The canterbury tales, p.85
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.85

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  [The Remedy Against the Sin of Avarice]

  Now shul ye understonde that the relevinge of804 avarice is misericorde and pitee, largely taken. And men mighten axe why that misericorde and pitee is relevinge of avarice. | Certes, the avaricious man sheweth no pitee ne misericorde to the nedeful man, for he deliteth him in the kepinge of his tresor, and nat in the rescowinge805 ne relevinge of his evene Cristene. And therfore speke I first of misericorde. [805] | Thanne is misericorde, as seyth the philosophre, a vertu by which the corage806 of a man is stired by the misese of him that is misesed. | Upon which misericorde folweth pitee, in parfourninge of charitable werkes of misericorde. | And certes, thise thinges moeven a man to misericorde of Jesu Crist, that he yaf himself for oure gilt, and suffred deeth for misericorde, and forgaf us oure originale sinnes, | and therby relessed us fro the peines of helle, and amenused809 the peines of purgatorye by penitence, and yeveth grace wel to do, and atte laste the blisse of hevene. | The speces of misericorde ben as for to lene810, and for to yeve, and to foryeven and relesse, and for to han pitee in herte and compassioun of the meschief of his evene Cristene, and eek to chastise, theras nede is. [810] | Another manere of remedye agains avarice is resonable largesse811; but soothly, here bihoveth the consideracioun of the grace of Jesu Crist, and of hise temporel goodes, and eek of the goodes perdurables that Crist yaf to us; | and to han remembrance of the deeth that he shal receive, he noot812 whanne, where, ne how; and eek that he shal forgoon al that he hath, save oonly that he hath despended in goode werkes. | But forasmuche as som folk ben unmesurable813, men oghten eschue fool-largesse, that men clepen wast. | Certes, he that is fool-large ne yeveth nat his catel, but he leseth his catel. Soothly, what thing that he yeveth for veine glorye, as to minestrals and to folk for to beren his renoun in the world, he hath sinne therof and noon almesse. | Certes, he leseth foule his good that ne seketh with the yifte of his good nothing but sinne. [815] | He is lik to an hors that seketh rather to drinken drovy816 or trouble water than for to drinken water of the clere welle. | And forasmuchel as they yeven theras they sholde nat yeven, to hem aperteneth817 thilke malisoun that Crist shal yeven at the day of dome to hem that shullen ben dampned. |

  [On Gluttony]

  After avarice comth glotonye, which is expres eek again the comandement of God. Glotonye is unmesurable appetit to ete or to drinke, or elles to doon inogh to the unmesurable appetit and desordeinee818 coveitise to eten or to drinke. |

  This sinne corrumped819 al this world, as is wel shewed in the sinne of Adam and of Eve. Looke eek, what seyth Seint Paul of glotonye: | ‘Manye’, seyth Seint Paul, ‘goon, of whiche I have ofte seid to yow, and now I seye it wepinge, that ben the enemys of the crois of Crist, of whiche the ende is deeth, and of whiche hire wombe820 is hire god, and hire glorye in confusioun of hem that so savouren erthely thinges.’ [820] | He that is usaunt to821 this sinne of glotonye, he ne may no sinne withstonde; he moot ben in servage of alle vices, for it is the develes hoord, ther he hideth him and resteth. | This sinne hath manye speces. The firste is dronkenesse, that is the horrible sepulture822 of mannes resoun, and therfore whan a man is dronken he hath lost his resoun, and this is deedly sinne. | But soothly, whan that a man is nat wont823 to strong drinke, and paraventure ne knoweth nat the strengthe of the drinke, or hath feblesse in his heed, or hath travailled, thurgh which he drinketh the moore, al be he sodeinly caught with drinke, it is no deedly sinne, but venial. | The seconde spece of glotonye is that the spirit of a man wexeth al trouble824, for dronkenesse bireveth him the discrecioun of his wit. | The thridde spece of glotonye is whan a man devoureth his mete825 and hath no rightful manere of etinge. [825] | The ferthe is whan thurgh the grete habundaunce of his mete the humours826 in his body ben destempred. | The fifthe is foryetelnesse827 by to muchel drinkinge, for which som time a man foryeteth er the morwe what he dide at even, or on the night biforn. | In oother manere ben distinct the speces of glotonye, after Seint Gregorye. The firste is for to ete biforn time to ete. The seconde is whan a man gete him828 to delicat mete or drinke. | The thridde is whan men taken to muche over mesure. The fourthe is curiositee829, with greet entente to maken and apparaillen his mete. The fifthe is for to eten to gredily. | Thise ben the five fingres of the develes hand, by whiche he draweth folk to sinne. [830] |

  [The Remedy Against the Sin of Gluttony]

  Agains glotonye is the remedye abstinence, as seyth Galien; but that holde I nat meritorye831 if he do it oonly for the hele of his body. Seint Augustin wole that abstinence be doon for vertu, and with pacience. | ‘Abstinence’, he seyth, ‘is litel worth, but if a man have good wil therto, and but it be enforced832 by pacience and by charitee, and that men doon it for Goddes sake and in hope to have the blisse of hevene.’ | The felawes of abstinence ben attemperaunce833, that holdeth the mene in alle thinges; eek shame, that eschueth alle deshonestee; suffisance, that seketh no riche metes ne drinkes, ne dooth no fors of to outrageous apparaillinge of mete; | mesure also, that restreineth by resoun the deslavee834 appetit of etinge; sobrenesse also, that restreineth the outrage of drinke; | sparinge835 also, that restreineth the delicat ese to sitte longe at his mete and softely, wherfore som folk stonden of hir owene wil, to eten at the lasse leiser. [835] |

  [On Lechery]

  After glotonye thanne comth lecherye, for thise two sinnes ben so ny cosins836 that ofte time they wol nat departe. | God woot, this sinne is ful displesaunt thing to God, for he seide himself ‘Do no lecherye’, and therfore he putte grete peines837 agains this sinne in the olde lawe. | If womman thral were taken in this sinne, she sholde be beten with staves838 to the deeth; and if she were a gentil womman she sholde be slain with stones, and if she were a bisshopes doghter she sholde been brent, by Goddes comandement. | Forther over, by the sinne of lecherye God dreinte839 al the world at the diluge. And after that he brente five citees with thonder-leit, and sank hem into helle. |

  Now lat us speke thanne of thilke stinkinge sinne of lecherye that men clepe avowtrye840 of wedded folk; that is to seyn, if that oon of hem be wedded, or elles bothe. [840] | Seint John seyth that avowtiers shullen ben in helle, in a stank841 brenninge of fir and of brimston – in fir for lecherye, in brimston for the stink of hire ordure. | Certes, the brekinge of this sacrement is an horrible thing; it was maked of God himself in Paradis, and confermed by Jesu Crist, as witnesseth Seint Mathew in the gospel: ‘A man shal lete842 fader and moder and taken him to his wif, and they shullen be two in o flessh.’ | This sacrement bitokneth843 the knittinge togidre of Crist and of Holy Chirche. | And nat oonly that God forbad avowtrye in dede, but eek he comanded that thow sholdest nat coveite thy neighebores wif. | ‘In this heste845’, seyth Seint Augustin, ‘is forboden alle manere coveitise to doon lecherye.’ Lo, what seyth Seint Mathew in the gospel, that ‘whoso seeth a womman to coveitise of his lust, he hath doon lecherye with hire in his herte.’ [845] | Here may ye seen that nat oonly the dede of this sinne is forboden, but eek the desir to doon that sinne. | This cursed sinne anoyeth847 grevousliche hem that it haunten, and first, to hire soule, for he obligeth it to sinne and to peine of deeth that is perdurable. | Unto the body anoyeth it grevously also, for it dreyeth848 him, and wasteth him, and shent him, and of his blood he maketh sacrifice to the feend of helle; it wasteth eek his catel and his substaunce. | And certes, if it be a foul thing a man to waste his catel on wommen, yet is it a fouler thing whan that for swich ordure wommen dispenden849 upon men hir catel and substaunce. | This sinne, as seyth the prophete, bireveth man and womman hir goode fame and al hir honour, and it is ful plesaunt to the devel, for therby winneth he the mooste partie of this world. [850] | And right as a marchant deliteth him moost851 in chaffare that he hath moost avantage of, right so deliteth the feend in this ordure. |

  This is that oother hand of the devel, with five fingres to cacche852 the peple to his vileinye. | The firste finger is the fool853 lookinge of the fool womman and of the fool man, that sleeth right as the basilicok sleeth folk by the venim of his sighte
, for the coveitise of eyen folweth the coveitise of the herte. | The seconde finger is the vileins touchinge, in wikkede manere; and therfore seyth Salomon that ‘whoso toucheth and handleth a womman, he fareth lik him that handleth the scorpioun that stingeth and sodeinly sleeth thurgh his enveniminge’ – as whoso toucheth warm pich854, it shent his fingres. | The thridde is foule wordes, that fareth lik fir that right anon brenneth the herte. [855] | The ferthe finger is the kissinge, and trewely, he were a greet fool that wolde kisse the mouth of a brenninge ovene or of a fourneis856, | and moore fooles ben they that kissen in vileinye, for that mouth is the mouth of helle; and namely, thise olde dotardes holours857, yet wol they kisse, though they may nat do, and smatre hem. | Certes, they ben lik to houndes, for an hound whan he comth by the roser858 or by othere busshes, thogh he may nat pisse, yet wole he heve up his leg and make a contenaunce to pisse. | And for that many man weneth that he may nat sinne for no likerousnesse859 that he doth with his wif, certes, that opinion is fals. God woot, a man may sleen himself with his owene knif, and make himselven dronken of his owene tonne. | Certes, be it wif, be it child, or any worldly thing that he loveth biforn God, it is his mawmet, and he is an idolastre. [860] | Man sholde loven his wif by discrecioun861, paciently and atemprely, and thanne is she as thogh it were his suster. | The fifthe finger of the develes hand is the stinkinge dede of leccherye. | Certes, the five fingres of glotonye the feend put in the wombe863 of a man, and with hise five fingres of lecherye he gripeth him by the reines, for to throwen him into the fourneis of helle, | theras they shul han the fir and the wormes that evere shul lasten, and wepinge and wailinge, sharp hunger and thurst, grimnesse864 of develes that shullen al totrede hem withouten respit and withouten ende. | Of leccherye, as I seide, sourden diverse speces, as fornicacioun, that is bitwixe man and womman that ben nat maried; and this is deedly sinne and agains nature. [865] | Al that is enemy and destruccioun to nature is agains nature. | Parfay, the resoun of a man telleth eek him wel that it is deedly sinne, forasmuche as God forbad leccherye. And Seint Paul yeveth hem the regne867 that nis dewe to no wight but to hem that doon deedly sinne. | Another sinne of leccherye is to bireve868 a maiden of hir maidenhede, for he that so dooth, certes, he casteth a maiden out of the hyeste degree that is in this present lif, | and bireveth hire thilke precious fruit that the book clepeth ‘the hundred fruit’. (I ne kan seye it noon oother weyes in Englissh, but in Latin it highte centesimus fructus.) | Certes, he that so dooth is cause of manye damages and vileinyes870, mo than any man kan rekene, right as he somtime is cause of alle damages that beestes don in the feeld that breketh the hegge or the closure, thurgh which he destroyeth that may nat ben restored. [870] | For certes, namoore may maidenhede be restored than an arm that is smiten fro the body may retourne again to wexe871. | She may have mercy, this woot I wel, if she do penitence but nevere shal it be that she nas corrupt. | And al be it so that I have spoken somwhat of avowtrye, it is good to shewen mo perils that longen873 to avowtrye, for to eschue that foule sinne. | Avowtrye in Latin is for to seyn ‘approchinge of oother mannes bed’, thurgh which tho that874 whilom weren o flessh abawndone hir bodies to othere persones. | Of this sinne, as seyth the wise man, folwen manye harmes: first, brekinge of feith, and certes, in feith is the keye of Cristendom, [875] | and whan that feith is broken and lorn876, soothly, Cristendom stant vein and withouten fruit. | This sinne is eek a thefte, for thefte generally is for to reve877 a wight his thing agains his wille. | Certes, this is the fouleste thefte that may be, whan a womman steleth hir body from hir housbonde and yeveth it to hire holour878 to defoulen hire, and steleth hir soule fro Crist and yeveth it to the devel. | This is a fouler thefte than for to breke a chirche and stele the chalice, for thise avowtiers breken the temple of God spiritually and stelen the vessel of grace, that is the body and the soule, for which Crist shal destroyen hem, as seyth Seint Paul. | Soothly, of this thefte douted880 gretly Joseph, whan that his lordes wif preyed him of vileinye, whan he seide, ‘Lo, my lady, how my lord hath take to me under my warde al that he hath in this world, ne nothing of hise thinges is out of my power but oonly ye that ben his wif. [880] | And how sholde I thanne do this wikkednesse and sinne so horrible, agains God and agains my lord? – God it forbede.’ Allas, al to litel is swich trouthe now yfounde! | The thridde harm is the filthe thurgh which they breken the comandement of God and defoulen the auctour of matrimoine882, that is Crist. | For certes, insomuche as the sacrement of mariage is so noble and so digne883, so muche is it gretter sinne for to breken it, for God made mariage in Paradis, in the estaat of innocence, to multiplye mankinde to the service of God. | And therfore is the brekinge therof moore grevous, of which brekinge comen false heires ofte time, that wrongfully occupien folkes heritages, and therfore wol Crist putte hem out of the regne of hevene that is heritage to goode folk. | Of this brekinge comth eek ofte time that folk unwar885 wedden or sinnen with hire owene kinrede, and namely thilke harlotes that haunten bordels of thise fool wommen, that mowe be likned to a commune gonge whereas men purgen hire ordure. [885] | What seye we eek of putours886, that liven by the horrible sinne of puterye, and constreine wommen to yelden to hem a certein rente of hire bodily puterye – ye, somtime of his owene wif or his child, as doon thise bawdes? Certes, thise ben cursed sinnes! | Understond eek that avowtrye is set gladly887 in the Ten Comandementz bitwixe thefte and manslaughtre for it is the gretteste thefte that may be, for it is thefte of body and of soule. | And it is lik to homicide for it kerveth atwo888 and breketh atwo hem that first were maked o flessh, and therfore by the olde lawe of God they sholde be slain. | But nathelees, by the lawe of Jesu Crist, that is lawe of pitee, whan he seide to the womman that was founden in avowtrye and sholde han ben slain with stones after the wil of the Jewes, as was hir889 lawe, ‘Go,’ quod Jesu Crist, ‘and have namoore wil to sinne’, or, ‘wille namoore to do sinne.’ | Soothly, the vengeaunce of avowtrye is awarded to the peines of helle, but if so be that it be destourbed by penitence. [890] | Yet ben ther mo speces of this cursed sinne, as whan that oon of hem is religious891, or elles bothe, or of folk that ben entred into ordre, as subdekne, or dekne, or preest, or hospitaliers, and evere the hyer that he is in ordre the gretter is the sinne. | The thinges that gretly agreggen892 hire sinne is the brekinge of hire avow of chastitee whan they received the ordre. | And forther over, sooth is that holy ordre is chief of al the tresorye of God and his especial signe and mark of chastitee to shewe that they ben joined to chastitee, which that is the moost precious lif that is. | And thise ordred folk894 ben specially titled to God and of the special meignee of God, for which, whan they doon deedly sinne they ben the special traitours of God and of his peple, for they liven of the peple to preye for the peple, and whil they ben swiche traitours, hir preyeres availlen nat to the peple. | Preestes ben aungeles as by the dignitee of hir misterye895, but, for sothe, Seint Paul seyth that Sathanas transformeth him in an aungel of light. [895] | Soothly, the preest that haunteth896 deedly sinne, he may be likned to the aungel of derknesse transformed in the aungel of light: he semeth aungel of light, but for sothe, he is aungel of derknesse. | Swiche preestes ben the sones of Helie897, as sheweth in the book of Kinges that they weren the sones of Belial – that is the devel. | ‘Belial’ is to seyn ‘withouten juge898’, and so faren they: hem thinketh they ben free and han no juge, namoore than hath a free bole, that taketh which cow that him liketh in the town. | So faren they by899 women; for right as a free bole is inough for al a toun, right so is a wikked preest corrupcioun inough for al a parisshe, or for al a contree. | Thise preestes, as seyth the book, ne konne nat900 the misterye of preesthode to the peple, ne God ne knowe they nat; they ne helde hem nat apaid, as seyth the book, of soden flessh that was to hem offred, but they tooke by force the flessh that is rawe. [900] | Certes, so thise shrewes901 ne holden hem nat apaied of roosted flessh and sode flessh, with which the peple feden hem in greet reverence, but they wole have raw flessh of folkes wives and hir doghtres. | And certes, thise wommen that conse
nten to hire harlotrye902 doon greet wrong to Crist, and to Holy Chirche and alle halwes, and to alle soules, for they bireven alle thise him that sholde worshipe Crist and Holy Chirche, and preye for Cristene soules. | And therfore han swiche preestes, and hire lemmanes903 eek that consenten to hir leccherye, the malisoun of al the court Cristien, til they come to amendement. |

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