The canterbury tales, p.84
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.84

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Heer may men lerne to be pacient, for certes, noght oonly Cristen men ben pacient for love of Jesu Crist and for gerdoun669 of the blisful lif that is pardurable, but certes, the olde paiens that nevere were Cristene commendeden and useden the vertu of pacience. | A philosophre, upon a time, wolde have beten his disciple for his grete trespas670, for which he was greetly amoeved, and broghte a yerde to scoure with the child; [670] | and whan this child saugh the yerde, he seide to his maister, ‘What thenke ye do?’ ‘I wol bete thee’, quod the maister, ‘for thy correccioun.’ | ‘For sothe,’ quod the child, ‘ye oghten first correcte youreself, that han lost al youre pacience for the gilt of a child.’ | ‘For sothe,’ quod the maister, al wepinge, ‘thow seyst sooth! Have thow the yerde, my deere sone, and correcte me for min inpacience.’ |

  Of pacience comth obedience, thurgh which a man is obedient to Crist, and to alle hem to whiche he oghte to ben obedient in Crist. | And understond wel, that obedience is parfit whan that a man dooth gladly and hastily, with good herte, entierly al that he sholde do. [675] | Obedience generally is to parfourne the doctrine676 of God and of his sovereins, to whiche him oghte to ben obeisaunt in alle rightwisnesse. |

  [On Sloth]

  After the sinnes of envye and of ire, now wol I speken of the sinne of accidie677; for envye blindeth the herte of a man, and ire troubleth a man, and accidie maketh him hevy, thoghtful, and wrawe. | Envye and ire maken bitternesse in herte, which bitternesse is moder of accidie, and binimeth him678 the love of alle goodnesse. Thanne is accidie the angwissh of troubled herte. And Seint Augustin seyth, ‘It is anoy680 of goodnesse and joye of harm.’ | Certes, this is a dampnable sinne, for it dooth wrong to Jesu Crist, inasmuche as it binimeth the service that men oghte doon to Crist with alle diligence, as seyth Salomon. | But accidie dooth no swich diligence; he dooth alle thing with anoy, and with wrawnesse, slaknesse, and excusacioun, and with idelnesse and unlust, for which the book seyth, ‘Acursed be he that dooth the service of God necligently.’ [680] | Thanne is accidie enemy to everich estaat of man, for certes, the estaat of man is in thre maneres. | Outher it is th’estaat of innocence, as was th’estaat of Adam biforn that he fil into sinne, in which estaat he was holden682 to wirche as in heryinge and adowringe of God. | Another estaat is the estaat of sinful men, in which estaat men ben holden to laboure in preyinge to God for amendement of hire sinnes, and that he wole graunte hem to arisen out of hir sinnes. | Another estaat is th’estaat of grace, in which estaat he is holden to werkes of penitence. And certes, to alle thise thinges is accidie enemy and contrarye, for he loveth no bisinesse684 at al. | Now certes, this foule sinne accidie is eek a ful greet enemy to the liflode685 of the body, for it ne hath no purveaunce again temporel necessitee, for it forsleweth and forsluggeth and destroyeth alle goodes temporels by reccheleesnesse. [685] | The fourthe thing is that accidie is lik to hem that ben in the peine of helle, bicause of hir slouthe and of hir hevinesse686, for they that ben dampned ben so bounde that they ne may neither wel do ne wel thinke. | Of accidie comth first that a man is anoyed687 and encombred for to doon any goodnesse, and maketh that God hath abhominacioun of swich accidie, as seyth Seint John. |

  Now comth slouthe, that wol nat suffre noon hardnesse688 ne no penaunce, for soothly slouthe is so tendre and so delicat, as seyth Salomon, that he wol nat suffre noon hardnesse ne penaunce, and therfore he shendeth al that he dooth. | Agains this roten-herted sinne of accidie and slouthe sholde men excercise hemself to doon goode werkes and manly, and vertuously cacchen corage689 wel to doon, thinkinge that oure lord Jesu Crist quiteth every good dede, be it never so lite. | Usage690 of labour is a greet thing, for it maketh, as seyth Seint Bernard, the laborer to have stronge armes and harde sinwes; and slouthe maketh hem feble and tendre. [690] | Thanne comth drede to biginne to werke any goode werkes; for certes, he that is enclined to sinne, him thinketh it is so greet an emprise691 for to undertake to doon werkes of goodnesse, | and casteth692 in his herte that the circumstaunces of goodnesse ben so grevouse, and so chargeaunt for to suffre, that he dar nat undertake to do werkes of goodnesse, as seyth Seint Gregorye. |

  Now comth wanhope693, that is despeir of the mercy of God, that comth somtime of to muche outrageous sorwe, and somtime of to muche drede, imagin695inge that he hath doon so muche sinne that it wol nat availlen him though he wolde repenten him and forsake sinne, | thurgh which despeir or drede he abaundoneth al his herte to every maner sinne, as seyth Seint Augustin. | Which dampnable sinne, if that it continue unto his ende, it is cleped sinning in the Holy Goost. [695] | This horrible sinne is so perilous that he that is despeired, ther nis no felonye ne no sinne that he douteth696 for to do, as shewed wel by Judas. | Certes, aboven alle sinnes thanne is this sinne moost displesant to Crist and moost adversarye. | Soothly, he that despeireth him is lik the coward champioun recreant698 that seyth ‘creant’ withoute nede. Allas, allas, nedelees is he recreant, and nedelees despeired! | Certes, the mercy of God is evere redy to the penitent, and is aboven alle hise werkes. | Allas, kan a man nat bithinke him on700 the gospel of Seint Luc, 15, whereas Crist seyth that ‘as wel shal ther be joye in hevene upon a sinful man that dooth penitence than upon ninety and nine rightful men that neden no penitence’? [700] | Looke forther in the same gospel, the joye and the feeste of the goode man that hadde lost his sone, whan his sone with repentaunce was retourned to his fader. | Kan they nat remembren hem eek that, as seyth Seint Luc, 23, how that the theef that was hanged biside Jesu Crist seide, ‘Lord, remembre of me, whan thow comest into thy regne702’? | ‘For sothe,’ seide Crist, ‘I seye to thee, today shaltow been with me in Paradis.’ | Certes, ther is noon so horrible sinne of man that it ne may in his lif be destroyed by penitence, thurgh vertu of the passion and of the deeth of Crist. | Allas, what nedeth man thanne to ben despeired, sith that his mercy so redy is and large705? Axe and have! [705] | Thanne cometh sompnolence706, that is sloggy slombringe, which maketh a man be hevy and dul in body and in soule, and this sinne comth of slouthe. | And certes, the time that, by wey of resoun707, men sholde nat slepe, that is by the morwe, but if ther were cause resonable. | For soothly, the morwe-tide708 is moost covenable a man to seye hise preyeres, and for to thinken on God, and for to honoure God and to yeven almesse to the povre that first cometh in the name of Crist. | Lo, what seyth Salomon: ‘Whoso wol by the morwe awaken and seke me, he shal finde.’ | Thanne cometh necligence, or reccheleesnesse, that rekketh of710 nothing. And how that ignoraunce be moder of alle harm, certes, necligence is the norice. [710] | Necligence ne doth no fors711, whan he shal doon a thing, wheither he do it wel or baddely. | Of the remedye of thise two sinnes, as seyth the wise man, that ‘he that dredeth God, he spareth nat to doon that him oghte doon.’ | And he that loveth God, he wol doon diligence713 to plese God by hise werkes, and abaundone himself with al his might wel for to doon. |

  Thanne comth idelnesse, that is the yate714 of alle harmes. An idel man is lik to a place that hath no walles: the develes may entre on every side, or sheten at him at discovert by temptacion on every side. | This idelnesse is the thurrok715 of alle wikked and vileins thoughtes, and of alle jangles, trufles, and of alle ordure. [715] | Certes, the hevene is yeven to hem that wol labouren, and nat to idel folk. Eek David seyth, that ‘they ne been nat in the labour of men, ne they shul nat been whipped with men’ – that is to seyn, in purgatorye. | Certes, thanne semeth it they shul be tormented with the devel in helle, but if they doon penitence. | Thanne comth the sinne that men clepen tarditas718, as whan a man is to laterede or taryinge er he wole turne to God; and certes that is a greet folye. He is lik to him that falleth in the dich and wol nat arise. | And this vice comth of a fals hope, that he thinketh that he shal live longe; but that hope failleth ful ofte. | Thanne comth lachesse720; that is he that whan he biginneth any good werk, anon he shal forleten it, and stinten, as doon they that han any wight to governe, and ne taken of him namoore kepe, anon as they finden any contrarye or any anoy. [720] | Thise ben the newe sheepherdes that leten hi
r sheep witingly721 go renne to the wolf that is in the breres, or do no fors of hir owene governaunce. | Of this comth poverte and destruccioun, bothe of spirituel and temporel thinges. Thanne comth a manere cooldnesse that freseth722 al the herte of a man. | Thanne comth undevocioun723, thurgh which a man is so blent, as seyth Seint Bernard, and hath swich langour in soule, that he may neither rede ne singe in holy chirche, ne heere ne thinke of no devocioun, ne travaille with hise handes in no good werk that it nis to him unsavory and al apalled. | Thanne wexeth he slough724 and slombry, and soone wol be wrooth, and soone is enclined to hate and to envye. | Thanne comth the sinne of worldly sorwe, swich as is cleped tristicia725, that sleeth man, as seyth Seint Paul. [725] | For certes, swich sorwe werketh to the deeth of the soule and of the body also, for therof comth that a man is anoyed of726 his owene lif; | wherfore swich sorwe shorteth ful ofte the lif of man, er that his time be come by wey of kinde727. |

  [The Remedy Against the Sin of Sloth]

  Agains this horrible sinne of accidie and the branches of the same, ther is a vertu that is called fortitudo or strengthe; that is an affeccioun728 thurgh which a man despiseth anoyouse thinges. | This vertu is so mighty and so vigorous that it dar withstonde mightily, and wisely kepen himself fro perils that ben wikked, and wrastle again the assautes of the devel. | For it enhaunceth730 and enforceth the soule, right as accidie abateth it and maketh it feble. For this fortitudo may endure by longsuffraunce the travailles that ben covenable. [730] |

  This vertu hath manye speces, and the firste is cleped magnanimitee731; that is to seyn, greet corage, for certes, ther bihoveth greet corage agains accidie, lest that it ne swolwe the soule by the sinne of sorwe, or destroye it by wanhope. | This vertu maketh folk to undertake harde thinges and grevouse thinges, by hir owene wil, wisely and resonably; | and forasmuchel as the devel fighteth agains a man moore by queintise733 and by sleighte than by strengthe, therfore a man shal withstonden him by wit and by resoun and by discrecioun. | Thanne arn ther the vertues of feith and hope in God and in hise seintes, to acheve and acomplice the goode werkes in the whiche he purposeth fermely to continue. | Thanne comth seuretee735 or sikernesse, and that is whan a man ne douteth no travaille in time cominge of the goode werkes that a man hath bigonne. [735] | Thanne comth magnificence736; that is to seyn, whan a man dooth and perfourneth grete werkes of goodnesse that he hath bigonne. And that is the ende why that men sholde do goode werkes, for in the acomplissinge of grete goode werkes lith the grete gerdoun. | Thanne is ther constaunce, that is, stablenesse737 of corage, and this sholde ben in herte by stedefast feith, and in mouth, and in beringe, and in cheere, and in dede. | Eke ther ben mo speciale remedies agains accidie, in diverse werkes, and in consideracioun of the peines of helle and of the joyes of hevene, and in trust of the grace of the Holy Goost, that wole yeve him might to perfourne his goode entente. |

  [On Avarice]

  After accidie wol I speke of avarice and of coveitise, of which sinne seyth Seint Paul that ‘the roote of alle harmes is coveitise’ (Ad Thimotheum sexto739). | For soothly, whan the herte of a man is confounded740 in itself and troubled, and that the soule hath lost the confort of God, thanne seketh he an idel solas of worldly thinges. [740] |

  Avarice, after the descripcion of Seint Augustin, is a likerousnesse741 in herte to have erthely thinges. | Som oother folk seyn that avarice is for to purchacen742 manye erthely thinges and nothing yeve to hem that han nede. | And understond that avarice ne stant nat743 oonly in lond ne catel, but somtime in science, and in glorye, and in every manere of outrageous thing is avarice and coveitise. | And the difference bitwixe avarice and coveitise is this: coveitise is for to coveite swiche thinges as thow hast nat, and avarice is for to withholde744 and kepe swiche thinges as thow hast, withoute rightful nede. | Soothly, this avarice is a sinne that is ful dampnable, for al holy writ curseth it and speketh agains that vice, for it dooth wrong to Jesu Crist, [745] | for it bireveth him the love that men to him owen, and turneth it bakward agains alle resoun, | and maketh that the avaricious man hath moore hope in his catel than in Jesu Crist, and dooth moore observance747 in kepinge of his tresor than he dooth to the servise of Jesu Crist. | And therfore seyth Seint Paul, ad Ephesios quinto748, that an avaricious man is the thraldom of idolatrye. | What difference is bitwixe an idolastre749 and an avaricious man, but that an idolastre peraventure ne hath but o mawmet or two, and the avaricious man hath manye? For certes, every florin in his cofre is his mawmet. | And certes, the sinne of mawmettrie750 is the firste thing that God deffended in the ten comaundementz, as bereth witnesse in Exodi capitulo vicesimo: [750] | ‘Thow shalt have no false goddes bifore me, ne thow shalt make to thee no grave thing751.’ Thus is an avaricious man, that loveth his tresor biforn God, an idolastre | thurgh this cursed sinne of avarice.

  Of coveitise comen thise harde lordshipes, thurgh whiche men ben distreined752 by tailages, custumes, and cariages, moore than hire duetee or resoun is, and eek taken they of hire bondemen amercimentz, whiche mighten moore resonably ben cleped extorcions than amercimentz. | Of whiche amercimentz and raunsoninge of753 bonde-men somme lordes stiwardes seyn that it is rightful, forasmuche as a cherl hath no temporel thinge that it ne is his lordes, as they seyn. | But certes, thise lordshipes doon wrong that bireven754 hire bondefolk thinges that they nevere yave hem. Augustinus de civitate libro nono: | ‘Sooth is, that the condicioun of thraldom and the firste cause of thraldom is for sinne (Genesis nono755). [755] | Thus may ye seen that the gilt disserveth thraldom, but nat nature.’ | Wherfore thise lordes ne sholde nat muche glorifyen hem in hir lordshipes, sith that by naturel condicioun they ben nat lordes over thralles, but that thraldom comth first by the desert of sinne. | And forther over, theras the lawe seyth that temporel goodes of bonde-folk ben the goodes of hir lordshipes, ye, that is for to understonde the goodes of the emperour, to deffenden hem in hir right, but nat for to robben hem ne reven758 hem. | And therfore seyth Seneca, ‘Thy prudence sholde live benignely with thy thralles.’ | Thilke that thow clepest thy thralles ben Goddes peple, for humble folk ben Cristes freendes; they ben contubernial760 with the Lord. [760] | Think eek that of swich seed as cherles springeth, of swich seed springen lordes. As wel may the cherl be saved as the lord. | The same deeth that taketh the cherl, swich deeth taketh the lord. Wherfore I rede762, do right so with thy cherl as thow woldest that thy lord dide with thee, if thow were in his plit. | Every sinful man is a cherl to sinne. I rede thee, certes, that thow, lord, werke in swich wise with thy cherles that they rather love thee than drede. | I woot wel ther is degree764 above degree, as reson is, and skile is that men do hir devoir theras it is due, but certes, extorcions and despit of youre underlinges is dampnable. | And forther over, understond wel that conquerours or tyrauntz maken ful ofte thralles of hem that ben born of as royal blood as ben they that hem conqueren. [765] | This name of thraldom was nevere erst kouth766 til that Noe seide that his sone Canaan sholde be thral to hise bretheren for his sinne. |

  What seye we thanne of hem that pilen767 and doon extorcions to Holy Chirche? Certes, the swerd that men yeven first to a knight whan he is newe dubbed signifieth that he sholde deffenden Holy Chirche, and nat robben it ne pilen it, and whoso dooth is traitour to Crist. | And as seyth Seint Augustin, ‘They ben the develes wolves that stranglen the sheep of Jesu Crist,’ and doon worse than wolves. | For soothly, whan the wolf hath ful his wombe769, he stinteth to strangle sheep, but soothly the pilours and destroyours of goodes of Holy Chirche ne do nat so, for they ne stinte nevere to pile. |

  Now as I have seid, sith so is that sinne was first cause of thraldom, thanne is it thus, that thilke time that al this world was in sinne, thanne was al this world in thraldom and subjeccioun. [770] | But certes, sith the time of grace cam, God ordeined that som folk sholde be moore heigh in estaat and in degree, and som folk moore lough771, and that everich sholde be served in his estaat. | And therfore in somme contrees ther they byen772 thralles, whan they han turned hem to the feith they maken hire thrall
es free out of thraldom. And therfore, certes, the lord oweth to his man that the man oweth to his lord. | The Pope calleth himself servant of the servauntz of God; but forasmuche as the estaat of Holy Chirche ne mighte nat han be, ne the commune profit mighte nat han be kept, ne pees and reste in erthe, but if773 God hadde ordeined that som men hadde hyer degree and som men lower, | therfore was sovereintee ordeined, to kepe and maintene and deffenden hire underlinges or hire subgetz in resoun, as ferforth as774 it lith in hire power, and nat to destroyen hem ne confounde. | Wherfore I seye that thilke lordes that ben lik wolves that devouren the possessiouns or the catel of povre folk wrongfully, withouten mercy or mesure775, [775] | they shul receiven by the same mesure that they han mesured776 to povre folk the mercy of Jesu Crist, but if it be amended. | Now comth deceite bitwixe marchaunt and marchaunt. And thow shalt understonde that marchandise777 is in manye maneres: that oon is bodily, and that oother is goostly; that oon is honeste and leveful, and that oother is deshoneste and unleveful. | Of thilke bodily marchandise that is leveful and honeste is this: that thereas God hath ordeined that a regne or a contree is suffisaunt to himself778, thanne is it honeste and leveful that of habundaunce of this contree that men helpe another contree that is moore nedy. | And therfore ther moote ben marchantz to bringen fro that o contree to that oother hire marchandises779. | That oother marchandise, that men haunten with fraude and trecherye and deceite, with lesinges and false othes, is cursed and dampnable. [780] | Espirituel marchandise is proprely simonye781; that is, ententif desir to byen thing espirituel – that is, thing that aperteneth to the seintuarye of God and to cure of the soule. | This desir, if so be that a man do his diligence782 to perfournen it, al be it that his desir ne take noon effect, yet is it to him a deedly sinne, and if he be ordred he is irreguler. | Certes, simonye is cleped of783 Simon Magus, that wolde han boght for temporel catel the yifte that God hadde yeven by the Holy Goost to Seint Peter and to the apostles. | And therfore understond that bothe he that selleth and he that beyeth thinges espirituels ben cleped simonials784, be it by catel, be it by procuringe or by flesshly preyere of hise freendes – flesshly freendes or spirituel freendes. | ‘Flesshly’ in two maneres: as by kinrede, or othere freendes. Soothly, if they praye for him that is nat worthy and able, it is simonye if he take the benefice; and if he be worthy and able, ther nis noon. [785] | That oother manere is whan a man or womman preyen for folk to avauncen786 hem oonly for wikked flesshly affeccioun that they han unto the persone, and that is foul simonye. | But certes, in service, for which men yeven thinges espirituels unto hir servantz, it moot ben understonde that the service moot ben honeste787, and elles nat; and eek that it be withouten bargaininge, and that the persone be able. | For, as seyth Seint Damasie: ‘Alle the sinnes of the world at regard of788 this sinne arn as thing of noght,’ for it is the gretteste sinne that may be, after the sinne of Lucifer and Antecrist. | For by this sinne God forleseth789 the chirche, and the soule that he boghte with his precious blood, by hem that yeven chirches to hem that ben nat digne. | For they putten in theves, that stelen the soules of Jesu Crist and destroyen his patrimoine790. [790] | By swiche undigne preestes and curates han lewed791 men the lasse reverence of the sacrementz of Holy Chirche, and swiche yeveres of chirches putten out the children of Crist, and putten into the chirche the develes owene sone. | They sellen the soules, that lambes sholde kepen, to the wolf that strangleth hem, and therfore shul they nevere han part of792 the pasture of lambes – that is, the blisse of hevene. | Now comth hasardrye793 with hise apurtenaunces, as tables and rafles, of which comth deceite, false othes, chidinges, and alle ravines, blaspheminge and reneyinge of God, and hate of hise neighebores, wast of goodes, misspendinge of time, and somtime manslaughtre. | Certes, hasardours ne mowe nat ben withouten greet sinne whiles they haunte794 that craft. | Of avarice comen eek lesinges795, thefte, fals witnesse and false othes. And ye shul understonde that thise ben grete sinnes, and expres again the comaundementz of God, as I have seid. [795] | Fals witnesse is in word, and eek in dede. In word, as for to bireve796 thy neighebores goode name by thy fals witnessing, or bireven him his catel or his heritage by thy fals witnessing, whan thow for ire, or for mede, or for envye berest fals witnesse, or accusest him or excusest him by thy fals witnesse, or elles excusest thyself falsly. | Ware, yow questemongeres797 and notaries! Certes, for fals witnessing was Susanna in ful greet sorwe and peine, and many another mo. | The sinne of thefte is eek expres agains Goddes heste, and that in two maneres, corporel or spirituel: | corporel, as for to take thy neighebores catel again his wil, be it by force or by sleighte799, be it by met or by mesure; | by steling eek of false enditementz800 upon him, and in borwinge of thy neighebores catel in entente nevere to payen it again, and semblable thinges. [800] | Espirituel thefte is sacrilege, that is to seyn, hurtinge of holy thinges or of thinges sacred to Crist, in two maneres: by reson of the holy place, as chirches or chirche-hawes801, | – for which every vileins802 sinne that men doon in swich places may be cleped sacrilege, or every violence in the semblable places – also they that withdrawen falsly the rightes that longen to Holy Chirche. | And pleinly and generally, sacrilege is to reven803 holy thing fro holy place, or unholy thing out of holy place, or holy thing out of unholy place. |

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