepyng is no thyng deffended to hym that sorweful is,
Mel 988A amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted hym to wepe.
Mel 989 The Apostle Paul unto the Romayns writeth, ‘Man shal rejoyse
Mel 989A with hem that maken joye and wepen with swich folk as wepen.’
Mel 990 But though attempree wepyng be ygraunted, outrageous wepyng certes is deffended.
Mel 991 Mesure of wepyng sholde be considered after the loore that techeth us Senek:
Mel 992 ‘Whan that thy frend is deed,’ quod he, ‘lat nat thyne eyen to moyste been of teeris,
Mel 992A ne to muche drye; although the teeris come to thyne eyen, lat hem nat falle;
Mel 993 and whan thou hast forgoon thy freend, do diligence to gete another freend;
Mel 993A and this is moore wysdom than for to wepe for thy freend
Mel 993B which that thou hast lorn, for therinne is no boote.’
Mel 994 And therfore, if ye governe yow by sapience, put awey sorwe out of youre herte.
Mel 995 Remembre yow that Jhesus Syrak seith, ‘A man that is joyous and glad in herte,
Mel 995A it hym conserveth florissynge in his age; but soothly sorweful herte maketh his bones drye.’
Mel 996 He seith eek thus, that sorwe in herte sleeth ful many a man.
Mel 997 Salomon seith that right as motthes in the shepes flees anoyeth to the clothes,
Mel 997A and the smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth sorwe to the herte.
Mel 998 Wherfore us oghte, as wel in the deeth of oure children
Mel 998A as in the los of oure othere goodes temporels, have pacience.
Mel 999 Remembre yow upon the pacient Job. Whan he hadde lost his children and his temporeel substance,
Mel 999A and in his body endured and receyved ful many a grevous tribulacion, yet seyde he thus:
Mel 1000 ‘Oure Lord hath yeve it me; oure Lord hath biraft it me; right as oure Lord hath wold,
Mel 1000A right so it is doon; blessed be the name of oure Lord!'”
Mel 1001 To thise forseide thynges answerde Melibeus unto his wyf Prudence: “Alle thy wordes,” quod he,
Mel 1001A “been sothe and therto profitable, but trewely myn herte is troubled with this sorwe
Mel 1001B so grevously that I noot what to doone.”
Mel 1002 “Lat calle,” quod Prudence, “thy trewe freendes alle and thy lynage whiche that been wise. Telleth youre cas,
Mel 1002A and herkneth what they seye in conseillyng, and yow governe after hire sentence.
Mel 1003 Salomon seith, ‘Werk alle thy thynges by conseil, and thou shalt never repente.'”
Mel 1004 Thanne, by the conseil of his wyf Prudence, this Melibeus leet callen a greet congregacion of folk,
Mel 1005 as surgiens, phisiciens, olde folk and yonge, and somme of his olde enemys reconsiled
Mel 1005A as by hir semblaunt to his love and into his grace;
Mel 1006 and therwithal ther coomen somme of his neighebores that diden hym reverence
Mel 1006A moore for drede than for love, as it happeth ofte.
Mel 1007 Ther coomen also ful many subtille flatereres and wise advocatz lerned in the lawe.
Mel 1008 And whan this folk togidre assembled weren, this Melibeus in sorweful wise shewed hem his cas.
Mel 1009 And by the manere of his speche it semed that in herte he baar a crueel ire,
Mel 1009A redy to doon vengeaunce upon his foes, and sodeynly desired that the werre sholde bigynne;
Mel 1010 but nathelees, yet axed he hire conseil upon this matiere.
Mel 1011 A surgien, by licence and assent of swiche as weren wise, up roos
Mel 1011A and to Melibeus seyde as ye may heere:
Mel 1012 “Sire,” quod he, “as to us surgiens aperteneth that we do to every wight the beste that we kan,
Mel 1012A where as we been withholde, and to oure pacientz that we do no damage,
Mel 1013 wherfore it happeth many tyme and ofte that whan twey men han everich wounded oother,
Mel 1013A oon same surgien heeleth hem bothe;
Mel 1014 wherfore unto oure art it is nat pertinent to norice werre ne parties to supporte.
Mel 1015 But certes, as to the warisshynge of youre doghter, al be it so that she perilously be wounded,
Mel 1015A we shullen do so ententif bisynesse fro day to nyght that with the grace of God
Mel 1015B she shal be hool and sound as soone as is possible.”
Mel 1016 Almoost right in the same wise the phisiciens answerden, save that they seyden a fewe woordes moore:
Mel 1017 that right as maladies been cured by hir contraries, right so shul men warisshe werre by vengeaunce.
Mel 1018 His neighebores ful of envye, his feyned freendes that semeden reconsiled, and his flatereres
Mel 1019 maden semblant of wepyng, and empeireden and agreggeden muchel of this matiere
Mel 1019A in preisynge greetly Melibee of myght, of power, of richesse, and of freendes, despisynge the power of his adversaries,
Mel 1020 and seiden outrely that he anon sholde wreken hym on his foes and bigynne werre.
Mel 1021 Up roos thanne an advocat that was wys,
Mel 1021A by leve and by conseil of othere that were wise, and seide:
Mel 1022 “Lordynges, the nede for which we been assembled in this place
Mel 1022A is a ful hevy thyng and an heigh matiere,
Mel 1023 by cause of the wrong and of the wikkednesse that hath be doon,
Mel 1023A and eek by resoun of the grete damages that in tyme comynge
Mel 1023B been possible to fallen for this same cause,
Mel 1024 and eek by resoun of the grete richesse and power of the parties bothe,
Mel 1025 for the whiche resouns it were a ful greet peril to erren in this matiere.
Mel 1026 Wherfore, Melibeus, this is oure sentence: we conseille yow aboven alle thyng that right anon thou do thy diligence
Mel 1026A in kepynge of thy propre persone in swich a wise
Mel 1026B that thou ne wante noon espie ne wacche thy persone for to save.
Mel 1027 And after that, we conseille that in thyn hous thou sette sufficeant garnisoun
Mel 1027A so that they may as wel thy body as thyn hous defende.
Mel 1028 But certes, for to moeve werre, ne sodeynly for to doon vengeaunce, we may nat demen
Mel 1028A in so litel tyme that it were profitable.
Mel 1029 Wherfore we axen leyser and espace to have deliberacion in this cas to deme.
Mel 1030 For the commune proverbe seith thus: ‘He that soone deemeth, soone shal repente.’
Mel 1031 And eek men seyn that thilke juge is wys that soone understondeth a matiere and juggeth by leyser;
Mel 1032 for al be it so that alle tariyng be anoyful,
Mel 1032A algates it is nat to repreve in yevynge of juggement ne in vengeance takyng,
Mel 1032B whan it is sufficeant and resonable.
Mel 1033 And that shewed oure Lord Jhesu Crist by ensample, for whan that the womman that was taken in avowtrie
Mel 1033A was broght in his presence to knowen what sholde be doon with hire persone, al be it so that he wiste wel hymself what
Mel 1033B that he wolde answere, yet ne wolde he nat answere sodeynly,
Mel 1033C but he wolde have deliberacion, and in the ground he wroot twies.
Mel 1034 And by thise causes we axen deliberacioun, and we shal thanne, by the grace of God, conseille thee
Mel 1034A thyng that shal be profitable.”
Mel 1035 Up stirten thanne the yonge folk atones, and the mooste partie of that compaignye han scorned this olde wise
Mel 1035A man, and bigonnen to make noyse, and seyden that
Mel 1036 right so as whil that iren is hoot men sholden smyte,
Mel 1036A right so men sholde wreken hir wronges whil that they been fresshe and newe;
Mel 1036B and with loud voys they criden “Werre! Werre!”
Mel 1037 Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that
Mel 1037A men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience.
Mel 1038 “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre, werre!’
Mel 1038A that woot ful litel what werre amounteth.
Mel 1039 Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large that every wight may entre
Mel 1039A whan hym liketh and lightly fynde werre;
Mel 1040 but certes what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe.
Mel 1041 For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder
Mel 1041A that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse.
Mel 1042 And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion.”
Mel 1043 And whan this olde man wende to enforcen his tale by resons, wel ny alle atones bigonne they
Mel 1043A to rise for to breken his tale, and beden hym ful ofte his wordes for to abregge.
Mel 1044 For soothly, he that precheth to hem that listen nat heeren his wordes, his sermon hem anoieth.
Mel 1045 For Jhesus Syrak seith that “musik in wepynge is a noyous thyng”; this is to seyn:
Mel 1045A as muche availleth to speken bifore folk to which his speche anoyeth
Mel 1045B as it is to synge biforn hym that wepeth.
Mel 1046 And whan this wise man saugh that hym wanted audience, al shamefast he sette hym doun agayn.
Mel 1047 For Salomon seith: “Ther as thou ne mayst have noon audience, enforce thee nat to speke.”
Mel 1048 “I see wel,” quod this wise man, “that the commune proverbe is sooth, that
Mel 1048A ‘good conseil wanteth whan it is moost nede.'”
Mel 1049 Yet hadde this Melibeus in his conseil many folk that prively in his eere conseilled hym certeyn thyng,
Mel 1049A and conseilled hym the contrarie in general audience.
Mel 1050 Whan Melibeus hadde herd that the gretteste partie of his conseil weren accorded that he sholde maken werre,
Mel 1050A anoon he consented to hir conseillyng and fully affermed hire sentence.
Mel 1051 Thanne dame Prudence, whan that she saugh how that hir housbonde shoop hym for to wreken hym on his
Mel 1051A foes and to bigynne werre, she in ful humble wise, whan she saugh hir tyme, seide to hym thise wordes:
Mel 1052 “My lord,” quod she, “I yow biseche, as hertely as I dar and kan,
Mel 1052A ne haste yow nat to faste and, for alle gerdons, as yeveth me audience.
Mel 1053 For Piers Alfonce seith, ‘Whoso that dooth to thee oother good or harm, haste thee nat to quiten it,
Mel 1053A for in this wise thy freend wole abyde and thyn enemy shal the lenger lyve in drede.’
Mel 1054 The proverbe seith, ‘He hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde,’ and ‘in wikked haste is no profit.'”
Mel 1055 This Melibee answerde unto his wyf Prudence: “I purpose nat,” quod he, “to werke by thy conseil,
Mel 1055A for many causes and resouns. For certes, every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool;
Mel 1056 this is to seyn, if I, for thy conseillyng, wolde chaungen
Mel 1056A thynges that been ordeyned and affermed by so manye wyse.
Mel 1057 Secoundely, I seye that alle wommen been wikke, and noon good of hem alle.
Mel 1057A For ‘of a thousand men,’ seith Salomon, ‘I foond o good man, but certes,
Mel 1057B of alle wommen, good womman foond I nevere.’
Mel 1058 And also, certes, if I governed me by thy conseil,
Mel 1058A it sholde seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me the maistrie,
Mel 1058B and God forbede that it so weere!
Mel 1059 For Jhesus Syrak seith that ‘if the wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir housbonde.’
Mel 1060 And Salomon seith: ‘Nevere in thy lyf to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend
Mel 1060A ne yeve no power over thyself, for bettre it were that thy children
Mel 1060B aske of thy persone thynges that hem nedeth than thou see thyself
Mel 1060C in the handes of thy children.’
Mel 1061 And also if I wolde werke by thy conseillyng, certes, my conseil moste som tyme be secree,
Mel 1061A til it were tyme that it moste be knowe, and this ne may noght be.
Mel 1064 Whanne dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde liked for to seye,
Mel 1064A thanne axed she of hym licence for to speke, and seyde in this wise:
Mel 1065 “My lord,” quod she, “as to youre firste resoun, certes it may lightly been answered. For I seye that
Mel 1065A it is no folie to chaunge conseil whan the thyng is chaunged,
Mel 1065B or elles whan the thyng semeth ootherweyes than it was biforn.
Mel 1066 And mooreover, I seye that though ye han sworn and bihight to perfourne youre emprise, and nathelees ye weyve
Mel 1066A to perfourne thilke same emprise by juste cause, men sholde nat seyn therfore that ye were a liere ne forsworn.
Mel 1067 For the book seith that ‘the wise man maketh no lesyng whan he turneth his corage to the bettre.’
Mel 1068 And al be it so that youre emprise be establissed and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk,
Mel 1068A yet thar ye nat accomplice thilke ordinaunce but yow like.
Mel 1069 For the trouthe of thynges and the profit been rather founden in fewe folk that been wise and
Mel 1069A ful of resoun than by greet multitude of folk ther every man crieth and clatereth what that hym liketh.
Mel 1069B Soothly swich multitude is nat honest.
Mel 1070 And as to the seconde resoun, where as ye seyn that alle wommen been wikke;
Mel 1070A save youre grace, certes ye despisen alle wommen in this wyse, and
Mel 1070B ‘he that al despiseth, al displeseth,’ as seith the book.
Mel 1071 And Senec seith that ‘whoso wole have sapience shal no man dispreyse,
Mel 1071A but he shal gladly techen the science that he kan withouten presumpcion or pride;
Mel 1072 and swiche thynges as he noght ne kan, he shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem,
Mel 1072A and enquere of lasse folk than hymself.’
Mel 1073 And, sire, that ther hath been many a good womman may lightly be preved.
Mel 1074 For certes, sire, oure Lord Jhesu Crist wolde nevere have descended to be born of a womman,
Mel 1074A if alle wommen hadden been wikke.
Mel 1075 And after that, for the grete bountee that is in wommen,
Mel 1075A oure Lord Jhesu Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve,
Mel 1075B appeered rather to a womman than to his Apostles.
Mel 1076 And though that Salomon seith that he ne foond nevere womman good,
Mel 1076A it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen ben wikke.
Mel 1077 For though that he ne foond no good womman, certes,
Mel 1077A many another man hath founden many a womman ful good and trewe.
Mel 1078 Or elles, per aventure, the entente of Salomon was this:
Mel 1078A that, as in sovereyn bounte, he foond no womman —
Mel 1079 this is to seyn, that ther is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save God allone,
Mel 1079A as he hymself recordeth in hys Evaungelie.
Mel 1080 For ther nys no creature so good that hym ne wanteth
Mel 1080A somwhat of the perfeccioun of God, that is his makere.
Mel 1081 Youre thridde reson is this: ye seyn that if ye governe yow by my conseil,
Mel 1081A it sholde seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and the lordshipe over youre persone.
Mel 1082 Sire, save youre grace, it is nat so. For if it so were that no man sholde be conseilled
Mel 1082A but oonly of hem that hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone, men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte.
Mel 1083 For soothly thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet hath he free choys
Mel 1083A wheither he wole werke by that conseil or noon.
Mel 1084 And as to youre fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that the janglerie of wommen kan hyde thynges that they
Mel 1084A wot noght, as who seith that a womman kan nat hyde that she woot;
Mel 1085 sire, thise wordes been understonde of wommen that been jangleresses and wikked;
Mel 1086 of whiche wommen men seyn that thre thynges dryven a man out of his hous —
Mel 1086A that is to seyn, smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyves;
Mel 1087 and of swiche wommen seith Salomon that
Mel 1087A ‘it were bettre dwelle in desert than with a womman that is riotous.’
Mel 1088 And sire, by youre leve, that am nat I,
Mel 1089 for ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my grete pacience, and eek how wel that
Mel 1089A I kan hyde and hele thynges that men oghte secreely to hyde.
Mel 1090 And soothly, as to youre fifthe resoun, where as ye seyn that in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men,
Mel 1090A God woot, thilke resoun stant heere in no stede.
Mel 1091 For understoond now, ye asken conseil to do wikkednesse;
Mel 1092 and if ye wole werken wikkednesse, and youre wif restreyneth thilke wikked purpos,
Mel 1092A and overcometh yow by reson and by good conseil,
Mel 1093 certes youre wyf oghte rather to be preised than yblamed.
Mel 1094 Thus sholde ye understonde the philosophre that seith, ‘In wikked conseil wommen venquisshen hir housbondes.’
Mel 1095 And ther as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns, I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples that
Mel 1095A many a womman hath ben ful good, and yet been, and hir conseils ful hoolsome and profitable.
Mel 1096 Eek som men han seyd that the conseillynge of wommen
Mel 1096A is outher to deere or elles to litel of pris.
Mel 1097 But al be it so that ful many a womman is badde and hir conseil vile and noght worth,
Mel 1097A yet han men founde ful many a good womman, and ful discret and wis in conseillynge.
Mel 1098 Loo, Jacob by good conseil of his mooder Rebekka wan the benysoun of Ysaak his fader
Mel 1098A and the lordshipe over alle his bretheren.
Mel 1099 Judith by hire good conseil delivered the citee of Bethulie, in which she dwelled,
Mel 1099A out of the handes of Olofernus, that hadde it biseged and wolde have al destroyed it.
Mel 1100 Abygail delivered Nabal hir housbonde fro David the kyng, that wolde have slayn hym,
Mel 1100A and apaysed the ire of the kyng by hir wit and by hir good conseillyng.
Mel 1101 Hester by hir good conseil enhaunced greetly the peple of God in the regne of Assuerus the kyng.
Mel 1102 And the same bountee in good conseillyng of many a good womman may men telle.
Mel 1103 And mooreover, whan oure Lord hadde creat Adam, oure forme fader, he seyde in this wise:
Mel 1104 ‘It is nat good to been a man alloone; make we to hym an helpe semblable to hymself.’
Mel 1105 Heere may ye se that if that wommen were nat goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable,
Mel 1106 oure Lord God of hevene wolde nevere han wroght hem,
Mel 1106A ne called hem help of man, but rather confusioun of man.
Mel 1107 And ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers, ‘What is bettre than gold? Jaspre.
Mel 1107A What is bettre than jaspre? Wisedoom.
Mel 1108 And what is better than wisedoom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? Nothyng.’
Mel 1109 And, sire, by manye of othre resons may ye seen that
Mel 1109A manye wommen been goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable.
Mel 1110 And therfore, sire, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal restoore yow youre doghter hool and sound.
Mel 1111 And eek I wol do to yow so muche that ye shul have honour in this cause.”
Mel 1112 Whan Melibee hadde herd the wordes of his wyf Prudence, he seyde thus:
Mel 1113 “I se wel that the word of Salomon is sooth.
Mel 1113A He seith that ‘wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce been honycombes,
Mel 1113B for they yeven swetnesse to the soule and hoolsomnesse to the body.’
Mel 1114 And, wyf, by cause of thy sweete wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved thy grete sapience
Mel 1114A and thy grete trouthe, I wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thyng.”
Mel 1115 “Now, sire,” quod dame Prudence, “and syn ye vouche sauf to been governed by my conseil,
Mel 1115A I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe yourself in chesynge of youre conseillours.
Mel 1116 Ye shul first in alle youre werkes mekely biseken to the heighe God that he wol be youre conseillour;
Mel 1117 and shapeth yow to swich entente that he yeve yow conseil and confort, as taughte Thobie his sone:
Mel 1118 ‘At alle tymes thou shalt blesse God, and praye hym to dresse thy weyes,
Mel 1118A and looke that alle thy conseils been in hym for everemoore.’
Mel 1119 Seint Jame eek seith: ‘If any of yow have nede of sapience, axe it of God.’
Mel 1120 And afterward thanne shul ye taken conseil in youreself,
Mel 1120A and examyne wel youre thoghtes of swich thyng as yow thynketh that is best for youre profit.
Mel 1121 And thanne shul ye dryve fro youre herte thre thynges that been contrariouse to good conseil;
Mel 1122 that is to seyn, ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse.
Mel 1123 “First, he that axeth conseil of hymself, certes he moste been withouten ire, for manye causes.
Mel 1124 The firste is this: he that hath greet ire and wratthe in hymself, he weneth alwey that
Mel 1124A he may do thyng that he may nat do.
Mel 1125 And secoundely, he that is irous and wrooth, he ne may nat wel deme;
Mel 1126 and he that may nat wel deme, may nat wel conseille.
Mel 1127 The thridde is this, that he that is irous and wrooth, as seith Senec,
Mel 1127A ne may nat speke but blameful thynges,
Mel 1128 and with his viciouse wordes he stireth oother folk to angre and to ire.
Mel 1129 And eek, sire, ye moste dryve coveitise out of youre herte.
Mel 1130 For the Apostle seith that coveitise is roote of alle harmes.
Mel 1131 And trust wel that a coveitous man ne kan noght deme ne thynke,
Mel 1131A but oonly to fulfille the ende of his coveitise;
Mel 1132 and certes, that ne may nevere been accompliced,
Mel 1132A for evere the moore habundaunce that he hath of richesse, the moore he desireth.
Mel 1133 And, sire, ye moste also dryve out of youre herte hastifnesse; for certes,
Mel 1134 ye ne may nat deeme for the beste by a sodeyn thought that falleth in youre herte,
Mel 1134A but ye moste avyse yow on it ful ofte.
Mel 1135 For, as ye herde her biforn, the commune proverbe is this, that ‘he that soone deemeth, soone repenteth.’
Mel 1136 Sire, ye ne be nat alwey in lyk disposicioun;
Mel 1137 for certes, somthyng that somtyme semeth to yow that it is good for to do,
Mel 1137A another tyme it semeth to yow the contrarie.
Mel 1138 “Whan ye han taken conseil in youreself and han deemed by good deliberacion swich thyng as you semeth best,
Mel 1139 thanne rede I yow that ye kepe it secree.
Mel 1140 Biwrey nat youre conseil to no persone, but if so be that ye wenen sikerly that
Mel 1140A thurgh youre biwreyyng youre condicioun shal be to yow the moore profitable.
Mel 1141 For Jhesus Syrak seith, ‘Neither to thy foo ne to thy frend discovere nat thy secree ne thy folie,
Mel 1142 for they wol yeve yow audience and lookynge and supportacioun in thy presence and scorne thee in thyn absence.’
Mel 1143 Another clerk seith that ‘scarsly shaltou fynden any persone that may kepe conseil secrely.’
Mel 1144 The book seith, ‘Whil that thou kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest it in thy prisoun,
Mel 1145 and whan thou biwreyest thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his snare.’
Mel 1146 And therfore yow is bettre to hyde youre conseil in youre herte than praye him
Mel 1146A to whom ye han biwreyed youre conseil that he wole kepen it cloos and stille.
Mel 1147 For Seneca seith: ‘If so be that thou ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde,
Mel 1147A how darstou prayen any oother wight thy conseil secrely to kepe?’
Mel 1148 But nathelees, if thou wene sikerly that the biwreiyng of thy conseil to a persone wol make
Mel 1148A thy condicion to stonden in the bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen hym thy conseil in this wise.
Mel 1149 First thou shalt make no semblant wheither thee were levere pees or werre, or this or that,
Mel 1149A ne shewe hym nat thy wille and thyn entente.
Mel 1150 For trust wel that comunli thise conseillours been flatereres,
Mel 1151 namely the conseillours of grete lordes,
Mel 1152 for they enforcen hem alwey rather to speken plesante wordes, enclynynge to the lordes lust,
Mel 1152A than wordes that been trewe or profitable.
Mel 1153 And therfore men seyn that the riche man hath seeld good conseil, but if he have it of hymself.
Mel 1154 And after that thou shalt considere thy freendes and thyne enemys.
Mel 1155 And as touchynge thy freendes, thou shalt considere which of hem been
Mel 1155A moost feithful and moost wise and eldest and most approved in conseillyng;
Mel 1156 and of hem shalt thou aske thy conseil, as the caas requireth.
Mel 1157 I seye that first ye shul clepe to youre conseil youre freendes that been trewe.
Mel 1158 For Salomon seith that ‘right as the herte of a man deliteth in savour that is soote,
Mel 1158A right so the conseil of trewe freendes yeveth swetnesse to the soule.’
Mel 1159 He seith also, ‘Ther may no thyng be likned to the trewe freend,
Mel 1160 for certes gold ne silver ben nat so muche worth as the goode wyl of a trewe freend.’
Mel 1161 And eek he seith that ‘a trewe freend is a strong deffense; who so that it fyndeth,
Mel 1161A certes he fyndeth a greet tresour.’
Mel 1162 Thanne shul ye eek considere if that youre trewe freendes been discrete and wise.
Mel 1162A For the book seith, ‘Axe alwey thy conseil of hem that been wise.’
Mel 1163 And by this same resoun shul ye clepen to youre conseil of youre freendes that been of age,
Mel 1163A swiche as han seyn and been expert in manye thynges and been approved in conseillynges.
Mel 1164 For the book seith that ‘in olde men is the sapience, and in longe tyme the prudence.’
Mel 1165 And Tullius seith that ‘grete thynges ne been nat ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but
Mel 1165A by good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by science; the whiche thre thynges ne been nat fieble by age,
Mel 1165B but certes they enforcen and encreescen day by day.’
Mel 1166 And thanne shul ye kepe this for a general reule: First shul ye clepen to youre conseil
Mel 1166A a fewe of youre freendes that been especiale;
Mel 1167 for Salomon seith, ‘Manye freendes have thou, but among a thousand chese thee oon to be thy conseillour.’
Mel 1168 For al be it so that thou first ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe,
Mel 1168A thou mayst afterward telle it to mo folk if it be nede.
Mel 1169 But looke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke thre condiciouns that I have seyd bifore —
Mel 1169A that is to seyn, that they be trewe, wise, and of oold experience.
Mel 1170 And werke nat alwey in every nede by oon counseillour allone;
Mel 1170A for somtyme bihooveth it to been conseilled by manye.
Mel 1171 For Salomon seith, ‘Salvacion of thynges is where as ther been manye conseillours.’
Mel 1172 “Now, sith that I have toold yow of which folk ye sholde been counseilled, now
Mel 1172A wol I teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe.
Mel 1173 First, ye shul eschue the conseillyng of fooles; for Salomon seith, ‘Taak no conseil of a fool,
Mel 1173A for he ne kan noght conseille but after his owene lust and his affeccioun.’
Mel 1174 The book seith that ‘the propretee of a fool is this: he troweth lightly harm of every wight,
Mel 1174A and lightly troweth alle bountee in hymself.’
Mel 1175 Thou shalt eek eschue the conseillyng of alle flatereres, swiche as enforcen hem rather to preise youre persone
Mel 1175A by flaterye than for to telle yow the soothfastnesse of thynges.
Mel 1176 Wherfore Tullius seith, ‘Amonges alle the pestilences that been in freendshipe the gretteste is flaterie.’
Mel 1176A And therfore is it moore nede that thou eschue and drede flatereres than any oother peple.
Mel 1177 The book seith, ‘Thou shalt rather drede and flee fro the sweete wordes of flaterynge preiseres
Mel 1177A than fro the egre wordes of thy freend that seith thee thy sothes.’
Mel 1178 Salomon seith that ‘the wordes of a flaterere is a snare to cacche with innocentz.’
Mel 1179 He seith also that ‘he that speketh to his freend wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce
Mel 1179A setteth a net biforn his feet to cacche hym.’
Mel 1180 And therfore seith Tullius, ‘Enclyne nat thyne eres to flatereres, ne taak no conseil of the wordes of flaterye.’
Mel 1181 And Caton seith, ‘Avyse thee wel, and eschue the wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce.’
Mel 1182 And eek thou shalt eschue the conseillyng of thyne olde enemys that been reconsiled.
Mel 1183 The book seith that ‘no wight retourneth saufly into the grace of his olde enemy.’
Mel 1184 And Isope seith, ‘Ne trust nat to hem to whiche thou hast had som tyme werre or enemytee,
Mel 1184A ne telle hem nat thy conseil.’
Mel 1185 And Seneca telleth the cause why: ‘It may nat be,’ seith he, ‘that where greet
Mel 1185A fyr hath longe tyme endured, that ther ne dwelleth som vapour of warmnesse.’
Mel 1186 And therfore seith Salomon, ‘In thyn olde foo trust nevere.’
Mel 1187 For sikerly, though thyn enemy be reconsiled, and maketh thee chiere of humylitee,
Mel 1187A and lowteth to thee with his heed, ne trust hym nevere.
Mel 1188 For certes he maketh thilke feyned humilitee moore for his profit than for any love of thy persone,
Mel 1188A by cause that he deemeth to have victorie over thy persone by swich feyned contenance,
Mel 1188B the which victorie he myghte nat have by strif or werre.
Mel 1189 And Peter Alfonce seith, ‘Make no felawshipe with thyne olde enemys, for if thou do hem bountee,
Mel 1189A they wol perverten it into wikkednesse.’
Mel 1190 And eek thou most eschue the conseillyng of hem that been thy servantz and beren thee greet reverence,
Mel 1190A for peraventure they seyn it moore for drede than for love.
Mel 1191 And therfore seith a philosophre in this wise:
Mel 1191A ‘Ther is no wight parfitly trewe to hym that he to soore dredeth.’
Mel 1192 And Tullius seith, ‘Ther nys no myght so greet of any emperour that longe may endure,
Mel 1192A but if he have moore love of the peple than drede.’
Mel 1193 Thou shalt also eschue the conseiling of folk that been dronkelewe, for they ne kan no conseil hyde.
Mel 1194 For Salomon seith, ‘Ther is no privetee ther as regneth dronkenesse.’
Mel 1195 Ye shul also han in suspect the conseillyng of swich folk as
Mel 1195A conseille yow o thyng prively and conseille yow the contrarie openly.
Mel 1196 For Cassidorie seith that ‘it is a manere sleighte to hyndre,
Mel 1196A whan he sheweth to doon o thyng openly and werketh prively the contrarie.’
Mel 1197 Thou shalt also have in suspect the conseillyng of wikked folk. For the book seith,
Mel 1197A ‘The conseillyng of wikked folk is alwey ful of fraude.’
Mel 1198 And David seith, ‘Blisful is that man that hath nat folwed the conseilyng of shrewes.’
Mel 1199 Thou shalt also eschue the conseillyng of yong folk, for hir conseil is nat rype.
Mel 1200 “Now, sire, sith I have shewed yow of which folk ye shul take youre conseil
Mel 1200A and of which folk ye shul folwe the conseil,
Mel 1201 now wol I teche yow how ye shal examyne youre conseil, after the doctrine of Tullius.
Mel 1202 In the examynynge thanne of youre conseillour ye shul considere manye thynges.
Mel 1203 Alderfirst thou shalt considere that in thilke thyng that thou purposest, and upon what thyng thou wolt have conseil,
Mel 1203A that verray trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn, telle trewely thy tale.
Mel 1204 For he that seith fals may nat wel be conseilled in that cas of which he lieth.
Mel 1205 And after this thou shalt considere the thynges that acorden to that thou purposest
Mel 1205A for to do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde therto,
Mel 1206 and eek if thy myght may atteine therto, and if the moore part
Mel 1206A and the bettre part of thy conseillours acorde therto, or noon.
Mel 1207 Thanne shaltou considere what thyng shal folwe of that conseillyng,
Mel 1207A as hate, pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage, and manye othere thynges.
Mel 1208 And in alle thise thynges thou shalt chese the beste and weyve alle othere thynges.
Mel 1209 Thanne shaltow considere of what roote is engendred the matiere of thy conseil
Mel 1209A and what fruyt it may conceyve and engendre.
Mel 1210 Thou shalt eek considere alle thise causes, fro whennes they been sprongen.
Mel 1211 And whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd, and which partie is the bettre
Mel 1211A and moore profitable, and han approved it by manye wise folk and olde,
Mel 1212 thanne shaltou considere if thou mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good ende.
Mel 1213 For certes resoun wol nat that any man sholde bigynne a thyng
Mel 1213A but if he myghte parfourne it as hym oghte;
Mel 1214 ne no wight sholde take upon hym so hevy a charge that he myghte nat bere it.
Mel 1215 For the proverbe seith, ‘He that to muche embraceth, distreyneth litel.’
Mel 1216 And Catoun seith, ‘Assay to do swich thyng as thou hast power to doon,
Mel 1216A lest that the charge oppresse thee so soore that
Mel 1216B thee bihoveth to weyve thyng that thou hast bigonne.’
Mel 1217 And if so be that thou be in doute wheither thou mayst parfourne a thing or noon,
Mel 1217A chese rather to suffre than bigynne.
Mel 1218 And Piers Alphonce seith, ‘If thou hast myght to doon a thyng of which thou most repente,
Mel 1218A it is bettre “nay” than “ye.”‘
Mel 1219 This is to seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge stille than for to speke.
Mel 1220 Thanne may ye understonde by strenger resons that if thou hast power to parfourne a werk
Mel 1220A of which thou shalt repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre than bigynne.
Mel 1221 Wel seyn they that defenden every wight to assaye a thyng of which he is in doute
Mel 1221A wheither he may parfourne it or noon.
Mel 1222 And after, whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd biforn, and knowen wel that
Mel 1222A ye may parfourne youre emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende.
Mel 1223 “Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow whanne and wherfore that
Mel 1223A ye may chaunge youre counseil withouten youre repreve.
Mel 1224 Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and his conseil if the cause cesseth,
Mel 1224A or whan a newe caas bitydeth.
Mel 1225 For the lawe seith that ‘upon thynges that newely bityden bihoveth newe conseil.’
Mel 1226 And Senec seith, ‘If thy conseil is comen to the eeris of thyn enemy, chaunge thy conseil.’
Mel 1227 Thou mayst also chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou fynde that by errour,
Mel 1227A or by oother cause, harm or damage may bityde.
Mel 1228 Also if thy conseil be dishonest, or ellis cometh of dishonest cause, chaunge thy conseil.
Mel 1229 For the lawes seyn that ‘alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no value’;
Mel 1230 and eek if so be that it be inpossible, or may nat goodly be parfourned or kept.
Mel 1231 “And take this for a general reule, that every conseil that is affermed so strongly that it may nat
Mel 1231A be chaunged for no condicioun that may bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked.”
Mel 1232 This Melibeus, whanne he hadde herd the doctrine of his wyf dame Prudence, answerde in this wyse:
Mel 1233 “Dame,” quod he, “as yet into this tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me as in general how
Mel 1233A I shal governe me in the chesynge and in the withholdynge of my conseillours.
Mel 1234 But now wolde I fayn that ye wolde condescende in especial
Mel 1235 and telle me how liketh yow, or what semeth yow, by oure conseillours
Mel 1235A that we han chosen in oure present nede.”
Mel 1236 “My lord,” quod she, “I biseke yow in al humblesse that ye wol nat wilfully replie agayn my resouns,
Mel 1236A ne distempre youre herte, thogh I speke thyng that yow displese.
Mel 1237 For God woot that, as in myn entente, I speke it for youre beste,
Mel 1237A for youre honour, and for youre profite eke.
Mel 1238 And soothly, I hope that youre benyngnytee wol taken it in pacience.
Mel 1239 Trusteth me wel,” quod she, “that youre conseil as in this caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly,
Mel 1239A be called a conseillyng, but a mocioun or a moevyng of folye,
Mel 1240 in which conseil ye han erred in many a sondry wise.
Mel 1241 “First and forward, ye han erred in th’ assemblynge of youre conseillours.
Mel 1242 For ye sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to youre conseil, and after ye myghte han shewed it
Mel 1242A to mo folk, if it hadde been nede.
Mel 1243 But certes, ye han sodeynly cleped to youre conseil a greet multitude of peple,
Mel 1243A ful chargeant and ful anoyous for to heere.
Mel 1244 Also ye han erred, for theras ye sholden oonly have cleped to youre conseil
Mel 1244A youre trewe frendes olde and wise,
Mel 1245 ye han ycleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false flatereres, and enemys reconsiled,
Mel 1245A and folk that doon yow reverence withouten love.
Mel 1246 And eek also ye have erred, for ye han broght with yow to youre conseil ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse,
Mel 1247 the whiche thre thinges been contrariouse to every conseil honest and profitable;
Mel 1248 the whiche thre thinges ye han nat anientissed or destroyed hem,
Mel 1248A neither in youreself, ne in youre conseillours, as yow oghte.
Mel 1249 Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to youre conseillours
Mel 1249A youre talent and youre affeccioun to make werre anon and for to do vengeance.
Mel 1250 They han espied by youre wordes to what thyng ye been enclyned;
Mel 1251 and therfore han they rather conseilled yow to youre talent than to youre profit.
Mel 1252 Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow suffiseth
Mel 1252A to han been conseilled by thise conseillours oonly, and with litel avys,
Mel 1253 whereas in so greet and so heigh a nede it hadde been necessarie mo conseillours
Mel 1253A and moore deliberacion to parfourne youre emprise.
Mel 1254 Ye han erred also, for ye ne han nat examyned youre conseil in the forseyde manere,
Mel 1254A ne in due manere, as the caas requireth.
Mel 1255 Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no division bitwixe youre conseillours — this is to seyn,
Mel 1255A bitwixen youre trewe freendes and youre feyned conseillours —
Mel 1256 ne ye han nat knowe the wil of youre trewe freendes olde and wise,
Mel 1257 but ye han cast alle hire wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned youre herte to the moore part
Mel 1257A and to the gretter nombre, and there been ye condescended.
Mel 1258 And sith ye woot wel that men shal alwey fynde a gretter nombre of fooles than of wise men,
Mel 1259 and therfore the conseils that been at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, there as men take moore reward
Mel 1259A to the nombre than to the sapience of persones,
Mel 1260 ye se wel that in swiche conseillynges fooles han the maistrie.”
Mel 1261 Melibeus answerde agayn, and seyde, “I graunte wel that I have erred;
Mel 1262 but there as thou hast toold me heerbiforn
Mel 1262A that he nys nat to blame that chaungeth his conseillours in certein caas and for certeine juste causes,
Mel 1263 I am al redy to chaunge my conseillours right as thow wolt devyse.
Mel 1264 The proverbe seith that ‘for to do synne is mannyssh,
Mel 1264A but certes for to persevere longe in synne is werk of the devel.'”
Mel 1265 To this sentence answered anon dame Prudence, and seyde,
Mel 1266 “Examineth,” quod she, “youre conseil, and lat us see
Mel 1266A the whiche of hem han spoken most resonably and taught yow best conseil.
Mel 1267 And for as muche as that the examynacion is necessarie, lat us bigynne at the surgiens
Mel 1267A and at the phisiciens, that first speeken in this matiere.
Mel 1268 I sey yow that the surgiens and phisiciens han seyd yow in youre conseil discreetly, as hem oughte,
Mel 1269 and in hir speche seyden ful wisely that to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to every wight
Mel 1269A honour and profit, and no wight for to anoye,
Mel 1270 and after hir craft to doon greet diligence
Mel 1270A unto the cure of hem which that they han in hir governaunce.
Mel 1271 And, sire, right as they han answered wisely and discreetly,
Mel 1272 right so rede I that they been heighly and sovereynly gerdoned for hir noble speche,
Mel 1273 and eek for they sholde do the moore ententif bisynesse in the curacion of youre doghter deere.
Mel 1274 For al be it so that they been youre freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren
Mel 1274A that they serve yow for noght,
Mel 1275 but ye oghte the rather gerdone hem and shewe hem youre largesse.
Mel 1276 And as touchynge the proposicioun which that the phisiciens encreesceden in this caas — this is to seyn,
Mel 1277 that in maladies that oon contrarie is warisshed by another contrarie —
Mel 1278 I wolde fayn knowe hou ye understonde thilke text, and what is youre sentence.”
Mel 1279 “Certes,” quod Melibeus, “I understonde it in this wise:
Mel 1280 that right as they han doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I doon hem another.
Mel 1281 For right as they han venged hem on me and doon me wrong,
Mel 1281A right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon hem wrong;
Mel 1282 and thanne have I cured oon contrarie by another.”
Mel 1283 “Lo, lo,” quod dame Prudence, “how lightly is every man enclined to his owene desir
Mel 1283A and to his owene plesaunce!
Mel 1284 Certes,” quod she, “the wordes of the phisiciens ne sholde nat han been understonden in thys wise.
Mel 1285 For certes, wikkednesse is nat contrarie to wikkednesse, ne vengeance to vengeaunce,
Mel 1285A ne wrong to wrong, but they been semblable.
Mel 1286 And therfore o vengeaunce is nat warisshed by another vengeaunce, ne o wroong by another wroong,
Mel 1287 but everich of hem encreesceth and aggreggeth oother.
Mel 1288 But certes, the wordes of the phisiciens sholde been understonden in this wise:
Mel 1289 for good and wikkednesse been two contraries, and pees and werre, vengeaunce
Mel 1289A and suffraunce, discord and accord, and manye othere thynges;
Mel 1290 but certes, wikkednesse shal be warisshed by goodnesse, discord by accord, werre by pees,
Mel 1290A and so forth of othere thynges.
Mel 1291 And heerto accordeth Seint Paul the Apostle in manye places.
Mel 1292 He seith, ‘Ne yeldeth nat harm for harm, ne wikked speche for wikked speche,
Mel 1293 but do wel to hym that dooth thee harm and blesse hym that seith to thee harm.’
Mel 1294 And in manye othere places he amonesteth pees and accord.
Mel 1295 But now wol I speke to yow of the conseil which that was yeven to yow
Mel 1295A by the men of lawe and the wise folk,
Mel 1296 that seyden alle by oon accord, as ye han herd bifore,
Mel 1297 that over alle thynges ye shal doon youre diligence to kepen youre persone and to warnestoore youre hous;
Mel 1298 and seyden also that in this caas yow oghten for to werken ful avysely and with greet deliberacioun.
Mel 1299 And, sire, as to the firste point, that toucheth to the kepyng of youre persone,
Mel 1300 ye shul understonde that he that hath werre shal everemoore mekely and devoutly preyen, biforn alle thynges,
Mel 1301 that Jhesus Crist of his mercy wol han hym in his proteccion
Mel 1301A and been his sovereyn helpyng at his nede.
Mel 1302 For certes, in this world ther is no wight that may be conseilled ne kept sufficeantly
Mel 1302A withouten the kepyng of oure Lord Jhesu Crist.
Mel 1303 To this sentence accordeth the prophete David, that seith,
Mel 1304 ‘If God ne kepe the citee, in ydel waketh he that it kepeth.’
Mel 1305 Now, sire, thanne shul ye committe the kepyng of youre persone
Mel 1305A to youre trewe freendes that been approved and yknowe,
Mel 1306 and of hem shul ye axen help youre persone for to kepe. For Catoun seith,
Mel 1306A ‘If thou hast nede of help, axe it of thy freendes,
Mel 1307 for ther nys noon so good a phisicien as thy trewe freend.’
Mel 1308 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow fro alle straunge folk, and fro lyeres,
Mel 1308A and have alwey in suspect hire compaignye.
Mel 1309 For Piers Alfonce seith, ‘Ne taak no compaignye by the weye of a straunge man,
Mel 1309A but if so be that thou have knowe hym of a lenger tyme.
Mel 1310 And if so be that he falle into thy compaignye paraventure, withouten thyn assent,
Mel 1311 enquere thanne as subtilly as thou mayst of his conversacion, and of his lyf bifore, and feyne thy wey;
Mel 1311A seye that [thou] wolt thider as thou wolt nat go;
Mel 1312 and if he bereth a spere, hoold thee on the right syde,
Mel 1312A and if he bere a swerd, hoold thee on the lift syde.’
Mel 1313 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow wisely from all swich manere peple as I have seyd bifore,
Mel 1313A and hem and hir conseil eschewe.
Mel 1314 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow in swich manere
Mel 1315 that, for any presumpcion of youre strengthe, that ye ne dispise nat, ne accompte nat the myght
Mel 1315A of youre adversarie so litel that ye lete the kepyng of youre persone for youre presumpcioun,
Mel 1316 for every wys man dredeth his enemy.
Mel 1317 And Salomon seith, ‘Weleful is he that of alle hath drede,
Mel 1318 for certes, he that thurgh the hardynesse of his herte and thurgh the hardynesse of hymself hath
Mel 1318A to greet presumpcioun, hym shal yvel bityde.’
Mel 1319 Thanne shul ye everemoore contrewayte embusshementz and alle espiaille.
Mel 1320 For Senec seith that ‘the wise man that dredeth harmes, eschueth harmes,
Mel 1321 ne he ne falleth into perils that perils eschueth.’
Mel 1322 And al be it so that it seme that thou art in siker place,
Mel 1322A yet shaltow alwey do thy diligence in kepynge of thy persone;
Mel 1323 this is to seyn, ne be nat necligent to kepe thy persone
Mel 1323A nat oonly fro thy gretteste enemys but fro thy leeste enemy.
Mel 1324 Senek seith, ‘A man that is well avysed, he dredeth his leste enemy.’
Mel 1325 Ovyde seith that ‘the litel wesele wol slee the grete bole and the wilde hert.’
Mel 1326 And the book seith, ‘A litel thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore,
Mel 1326A and an hound wol holde the wilde boor.’
Mel 1327 But nathelees, I sey nat thou shalt be so coward that thou doute ther wher as is no drede.
Mel 1328 The book seith that ‘somme folk han greet lust to deceyve, but yet they dreden hem to be deceyved.’
Mel 1329 Yet shaltou drede to been empoisoned and kepe the from the compaignye of scorneres.
Mel 1330 For the book seith, ‘With scorneres make no compaignye, but flee hire wordes as venym.’
Mel 1331 “Now, as to the seconde point,
Mel 1331A where as youre wise conseillours conseilled yow to warnestoore youre hous with gret diligence,
Mel 1332 I wolde fayn knowe how that ye understonde thilke wordes and what is youre sentence.”
Mel 1333 Melibeus answerde and seyde, “Certes, I understande it in this wise: That I shal warnestoore myn hous with toures,
Mel 1333A swiche as han castelles and othere manere edifices, and armure, and artelries,
Mel 1334 by whiche thynges I may my persone and myn hous so kepen and deffenden
Mel 1334A that myne enemys shul been in drede myn hous for to approche.”
Mel 1335 To this sentence answerde anon Prudence: “Warnestooryng,” quod she,
Mel 1335A “of heighe toures and of grete edifices apperteyneth somtyme to pryde.
Mel 1336 And eek men make heighe toures, [and grete edifices] with grete costages and with greet travaille,
Mel 1336A and whan that they been accompliced, yet be they nat worth a stree,
Mel 1336B but if they be defended by trewe freendes that been olde and wise.
Mel 1337 And understoond wel that the gretteste and strongeste garnysoun that a riche man may have,
Mel 1337A as wel to kepen his persone as his goodes, is
Mel 1338 that he be biloved with hys subgetz and with his neighebores.
Mel 1339 For thus seith Tullius, that ‘ther is a manere garnysoun
Mel 1339A that no man may venquysse ne disconfite, and that is
Mel 1340 a lord to be biloved of his citezeins and of his peple.’
Mel 1341 Now, sire, as to the thridde point, where as youre olde
Mel 1341A and wise conseillours seyden that yow ne oghte nat sodeynly ne hastily proceden in this nede,
Mel 1342 but that yow oghte purveyen and apparaillen yow in this caas with greet diligence and greet deliberacioun;
Mel 1343 trewely, I trowe that they seyden right wisely and right sooth.
Mel 1344 For Tullius seith, ‘In every nede, er thou bigynne it, apparaille thee with greet diligence.’
Mel 1345 Thanne seye I that in vengeance-takyng, in werre, in bataille, and in warnestooryng,
Mel 1346 er thow bigynne, I rede that thou apparaille thee therto, and do it with greet deliberacion.
Mel 1347 For Tullius seith that ‘longe apparaillyng biforn the bataille maketh short victorie.’
Mel 1348 And Cassidorus seith, ‘The garnysoun is stronger whan it is longe tyme avysed.’
Mel 1349 But now lat us speken of the conseil that was accorded by youre neighebores,
Mel 1349A swiche as doon yow reverence withouten love,
Mel 1350 youre olde enemys reconsiled, youre flatereres,
Mel 1351 that conseilled yow certeyne thynges prively, and openly conseilleden yow the contrarie;
Mel 1352 the yonge folk also, that conseilleden yow to venge yow and make werre anon.
Mel 1353 And certes, sire, as I have seyd biforn, ye han greetly erred
Mel 1353A to han cleped swich manere folk to youre conseil,
Mel 1354 which conseillours been ynogh repreved by the resouns aforeseyd.
Mel 1355 But nathelees, lat us now descende to the special. Ye shuln first procede after the doctrine of Tullius.
Mel 1356 Certes, the trouthe of this matiere, or of this conseil, nedeth nat diligently enquere,
Mel 1357 for it is wel wist whiche they been that han doon to yow this trespas and vileynye,
Mel 1358 and how manye trespassours, and in what manere
Mel 1358A they han to yow doon al this wrong and al this vileynye.
Mel 1359 And after this, thanne shul ye examyne the seconde condicion which that the same Tullius addeth in this matiere.
Mel 1360 For Tullius put a thyng which that he clepeth ‘consentynge’; this is to seyn,
Mel 1361 who been they, and whiche been they and how manye that consenten to thy conseil
Mel 1361A in thy wilfulnesse to doon hastif vengeance.
Mel 1362 And lat us considere also who been they, and how manye been they,
Mel 1362A and whiche been they that consenteden to youre adversaries.
Mel 1363 And certes, as to the firste poynt, it is wel knowen whiche folk been
Mel 1363A they that consenteden to youre hastif wilfulnesse,
Mel 1364 for trewely, alle tho that conseilleden yow to maken sodeyn werre ne been nat youre freendes.
Mel 1365 Lat us now considere whiche been they that ye holde so greetly youre freendes as to youre persone.
Mel 1366 For al be it so that ye be myghty and riche, certes ye ne been but allone,
Mel 1367 for certes ye ne han no child but a doghter,
Mel 1368 ne ye ne han bretheren, ne cosyns germayns, ne noon oother neigh kynrede,
Mel 1369 wherfore that youre enemys for drede sholde stinte to plede with yow or to destroye youre persone.
Mel 1370 Ye knowen also that youre richesses mooten been dispended in diverse parties,
Mel 1371 and whan that every wight hath his part, they ne wollen taken but litel reward to venge thy deeth.
Mel 1372 But thyne enemys been thre, and they han manie children, bretheren, cosyns, and oother ny kynrede.
Mel 1373 And though so were that thou haddest slayn of hem two or three, yet dwellen ther ynowe
Mel 1373A to wreken hir deeth and to sle thy persone.
Mel 1374 And though so be that youre kynrede be moore siker and stedefast than the kyn of youre adversarie,
Mel 1375 yet nathelees youre kynrede nys but a fer kynrede; they been but litel syb to yow,
Mel 1376 and the kyn of youre enemys been ny syb to hem.
Mel 1376A And certes, as in that, hir condicioun is bet than youres.
Mel 1377 Thanne lat us considere also if the conseillyng of hem that conseilleden yow to taken sodeyn vengeaunce,
Mel 1377A wheither it accorde to resoun.
Mel 1378 And certes, ye knowe wel ‘nay.’
Mel 1379 For, as by right and resoun, ther may no man taken vengeance on no wight
Mel 1379A but the juge that hath the jurisdiccioun of it,
Mel 1380 whan it is graunted hym to take thilke vengeance hastily or attemprely, as the lawe requireth.
Mel 1381 And yet mooreover of thilke word that Tullius clepeth ‘consentynge,’
Mel 1382 thou shalt considere if thy myght and thy power may consenten
Mel 1382A and suffise to thy wilfulnesse and to thy conseillours.
Mel 1383 And certes thou mayst wel seyn that ‘nay.’
Mel 1384 For sikerly, as for to speke proprely, we may do no thyng
Mel 1384A but oonly swich thyng as we may doon rightfully.
Mel 1385 And certes rightfully ne mowe ye take no vengeance, as of youre propre auctoritee.
Mel 1386 Thanne mowe ye seen that youre power ne consenteth nat, ne accordeth nat, with youre wilfulnesse.
Mel 1387 “Lat us now examyne the thridde point, that Tullius clepeth ‘consequent.’
Mel 1388 Thou shalt understonde that the vengeance that thou purposest for to take is the consequent;
Mel 1389 and therof folweth another vengeaunce, peril, and werre, and othere damages withoute nombre,
Mel 1389A of whiche we be nat war, as at this tyme.
Mel 1390 And as touchynge the fourthe point, that Tullius clepeth ‘engendrynge,’
Mel 1391 thou shalt considere that this wrong which that is doon to thee
Mel 1391A is engendred of the hate of thyne enemys,
Mel 1392 and of the vengeance-takynge upon that wolde engendre another vengeance,
Mel 1392A and muchel sorwe and wastynge of richesses, as I seyde.
Mel 1393 “Now, sire, as to the point that Tullius clepeth ’causes,’ which that is the laste point,
Mel 1394 thou shalt understonde that the wrong that thou hast receyved hath certeine causes,
Mel 1395 whiche that clerkes clepen Oriens and Efficiens, and Causa longinqua and Causa propinqua;
Mel 1395A this is to seyn, the fer cause and the ny cause.
Mel 1396 The fer cause is almyghty God, that is cause of alle thynges.
Mel 1397 The neer cause is thy thre enemys.
Mel 1398 The cause accidental was hate.
Mel 1399 The cause material been the fyve woundes of thy doghter.
Mel 1400 The cause formal is the manere of hir werkynge that broghten laddres and cloumben in at thy wyndowes.
Mel 1401 The cause final was for to sle thy doghter. It letted nat in as muche as in hem was.
Mel 1402 But for to speken of the fer cause, as to what ende they shul come, or what shal finally
Mel 1402A bityde of hem in this caas, ne kan I nat deeme but by conjectynge and by supposynge.
Mel 1403 For we shul suppose that they shul come to a wikked ende,
Mel 1404 by cause that the Book of Decrees seith, ‘Seelden, or with greet peyne, been causes ybroght to good ende
Mel 1404A whanne they been baddely bigonne.’
Mel 1405 “Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that God suffred men to do yow this vileynye,
Mel 1405A certes, I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse.
Mel 1406 For th’ apostle seith that ‘the sciences and the juggementz of oure Lord God almyghty been ful depe;
Mel 1407 ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly.’
Mel 1408 Nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve
Mel 1409 that God, which that is ful of justice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste cause resonable.
Mel 1410 “Thy name is Melibee; this is to seyn, ‘a man that drynketh hony.’
Mel 1411 Thou hast ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel richesses, and delices and honours of this world
Mel 1412 that thou art dronken and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour.
Mel 1413 Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte,
Mel 1414 ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith,
Mel 1415 ‘Under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule.’
Mel 1416 And Salomon seith, ‘If thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth,
Mel 1417 for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe’ and be nedy and povre.
Mel 1418 And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and
Mel 1418A hath turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of misericorde,
Mel 1419 and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punysshed in the manere that thow hast ytrespassed.
Mel 1420 Thou hast doon synne agayn oure Lord Crist,
Mel 1421 for certes, the three enemys of mankynde
Mel 1421A — that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world —
Mel 1422 thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body,
Mel 1423 and hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns hire assautes and hire temptaciouns,
Mel 1423A so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places;
Mel 1424 this is to seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into thyn herte by thy fyve wittes.
Mel 1425 And in the same manere oure Lord Crist hath woold and suffred
Mel 1425A that thy three enemys been entred into thyn house by the wyndowes
Mel 1426 and han ywounded thy doghter in the forseyde manere.”
Mel 1427 “Certes,” quod Melibee, “I se wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere
Mel 1427A that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys,
Mel 1428 shewynge me the perils and the yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance.
Mel 1429 But whoso wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte sewe of vengeance-takynge,
Mel 1430 a man wolde nevere take vengeance, and that were harm;
Mel 1431 for by the vengeance-takynge been the wikked men dissevered fro the goode men,
Mel 1432 and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos,
Mel 1432A whan they seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of the trespassours.”
Mel 1435 And yet seye I moore, that right as a singuler persone synneth in takynge vengeance of another man,
Mel 1436 right so synneth the juge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han disserved.
Mel 1437 For Senec seith thus: ‘That maister,’ he seith, ‘is good that proveth shrewes.’
Mel 1438 And as Cassidore seith, ‘A man dredeth to do outrages whan he woot and knoweth
Mel 1438A that it displeseth to the juges and the sovereyns.’
Mel 1439 And another seith, ‘The juge that dredeth to do right maketh men shrewes.’
Mel 1440 And Seint Paul the Apostle seith in his Epistle, whan he writeth unto the Romayns, that
Mel 1440A ‘the juges beren nat the spere withouten cause,
Mel 1441 but they beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers and for to defende the goode men.’
Mel 1442 If ye wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge
Mel 1442A that hath the jurisdiccion upon hem,
Mel 1443 and he shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth.”
Mel 1444 “A,” quod Melibee, “this vengeance liketh me no thyng.
Mel 1445 I bithenke me now and take heede how Fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede
Mel 1445A and hath holpen me to passe many a stroong paas.
Mel 1446 Now wol I assayen hire, trowynge, with Goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge.”
Mel 1447 “Certes,” quod Prudence, “if ye wol werke by my conseil, ye shul nat assaye Fortune by no wey,
Mel 1448 ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto hire, after the word of Senec,
Mel 1449 for ‘thynges that been folily doon, and that been in hope of Fortune, shullen nevere come to good ende.’
Mel 1450 And, as the same Senec seith, ‘The moore cleer and the moore shynyng that Fortune is,
Mel 1450A the moore brotil and the sonner broken she is.’
Mel 1451 Trusteth nat in hire, for she nys nat stidefast ne stable,
Mel 1452 for whan thow trowest to be moost seur or siker of hire help,
Mel 1452A she wol faille thee and deceyve thee.
Mel 1453 And where as ye seyn that Fortune hath norissed yow fro youre childhede,
Mel 1454 I seye that in so muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hire and in hir wit.
Mel 1455 For Senec seith, ‘What man that is norissed by Fortune, she maketh hym a greet fool.’
Mel 1456 Now thanne, syn ye desire and axe vengeance, and the vengeance that is doon after the lawe
Mel 1456A and bifore the juge ne liketh yow nat,
Mel 1457 and the vengeance that is doon in hope of Fortune is perilous and uncertein,
Mel 1458 thanne have ye noon oother remedie but for to have youre recours
Mel 1458A unto the sovereyn Juge that vengeth alle vileynyes and wronges.
Mel 1459 And he shal venge yow after that hymself witnesseth, where as he seith,
Mel 1460 ‘Leveth the vengeance to me, and I shal do it.'”
Mel 1461 Melibee answerde, “If I ne venge me nat of the vileynye that men han doon to me,
Mel 1462 I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me that vileynye,
Mel 1462A and alle othere, to do me another vileynye.
Mel 1463 For it is writen, ‘If thou take no vengeance of an oold vileynye,
Mel 1463A thou sompnest thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileynye.’
Mel 1464 And also for my suffrance men wolden do me so muchel vileynye that
Mel 1464A I myghte neither bere it ne susteene,
Mel 1465 and so sholde I been put and holden overlowe.
Mel 1466 For men seyn, ‘In muchel suffrynge shul manye thynges falle unto thee whiche thou shalt nat mowe suffre.'”
Mel 1467 “Certes,” quod Prudence, “I graunte yow that over-muchel suffraunce is nat good.
Mel 1468 But yet ne folweth it nat therof that every persone to whom men doon vileynye take of it vengeance,
Mel 1469 for that aperteneth and longeth al oonly to the juges, for they shul venge the vileynyes and injuries.
Mel 1470 And therfore tho two auctoritees that ye han seyd above been oonly understonden in the juges,
Mel 1471 for whan they suffren over-muchel the wronges and the vileynyes to be doon withouten punysshynge,
Mel 1472 they sompne nat a man al oonly for to do newe wronges, but they comanden it.
Mel 1473 Also a wys man seith that ‘the juge that correcteth nat the synnere comandeth and biddeth hym do synne.’
Mel 1474 And the juges and sovereyns myghten in hir land so muchel suffre of the shrewes and mysdoeres
Mel 1475 that they sholden, by swich suffrance, by proces of tyme wexen of swich power and myght
Mel 1475A that they sholden putte out the juges and the sovereyns from hir places,
Mel 1476 and atte laste maken hem lesen hire lordshipes.
Mel 1477 “But lat us now putte that ye have leve to venge yow.
Mel 1478 I seye ye been nat of myght and power as now to venge yow,
Mel 1479 for if ye wole maken comparisoun unto the myght of youre adversaries, ye shul fynde in manye thynges that
Mel 1479A I have shewed yow er this that hire condicion is bettre than youres.
Mel 1480 And therfore seye I that it is good as now that ye suffre and be pacient.
Mel 1481 “Forthermoore, ye knowen wel that after the comune sawe, ‘it is a woodnesse a man to stryve
Mel 1481A with a strenger or a moore myghty man than he is hymself,
Mel 1482 and for to stryve with a man of evene strengthe — that is to seyn,
Mel 1482A with as strong a man as he is — it is peril,
Mel 1483 and for to stryve with a weyker man, it is folie.’
Mel 1484 And therfore sholde a man flee stryvynge as muchel as he myghte.
Mel 1485 For Salomon seith, ‘It is a greet worshipe to a man to kepen hym fro noyse and stryf.’
Mel 1486 And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gretter myght and strengthe
Mel 1486A than thou art do thee grevaunce,
Mel 1487 studie and bisye thee rather to stille the same grevaunce than for to venge thee.
Mel 1488 For Senec seith that ‘he putteth hym in greet peril
Mel 1488A that stryveth with a gretter man than he is hymself.’
Mel 1489 And Catoun seith, ‘If a man of hyer estaat or degree, or moore myghty than thou,
Mel 1489A do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre hym,
Mel 1490 for he that oones hath greved thee, may another tyme releeve thee and helpe.’
Mel 1491 Yet sette I caas ye have bothe myght and licence for to venge yow,
Mel 1492 I seye that ther be ful manye thynges that shul restreyne yow of vengeance-takynge
Mel 1493 and make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to han pacience
Mel 1493A in the wronges that han been doon to yow.
Mel 1494 First and foreward, if ye wole considere the defautes that been in youre owene persone,
Mel 1495 for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I have seyd yow heer-biforn.
Mel 1496 For the poete seith that ‘we oghte paciently taken the tribulacions
Mel 1496A that comen to us, whan we thynken and consideren that we han disserved to have hem.’
Mel 1497 And Seint Gregorie seith that ‘whan a man considereth wel the nombre of his defautes and of his synnes,
Mel 1498 the peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth semen the lesse unto hym;
Mel 1499 and in as muche as hym thynketh his synnes moore hevy and grevous,
Mel 1500 in so muche semeth his peyne the lighter and the esier unto hym.’
Mel 1501 Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe youre herte
Mel 1501A to take the pacience of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, as seith Seint Peter in his Epistles.
Mel 1502 ‘Jhesu Crist,’ he seith, ‘hath suffred for us and yeven ensample to every man to folwe and sewe hym,
Mel 1503 for he dide nevere synne, ne nevere cam ther a vileyns word out of his mouth.
Mel 1504 Whan men cursed hym, he cursed hem noght, and whan men betten hym, he manaced hem noght.’
Mel 1505 Also the grete pacience which the seintes that been in Paradys han had in tribulaciouns
Mel 1505A that they han ysuffred, withouten hir desert or gilt,
Mel 1506 oghte muchel stiren yow to pacience.
Mel 1507 Forthermoore ye sholde enforce yow to have pacience,
Mel 1508 considerynge that the tribulaciouns of this world but litel while endure and soone passed been and goon,
Mel 1509 and the joye that a man seketh to have by pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable,
Mel 1509A after that the Apostle seith in his epistle.
Mel 1510 ‘The joye of God,’ he seith, ‘is perdurable’ — that is to seyn, everelastynge.
Mel 1511 Also troweth and bileveth stedefastly that he nys nat wel ynorissed, ne wel ytaught,
Mel 1511A that kan nat have pacience or wol nat receyve pacience.
Mel 1512 For Salomon seith that ‘the doctrine and the wit of a man is knowen by pacience.’
Mel 1513 And in another place he seith that ‘he that is pacient governeth hym by greet prudence.’
Mel 1514 And the same Salomon seith, ‘The angry and wrathful man maketh noyses,
Mel 1514A and the pacient man atempreth hem and stilleth.’
Mel 1515 He seith also, ‘It is moore worth to be pacient than for to be right strong;
Mel 1516 and he that may have the lordshipe of his owene herte is moore to preyse than he that
Mel 1516A by his force or strengthe taketh grete citees.’
Mel 1517 And therfore seith Seint Jame in his Epistle that ‘pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun.'”
Mel 1518 “Certes,” quod Melibee, “I graunte yow, dame Prudence, that pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun;
Mel 1519 but every man may nat have the perfeccioun that ye seken;
Mel 1520 ne I nam nat of the nombre of right parfite men,
Mel 1521 for myn herte may nevere been in pees unto the tyme it be venged.
Mel 1522 And al be it so that it was greet peril to myne enemys
Mel 1522A to do me a vileynye in takynge vengeance upon me,
Mel 1523 yet tooken they noon heede of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wikked wyl and hir corage.
Mel 1524 And therfore me thynketh men oghten nat repreve me,
Mel 1524A though I putte me in a litel peril for to venge me,
Mel 1525 and though I do a greet excesse; that is to seyn, that I venge oon outrage by another.”
Mel 1526 “A,” quod dame Prudence, “ye seyn youre wyl and as yow liketh,
Mel 1527 but in no caas of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage ne excesse for to vengen hym.
Mel 1528 For Cassidore seith that ‘as yvele dooth he that vengeth hym by outrage as he that dooth the outrage.’
Mel 1529 And therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of right; that is to seyn, by the lawe
Mel 1529A and noght by excesse ne by outrage.
Mel 1530 And also, if ye wol venge yow of the outrage of youre adversaries
Mel 1530A in oother manere than right comandeth, ye synnen.
Mel 1531 And therfore seith Senec that ‘a man shal nevere vengen shrewednesse by shrewednesse.’
Mel 1532 And if ye seye that right axeth a man to defenden violence by violence and fightyng by fightyng,
Mel 1533 certes ye seye sooth, whan the defense is doon anon withouten intervalle or withouten tariyng or delay,
Mel 1534 for to deffenden hym and nat for to vengen hym.
Mel 1535 And it bihoveth that a man putte swich attemperance in his deffense
Mel 1536 that men have no cause ne matiere to repreven hym that deffendeth hym of excesse and outrage,
Mel 1536A for ellis were it agayn resoun.
Mel 1537 Pardee, ye knowen wel that ye maken no deffense
Mel 1537A as now for to deffende yow, but for to venge yow;
Mel 1538 and so seweth it that ye han no wyl to do youre dede attemprely.
Mel 1539 And therfore me thynketh that pacience is good. For Salomon seith that
Mel 1539A ‘he that is nat pacient shal have greet harm.'”
Mel 1540 “Certes,” quod Melibee, “I graunte yow that whan a man is inpacient and wrooth of that
Mel 1540A that toucheth hym noght and that aperteneth nat unto hym, though it harme hym, it is no wonder.
Mel 1541 For the lawe seith that ‘he is coupable that entremetteth hym
Mel 1541A or medleth with swych thyng as aperteneth nat unto hym.’
Mel 1542 And Salomon seith that ‘he that entremetteth hym of the noyse or strif of another man
Mel 1542A is lyk to hym that taketh an hound by the eris.’
Mel 1543 For right as he that taketh a straunge hound by the eris is outherwhile biten with the hound,
Mel 1544 right in the same wise is it resoun that he have harm that by his inpacience medleth hym
Mel 1544A of the noyse of another man, wheras it aperteneth nat unto hym.
Mel 1545 But ye knowen wel that this dede — that is to seyn,
Mel 1545A my grief and my disese — toucheth me right ny.
Mel 1546 And therfore, though I be wrooth and inpacient, it is no merveille.
Mel 1547 And, savynge youre grace, I kan nat seen that it myghte greetly harme me though I tooke vengeaunce.
Mel 1548 For I am richer and moore myghty than myne enemys been;
Mel 1549 and wel knowen ye that by moneye and by havynge grete possessions
Mel 1549A been alle the thynges of this world governed.
Mel 1550 And Salomon seith that ‘alle thynges obeyen to moneye.'”
Mel 1551 Whan Prudence hadde herd hir housbonde avanten hym of his richesse
Mel 1551A and of his moneye, dispreisynge the power of his adversaries,
Mel 1551B she spak and seyde in this wise:
Mel 1552 “Certes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye been riche and myghty
Mel 1553 and that the richesses been goode to hem that han wel ygeten hem and wel konne usen hem.
Mel 1554 For right as the body of a man may nat lyven withoute the soule,
Mel 1554A namoore may it lyve withouten temporeel goodes.
Mel 1555 And by richesses may a man gete hym grete freendes.
Mel 1556 And therfore seith Pamphilles: ‘If a net-herdes doghter,’ seith he, ‘be riche,
Mel 1556A she may chesen of a thousand men which she wol take to hir housbonde,
Mel 1557 for, of a thousand men, oon wol nat forsaken hire ne refusen hire.’
Mel 1558 And this Pamphilles seith also, ‘If thow be right happy — that is to seyn,
Mel 1558A if thou be right riche — thou shalt fynde a greet nombre of felawes and freendes.
Mel 1559 And if thy fortune change that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe,
Mel 1560 for thou shalt be alloone withouten any compaignye, but if it be the compaignye of povre folk.’
Mel 1561 And yet seith this Pamphilles moreover that ‘they that been thralle and bonde of lynage
Mel 1561A shullen been maad worthy and noble by the richesses.’
Mel 1562 And right so as by richesses ther comen manye goodes,
Mel 1562A right so by poverte come ther manye harmes and yveles,
Mel 1563 for greet poverte constreyneth a man to do manye yveles.
Mel 1564 And therfore clepeth Cassidore poverte the mooder of ruyne;
Mel 1565 that is to seyn, the mooder of overthrowynge or fallynge doun.
Mel 1566 And therfore seith Piers Alfonce, ‘Oon of the gretteste adversitees of this world is
Mel 1567 whan a free man by kynde or of burthe is constreyned by poverte
Mel 1567A to eten the almesse of his enemy,’
Mel 1568 and the same seith Innocent in oon of his bookes. He seith that
Mel 1568A ‘sorweful and myshappy is the condicioun of a povre beggere;
Mel 1569 for if he axe nat his mete, he dyeth for hunger;
Mel 1570 and if he axe, he dyeth for shame; and algates necessitee constreyneth hym to axe.’
Mel 1571 And seith Salomon that ‘bet it is to dye than for to have swich poverte.’
Mel 1572 And as the same Salomon seith, ‘Bettre it is to dye of bitter deeth
Mel 1572A than for to lyven in swich wise.’
Mel 1573 By thise resons that I have seid unto yow and by manye othere resons that I koude seye,
Mel 1574 I graunte yow that richesses been goode to hem that geten hem wel
Mel 1574A and to hem that wel usen tho richesses.
Mel 1575 And therfore wol I shewe yow hou ye shul have yow, and how ye shul bere yow
Mel 1575A in gaderynge of richesses, and in what manere ye shul usen hem.
Mel 1576 “First, ye shul geten hem withouten greet desir, by good leyser, sokyngly and nat over-hastily.
Mel 1577 For a man that is to desirynge to gete richesses abaundoneth hym
Mel 1577A first to thefte, and to alle othere yveles;
Mel 1578 and therfore seith Salomon, ‘He that hasteth hym to bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent.’
Mel 1579 He seith also that ‘the richesse that hastily cometh to a man soone
Mel 1579A and lightly gooth and passeth fro a man,
Mel 1580 but that richesse that cometh litel and litel wexeth alwey and multiplieth.’
Mel 1581 And, sire, ye shul geten richesses by youre wit and by youre travaille unto youre profit,
Mel 1582 and that withouten wrong or harm doynge to any oother persone.
Mel 1583 For the lawe seith that ‘ther maketh no man himselven riche, if he do harm to another wight.’
Mel 1584 This is to seyn, that nature deffendeth and forbedeth by right that
Mel 1584A no man make hymself riche unto the harm of another persone.
Mel 1585 And Tullius seith that ‘no sorwe, ne no drede of deeth, ne no thyng
Mel 1585A that may falle unto a man, is so muchel agayns
Mel 1586 nature as a man to encressen his owene profit to the harm of another man.
Mel 1587 And though the grete men and the myghty men geten richesses moore lightly than thou,
Mel 1588 yet shaltou nat been ydel ne slow to do thy profit, for thou shalt in alle wise flee ydelnesse.’
Mel 1589 For Salomon seith that ‘ydelnesse techeth a man to do manye yveles.’
Mel 1590 And the same Salomon seith that ‘he that travailleth and bisieth hym to tilien his land shal eten breed,
Mel 1591 but he that is ydel and casteth hym to no bisynesse
Mel 1591A ne occupacioun shal falle into poverte and dye for hunger.’
Mel 1592 And he that is ydel and slow kan nevere fynde covenable tyme for to doon his profit.
Mel 1593 For ther is a versifiour seith that ‘the ydel man excuseth hym in wynter by cause
Mel 1593A of the grete coold, and in somer by enchesoun of the greete heete.’
Mel 1594 For thise causes seith Caton, ‘Waketh and enclyneth nat yow over-muchel for to slepe,
Mel 1594A for over-muchel reste norisseth and causeth manye vices.’
Mel 1595 And therfore seith Seint Jerome, ‘Dooth somme goode dedes that the devel,
Mel 1595A which is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat unocupied.’
Mel 1596 For the devel ne taketh nat lightly unto his werkynge swiche as he fyndeth occupied in goode werkes.
Mel 1597 “Thanne thus in getynge richesses ye mosten flee ydelnesse.
Mel 1598 And afterward, ye shul use the richesses which ye have geten by youre wit and by youre travaille
Mel 1599 in swich a manere that men holde yow nat to scars, ne to sparynge, ne to fool-large
Mel 1599A — that is to seyen, over-large a spendere.
Mel 1600 For right as men blamen an avaricious man by cause of his scarsetee and chyncherie,
Mel 1601 in the same wise is he to blame that spendeth over-largely.
Mel 1602 And therfore seith Caton: ‘Use,’ he seith, ‘thy richesses that thou hast geten
Mel 1603 in swich a manere that men have no matiere ne cause to calle thee neither wrecche ne chynche,
Mel 1604 for it is a greet shame to a man to have a povere herte and a riche purs.’
Mel 1605 He seith also, ‘The goodes that thou hast ygeten, use hem by mesure;’
Mel 1605A that is to seyn, spende hem mesurably,
Mel 1606 for they that folily wasten and despenden the goodes that they han,
Mel 1607 whan they han namoore propre of hir owene, they shapen hem to take the goodes of another man.
Mel 1608 I seye thanne that ye shul fleen avarice,
Mel 1609 usynge youre richesses in swich manere that men seye nat that youre richesses been yburyed
Mel 1610 but that ye have hem in youre myght and in youre weeldynge.
Mel 1611 For a wys man repreveth the avaricious man, and seith thus in two vers:
Mel 1612 ‘Wherto and why burieth a man his goodes by his grete avarice,
Mel 1612A and knoweth wel that nedes moste he dye?
Mel 1613 For deeth is the ende of every man as in this present lyf.’
Mel 1614 And for what cause or enchesoun joyneth he hym or knytteth he hym so faste unto his goodes
Mel 1615 that alle hise wittes mowen nat disseveren hym or departen hym from his goodes,
Mel 1616 and knoweth wel, or oghte knowe, that whan he is deed
Mel 1616A he shal no thyng bere with hym out of this world?
Mel 1617 And therfore seith Seint Austyn that ‘the avaricious man is likned unto helle,
Mel 1618 that the moore it swelweth the moore desir it hath to swelwe and devoure.’
Mel 1619 And as wel as ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious man or chynche,
Mel 1620 as wel sholde ye kepe yow and governe yow in swich a wise that men calle yow nat fool-large.
Mel 1621 Therfore seith Tullius: ‘The goodes,’ he seith, ‘of thyn hous ne sholde nat been hyd ne kept so cloos,
Mel 1621A but that they myghte been opened by pitee and debonairetee’
Mel 1622 (that is to seyn, to yeven part to hem that han greet nede),
Mel 1623 ‘ne thy goodes shullen nat been so opene to been every mannes goodes.’
Mel 1624 Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge hem ye shul alwey have thre thynges in youre herte
Mel 1625 (that is to seyn, oure Lord God, conscience, and good name).
Mel 1626 First, ye shul have God in youre herte,
Mel 1627 and for no richesse ye shullen do no thyng which may in any manere displese God,
Mel 1627A that is youre creatour and makere.
Mel 1628 For after the word of Salomon, ‘It is bettre to have a litel good with the love of God
Mel 1629 than to have muchel good and tresour and lese the love of his Lord God.’
Mel 1630 And the prophete seith that ‘bettre it is to been a good man and have litel good and tresour
Mel 1631 than to been holden a shrewe and have grete richesses.’
Mel 1632 And yet seye I ferthermoore, that ye sholde alwey doon youre bisynesse to gete yow richesses,
Mel 1633 so that ye gete hem with good conscience.
Mel 1634 And th’ Apostle seith that ‘ther nys thyng in this world of which
Mel 1634A we sholden have so greet joye as whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse.’
Mel 1635 And the wise man seith, ‘The substance of a man is ful good,
Mel 1635A whan synne is nat in mannes conscience.’
Mel 1636 Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge of hem,
Mel 1637 yow moste have greet bisynesse and greet diligence that youre goode name be alwey kept and conserved.
Mel 1638 For Salomon seith that ‘bettre it is and moore it availleth a man to have a good name
Mel 1638A than for to have grete richesses.’
Mel 1639 And therfore he seith in another place, ‘Do greet diligence,’ seith Salomon,
Mel 1639A ‘in kepyng of thy freend and of thy goode name;
Mel 1640 for it shal lenger abide with thee than any tresour, be it never so precious.’
Mel 1641 And certes he sholde nat be called a gentil man that after God and good conscience, alle thynges left,
Mel 1641A ne dooth his diligence and bisynesse to kepen his goode name.
Mel 1642 And Cassidore seith that ‘it is signe of a gentil herte
Mel 1642A whan a man loveth and desireth to han a good name.’
Mel 1643 And therfore seith Seint Austyn that ‘ther been two thynges that arn necessarie and nedefulle,
Mel 1644 and that is good conscience and good loos;
Mel 1645 that is to seyn, good conscience to thyn owene persone inward and good loos for thy neighebor outward.’
Mel 1646 And he that trusteth hym so muchel in his goode conscience
Mel 1647 that he displeseth, and setteth at noght his goode name or loos,
Mel 1647A and rekketh noght though he kepe nat his goode name, nys but a crueel cherl.
Mel 1648 “Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul do in getynge richesses, and how ye shullen usen hem,
Mel 1649 and I se wel that for the trust that ye han in youre richesses
Mel 1649A ye wole moeve werre and bataille.
Mel 1650 I conseille yow that ye bigynne no werre in trust of youre richesses,
Mel 1650A for they ne suffisen noght werres to mayntene.
Mel 1651 And therfore seith a philosophre, ‘That man that desireth and wole algates han werre, shal nevere have suffisaunce,
Mel 1652 for the richer that he is, the gretter despenses moste he make, if he wole have worshipe and victorie.’
Mel 1653 And Salomon seith that ‘the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo despendours he hath.’
Mel 1654 And, deere sire, al be it so that for youre richesses ye mowe have muchel folk,
Mel 1655 yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat good, to bigynne werre whereas ye mowe
Mel 1655A in oother manere have pees unto youre worshipe and profit.
Mel 1656 For the victorie of batailles that been in this world lyth nat in greet nombre or multitude
Mel 1656A of the peple, ne in the vertu of man,
Mel 1657 but it lith in the wyl and in the hand of oure Lord God Almyghty.
Mel 1658 And therfore Judas Machabeus, which was Goddes knyght,
Mel 1659 whan he sholde fighte agayn his adversarie that hadde a gretter nombre
Mel 1659A and a gretter multitude of folk and strenger than was this peple of Machabee,
Mel 1660 yet he reconforted his litel compaignye, and seyde right in this wise:
Mel 1661 ‘Als lightly,’ quod he, ‘may oure Lord God Almyghty yeve victorie to a fewe folk as to many folk,
Mel 1662 for the victorie of a bataile comth nat by the grete nombre of peple,
Mel 1663 but it cometh from oure Lord God of hevene.’
Mel 1664 And, deere sire, for as muchel as ther is no man certein if he be worthy that
Mel 1664A God yeve hym victorie . . . or naught, after that Salomon seith,
Mel 1665 therfore every man sholde greetly drede werres to bigynne.
Mel 1666 And by cause that in batailles fallen manye perils,
Mel 1667 and happeth outher while that as soone is the grete man slayn as the litel man;
Mel 1668 and as it is writen in the seconde Book of Kynges,
Mel 1668A ‘The dedes of batailles been aventurouse and nothyng certeyne,
Mel 1669 for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere as another’;
Mel 1670 and for ther is gret peril in werre, therfore sholde a man flee and eschue werre,
Mel 1670A in as muchel as a man may goodly.
Mel 1671 For Salomon seith, ‘He that loveth peril shal falle in peril.'”
Mel 1672 After that Dame Prudence hadde spoken in this manere, Melibee answerde and seyde,
Mel 1673 “I see wel, dame Prudence, that by youre faire wordes and by youre resouns
Mel 1673A that ye han shewed me, that the werre liketh yow no thyng;
Mel 1674 but I have nat yet herd youre conseil, how I shal do in this nede.”
Mel 1675 “Certes,” quod she, “I conseille yow that ye accorde with youre adversaries and that ye have pees with hem.
Mel 1676 For Seint Jame seith in his Epistles that ‘by concord and pees the smale richesses wexen grete,
Mel 1677 and by debaat and discord the grete richesses fallen doun.’
Mel 1678 And ye knowen wel that oon of the gretteste and moost sovereyn thyng
Mel 1678A that is in this world is unytee and pees.
Mel 1679 And therfore seyde oure Lord Jhesu Crist to his apostles in this wise:
Mel 1680 ‘Wel happy and blessed been they that loven and purchacen pees, for they been called children of God.'”
Mel 1681 “A,” quod Melibee, “now se I wel that ye loven nat myn honour ne my worshipe.
Mel 1682 Ye knowen wel that myne adversaries han bigonnen this debaat and bryge by hire outrage,
Mel 1683 and ye se wel that they ne requeren ne preyen me nat of pees,
Mel 1683A ne they asken nat to be reconsiled.
Mel 1684 Wol ye thanne that I go and meke me, and obeye me to hem, and crie hem mercy?
Mel 1685 For sothe, that were nat my worshipe.
Mel 1686 For right as men seyn that ‘over-greet hoomlynesse engendreth dispreisynge,’ so fareth it by to greet humylitee or mekenesse.”
Mel 1687 Thanne bigan dame Prudence to maken semblant of wratthe and seyde:
Mel 1688 “Certes, sire, sauf youre grace, I love youre honour and youre profit
Mel 1688A as I do myn owene, and evere have doon;
Mel 1689 ne ye, ne noon oother, seyn nevere the contrarie.
Mel 1690 And yit if I hadde seyd that ye sholde han purchaced the pees
Mel 1690A and the reconsiliacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel mystaken me ne seyd amys.
Mel 1691 For the wise man seith, ‘The dissensioun bigynneth by another man, and the reconsilyng bygynneth by thyself.’
Mel 1692 And the prophete seith, ‘Flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse;
Mel 1693 seke pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is.’
Mel 1694 Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue to youre adversaries for pees than they shuln to yow.
Mel 1695 For I knowe wel that ye been so hard-herted that ye wol do no thyng for me.
Mel 1696 And Salomon seith, ‘He that hath over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal myshappe and mystyde.'”
Mel 1697 Whanne Melibee hadde herd dame Prudence maken semblant of wratthe, he seyde in this wise:
Mel 1698 “Dame, I prey yow that ye be nat displesed of thynges that I seye,
Mel 1699 for ye knowe wel that I am angry and wrooth, and that is no wonder;
Mel 1700 and they that been wrothe witen nat wel what they don ne what they seyn.
Mel 1701 Therfore the prophete seith that ‘troubled eyen han no cleer sighte.’
Mel 1702 But seyeth and conseileth me as yow liketh, for I am redy to do right as ye wol desire;
Mel 1703 and if ye repreve me of my folye,
Mel 1703A I am the moore holden to love yow and to preyse yow.
Mel 1704 For Salomon seith that ‘he that repreveth hym that dooth folye,
Mel 1705 he shal fynde gretter grace than he that deceyveth hym by sweete wordes.'”
Mel 1706 Thanne seide dame Prudence, “I make no semblant of wratthe ne anger, but for youre grete profit.
Mel 1707 For Salomon seith, ‘He is moore worth that repreveth or chideth a fool for his folye,
Mel 1707A shewynge hym semblant of wratthe,
Mel 1708 than he that supporteth hym and preyseth hym in his mysdoynge and laugheth at his folye.’
Mel 1709 And this same Salomon seith afterward that
Mel 1709A ‘by the sorweful visage of a man’
Mel 1709B (that is to seyn by the sory and hevy contenaunce of a man)
Mel 1710 ‘the fool correcteth and amendeth hymself.'”
Mel 1711 Thanne seyde Melibee, “I shal nat konne answere to
Mel 1711A so manye faire resouns as ye putten to me and shewen.
Mel 1712 Seyeth shortly youre wyl and youre conseil, and I am al redy to fulfille and parfourne it.”
Mel 1713 Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hir wyl to hym and seyde,
Mel 1714 “I conseille yow,” quod she, “aboven alle thynges, that ye make pees bitwene God and yow,
Mel 1715 and beth reconsiled unto hym and to his grace.
Mel 1716 For, as I have seyd yow heer biforn, God hath suffred yow
Mel 1716A to have this tribulacioun and disese for youre synnes.
Mel 1717 And if ye do as I sey yow, God wol sende youre adversaries unto yow
Mel 1718 and maken hem fallen at youre feet, redy to do youre wyl and youre comandementz.
Mel 1719 For Salomon seith, ‘Whan the condicioun of man is plesaunt and likynge to God,
Mel 1720 he chaungeth the hertes of the mannes adversaries and constreyneth hem to biseken hym of pees and of grace.’
Mel 1721 And I prey yow lat me speke with youre adversaries in privee place,
Mel 1722 for they shul nat knowe that it be of youre wyl or of youre assent.
Mel 1723 And thanne, whan I knowe hir wil and hire entente, I may conseille yow the moore seurely.”
Mel 1724 “Dame,” quod Melibee, “dooth youre wil and youre likynge;
Mel 1725 for I putte me hoolly in youre disposicioun and ordinaunce.”
Mel 1726 Thanne dame Prudence, whan she saugh the goode wyl of hir housbonde, delibered and took avys in hirself,
Mel 1727 thinkinge how she myghte brynge this nede unto a good conclusioun and to a good ende.
Mel 1728 And whan she saugh hir tyme, she sente for thise adversaries to come unto hire into a pryvee place
Mel 1729 and shewed wisely unto hem the grete goodes that comen of pees
Mel 1730 and the grete harmes and perils that been in werre,
Mel 1731 and seyde to hem in a goodly manere hou that hem oughten have greet repentaunce
Mel 1732 of the injurie and wrong that they hadden doon to Melibee hir lord,
Mel 1732A and unto hire, and to hire doghter.
Mel 1733 And whan they herden the goodliche wordes of dame Prudence,
Mel 1734 they weren so supprised and ravysshed and hadden so greet joye of hire that wonder was to telle.
Mel 1735 “A, lady,” quod they, “ye han shewed unto us the blessynge of swetnesse,
Mel 1735A after the sawe of David the prophete,
Mel 1736 for the reconsilynge which we been nat worthy to have in no manere,
Mel 1737 but we oghte requeren it with greet contricioun and humylitee,
Mel 1738 ye of youre grete goodnesse have presented unto us.
Mel 1739 Now se we wel that the science and the konnynge of Salomon is ful trewe.
Mel 1740 For he seith that ‘sweete wordes multiplien and encreescen freendes and maken shrewes to be debonaire and meeke.’
Mel 1741 “Certes,” quod they, “we putten oure dede and al oure matere and cause al hoolly in youre goode wyl
Mel 1742 and been redy to obeye to the speche and comandement of my lord Melibee.
Mel 1743 And therfore, deere and benygne lady, we preien yow and biseke yow as mekely as we konne and mowen
Mel 1744 that it lyke unto youre grete goodnesse to fulfillen in dede youre goodliche wordes,
Mel 1745 for we consideren and knowelichen that we han offended and greved my lord Melibee out of mesure,
Mel 1746 so ferforth that we be nat of power to maken his amendes.
Mel 1747 And therfore we oblige and bynden us and oure freendes for to doon al his wyl and his comandementz.
Mel 1748 But peraventure he hath swich hevynesse and swich wratthe to us-ward by cause of oure offense
Mel 1749 that he wole enjoyne us swich a peyne as we mowe nat bere ne susteene.
Mel 1750 And therfore, noble lady, we biseke to youre wommanly pitee
Mel 1751 to taken swich avysement in this nede that
Mel 1751A we ne oure freendes be nat desherited ne destroyed thurgh oure folye.”
Mel 1752 “Certes,” quod Prudence, “it is an hard thyng and right perilous
Mel 1753 that a man putte hym al outrely in the arbitracioun and juggement,
Mel 1753A and in the myght and power of his enemys.
Mel 1754 For Salomon seith, ‘Leeveth me, and yeveth credence to that I shal seyn: I seye,’ quod he,
Mel 1754A ‘ye peple, folk and governours of hooly chirche,
Mel 1755 to thy sone, to thy wyf, to thy freend, ne to thy broother
Mel 1756 ne yeve thou nevere myght ne maistrie of thy body whil thou lyvest.’
Mel 1757 Now sithen he deffendeth that man sholde nat yeven to his broother
Mel 1757A ne to his freend the myght of his body,
Mel 1758 by a strenger resoun he deffendeth and forbedeth a man to yeven hymself to his enemy.
Mel 1759 And nathelees I conseille you that ye mystruste nat my lord,
Mel 1760 for I woot wel and knowe verraily that he is debonaire and meeke, large, curteys,
Mel 1761 and nothyng desirous ne coveitous of good ne richesse.
Mel 1762 For ther nys nothyng in this world that he desireth, save oonly worshipe and honour.
Mel 1763 Forthermoore I knowe wel and am right seur that he shal nothyng doon in this nede withouten my conseil,
Mel 1764 and I shal so werken in this cause that by the grace of oure Lord God
Mel 1764A ye shul been reconsiled unto us.”
Mel 1765 Thanne seyden they with o voys, “Worshipful lady, we putten us
Mel 1765A and oure goodes al fully in youre wil and disposicioun,
Mel 1766 and been redy to comen, what day that it like unto youre noblesse to lymyte us or assigne us,
Mel 1767 for to maken oure obligacioun and boond as strong as it liketh unto youre goodnesse,
Mel 1768 that we mowe fulfille the wille of yow and of my lord Melibee.”
Mel 1769 Whan dame Prudence hadde herd the answeres of thise men, she bad hem goon agayn prively;
Mel 1770 and she retourned to hir lord Melibee, and tolde hym how she foond his adversaries ful repentant,
Mel 1771 knowelechynge ful lowely hir synnes and trespas, and how they were redy to suffren all peyne,
Mel 1772 requirynge and preiynge hym of mercy and pitee.
Mel 1773 Thanne seyde Melibee: “He is wel worthy to have pardoun
Mel 1773A and foryifnesse of his synne, that excuseth nat his synne
Mel 1774 but knowelecheth it and repenteth hym, axinge indulgence.
Mel 1775 For Senec seith, ‘Ther is the remissioun and foryifnesse, where as the confessioun is,’
Mel 1776 for confessioun is neighebor to innocence.
Mel 1777 And he seith in another place that ‘he that hath shame of his synne and knowlecheth
Mel 1777A [it is worthy remissioun].’ And therfore I assente and conferme me to have pees;
Mel 1778 but it is good that we do it nat withouten the assent and wyl of oure freendes.”
Mel 1779 Thanne was Prudence right glad and joyeful and seyde:
Mel 1780 “Certes, sire,” quod she, “ye han wel and goodly answered,
Mel 1781 for right as by the conseil, assent, and help of youre freendes
Mel 1781A ye han been stired to venge yow and maken werre,
Mel 1782 right so withouten hire conseil shul ye nat accorden yow ne have pees with youre adversaries.
Mel 1783 For the lawe seith, ‘Ther nys no thyng so good by wey of kynde as a thyng
Mel 1783A to be unbounde by hym that it was ybounde.'”
Mel 1784 And thanne dame Prudence withouten delay or tariynge sente anon hire messages for hire kyn
Mel 1784A and for hire olde freendes which that were trewe and wyse,
Mel 1785 and tolde hem by ordre in the presence of Melibee al this mateere
Mel 1785A as it is aboven expressed and declared,
Mel 1786 and preyden hem that they wolde yeven hire avys and conseil what best were to doon in this nede.
Mel 1787 And whan Melibees freendes hadde taken hire avys and deliberacioun of the forseide mateere,
Mel 1788 and hadden examyned it by greet bisynesse and greet diligence,
Mel 1789 they yave ful conseil for to have pees and reste,
Mel 1790 and that Melibee sholde receyve with good herte his adversaries to foryifnesse and mercy.
Mel 1791 And whan dame Prudence hadde herd the assent of hir lord Melibee, and the conseil of his freendes
Mel 1792 accorde with hire wille and hire entencioun,
Mel 1793 she was wonderly glad in hire herte and seyde:
Mel 1794 “Ther is an old proverbe,” quod she, “seith that ‘the goodnesse that thou mayst do this day, do it,
Mel 1795 and abide nat ne delaye it nat til tomorwe.’
Mel 1796 And therfore I conseille that ye sende youre messages, swiche as been discrete and wise,
Mel 1797 unto youre adversaries, tellynge hem on youre bihalve
Mel 1798 that if they wole trete of pees and of accord,
Mel 1799 that they shape hem withouten delay or tariyng to comen unto us.”
Mel 1800 Which thyng parfourned was in dede.
Mel 1801 And whanne thise trespassours and repentynge folk of hire folies
Mel 1801A — that is to seyn, the adversaries of Melibee —
Mel 1802 hadden herd what thise messagers seyden unto hem,
Mel 1803 they weren right glad and joyeful, and answereden ful mekely and benignely,
Mel 1804 yeldynge graces and thankynges to hir lord Melibee and to al his compaignye,
Mel 1805 and shopen hem withouten delay to go with the messagers and obeye to the comandement of hir lord Melibee.
Mel 1806 And right anon they tooken hire wey to the court of Melibee,
Mel 1807 and tooken with hem somme of hire trewe freendes
Mel 1807A to maken feith for hem and for to been hire borwes.
Mel 1808 And whan they were comen to the presence of Melibee, he seyde hem thise wordes:
Mel 1809 “It standeth thus,” quod Melibee, “and sooth it is, that ye,
Mel 1810 causelees and withouten skile and resoun,
Mel 1811 han doon grete injuries and wronges to me and to my wyf Prudence and to my doghter also.
Mel 1812 For ye han entred into myn hous by violence,
Mel 1813 and have doon swich outrage that alle men knowen wel that ye have disserved the deeth.
Mel 1814 And therfore wol I knowe and wite of yow
Mel 1815 wheither ye wol putte the punyssement and the chastisynge and the vengeance of this outrage in the wyl
Mel 1815A of me and of my wyf Prudence, or ye wol nat?”
Mel 1816 Thanne the wiseste of hem thre answerde for hem alle and seyde,
Mel 1817 “Sire,” quod he, “we knowen wel that we been unworthy to comen unto the court
Mel 1817A of so greet a lord and so worthy as ye been.
Mel 1818 For we han so greetly mystaken us, and han offended
Mel 1818A and agilt in swich a wise agayn youre heigh lordshipe
Mel 1819 that trewely we han disserved the deeth.
Mel 1820 But yet, for the grete goodnesse and debonairetee that al the world witnesseth of youre persone,
Mel 1821 we submytten us to the excellence and benignitee of youre gracious lordshipe,
Mel 1822 and been redy to obeie to alle youre comandementz,
Mel 1823 bisekynge yow that of youre merciable pitee ye wol considere oure grete repentaunce and lowe submyssioun
Mel 1824 and graunten us foryevenesse of oure outrageous trespas and offense.
Mel 1825 For wel we knowe that youre liberal grace and mercy
Mel 1825A strecchen hem ferther into goodnesse than doon oure outrageouse giltes and trespas into wikkednesse,
Mel 1826 al be it that cursedly and dampnablely we han agilt agayn youre heigh lordshipe.”
Mel 1827 Thanne Melibee took hem up fro the ground ful benignely,
Mel 1828 and receyved hire obligaciouns and hir boondes by hire othes upon hire plegges and borwes,
Mel 1829 and assigned hem a certeyn day to retourne unto his court
Mel 1830 for to accepte and receyve the sentence and juggement that Melibee wolde comande
Mel 1830A to be doon on hem by the causes aforeseyd.
Mel 1831 Whiche thynges ordeyned, every man retourned to his hous.
Mel 1832 And whan that dame Prudence saugh hir tyme, she freyned and axed hir lord Melibee
Mel 1833 what vengeance he thoughte to taken of his adversaries.
Mel 1834 To which Melibee answerde and seyde, “Certes,” quod he, “I thynke and purpose me fully
Mel 1835 to desherite hem of al that evere they han and for to putte hem in exil for evere.”
Mel 1836 “Certes,” quod dame Prudence, “this were a crueel sentence and muchel agayn resoun.
Mel 1837 For ye been riche ynough and han no nede of oother mennes good,
Mel 1838 and ye myghte lightly in this wise gete yow a coveitous name,
Mel 1839 which is a vicious thyng, and oghte been eschued of every good man.
Mel 1840 For after the sawe of the word of the Apostle, ‘Coveitise is roote of alle harmes.’
Mel 1841 And therfore it were bettre for yow to lese so muchel good of youre owene
Mel 1841A than for to taken of hir good in this manere,
Mel 1842 for bettre it is to lesen good with worshipe than it is to wynne good with vileynye and shame.
Mel 1843 And everi man oghte to doon his diligence and his bisynesse to geten hym a good name.
Mel 1844 And yet shal he nat oonly bisie hym in kepynge of his good name,
Mel 1845 but he shal also enforcen hym alwey to do somthyng by which he may renovelle his good name.
Mel 1846 For it is writen that ‘the olde good loos or good name of a man is soone goon
Mel 1846A and passed, whan it is nat newed ne renovelled.’
Mel 1847 And as touchynge that ye seyn ye wole exile youre adversaries,
Mel 1848 that thynketh me muchel agayn resoun and out of mesure,
Mel 1849 considered the power that they han yeve yow upon hemself.
Mel 1850 And it is writen that ‘he is worthy to lesen his privilege that mysuseth
Mel 1850A the myght and the power that is yeven hym.’
Mel 1851 And I sette cas ye myghte enjoyne hem that peyne by right and by lawe,
Mel 1852 which I trowe ye mowe nat do;
Mel 1853 I seye ye mighte nat putten it to execucioun peraventure,
Mel 1854 and thanne were it likly to retourne to the werre as it was biforn.
Mel 1855 And therfore, if ye wole that men do yow obeisance, ye moste deemen moore curteisly;
Mel 1856 this is to seyn, ye moste yeven moore esy sentences and juggementz.
Mel 1857 For it is writen that ‘he that moost curteisly comandeth, to hym men moost obeyen.’
Mel 1858 And therfore I prey yow that in this necessitee and in this nede
Mel 1858A ye caste yow to overcome youre herte.
Mel 1859 For Senec seith that ‘he that overcometh his herte overcometh twies.’
Mel 1860 And Tullius seith, ‘Ther is no thyng so comendable in a greet lord
Mel 1861 as whan he is debonaire and meeke, and appeseth him lightly.’
Mel 1862 And I prey yow that ye wole forbere now to do vengeance,
Mel 1863 in swich a manere that youre goode name may be kept and conserved,
Mel 1864 and that men mowe have cause and mateere to preyse yow of pitee and of mercy,
Mel 1865 and that ye have no cause to repente yow of thyng that ye doon.
Mel 1866 For Senec seith, ‘He overcometh in an yvel manere that repenteth hym of his victorie.’
Mel 1867 Wherfore I pray yow, lat mercy been in youre herte,
Mel 1868 to th’ effect and entente that God Almighty have mercy on yow in his laste juggement.
Mel 1869 For Seint Jame seith in his Epistle: ‘Juggement withouten mercy shal be doon
Mel 1869A to hym that hath no mercy of another wight.'”
Mel 1870 Whanne Melibee hadde herd the grete skiles and resouns of dame Prudence, and hire wise informaciouns and techynges,
Mel 1871 his herte gan enclyne to the wil of his wif, considerynge hir trewe entente,
Mel 1872 and conformed hym anon and assented fully to werken after hir conseil,
Mel 1873 and thonked God, of whom procedeth al vertu and alle goodnesse,
Mel 1873A that hym sente a wyf of so greet discrecioun.
Mel 1874 And whan the day cam that his adversaries sholde appieren in his presence,
Mel 1875 he spak unto hem ful goodly, and seyde in this wyse:
Mel 1876 “Al be it so that of youre pride and heigh presumpcioun and folie, and of youre necligence and unkonnynge,
Mel 1877 ye have mysborn yow and trespassed unto me,
Mel 1878 yet for as muche as I see and biholde youre grete humylitee
Mel 1879 and that ye been sory and repentant of youre giltes,
Mel 1880 it constreyneth me to doon yow grace and mercy.
Mel 1881 Wherfore I receyve yow to my grace
Mel 1882 and foryeve yow outrely alle the offenses, injuries, and wronges that ye have doon agayn me and myne,
Mel 1883 to this effect and to this ende, that God of his endelees mercy
Mel 1884 wole at the tyme of oure diynge foryeven us oure giltes
Mel 1884A that we han trespassed to hym in this wrecched world.
Mel 1885 For doutelees, if we be sory and repentant of the synnes and giltes which we han trespassed
Mel 1885A in the sighte of oure Lord God,
Mel 1886 he is so free and so merciable
Mel 1887 that he wole foryeven us oure giltes
Mel 1888 and bryngen us to the blisse that nevere hath ende.” Amen.