The Persones Tale

Here folweth the Prologe of the Persones Tale.

By that the maunciple hadde his tale al ended,

The sonne fro the south lyne was descended

So lowe, that he nas nat, to my sighte,

Degrees nyne and twenty as in highte.

Foure of the clokke it was tho, as I gesse :

For eleven foot, or litel more or lesse,

My shadwe was at thilke tyme, as there.

Of swich feet as my lengthe parted were

In six feet equal of proporcioun.

Ther-with the mones exaltacioun,

I mene Libra, alwey gan ascende,

As we were entringe at a thropes ende ;

For which our host, as he was wont to gye,

As in this caas, our joly companye,

Seyde in this wyse, ‘ lordings everichoon,

Now lakketh us no tales mo than oon.

Fulfild is my sentence and my decree ;

I trowe that we han herd of ech degree.

Almost fulfild is al myn ordinaunce ;

I prey to god, so yeve him right good chaunce,

That telleth this tale to us lustily.

Sir preest,’ quod he, ‘ artow a vicary ?

Or art a person ? sey sooth, by thy fey !

Be what thou be, ne breke thou nat our pley ;

For every man, save thou, hath told his tale,

Unbokel, and shewe us what is in thy male ;

For trewely, me thinketh, by thy chere,

Thou sholdest knitte up wel a greet matere.

Tel us a tale anon, for cokkes bones ! ‘

This Persone him answerde, al at ones,

‘ Thou getest fable noon y-told for me ;

For Paul, that wryteth unto Timothee,

Repreveth hem that weyven sooth fastnesse,

And tellen fables and swich wrecchednesse.

Why sholde I sowen draf out of my fest,

Whan I may sowen whete, if that me lest ?

For which I seye, if that yow list to here

Moralitee and vertuous matere,

And thanne that ye wol yeve me audience,

I wol ful fayn, at Cristes reverence,

Do yow plesaunce leefful, as I can;

But trusteth wel, I am a Southren man,

I can nat geste — rum, ram, ruf — by lettre,

Ne, god wot, rym holde I but litel bettre ;

And therfor, if yow list, I wol nat glose.

I wol yow telle a mery tale in prose

To knitte up al this feeste, and make an ende.

And Jesu, for his grace, wit me sende

To shewe yow the wey, in this viage,

Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrimage

That highte Jerusalem celestial.

And, if ye vouche-sauf, anon I shal

Biginne upon my tale, for whiche I preye

Telle your avys, I can no bettre seye.

But nathelees, this meditacioun

I putte it ay under correccioun

Of clerkes, for I am nat textuel ;

I take but the sentens, trusteth wel.

Therfor I make protestacioun

That I wol stonde to correccioun.’

Up-on this word we han assented sone,

For, as us semed, it was for to done,

To enden in som vertuous sentence,

And for to yeve him space and Audience ;

And bede our host he sholde to him seye,

That alle we to telle his tale him preye.

Our host hadde the wordes for us alle : —

‘Sir preest,’ quod he, ‘now fay re yow bifalle !

Sey what yow list, and we wol gladly here ‘ —

And with that word he seyde in this manere —

‘ Telleth,’ quod he, ‘ your meditacioun.

But hasteth yow, the sonne wol adoun ;

Beth fructuous, and that in litel space,

And to do wel god sende yow his grace ! ‘

Explicit prohemium.

Here biginneth the Persones Tale.

Jer. 6°. State super vias et videte et interrogate de viis

antiquis, que sit via bona ; et ambulate in ea, et inuenietis

refrigerium animabus vestris, dhc.

§ 1. Our swete lord god of hevene, that no man wol

perisse, but wole that we comen alle to the knoweleche

of him, and to the blisful lyf that is perdurable, amones-

teth us by the prophete Jeremie, that seith in this

wyse : ‘ stondeth upon the weyes, and seeth and axeth

of olde pathes (that is to seyn, of olde sentences) which

is the goode wey ; and walketh in that w. y, and ye shul

finde refresshinge for your soules,’ &c. Manye been the

weyes espirituels that leden folk to oure Lord Jesu Crist,

and to the regne of glorie. Of whiche weyes. ther is

a ful noble wey and a ful covenable, which may nat

faile to man ne to womman, that thurgh sinne hath

misgoon fro the righte wey of Jerusalem celestial ;

and this wey is cleped Penitence, of which man sholde

gladly herknen arid enquere with al his herte ; to witen

what is Penitence, and whennes it is cleped Penitence,

and in how manye maneres been the accions or werkinges

of Penitence, and how manye spyces ther been of Peni-

tence, and whiche thinges apertenen and bihoven to

Penitence, and whiche thinges destourben Penitence.

§ 2. Seint Ambrose seith, that ‘ Penitence is the

pleyninge of man for the gilt that he hath doon, and

na-more to do any thing for which him oghte to pleyne.’

And som doctour seith : ‘ Penitence is the waymen-

tinge of man, that sorweth for his sinne and pyneth

himself for he hath misdoon.’ Penitence, with cer-

teyne circumstances, is verray repentance of a man

that halt him-self in sorwe and other peyne for hise

giltes. And for he shal be verray penitent, he shal first

biwailen the sinnes that he hath doon, and stidefastly

purposen in his herte to have shrift of mouthe, and to

doon satisfaccioun, and never to doon thing for which

him oghte more to biwayle or to compleyne, and to

continue in goode werkes : or elles his repentance may

nat availle. For as seith seint Isidre : ‘ he is a japer

and a gabber, and no verray repentant, that eftsoone

dooth thing, for which him oghte repente.’ Wepinge,

and nat for to stinte to doon sinne, may nat avaylle.

But nathelees, men shal hope that every tyme that man

falleth, be it never so ofte, that he may arise thurgh

Penitence, if he have grace : but certeinly it is greet

doute. For as seith Seint Gregorie : ‘ unnethe aryseth

he out of sinne, that is charged with the charge of yvel

usage.’ And therfore repentant folk, that stinte for

to sinne, and forlete sinne er that sinne lorlete hem,

holy chirche holdeth hem siker of hir savacioun. And

he that sinneth, and verraily repenteth him in his

laste ende, holy chirche yet hopeth his savacioun, by

the grete mercy of oure lord Jesu Crist, for his repentaunce ;

but tak the siker wey.

§ 3. And now, sith I have declared yow what thing

is Penitence, now shul ye understonde that ther been

three accions of Penitence. The firste accion of Peni-

tence is, that a man be baptized after that he hath

sinned. Seint Augustin seith : ‘ but he be penitent

for his olde sinful lyf, he may nat biginne the newe

clene lif.’ For certes, if he be baptized withouten

penitence of his olde gilt, he receiveth the mark of

baptisme, but nat the grace ne the remission of his

sinnes, til he have repentance verray. Another defaute

is this, that men doon deedly sinne after that they han

received baptisme. The thridde defaute is, that men

fallen in venial sinnes after hir baptisme, fro day to

day. Ther-of seith Seint Augustin, that ‘ penitence of

goode and humble folk is the penitence of every day.’

§ 4. The spyces of Penitence been three. That oon

of hem is solempne, another is commune, and the thridde

is privee. Thilke penance that is solempne, is in two

maneres ; as to be put out of holy chirche in lente,

for slaughtre of children, and swich maner thing.

Another is, whan a man hath sinned openly, of which

sinne the fame is openly spoken in the contree ; and

thanne holy chirche by jugement destreineth him for

to do open penaunce. Commune penaunce is that

preestes enjoinen men comunly in certeyn caas ; as

for to goon, pera venture, naked in pilgrimages, or bare-

foot. Privee penaunce is thilke that men doon alday

for privee sinnes, of whiche we shryve us prively and

receyve privee penaunce.

§ 5. Now shaltow understande what is bihovely and

necessarie to verray parfit Penitence. And this stant

on three thinges ; Contricioun of herte, Confessioun of

Mouth, and Satisfaccioun. For which seith Seint John

Crisostom : ‘ Penitence destreyneth a man to accepte

benignely every peyne that him is enjoyned, with con-

tricion of herte, and shrift of mouth, with satisfaccion ;

and in werkinge of alle maner humilitee.’ And this is

fruitful Penitence agayn three thinges in whiche we

wratthe oure lord Jesu Crist : this is to seyn, by delyt

in thinkinge, by recchelesnesse in spekinge, and by

wikked sinful werkinge. And agayns thise wikkede

giltes is Penitence, that may be lykned un-to a tree.

§ 6. The rote of this tree is Contricion, that hydeth

him in the herte of him that is verray repentant, right

as the rote of a tree hydeth him in the erthe. Of the

rote of Contricion springeth a stalke, that bereth

braunches and leves of Confession, and fruit of Satis-

faccion. For which Crist seith in his gospel : ‘ dooth

digne fruit of Penitence ‘ ; for by this fruit may men

knowe this tree, and nat by the rote that is hid in the

herte of man, ne by the braunches ne by the leves of

Confession. And therefore oure Lord Jesu Crist seith

thus : ‘ by the fruit of hem ye shul knowen hem.’ Of

this rote eek springeth a seed of grace, the which seed

is moder of sikernesse, and this seed is egre and hoot.

The grace of this seed springeth of god, thurgh remem-

brance of the day of dome and on the peynes of helle.

Of this matere seith Salomon, that ‘ in the drede of

god man forleteth his sinne.’ The hete of this seed is

the love of god, and the desiring of the joye perdur-

able. This hete draweth the herte of a man to god,

and dooth him haten his sinne. For soothly, ther is

no-thing that savoureth so wel to a child as the milk

of his norice, ne no-thing is to him more abhominable

than thilke milk whan it is medled with other mete.

Right so the sinful man that loveth his sinne, him

semeth that it is to him most swete of any-thing ; but

fro that tyme that he loveth sadly our lord Jesu Crist,

and desireth the lif perdurable, ther nis to him no-thing

more abhominable. For soothly, the lawe of god is

the love of god ; for which David the prophete seith :

* I have loved thy lawe and hated wikkednesse and

hate ‘ ; he that loveth god kepeth his lawe and his

word. This tree saugh the prophete Daniei in spirit,

up-on the avision of the king Nabugodonosor, whan he

conseiled him to do penitence. Penaunce is the tree

of lyf to hem that it receiven, and he that holdeth him

in verray penitence is blessed ; after the sentence of Salomon.

§ 7. In this Penitence or Contricion man shal under-

stonde foure thinges, that is to seyn, what is Contri-

cion : and whiche been the causes that moeven a man

to Contricion : and how he sholde be contrit : and

what Contricion availleth to the soule. Thanne is it

thus : that Contricion is the verray sorwe that a man

receiveth in his herte for his sinnes, with sad purpos to

shryve him, and to do penaunce, and nevermore to do

sinne. And this sorwe shal been in this manere, as

seith seint Bernard : ‘ it shal been hevy and grevous,

and ful sharpe and poinant in herte.’ First, for man

hath agilt his lord and his creatour ; and more sharpe

and poinant, for he hath agilt his fader celestial ; and

yet more sharpe and poinant, for he hath wrathed and

agilt him that boghte him ; which with his precious

blood hath delivered us fro the bondes of sinne, and

fro the crueltee of the devel and fro the peynes of helle.

§ 8. The causes that oghte moeve a man to Contri-

cion been six. First, a man shal remembre him of

hise sinnes ; but loke he that thilke remembrance ne

be to him no delyt by no wey, but greet shame and

sorwe for his gilt. For Job seith : ‘ sinful men doon

werkes worthy of Confession.’ And therfore seith

Ezechie : ‘ I wol remembre me alle the ye res of my

lyf, in bitternesse of myn herte.’ And god seith in the

Apocalips : ‘ remembreth yow fro whennes that ye

been falle ‘ ; for biforn that tyme that ye sinned, ye

were the children of god, and limes of the regne of god ;

but for your sinne ye been woxen thral and foul, and

membres of the feend, hate of aungels, sclaundre of

holy chirche, and fode of the false serpent ; perpetuel

matere of the fyr of helle. And yet more foul and

abhominable, for ye trespassen so ofte tyme, as doth

the hound that retourneth to eten his spewing. And

yet be ye fouler for your longe continuing in sinne and

your sinful usage, for which ye be roten in your sinne,

as a beest in his dong. Swiche manere of thoghtes

maken a man to have shame of his sinne, and no delyt,

as god seith by the prophete Ezechiel : ‘ ye shal re-

membre yow of youre weyes, and they shuln displese

yow.’ Sothly, sinnes been the* weyes that ieden folk to helle.

§ 9. The seconde cause that oghte make a man to

have desdeyn of sinne is this : that, as seith seint

Peter, ‘ who-so that doth sinne is thral of sinne ‘ ;

and sinne put a man in greet thraldom. And ther-

fore seith the prophete Ezechiel : ‘ I wen e sorweful in

desdayn of my -self.’ And certes, wel oghte a man

have desdayn of sinne, and withdrawe him from that

thraldom and vileinye. And lo, what seith Seneca in

this matere. He seith thus : ‘ though I wiste that

neither god ne man ne sholde nevere knowe it, yet

wolde I have desdayn for to do sinne.’ And the same

Seneca also seith : ‘ I am born to gretter thinges than

to be thral to my body, or than for to maken of my

body a thral.’ Ne a fouler thral may no man ne

womman maken of his body, than for to yeven his

body to sinne. Al were it the fouleste cherl, or the

fouleste womman that liveth, and leest of value, yet

is he thanne more foule and more in servitute. Evere .

fro the hyer degree that man falleth, the more is he

thral, and more to god and to the world vile and ;

abhominable. O gode god, wel oghte man have des-

dayn of sinne ; sith that, thurgh sinne, ther he was

free, now is he maked bonde. And therfore seyth

Seint Augustin : ‘ if thou hast desdayn of thy servant,

if he agilte or sinne, have thou thanne desdayn that

thou thy-self sholdest do sinne.’ Take reward of thy

value, that thou ne be to foul to thy-self. Allas ! wel

oghten they thanne have desdayn to been servauntz

and thralles to sinne, and sore been ashamed of hem-

self, that god of his endelees goodnesse hath set hem in

heigh es’aat, or yeven hem wit, strength e of body,

hele, beautee, prosperitee, and boghte hem fro the

deeth with his herte blood, that they so unkindely,

agayns his gentilesse, quyten him so vileinsly, to

slaughtre of hir owene soules. gode god, ye wommen

that been of so greet beautee, remembreth yow of the

proverbe of Salomon, that seith : ‘ he lykneth a fair

womman, that is a fool of hir body, lyk to a ring of

gold that were in the groyn of a so we.’ For right as

a sowe wroteth in everich ordure, so wroteth she hir

beautee in the stinkinge ordure of sinne.

§ 10. The thridde cause that oghte moeve a man to

Contricion, is drede of the day of dome, and of the

horrible peynes of helle. For as seint Jerome seith :

‘ at every tyme that me remembreth of the day of

dome, I quake ; for whan I ete or drinke, or what-so

that I do, evere semeth me that the trompe sowneth

in myn ere : riseth up, ye that been dede, and cometh

to the jugement.’ gode god, muchel oghte a man to

drede swich a jugement, ‘ ther-as we shullen been alle,’

as seint Poul seith, ‘ biforn the sete of oure lord Jesu

Crist ‘ ; wher-as he shal make a general congregation*

wher-as no man may been absent. For certes, there

availleth noon essoyne ne excusacion. And nat only

that oure defautes shullen be juged, but eek that alle

oure werkes shullen openly be knowe. And as seith

Seint Bernard : ‘ ther ne shal no pledinge availle, ne

no sleighte ; we shullen yeven rekeninge of everich

ydel word.’ Ther shul we han a juge that may nat

been deceived ne corrupt. And why ? For, certes,

alle our thoghtes been discovered as to him ; ne for

preyere ne for mede he shal nat been corrupt. And

therfore seith Salomon : * the wratthe of god ne wol

nat spare no wight, for preyere ne for yifte ‘ ; and

therfore, at the day of doom, ther nis noon hope to

escape. Wherfore, as seith Seint Anselm : ‘ ful greet

angwissh shul the sinful folk have at that tyme ; ther

shal the sterne and wrothe juge sitte above, and under

him the horrible put of helle open to destroyen him

that moot biknowen hise sinnes, whiche sinnes openly

been shewed biforn god and biforn every creature.

And on the left syde, mo develes than herte may

bithinke, for to harie and drawe the sinful soules to

the pyne of helle. And with-inne the hertes of folk

shal be the bytinge conscience, and with-oute-forth

shal be the world al brenninge. Whider shal thanne

the wrecched sinful man flee to hyden him ? Certes,

he may nat hyden him ; he moste come forth and

shewen him.’ For certes, as seith seint Jerome : ‘ the

erthe shal casten him out of him, and the see also ;

and the eyr also, that shal be ful of thonder-clappes

and lightninges.’ Now sothly, who-so wel remembreth

him of thise thinges, I gesse that his sinne shal nat

turne him in-to delyt, but to greet sorwe, for drede of

the peyne of helle. And therfore seith Job to god :

‘ suffre, lord, that I may a whyle biwaille and wepe, er

I go with-oute returning to the derke lond, covered

with the derknesse of deeth ; to the lond of misese and

of derknesse, where-as is the shadwe of deeth ; where-as

ther is noon ordre or ordinance, but grisly drede that

evere shal laste.’ Lo, here may ye seen that Job

preyde respyt a whyle, to biwepe and waille his trespas ;

for soothly oon day of respyt is bettre than al the

tresor of the world. And for-as-muche as a man may

acquiten him-self biforn god by penitence in this

world, and nat by tresor, therfore sholde he preye to

god to yeve him respyt a whyle, to biwepe and biwaillen

his trespas. For certes, al the sorwe that a man

mighte make fro the beginning of the world, nis but

a litel thing at regard of the sorwe of helle. The cause

why that Job clepeth helle ‘ the lond of derknesse ‘ ;

understondeth that he clepeth it ‘ londe ‘ or erthe, for

it is stable, and nevere shal faille ; ‘ derk,’ for he that

is in helle hath defaute of light material. For certes,

the derke light, that shal come out of the fyr that evere

shal brenne, shal turne him al to peyne that is in

helle ; for it sheweth him to the horrible develes that

him tormenten. ‘ Covered with the derknesse of

deeth ‘ : that is to seyn, that he that is in helle shal

have defaute of the sighte of god ; for certes, the

sighte of god is the lyf perdurable. ‘ The derknesse of

deeth ‘ been the sinnes that the wrecched man hath

doon, whiche that destourben him to see the face of

god ; right as doth a derk cloude bitwixe us and the

sonne. ‘ Lond of misese ‘ : by-cause that ther been

three maneres of defautes, agayn three thinges that

folk of this world han in this present lyf, that is to

seyn, honours, delyces, and richesses. Agayns honour,

have they in helle shame and confusion. For wel ye

woot that men clepen ‘ honour ‘ the reverence that

man doth to man ; but in helle is noon honour ne

reverence. For certes, na-more reverence shal be doon

there to a king than to a knave. For which god seith

by the prophete Jeremye : ‘ thilke folk that me des-

pysen shul been in despyt.’ ‘ Honour ‘ is eek cleped

greet lordshipe ; ther shal no man serven other but of

harm and torment. ‘ Honour ‘ is eek cleped greet

dignitee and heighnesse ; but in helle shul they been

al f ortroden of develes. And god seith : ‘ the horrible

develes shulle goon and comen up-on the hevedes of

the dampned folk.’ And this is for-as-muche as, the

hyer that they were in this present lyf, the more shulle

they been abated and defouled in helle. Agayns the

richesses of this world, shul they han misese of poverte ;

and this poverte shal been in foure thinges : in defaute

of tresor, of which that David seith ; ‘ the riche folk,

that embraceden and oneden al hir herte to tresor of

this world, shul slepe in the slepinge of deeth ; and

no-thing ne shul they finden in hir handes of al hir

tresor.’ And more-over, the miseise of helle shal been

in defaute of mete and drinke. For god seith thus by

Moyses ; ‘ they shul been wasted with hunger, and

the briddes of helle shul devouren hem with bitter

deeth, and the galle of the dragon shal been hir drinke,

and the venim of the dragon hir morsels.’ And forther-

over, hir miseise shal been in defaute of clothing : for

they shulle be naked in body as of clothing, save the

fyr in which they brenne and othere filthes ; and

naked shul they been of soule, of alle manere vertues,

which that is the clothing of the soule. Where been

thanne the gaye robes and the softe shetes and the

smale shertes ? Lo, what seith god of hem by the

prophete Isaye : ‘ that under hem shul been strawed

motthes, and hir covertures shulle been of wormes of

helle.’ And forther-over, hir miseise shal been in

defaute of freendes ; for he nis nat povre that hath

goode fr.endes, but there is no freend ; for neither god

ne no creature shal been freend to hem, and everich of

hem shal haten other with deedly hate. ‘ The sones

and the doghtren shullen rebellen agayns fader and

mooder, and kinrede agayns kinrede, and chydon and

despysen everich of hem other,’ bothe day and night,

as god seith by the prophete Michias. And the lovinge

children, that whylom loveden so fleshly everich other,

wolden everich of hem eten othe if they mighte. For

how sholden they love hem togidre in the peyne of

helle, whan they hated ech of hem other in the pro-

speritee of this lyf ? For truste wel, hir fleshly love

was deedly hate ; as seith the prophete David : • who-

so that loveth wikkednesse he hateth his soule.’ And

who-so hateth his owene soule, certes, he may love

noon other wight in no manere. And therefore, in helle

is no solas ne no frendshipe, but evere the more fleshly

kinredes that been in helle, the more cursinges, the

more chydinges, and the more deedly hate ther is among

hem. And forther-over, they shul have defaute of alle

manere delyces ; for certes, delyces been after the

appetytes of the fyve wittes, as sighte, heringe, smel-

linge, savoringe, and touchinge. But in helle hir

sighte shal be ful of derknesse and of smoke, and

therfore ful of teres ; and hir heringe, ful of way-

men tinge and of grintinge of teeth, as seith Jesu Crist ;

hir nosethirles shullen be ful of stinkinge stink. And

as seith Isaye the prophete : ‘hir savoring shal be ful of

bitter galle.’ And touchinge of al hir body, y-covered

with’fyr that nevere shal quenche, and with wormes that

nevere shul dyen,’ as god seith by the mouth of Isaye.

And for-as-muche as they shul nat wene that they may

dyen for peyne, and by hir deeth flee fro peyne, that

may they understonden by the word of Job, that seith :

‘ ther-as is the shad we of deeth.’ Certes, a shadwe

hath the lyknesse of the thing of which it is shadwe,

but shadwe is nat the same thing of which it is shadwe.

Right so fareth the peyne of helle ; it is lyk deeth for

the horrible anguissh, and why ? For it peyneth hem

evere, as though they sholde dye anon ; but certes

they shal nat dye. For as seith Seint Gregorie : ‘ to

wrecche caytives shal be deeth with-oute deeth, and

ende withouten ende, and defaute with-oute failinge.

For hir deeth shal alwey liven, and hir ende shal

everemo biginne, and hir defaute shal nat faille.’ And

therfore seith Seint John the Evangelist : ‘ they shullen

folwe deeth, and they shul nat finde him ; and they

shul desyren to dye, and deeth shal flee fro hem.’

And eek Job seith : that ‘ in helle is noon crdre of

rule.’ And al-be-it so that god hath creat alle thinges

in right ordre, and no- thing with-outen ordre, but alle

thinges been ordeyned and nombred ; yet nathelees

they that been dampned been no-thing in ordre, ne

hoi den noon ordre. For the erthe ne shal bere hem

no fruit. For, as the prophete David seith : ‘ god shal

destroye the fruit of the erthe as fro hem ‘ ; ne water

ne shal yeve hem no moisture ; ne the eyr no refressh-

ing, ne fyr no light. For as seith seint Basilie : ‘ the

brenninge of the fyr of this world shal god yeven in

helle to hem that been dampned ; but the light and the

cleernesse shal be yeven in hevene to hise children ‘ ;

right as the gode man yeveth flesh to hise children,

and bones to his houndes. And for they shullen have

noon hope to escape, seith seint Job atte laste : that

‘ ther shal horrour and grisly drede dwellen with-outen

ende.’ Horrour is alwey drede of harm that is to come,

and this drede shal evere dwelle in the hertes of hem

that been dampned. And therefore han they lorn al

hir hope, for sevene causes. First, for god that is hir

juge shal be with-outen mercy to hem ; ne they may

nat plese him, ne noon of hise halwes ; ne they ne may

yeve no-thing for hir raunson ; ne they have no vois

to speke to him ; ne they may nat flee fro peyne ; ne

they have no goodnesse in hem, that they mo we she we

to delivere hem fro peyne. And therfore seith Salomon :

L the wikked man dyeth ; and whan he is deed, he shal

have noon hope to escape fro peyne.’ Who-so thanne

wolde wel understande these peynes, and bithinke him

weel that he hath deserved thilke peynes for his sinnes,

certes, he sholde have more talent to syken and to

wepe than for to singen and to pleye. For as that

seith Salomon : ‘ who-so that hadde the science to

knowe the peynes that been establissed and ordeyned

for sinne, he wolde make sorwe.’ ‘ Thilke science,’ as

seith seint Augustin, ‘ maketh a man to waymenten in his herte.’

§ 11. The fourthe point, that oghte maken a man to

have contricion, is the sorweful remembrance of the

good that he hath left to doon here in erthe ; and eek

the good that he hath lorn. Soothly, the gode werkes

that he hath left, outher they been the gode werkes

that he wroghte er he fel in-to deedly sinne, or elles

the gode werkes that he wroghte while he lay in sinne.

Soothly, the gode werkes, that he dide biforn that he

til in sinne, been al mortified and astoned and dulled by

the ofte sinning. The othere gode werkes, that he

wroghte whyl he lay in deedly sinne, they been out rely

dede as to the lyf perdurable in hevene. Thanne thilke

gode werkes that been mortified by ofte sinning, whiche

gode werkes he dide whyl he was in charitee, ne mowe

nevere quiken agayn with-outen verray penitence. And

ther-of seith god, by the mouth of Ezechiel : that, ‘ if

the rightful man returne agayn from his rightwisnesse

and werke wikkednesse, shal he live ? ‘ Nay ; for alle

the gode werkes that he hath wroght ne shul nevere

been in remembrance ; for he shal dyen in his sinne.

And up-on thilke chapitre seith seint Gregorie thus :

* that we shulle understonde this principally ; that

whan we doon deedly sinne, it is for noght thanne to

rehercen or drawen in-to memorie the gode werkes that

we han wroght biforn.’ For certes, in the werkinge of

the deedly sinne, ther is no trust to no good werk that

we han doon biforn ; that is to seyn, as for to have

therby the lyf perdurable in hevene. But nathelees,

the gode werkes quiken agayn, and comen agayn, and

helpen, and availlen to have the lyf perdurable in

hevene, whan we han contricion. But soothly, the

gode werkes that men doon whyl they been in deedly

sinne, for-as-muche as they were doon in deedly sinne,

they may nevere quiken agayn. For certes, thing that

nevere hadde lyf may nevere quikene ; and nathelees,

al-be-it that they ne availle noght to han the lyf

perdurable, yet availlen they to abregge of the peyne

of helle, or elles to geten temporal richesse, or elles that

god wole the rather enlumine and lightne the herte of

the sinful man to have repentance ; and eek they

availlen. for to usen a man to doon gode werkes, that

the feend have the lasse power of his soule. And thus

the curteis lord Jesu Crist wole that no good werk be

lost ; for in scirfwhat it shal availle. But for-as-

muche as the gode werkes that men doon whyl they

been in good lyf, been al mortified by sinne folwinge ;

and eek, sith that alle the gode werkes that men doon

whyl they been in deedly synne, been outrely dede as

for to have the lyf perdurable ; wel may that man, that

no good werke ne dooth, singe thilke newe Frenshe

song : ‘ Jay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour. ‘ For

certes, sinne bireveth a man bothe goodnesse of nature

and eek the goodnesse of grace. For soothly, the grace

of the holy goost fareth lyk fyr, that may nat been

ydel ; for fyr faileth anoon as it forleteth his wirkinge,

and right so grace fayleth anoon as it forleteth his

werkinge. Than leseth the sinful man the goodnesse of

glorie, that only is bihight to gode men that labouren

and werk’an. Wei may he be sory thanne, that oweth

al Irs lif to god as longe as he hath lived, and eek as

longe as he shal live, that no goodnesse ne hath to

paye with his dette to god, to whom he oweth al his

lyf. For trust wel, ‘ he shal yeven acountes,’ as seith

seint Bernard, ‘ of alle the godes that han be yeven

him in this present lyf, and how he hath hem despend-

ed ; in so muche that ther shal nat perisse an heer of

his heed, ne a moment of an houre ne shal nat perisse

of his tyme, that he ne shal yeve of it a rekening.’

§ 12. The fifthe thing that oghte moeve a man to

contricion, is remembrance of the passion that oure

lord Jesu Crist suffred for oure sinnes. For, as seith

seint Bernard : ‘ whyl that I live, I shal have remem-

brance of the travailles that oure lord Crist suffred in

preching ; his werinesse in travailling, hise temptacions

whan he fasted, hise longe wakinges whan he preyde,

hise ter.?s whan that he weep for pitee of good peple ;

the wo and the shame and the filthe that men seyden

to him ; of the foule spitting that men spitte in his

face, of the buffettes that men yaven him, of the foule

mowes, and of the repreves that men to him seyden ;

of the nayles with whiche he was nailed to the croys,

and of al the remenant of his passion that he suffred

for my sinnes, and no-thing for his gilt.’ And ye shul

understonde, that in mannes sinne is every manere of

ordre or ordinance turned up-so-doun. For it is sooth,

that god, and reson, and sensualitee, and the body of

man been so ordeyned, that everich of thise foure

thinges sholde have lordshipe over that other ; as

thus : god sholde have lordshipe over reson, and reson

over sensualitee, and sensualitee over the body of

man. But sothly, whan man sinneth, al this ordre or

ordinance is turned up-so-doun. And therfore thanne,

for-as- muche as the reson of man ne wol nat be subget

ne obeisant to god, that is his lord by right, therfore

leseth it the lordshipe that it sholde have over sensuali-

tee, and eek ovef the body of man. And why ? For

sensualitee rebelleth thanne agayns reson ; and by that

wey leseth reson the lordshipe over sensualitee and over

the body. For right as reson is rebel to god, right so

is bothe sensualitee rebel to reson and the body also.

And certes, this disordinance and this rebellion oure

lord Jesu Crist aboghte up-on his precious body ful

dere, and herkneth in which wyse. For-as-muche

thanne as reson is rebel to god, therfore is man worthy

to have sorwe and to be deed. This suffred oure lord

Jesu Crist for man, after that he hadde be bitraysed of

his disciple, and distreyned and bounde, ‘ so that his

blood brast out at every nail of hise handes,’ as seith

seint Augustin. And forther-over, for-as-muchel as

reson of man ne wbl nat daunte sensualitee whan it

may, therfore is man worthy to have shame ; and this

suffred oure lord Jesu Crist for man, whan they spetten

in his visage. And forther-over, for-as-muchel thanne

as the caitif body of man is rebel bothe to reson and to

sensualitee, therfore is it worthy the deeth. And this

suffred oure lord Jesu Crist for man up-on the croys,

where-as ther was no part of his body free, with-outen

greet peyne and bitter passion. And al this suffred

Jesu Crist, that nevere forfeted. And therfore reson –

ably may be seyd of Jesu in this manere : ‘ to muchel

am I peyned for the thinges that I nevere deserved,

and to muche defouled for shendshipe that man is

worthy to have.’ And therfore may the sinful man

wel seye, as seith seint Bernard : ‘ acursed be the

bitternesse of my sinne, for which ther moste be

suffred so muchel bitternesse.’ For certes, after the

diverse discordances of oure wikkednesses, was the

passion of Jesu Crist ordeyned in diverse thinges, as

thus. Certes, sinful mannes soule is bitraysed of the

devel by coveitise of temporel prosperitee, and scorned

by deceite whan he cheseth fleshly delyces ; and yet is

it tormented by inpacience of adversitee, and bispet by

servage and subjeccion of sinne ; and atte laste it is

slayn fynally. For this disordinaunce of sinful man

was Jesu Crist first bitraysed, and after that was he

bounde, that cam for to unbynden*us of sinne and

peyne. Thanne was he biscorned, that only sholde

han been honoured in alle thinges and of alle thinges.

Thanne was his visage, that oghte be desired to be

seyn of al man-kinde, in which visage aungels desyren

to looke, vileynsly bispet. Thanne was he scourged

that no-thing hadde agilt ; and fynally, thanne was he

crucified and slayn. Thanne was acompliced the word

of Isaye : ‘ he was wounded for oure misdedes, and

defouled for oure felonies.’ Now sith that Jesu Crist

took up-on him-self the peyne of alle oure wikkednesses,

muchel oghte sinful man wepen and biwayle, that for

hise sinnes goddes sone of hevene sholde al this peyne endure.

§ 13. The sixte thing that oghte moeve a man to

contricion, is the hope of three thynges ; that is to

seyn, foryifnesse of sinne, and the yifte of grace wel for

to do, and the glorie of hevene, with which god shal

guerdone a man for hise gode dedes. And for-as-

muche as Jesu Crist yeveth us thise yiftes of his lar-

gesse and of his sovereyn bountee, therfore is he cleped

Jesus Nazarenus rex Judeorum. Jesus is to seyn

‘ saveour ‘ or •’ salvacion,’ on whom men shul hope to

have foryifnesse of sinnes, which that is proprely

salvacion of sinnes. And therfore seyde the aungel to

Joseph : ‘ thou shalt clepen his name Jesus, that shal

saven his peple of hir sinnes.’ And heer-of seith seint

Peter : ‘ ther is noon other name under hevene that is

yeve to any man, by which a man may be saved, but

only Jesus.’ Nazarenus is as muche for to seye as

‘florisshinge,’ in which a man shal hope, that he that

yeveth him remission of sinnes shal yeve him eek grace

wel for to do. For in the flour is hope of fruit in tyme

cominge ; and in foryifnesse of sinnes hope of grace

wel for to do. ‘ I was atte dore of thyn herte,’ seith

Jesus, ‘ and cleped for to entre ; he that openeth to

me shal have foryifnesse of sinne. I wol entre in-to

him by my grace, and soupe with him,’ by the goode

werkes that he shal doon ; whiche werkes been the

foode of god ; ‘ and he shal soupe with me,’ by the

grete joye that I shal yeven him. Thus shal man hope,

for hise werkes of penaunce, that god shall yeven him

his regne ; as he bihoteth him in the gospel

§ 14. Now shal a man understonde, in which manere

shal been his contricion. I seye, that it shal been

universal and total ; this is to seyn, a man shal be

verray repentant for alle hise sinnes that he hath doon

in delyt of his thoght ; for delyt is ful perilous. For

ther been two manere of consentinges ; that oon of

hem is cleped consentinge of affeccion, whan a man is

moeved to do sinne, and delyteth him longe for to

thinke on that sinne ; and his reson aperceyveth it

wel, that it is sinne agayns the lawe of god, and yet

his reson refreyneth nat his foul delyt or talent, though

he see wel apertly that it is agayns the reverence of

god ; al-though his reson ne consente noght to doon

that sinne in dede, yet seyn somme doctours that

swich delyt that dwelleth longe, it is ful perilous, al

be it nevere so lite. And also a man sholde sorwe,

namely, for al that evere he hath desired agayn the

lawe of god with perfit consentinge of his reson ; for

ther-of is no doute, that it is deedly sinne in consent-

inge. For certes, ther is no deedly sinne, that it nas

first in mannes thought, and after that in his delyt ;

and so forth in-to consentinge and in-to dede. Wher-

fore I seye, that many men ne repenten hem nevere of

swiche thoghtes and delytes, ne nevere shryven hem of

it, but only of the dede of grete sinnes outward. Wher-

fore I seye, that swiche wikked delytes and wikked

thoghtes been subtile bigyleres of hem that shullen be

dampned. More-over, man oghte to sorwe for hise

wikkede wordes as wel as for hise wikkede dedes ;

for certes, the repentance of a singuler sinne, and

nat repente of alle hise othere sinnes, or elles re-

penten him of alle hise othere sinnes, and nat of

a singuler sinne, may nat availle. For certes, god

almighty is al good ; and ther-fore he foryeveth al, or

elles right noght. And heer-of seith seint Augustin :

‘I woot certeinly that god is enemy to everich sinnere ‘ ;

and how thanne ? He that observe th o sinne, shal he

have foryifnesse of the remenaunt of hise othere sinnes?

Nay. And forther-over, eontricion sholde be wonder

sorweful and anguissous, and therfore yeveth him god

pleynly his mercy ; and therfore, whan my soule was

anguissous with-inne me, I hadde remembrance of god

that my preyere mighte come to him. Forther-over,

eontricion moste be continuel, and that man have

stedefast purpos to shryven him, and for to amenden

him of his lyf. For soothly, whyl eontricion lasteth,

man may evere have hope of foryifnesse ; and of this

comth hate of sinne, that destroyeth sinne bothe in

himself, and eek in other folk, at his power. For which

seith David : ‘ ye that loven god hateth wikkednesse.’

For trusteth wel, to love god is for to love that he

loveth, and hate that he hateth.

§ 15. The laste thing that man shal understonde in

eontricion is this ; wher-of avayleth eontricion. I seye,

that som tyme eontricion delivereth a man fro sinne ;

of which that David seith : – I seye,’ quod David, that

is to seyn, ‘ I purposed fermely to shry ve me ; and thow,

Lord, relesedest my sinne.’ And right so as eontricion

availleth noght, with-outen sad purpos of shrifte, if

man have oportunitee, right so litel worth is shrifte

or satisfaccion with-outen eontricion. And more-over,

eontricion destroyeth the prison of helle, and maketh

wayk and feble alle the strengthes of the develes, and

restoreth the yiftes of the holy goost and of alle gode

vertues ; and it clenseth the soule of sinne, and de-

livereth the soule fro the peyne of helle, and fro the

companye of the devel, and fro the servage of sinne,

and restoreth it to alle godes espirituels, and to the

companye and communion of holy chirche. And

forther-over, it maketh him that whylom was sone of

ire to be sone of grace ; and alle thise thinges been

preved by holy writ. And therfore, he that wolde

sette his entente to thise thinges, he were f ul wys ; for

soothly, he ne sholde nat thanne in al his lyf have

corage to sinne, but yeven his body and al his herte to

the service of Jesu Crist, and ther-of doon him hom-

mage. For soothly, oure swete lord Jesu Crist hath

spared us so debonairly in our folies, that if he ne

hadde pitee of mannes soule, a sory song we mighten alle singe.

Explicit prima pars Penitentie ; et sequitur secunda

pars eiusdem.

§16. The seconde partie of Penitence is Confession,

that is signe of contricion. Now shul ye understonde

what is Confession, and whether it oghte nedes be doon

or noon, and whiche thinges been covenable to verray Confession.

§ 17. First shaltow understonde that Confession is

verray shewinge of sinnes to the preest ; this is to

seyn ‘ verray,’ for he moste confessen him of alle the

condiciouns that bilongen to his sinne, as ferforth as he

can. Al moot be seyd, and no thing excused ne hid

ne forwrapped, and noght avaunte him of his gode

werkes. And forther over, it is necessarie to under-

stonde whennes that sinnes springen, and how they

encresen, and whiche they been.

§ 18. Of the springinge of sinnes seith seint Paul in

this wise: that ‘right as by a man sinne entred first in-to

this world, and thurgh that sinne deeth, right so thilke

deeth entred in-to alle men that sinneden.’ And this

man was Adam, by whom sinne entred in-to this world

whan he brak the comaundement of god. And ther-

f ore, he that first was so mighty that he sholde not have

dyed, bicam swich oon that he moste nedes dye, whether

he wolde or noon ; and all his progenie in this world

that in thilke man sinneden. Loke that in th’estaat of

innocence, when Adam and Eve naked weren in paradys,

and no-thing ne hadden shame of hir nakednesse, how

that the serpent, that was most wyly of alle othere

bestes that god hadde maked, seyde to the womman :

‘ why comaunded god to yow, ye sholde nat eten of

every tree in paradys ? ‘ The womman answerde : ‘ of

the fruit,’ quod she, ‘ of the trees in paradys we feden

us ; but soothly, of the fruit of the tree that is in the

middel of paradys, god forbad us for to ete, ne nat

touchen it, lest per-a venture we should dyen.’ The

serpent seyde to the womman : ‘ nay, nay, ye shul nat

dyen of deeth ; for sothe, god woot, that what day

that ye eten ther-of, youre eyen shul opene, and ye

shul been as goddes, knowinge good and harm.’ The

womman thanne saugh that the tree was good to

feding, and fair to the eyen, and delytable to the sighte ;

she tok of the fruit of the tree, and eet it, and yaf to

hir housbonde, and he eet ; and anoon the eyen of

hem bothe openeden. And whan that they knewe

that they were naked, they sowed of fige-leves a manere

of breches to hiden hir membres. There may ye seen

that deedly sinne hath first suggestion of the feend,

as sheweth here by the naddre ; and afterward, the

delyt of the flesh, as sheweth here by Eve ; and after

that, the consentinge of resoun, as sheweth here by

Adam. For trust wel, thogh so were that the feend

tempted Eve, that is to seyn the flesh, and the flesh

hadde delyt in the beautee of the fruit defended, yet

certes, til that resoun, that is to seyn, Adam, con-

sented to the etinge of the fruit, yet stood he in th’-

estaat of innocence. Of thilke Adam toke we thilke

sinne original ; for of him fleshly descended be we alle,

and engendred of vile and corrupt matere. ‘ And whan

the soule is put in our body, right anon is contract

original sinne ; and that, that was erst but only peyne

of concupiscence, is afterward bothe peyne and sinne.

And therfore be we alle born sones of wratthe and of

dampnacion perdurable, if it nere baptesme that we

receyven, which binimeth us the culpe ; but for sothe,

the peyne dwelleth with us, as to temptacion, which

peyne highte concupiscence. Whan it is wrongfully

disposed or ordeyned in man, it maketh him coveite,

by coveitise of flesh, fleshly sinne, by sighte of hise

eyen as to erthely thinges, and coveitise of hynesse by pryde of herte.

§ 19. Now as for to speken of the firste coveitise, that

is, concupiscence after the lawe of oure membres, that

weren lawefulliche y-maked and by rightful jugement

of god ; I seye, for-as-muche as man is nat obeisaunt

to god, that is his lord, therfore is the flesh to him dis-

obeisaunt thurgh concupiscence, which yet is cleped

norissinge of sinne and occasion of sinne. Therfore, al

the whyle that a man hath in him the peyne of con-

cupiscence, it is impossible but he be tempted somtyme,

and moeved in his flesh to sinne. And this thing may

nat faille as longe as he liveth ; it may wel wexe feble

and faille, by vertu of baptesme and by the grace of

god thurgh penitence ; but fully ne shal it nevere

quenche, that he ne shal som tyme be moeved in him-

self, but-if he were al refreyded by siknesse, or by

malefice of sorcerie or colde drinkes. For lo, what seith

seint Paul : ‘ the flesh coveiteth agayn the spirit, and

the spirit agayn the flesh ; they been so contrarie and

so stry ven, that a man may nat alwey doon as he wolde.’

The same seint Paul, after his grete penaunce in water

and in lond (in water by night and by day, in greet

peril and in greet peyne, in lond, in famine, in thurst,

in cold and clothlees, and ones stoned almost to the

deeth) yet seyde he : ‘ allas ! I, caytif man, who shal

delivere me fro the prisoun of my caytif body ? ‘ And

seint Jerome, whan he longe tyme hadde woned in

desert, where-as he hadde no companye but of wilde

bestes, where-as he ne hadde no mete but herbes and

water to his drinke, ne no bed but the naked erthe,

for which his flesh was blak as an Ethiopen for hete

and ny destroyed for cold, yet seyde he : that ‘ the

brenninge of lecherie boiled in al his body.’ Wherfore

I woot wel sikerly, that they been deceyved that seyn,

that they ne be nat tempted in hir body. Witnesse on

Seint Jame the Apostel, that seith : that ‘ every wight

is tempted in his owen concupiscence ; ‘ that is to seyn,

that everich of us hath matere and occasion to be

tempted of the norissinge of sinne that is in his body.

And therfore seith Seint John the Evaungelist : ‘if

that we seyn that we beth with-oute sinne, we deceyve

us-selve, and trouthe is nat in us.’

§ 20. Now shal ye understonde in what manere that

sinne wexeth or encreseth in man. The firste thing is

thilke norissinge of sinne, of which I spak biforn,

thilke fleshly concupiscence. And after that comth

the subjeccion of the devel, this is to seyn, the develes

bely, with which he bloweth in man the fyr of fleshly

concupiscence. And after that, a man bithinketh him

whether he wol doon, or no, thilke thing to which he is

tempted. And thanne, if that a man withstonde and

weyve the firste entysinge of his flesh and of the feend,

thanne is it no sinne ; and if it so be that he do nat so,

thanne feleth he anon a flambe of delyt. And thanne

is it good to be war, and kepen him wel, or elles he wol

falle anon in-to consentinge of sinne ; and thanne wol

he do it, if he may have tyme and place. And of this

matere seith Moyses by the devel in this manere : ‘ the

feend seith, I wole chace and pursue the man by wikked

suggestion, and I wole hente him by moevynge or

stiringe of sinne. I wol departe my pryse or my praye

by deliberation, and my lust shal been accompliced in

delyt ; I wol drawe my swerd in consentinge : ‘ for

certes, right as a swerd departeth a thing in two peces,

right so consentinge departeth god fro man : ‘ and

thanne wol I sleen him with myn hand in dede of

sinne ‘ ; thus seith the feend. For certes, thanne is

a man al deed in soule. And thus is sinne accompliced

by temptacion, by delyt, and by consentinge ; and

thanne is the sin cleped actuel.

§ 21. For sothe, sinne is in two maneres ; outher it is

venial, or deedly sinne. Soothly, whan man loveth any

creature more than Jesu Crist oure creatour, thanne is

it deedly sinne. And venial synne is it, if man love

Jesu Crist lasse than him oghte. For sothe, the dede

of this venial sinne is ful perilous ; for it amenuseth

the love that men sholde han to god more and more.

And therfore, if a man charge him-self with manye

swiche venial sinnes, certes, but-if so be that he som

tyme descharge him of hem by shrifte, they mowe ful

lightly amenuse in him al the love that he hath to Jesu

Crist ; and in this wise skippeth venial in-to deedly

sinne. For certes, the more that a man chargeth his

soule with venial sinnes, the more is he enclyned to

fallen in-to deedly sinne. And therfore, lat us nat be

necligent to deschargen us of venial sinnes. For the

proverbe seith : that manye smale maken a greet*

And herkne this ensample. A greet wawe of the see

comth som-tyme with so greet a violence that it

drencheth the ship. And the same harm doth som^

tyme the smale dropes of water, that entren thurgh

a litel crevace in-to the thurrok, and in-to the botme

of the ship, if men be so necligent that they ne des-

charge hem nat by tyme. And therfore, althogh ther

be a difference bitwixe thise two causes of drenchinge,

algates the ship is dreynt. Right so fareth it som-

tyme of deedly sinne, and of anoyouse veniale sinnes*

whan they multiplye in a man so greetly, that thilke

worldly thinges that he loveth, thurgh whiche he

sinneth venially, is as greet in his herte as the love of

god, or more. And therfore, the love of every thing,

that is nat biset in god ne doon principally for goddes

sake, al -though that a man love it lasse than god, yet

is it venial sinne ; and deedly sinne, whan the love of

any thing weyeth in the herte of man as muchel as the

love of god, or more. ‘ Deedly sinne,’ as seith seint

Augustin, ‘ is, whan a man turneth his herte fro god,;

which that is verray sovereyn bountee, that may nat

chaunge, and yeveth his herte to thing that may ;

chaunge and flitte ‘ ; and certes, that is every thing,,

save god of hevene. For sooth is, that if a man yeve ;

his love, the which that he oweth al to god with al his,

herte, un-to a creature, certes, as muche of his love as

he yeveth to thilke creature, so muche he bireveth fro

god ; and therfore doth he sinne. For he, that is

dettour to god, ne yeldeth nat to god al his dette, that*

is to seyn, al the love of his herte.

§ 22. Now sith man understondeth generally, which is-

venial sinne, thanne is it covenable to tellen specially,

of sinnes whiche that many a man per-aventure ne

demeth hem nat sinnes, and ne shryveth him nat of

the same thinges ; and yet nathelees they been sinnes.

Soothly, as thise clerkes wryten, this is to> seyn, that at

every tyme that a man eteth or drinketh more than

suffyseth to the sustenaunce of his body, in certein he

dooth sinne. And eek whan he speketh more than

nedeth, it is sinne. Eke whan he herkneth nat be-

nignely the compleint of the povre. Eke whan he is

in hele of body and wol nat faste, whan othere folk

faste, with-outen cause resonable. Eke whan he

slepeth more than nedeth, or whan he comth by thilke

enchesoun to late to chirche, or to othere werkes of

charite. Eke whan he useth his wyf, with-outen

sovereyn desyr of engendrure, to the honour of god,

or for the entente to yelde to his wyf the dette of his

body. Eke whan he wol nat visite the sike and the

prisoner, if he may. Eke if he love wyf or child, or

other worldly thing, more than resoun requyreth. Eke

if he flatere or blandishe more than him oghte for any

necessitee. Eke if he amenuse or withdrawe the

almesse of the povre. Eke if he apparailleth his mete

more deliciously than nede is, or ete it to hastily by

likerousnesse. Eke if he tale vanitees at chirche or at

goddes service, or that he be a talker of ydel wordes of

folye or of vileinye ; for he shal yelden acountes of it

at the day of dome. Eke whan he biheteth or assureth

to do thinges that he may nat perfourne. Eke whan

that he, by lightnesse or folie, misseyeth or scorneth

his neighebore. Eke whan he hath any wikked sus-

pecion of thing, ther he ne woot of it no soothfastnesse.

Thise thinges and mo with-oute nombre been sinnes, as

seith seint Augustin.

Now shal men understonde, that al-be-it so that noon

erthely man may eschue alle venial sinnes, yet may he

refreyne him by the brenninge love that he hath to

oure lord Jesu Crist, and by preyeres and confession

and othere gode werkes, so that it shal but litel greve.

For, as seith seint Augustin : ‘ if a man love god in

swiche manere, that al that evere he doth is in the love

of god, and for the love of god verraily, for he brenneth

in the love of god : loke, how muche that a drope of

water that falleth in a fourneys ful of fyr anoyeth or

greveth, so muche anoyeth a venial sinne un-to a man

that is parfit in the love of Jesu Crist.’ Men may also

refreyne venial sinne by receyvinge worthily of the

precious body of Jesu Crist ; by receyving eek of holy

water ; by almesdede ; by general confession of Con-

fiteor at masse and at complin ; and by blessinge of

bisshopes and of preestes, and by othere gode werkes.

Explicit secunda pars Penitentie.

Sequitur de Septem Peccatis Mortalibus et eorum depen-

denciis circumstanciis et speciebus.

§ 23. Now is it bihovely thing to telle whiche been

the deedly sinnes, this is to seyn, chieftaines of sinnes ;

alle they renne in o lees, but in diverse maneres. Now

been they cleped chieftaines for-as-muche as they been

chief, and springers of alle othere sinnes. Of the roote

of thise sevene sinnes thanne is Pryde, the general rote

of alle harmes ; for of this rote springen certein

braunches, as Ire, Envye, Accidie or Slewthe, Avarice

or Coveitise (to commune understondinge), Glotonye,

and Lecherye. And everich of thise chief sinnes hath

hise braunches and hise twigges, as shal be declared in

hir chapitres folwinge.

De Superbia.

§ 24. And thogh so be that no man can outrely telle

the nombre of the twigges and of the harmes that

cometh of Pryde, yet wol I shewe a partie of hem, as

ye shul understonde. Ther is Inobedience, Avaunt-

inge, Ipocrisie, Despyt, Arrogance, Impudence, Swell –

inge of herte, Insolence, Elacion, Impacience, Strif,

Gontumacie, Presumpcion, Irreverence, Pertinacie,

Veyne Glorie ; and many another twig that I can nat

declare. Inobedient, is he that disobeyeth for despyt

to the comandements of god and to hise sovereyns, and

to his goostly fader. Avauntour, is he that bosteth of

the harm or of the bountee that he hath doon. Ipo-

crite, is he that hydeth to shewe him swiche as he is,

and sheweth him swiche as he noght is. Despitous, is

he that hath desdeyn of his neighebore, that is to seyn,

of his evene-cristene, or hath despyt to doon that him

oghte to do. Arrogant, is he that thinketh that he

hath thilke bountees in him that he hath noght, or

weneth that he sholde have hem by hise desertes ; or

elles he demeth that he be that he nis nat. Impudent,

is he that for his pride hath no shame of hise sinnes.

Swellinge of herte, is whan a man rejoyseth him of

harm that he hath doon. Insolent, is he that despyseth

in his jugement alle othere folk as to regard of his

value, and of his conning, and of his speking, and of

his bering. Elacion, is whan he ne may neither suffre

to have maister ne felawe. Impacient, is he that wol

nat been y-taught ne undernome of his vyce, and by

stryf werreyeth trouthe witingly, and deffendeth his

folye. Contumax, is he that thurgh his indignacion is

agayns everich auctoritee or power of hem that been

hise sovereyns. Presumpcion, is whan a man under-

taketh an empryse that him oghte nat do, or elles that

he may nat do ; and that is called Surquidrie. Irre-

verence, is whan men do nat honour thereas hem oghte

to doon, and waiten to be reverenced. Pertinacie, is

whan man deffendeth his folye, and trusteth to muchel

in his owene wit. Veyne glorie, is for to have pompe

and delyt in his temporel hynesse, and glorifie him in

this worldly estaat. Janglinge, is whan men speken

to muche biforn folk, and clappen as a mille, and

taken no kepe what they seye.

§ 25. And yet is ther a privee spece of Pryde, that

waiteth first to be salewed er he wole salewe, al be he

lasse worth than that other is, per-aventure ; and eek

he waiteth or desyreth to sitte, or elles to goon above

him in the wey, or kisse pax, or been encensed, or goon

to offring biforn his neighebore, and swiche sembiable

thinges ; agayns his duetee, per-aventure, but that he

hath his herte and his entente in swich a proud desyr

to be magnifyed and honoured biforn the peple.

§ 26. Now been ther two maneres of Pryde ; that oon

of hem is with-inne the herte of man, and that other

is withoute. Of whiche soothly thise forseyde thinges,

and mo than I have seyd, apertenen to pryde that is in

the herte of man ; and that othere speces of pryde

been with-oute. But natheles that oon of thise speces

of pryde is signe of that other, right as the gaye leefsel

atte taverne is signe of the wyn that is in the celer.

And this is in manye thinges : as in speche and con-

tenaunce, and in outrageous array of clothing ; for

certes, if ther ne hadde be no sinne in clothing, Crist

wolde nat have noted and spoken of the clothing of

thilke riche man in the gospel. And, as seith Seint

Gregorie, that precious clothing is coupable for the

derthe of it, and for his softenesse, and for his strange-

nesse and degysinesse, and for the superfluitee, or for

the inordinat scantnesse of it. Allas ! may men nat

seen, as in oure dayes, the sinful costlewe array of

clothinge, and namely in to muche superfluitee, or elles

in to desordinat scantnesse ?

§ 27. As to the firste sinne, that is in superfluitee of

clothinge, which that maketh it so dere, to harm of the

peple ; nat only the cost of embroudinge, the degyse

endentinge or barringe, oundinge, palinge, windinge, or

bendinge, and semblable wast of clooth in vanitee ; but

ther is also costlewe furringe in hir gounes, so muche

pounsoninge of chisels to maken holes, so muche dag-

ginge of sheres ; forth -with the superfluitee in lengthe

of the forseide gounes, trailinge in the dong and in

the myre, on horse and eek on fote, as wel of

man as of womman, that al thilke trailing is verraily

as in effect wasted, consumed, thredbare, and roten

with donge, rather than it is yeven to the povre ; to

greet damage of the forseyde povre folk. And that in

sondry wyse : this is to seyn, that the more that

clooth is wasted, the more it costeth to the peple for

the scantnesse ; and forther-over, if so be that they

wolde yeven swich pounsoned and dagged clothing to

the povre folk, it is nat convenient to were for hir

estaat, ne suffisant to bete hir necessitee, to kepe hem

fro the distemperance of the firmament. Upon that

other syde, to speken of the horrible disordinat scant-

nesse of clothing, as been thise cutted sloppes or hain-

selins, that thurgh hir shortnesse ne covere nat the

shameful membres of man, to wikked entente. Allas !

somme of hem shewen the boce of hir shap, and the

horrible swollen membres, that semeth lyk the maladie

of hirnia, in the wrappinge of hir hoses ; and eek the

buttokes of hem faren as it were the hindre part of

a she-ape in the fulle of the mone. And more-over, the

wrecched swollen membres that they shewe thurgh the

degysinge, in departinge of hir hoses in whyt and reed,

semeth that half hir shameful privee membres weren

flayn. And if so be that they departen hire hoses in

othere colours, as is whyt and blak, or whyt and blew,

or blak and reed, and so forth ; thanne semeth it, as

by variance of colour, that half the partie of hir privee

membres were corrupt by the fyr of seint Antony, or

by cancre, or by other swich meschaunce. Of the

hindre part of hir buttokes, it is ful horrible for to see.

For certes, in that partie of hir body ther-as they

purgen hir stinkinge ordure, that foule partie shewe

they to the peple proudly in despyt of honestetee, the

which honestetee that Jesu Crist and hise f reendes obser-

vede to shewen in hir lyve. Now as of the outrageous

array of wommen, god woot, that though the visages

of somme of hem seme ful chaast and debonaire, yet

notifie they in hir array of atyr likerousnesse and pryde.

I sey nat that honestetee in clothinge of man or worn-

man is uncovenable, but certes the superfluitee or dis-

ordinat scantitee of clothinge is reprevable. Also the

sinne of aornement or of apparaille is in thinges that

apertenen to rydinge, as in to manye delicat horses

that been holden for delyt, that been so faire, fatte,

and costlewe ; and also to many a vicious knave that

is sustened by cause of hem ; in to curious harneys, as

in sadeles, in crouperes, peytrels, and brydles covered

with precious clothing and riche, barres and plates of

gold and of silver. For which god seith by Zakarie the

prophete, ‘ I wol confounde the ryderes of swiche

horses.’ This folk taken litel reward of the rydinge of

goddes sone of hevene, and of his harneys whan he

rood up-on the asse, and ne hadde noon other harneys

but the povre clothes of hise disciples ; ne we ne rede

nat that evere he rood on other beest. I speke this for

the sinne of superfluitee, and nat for reasonable honeste-

tee, whan reson it requyreth. And forther, certes

pryde is greetly notified in holdinge of greet meinee,

whan they be of litel profit or of right no profit. And

namely, whan that meinee is felonous and damageous

to the peple, by hardinesse of heigh lordshipe or by

wey of offices. For certes, swiche lordes sellen thanne

hir lordshipe to the devel of helle, whanne they sus-

tenen the wikkednesse of hir meinee. Or elles whan

this folk of lowe degree, as thilke that holden hostel –

ries, sustenen the thefte of hir hostilers, and that is in

many manere of deceites. Thilke manere of folk been

the flyes that folwen the hony, or elles the houndes

that folwen the careyne. Swiche forseyde folk strang-

len spiritually hir lordshipes ; for which thus seith

David the prophete, ‘ wikked deeth mote come up-on

thilke lordshipes, and god yeve that they mote des-

cenden in-to helle al doun ; for in hir houses been

iniquitees and shrewednesses,’ and nat god of hevene.

And certes, but-if they doon amendement, right as god

yaf his benison to Laban by the service of Jacob, and

to Pharao by the service of Joseph, right so god wol

yeve his malison to swiche lordshipes as sustenen the

wikkednesse of hir servaunts, but-if they come to

amendement. Pryde of the table appereth eek ful

ofte ; for certes, riche men been cleped to festes, and

povre folk been put awey and rebuked. Also in ex-

cesse of diverse metes and drinkes ; and namely, swiche

manere bake metes and dish-metes, brenninge of wilde

fyr, and peynted and castelled with papir, and sem-

blable wast ; so that it is abusion for to thinke. And

eek in to greet preciousnesse of vessel and curiositee of

minstralcie, by whiche a man is stired the more to

delyces of luxurie, if so be that he sette his herte the

lasse up-on oure lord Jesu Crist, certein it is a sinne ;

and certeinly the delyces mighte been so grete in this

caas, that man mighte lightly falle by hem in-to deedly

sinne. The especes that sourden of Pryde, sooth ly

whan they sourden of malice ymagined, avysed,

and forncast, or elles of usage, been deedly synnes, it is

no doute. And whan they sourden by f reletee unavysed

sodeinly, and sodeinly withdrawen ayein, al been they

grevouse sinnes, I gesse that they ne been nat deedly.

Now mighte men axe wher-of that Pryde sourdeth and

springeth, and I seye : somtyme it springeth of the

goodes of nature, and som-tyme of the goodes of

fortune, and som-tyme of the goodes of grace. Certes,

the goodes of nature stonden outher in goodes of body

or in goodes of soule. Certes, goodes of body been hele

of body, as strengthe, delivernesse, beautee, gentrye,

franchise. Goodes of nature of the soule been good wit,

sharp understondynge, subtil engin, vertu naturel, good

memorie. Goodes of fortune been richesses, highe

degrees of lordshipes, preisinges of the peple. Goodes

of grace been science, power to suffre spirituel travaille,

benignitee, vertuous contemplacion, withstondinge of

temptacion, and semblable thinges. Of whiche for-

seyde goodes, certes it is a ful greet folye a man to

pryden him in any of hem alle. Now as for to speken

of goodes of nature, god woot that som-tyme we han

hem in nature as muche to oure damage as to oure

profit. As, for to speken of hele of body ; certes it

passeth ful lightly, and eek it is ful ofte encheson of

the siknesse of oure soule ; for god woot, the flesh is

a ful greet enemy to the soule : and therfore, the more

that the body is hool, the more be we in peril to falle.

Eke for to pryde him in his strengthe of body, it is an

heigh folye ; for certes, the flesh coveiteth agayn the

spirit, and ay the more strong that the flesh is, the

sorier may the soule be : and, over al this, strengthe of

body and worldly hardinesse causeth ful ofte many

a man to peril and meschaunce. Eek for to pryde him

of his gentrye is ful greet folye ; for ofte tyme the

gentrye of the body binimeth the gentrye of the soule ;

and eek we ben alle of o fader and of o moder ; and alle

we been of o nature roten and corrupt, both riche and

povre. For sothe, oo manere gentrye is for to preise,

that apparailleth mannes corage with vertues and

moralitees, and maketh him Cristes child. For truste

wel, that over what man sinne hath maistrie, he is

a verray cherl to sinne.

§ 28. Now been ther generale signes of gentilesse ; as

eschewinge of vyce and ribaudye and servage of sinne,

in word, in werk, and contenance ; and usinge vertu,

curteisye, and clennesse, and to be liberal, that is to

seyn, large by mesure ; for thilke that passeth mesure

is folye and sinne. Another is, to remembre him of

bountee that he of other folk hath receyved. Another

is, to be benigne to hise goode subgetis ; wherfore, as

seith Senek, ‘ ther is no -thing more covenable to a man

of heigh estaat than debonairetee and pitee. And

therfore thise flyes that men clepeth bees, whan they

maken hir king, they chesen oon that hath no prikke

wherwith he may stinge.’ Another is, a man to have

a noble herte and a diligent, to attayne to heighe ver-

tuouse thinges. Now certes, a man to pryde him in

the goodes of grace is eek an outrageous folye ; for

thilke yiftes of grace that sholde have turned him to

goodnesse and to medicine, turneth him to venim and

to confusion, as seith seint Gregorie. Certes also, who-

so prydeth him in the goodes of fortune, he is a ful

greet fool ; for som-tyme is a man a greet lord by the

morwe, that is a caitif and a wrecche er it be night : and

somtyme the richesse of a man is cause of his deeth ;

somtyme the delyces of a man is cause of the grevous

maladye thurgh which he dyeth. Certes, the com-

mendacion of the peple is somtyme ful fals and ful

brotel for to triste ; this day they preyse, tomorwe they

blame. God woot, desyr to have commendacion of the

peple hath caused deeth to many a bisy man.

Remedium contra peccatum Superbie.

§ 29. Now sith that so is, that ye han understonde

what is pryde, and whiche been the speces of it, and

whennes pride sourdeth and springeth ; now shul ye

understonde which is the remedie agayns the sinne of

pryde, and that is, humilitee or mekenesse. That is

a vertu, thurgh which a man hath verray knoweleche

of him-self, and holdeth of him-self no prys ne deyntee

as in regard of hise desertes, consideringe evere his

freletee. Now been ther three maneres of humilitee;

as humilitee in herte, and another humilitee in

his mouth ; the thridde in hise werkes. The humili-

tee in herte is in foure maneres : that oon is, whan

a man holdeth him-self as noght worth biforn god of

hevene. Another is, whan he ne despyseth noon other

man. The thridde is, whan he rekketh nat thogh men

holde him noght worth. The ferthe is, whan he nis nat

sory of his humiliacion. Also, the humilitee of mouth

is in foure thinges : in attempree speche, and in

humblesse of speche, and whan he biknoweth with his

owene mouth that he is swich as him thinketh that he

is in his herte. Another is, whan he preiseth the bountee

of another man, and nothing ther-of amenuseth.

Humilitee eek in werkes is in foure maneres : the nrste

is, whan he putteth othere men biforn him. The

seconde is, to chese the loweste place over-al. The

thridde is, gladly to assente to good conseil. The ferthe

is, to stonde gladly to the award of hise sovereyns, or

of him that is in hyer degree ; certein, this is a greet

werk of humilitee.

Sequitur de Inuidia.

§ 30. After Pryde wol I speken of the foule sinne of

Envye, which is, as by the word of the philosophre,

sorwe of other mannes prosperitee ; and after the word

of seint Augustin, it is sorwe of other mannes wele, and

joye of othere mennes harm. This foule sinne is platly

agayns the holy goost. Al-be-it so that every sinne is

agayns the holy goost, yet nathelees, for as muche as

bountee aperteneth proprely to the holy goost, and

Envye comth proprely of malice, therfore it is proprely

agayn the bountee of the holy goost. Now hath malice

two speces, that is to seyn, hardnesse of herte in wikked-

nesse, or elles the flesh of man is so blind, that he con-

sidered nat that he is in sinne, or rekketh nat that he

is in sinne ; which is the hardnesse of the devel. That

other spece of malice is, whan a man werreyeth trouthe,

whan he woot that it is trouthe. And eek, whan he

werreyeth the grace that god hath yeve to his neighe-

bore ; and al this is by Envye. Certes, thanne is

Envye the worste sinne that is. For soothly, alle

othere sinnes been som-tyme only agayns o special

vertu ; but certes, Envye is agayns alle vertues and

agayns alle goodnesses ; for it is sory of alle the boun-

tees of his neighebore ; and in this manere it is divers

from alle othere sinnes. For wel unnethe is ther any

sinne that it ne hath som delyt in itself, save only

Envye, that evere hath in itself anguish and sorwe.

The speces of Envye been thise : ther is first, sorwe of

other mannes goodnesse and of his prosperitee ; and

prosperitee is kindely matere of joye ; thanne is Envye

a sinne agayns kinde. The seconde spece of Envye is

joye of other mannes harm ; and that is proprely lyk

to the devel, that evere rejoyseth him of mannes harm.

Of thise two speces comth bakbyting ; and this sinne

of bakbyting or detraccion hath certeine speces, as

thus. Som man preiseth his neighebore by a wikke

entente ; for he maketh alwey a wikked knotte atte

laste ende. Alwey he maketh a ‘ but ‘ atte laste ende,

that is digne of more blame, than worth is al the

preisinge. The seconde spece is, that if a man be good

and dooth or seith a thing to good entente, the bak-

byter wol turne all thilke goodnesse up-so-doun to his

shrewed entente. The thridde is, to amenuse the

bountee of his neighebore. The fourthe spece of bak-

byting is this ; that if men speke goodnesse of a man,

thanne wol the bakbyter seyn, ‘ parfey, swich a man is

yet bet than he ‘ ; in dispreisinge of him that men

preise. The fifte spece is this ; for to consente gladly

and herkne gladly to the harm that men speke of other

folk. This sinne is ful greet, and ay encreseth after

the wikked entente of the bakbyter. After bakbyting

cometh grucching or murmuracion ; and somtyme it

springeth of inpacience agayns god, and somtyme

agayns man. Agayns god it is, whan a man gruccheth

agayn the peynes of helle, or agayns poverte, or los of

catel, or agayn reyn or tempest ; or elles gruccheth

that shrewes han prosperitee, or elles for that goode

men han adversitee. And alle thise thinges sholde

men suffre paciently, for they comen by the rightful

jugement and ordinance of god. Somtyme comth

grucching of avarice ; as Judas grucched agayns the

Magdaleyne, whan she enoynte the heved of oure lord

Jesu Crist with hir precious oynement. This maner

murmure is swich as whan man gruccheth of good-

nesse that him -self dooth, or that other folk doon of

hir owene catel. Somtyme comth murmure of Pryde ;

as whan Simon the Pharisee grucched agayn the

Magdaleyne, whan she approched to Jesu Crist, and

weep at his feet for hir sinnes. And somtyme gruc-

ching sourdeth of Envye ; whan men disco vereth a

mannes harm that was privee, or bereth him on hond

thing that is fals. Murmure eek is ofte amonges

servaunts, that grucchen whan hir sovereyns bidden

hem doon leveful thinges ; and, for-as-muche as they

dar nat openly withseye the comaundements of hir

sovereyns, yet wol they seyn harm, and grucche, and

murmure prively for verray despyt ; whiche wordes

men clepen the develes Pater -nosier, though so be that

the devel ne hadde nevere Pater -noster, but that lewed

folk yeven it swich a name. Som tyme grucching

comth of ire or prive hate, that norisseth rancour in

herte, as afterward I shal declare. Thanne cometh eek

bitternesse of herte ; thurgh which bitternesse every

good dede of his neighebor semeth to him bitter and

unsavory. Thanne cometh discord, that unbindeth

alle manere of frendshipe. Thanne comth scorninge,

as whan a man seketh occasioun to anoyen his neighe-

bor, al do he never so weel. Thanne comth accusinge,

as whan man seketh occasion to anoyen his neighebor,

which that is lyk to the craft of the devel, that waiteth

bothe night and day to accusen us alle. Thanne comth

malignitee, thurgh which a man anoyeth his neighebor

prively if he may ; and if he noght may, algate his

wikked wil ne shal nat wante, as for to brennen his

hous prively, or empoysone or sleen hise bestes, and

semblable thinges.

Remedium contra peccatum Inuidie.

§ 31. Now wol I speke of the remedie agayns this

foule sinne of Envye. First, is the love of god prin-

cipal, and loving of his neighebor as him-self ; for

soothly, that oon ne may nat been withoute that

other. And truste wel, that in the name of thy neighe-

bore thou shalt understonde the name of thy brother ;

for certes alle we have o fader fleshly, and o moder, that

is to seyn, Adam and Eve ; and eek o fader espirituel,

and that is god of hevene. Thy neighebore artow

holden for to love, and wilne him alle goodnesse ; and

therfore seith god, ‘ love thy neighebore as thyselve,’

that is to seyn, to salvacion bothe of lyf and of soule.

And more-over, thou shalt love him in word, and in

benigne amonestinge, and chastysinge ; and conforten

him in hise anoyes, and preye for him with al thyn

herte. And in dede thou shalt love him in swich

wyse, that thou shalt doon to him in charitee as thou

woldest that it were doon to thyn owene persone. And

therfore, thou ne shalt doon him no damage in wikked

word, ne harm in his body, ne in his catel, ne in his

soule, by entysing of wikked ensample. Thou shalt nat

desyren his wyf, ne none of hise thinges. Understond

eek, that in the name of neighebor is comprehended his

enemy. Certes man shal loven his enemy by the

comandement of god ; and soothly thy frend shaltow

love in God. I seye, thyn enemy shaltow love for

goddes sake, by his comandement. For if it were

reson that a man sholde haten his enemy, for sothe god

nolde nat receiven us to his love that been hise enemys.

Agayns three manere of wronges that his enemy dooth

to hym, he shal doon three thinges, as thus. Agayns

hate and rancour of herte, he shal love him in herte.

Agayns chyding and wikkede wordes, he shal preye for

his enemy. And agayn the wikked dede of his enemy,

he shal doon him bountee. For Crist seith, ‘ loveth

youre enemys, and preyeth for hem that speke yow

harm ; and eek for hem that yow chacen and pur-

se wen, and doth bountee to hem that yow haten.’

Lo, thus comaundeth us oure lord Jesu Crist, to do to

oure enemys. For soothly, nature dryveth us to loven

oure freendes, and parfey, oure enemys han more nede

to love than our freendes ; and they that more nede

have, certes, to hem shal men doon goodnesse ; and

certes, in thilke dede have we remembrance of the

love of Jesu Crist, that deyde for hise enemys. And

in-as-muche as thilke love is the more grevous to per-

fourne, in-so-muche is the more gretter the merite ;

and therfore the lovinge of oure enemy hath confounded

the venim of the devel. For right as the devel is dis-

confited by humilitee, right so is he wounded to the

deeth by love of oure enemy. Certes, thanne is love

the medicine that casteth out the venim of Envye fro

mannes herte. The speces of this pas shullen be more

largely in hir chapitres folwinge declared.

Sequitur de Ira.

§ 32. After Envye wol I discryven the sinne of Ire.

For soothly, who-so hath envye upon his neighebor,

anon he wole comunly finde him a matere of wratthe,

in word or in dede, agayns him to whom he hath envye.

And as wel comth Ire of Pryde, as of Envye ; for

soothly, he that is proude or envious is lightly wrooth.

§ 33. This sinne of Ire, after the discryving of seint

Augustin, is wikked wil to been avenged by word or by

dede. Ire, after the philosophre, is the fervent blood

of man y-quiked in his herte, thurgh which he wole

harm to him that he hateth. For certes the herte of

man, by eschaufinge and moevinge of his blood, wexeth

so trouble, that he is out of alle jugement of resoun.

But ye shal understonde that Ire is in two maneres ;

that oon of hem is good, and that other is wikked.

The gode Ire is by jalousye of goodnesse, thurgh which

a man is wrooth with wikkednesse and agayns wikked-

nesse ; and therfore seith a wys man, that ‘ Ire is bet

than pley.’ This Ire is with debonairetee, and it is

wrooth withouten bitternesse ; nat wrooth agayns the

man, but wrooth with the misdede of the man ; as

seith the prophete David, Irascimini et noiite peccare.

Now understondeth, that wikked Ire is in two maneres,

that is to seyn, sodeyn Ire or hastif Ire, withouten

avisement and consentinge of resoun. The mening and

the sens of this is, that the resoun of man ne consente

nat to thilke sodeyn Ire ; and thanne it is venial.

Another Ire is ful wikked, that comth of felonye of

herte avysed and cast biforn ; with wikked wil to do

vengeance, and therto his resoun consenteth ; and

soothly this is deedly sinne. This Ire is so displesant

to god, that it troubleth his hous and chaceth the holy

goost out of mannes soule, and wasteth and destroyeth

the lyknesse of god, that is to seyn, the vertu that is in

mannes soule ; and put in him the lyknesse of the

devel, and binimeth the man fro god that is his rightful

lord. This Ire is a ful greet plesaunce to the devel ;

for it is the develes fourneys, that is eschaufed with the

fyr of helle. For certes, right so as fyr is more mighty

to destroyen erthely thinges than any other element,

right so Ire is mighty to destroyen alle spirituel thinges.

Loke how that fyr of smale gledes, that been almost

dede under asshen, wollen quike agaj^n whan they been

touched with brimstoon ; right so Ire wol everemo

quiken agayn, whan it is touched by the pryde that is

covered in mannes herte. For certes fyr ne may nat

comen out of no-thing, but-if it were first in the same

thing naturelly ; as fyr is drawen out of flintes with

steel. And right so as pryde is ofte tyme matere of

Ire, right so is rancour norice and keper of Ire. Ther is

a maner tree, as seith seint Isidre, that whan men maken

fyr of thilke tree, and covere the coles of it with asshen,

soothly the fyr of it wol lasten al a yeer or more. And

right so fareth it of rancour ; whan it is ones conceyved

in the hertes of som men, certein, it wol lasten pera-

venture from oon Estre-day unto another Estre-day,

and more. But certes, thilke man is ful fer fro the

mercy of god al thilke while.

§ 34. In this forseyde develes fourneys ther forgen

three shrewes : Pryde, that ay bloweth and encreseth

the fyr by chydinge and wikked wordes. Thanne stant

Envye, and holdeth the hote iren upon the herte of

man with a peire of longe tonges of long rancour. And

thanne stant the sinne of contumelie or stryf and cheeste,

and batereth and forgeth by vileyns reprevinges.

Certes, this cursed sinne anoyeth bothe to the man

him-self and eek to his neighebor. For soothly, almost

al the harm that any man dooth to his neighebore

comth of wratthe. For certes, outrageous wratthe doth

al that evere the devel him comaundeth ; for he ne

spareth neither Crist, ne his swete mooder. And in his

outrageous anger and Ire, allas ! allas ! ful many oon

at that tyme feleth in his herte ful wikkedly, bothe of

Crist and of alle hise halwes. Is nat this a cursed vice ?

Yis, certes. Allas ! it binimeth from man his wit and

his resoun, and al his debonaire lyf espirituel that

sholde kepen his soule. Certes, it binimeth eek goddes

due lordshipe, and that is mannes soule, and the love

of hise neighebores. It stryveth eek alday agayn

trouthe. It reveth him the quiete of his herte, and

subverteth his soule.

§ 35. Of Ire comen thise stinkinge engendrures : first

hate, that is old wratthe ; discord, thurgh which a man

forsaketh his olde freend that he hath loved ful longe.

And thanne cometh werre, and every manere of wrong

that man dooth to his neighebore, in body or in catel.

Of this cursed sinne of Ire cometh eek manslaughtre.

And understonde wel, that homicyde, that is man-

slaughtre, is in dy verse wyse. Som manere of homi-

cyde is spirituel, and som is bodily. Spirituel man-

slaughtre is in six thinges. First, by hate ; as seint

John seith, ‘ he that hateth his brother is homicyde.’

Homicyde is eek by bakbytinge ; of whiche bakbyteres

seith Salomon, that ‘ they han two swerdes with whiche

they sleen hir neighebores.’ For soothly, as wikke is

to binime his good name as his lyf. Homicyde is eek,

in yevinge of wikked conseil by fraude ; as for to yeven

conseil to areysen wrongful custumes and taillages. Of

whiche seith Salomon, ‘ Leon rorynge and bere hongry

been lyke to the cruel lordshipes,’ in withholdinge or

abregginge of the shepe (or the hyre), or of the wages of

servaunts, or elles in usure or in withdrawinge of the

almesse of povre folk. For which the wyse man seith,

‘ fedeth him that almost dyeth for honger ‘ ; for

soothly, but-if thou fede him, thou sleest him ; and alle

thise been deedly sinnes. Bodily manslaughtre is,

whan thow sleest him with thy tonge in other manere ;

as whan thou comandest to sleen a man, or elles yevest

him conseil to sleen a man. Manslaughtre in dede is

in foure maneres. That oon is by lawe ; right as a

justice dampneth him that is coupable to the deeth.

But lat the justice be war that he do it rightfully, and

that he do it nat for delyt to spille blood, but for

kepinge of rightwisenesse. Another homicyde is, that

is doon for necessitee, as whan o man sleeth another in

his defendaunt, and that he ne may noon otherwise

escape from his owene deeth. But certeinly, if he

may escape withouten manslaughtre of his adversarie,

and sleeth him, he doth sinne, and he shal bere

penance as for deedly sinne. Eek if a man, by caas

or aventure, shete an arwe or caste a stoon with which

he sleeth a man, he is homicyde. Eek if a womman by

necligence overlyeth hir child in hir sleping, it is

homicyde and deedly sinne. Eek whan man des-

tourbeth concepcion of a child, and maketh a womman

outher bareyne by drinkinge venemouse herbes, thurgh

which she may nat conceyve, or sleeth a child by drinkes

wilfully, or elles putteth certeine material thinges in

hir secree places to slee the child ; or elles doth un-

kindely sinne, by which man or womman shedeth hir

nature in manere or in place ther-as a child may nat be

conceived ; or elles, if a womman have conceyved and

hurt hir-self, and sleeth the child, yet is it homicyde.

What seye we eek of wommen that mordren hir children

for drede of worldly shame ? Certes, an horrible homi-

cyde. Homicyde is eek if a man approcheth to a

womman by desir of lecherye, thurgh which the child

is perissed, or elles smyteth a womman witingly, thurgh

which she leseth hir child. Alle thise been homicydes

and horrible deedly sinnes. Yet comen ther of Ire

manye mo sinnes, as wel in word as in thoght and in

dede ; as he that arretteth upon god, or blameth god,

of thing of which he is him-self gilty ; or despyseth

god and alle hise halwes, as doon thise cursede hasar-

dours in diverse contrees. This cursed sinne doon they,

whan they felen in hir hertes ful wikkedly of god and

of hise halwes. Also, whan they treten unreverently

the sacrement of the auter, thilke sinne is so greet, that

unnethe may it been relesed, but that the mercy of god

passeth alle hise werkes ; it is so greet and he so

benigne. Thanne comth of Ire attry angre ; whan a

man is sharply amonested in his shrifte to forleten his

sinne, than wole he be angry and answeren hokerly and

angrily, and deffenden or excusen his sinne by un-

stedefastnesse of his flesh ; or elles he dide it for to

holde companye with hise felawes, or elles, he seith,

the fend entyced him ; or elles he dide it for his

youthe, or elles his complexioun is so corageous,

that he may nat forbere ; or elles it is his destinee,

as he seith, unto a certein age ; or elles, he seith,

it cometh him of gentillesse of hise auncestres ;

and semblable thinges. Alle this manere bf folk

so wrappen hem in hir sinnes, that they ne wol nat

delivere hem-self. For soothly, no wight that ex-

cuseth him wilfully of his sinne may nat been delivered

of his sinne, til that he mekely biknoweth his sinne.

After this, thanne cometh swering, that is expres agayn

the comandement of god ; and this bifalleth ofte of

anger and of Ire. God seith : ‘ thou shalt nat take the

name of thy lord god in veyn or in ydel.’ Also oure

lord Jesu Crist seith by the word of seint Mathew :

‘ Nolite iurare omnino : ne wol ye nat swere in alle

manere ; neither by hevene, for it is goddes trone ; ne

by erthe, for it is the bench of his feet ; ne by Jerusalem,

for it is the citee of a greet king ; ne by thyn heed, for

thou mayst nat make an heer whyt ne blak. But

seyeth by youre word, ” ye, ye,” and ” nay, nay ” ;

and what that is more, it is of yvel,’ seith Crist. For

Cristes sake, ne swereth nat so sinfully, in dismem-

bringe of Crist by soule, herte, bones, and body. For

certes, it semeth that ye thinke that the cursede Jewes

ne dismembred nat y-nough the preciouse persone of

Crist, but ye dismembre him more. And if so be that

the lawe compelle yow to swere, thanne rule yow after

the lawe of god in youre swering, as seith Jeremye

quarto capitulo, ‘Iurabis in veritate, in iudicio et in

iusticia : thou shalt kepe three condicions ; thou shalt

swere in trouthe, in doom, and in rightwisnesse.’ This

is to seyn, thou shalt swere sooth ; for every lesinge is

agayns Crist. For Crist is verray trouthe. And think

wel this, that every greet swerere, nat compelled lawe-

fully to swere, the wounde shal nat departe from his

hous whyl he useth swich unleveful swering. Thou

shalt sweren eek in doom, whan thou art constreyned

by thy domesman to witnessen the trouthe. Eek thou

shalt nat swere for envye ne for favour, ne for mede,

but for rightwisnesse ; for declaracioun of it to the

worship of god and helping of thyne evene-cristene.

And therfore, every man that taketh goddes name in

ydel, or falsly swereth with his mouth, or elles taketh

on him the name of Crist, to be called a Cristene man,

and liveth agayns Cristes livinge and his techinge, alle

they taken goddes name in ydel. Loke eek what

seint Peter seith, Actuum quarto capitulo, ‘ Non est

aliud nomen sub celo,’ &c. ‘ Ther nis noon other

name,’ seith seint Peter, ‘ under hevene, yeven to men,

in which they mowe be saved ; ‘ that is to seyn, but

the name of Jesu Crist. Take kepe eek how that the

precious name of Crist, as seith seint Paul ad Philip-

enses secundo, ‘ In nomine Jesu, &c. : that in the name

of Jesu every knee of hevenely creatures, or erthely, or

of helle sholden bowe ‘ ; for it is so heigh and so wor-

shipful, that the cursede feend in helle sholde tremblen

to heren it y-nempned. Thanne semeth it, that men

that sweren so horribly by his blessed name, that they

despyse him more boldely than dide the cursede Jewes,

or elles the devel, that trembleth whan he hereth his name.

§ 36. Now certes, sith that swering, but-if it be lawe-

fully doon, is so heighly deffended, muche worse is

forswering falsly, and yet nedelees.

§ 37. What seye we eek of hem that delyten hem in

swering, and holden it a gentrie or a manly dede to

swere grete othes ? And what of hem that, of verray

usage, ne cesse nat to swere grete othes, al be the cause

nat worth a straw ? Certes, this is horrible sinne.

Sweringe sodeynly with-oute avysement is eek a sinne.

But lat us go now to thilke horrible swering of adjura-

cioun and conjuracioun, as doon thise false enchaun-

tours or nigromanciens in bacins ful of water, or in a

bright swerd, in a cercle, or in a fyr, or in a shulder-

boon of a sheep. I can nat seye but that they doon

cursedly and damnably, agayns Crist and al the feith

of holy chirche.

§ 38. What seye we of hem that bileven in divynailes,

as by flight or by noyse of briddes, or of bestes, or by

sort, by geomancie, by dremes, by chirkinge of dores,

or crakkinge of houses, by gnawynge of rattes, and

swich manere wrecchednesse ? Certes, al this thing

is deffended by god and by al holy chirche. For which

they been acursed, til they come to amendement, that

on swich filthe setten hir bileve. Charmes for woundes

or maladye of men, or of bestes, if they taken any

effect, it may be peraventure that god suffreth it, for

folk sholden yeve the more feith and reverence to his name.

§ 39. Now wol I speken of lesinges, which generally

is fals significacioun of word, in entente to deceyven

his evene-cristene. Som lesinge is of which ther comth

noon avantage to no wight : and som lesinge turneth

to the ese or profit of o man, and to disese and damage

of another man. Another lesinge is for to saven his

lyf or his catel. Another lesinge comth of delyt for

to lye, in which delyt they wol forge a long tale, and

peynten it with alle circumstaunces, where al the

ground of the tale is fals. Som lesinge comth, for he

wole sustene his word ; and som lesinge comth of

recchelesnesse, with-outen avysement ; and semblable thinges.

§ 40. Lat us now touche the vyce of flateringe, which

ne comth nat gladly but for drede or for coveitise.

Flaterye is generally wrongful preisinge. Flatereres

been the develes norices, that norissen hise children

with milk of losengerie. For sothe, Salomon seith,

that ‘ flaterie is wors than detraccioun.’ For som-

tyme detraction maketh an hautein man be the more

humble, for he dredeth detraction ; but certes flaterye,

that maketh a man to enhauncen his herte and his

contenaunce. Flatereres been the develes enchaun-

tours ; for they make a man to wene of him-self be

lyk that he nis nat lyk. They been lyk to Judas that

bitraysed [god ; and thise flatereres bitraysen] a man

to sellen him to his enemy, that is, to the devel. Flater-

eres been the develes chapelleyns, that singen evere

Placebo. I rekene flaterye in the vyces of Ire ; for

ofte tyme, if o man be wrooth with another, thanne

wol he flatere som wight to sustene him in his querele.

§ 41. Speke we now of swich cursinge as comth of

irous herte. Malisoun generally may be seyd every

maner power of harm. Swich cursinge bireveth man

fro the regne of god, as seith seint Paul. And ofte

tyme swich cursinge wrongfully retorneth agayn to

him that curseth, as a brid that retorneth agayn to his

owene nest. And over alle thing men oghten eschewe

to cursen hir children, and yeven to the devel hir

engendrure, as ferforth as in hem is ; certes, it is greet

peril and greet sinne.

§ 42. Lat us thanne speken of chydinge and reproche,

whiche been f ul grete woundes in mannes herte ; for

they unsowen the semes of frendshipe in mannes herte.

For certes, unnethes may a man pleynly been accorded

with him that hath him openly revyled and repreved

in disclaundre. This is a ful grisly sinne, as Crist seith

in the gospel. And tak kepe now, that he that re-

preveth his neighebor, outher he repreveth him by

som harm of peyne that he hath on his body, as ‘ mesel,’

‘ croked harlot,’ or by som sinne that he dooth. Now

if he repreve him by harm of peyne, thanne turneth

the repreve to Jesu Crist ; for peyne is sent by the

rightwys sonde of god, and by his suffrance, be it

meselrie, or maheym, or maladye. And if he repreve

him uncharitably of sinne, as, ‘thou holour,’ ‘thou

dronkelewe harlot,’ and so forth ; thanne aperteneth

that to the rejoysinge of the devel, that evere hath joye

that men doon sinne. And certes, chydinge may nat

come but out of a vileyns herte. For after the habun-

dance of the herte speketh the mouth ful ofte. And

ye shul understonde that loke, by any wey, whan any

man shal chastyse another, that he be war from chyd-

inge or reprevinge. For trewely, but he be war, he may

ful lightly quiken the fyr of angre and of wratthe,

which that he sholde quenche, and per-aventure sleeth

him which that he mighte chastyse with benignitee.

For as seith Salomon, ‘ the amiable tonge is the tree of

lyf,’ that is to seyn, of lyf espirituel : and sothly, a

deslavee tonge sleeth the spirites of him that repreveth,

and eek of him that is repreved. Lo, what seith seint

Augustin : ‘ ther is no-thing so lyk the develes child

as he that ofte chydeth.’ Seint Paul seith eek : ‘ I,

servant of god, bihove nat to chyde.’ And how that

chydinge be a vileyns thing bitwixe alle manere folk,

yet it is certes most uncovenable bitwixe a man and

his wyf ; for there is nevere reste. And therfore seith

Salomon, ‘ an hous that is uncovered and droppinge,

and a chydinge wyf, been lyke.’ A man that is in a drop-

pinge hous in many places, /though he eschewe the

droppinge in o place, it droppeth on him in another

place ; so fareth it by a chydinge wyf. But she chyde

him in o place, she wol chyde him in another. And

therfore, ‘ bettre is a morsel of breed with joye than

an hous ful of delyces, with chydinge,’ seith Salomon.

Seint Paul seith : ‘ ye wommen, be ye subgetes to

youre housbondes as bihoveth in god ; and ye men,

loveth youre wyves.’ Ad Colossenses, tertio.

§ 43. Afterward speke we of scorninge, which is

a wikked sinne ; and namely, whan he scorneth a man

for hise gode werkes. For certes, swiche scorneres

faren lyk the foule tode, that may nat endure to smelle

the sote savour of the vyne whanne it florissheth. Thise

scorneres been parting felawes with the devel ; for they

han joye whan the devel winneth, and sorwe whan he

leseth. They been adversaries of Jesu Crist ; for they

haten that he loveth, that is to seyn, salvacion of soule.

§ 44. Speke we now of wikked conseil ; for he that

wikked conseil yeveth is a traytour. For he deceyveth

him that trusteth in him, ut Achitofel ad Absolonem.

But natheless, yet is his wikked conseil first agayn

him-self. For, as seith the wyse man, every fals liv-

inge hath this propertee in him-self, that he that wole

anoye another man, he anoyeth first him-self. And

men shul understonde, that man shal nat taken his

conseil of fals folk, ne of angry folk, or grevous folk,

ne of folk that loven specially to muchel hir owene profit,

ne to muche worldly folk, namely, in conseilinge of soules.

§ 45. Now comth the sinne of hem that sowen and

maken discord amonges folk, which is a sinne that

Crist hateth outrely ; and no wonder is. For he deyde

for to make concord. And more shame do they to Crist,

than dide they that him crucifyede ; for god loveth

bettre, that frendshipe be amonges folk, than he dide

his owene body, the which that he yaf for unitee. Ther-

fore been they lykned to the devel, that evere been

aboute to maken discord.

§ 46. Now comth the sinne of double/ tonge ; swiche

as speken faire biforn folk, and wikkedly bihinde ;

or elles they maken semblant as though they speke

of good entencioun, or elles in game and pley, and yet

they speke of wikked entente.

§ 47. Now comth biwreying of conseil, thurgh which

a man is defamed ; certes, unnethe may he restore the damage.

Now comth manace, that is an open folye ; for he that

ofte manaceth, he threteth more than he may perfourne

ful ofte tyme.

Now cometh ydel wordes, that is with-outen profit of

him that speketh tho wordes, and eek of him that herk-

neth tho wordes. Or elles ydel wordes been tho that

been nedelees, or with-outen entente of naturel profit.

And al-be-it that ydel wordes been som tyme venial

sinne, yet sholde men douten hem ; for we shul yeve

rekeninge of hem bifore god.

Now comth janglinge, that may nat been withoute

sinne. And, as seith Salomon, ‘ it is a sinne of apert

folye.’ And therfore a philosophre seyde, whan men

axed him how that men sholde plese the peple ; and

he answerde, ‘ do many gode werkes, and spek fewe jangles.’

After this comth the sinne of jape res, that been

the develes apes ; for they maken folk to laughe at

hir japerie, as folk doon at the gaudes of an ape. Swiche

japeres deffendeth seint Paul. Loke how that ver-

tuouse wordes and holy conforten hem that travaillen

in the service of Crist ; right so conforten the vileyns

wordes and knakkes of japeris hem that travaillen in

the service of the devel. Thise been the sinnes that

comen of the tonge, that comen of Ire and of othere sinnes mo.

Sequitur remedium contra peccatum Ire.

§ 48. The remedye agayns Ire is a vertu that men

clepen Mansuetude, that is Debonairetee ; and eek

another vertu, that men callen Pacience or Suffrance.

§ 49. Debonairetee withdraweth and refreyneth the

stiringes and the moevynges of mannes corage in his

herte, in swich manere that they ne skippe nat out by

angre ne by Ire. Suffrance suffreth swetely alle the

anoyaunces and the wronges that men doon to man

outward. Seint Jerome seith thus of debonairetee,

that ‘ it doth noon harm to no wight, ne seith ; ne for

noon harm that men doon or seyn, he ne eschaufeth

nat agayns his resoun.’ This vertu som-tyme comth

of nature ; for, as seith the philosophre, ‘ a man is a

quik thing, by nature debonaire and tretable to good-

nesse ; but whan debonairetee is enformed of grace,

thanne is it the more worth.’

§ 50. Pacience, that is another remedye agayns Ire,

is a vertu that suffreth swetely every mannes good-

nesse, and is nat wrooth for noon harm that is doon to

him. The philosophre seith, that ‘ pacience is thilke

vertu that suffreth debonairely alle the outrages of

adversitee and every wikked word.’ This vertu maketh

a man lyk to god, and maketh him goddes owene dere

child, as seith Crist. This vertu disconfiteth thyn

enemy. And therfore seith the wyse man, ‘ if thou

wolt venquisse thyn enemy, lerne to suffre.’ And thou

shalt understonde, that man suffreth foure manere of

grevances in outward thinges, agayns the whiche foure

he moot have foure manere of paciences.

§ 51. The firste grevance is of wikkede wordes ; thilke

suffrede Jesu Crist with-outen grucching, ful paciently,

whan the Jewes despysed and repreved him ful ofte.

Suffre thou therfore paciently ; for the wyse man seith :

1 if fhou stryve with a fool, though the fool be wrooth

or though he laughe, algate thou shalt have no reste.’

That other grevance outward is to have damage of thy

catel. Ther-agayns suffred Crist ful paciently, whan

he was despoyled of al that he hadde in this lyf, and

that nas but hise clothes. The thridde grevance is

a man to have harm in his body. That suffred Crist

ful paciently in al his passioun. The fourthe grevance

is in outrageous labour in werkes. Wherfore I seye,

that folk that maken hir servants to travaillen to grev-

ously, or out of tyme, as on halydayes, soothly they

do greet sinne. Heer-agayns suffred Crist full paciently,

and taughte us pacience, whan he bar up-on his blissed

shulder the croys, up-on which he sholde suffren de-

spitous deeth. Heer may men lerne to be pacient ; for

certes, noght only Cristen men been pacient for love

of Jesu Crist, and for guerdoun of the blisful lyf that

is perdurable ; but certes, the olde payens, that nevere

were Cristene, commendeden and useden the vertu of pacience.

§ 52. A philosophre up-on a tyme, that wolde have

beten his disciple for his grete trespas, for which he

was greetly amoeved, and broghte a yerde to scourge

the child ; and whan this child saugh the yerde, he

seyde to his maister, ‘ what thenke ye to do ? ‘ ‘I wol

bete thee,’ quod the maister, ‘ for thy correccion.’

4 For sothe,’ quod the child, ‘ ye oghten first correcte

youre-self, that han lost al youre pacience for the gilt

of a child.’ ‘For sothe,’ quod the maister al wepinge,

1 thou seyst sooth ; have thou the yerde, my dere sone,

and correcte me for myn inpacience.’ Of Pacience

comth Obedience, thurgh which a man is obedient to

Crist and to alle hem to whiche he oghte to been obe-

dient in Crist. And understond wel that obedience

is perfit, whan that a man doth gladly and hastily

with good herte entierly, al that he sholde do. Obe-

dience generally, is to perfourne the doctrine of god

and of his sovereyns, to whiche him oghte to ben obeis-

aunt in alle rightwysnesse.

Sequitur de Accidia.

§ 53. After the sinnes of Envie and of Ire, now wol

I speken of the sinne of Accidie. For Envye blindeth

the herte of a man, and Ire troubleth a man ; and Ac-

cidie maketh him hevy, thoghtful, and wrawe. Envye

and Ire maken bitternesse in herte ; which bitternesse

is moder of Accidie, and binimeth him the love of all

goodnesse. Thanne is Accidie the anguissh of a trouble

herte ; and seint Augustin seith : ‘ it is anoy of good-

nesse and joye of harm.’ Certes, this is a dampnable

sinne ; for it doth wrong to Jesu Crist, in-as-muche as

it binimeth the service that men oghte doon to Crist

with alle diligence, as seith Salomon. But Accidie dooth

no swich diligence; he dooth alle thing with anoy,

and with wrawnesse, slaknesse, and excusacioun, and

with ydelnesse and unlust ; for which the book seith :

acursed be he that doth the service of god necligently ‘

Thanne is Accidie enemy to everich estaat of man ;

for certes, the estaat of man is in three maneres. Outher

it is th’estaat of innocence, as was th’estaat of Adam

bitorn that he fil into sinne ; in which estaat he was

holden to wirche, as in heryinge and adouringe of god.

Another estaat is the estaat of sinful men, in which

estaat men been holden to laboure in preyinge to god

for amendement of hir sinnes, and that he wole graunte

hem to arysen 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 contrarie. For he loveth no bisinesse at

al. Now certes, this foule sinne Accidie is eek a ful

greet enemy to the lyflode of the body ; for it ne hath

no purveaunce agayn temporel necessitee ; for it for-

sleweth and forsluggeth, and destroyeth alle goodes

temporeles by reccheleesnesse.

§ 54. The fourthe thinge is, that Accidie is lyk to

hem that been in the peyne of helle, by-cause of hir

slouthe and of hir hevinesse ; for they that been

dampned been so bounde, that they ne may neither

wel do ne wel thinke. Of Accidie comth first, that

a man is anoyed and encombred for to doon any good-

nesse, and maketh that god hath abhominacion of swich

Accidie, as seith seint Johan.

§ 55. Now comth Slouthe, that wol nat suffre noon

hardnesse ne no penaunce. For soothly, Slouthe is

so tendre, and so delicat, as seith Salomon, that he wol

nat suffre noon hardnesse ne penaunce, and therfore

he shendeth al that he dooth. Agayns this roten-

herted sinne of Accidie and Slouthe sholde men exer-

cise hem-self to doon gode werkes, and manly and ver-

tuously cacchen corage wel to doon; thinkinge that oure

lord Jesu Crist quyteth every good dede, be it never

so lyte. Usage of labour is a greet thing ; for it maketh,

as seith seint Bernard, the laborer to have stronge armes

and harde sinwes ; and Slouthe maketh hem feble and

tendre. Thanne comth drede to biginne to werke any

gode werkes ; for certes, he that is enclyned to sinne,

him thinketh it is so greet an empryse for to undertake

to doon werkes of goodnesse, and casteth in his herte

that the circumstaunces of goodnesse been so grevouse

and so chargeaunt for to suffre, that he dar nat under-

take to do werkes of goodnesse, as seith seint Gregorie.

§ 56. Now comth wanhope, that is despeir of the

mercy of god, that comth somtyme of to muche out-

rageous sorwe, and somtyme of to muche drede : imagin-

inge 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 seith seint Augustin.

Which dampnable sinne, if that it continue un-to his

ende, it is cleped sinning in the holy gost. This horrible

sinne is so perilous, that he that is despeired, ther nis no

felonye ne no sinne that he douteth for to do; as

shewed wel by Judas. Certes, aboven alle sinnes thanne

is this sinne most displesant to Crist, and most adver-

sarie. Soothly, he that despeireth him is lyk the coward

champioun recreant, that seith creant withoute nede.

Allas ! allas ! nedeles is he recreant and nedeles de-

speired. Certes, the mercy of god is evere redy to every

penitent, and is aboven alle hise werkes. Allas ! can

nat a man bithinke him on the gospel of seint Luk, 15.,

where-as Crist seith that ‘ as wel shal ther be joye

in hevene upon a sinful man that doth penitence, as

up-on nynety and nyne rightful men that neden no

penitence ? ‘ Loke forther, in the same gospel, the joye

and the feste of the gode man that hadde lost his sone,

whan his sone with repentaunce was retourned to his

fader. Can they nat remembren hem eek, that, as

seith seint Luk xxiii° capitulo, how that the theef that

was hanged bisyde Jesu Crist, seyde : ‘ Lord, remembre

of me, whan thou comest in-to thy regne ? ‘ ‘ For sothe,’

seyde Crist, ‘ I seye to thee, to-day shaltow been with

me in Paradys.’ Certes, ther is noon so horrible sinne

of man, that it ne may, in his lyf, be destroyed by peni-

tence, thurgh vertu of the passion and of the deeth of

Crist. Allas ! what nedeth man thanne to been de-

peired, sith that his mercy so redy is and large ? Axe

and have. Thanne cometh Sompnolence, that is,

sluggy slombringe, which maketh a man be hevy and

dul, in body and in soule ; and this sinne comth of

Slouthe. And certes, the tyme that, by wey of resoun,

men sholde nat slepe, that is by the morwe ; but-if ther

were cause resonable. For soothly, the morwe-tyde

is most covenable, a man to seye his 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 seith Salomon: ‘ who-so wolde by

the morwe awaken and seke me, he shal finde.’ Thanne

cometh Necligence, or recchelesnesse, that rekketh of

no-thing. And how that ignoraunce be moder of all

harm, certes, Necligence is the norice. Necligence ne

doth no fors, whan he shal doon a thing, whether he do

it weel or baddely.

§ 57. Of the remedie of thise two sinnes, as seith the

wyse man, that ‘ he that dredeth god, he spareth nat to

doon that him oghte doon.’ And he that loveth god, he

wol doon diligence to plese god by his werkes, and abaun-

done him-self, with al his might, wel for to doon. Thanne

comth ydelnesse, that is the yate of alle harmes. An

ydel man is lyk to a place that hath no walles ; the

develes may entre on every syde and sheten at him at

discovert, by temptacion on every syde. This ydelnesse

is the thurrok of alle wikked and vileyns thoghtes, and

of alle jangles, trufles, and of alle ordure. Certes, the

hevene is yeven to hem that wol labouren, and nat to

ydel folk. Eek David seith : that ‘ they ne been nat in

the labour of men, ne they shul nat been whipped with

men,’ that is to seyn, in purgatorie. Certes, thanne

semeth it, they shul be tormented with the devel in helle,

but-if they doon penitence.

§ 58. Thanne comth the sinne that men clepen

Tarditas, as whan a man is to latrede or taryinge, er he

wole turne to god ; and certes, that is a greet folye.

He is lyk to him that falleth in the dich, and wol nat

aryse. And this vyce comth of a fals hope, that he

thinketh that he shal live longe ; but that hope faileth ful


§ 59. Thanne comth Lachesse ; 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 na-more kepe, anon as they fir den

any contrarie or any ano} 7 . Thise been the newe

shepherdes, that leten hir sheep witingly 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 coldnesse, that freseth al the herte of man.

Thanne comth undevocioun, thurgh which a man is so

blent, as seith seint Bernard, and hath swiche langour in

soule, that he may neither rede ne singe in holy chirche,

ne here ne thinke of no devocioun, ne travaille with hise

handes in no good werk, that it nis him unsavory and al

apalled. Thanne wexeth he slow and slombrv, and

sone wol be wrooth, and sone is enclyned to hate and to

envye. Thanne eomth the sinne of worldly sorwe,

swich as is cleped tristicia, that sleeth man, as seint Paul

seith. For certes, swich sorwe werketh to the deeth of

the soule and of the body also ; for ther-of comth, that

a man is anoyed of his owene lyf. Wherfore swich

sorwe shorteth ful ofte the lyf of a man, er that his

tyme be come by wey of kinde.

Remedium contra peccatum Accidie.

§ 60. Agayns this horrible sinne of Accidie, and the

branches of the same, ther is a vertu that is called Forti-

tude- or Strengthe ; that is, an affeccioun thurgh which

a man despyseth anoyous thinges. This vertu is so

mighty and so vigorous, that it dar withstonde mightily

and wysely kepen him-self fro perils that been wikked,

and wrastle agayn the assautes of the devel. For it

enhaunceth and enforceth the soule, right as Accidie

abateth it and maketh it feble. For this Fortitudo may

endure by long suffraunce the travailles that been convenable.

§ 61. This vertu hath manye speces ; and the firste

is cleped Magnanimitee, 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, wysely and resonably. And for as muchel as

the devel fighteth agayns a man more by queyntise and

by sleigh te than by strengthe, therfore men shal with-

stonden 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 gode

werkes in the whiche he purposeth fermely to continue.

Thanne comth seuretee or sikernesse ; and that is,

whan a man ne douteth no travaille in tyme cominge of

the gode werkes that a man hath bigonne. Thanne

comth Magnificence, 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

gode werkes ; for in the acomplissinge of grete goode

werkes lyth the grete guerdoun. Thanne is ther Con-

staunce, that is, stablenesse of corage ; and this sholde

been in herte by stedefast feith, and in mouth, and in

beringe, and in chere and in dede. Eke ther been mo

speciale remedies agains Accidie, in diverse werkes, and

in consideracioun of the peynes of helle, and of the joyes

of hevene, and in trust of the grace of the holy gcost,

that wole yeve him might to perfourne his gode entente.

Sequitur de Auaricia.

§ 62. After Accidie wol I speke of Avarice and of

Coveitise, of which sinne seith seint Paule, that ‘ the

rote of alle harmes is Coveitise ‘ : Ad Timotheum, sexto

capitulo. For soothly, whan the herte of a man is con-

founded in it-self and troubled, and that the soule hath

lost the confort of god, thanne seketh he an ydel solas of worldly thinges.

§ 63. Avarice, after the descripcion of seint Augustin,

is likerousnesse in herte to have erthely thinges. Som

other folk seyn, that Avarice is, for to purchacen manye

erthely thinges, and no-thing yeve to hem that han nede.

And understond, that Avarice ne stant nat only in lond

ne catel, but somtyme in science and in glorie, 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 thou hast nat ; and Avarice is for to with-

holde and kepe swiche thinges as thou hast, with-oute

rightful nede. Soothly, this Avarice is a sinne that is

ful dampnable ; for al holy writ curseth it, and speketh

agayns that vyce ; for it dooth wrong to Jesu Crist.

For it bireveth him the love that men to him owen, and

turneth it bakward agayns alle resoun ; and maketh

that the avaricious man hath more hope in his catel

than in Jesu Crist, and dooth more observance in kepinge

of his tresor than he dooth to service of Jesu Crist. And

therfore seith seint Paul ad Ephesios, quinto, that ‘ an

avaricious man is in the thraldom of ydolatrie.’

§ 64. What difference is bitwixe an ydolastre and an

avaricious man, but that an ydolastre, per aventure, 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 Mawmetrye is the

firste thing that God deffended in the ten comaund-

ments, as bereth witnesse Exodi, capitulo xx° : ‘ Thou

shalt have no false goddes bifore me, ne thou shalt make

to thee no grave thing.’ Thus is an avaricious man,

that loveth his tresor biforn god, an ydolastre, thurgh

this cursed sinne of Avarice. Of Coveitise comen thise

harde lordshipes, thurgh whiche men been distreyned

by tailages, costumes, and cariages, more than hir duetee

or resoun is. And eek they taken of hir bonde-men

amerciments, whiche mighten more reasonably ben

cleped extorcions than amerciments. Of whiche

amerciments and raunsoninge of bondemen, somme

lordes stywardes seyn, that it is rightful ; for-as-muche

as a cherl temporel thing that it ne is his lordes,

as they seyn. But certes, thise lordshipes doon wrong,

that bireven hir bonde-folk 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, quinto.

§ 65. Thus may ye seen that the gilt disserveth thral-

dom, but nat nature. Wherfore thise lordes ne sholde

nat muche glorifyen hem in hir lordshipes, sith that by

naturel condicion they been nat lordes of thralles ; but

for that thraldom comth first by the desert of sinne.

And forther-over, ther-as the lawe seith, that temporel

godes of bonde-folk been the godes of hir lordshipes, ye,

that is for to understonde, the godes of the emperour,

to deffenden hem in hir right, but nat for to robben hem

ne reven hem. And therfore seith Seneca : ‘ thy pru-

dence sholde live benignely with thy thralles.’ Thilke

that thou clepest thy thralles been goddes peple ; for

humble folk been Cristes freendes ; they been contu-

bernial with the lord.

§ 66. 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 rede,

do right so with thy cherl, as thou woldest that thy lord

dide with thee, if thou were in his plyt. Every sinful

man is a cherl to sinne. I rede thee, certes, that thou,

lord, werke in swiche wyse with thy cherles, that they

rather love thee than drede. I woot wel ther is degree

above degree, as reson is ; and skile it is, that men do

hir devoir ther-as it is due ; but certes, extorcions and

despit of youre underlinges is dampnable.

§ 67. And forther-over understond wel, that thise

conquerours or tiraunts maken ful ofte thralles of hem,

that been born of as royal blood as been they that hem

conqueren. This name of thraldom was nevere erst

couth, til that Noe seyde, that his sone Canaan sholde

be thral to hise bretheren for his sinne. What seye we

thanne of hem that pilen and doon extorcions to holy

chirche ? Certes, the swerd, that men yeven first to

a knight whan he is newe dubbed, signifyeth that he

sholde deffenden holy chirche, and nat robben it ne

pilen it ; and who so dooth, is traitour to Crist. And,

as seith seint Augustin, ‘ they been the develes wolves,

that stranglen the sheep of Jesu Crist ‘ ; and doon

worse than wolves. For soothly, whan the wolf hath

ful his wombe, he stinteth to strangle sheep. But

soothly, the pilours and destroyours of goddes holy

chirche ne do nat so ; for they ne stinte nevere to pile.

Now, as I have seyd, sith so is that sinne was first cause

of thraldom, thanne is it thus ; that thilke tyme that

al this world was in sinne, thanne was al this world in

thraldom and subjeccioun. But certes, sith the tyme

of grace cam, god ordeyned that som folk sholde be

more heigh in estaat and in degree, and som folk more

lowe, and that everich sholde be served in his estaat

and in his degree. And therfore, in somme contrees

ther they byen thralles, whan they han turned hem to

the feith, they maken hir thralles free out of thraldom.

And therfore, certes, the lord oweth to his man that the

man oweth to his lord. The Pope calleth him -self

servant of the servaunts of god ; but

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-if god hadde ordeyned that som men

hadde hyer degree and som men lower : therfore was

sovereyntee ordeyned to kepe and mayntene and

deffenden hir underlinges or hir subgets in resoun, as

ferforth as it lyth in hir power ; and nat to destroyen

hem ne confounde. Wherfore I seye, that thilke lordes

that been lyk wolves, that devouren the possessiouns or

the catel of povre folk wrongfully, with -ou ten mercy or

mesure, they shul receyven by the same mesure that

they han mesured to povre folk the mercy of Jesu Crist,

but-if it be amended. Now comth deceite bitwixe

marchant and marchant. And thow shalt understonde,

that marchandyse is in two maneres ; that oon is bodily,

and that other is goostly. That oon is honeste and

leveful, and that other is deshoneste and unleveful. Of

thilke bodily marchandyse, that is leveful and honeste,

is this ; that, there-as god hath ordeyned that a regne

or a contree is suffisaunt to him-self, thanne is it honeste

and leveful, that of habundaunce of this contree, that

men helpe another contree that is more nedy. And

therfore, ther mote been marchants to bringen fro that

o contree to that other hire marchandyses. That other

marchandise, that men haunten with fraude and

trecherie and deceite, with lesinges and false othes, is

cursed and dampnable. Espirituel marchandyse is

proprely Symonye, that is, ententif desyr to byen thing

espirituel, that is, thing that aperteneth to the seintuarie

of god and to cure of the soule. This desyr, if so be

that a man do his diligence to parfournen it, al-be-it

that his desyr ne take noon effect, yet is it to him a deedly

sinne ; and if he be ordred, he is irreguler. Certes,

Symonye is cleped of Symon 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 understand, that bothe he that selleth

and he that byeth thinges espirituels, been cleped

Symonials ; be it by catel, be it by procuringe, or by

fleshly preyere of hise freendes, fleshly freendes, or

espirituel freendes. Fleshly, in two maneres ; as by

kinrede or othere freendes. Soothly, if they praye for

him that is nat worthy and able, it is Symonye if he take

the benefice ; and if he be worthy and able, ther nis noon.

That other manere is, whan a man or womman preyen for

folk to avauncen hem, only for wikked fleshly affeccioun

that they have un-to the persone ; and that is foul

Symonye. But certes, in service, for which men yeven

thinges espirituels un-to hir servants, it moot been

understonde that the service moot been honeste, and

elles nat ; and eek that it be with-outen bargayninge,

and that the persone be able. For, as seith seint Da-

masie, ‘ alle the sinnes of the world, at regard of this

sinne, arn as thing of noght ‘ ; for it is the gretteste

sinne that may be, after the sinne of Lucifer and Ante-

crist. For, by this sinne, god forleseth the chirche,

and the soule that he boghte with his precious blood,

by hem that yeven chirches to hem that been nat digne.

For they putten in theves, that stelen the soules of

Jesu Christ and destroy en his patrimoine. By swiche

undigne preestes and curates han lewed men the lasse

reverence of the sacraments of holy chirche ; and swiche

yeveres of chirches putten out the children of Crist, and

putten in-to 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 of the pasture of lambes, that is, the blisse of

hevene. Now comth hasardrye with hise apurtenaunces,

as tables and rafles ; of which comth deceite, false othes,

chydinges, and alle ravines, blaspheminge and reneyinge

of god, and hate of hise neighebores, wast of godes, mis-

spendinge of tyme, and som-tyme manslaughtre. Certes,

hasardours ne mowe nat been with-outen greet sinne

whyles they haunte that craft. Of avarice comen eek

lesinges, thefte, fals witnesse, and false othes. And ye

shul understonde that thise been grete sinnes, and expres

agayn the comaundements of god, as I have seyd. Fals

witnesse is in word and eek in dede. In word, as for to

bireve thy neighebores goode name by thy fals witnessing,

or bireven him his catel or his heritage by thy fak

witnessing ; whan thou, for ire or for mede, or for envye,

berest fals witnesse, or accusest him or excusest him by

thy fals witnesse, or elles excusest thy-self falsly. Ware

yow, questemongeres and notaries ! Certes, for fals

witnessing was Susanna in f ul gret sorwe and peyne, and

many another mo. The sinne of thefte is eek expres

agayns goddes heste, and that in two maneres, corporel

and espirituel. Corporel, as for to take thy neighebores

catel agayn his wil, be it by force or by sleighte, be it

by met or by mesure. By steling eek of false endite-

ments upon him, and in borwinge of thy neighebores

catel, in entente nevere to payen it agayn, and semblable

thinges. 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-hawes, for which every vileyns sinne that men

doon in swiche places may be cleped sacrilege, or every

violence in the semblable places. Also, they that with-

drawen falsly the rightes that longen to holy chirche.

And pleynly and generally, sacrilege is to reven holy

thing fro holy place, or unholy thing out of holy place,

or holy thing out of unholy place.

Relevacio contra peccatum Avaricie.

§ 68. Now shul ye understonde, that the relevinge of

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 delyteth him in the kepinge of his tresor, and nat

in the rescowinge ne relevinge of his evene-cristene.

And therfore speke I first of misericorde. Thanne is

misericorde, as seith the philosophre, a vertu, by which

the corage of man is stired by the misese of him that

is misesed. Up-on 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 him -self for oure gilt, and suffred

deeth for misericorde, and forgaf us oure originale

sinnes ; and therby relessed us fro the peynes of helle,

and amenused the peynes of purgatorie by penitence, and

yeveth grace wel to do, and atte laste the blisseof hevene.

The speces of misericorde been, as for to lene 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 chastyse there as nede is. Another

manere of remedie agayns Avarice is resonable largesse ;

but soothly, here bihoveth the consideracioun of the

grace of Jesu Crist, and of hise temporel goodes, and

eek of the godes perdurables that Crist yaf to us ; and

to han remembrance of the deeth that he shal receyve,

he noot whanne, where, ne how ; and eek that he shal

f orgon al that he hath, save only that he hath despended in gode werkes.

§ 69. But f or-as-muche as som folk been unmesurable,

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 veyne glorie, as to minstrals and to folk, for to beren

his renoun in the world, he hath sinne ther-of and noon

almesse. Certes, he leseth foule his good, that ne seketh

with the yifte of his good no-thing but sinne. He is lyk

to an hors that seketh rather to drinken drovy or trouble

water than for to drinken water of the clere welle. And

for-as-muchel as they yeven ther as they sholde nat

yeven, to hem aperteneth thilke malisoun that Crist shal

yeven at the day of dome to hem that shullen been dampned.

Sequitur de Quia.

§ 70. After Avarice comth Glotonye, which is expres

eek agayn the comandement of god. Glotonye is un-

mesurable appetyt to ete or to drinke, or elles to doon

y-nogh to the unmesurable appetyt and desordeynee

coveityse to eten or to drinke. This sinne corrumped

al this world, as is wel shewed in the sinne of Adam

and of Eve. Loke eek, what seith seint Paul of

Glotonye. ‘ Manye,’ seith seint Paul, ‘ goon, of whiche

I have ofte seyd to yow, and now I seye it wepinge,

that they been the enemys of the croys of Crist ; of

whiche the ende is deeth, and of whiche hir wombe is

hir god, and hir glorie in confusioun of hem that so

saveren erthely thinges.’ He that is usaunt to this

sinne of Glotonye, he ne may no sinne withstonde. He

moot been in servage of alle vyces, for it is the develes

hord ther he hydeth him and resteth. This sinne hath

manye speces. The firste is dronkenesse, that is the

horrible sepulture 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 wont to strong drinke, and peraventure ne

knoweth nat the strengthe of the drinke, or hath

feblesse in his heed, or hath travailed, thurgh which

he drinketh the more, al be he sodeynly caught with

drinke, it is no deedly sinne, but venial. The seconde

spece of Glotonye is, that the spirit of a man wexeth al

trouble ; for dronkenesse bireveth him the discrecioun

of his wit. The thridde spece of Glotonye is, whan

a man devoureth his mete, and hath no rightful manere

of etinge. The fourthe is whan, thurgh the grete

habundaunce of his mete, the humours in his body been

destempred. The fifthe is, foryetelnesse by to muchel

drinkinge ; for which somtyme a man foryeteth er the

morwe what he dide at even or on the night biforn.

§ 71. In other manere been distinct the speces of

Glotonye, after seint Gregorie. The firste is, for to

ete biforn tyme to ete. The seconde is, whan a man

get him to delicat mete or drinke. The thridde is,

whan men taken to muche over mesure. The fourthe is

curiositee, with greet entente to maken and apparaillen

his mete. The fifthe is, for to eten to gredily. Thise

been the fyve fingres of the develes hand, by whiche he

draweth folk to sinne.

Remedium contra peccatum Gule.

§ 72. Agayns Glotonye is the remedie Abstinence, as

seith Galien ; but that holde I nat meritorie, if he do

it only for the hele of his body. Seint Augustin wole,

that Abstinence be doon for vertu and with pacience.

Abstinence, he seith, is litel worth, but-if a man have

good wil ther- to, and but it be enforced by pacience

and by charitee, and that men doon it for godes sake,

and in hope to have the blisse of hevene.

§ 73. The felawes of Abstinence been Attemperaunce,

that holdeth the mene in alle thinges : eek Shame, that

eschueth alle deshonestee : Sufhsance, that seketh no

riche metes ne drinkes, ne dooth no fors of to outrageous

apparailinge of mete. Mesure also, that restreyneth

by resoun the deslavee appetyt of etinge : Sobrenesse

also, that restreyneth the outrage of drinke : Sparinge

also, that restreyneth the delicat ese to sitte longe at

his mete and softely ; wherfore som folk stonden of hir

owene wil, to eten at the lasse leyser.

Sequitur de Luxuria.

§ 74. After Glotonye, thanne comth Lecherie ; for

thise two sinnes been so ny cosins, that ofte tyme they

wol nat departe. God woot, this sinne is ful dis-

plesaunt thing to god ; for he seyde himself, ‘ do no

lecherie.’ And therfore he putte grete peynes agayns

this sinne in the olde lawe. If womman thral were

taken in this sinne, she sholde be beten with staves to

the deeth. And if she were a gentil womman, she sholde

be slayn with stones. And if she were a bisshoppes

doghter, she sholde been brent, by goddes comande-

ment. Forther over, by the sinne of Lecherie, god dreynte

al the world at the diluge. And after that, he brente

fyve citees with thonder-leyt, and sank hem in-to helle.

§ 75. Now lat us speke thanne of thilke stinkinge

sinne of Lecherie that men clepe Avoutrie of wedded

folk, that is to seyn, if that oon of hem be wedded, or

elles bothe. Seint John seith, that avoutiers shullen

been in helle in a stank brenninge of fyr and of brim-

ston ; in fyr, for the lecherie ; in brimston, for the

stink of hir ordure. Certes, the brekinge of this sacre-

ment is an horrible thing ; it was maked of god him-

self in paradys, and confermed by Jesu Crist, as wit-

nesseth seint Mathew in the gospel : ‘ A man shal lete

fader and moder, and taken him to his wyf, and they

shullen be two in o flesh.’ This sacrement bitokneth

the knittinge togidre of Crist and of holy chirche. And

nat only that god forbad avoutrie in dede, but eek he

comanded that thou sholdest nat coveite thy neighe-

bores wyf. In this heeste, seith seint Augustin, is

forboden alle manere coveitise to doon lecherie. Lo

what seith seint Mathew in the gospel : that ‘ who-so

seeth a womman to coveitise of his lust, he hath doon

lecherie with hir in his herte.’ Here may ye seen that

nat only the dede of this sinne is forboden, but eek the

desyr to doon that sinne. This cursed sinne anoyeth

grevousliche hem that it haunten. And first, to hir

soule ; for he oblygeth it to sinne and to peyne of

deeth that is perdurable. Un-to the body anoyeth it

grevously also, for it dreyeth him, and wasteth, and

shent him, and of his blood he maketh sacrifyce to the

feend of helle ; it wasteth 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 dispenden up-on men hir

catel and substaunce. This sinne, as seith the pro-

phete, bireveth man and womman hir gode fame, and

al hir honour ; and it is ful pleasaunt to the devel ; for

ther-by winneth he the moste partie of this world. And

right as a marchant delyteth him most in chaffare

that he hath most avantage of, right so delyteth the

feend in this ordure.

§ 76. This is that other hand of the devel, with fyve

fingres, to cacche the peple to his vileinye. The firste

finger is the fool 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 vileyns touchinge in wikkede manere ; and

ther-fore seith Salomon, that who-so toucheth and

handleth a womman, he fareth lyk him that handleth

the scorpioun that stingeth and sodeynly sleeth thurgh

his enveniminge ; as who-so toucheth warm pich, it

shent his fingres. The thridde, is foule wordes, that

fareth lyk fyr, that right anon brenneth the herte. The

fourthe finger is the kissinge ; and trewely he were

a greet fool that wolde kisse the mouth of a brenninge

ovene or of a fourneys. And more fooles been they

that kissen in vileinye ; for that mouth is the mouth

of helle : and namely, thise olde dotardes holours, yet

wol they kisse, though they may nat do, and smatre

hem. Certes, they been lyk to houndes ; for an hound,

whan he comth by the roser or by othere busshes,

though 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 likerousnesse

that he doth with his wyf ; certes, that opinion is fals.

God woot, a man may sleen him-self with his owene

knyf, and make him-selven dronken of his owene tonne.

Certes, be it wyf, be it child, or any worldly thing that

he loveth biforn god, it is his maumet, and he is an

ydolastre. Man sholde loven his wyf by discrecioun,

paciently and atemprely ; and thanne is she as though

it were his suster. The fifthe finger of the develes hand

is the stinkinge dede of Lecherie. Certes, the fyve

fingres of Glotonie the feend put in the wombe of a man,

and with hise fyve fyngres of Lecherie he gripeth him

by the reynes, for to throwen him in-to the fourneys of

helle ; ther-as they shul han the fyr and the wormes

that evere shul lasten, and wepinge and wailinge, sharp

hunger and thurst, and grimnesse of develes that

shullen al to-trede hem, with-outen respit and with-

outen ende. Of Lecherie, as I seyde, sourden diverse

speces ; as fornicacioun, that is bitwixe man and

womman that been nat maried ; and this is deedly

sinne and agayns nature. Al that is enemy and des-

truccioun to nature is agayns nature. Parfay, the

resoun of a man telleth eek him wel that it is deedly

sinne, for-as-muche as god forbad Lecherie. And seint

Paul yeveth hem the regne, that nis dewe to no wight

but to hem that doon deedly sinne. Another sinne of

Lecherie is to bireve a mayden of hir maydenhede ; for

he that so dooth, certes, he casteth a mayden out of

the hyeste degree that is in this present lyf, and bireveth

hir thilke precious fruit that the book clepeth ‘ the

hundred fruit.’ I ne can seye it noon other weyes in

English, but in Latin it highte Centesimus jructus.

Certes, he that so dooth is cause of manye damages

and vileinyes, mo than any man can rekene ; right as

he somtyme is cause of alle damages that bestes don

in the feeld, that breketh the hegge or the closure ;

thurgh which he destroyeth that may nat been restored.

For certes, na-more may maydenhede be restored than

an arm that is smiten fro the body may retourne agayn

to wexe. 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 Avoutrie, it is good to shewen mo perils that longen

to Avoutrie, for to eschue that foule sinne. Avoutrie

in Latin is for to seyn, approchinge of other mannes

bed, thurgh which tho that whylom weren o flessh

abaundone hir bodyes to othere persones. Of this

sinne, as seith the wyse man, folwen manye harmes.

First, brekinge of feith ; and certes, in feith is the keye

of Cristendom. And whan that feith is broken and

lorn, soothly Cristendom stant veyn and with-outen

fruit. This sinne is eek a thefte ; for thefte generally

is for to reve a wight his thing agayns 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 holour to defoulen hir ; 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 avoutiers 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 seith seint

Paul. Soothly of this thefte douted gretly Joseph,

whan that his lordes wyf preyed him of vileinye, whan

he seyde, ‘ lo, my lady, how my lord hath take to me

under my warde al that he hath in this world ; ne no-

thing of hise thinges is out of my power, but only ye

that been his wyf. And how sholde I thanne do this

wikkednesse, and sinne so horribly agayns god, and

-agayns my lord ? God it forbede.’ Allas ! al to litel

is swich trouthe now y-founde ! The thridde harm is

the filthe thurgh which they breken the comandement

of god, and defoulen the auctour of matrimoine, that

is Crist. For certes, in-so-muche as the sacrernent of

mariage is so noble and so digne, so muche is it gretter

sinne for to breken it ; for god made mariage in paradys,

in the estaat of innocence, to multiplye man-kinde to

the service of god. And therf ore is the brekinge ther-of

more grevous. Of which brekinge comen false heires

ofte tyme, that wrongfully occupyen folkes heritages.

And therfore wol Crist putte hem out of the regne of

hevene, that is heritage to gode folk. Of this brekinge

comth eek ofte tyme, that folk unwar wedden or sinnen

with hir owene kinrede ; and namely thilke harlottes

that haunten bordels of thise fool wommen, that mowe

be lykned to a commune gonge, where-as men purgen

hir ordure. What seye we eek of putours that liven by

the horrible sinne of puterie, and constreyne wommen

to yelden to hem a certeyn rente of hir bodily puterie,

ye, somtyme of his owene wyf or his child ; as doon

this baudes ? Certes, thise been cursede sinnes. Under-

stand eek, that avoutrie is set gladly in the ten comande-

ments 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 lyk to homicyde ; for it kerveth

a-two and breketh a-two hem that first were maked

o flesh, and therfore, by the olde lawe of god, they

sholde be slayn. But nathelees, by the lawe of Jesu

Crist, that is lawe of pitee, whan he seyde to the worn-

man that was founden in avoutrie, and sholde han been

slayn with stones, after the wil of the Jewes, as was hir

lawe : ‘ Go,’ quod Jesu Crist, ‘ and have na-more wil

to sinne ‘ ; or, ‘ wille na-more to do sinne.’ Soothly,

the vengeaunce of avoutrie is awarded to the peynes of

helle, but-if so be that it be destourbed by penitence.

Yet been ther mo speces of this cursed sinne ; as whan

that oon of hem is religious, or elles bothe ; or of folk

that been entred in-to 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 agreggen hir sinne is the brekinge of hir avow of

chastitee, whan they receyved the ordre. And forther-

over, sooth is, that holy ordre is chief of al the tresorie

of god, and his especial signe and mark of chastitee ;

to shewe that they been joyned to chastitee, which that

is most precious lyf that is. And thise ordred folk been

specially tytled to god, and of the special meynee of

god ; for which, whan they doon deedly sinne, they

been the special traytours of god and of his peple ; for

they liven of the peple, to preye for the peple, and

whyle they been suche traitours, hir preyers availen

nat to the peple. Preestes been aungeles, as by the

dignitee of hir misterye ; but for sothe, seint Paul

seith, that ‘ Sathanas transformeth him in an aungel

of light.’ Soothly, the preest that haunteth deedly

sinne, he may be lykned 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 been the sones of Helie, as sheweth in the book

of Kinges, that they weren the sones of Belial, that is,

the devel. Belial is to seyn ‘ with-outen juge ‘ ; and so

faren they ; hem thinketh they been free, and han no

juge, na-more than hath a free bole that taketh which

cow that him lyketh in the toun. So faren they by

wommen. For right as a free bole is y-nough for al

a toun, right so is a wikked preest corrupcioun y-nough

for al a parisshe, or for al a contree. Thise preestes,

as seith the book, ne conne nat the misterie of preest-

hode to the peple, ne god ne knowe they nat ; they ne

helde hem nat apayd, as seith the book, of soden flesh

that was to hem offred, but they toke by force the flesh

that is rawe. Certes, so thise shrewes ne holden hem

nat apayed of rosted flesh and sode flesh, with which

the peple fedden hem in greet reverence, but they vvole

have raw flesh of folkes wyves and hir doghtres. And

certes, thise wommen that consenten to hir harlotrie

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 hir lemmanes eek that consenten to hir

lecherie, the malisoun of al the court Cristen, til they

come to amendement. The thridde spece of avoutrie

is som-tyme bitwixe a man and his wyf ; and that is

whan they take no reward in hir assemblage, but only

to hire fleshly delyt, as seith seint Jerome ; and ne

rekken of no-thing but that they been assembled ; by-

cause that they been maried, al is good y-nough as

thmketh to hem. But in swich folk hath the devel

power, as seyde the aungel Raphael to Thobie ; for in

hir assemblings they putten Jesu Crist out of hir herte

and yeven hem-self to alle ordure. The fourthe spece

is, the assemblee of hem that been of hire kinrede, or of

hem that been of oon affinitee, or elles with hem with

whiche hir fadres or hir kinrede han deled in the

sinne of lechene ; this sinne maketh hem lyk to

houndes, that taken no kepe to kinrede. And certes,

parentele is in two maneres, outher goostly or fleshly •

goostly, as for to delen with hise godsibbes. For right

so as he that engendreth a child is his fleshly fader

right so is his godfader his fader espirituel. For which

a womman may in no lasse sinne assemblen with hir

godsib than with hir owene fleshly brother. The fifthe

spece is thilke abhominable sinne, of which that no

man unnethe oghte speke ne wryte, nathelees it is

openly reherced in holy writ. This cursednesse doon

men and wommen in diverse entente and in diverse

manere ; but though that holy writ speke of horrible

smne, certes, holy writ may nat been defouled, na-

more than the sonne that shyneth on the mixen

Another sinne aperteneth to lecherie, that comth in

slepinge ; and this sinne cometh ofte to hem that

been maydenes, and eek to hem that been corrupt ;

and this sinne men clepen pollucioun, that comth in

foure maneres. Somtyme, of languissinge of body •

for the humours been to ranke and habundaunt in the

body of man. Somtyme of infermetee ; for the feb-

lesse of the vertu retentif, as phisik maketh mencioun

Somtyme, for surfeet of mete and drinke. And som-

tyme of vileyns thoghtes, that been enclosed in mannes

minde whan he goth to slepe ; which may nat been

with-oute sinne. For which men moste kepen hem

wysely, or elles may men sinnen ful grevously

Remedium contra peccatum Luxurie.

§ 77. Now comth the remedie agayns Lecherie, and

that is, generally, Chastitee and Continence, that re-

streyneth alle the desordeynee moevinges that comen of

fleshly talentes. And evere the gretter inerite shal he

han, that most restreyneth the wikkede eschaufinges of

the ordure of this sinne. And this is in two maneres,

that is to seyn, chastitee in mariage, and chastitee in

widwehode. Now shaltow understonde, that matri-

moine is leefful assemblinge of man and of womman,

that receyven by vertu of the sacrement the bond,

thurgh which they may nat be departed in al hir lyf,

that is to seyn, whyl that they liven bothe. This, as

seith the book, is a ful greet sacrement. God maked

it, as I have seyd, in paradys, and wolde him-self be

born in mariage. And for to halwen mariage, he was

at a weddinge, where-as he turned water in-to wyn ;

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 in-to venial sinne bitwixe hem

that been y-wedded, and maketh the hertes al oon of

hem that been y-wedded, as wel as the bodies. This is

verray mariage, that was establissed by god er that

sinne bigan, whan naturel lawe was in his right point

in paradys ; and it was ordeyned that o man sholde

have but o womman, and o womman but o man, as seith

seint Augustin, by manye resouns.

§ 78. First, for mariage is figured bitwixe Crist and

holy chirche. And that other is, for a man is heved

of a womman ; algate, by ordinaunce it sholde be so.

For if a womman had mo men than oon, thanne sholde

she have mo hevedes than oon, and that were an horri-

ble thing biforn god ; and eek a womman ne mightc

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 engendrure, ne who sholde

have his heritage ; and the womman sholde been the

lasse biloved, fro the time that she were conjoynt to many men.

§ 79. Now comth, how that a man sholde bere him

with his wyf ; and namely, in two thinges, that is to

seyn in suffraunce and reverence, as shewed Crist whan

he made first womman. For he ne made hir nat of the

heved of Adam, for she sholde nat clayme to greet lord-

shipe. For ther-as the womman hath the maistrie, she

maketh to muche desray ; ther neden none ensamples

of this. The experience of day by day oghte suffyse.

Also certes, god ne made nat womman of the foot of

Adam, for she ne sholde nat been holden to lowe ; for

she can nat paciently sufi’re : but gcd made womman

of the rib of Adam, for womman sholde be felawe un-to

man. Man sholde bere him to his wyf in feith, in trouthe,

and in love, as seith seint Paul : that ‘ a man sholde

loven his wyf as Crist loved holy chirche, that loved it

so wel that he deyde for it.’ So sholde a man for his

wyf, if it were nede.

§ 80. Now how that a womman sholde be subget to

hir housbonde, that tclleth seint Peter. First, in obe-

dience. And eek, as seith the decree, a womman that

is a wyf, as longe as she is a wyf, she hath noon auc-

toritee to swere ne bere witnesse with-oute leve of hir

housbonde, that is hir lord ; algate, he sholde be so

by resoun. She sholde eek serven him in alle honestee,

and been attempree of hir array. I wot wel that they

sholde setten hir entente to plesen hir housbondes, but

nat by hir queyntise of array. Seint Jerome seith,

that wy ves that been apparailled in silk and in precious

purpre ne mowe nat clothen hem in Jesu Crist. What

seith seint John eek in this matere ? Seint Gregorie

eek seith, that no wight seketh precious array but only

for veyne glorie, to been honoured the more biforn the

peple. It is a greet folye, a womman to have a fail-

array outward and in hir-self be foul inward. A wyf

sholde eek be mesurable in lokinge and in beringe and

in laughinge, and discreet in alle hir wordes and hir

dedes. And aboven alle worldly thing she sholde loven

hir housbonde with al hir herte, and to him be trewe

of hir body ; so sholde an housbonde eek be to his wyf.

For sith that al the body is the housbondes, so sholde hir

herte been, or elles ther is bitwixe hem two, as in that,

no parfit mariage. Thanne shal men understonde that

for three thinges a man and his wyf fleshly mowen

assemble. The firste is in entente of engendrure of

children to the service of god, for certes that is the cause

fynal of matrimoine. Another cause is, to yelden eve-

rich of hem to other the dette of hir bodies, for neither

of hem hath power over his owene body. The thriddc

is, for to eschewe lecherye and vileinye. The ferthe is

for sothe deedly sinne. As to the firste, it is meritorie ;

the seconde also ; for, as seith the decree, that she hath

merite of chastitee that yeldeth to hir housbonde the

dette of hir body, ye, though it be agayn hir lykinge

and the lust of hir herte. The thridde manere is venial

sinne, and trewely scarsly may ther any of thise be with-

oute venial sinne, for the corrupcion and for the delyt.

The fourthe manere is for to understonde, if they assem-

ble only for amorous love and for noon of the forseyde

causes, but for to accomplice thilke brenninge delyt,

they rekke nevere how ofte, sothly it is deedly sinne ;

and yet, with sorwe, somme folk wol peynen hem more

to doon than to hir appetyt suffyseth.

§ 81. The seconde manere of chastitee is for to been

a clene widewe, and eschue the cmbracinges of man,

and desyren the embracinge of Jesu Crist. Thise been

tho that han been wyves and han forgoon hir hous-

bondes, and eek wommen that han doon lecherie and

been releeved by Penitence. And certes, if that a wyf

coude kepen hir al chaast by licence of hir housbonde,

so that she yeve nevere noon occasion that he agilte, it

were to hire a greet merite. Tliise manere wommen

that observen chaBtitee rnoste be clene in herte as well

as in body and in thoght, and meaurable in clothinge

and in contehaunce ; and been abstinent in etinge and

drinkinge, in spekinge, and in da\v. They been the

vessel or tin- boyste of the blissed Magdalene, that

fultilleth holy chirche of good odour. The thridde

manere of chastitee is virginitee, and it bihoveth that

she be holy in herte and clene of body ; thanne is she

spouse to Jesu Crist, and she is the lyf of angeles. She

is the preisinge of this world, and she is as thise martirs

in egalitee ; she hath in hir that tonge may nat telle

ne herte thinke. Virginitee baar oure lord Jesu Crist,

and virgine was him-selve.

§ 82. Another remedie agayns Lecherie is, specially

to withdrawen swiche thinges as yeve occasion to

thilke vileinye ; as ese, etinge and drinkinge ; for

certes, whan the pot boyleth strongly, the beste remedie

is to withdrawe the fyr. Slepinge longe in greet quiete

is eek a greet norice to Lecherie.

§ 83. Another remedie agayns Lecherie is, that a

man or a womman eschue the companye 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 whyt wal, although it ne brenne noght fully

by stikinge of a candele, yet is the wal blak of the leyt.

Ful ofte tyme I rede, that no man truste in his owcnc

perfeccioun, but he be stronger than Sampson, and

holier than David, and wyser than Salomon.

§ 84. Now after that I have declared yow, as I can,

the sevene deedly sinnes, and somme of hir braunches

and hir remedies, soothly, if I coude, 1 wolde telle yow

the ten comandements. But so heigh a doctrine I lete

to divines. Nathelees, I hope to god they been touched

in this tretice, everich of hem alle.

De Confessione.

§ 85. Now for-as-muche as the second partie of

Penitence stant in Confessioun of mouth, as I bigan

in the firste chapitre, I seye, seint Augustin seith : sinne

is every word and every dede, and al that men coveiten

agayn the lawe of Jesu Grist ; and this is for to sinne

in herte, in mouth, and in dede, by thy fyve wittes,

that been sighte, heringe, smellinge, tastinge or savour-

inge, and felinge. Now is it good to understonde that

that agreggeth muchel every sinne. Thou shalt con-

sidere what thou art that doost the sinne, whether thou

be male or femele, yong or old, gentil or thral, free or

servant, hool or syk, wedded or sengle, ordred or un-

ordred, wys or fool, clerk or seculer ; if she be of thy

kinrede, bodily or goOstly, or noon ; if any of thy

kinrede have sinned with hir or noon, and manye mo thinges.

§ 86. Another circumstaunce is this ; whether it be

doon in fornicacioun, or in avoutrie, or noon ; incest,

or noon ; mayden, or noon ; in manere of homicyde,

or noon ; horrible grete sinnes, or smale ; and how

longe thou hast continued in sinne. The thridde cir-

cumstaunce is the place ther thou hast do sinne ;

whether in other mennes hous or in thyn owene ; in

feeld or in chirche, or in chirche-hawe ; in chirchc

dedicat, or noon. For if the chirche be halwed, and

man or womman spille his kinde in-with that place by

wey of sinne, or by wikked temptacion, the chirche is

entredited til it be reconciled by the bishop ; and the

preest that dide swich a vileinye, to terme of al his

lyf, he sholde na-more singe masse ; and if he dide, he

sholde doon deedly sinne at every tyme that he so

songe masse. The fourthe circumstaunce is, by whiche

mediatours or by whiche messagers, as for entycement,

or for consentement to bere companye with felawe-

shipe ; for many a wrecche, for to bere companye, wil

go to the devel of helle. Wher-fore they that eggen or

consenten to the sinne been parteners of the sinne,

and of the dampnacioun of the sinner. The fifthc

circumstaunce is, how manye tymes 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 encreesseth his sinne, and is

unkinde to Crist ; and he wexeth the more feble to

withs^onde sinne, and sinneth the more lightly, and

the latter aryseth, and is the more eschew for to shry veil

him, namely, to him that is his confessour. For which

that folk, whan they falle agayn in hir olde folies, outlier

they forleten hir olde confessours al outrely, or elles

they departen hir shrift in diverse places ; but soothly,

swich departed shrift deservcth no mercy of god of

hise sinnes. The sixte circumstaunce is, why that a

man sinneth, as by whiche temptacioun ; and if him-

self procure thilke temptacioun, or by the excy tinge

of other folk ; or if he sinne with a womman by force,

or by hir owene assent ; or if the womman, maugree

hir heed, hath been afforced, or noon ; this shal she

telle ; for coveitise, or for poverte, and if it was hir

procuringe, or noon ; and swiche manere harneys. The

seventhe circumstaunce is, in what manere he hath

doon his sinne, or how that she hath suffred that folk

han doon to hir. And the same shal the man telle

pleynly, with alle circumstaunces ; and whether he

hath sinned with comune bordel-wommen, or noon ; or

doon his sinne in holy tymes, or noon ; in fasting-tymes,

or noon ; or biforn his shrifte, or after his latter shrifte ;

and hath, per-aventure, broken ther-fore his penance

enjoyned ; by whos help and whos conseil ; by sorcerie

or craft ; al moste be told. Alle thise thinges, after

that they been grete or smale, engreggen the conscience

of man. And eek the preest that is thy juge, may the

bettre been avysed of his jugement in yevinge of thy

penaunce, and that is after thy contricioun. For

understond wel, that after tyme that a man haj^h

defouled his baptesme by sinne, if he wole come to

salvacioun, ther is noon other wey but by penitence

and shrifte and satisfaccioun ; and namely by the

two, if ther be a confessour to which he may shryven

him ; and the thridde, if he have lyf to parfournen it.

§ 87. Thanne shal man looke and considers, that if

he wole maken a trewe and a profitable confessioun,

ther moste be foure condiciouns. First, it moot been

in sorweful bitternesse of herte, as seyde the king

Ezekias to god : ‘ I wol remembre me alle the yeres of

my lyf in bitternesse of myn herte.’ This condicioun

of bitternesse hath fyve signes. The firste is, that con-

fessioun moste be shamefast, nat for to covere ne hyden

his sinne, for he hath agilt his god and defouled his

soule. And her-of seith 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. Swich was the confession of the publican,

that wolde nat heven up hise eyen to hevene, for

he hadde offended god of hevene ; for which shame-

fastnesse he hadde anon the mercy of god. And ther-of

seith seint Augustin, that swich shamefast folk been

next foryevenesse and remissioun. Another signe is

humilitee in confessioun ; of which seith seint Peter,

‘ Humbleth yow under the might of god.’ The hond

of god is mighty in confession, for ther-by god for-

yeveth thee thy sinnes ; for he allone hath the power.

And this humilitee shal been in herte, and in signe out-

ward ; for right as he hath humilitee to god in his hc;rtc,

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 sovereyn and the preest mene and media-

tour bitwixe Crist and the sinnere, and the sinnere is

the laste by wey of resoun, thanne sholde nat the

sinnere sitte as heighe as his confessour, but knele

biforn him or at his feet, but-if maladie destourbe it.

For he shal nat taken kepe who sit there, but in whos

place that he sittcth. A man that hath trespased to

a lord, and comth for to axe mercy and maken his

accord, and set him doun anon by the lord, men wolde

liolden him outrageous, and nat worthy so sont for to

have remissioun ne mercy. The thridde signe is, how

that thy shrift sholde be ful of teres, 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 nat for shame to shewen his confes-

sioun. Swich was the confessioun of the Magdelenc,

that ne spared, for no shame of hem that Avercn at to

feste, for to go to oure lord Jesu Crist and biknowe to

him hir sinnes. The fifthe signe is, that a man or

a womman be dbeisant to receyven the penaunce that

him is enjoyned for hise sinnes : for certes Jesu Crist;

for the giltcs of a man, was obedient to the deeth.

§88. The seconde condicion of rerray confession is,

that it be hastily doon ; for certes, if a man hadde

a deedly wounde, evere the lenger that he taried to

warisshe him-self, the more wolde it corrupte and haste

him to his deeth ; and eek the wounde wolde be the

wors for to hele. And right so fareth sinne, that longe

tyme is in a man unshewed. Certes, a man oghte

hastily shewen hise sinnes for manye causes ; as for

drede of deeth, that cometh ofte sodenly, and is in no

certeyn what tyme it shal be, ne in what place ; and

eek the drecchinge of o synne draweth in another ; and

eek the lenger that he tarieth, the ferther he is fro

Crist. And if he abyde to his laste day, scarsly may

he shryven him or remembre him of hise sinnes, or

repenten him, for the grevous maladie of his deeth.

And for-as-muche as he ne hath nat in his lyf herkned

Jesu Crist, whanne he hath spoken, he shal crye to

Jesu Crist at his laste day, and scarsly wol he herkne

him. And understand that this condicioun moste han

foure thinges. Thy shrift moste be purveyed bifore

and avysed ; for wikked haste doth no profit ; and

that a man conne shryve him of hise sinnes, be it of

pryde, or of envye, and so forth of the speces and cir-

cumstances ; and that he have comprehended in his

minde the nombre and the greethesse of hise sinnes,

and how longe that he hath leyn in sinne ; and eek

that he be contrit of hise sinnes, and in stedefast purpos,

by the grace of god, nevere eft to falle in sinne ; and

eek that he drede and countrewaite him-self, that he

flee the occasiouns of sinne to whiche he is enclyned.

Also thou shalt shryve thee of alle thy sinnes to o man,

and nat a parcel to o man and a parcel to another ;

that is to understonde, in entente to departe thy confes-

sioun as for shame or drede ; for it nis but stranglinge

of thy soule. For certes, Jesu Crist is entierly al

good; in him nis noon inperfeccioun ; and therfore

outlier he foryeveth al pariitly or never a deel. I scyc

nat that if thou be assigned to the penitauncer for

certein sinne, that- thou art bounde to shewen him al

the remenaunt of thy sinnes, of whiche thou hast be

shriven to thy curat, but-if it lyke to thee of thyn

hmiiilitee ; this is no departinge of shrift e. Ne I seye

nat, ther-as I speke of divisioun of confessiouii, that if

thou have lycence for to shryve thee to a discreet and

an honeste preest, where thee lyketh, and by lycence

of thy curat, that thou ne mayst wel shryve thee to

him of alle thy sinnes. But lat no blotte be bihinde ;

lat no sinne been untold, as fer as thou hast remein-

braunce. And whan thou shalt be shriven to thy curat,

telle him eek alle the sinnes that thou hast doon sin

thou were last y-shriven ; this is no wikked entente of

divisioun of shrifte.

§ 89. Also the verray shrifte axeth certeine con-

diciouns. First, that thou shryve thee by thy free wil,

noglit constreyned, ne for shame of folk, ne for maladie,

ne swiche thinges ; for it is resoun that he that tres-

passeth by his free wil, that by his free wil he confesse

his trespas ; and that noon other man telle his sinne

but he him-self, ne he shal nat nayte ne denye his

sinne, ne wratthe him agayn the preest for his amonest-

inge to leve sinne. The seconde condicioun is, that

thy shrift be laweful ; that is to seyn, that thou that

shryvest thee, and eek the preest that hereth thy con-

fessioun, been verraily in the feith of holy chirche ;

and that a man ne be nat despeired of the mercy of

Jesu Crist, as Caym or Judas. And eek a man moot

accusen him-self of his owene trespas, and nat another ;

but he shal blame and wyten him-self and his owene

malice of his sinne, and noon other ; but nathelees, if

that another man be occasioun or entycer of his sinne,

or the estaat of a person© be swich thurgh which his

sinne is agregged, or elles that he may nat pleynly

shryven him but he telle the persone with which he

hath sinned ; thanne may he telle ; so that his entente

ne be nat to bakbyte the persone, but only to declaren his confessioun.

§ 90. Thou ne shalt nat eek make no lesinges in thy

confessioun ; for humilitee, pcr-aventurc, to seyn that

thou hast doon sinnes of whiehe that thou were nevere

gilty. For seint Augustin seith : if thou, by cause of

Ihyn humilitee, makest lesinges on thy-self, though thou

ne were nat in sinne biforn, yet artow thanne in sinne

thurgh thy lesinges. Thou most eek shewe thy sinne

by thyn owene propre mouth, but thou be wexe doumb,

and nat by no lettre ; for thou that hast doon the

sinne, thou shalt have the shame therfore. Thou shalt

nat eek peynte thy confessioun by faire subtile wordes,

to covere the more thy sinne ; for thanne bigyiestow

thy-self and nat the preest ; thou most tellen it pleynly,

be it nevere so foul ne so horrible. Thou shalt eek

shryve thee to a preest that is discreet to conseille thee,

and eek thou shalt nat shryve thee for veyne glorie, ne

for ypocrisye, ne for no cause, but only for the douti

of Jesu Crist and the hele of thy soule. Thou shall

nat eek renne to the preest sodeynly, to tellen him

lightly thy sinne, as who-so telleth a jape or a tale,

Jjut avysely and with greet devocioun. And generally,

shryve thee ofte. If thou ofte falle, ofte thou aryse

by confessioun. And thogh thou shryve thee ofter

than ones of sinne, of which thou hast be shriven, it is

the more merite. And, as seith seint Augustin, thou

shalt have the more lightly relesing and grace of god,

bothe of sinne and of peyne. And certes, ones a yere

atte leeste wey it is laweful for to been housled; for

certes ones a yere alle thinges renovellen.

Explicit secunda pars Penitencie ; et sequitvr tercia pars

eiusdem, de Satisjaccione.

§ 91. Now have I told you of verray Confessioun that

is the seconde partie of Penitence.

The thridde partie of Penitence is Satisfaccioun ; and

that stant most generally in almesse and in bodily

peyne. Now been ther three manere of almesses ; con-

tricion of herte, where a man ofrreth himself to god ;

another is, to han pitee of defaute of hise neighebores ;

and the thridde is, in yevinge of good conseil goostly

and bodily, where men han nede, and namely in sus

tenaunce of mannes fode. And tak keep, that a man

hath need of thise thinges generally ; he hath need of

fode, he hath nede of clothing, and herberwe, he hath

nede of charitable conseil, and visitinge in prisone and

in maladie, and sepulture of his dede body. And if

thou mayst nat visite the nedeful with thy persone,

visite him by thy message and by thy yiftes. Tliise

been generally almesses or werkes of charitee of hem

lhat han temporel richesses or discrecioun in conseil-

inge. Of thise werkes shaltow heren at the day of dome.

§ 92. Thise almesses shaltow doon of thyne owene

propre thinges, and hastily, and prively if thou mayst ;

but nathelees, if thou mayst nat doon it prively, thou

shalt nat forbere to doon almesse though men seen it ;

go that it be nat doon for thank of the world, but only

for thank of Jesu Crist. For as witnesseth seint

Mathew, capitulo quinto, ‘ A citee may nat been hid

that is set on a montayne ; ne men lighte nat a lanterne

and put it under a busshel ; but men sette it on a

candle-stikke, to yeve light to the men in the hous.*

Right so shal youre light lighten bifore men, that they

may seen youre gode werkes, and glorifie youre fader

that is in hevene.’

§ 93. Now as to speken of bodily peyne, it stant in

preyeres, in wakinges, in fastinges, in vertuouse tech-

inges of orisouns. And ye shul understonde, that

orisouns or preyeres is for to seyn a pitous wil of

herte, that redresseth it in god and expresseth it by

word outward, to remoeven harmes and to han thinges

espirituel and durable, and somtyme temporel thinges ;

of whiche orisouns, certes, in the orisoun of the Pater-

noster, hath Jesu Crist enclosed most thinges. Certes,

it is privileged of three thinges in his dignitee, for

which it is more digne than any othere preyere ; for

that Jesu Crist him-self maked it ; and it is short, for

it sholde be coud the more lightly, and for to with-

holden it the more esily in herte, and helpen him-self

the ofter with the orisoun ; and for a man sholde be

the lasse wery to seyen it, and for a man may nat

excusen him to lerne it, it is so short and so esy ; and

for it comprehendeth in it-self alle gode preyeres. The

exposicioun of this holy preyere, that is so excellent

and digne, I bitake to thise maistres of theologie ; save

thus muchel wol I seyn : that, whan thou prayest that

god sholde foryeve thee thy giltes as thou Horyevest

hem that agilten to thee, be ful wel war that thou be

nat out of charitee. This holy orisoun amenuseth eek

venial sinne ; and therfore it aperteneth specially to penitence.

§ 94. This preyere moste be trewely seyd and in

verray feith, and that men preye to god ordinatly and

discreetly and devoutly ; and alwey a man shal putten

his wil to be subget to the wille of god. This orisoun

moste eek been seyd with greet humblesse and ful

pure ; honestly, and nat to the anoyaunce of any man

or womman. It moste eek been continued with the

werkes of charitee. It avayleth eek agayn the vyces

of the soule ; for, as seith seint Jerome, ‘ By fastinge

been saved the vyces of the flesh, and by preyere the

vyces of the soule.’

§ 95. After this, thou shalt understonde, that bodily

peyne stant in wakinge ; for Jesu Crist seith, ‘ waketh,

and preyeth that ye ne entre in wikked temptacioun.’

Ye shul understanden also, that fastinge stant in three

thinges ; in forberinge of bodily mete and drinke, and

in forberinge of worldly jolitee, and in forberinge of

deedly sinne ; this is to seyn, that a man shal kepen

him fro deedly sinne with al his might.

§ 96. And thou shalt understanden eek, that god

ordeyned fastinge ; and to fastinge appertenen foure

thinges. Largenesse to povre folk, gladnesse of herte

espirituel, nat to been angry ne anoyed, ne grucche for

he fasteth ; and also resonable houre for to ete by

mesure ; that is for to seyn, a man shal nat ete in

untyme, ne sitte the lenger at his table to ete for he fasteth.

§ 97. Thanne shaltow understonde, that bodily peyne

stant in disciplyne or techinge, by word or by wrytinge,

or in ensample. Also in weringe of heyres or of stamin,

or of haubergeons on hir naked flesh, for Cristes sake,

and swiche manere penances. But war thee wel that

swiche manere penances on thy flesh ne make nat thyn

herte bitter or angry or anoyed of thy-self ; for bettre

is to caste awey thyn heyre, than for to caste away the

sikernesse of Jesu Crist. And therfore seith seint Paul :

‘ Clothe yovv, as they that been chosen of god, in herte

of misericorde, debonairetee, suffraunce, and swich

manere of clothinge ‘ ; of whiche Jesu Crist is more

apayed than of heyres, or haubergeons, or hauberkes.

§ 98. Thanne is diseiplyne eek in knokkinge of thy

brest, in scourginge with yerdes, in knelinges, in tribula-

cions ; in suffringe paciently wronges that been doon

to thee, and eek in pacient suffraunce of maladies, or

lesinge of worldly catel, or of wyf, or of child, or othere freendes.

§ 99. Thanne shaltow understonde, whiche thinges

destourben penaunce ; and this is in four maneres, that

is, drede, shame, hope, and wanhope, that is, des-

peracion. And for to speke first of drede ; for which

he weneth that he may suffre no penaunce ; ther-agayns

is remedie for to thinke, that bodily penaunce is but

short and litel at regard of the peyne of helle, that is

so cruel and so long, that it lasteth with-outen ende.

§ 100. Now again the shame that a man hath to

shryven him, and namely, thise ypocrites that wolden

been holden so partite that they han no nede to shryven

hem; agayns that shame, sholde a man thinke that, by

wey of resoun, that he that hath nat been ashamed to

doon foule thinges, certes him oghte nat been ashamed to

do fairs thinges, and that is confessiouns. A man sholde

eek thinke, that god seeth and woot alle hise thoghtes

and alle hise werkes ; to him may no thing been hid

ne covered. Men sholden eek remembren hem of the

shame that is to come at the day of dome, to hem that

been nat penitent and shriven in this present lyf. For

alle the creatures in erthe and in helle shullen seen

apsrtly al that they hyden in this world.

§ 101. Now for to speken of the hope of hem that

been necligent and slowe to shryven hem, that stant

in two maneres. That oon is, that he hopeth for to

live longe and for to purchacen muche richesse for his

delyt, and thanne he wol shryven him ; and, as he seith,

him semeth thanne tymely y-nough to come to shrifte.

Another is, surquidrie that he hath in Cristes mercy.

Agayns the firste vyce, he shal thinke, that oure lyf is

in no sikernesse ; and eek that alle the richesses in

this world ben in aventure, and passen as a shadwe on

the wal. And, as seith seint Gregorie, that it aperteneth

to the grete rightwisnesse of god, that nevere shal the

peyne stinte of hem that nevere wolde withdrawen hem

fro sinne, hir thankes, but ay continue in sinne ; for

thilke perpetual wil to do sinne shul they han perpetuel peyne.

§ 102. Wanhope is in two maneres : the firste wan-

hope is in the mercy of Crist ; that other is that they

thinken, that they ne mighte nat longe persevere in

goodnesse. The firste wanhope comth of that he

demeth that he hath sinned so greetly and so ofte, and

so longe leyn in sinne, that he shal nat be saved. Certes,

agayns that cursed wanhope sholde he thinke, that the

passion of Jesu Crist is more strong for to unbinde

than sinne is strong for to binde. Agayns the

seconde wanhope, he shal thinke, that as ofte as he

falleth he may aryse agayn by penitence. And thogh

he never so longe have leyn in sinne, the mercy of Crist

is alwey redy to receiven him to mercy. Agayns the

wanhope, that he demeth that he sholde nat longe

persevere in goodnesse, he shal thinke, that the feblesse

of the devel may no- thing doon but-if men wol sufTren

him ; and eek he shal han strengthe of the help of god,

and of al holy chirche, and of the proteccioun of aungels, if him list.

§ 103. Thanne shal men understonde what is the

fruit of penaunce ; and, after the word of Jesu Crist,

it is the endelees blisse of hevene, ther joye hath no con-

trarioustee of wo ne grevaunce, ther alle harmes been

passed of this present lyf ; ther-as is the sikernesse fro

the peyne of helle ; ther-as is the blisful companye,

that rejoysen hem everemo, everich of otheres joye;

ther-as the body of man, that whylom was foul and

derk, is more cleer than thte sonne ; ther-as the body,

that whylom was syk, freele, and feble, and mortal, is

inmortal, and so strong and so hool that ther may no-

thing apeyren it ; ther-as ne is neither hunger, thurst,

ne cold, but every soule replenissed with the sighte of

the parfit knowinge of god. This blisful regne may

men purchace by poverte espirituel, and the glorie by

lowenesse ; the plentee of joye by hunger and thurst,

and the reste by travaille ; and the lyf by deeth and

mortificacion of sinne.

Here talceih the makere of this book his leve.

§ 104. Now preye I to hem alle that herkne this litel

tretis or rede, that if ther be any thing in it that lyketh

hem, that ther-of they thanken oure lord Jesu Crist, of

whom procedeth al wit and al goodnesse. And if ther

be any thing that displese hem, I preye hem also thafe

they arrette it to the defaute of myn unconninge, and

nat to my wil, that wolde ful fayn have seyd bettre if

I hadde had conninge. For oure boke seith, ‘ al that

is writen is writen for oure doctrine ‘ ; and that is myn

entente. Wherfore I beseke yow mekely for the mercy

of god, that ye preye for me, that Crist have mercy on

me and foryeve me my giltes : — and namely, of my trans-

lacions and endytinges of worldly vanitees, the whiche

I revoke in my retracciouns : as is the book of Troilus ;

The book also of Fame ; The book of the nynetene

Ladies ; The book of the Duchesse ; The book of seint

Valentynes day of the Parlement of Briddes ; The

tales of Caunterbury, thilke that sounen in-to sinne ;

The book of the Leoun ; and many another book, if

they were in my remembrance ; and many a song and

many a lecherous lay ; that Crist for his grete mercy

foryeve me the sinne. But of the translacion of Boece

de Consolacione, and othere bokes of Legendes of

seintes, and omelies, and moralitee, and devoeioun,

that thanke I oure lord Jesu Crist and his blisful

moder, and alle the seintes of hevene ; bisekinge hem

that they from hennes-forth, un-to my lyves ende,

sende me grace to biwayle my giltes, and to studie

to the salvacioun of my soule : — and graunte me grace

of verray penitence, confessioun and satisfaccioun to

doon in this present lyf ; thurgh the benigne grace of

him that is king of kinges and preest over alio preestes,

that boghte us with the precious blood of his herte ;

so that I may been oon of hem at the day of dome that shulle be saved :

Qui cum patre, &c.

Here is ended the book of the Tales of Caunterbury, compiled by Geffrey Chaucer, of whos soule Jesu Crist have mercy. Amen.