The canterbury tales, p.86
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.86

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  The thridde spece of avowtrye is somtime bitwixe a man and his wif, and that is whan they take no reward904 in hire assemblinge but oonly to hire flesshly delit, as seyth Seint Jerome, | and ne rekken of905 nothing but that they ben assembled; bicause that they ben maried, al is good inough, as thinketh to hem, [905] | but in swich folk hath the devel power, as seide the aungel Raphael to Thobie906, for in hire assemblinge they putten Jesu Crist out of hire herte, and yeven hemself to alle ordure. | The fourthe spece is the assemblee of hem that ben of hire kinrede, or of hem that ben of oon affinitee907, or elles with hem with whiche hir fadres or hir kinrede han deled in the sinne of lecherye. This sinne maketh hem lik to houndes, that taken no kepe to kinrede. | And certes, parentele908 is in two maneres, outher goostly or flesshly. Goostly, as for to delen with hise godsibbes; | for right so as he that engendreth a child is his flesshly fader, right so is his godfader his fader espirituel. For which a womman may in no lasse sinne assemblen with hire godsib than with hire owene flesshly brother. | The fifthe spece is thilke abhominable sinne of which that no man unnethe oghte speke ne write; nathelees, it is openly reherced in holy writ. [910] | This cursednesse doon men and wommen in diverse entente, and in diverse manere. But though that holy writ speke of horrible sinne, certes, holy writ may nat ben defouled, namoore than the sonne that shineth on the mixne911. | Another sinne aperteineth to leccherye, that comth in slepinge, and this sinne cometh ofte to hem that ben maidenes912, and eek to hem that ben corrupt. And this sinne men clepen polucioun, that comth in foure maneres: | somtime of langwissinge913 of body, for the humours ben to ranke and habundaunt in the body of man; somtime of infermetee, for the feblesse of the vertu retentif, as phisik maketh mencion; somtime for surfeet of mete and drinke; | and somtime of vileins914 thoghtes that ben enclosed in mannes minde whan he gooth to slepe, which may nat ben withoute sinne, for which men moste kepen hem wisely, or elles may men sinnen ful grevously. |

  [The Remedy Against the Sin of Lechery]

  Now comth the remedye agains leccherye, and that is generally chastitee and continence, that restreineth alle the desordeinee moevinges915 that comen of flesshly talentes. [915] | And evere the gretter merite shal he han that moost restreineth the wikkede eschawfinges916 of the ardour of this sinne, and this is in two maneres: that is to seyn, chastitee in mariage, and chastitee of widwehode. | Now shaltow understonde that matrimoine is leefful917 assemblinge of man and of womman, that receiven by vertu of the sacrement the boond thurgh which they may nat be departed in al hir lif; that is to seyn, whil that they liven bothe. | This, as seyth the book, is a ful greet sacrement. God maked it, as I have seid, in Paradis, and wolde918 himself be born in mariage; | and for to halwen919 mariage he was at a weddinge whereas he turned water into win, which was the firste miracle that he wroghte in erthe biforn hise disciples. | Trewe effect of mariage clenseth fornicacioun, and replenisseth Holy Chirche of good linage, for that is the ende of mariage, and it chaungeth deedly sinne into venial sinne bitwixe hem that ben ywedded, and maketh the hertes al oon of hem that ben ywedded, as wel as the bodies. [920] | This is verray mariage, that was establissed by God er that sinne bigan, whan naturel lawe was in his right point921 in Paradis, and it was ordeined that o man sholde have but o womman, and o womman but o man, as seyth Seint Augustin, by manye resouns. | First, for mariage is figured922 bitwixe Crist and Holy Chirche; and that oother is for a man is heved of a womman, algate by ordinaunce it sholde be so. | For if a womman hadde mo men than oon, thanne sholde she have mo hevedes than oon, and that were an horrible thing biforn God; and eek a womman ne mighte nat plese to many folk at ones. And also ther ne sholde nevere be pees ne reste amonges hem, for everich wolde axen his owene thing. | And forther over, no man ne sholde knowe his owene engendrure924, ne who sholde have his heritage, and the womman sholde ben the lasse biloved fro the time that she were conjoint to many men. |

  Now comth how that a man sholde bere him925 with his wif, and namely in two thinges: that is to seyn, in suffraunce and reverence, as shewed Crist whan he made first womman. [925] | For he ne made hire nat of the heved of Adam, for she sholde nat claime to greet lordshipe; | for theras the womman hath the maistrye927, she maketh to much desray. Ther neden none ensamples of this; the experience of day by day oghte suffise. | Also, certes, God ne made nat womman of the foot of Adam, for she ne sholde nat ben holden928 to lowe, for she kan nat paciently suffre; but God made womman of the rib of Adam, for womman sholde be felawe unto man. | Man sholde bere him to his wif in feith, in trouthe, and in love, as seyth Seint Paul, that a man sholde loven his wif as Crist loved Holy Chirche, that loved it so wel that he deide for it; so sholde a man for his wif, if it were nede. |

  Now, how that a womman sholde be subget to hire housbonde, that telleth Seint Peter. First, in obedience. [930] | And eek, as seyth the decree931, a womman that is wif, as longe as she is a wif, she hath noon auctoritee to swere ne bere witnesse withoute leve of hir housbonde that is hire lord; algate, he sholde be so by resoun. | She sholde eek serven him in alle honestee, and ben attempree932 of hir array. I woot wel that they sholde setten hire entente to plesen hir housbondes, but nat by hire queintise of array. | Seint Jerome seyth that ‘wives that ben apparailled in silk and in precious purpre933 ne mowe nat clothen hem in Jesu Crist.’ Loke what seyth Seint John eek in this matere. | Seint Gregorye eek seyth that ‘no wight seketh precious array but oonly for veine glorye, to ben honoured the moore biforn the peple.’ | It is a greet folye a womman to have a fair array outward, and in hirself be foul inward. [935] | A wif sholde eek be mesurable936 in lookinge, and in beringe, and in lawghinge, and discreet in alle hire wordes and hire dedes; | and aboven alle worldly thing she sholde loven hire housbonde with al hire herte, and to him be trewe of hir body. | So sholde an housbonde eek be to his wif, for sith that al the body is the housbondes, so sholde hire herte ben, or elles ther is bitwixe hem two as in that no perfit938 mariage. |

  Thanne shal men understonde that for thre thinges a man and his wif flesshly mowen assemble. The firste is in entente of engendrure939 of children to the service of God, for certes, that is the cause final of matrimoine. | Another cause is to yelden everich of hem to oother the dette of hire bodies, for neither of hem hath power of his owene body. The thridde is for to eschewe940 leccherye and vileinye. The ferthe is for sothe deedly sinne. [940] | As to the firste, it is meritorye; the seconde also, for, as seyth the decree, that she hath merite of941 chastitee that yeldeth to hire housbonde the dette of hir body – ye, though it be again hir likinge and the lust of hire herte. | The thridde manere is venial sinne – and trewely, scarsly may ther any of thise be withoute venial sinne, for the corrupcioun and for the delit. | The fourthe manere is for to understonde if they assemble oonly for amorous love and for noon of the forseide causes, but for to accomplice thilke brenninge delit, they rekke nevere943 how ofte. Soothly, it is deedly sinne; and yet, with sorwe, somme folk wol peinen hem moore to doon than to hire appetit suffiseth. |

  The seconde manere of chastitee is for to ben a clene widewe, and eschue the embracinges of man and desiren the embracinge of Jesu Crist. | Thise ben tho that han ben wives and han forgoon945 hire housbondes, and eek wommen that han doon leccherye and ben releved by Penitence. [945] | And certes, if that a wif koude kepen hire al chaast by licence of hir housbonde, so that she yeve nevere noon occasion that he agilte946, it were to hire a greet merite. | Thise manere wommen that observen chastitee moste be clene in herte as wel as in body and in thought, and mesurable in clothinge and in contenaunce947, and been abstinent in etinge and drinkinge, in spekinge, and in dede; they been the vessel or the boiste of the blissed Magdalene, that fulfilleth Holy Chirche of good odour. | The thridde manere of chastitee is virginitee, and it bihoveth948 that she be holy in herte and clene of body; thanne is she spouse to Jesu Crist, and she is the lif of aungels. | She is the preisinge949 of this world, and she is as thise martyrs in egalitee; she hath in hire that tonge may nat telle ne herte thinke. | Virginitee baar oure lord Jesu Cr
ist, and virgine was himselve. [950] |

  Another remedye agains leccherye is specially to withdrawen swiche thinges as yeve occasion to thilke vileinye, as ese951, etinge, and drinkinge; for certes, whan the pot boileth strongly the beste remedye is to withdrawe the fir. | Slepinge longe in greet quiete is eek a greet norice to leccherye. | Another remedye agains leccherye is that a man or a womman eschue the compaignye of hem by whiche he douteth to be tempted, for al be it so that the dede is withstonden, yet is ther greet temptacioun. | Soothly, a whit wal, although it ne brenne noght fully by stikinge954 of a candele, yet is the wal blak of the leit. | Ful ofte time I rede that no man truste in his owene perfeccioun, but he be955 stronger than Sampsoun, and holier than David, and wiser than Salomon. [955] |

  Now after that I have declared yow, as I kan, the sevene deedly sinnes, and somme of hire braunches and hire remedies, soothly, if I koude, I wolde telle yow the Ten Comandementz; | but so heigh957 a doctrine I lete to divines. Nathelees, I hope to God they ben touched in this tretice, everich of hem alle. |

  [The Second Part of Penitence: continued]

  Now, forasmuche as the seconde partie of Penitence stant in958 confessioun of mouth, as I bigan in the firste chapitre, I seye, Seint Augustin seyth: | ‘Sinne is every word, and every dede, and al that men coveiten959 again the lawe of Jesu Crist.’ And this is for to sinne, in herte, in mouth, and in dede, by thy fyve wittes, that ben sighte, heringe, smellinge, tastinge or savouringe, and feelinge. | Now is it good to understonde the circumstaunces that agreggeth960 muchel every sinne. [960] | Thow shalt considere what thow art that doost the sinne, wheither thow be male or female, yong or old, gentil or thral961, free or servant, hool or sik, wedded or sengle, ordred or unordred, wis or fool, clerk or seculer; | if she be of thy kinrede, bodily or goostly, or noon; if any of thy kinrede have sinned with hire or noon; and manye mo thinges. | Another circumstaunce is this: wheither it be doon in fornicacioun or in avowtrye or noon; incest or noon, maiden963 or noon, in manere of homicide or noon, horrible grete sinnes or smale, and how longe thow hast continued in sinne. | The thridde circumstaunce is the place ther thow hast do sinne, wheither in oother mennes hous, or in thin owene, in feeld, or in chirche or in chirche-hawe964, in chirche dedicat or noon. | For if the chirche be halwed965, and man or womman spille his kinde inwith that place by wey of sinne or by wikked temptacioun, the chirche is entredited; [965] | and the preest that dide swich a vileinye, to terme of al his lif966 he sholde namoore singe masse, and if he dide, he sholde doon deedly sinne at every time that he so songe masse. | The ferthe circumstaunce is by whiche mediatours or by whiche messagers, as for enticement or for consentement967 to bere compaignye with felaweshipe; for many a wrecche for to bere compaignye wole go to the devel of helle. | For they that eggen968 or consenten to the sinne ben parteners of the sinne and of the dampnacioun of the sinnere. | The fifthe circumstaunce is how manye times that he hath sinned, if it be in his minde, and how ofte that he hath falle. | For he that ofte falleth in sinne, he despiseth the mercy of God, and encreseth his sinne, and is unkinde970 to Crist; and he wexeth the moore feble to withstonde sinne, and sinneth the moore lightly, [970] | and the latter971 ariseth, and is the moore eschew for to shriven him, and namely to him that is his confessour. | For which that folk, whan they falle again in hir olde folies, outher they forleten972 hir olde confessours al outrely, or elles they departen hir shrift in diverse places. But soothly, swich departed shrift deserveth no mercy of God of hise sinnes. | The sixte circumstaunce is why that a man sinneth, as by whiche temptacioun, and if himself procure thilke temptacioun, or by the excitinge973 of oother folk; or if he sinne with a womman by force, or by hire owene assent, | or if the womman, maugree hir heed974, hath ben afforced or noon (this shal she telle); for coveitise or for poverte, and if it was hire procuringe or noon, and swich manere harneis. | The seventhe circumstaunce is in what manere he hath doon his sinne, or how that she hath suffred975 that folk han doon to hire. [975] | And the same shal the man telle, pleinly, with alle circumstaunces976, and wheither he hath sinned with comune bordel-wommen or noon; | or doon his sinne in holy times or noon, in fasting-times or noon, or biforn his shrifte, or after his latter977 shrifte, | and hath peraventure broken ther-fore his penance enjoined; by whos help and whos conseil978, by sorcerye or craft; al moste be toold. |

  Alle thise thinges, after that979 they ben grete or smale, engreggen the conscience of man. And eek the preest, that is thy juge, may the bettre ben avised of his juggement in yevinge of thy penaunce, and that is after thy contricioun. | For understond wel, that after time that a man hath defouled his baptesme by sinne, if he wole come to savacioun ther is noon oother wey but by penitence and shrifte and satisfaccioun, [980] | and namely by the two, if ther be a confessour to which he may shriven him, and the thridde, if he have lif to perfournen it. | Thanne shal man looke and considere that if he wole maken a trewe and a profitable confessioun ther moste be foure condiciouns: | first, it moot ben in sorweful bitternesse of herte, as seide the king Ezechie to God: ‘I wol remembre me alle the yeres of my lif in bitternesse of min herte.’ | This condicioun of bitternesse hath five signes. The first is that confessioun moste be shamefast, nat for to covere ne hide his sinne, for he hath agilt984 his God and defouled his soule. | And therof985 seyth Seint Augustin, ‘The herte travailleth for shame of his sinne,’ and for he hath greet shamefastnesse, he is digne to have greet mercy of God. [985] | Swich was the confessioun of the publican986, that wolde nat heven up hise eyen to hevene for he hadde offended God of hevene, for which shamefastnesse he hadde anon the mercy of God. | And therof seyth Seint Augustin that swich shamefast folk ben next987 foryevenesse and remissioun. | Another signe is humilitee in confessioun, of which seyth Seint Peter: ‘Humbleth yow under the might of God.’ The hond of God is mighty in confessioun, for therby God foryeveth thee thy sinnes, for he allone hath the power. | And this humilitee shal ben in herte and in signe outward, for right as he hath humilitee to God in his herte, right so sholde he humble his body outward to the preest, that sit in Goddes place. | For which, in no manere – sith that Crist is soverein, and the preest meene990 and mediatour bitwixe Crist and the sinnere, and the sinnere is the laste, by wey of resoun [990] | – thanne sholde nat the sinnere sitte as hye as his confessour, but knele biforn him or at his feet, but if maladye destourbe it991. For he shal nat taken kepe who sit there, but in whos place that he sitteth. | A man that hath trespased992 to a lord, and comth for to axe mercy and maken his accord, and set him doun anon by the lord, men wolde holden him outrageous, and nat worthy so soone for to have remissioun ne mercy. | The thridde signe is that thy shrift sholde be ful of teeris, if man may, and if man may nat wepe with hise bodily eyen, lat him wepe in herte. | Swich was the confession of Seint Peter, for after that he hadde forsake Jesu Crist, he wente out and weep ful bitterly. | The fourthe signe is that he ne lette nat995 for shame to shewen his confessioun. [995] | Swich was the confessioun of the Magdalene, that ne spared for no shame of hem that weren atte feste for to go to oure lord Jesu Crist and biknowe996 to him hire sinnes. | The fifthe signe is that a man or a womman be obeisant to receiven the penaunce that him is enjoined for hise sinnes, for certes, Jesu Crist for the giltes of o man was obedient to the deeth. |

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