The canterbury tales, p.64
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.64

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Seint Jame in his Epistle that pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun.’ |

  ‘Certes,’ quod Melibe, ‘I graunte yow, dame Prudence, that pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun, | but every man may nat have the perfeccioun that ye seken, | ne I nam nat of the nombre of right parfite men, [1520] | for min herte may nevere be in pees unto the time it be venged. | And al be it so that it was greet peril to mine enemys to do me a vileinye in takinge vengeance upon me, | yet token they noon hede of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wikked wil and hir corage1523. | And therfore me thinketh men oghten nat repreve1524 me, though I putte me in a litel peril for to venge me, | and though I do a greet excesse; that is to seyn, that I venge oon outrage1525 by another.’ [1525] |

  ‘A,’ quod dame Prudence, ‘ye seyn youre wil, and as yow liketh, | but in no caas of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage ne excesse for to vengen him, | for Cassidore seyth that as ivele dooth he that vengeth him by outrage as he that dooth the outrage. | And therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of right – that is to seyn, by the lawe – and nat by excesse ne by outrage. | And also, if ye wol venge yow of the outrage of youre adversaries in oother manere than right comandeth, ye sinnen. [1530] | And therfore seyth Senek that a man shal nevere venge shrewednesse1531 by shrewednesse. | And if ye seye that right axeth a man to defende1532 violence by violence, and fightinge by fightinge, | certes, ye seye sooth whan the defense is doon anon1533 withouten intervalle, or withouten taryinge or delay, | for to defenden him, and nat for to vengen him. | And it bihoveth that a man putte swich attemperance1535 in his defense [1535] | that men have no cause ne matere to repreven1536 him that defendeth him of excesse and outrage, for ellis were it again resoun. | Pardee, ye knowe wel that ye maken no defense as now for to defende yow, but for to venge yow, | and so seweth1538 it that ye

  han no wil to do youre dede attemprely; | and therfore me thinketh that pacience is good, for Salomon seyth that he that is nat pacient shal have greet harm.’ |

  ‘Certes,’ quod Melibe, ‘I graunte yow that whan a man is inpacient and wrooth of1540 that that toucheth him nat, and that aperteneth nat unto him, though it harme him, it is no wonder. [1540] | For the lawe seyth that he is coupable1541 that entremetteth him or medleth with swich thing as aperteneth nat unto him. | And Salomon seyth that he that entremeteth him of the noise1542 or strif of another man is lik to him that taketh an hound by the eris; | for right as he that taketh a straunge hound by the eris is outherwhile biten with1543 the hound, | right in the same wise is it resoun that he have harm that by his inpacience medleth him of1544 the noise of another man whereas it aperteneth nat unto him. | But ye knowe wel that this dede – that is to seyn, my grief1545 and my disese – toucheth me right ny, [1545] | and therfore, though I be wrooth and inpacient, it is no mervaille1546. | And, savinge youre grace, I kan nat se that it mighte greetly harme me though I tooke vengeaunce, | for I am richere and moore mighty than mine enemys been, | and wel knowen ye that by moneye and by havinge grete possessions been alle the thinges of this world governed. | And Salomon seyth that alle thinges obeyen to moneye.’ [1550] |

  Whanne Prudence hadde herd hir housbonde avanten him1551 of his richesse and of his moneye, dispreisinge the power of hise adversaries, she spak and seide in this wise: | ‘Certes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye been riche and mighty, | and that the richesses been goode to hem that han wel ygeten1553 hem and that wel konne usen hem; | for right as the body of a man may nat live withoute the soule, namoore may it live withoute temporel1554 goodes, | and by richesses may a man gete him grete

  freendes. [1555] | And therfore seyth Pamphilles: “If a net-herdes1556 doghter”, he seyth, “be riche, she may chese of a thousand men which she wol take to hir housbonde, | for of a thousand men oon wol nat1557 forsaken hire ne refusen hire.” | And this Pamphilles seyth also: “If thow be right happy1558 – that is to seyn, if thow be right riche – thow shalt finde a greet nombre of felawes and freendes; | and if thy fortune chaunge, that thow wexe1559 poore, farewel, freendshipe and felaweshipe! | – for thow shalt be allone withouten any compaignye, but if it be the compaignye of poore folk.” [1560] | And yet seyth this Pamphilles mooreover that they that been thralle1561 and bonde of linage shuln be maad worthy and noble by the richesses. | And right so as by richesses ther comen manye goodes, right so by poverte come ther manye harmes and iveles, | for greet poverte constreineth a man to do manye iveles. | And therfore clepeth Cassidore poverte the moder of ruine1564 | (that is to seyn, the moder of overthrowinge or fallinge doun). [1565] | And therfore seyth Piers Alfonce: “Oon of the gretteste adversitees of this world is | whan a free man by kinde1567 or of burthe is constreined by poverte to eten the almesse of his enemy.” | And the same seyth Innocent, in oon of hise bookes; he seyth that sorweful and mishappy1568 is the condicioun of a poore beggere, | for if he axe nat his mete, he dieth for hunger, | and if he axe, he dieth for shame, and algates1570 necessitee constrei-neth him to axe. [1570] | And therfore seyth Salomon that bettre is to die than for to have swich poverte. | And as the same Salomon seyth: “Bettre it is to die of bitter deeth than for to liven in swich wise.” | By thise resons that I have seid unto yow, and by manye othere resons that I koude seye, | I graunte yow that richesses been goode to hem that geten hem wel and to hem that wel usen tho richesses. | And therfore wol I shewe yow how ye shul have yow1575 and how ye shul bere yow in

  gaderinge of richesses, and in what manere ye shul usen hem. [1575] |

  ‘First, ye shul geten hem withouten greet desir, by good leiser, sokingly1576, and nat over hastily; | for a man that is to desiringe1577 to gete richesses abandoneth him first to thefte and to alle othere iveles. | And therfore seyth Salomon: “He that hasteth him to bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent.” | He seyth also that the richesse that hastily cometh to a man soone and lightly1579 gooth and passeth from a man, | but that richesse that cometh litel and litel wexeth1580 alwey and multiplieth. [1580] | And, sire, ye shullen gete richesses by youre wit and by youre travaille unto youre profit, | and that withouten wrong or harm-doinge to any oother persone. | For the lawe seyth that ther maketh no man himself riche if he do harm to another wight. | This is to seyn, that nature defendeth1584 and forbedeth by right that no man make himself riche unto the harm of another persone. | And Tullius seyth that no sorwe, ne no drede of deeth, ne nothing that may falle unto1585 a man, [1585] | is so muchel ageins nature as a man to encresse his owene profit to the harm of another man. | And thogh the grete men and the mighty men geten richesses moore lightly than thow, | yet shaltow nat be idel ne slow to do thy profit, for thow shalt in alle wise flee idelnesse. | For Salomon seyth that idelnesse techeth a man to do manye iveles. | And the same Salomon seyth that he that travaileth and bisieth him to tilien1590 his lond shal ete breed, [1590] | but he that is idel and casteth him to no bisinesse1591 ne occupacioun shal falle into poverte and die for hunger. | And he that is idel and slow kan nevere finde covenable1592 time for to do his profit. | For ther is a versifiour1593 seyth, that the idel man excuseth him in winter bicause of the grete coold, and in somer by encheson of the grete hete. | For thise causes seyth Catoun: “Waketh and enclineth yow nat over muchel for to slepe, for

  over-muchel reste norissheth and causeth manye vices.” | And therfore seyth Seint Jerome: “Dooth somme goode dedes, that the devel which is oure enemy ne finde yow nat unocupied.” [1595] | For the devel ne taketh nat lightly unto his werkinge1596 swiche as he findeth ocupied in goode werkes. | Thanne thus, in getinge richesses ye mosten flee idelnesse. |

  ‘And afterward ye shul use the richesses whiche ye have geten, by youre wit and by youre travaille, | in swich a manere that men holde yow nat to scars1599, ne to sparinge, ne to fool-large – that is to seyn, over-large a spendere. | For right as men blamen an avaricious man bicause of his scarsitee1600 and chinche1603rye, [1600] | in the same wise is he to blame that spendeth over largely. | And therfore seyth Catoun: “Use”, he seyth, “thy richesses that thow hast ygeten | in swich a man
ere that men have no matere ne cause to calle thee neither wrecche ne chinche; | for it is greet shame to a man to have a poore herte and a riche purs.” | He seyth also: “The goodes that thow hast ygeten, use hem by mesure1605 – that is to seyn, spende hem mesurably; [1605] | for they that folily wasten and despenden the goodes that they han, | whan they han namoore propre1607 of hir owene, they shapen hem to take the goodes of another man. | I seye thanne that ye shul flee1608 avarice, | usinge youre richesses in swich manere that men seye nat that youre richesses been yburied, | but that ye have hem in youre might and in youre weldinge1610. [1610] | For a wis man repreveth the avaricious man, and seyth thus in two vers: | “Wherto and why burieth a man his goodes by his grete avarice, and knoweth wel that nedes moste he die? | For deeth is the ende of every man as in this present lif.” | And for what cause or encheson1614 joineth he him or knitteth he him so faste unto his goodes | that alle hise wittes mowen nat disseveren him or departen1615 him from hise

  goodes, [1615] | and knoweth wel – or oghte knowe – that whan he is deed he shal nothing bere with him out of this world? | And therfore seyth Seint Austin that the avaricious man is likned unto helle, | that the moore it swolweth1618, the moore desir it hath to swolwe and devoure. | And as wel as ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious man or chinche, | as wel sholde ye kepe yow1620 and governe yow in swich a wise that men calle yow nat fool-large. [1620] | Therfore seyth Tullius: “The goodes”, he seyth, “of thin hous sholde nat been hid ne kept so cloos but that they mighte been opned by pitee and debonairetee1621” | (that is to seyn, to yeve hem part that han greet nede) | “ne thy goodes sholden nat be so open to be every mannes goodes.” |

  ‘Afterward, in getinge of youre richesses and in usinge hem, ye shul alwey have thre thinges in youre herte: | that is to seyn, oure Lord God, conscience, and good name1625. [1625] | First, ye shul have God in youre herte, | and for no richesse ye shullen do nothing which may in any manere displese God, that is youre creatour and makere. | For after the word of Salomon: “It is bettre to have a litel good with the love of God, | than to have muchel good and tresor, and lese the love of his Lord God.” | And the prophete1630 seyth that bettre it is to been a good man and have litel good and tresor, [1630] | than to be holden1631 a shrewe and have grete richesses. | And yet seye I ferthermoore that ye sholden alwey doon youre bisinesse1632 to gete yow richesses, | so that1633 ye gete hem with good conscience. | And th’Apostle1634 seyth that ther nis thing in this world of which we sholden have so greet joye as whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse. | And the wise man seyth: “The substance1635 of a man is ful good whan sinne is nat in mannes conscience.” [1635] | Afterward, in getinge of youre richesses and in usinge of hem, | yow moste have greet bisinesse and greet diligence

  that youre goode name be alwey kept and conserved. | For Salomon seyth that bettre it is and moore it availeth a man to have a good name than for to have grete richesses. | And therfore he seyth in another place: “Do greet diligence”, seyth Salomon, “in keping of thy freend and of thy goode name, | for it shal lenger abide1640 with thee than any tresor, be it nevere so precious.” [1640] | And certes he sholde nat be called a gentil1641 man that after God and good conscience, alle thinges left, ne dooth his diligence and bisinesse to kepen his goode name. | And Cassidore seyth that it is signe of a gentil herte whan a man loveth and desireth to have a good name. | And therfore seyth Seint Austin that ther been two thinges that arn necessarye and nedefulle, | and that is good conscience and good loos1644 | – that is to seyn, good conscience to thin owene persone inward, and good loos for thy neighebore outward. [1645] | And he that trusteth him so muchel in his goode conscience | that he dispiseth, and setteth at noght his goode name or loos, and rekketh noght thogh1647 he kepe nat his goode name, nis but a cruel cherl. |

  ‘Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul do in getinge richesses and how ye shullen usen hem, | and I se wel that for the trust that ye han in youre richesses ye wol moeve1649 werre and bataille. | I conseille yow that ye biginne no werre in trust of youre richesses, for they ne suffisen noght werres to maintene1650. [1650] | And therfore seyth a philosophre: “That man that desireth and wole algates1651 han werre shal nevere have suffisaunce, | for the richer that he is, the gretter despenses moste he make, if he wol have worshipe and victorye.” | And Salomon seyth that the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo despendours1653 he hath. | And, deere sire, al be it so that for youre richesses ye mowe1655 have muchel folk, | yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat good, to biginne werre whereas ye mowe in oother

  manere have pees unto youre worship and profit. [1655] | For the victorye of batailles that been in this world lith1656 nat in greet nombre or multitude of peple, ne in the vertu of man, | but it lith in the wil and in the hand of oure Lord God almighty. | And therfore Judas Machabeus, which was Goddes knight, | whan he sholde fighte agein1659 his adversarye that hadde a gretter nombre and a gretter multitude of folk and strenger than was the peple of Machabee, | yet he reconforted1660 his litel compaignye, and seide right in this wise: [1660] | “Als lightly”, quod he, “may oure Lord God almighty yeve victorye to fewe folk as to manye folk; | for the victorye of a bataile cometh nat by the grete nombre of peple | but it cometh from oure Lord God of hevene.” | And, deere sire, for as muchel is ther is no man certein if he be worthy that God yeve him victorye or naught, after that Salomon seyth, | therfore every man sholde greetly drede werres to biginne. [1665] | And bicause that in batailles fallen manye perils, | and happeth outherwhile1667 that as soone is the grete man slain as the litel man, | and as it is ywriten in the seconde book of Kinges: “The dedes of batailles been aventurouse1668 and nothing certeine, | for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere as another”; | and for ther is greet peril in werre, therfore sholde a man flee and eschewe werre in as muchel as a man may goodly1670. [1670] | For Salomon seyth: “He that loveth peril shal falle in peril.”’|

  After that dame Prudence hadde spoken in this manere, Melibe answerde and seide: | ‘I se wel, dame Prudence, that by youre faire wordes, and by youre resons that ye han shewed me, that the werre liketh yow nothing1673, | but I have nat yet herd youre conseil1674, how I shal do in this nede.’ |

  ‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘I conseile yow that ye acorde1675 with youre adversaries and that ye have pees with hem. [1675] | For Seint Jame seyth in hise Epistles that by concord and pees the smale

  richesses wexen1676 grete, | and by debaat1677 and discord the grete richesses fallen doun. | And ye knowen wel that oon of the gretteste and moost soverein thing that is in this world is unitee and pees. | And therfore seide oure Lord Jesu Crist to hise apostles in this wise: | “Wel happy and blessed been they that loven and purchacen1680 pees, for they been called children of God.”’ [1680] |

  ‘A,’ quod Melibe, ‘now se I wel that ye loven nat min honour ne my worshipe1681! | Ye knowen wel that mine adversaries han bigonnen this debaat and brige1682 by hire outrage, | and ye se wel that they ne requeren ne preyen me nat of1683 pees, ne they asken nat to be reconsiled; | wol ye thanne that I go and meke me1684 and obeye me to hem and crye hem mercy? | For sothe, that were nat my worship! [1685] | For right as men seyn that over-greet hoomlinesse engendreth dispisinge1686, so fareth it by to greet humilitee or mekenesse.’ |

  Thanne bigan dame Prudence to maken semblant1687 of wrathe and seide: | ‘Certes, sire, sauf youre grace1688, I love youre honour and youre profit as I do min owene, and evere have doon; | ne ye ne noon oother syen1689 nevere the contrarye. | And yet if I hadde seid that ye sholde han purchaced the pees and the reconsiliacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel mistaken me1690, ne seid amis. [1690] | For the wise man seyth: “The dissensioun biginneth by another man, and the reconsiling biginneth by thyself.” | And the prophete seyth: “Flee shrewednesse1692 and do goodnesse; | seke pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is.” | Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue1694 to youre adversaries for pees than they shuln to yow, | for I knowe wel that ye been so hard-herted that ye wol do nothing for me. [1695] | A
nd Salomon seyth

  that he that hath over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal mishappe1696 and mistide.’ |

  Whanne Melibe hadde herd dame Prudence make semblant of wrathe, he seide in this wise: | ‘Dame, I pray yow that ye be nat displesed of thinges that I seye, | for ye knowe wel that I am angry and wrooth – and that is no wonder – | and they that been wrothe witen1700 nat wel what they doon, ne what they seyn. [1700] | Therfore the prophete seyth that troubled eyen han no cleer sighte. | But seyeth and conseileth me as yow liketh, for I am redy to do right as ye wol desire. | And if ye repreve me of1703 my folye, I am the moore holden to love yow and to preise yow. | For Salomon seyth that he that repreveth him that dooth folye, | he shal finde gretter grace than he that deceiveth him by swete wordes.’ [1705] |

  Thanne seide dame Prudence: ‘I make no semblant of wrathe ne of angir but for youre grete profit. | For Salomon seyth: “He is moore worth that repreveth or chideth a fool for his folye, shewinge him semblant of wrathe, | than he that supporteth him and preiseth him in his misdoinge, and laugheth at his folye.” | And this same Salomon seyth afterward that by the sorweful visage of a man (that is to seyn, by the sory and hevy contenaunce of a man) | the fool correcteth and amendeth himself.’ [1710] |

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