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Lydgate's Fall of Princes

Edited by Dr. Henry Bergen ... presented to The Early English Text Society by The Carnegie Institution of Washington

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PART I
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xi

PART I

THE FALL OF PRINCES

[_]

Square brackets denote editorial insertions or emendations.


1

BOOK I.

PROLOGUE.

[Here begynneth the book callyd I. Bochas descriuyng the falle of Pryncys pryncessys and othir nobles translatid in to Inglissh bi Iohn Ludgate Monke of the Monastery of seynt Edmundes Bury atte commaundement of the worthi prynce Humfrey duk of Gloucestre begynnyng at Adam & endyng with kyng Iohne take prisonere in Fraunce bi Prynce Edward.]

He that whilom dede his dilligence
The book of Bochas in Frensh to translate
Out of Latyn, he callid was Laurence;
The tyme trewli remembrid and the date,
The yere whan kyng Iohn thoruh his mortal fate
Was prisoner brouht to this regioun,
Whan he first gan on this translacioun.
In his prologe affermyng off resoun,
Artificeres hauyng exercise
May chaunge and turne bi good discrecioun
Shappis, formys, and newli hem deuyse,
Make and vnmake in many sondry wyse,
As potteres, which to that craft entende,
Breke and renewe ther vesselis to a-mende.
Thus men off crafft may off due riht,
That been inuentiff & han experience,
Fantasien in ther inward siht
Deuises newe thoruh ther excellence;
Expert maistres han therto licence
Fro good to bettir for to chaunge a thyng,
And semblabli these clerkis in writyng,
Thyng that was maad of auctours hem beforn,
Thei may off newe fynde and fantasie,

2

Out of old chaff trie out ful cleene corn,
Make it more fressh and lusti to the eie,
Ther subtil witt and ther labour applie,
With ther colours agreable off hewe,
Make olde thynges for to seeme newe.
Afforn prouydid that no presumpcioun
In ther chaungyng haue noon auctorite,
And that meeknesse haue dominacioun,
Fals Envie that she not present be;
But that ther ground with parfit charite
Conueied be to ther auauntage,
Trewli rootid a-myd of ther corage.
Thus Laurence fro hym envie excludid,
Thouh toforn hym translatid was this book,
Withynne hymsilff he fulli hath concludid,
Vpon that labour whan he caste his look,
He wolde amende it; but first he forsook
Presumpcioun, and took to hym meeknesse,
In his prologe as he doth expresse.
In which processe, lik as I am lerid,
He in his tyme off cunnyng dede excelle
In ther language, therfore he was requerid
Off estatis, which gan hym eek compelle,
A-mong hem holde off rethorik the welle,
To vndirfonge this labour they hym preie,
And ther request he lowli dede obeie.
Ful weel he felte the labour was notable,
The fall of nobles, with eueri circumstaunce,
From ther lordshippes, dreedful and vnstable,
How that thei fill to putte in remembraunce,
Therin to shewe Fortunys variaunce,
That othre myhte as in a merour see
In worldly worshepe may be no surete.
Bi exaumple, as there is no rose
Spryngyng in gardeyns, but ther be sum thorn,
Nor fairer blosme than Nature list dispose,
Than may ther beute, as men ha[ue] seyn toforn,
With bittir wyndes be fro ther braunchis born,

3

Nor noon so hih in his estat contune
Fre fro thawaityng & daunger of Fortune.
Wherfore Bochas for a memoriall,
Consid[e]ryng the grete dignitees
Off worldli pryncis in ther power roiall,
Grete emperours, estatis and degrees,
How Fortune hath cast hem from ther sees;
Namly such as koude hemsilff nat knowe,
Ful sodenly to make hem lyn ful lowe.
This said auctour, auise and riht sad,
Hath gadred out, with rethoriques sueete,
In dyuers bookes which that he hath rad,
Off philisophres and many an old poete,
Besied hym bothe in cold and hete
Out to compile and writen as he fond
The fall of nobles in many dyuers lond.
Vpon whos book in his translacioun
This seid Laurence rehersith in certeyn,
And holdith this in his opynyoun,
Such language as open is and pleyn
Is more acceptid, as it is offte seyn,
Than straunge termys which be nat vndirstande,
Namly to folkis that duellyn vp-on lande.
And he seith eek, that his entencioun
Is to a-menden, correcten and declare;
Nat to condempne off no presumpcioun,
But to supporte, pleynli, and to spare
Thyng touchid shortly off the story bare,
Vndir a stile breeff and compendious,
Hem to prolonge whan thei be vertuous:
For a story which is nat pleynli told,
But constreynyd vndir woordes fewe
For lak off trouthe, wher thei be newe or old,
Men bi report kan nat the mater shewe;
These ookis grete be nat doun ihewe
First at a strok[e], but bi long processe,
Nor longe stories a woord may not expresse.

4

For which, pleynli, this noble translatour
Caste off purpos these stories for to write,
And for to doon his dilligent labour
As thei fill in ordre to endite,
That men afftir myhte hemsilff delite,
Auentures, so as thei fill in deede,
Off sundry pryncis to beholde & reede,
And haue a maner contemplacioun,
That thynges all, wher Fortune may atteyne,
Be transitory of condicioun;
For she off kynde is hasti & sodeyne,
Contrarious hir cours for to restreyne,
Off wilfulnesse she is so variable,
Whan men most truste, than is she most chaungable.
And for hir chaung and for hir doubilnesse,
This Bochas biddith that men sholde enclyne
Sette ther hertis, void off vnstabilnesse,
Vpon thynges which that been deuyne,
Where-as ioie perpetueli doth shyne
Withoute eclipsyng in that heuenli see,
Void off all cloudis off mutabilite.
Among, this Bochas writith off suetnesse
And off materes that lusti been and glade,
And sumwhile he writt off wrechidnesse,
And how Fortune kan floure & afftir fade—
Ioie vndir cloude, prosperite in the shade,
Entirchaungyng off euery maner thyng,
Which that men feele, heer in this world lyvyng.
And in his processe, who-so list beholde,
Off alle estatis, off hih and louh degre,
And off pryncis bothe yong and olde,
Fro the begynnyng, which in this world ha be,
Lyuyng in ioie or in aduersite,
Fro the firste he descendith doun
Off ther fortune be pleyn descripcioun.
Off the most noble he ne spareth noon,
But settith hem in ordre ceriously,
Gynnyth at Adam & endith at kyng Iohn,

5

Ther auentures rehersyng by and by,
Off this kyng Iohn concludyng fynaly,
How that he was, for al his gret puissance,
Off prynce Edward take prisoner in France.
This seid[e] Bochas, auctour off this book,
Which off stories hadde gret intelligence,
Summe he leffte [and] summe also he took,—
Such as he leffte was off no necligence,
Supposyng and demyng off credence,
Alle the stories which that comoun be,
Other knew hem also weel as he.
And lest that folk wolde haue had disdeyn,
Thynges comoun to put in memorie,
Therfore Bochas thouhte it was but veyn,
To his name noon encres off glorie,
To remembre no cronycle nor historie,
But tho that wern for ther merit notable,
Auctorised, famous and comendable.
In his labour hauyng a delit,
That the mater gretli myhte auaile,
Do plesance to the comon profit,
Off noble stories to make rehersaile,
Shewyng a merour how al the world shal faile,
And how Fortune, for al ther hih renoun,
Hath vpon pryncis iurediccioun.
The which[e] thyng, in ful sobre wise,
He considred in his inward entent,
In his resoun gan to aduertise,
Seyng off princis the blynd entendement,
With worldli worshep how that thei be blent,
As thei sholde euer ther estatis keepe,
And as Fortune were I-leid to sleepe.
As thei hadde off Fortune the maistry,
Here enchauntid with ther pociouns
Bi sum craft off newe sorcery,
Or bi power off incantaciouns,
To make stable ther domynaciouns
With iren cheynys for to laste longe,
Lokkid to rokkis off adamantis stronge.

6

Supposyng[e] in ther surquedie
Ther estatis sholde be durable;
But Fortune kan frowardli denye,
Pleynli preue that thei be chaungable,
And to pryncis, for thei be nat stable,
Fortune ful offte, for al ther gret estat,
Vnwarli chaungith & seith to hem chekmat.
For lordis summe in ther magnificence
Off roial power sette off God riht nouht,
Thei nat considre his long pacience,
Nor aduertise his power in ther thouht,
But in ther hertis, yiff it were weel souht,
How he is meek and pacient to a-bide,
Thei wolde off resoun ther pompe leyn a-side.
But for ther tarieng and ther necligence,
That thei to hym wil nat resorte a-geyn,
Yit off his mercy and benyuolence,
Withoute vengance, rigour or disdeyn,
As a meek fadir, in alle his werkis pleyn,
Assaieth his yerde off castigacioun,
So for to brynge hem to correccioun.
Summe he can ful fadirli chastise,
Where he loueth, be punshyng off siknesse,
And off his mercy in many a-nother wise
Baduersite off sum worldli distresse;
And he nat askith, for his kynd[e]nesse,
Off hih nor low, who-so can aduerte,
Noon othir tresor but a mannys herte.
And as myn auctour list to comprehende,—
This Iohn Bochas, bi gret auctorite,—
It is almesse to correct and a-mende
The vicious folk off euery comounte,
And bi exaumplis which that notable be
Off pryncis olde, that whilom dede fall,
The lowere peeple from ther errour call.
Bi smale whelpis, as summe clerkis write,
Chastised is the myhti fers leoun,
And whan the suerd off vengaunce eek doth bite

7

Vpon pryncis for ther transgressioun,
The comon peeple in ther opynyoun,
For verray dreed[e] tremble don & quake,
And bi such mene ther vices thei forsake.
And such also as ha be defoulid
In ther vicis bi long contynuaunce,
Or in ther synnys rustid and Imowlid,
Bi good example may come to repentaunce:
Who hym repentith, the Lord will hym auaunce,
And hym accepte, in hih and louh estat,—
The meek preserue, punyshe the obstynat.
This said[e] mater, touchyng such[e] thyngis,
Myn auctour Bochas heerafftir shal declare
Bexaumple off pryncis & off myhti kyngis,
What was ther fyn, & nat the trouthe spare;
And theih my stile nakid be and bare,
In rethorik myn auctour for to sue,
Yit fro the trouthe shal I nat remue,
But on the substance bi good leiser abide,
Afftir myn auctour lik as I may atteyne,
And for my part sette eloquence aside,
And in this book bewepen and compleyne
Thassaut off Fortune, froward and sodeyne,
How she on pryncis hath kid her variaunce
And off her malice the dedli mortal chaunce.
But, o allas! who shal be my muse,
Or onto whom shal I for helpe calle?
Calliope my callyng will refuse,
And on Pernaso here worthi sustren alle;
Thei will ther sugre tempre with no galle,
For ther suetnesse & lusti fressh syngyng
Ful ferr discordith fro materis compleynyng.
My maistir Chaucer, with his fresh comedies,
Is ded, allas, cheeff poete off Breteyne,
That whilom made ful pitous tragedies;
The fall of pryncis he dede also compleyne,
As he that was of makyng souereyne,
Whom al this land sholde off riht preferre,
Sithe off oure language he was the lodesterre.

8

Senek in Rome, thoruh his hih prudence,
Wrot tragedies of gret moralite;
And Tullius, cheeff welle off eloquence,
Maad in his tyme many fressh dite;
Franceis Petrak, off Florence the cite,
Made a book, as I can reherce,
Off too Fortunys, welful and peruerse.
And ageyn bothe wrot the remedies,
In bookis tweyne made a divisioun,
A-mong rehersyng many fressh stories.
The firste book is thus conueied doun,
A dialoge twen Gladnesse and Resoun;
The seconde can ber me weel witnesse,
Maad atwen Resoun & Worldli Heuynesse.
The mater is wondirful delectable,
Thouh wo with ioie haue an interesse;
And Iohn Bochas wrot maters lamentable,
The fall of pryncis, where he doth expresse
How fro ther ioie thei fill in gret distresse;
And all these writers, thoruh ther famous renoun,
Gret worshipe dede vnto ther nacioun.
And semblabli as I ha[ue] told toforn,
My maistir Chaucer dede his besynesse,
And in his daies hath so weel hym born,
Out off our tunge tauoiden al reudnesse,
And to refourme it with colours of suetnesse;
Wherfore lat us yiue hym laude & glory
And putte his name with poetis in memory.
Off whos labour to make mencioun,
Wherthoruh off riht he sholde comendid be,
In youthe he made a translacioun
Off a book which callid is Trophe
In Lumbard tunge, as men may reede & see,
And in our vulgar, longe or that he deide,
Gaff it the name off Troilus & Cresseide.
Which for to reede louers hem delite,
Thei ha[ue] theryn so gret deuocioun.
And this poete, hymsilff also to quite,

9

Off Boeces book, The Consolacioun,
Maad in his tyme an hool translacioun.
And to his sone, that callid was Lowis,
He made a tretis, ful noble & off gret pris,
Vpon thastlabre in ful notable fourme,
Sette hem in ordre with ther dyuysiouns,
Mennys wittis tapplien and confourme,
To vndirstonde be ful expert resouns
Be domefieng off sundry mansiouns,
The roote out-souht at the ascendent,
Toforn or he gaff any iugement.
He wrot also ful many day agone,
Dante in Inglissh, hymsilff so doth expresse,
The pitous story off Ceix and Alcione,
And the deth eek of Blaunche the Duchesse,
And notabli dede his bisynesse,
Bi gret auys his wittis to dispose,
To translate the Romaunce off the Rose.
Thus in vertu he sette al his entent,
Idilnesse and vicis for to fle;
Off Foulis also he wrot the Parlement,
Theryn remembryng of roial Eglis thre,
How in ther chois thei felte aduersite,
Tofor Nature profred the bataile,
Ech for his parti, yiff it wolde auaile.
He dede also his dilligence & peyne
In our vulgar to translate and endite
Origen vpon the Maudeleyne,
And off the Leoun a book he dede write;
Off Anneleyda and of fals Arcite
He made a compleynt, doolful & pitous,
And off the broche which that Vulcanus
At Thebes wrouhte, ful dyuers of nature,
Ouide writith, who theroff hadde a siht,
For hih desir he shulde nat endure
But he it hadde, neuer be glad nor liht;
And yiff he hadde it onys in his myht,

10

Lich as my maistir seith and writ in deede,
It to conserue he sholde ay lyue in dreede.
This poete wrot, at request off the queen,
A legende off parfit hoolynesse,
Off Goode Women to fynde out nynteen
That dede excelle in bounte and fairnesse;
But for his labour and [his] bisynesse
Was inportable his wittis to encoumbre,
In al this world to fynde so gret a noumbre.
He made the book off Cantirburi Talis,
Whan the pilgrymis rood on pilgrymage
Thoruhout Kent bi hillis and bi valis,
And alle the stories told in ther passage,
Enditid hem ful weel in our language:
Summe off knyhthod, summe off gentilesse,
And summe off loue & summe off parfitnesse,
And summe also off gret moralite,
Summe off disport, includynge gret sentence.
In prose he wrot the Tale off Melibe,
And off his wiff, that callid was Prudence,
And off Grisildis parfit pacience,
And how the Monk off stories newe & olde
Pitous tragedies be the weie tolde.
This said poete, my maistir in his daies,
Maad and compiled ful many a fressh dite,
Compleyntis, baladis, roundelis, virelaies
Ful delectable to heryn and to see,
For which men sholde, off riht and equite,
Sithe he off Inglissh in makyng was the beste,
Preie onto God to yiue his soule good reste.
And these poetis I make off mencioun,
Were bi old tyme had in gret deynte,
With kyngis, pryncis in euery regioun,
Gretli preferrid afftir ther degre;
For lordis hadde plesance for to see,
To studie a-mong, and to caste ther lookis
At good[e] leiser vpon wise bookis.

11

For in the tyme off Cesar Iulius,
Whan the tryumphe he wan in Rome toun,
He entre wolde the scoole off Tullius
And heere his lecture off gret affeccioun;
And natwithstandyng his conquest & renoun,
Vnto bookis he gaff gret attendaunce
And hadde in stories ioie and gret pleasunce.
Eek in this land, I dar afferme a thyng:
There is a prynce ful myhti off puissaunce,
A kyngis sone and vncle to the kyng
Henry the Sexte, which is now in Fraunce,
And is lieftenant, and hath the gouernaunce
Off our Breteyne, thoruh whos discrecioun
He hath conserued in this regioun,
Duryng his tyme, off ful hih prudence,
Pes and quiete and sustened riht,
Yit natwithstandyng his noble prouidence,
He is in deede proued a good[e] knyht,
Eied as Argus with resoun and forsiht;
Off hih lettrure, I dar eek off hym telle,
And treuli deeme that he doth excelle
In vndirstondyng alle othir off his age,
And hath gret ioie with clerkis to comune:
And no man is mor expert off language,
Stable in study alwey he doth contune,
Settyng a-side alle chaungis of Fortune;
And wher he loueth, yiff I shal nat tarie,
Withoute cause ful loth he is to varie.
Duc off Gloucestre men this prynce calle,
And natwithstandyng his staat & dignite,
His corage neuer doth appalle
To studie in bookis off antiquite,
Therin he hath so gret felicite
Vertuously hymsilff to ocupie,
Off vicious slouthe to haue the maistrie.
And with his prudence and with his manheed,
Trouthe to susteene he fauour set a-side,
And hooli chirch[e] meyntenyng in deed,

12

That in this land no Lollard dar abide—
As verray support, vpholdere and eek guide
Sparith noon, but maketh hymsiluen strong
To punysshe all tho that do the chirch[e] wrong.
Thus is he bothe manli and eek wis,
Chose off God to been his owyn knyht,
And off o thyng he hath a synguler pris,
That heretik dar noon come in his siht,
In Cristis feith he stant so hool vpriht,
Off hooli chirche diffence and champioun,
To chastise alle that do therto tresoun.
And to do plesaunce to our lord Iesu,
He studieth euere to haue intelligence;
Reedyng off bookis bryngith in vertu,
Vices excludyng, slouthe and necligence,
Makith a prynce to haue experience,
To knowe hymsilff, in many sundri wise,
Wher he trespasith his errour to chastise.
And a-mong bookis, pleynli this the cas,
This said[e] prynce considred off resoun,
The noble book off this Iohn Bochas
Was, accordyng in his opynyoun,
Off gret noblesse and reputacioun,
And onto pryncis gretli necessarie
To yiue exaumple how this world doth varie.
And for this cause, as in his entent,
To shewe thuntrust off al worldli thyng,
He gaff to me in comaundement,
As hym sempte it was riht weel sittyng,
That I shulde, afftir my cunnyng,
This book translate, hym to do plesaunce,
To shewe the chaung off worldli variaunce.
And with support off his magnificence,
Vndir the wyngis off his correccioun,
Thouh that I haue lak off eloquence,
I shal procede in this translacioun,
Fro me auoidyng al presumpcioun,
Lowli submyttyng eueri hour & space
Mi reud language to my lordis grace.

13

And as I haue o thyng weel in mynde,
He bad me I sholde in especiall,
Folwyng myn auctour, writen as I fynde,
And for no fauour be nat parciall—
Thus I meene to speke in generall,
And noon estat syngulerly depraue,
But the sentence off myn auctour saue.
Al this conceyuyd, I gan my stile dresse,
Thouhte I wolde in my mater proceede;
And for the mater abraid on heuynesse,
Off fressh colours I took no maner heede,
But my processe pleynli for to leede,
As me sempte it was to me most meete
To sette apart all rethoriques sueete.
Dites of murnyng and off compleynynge
Nat appertene onto Calliope,
Nor to the Muses, that on Parnaso synge,
Which be remembrid in noumbre thries thre;
And onto materes off aduersite,
With ther sugred aureat licour
Thei be nat willi for to doon fauour;
But off disdeyn me settyng ferr a-bak
To hyndre me off that I wolde endite,
Hauyng no colours but onli whit & blak,
To the tragedies which that I shal write.
And for I can my-silff no bet acquite,
Vndir support off all that shal it reede,
Vpon Bochas riht thus I will proceede.
Explicit prologus.
Incipit Liber Primus.

[How adam and Eue for theire inobedience were putout of paradis lyued in sorowe and woo/thei and theire of spryng.]

Whan Iohn Bochas considred hadde & souht
The woful fall off myhti conquerours,
A remembraunce entrid in his thouht,
Reknyng the noumbre off our predecessours,
And first to mynde cam the progenitours

14

Off al mankynde, ferre Ironne in age,
And toward hym holdyng the passage,
As hym thouhte in his inward siht,
In ther comyng ful pitousli tremblyng,
Quakyng for age and for lak off myht,
Ther gret feeblesse be signes out shewyng;
And oon off hem, first at his comyng—
Our fadir Adam—sodenli abraide,
And to myn auctour euene thus he saide:

[How Adam & Eue stondyng/naked before Bochas desired him to put theire woful fall first in remembraunce.]

“Cosyn Bochas, I will weel that thou lere,
Thou that art besi to serche ouer all
Off infortune the maner to enquere,
Hir sodeyn chaung, turnyng as a ball,
Off erthli pryncis from ther estat roiall—
It is most sittyng, or we assundir twynne,
At vs tweyne thi processe to be-gynne.
Considre first, the Lord in his auis,
Whan he us made onto his liknesse,
He putte vs bothe into Paradis,
There talyued in parfit stabilnesse—
Til the Serpent dede his besynesse
Off fals envie to make us lese our grace,
Perpetueli texile us fro that place.”
And whan Iohn Bochas nakid hem beheeld,
Withoute the hand fourmyd off Nature,—
Off slym off therthe in Damascene the feeld
God made hem fairest a-boue ech creature;
And for thei sholde perpetueli endure,
Bi discrecioun for a prerogatiff
He endued hem with a soule off liff.
Parfit off age as man off thretti yeer,
Putte hem afftir in possessioun
Off Paradis, a place most enteer,

15

And off delicis a chose mansioun,
Where Adam made an imposicioun
To fissh and foul, and to thes beestis all,
Off verray resoun what men sholde hem call.
Out off a rib, whil that Adam sleep,
Eue was drawe, ful fair off hir visage,
Al sodenly or that he took keep,
Afftir to hym ioynyd in mariage
For his disport and his auantage,
So as the Lord first wyues dede ordeyne
Outher for helpe or for encres off peyne.
God onto hem gaff the souereynte
Off Paradis and dominacioun,
A place fulfellid off al felicite,
The frutis all in ther subieccioun,
Sauff that off oon was maad excepcioun,
Which God forbad, the Bible can deuise,
That thei sholde touche it in no wise.
All delices off that heuenli place
God gaff to hem and put in her kepyng,
To vsen hem eueri hour and space
To ther most ese, as was to hem likyng—
Bloomys, blosmys, ther fairnesse ay hauyng,
And the frutis alway off o fresshnesse,
For wyntir stormys myht do hem no duresse.
The soil enbroudid ful off somer floures,
Wher weedis wikke hadde noon interesse;
For God and Kynde with fresshnesse off coloures
And with ther tapitis & motles off gladnesse
Had maad that place habounde in al suetnesse;
And fressh[e] Flora, which is off floures queene,
Hir lyuere made off a perpetuel greene.
The trees rauhten almost to the heuene,
Which cast a-boute a ful plesant shade,
That storm nor reyn, thundir, wynd nor leuene
No power hadde ther leuys for to fade:

16

For euer thei wern Ilich[e] fressh and glade;
And whan thei list, ther thei myhte see
Mid off that gardyn off liff the holsum tre,
Which vertu hadde ageyn al maladie
Folk to preserue off youthe in ther fresshnesse,
Who eet theroff sholde neuer deie,
But lyuen euere in ioie and in gladnesse,
And nouther feele trouble nor siknesse,
But in that place haue alwey hertis ese
And suffisaunce off al that myht hym plese,
Euer endure and neuer falle in age,
For which it was callid the tre off liff.
But whan Adam was fallyn in dotage
And ageyn[es] God gan holdyn striff,
Thoruh excityng off hir that was his wiff,
And wilfulli gaff to hir assent
To breke the precept & comandement
Off God the Lord, thoruh wilful necligence,
Taproche the tre, which that bar the name,
The tre off cunnyng and also off science:
For off the frut who that dede attame,
He sothli sholde, the Bible seith the same,
Off good & euell haue cunnyng in his thouht,
Where-as tofforn off euyl he knew riht nouht.
Thus hadde thei first off euyl experience,
Where-as toforn thei knew no wikkidnesse;
Presumpcioun and inobedience
Brouht hem fro ioie into wrechidnesse:
For afor-tyme, myn auctour berth witnesse,
Helthe and goodnesse wer callid verray liff,
Euyl namyd siknesse, first roote of al our striff.
In Paradis, myn auctour seith certeyn,
Thre ryuers wern, so orient and fyne,
Lich quyksiluyr vpboilyng on the pleyn,
And in ther rennyng verray cristallyne,
Which from a welle heuenli and deuyne

17

In ther vpspryngyng and ther aualyng doun
Off al plesance gaff so soote a soun,
That it wolde rauysshe a corage,—
Whos bawmy licour endued al the place,
And with the fresshnesse & cours off his passage
The holsum hair hertis dede embrace,—
Ther was such plente off plesance & off grace,
That eueri spice, herbe, greyn and roote
Wer founde growyng in that gardeyn soote.
Ther was also a delectable soun
Off song off birdis in ther armonye,
The hair was cleene from al corupcioun,
For ther engendrid was no maladie;
Ther was al merthe, ther was al melodie,
Off ioie and blisse souereyn suffisance,
With al that may to hertis do plesance.
And off clerkis lik as it is told
In ther bookis, as thei determyne,
How in his speer the sonne manyfold
Was off mor vertu & mor cleer dede shyne
Than it doth now in his mydday lyne,
The moone whittere with hir bemys cleer,
And euery sterre brihtere dede appeer.
Euery thyng was there more vertuous
Than thei be now, who can beholde and see;
For in that place ther was nothyng noious,
But parfit gladnesse knet onto surete,
Perpetuel pes, ioie and prosperite,
And in that blisse to makyn hem mor strong,
To ther confort God spak with hem a-mong.
Off his goodnesse he bar hem cumpanye,
Shewed onto hem his gracious presence,
Angelis also ther staat to magnefie
A-mong to serue hem dede ther dilligence
In dyuers offices with humble reuerence,
And Nature wrouhte for the nonys
Off roial purpill and off riche stonys
Tissues off gold and othir ornamentis
For tenvirowne ther bodili beute,

18

Shapyng to hem such maner garnementis
As angelis vsen in ther felicite—
Nakid thei wer[e]n fairest on to see;
For whil thei stood in staat off innocence,
Thei hadde off clothyng noon experience.
And off ther blisse to make mencioun,
And off ther ioies that were celestiall,
Ther may be maad[e] no comparisoun
Off no ioie which is temporall,
Which sholde ha been lastynge & inmortall,
Euer talyued in merthe and in gladnesse,
Sauff ageyn resoun, off verray wilfulnesse
Thei banshid hemsilff out of that blisful liff,
Whan Adam gaff credence to a snake
And wrechidli gan trustyn on his wiff,
Which gan thappill off the Serpent take,
And plesantli dede a present make
Onto Adam, as she that ferst began
Deth to deuyse and poisoun onto man.
But as ther ioie was incomparable,
Grettest ther lordship aboue al ertheli thyng,
So ther fall was to he[m] importable;
For he that was all other surmountyng,
In Paradis regnyng as a kyng—
Was it nat a dedli mortal peyne
Fro thilke place to haue a fall sodeyne!
For thilke sorwe surmountith euery sorwe,
Which next folwith afftir felicite;
No wo mor greuous at eue nor at morwe,
As is in deede sodeyn aduersite
Which cometh onwarli afftir prosperite,
Nor nothyng more may hertis disauaunce
Than off old ioie newe remembraunce.
Takith exaumpil off Adam and off Eue,
Makith off hem a merour in your mynde,
Wher of resoun it dede hem gretli greue
For to be put, allas, so ferre behynde

19

Out off that blisse, thei and al ther kynde,
Chaungyng thestat off inmortalite
And becam subiect to deth and pouerte.
Ther sodeyn chaung & ther onwar myscheeff
And ther onhappi transmutacioun,—
It was to hem ful vnkouth and vnleeff
For to departe fro thilke mansioun
That was so full off delectacioun,
Fro such delicis sodenli to goo
Into this world which is so full off woo.
There is delit, and heer is sorwe [&] care,
There is ioie, and heer is heuynesse,
There is plente, and heer is euel fare,
There is helthe, and heer is gret siknesse,
Heer trouble ay meynt with onseur gladnesse,
Ther is ay blisse and eternal glorie,
And heere no merthe but fals & transitorie.
Allas, how thei wer blyndid in ther siht
Thoruh veynglorie and fals ambicioun!
Thei wente wrong, thei lokid nat a-riht,
Fals couetise was ther confusioun,
Wherthoruh thei loste the dominacioun
Off Paradis, and wex bothe poore & thrall,
Ther fredam leffte and becam mortall.
Onto God thei wolde ha be semblable,
Lik onto hym good and euel to knowe,
And in ther trust for thei wer nat stable,
From ther estat thei were brouht ful lowe:
And thus, allas, the seed was first isowe,
The roote plantid off disobeissaunce,
Which brouht our lynage to sorwe & myschaunce.
Thus cam in first thoruh inobedience,
As bi a gate, pouerte and neede;
And at ther bak folwed indigence,
Sorwe, siknesse, maladie and dreede,
Exil, banshyng and seruitute, in deede,
Which causid man longe to contune
Vndir the lordshipe & daunger off Fortune.

20

Thus cam in eek maladie and deth
To dispoile mankynde off his beute,
Long siknesse and pestilence that sleth
Bi sodeyn strok which no man may fle;
For onto Adam and his posterite
Deth was annexid bi successioun
For his offence, and so conueied doun
Fro man to man in eueri maner age.
For who list knowe, synne brouht in shame,
Man to be feeble and feynt in his passage,
And be processe to wexen halt and lame—
Onto Adam this was an vnkouth game,
To be constreynyd from riche apparaile
In bareyn erthe to sekyn his vitaile.
In hungir [and] thrust heere he ladde his liff,
With soot, with labour and tribulaciouns,
Endured also many mortal striff,
Off hot and cold riht straunge passiouns,
Off elementis sodeyn mutaciouns,
Wynd, hail and reyn feerfulli fallyng,
And onwar strokis off thundir & lihtnyng.
Thei stood also in daunger and in dreed
Off cruel beestis, tigres and leouns,
Off tusshi booris, who-so taketh heed,
And in gret feer off these fell dragouns,
Thassaut off serpentis and off scorpiouns;
For thilke beestis that toforn were mylde,
Afftir ther synnyng ful rage wex and wilde.
Wher thei stood[e] first in sekirnesse,
Off ioie and blisse euer in oon lastyng,
Out off ther reste thei fill in onseurnesse,
In sorwe and sihhyng, & dolorous pleynyng;
And fro ther eyen contynueli wepyng,
The bittir teris day be day distille,
In this desert for wantyng off ther wille.
And whethir wer thei sorweful or fayn,
Long tyme afftir ther desolacioun,
Whan thei fond Abel ther owyn sone slayn

21

Be cruel Caym to his confusioun,
The same Caym, as maad is mencioun,
Afftir that tyme wilde and vacabounde
Til blynde Lamech gaff hym his dethis wounde.
Adam nor Eue affor that ilke tyme
Hadde neuer seyn no feste funerall,
Off chaung it was to hem a newe pryme,
For to beholde a thyng disnaturall,
Brethre off o wombe be hatred fraternall,
The toon off herte so feer hymselff deuyde,
Off fals malis to been an homicide.
And was it nat a peyne whan thei stood,
For to beholde ther sone pale and ded
Ligge on the ground[e], bathid in his blood,
And al the soil where he lay was red,
That whan Adam and Eue tooken heed,
It was to hem ful gret aduersite
The newe slauhtre to beholde and see.
And euer a-mong ther sihhes harde and sore,
Ther bittir wepyng and sorwes to auaunce,
Or thei wer war, ther heris wexyn hore,
And age gan ther beute disauaunce;
Ther youthe also be ful gret displesaunce
Gan tappalle, or thei it coude espie,
Be cruel constreynt and force of maladie.
And whan off youthe fallyn was the flour
Bi the processe of many hundrid yeris,
And bi the duresse off many gret labour
Thei wex onlusti and ougli off ther cheris—
Off age and deth, these be the daungeris,
To seyn chekmat, in nature it is kouth,
Onto beute and greene lusty youth.
For whan the yeris fulli passid be
Off flouryng age, lastyng a sesoun,
Be processe, at eie men may see,
Beute declynyth, his blosmys falle doun;
And lite and litil be successioun

22

Cometh croked elde onwarli in crepyng,
With his potent ful poorli manasyng.
Thus to our fadir, that callid was Adam,
Off creatures fairest off alle faire,
Afftir gret age, bi processe deth in cam,
And gan onwarli ascende vpon the staire
With his potent, and caste hym to repaire
With Antropos, which affor shal goon
For tuntwyne his lyuys threed anoon.
And in Ebron was maad his sepulture,
Ther afftir bilt a myhti gret cite,
Bi whos story and record off nature
I may conclude, who-so list to see,
That neuer man hadde liberte,
Sithen that Adam our Lord gan disobeye,
Ageyn[e]s deth, but that he muste deye.

The compleynt off Bochas vpon the fall off Adam.

In compleynyng, myn auctour Iohn Bochas
Ful pitousli in his aduertence
Bewepith, wailith, & offte seith allas,
In an appel ther was so gret offence,
That for a tast off inobedience,
Adam, allas, sholde ha[ue] so gret a fall,
So sodenli to deie and be mortall!
Which exaumpil ouhte I-nouh suffise,
In al this world[e] thouh there were no mo,
Texemplefie to folkis that be wise,
How this world is a thoruhfare ful off woo,
Lich fals Fortune, which turnyth to and fro
To make folkis, whan thei most cleerli shyne,
In ther estatis onwarli to declyne.
For thouh that thei her hedis leffte a-loffte
Hih as Phebus shynyth in his speer,
Thynke them-silff[e], as it fallith offte,
Ther renoun rechith aboue the sterris cleer,
And how ther fame surmountith euery speer—

23

Ther trust corrupt hath a ful sodeyn fall,
For to declare how thei be mortall.
O worldli folk, aduertisith off entent,
What vengaunce and what punycioun
God shal taken in his iugement
For your trespas and your transgressioun,
Which breke his preceptis a-geyn al resoun!
Ye han forgoten, how with his precious blood
You for to saue he starff vpon the rood.
For yiff Adam for his disobeissaunce
Was bi the Lord, as hym list ordeyne,
Maad first & formyd with euery circumstaunce
Off creatures to be most souereyne,
Yiff that he was enbraced in the cheyne
Off seruitute, with thraldam ouerseyn,
What shal I thanne off othir folkis seyn,
That lyuyn heer in this desert off sorwe,
In this exil off plesance desolat,
And in this world[e], both at eue & morwe,
Off hertili ioie stonde disconsolat,
Al destitut and eek infortunat,
And forpossid with wo off worldli trouble,
Ay variable and ful off chaungis double?
Ye nat entende but to fals couetise,
To fraude, baret and extorsioun,
Geyn God and trouthe in many dyuers wise,
Geyn your neihbour be fals collusioun
To doon [him] wrong and oppressioun,
And werst off all, ye rechch[e] nat be synne
To sle your soule, worldli good to wynne.
And yiff it falle your power be but small
Taccomplisshe your auarice in deede,
Your synful will assentith ouerall
Thyng to desire off which ye may nat speede;
And thus fals lust doth your bridil leede,
Thrust off hauyng so sore you doth assaile,
Falsli afferd the world you sholde faile.

24

And yiff that God, benigne and debonaire,
With his yerde off castigacioun
Chastise you but esili and faire,
Ye grucch ageyn[es] his correccioun,
Nothyng aduertyng in your discrecioun,
How God nat bad us, who can taken heed,
Nat for to stryue nor to wrastle in deed,
Nouther our strengthe nor our myht tapplie
Vpon the beeste monstruous and sauage,
Which callid is the Chymere off Licie—
Speciali whan he is in his rage,
Which monstre hadde to his auauntage
Hed off a leoun, as bookis determyne,
Wombe off goot, and tail serpentyne,
Which was outraied off Bellofforon,
As olde poetis make mencioun.
Nor God bad nat that men sholde gon
Into Colchos to conquere with Iason
The Flees off Gold, which in that regioun
With firi bolis off metal maad and bras,
And bi a dragoun ful streihtli kepid was.
God bad us nat our cuntrees for to lete
To vndirfonge thynges inpossible,
The Minotaur for to slen in Crete,
Halff man, halff bole, yiff it be credible,
Which was a monstre hatful and odible,
Whilom brouht foorth, in bookis ye may see,
Bi Minos wiff, callid Pasiphe,
Whos story techith, yiff ye list to lere,
This ougli beeste cruel and monstruous,
Thoruh Adriane, the kyngis douhter deere,
Was whilom slay[e]n be duc Theseus
Withynne a caue maad be Dedalus.
God bit us nat, pleynli, for his sake,
So gret emprises for to vndirtake.
He bit us nat to been so rek[e]les
In pereilous deedis that been marciall
Vs to iuparte as dede Hercules,

25

Which bi the biddyng in especiall
Off Euristeus, the myhti kyng roiall,
Lord off Athenys, to make his honour shyne,
Lernyd off armys the famous disciplyne.
Off his preceptis yiff we han a siht
And remembre off his hih bounte,
He vs comaundith thyngis that been liht
For taccomplisshe with al humilite,
From our corage tauoide al vanite,
And from our hertis texcludyn idilnesse
And the fals chaung off al worldli gladnesse.
For on-taman that parfit is and stable,
Bi good resoun myn auctour doth well preue,
There is no thyng mor fair nor agreable
Than fynali his vicious liff to leue,
On verray God rihtfully beleue,
Hym loue and worshepe a-boue al ertheli thinges;
This passith victory off emperours and kynges.
The Lord bit eek, who that can discerne,
Off enteer loue to doon our labour
In this liff heer so oursilff gouerne,
To fadir & moodir that we do dieu honour,
And in ther neede to doon to hem socour,
And in al vertu our frendis to conforte,
And to our power in myscheeff hem supporte.
For in this world is no thyng mor parfit,
Nor taccomplisshe thyng off mor plesance,
Than a man for to haue delit
In litil good to hauen suffisance,
And be content in his gouernance,
Voide auarice and thynkyn euer a-mong,
To his neihbour that he do no wrong.
Nat to coueite his goodis in no wise,
Hymsilff gouerne lik to his estat,
Nat excede, but fleen and eek despise

26

Al maner loue which is disordynat,
Hymsilff preseruyng from contek & debat,
And speciali teschewen, it is good,
Slauhtre, moordre & shedyng eek off blood.
Fleen from his synne and hatyn for to lie,
Off olde offencis a-mong ha[ue] repentance,
And teschewe al scorn and moquerie,
Ageyn vicis doon almesse and penance,
And to haue most souere[y]nli plesance
To sue the pathes of our Lord Iesu,
Trewe exaumplaire off grace and al vertu.
Which for our sake and our redempcioun
And for our loue was nailid to a tre,
Suffrid peyne and cruel passioun,
And nothyng axeth, off hih nor low degre
Recompensid ageynward for to be,
But that we sette al hooli our ententis
For to fulfille his comaundementis.
And off his grace heer in this mortal liff,
As we precelle in wisdom and resoun,
And off his giffte han a prerogatiff
Toforn all beestis bi discrecioun,
Therfore lat us off hool entencioun,
As we off resoun beestis ferr exceede,
Lat us forn hem be, be woord, exaumple and deede.
Grounde us first vpon humilite,
Our pompous eien meekli to vnclose,
Enclyne our hedis, and to conceyue and see
Al worldli welthe shal fadyn as a rose,
And off meek herte lat us oursilff dispose,
Bi this tragedie to ha[ue] knowlechyng
Off our myscheeff how roote and eek gynnyng
Was the vice off inobedience,
Surquedie and fals disobeissaunce,
As myn auctour hath shewid in sentence,
Enprentith it weel in your remembraunce,
Be-war the serpent with his disseyuaunce,

27

The flessh, the world, your enmies, alle thre,
Thoruh ther treynys ye nat deceyued be.
Your beste sheeld to make resistence
Ageyn ther power sothli is meeknesse,
Your haberioun most myhti off diffence,
The feendis myht to venquysshe and oppresse,
Is to remembre deuoutli with lownesse,
How meekli Crist to paien our ransoun
Suffred on a crosse deth and passioun.
Wherbi men may, that prudent been & wis,
The ioies cleyme which been eternall,
And entre ageyn into Paradis,
Fro when[ne]s whilom Adam hadde a fall;
To which[e] place a-boue celestiall,
O Crist Iesu, so brynge us to that glory,
Which be thi deth hadde the victory!

The lenvoye off this tragedie.

Sodeyn departyng out off felicite
Into miserie and mortal heuynesse,
Vnwar depryuyng of our prosperite,
Chaung off gladnesse into wrechchidnesse,
Long langwisshyng in wo and bittirnesse,
Contynuel sorwe, dreed, dool and pestilence
Were first brouht in bi inobedience.
Adam and Eue losten ther liberte,
Ther fraunchise and ther blissidnesse,
Put into exil and captyuyte
To lyue in labour, in wo and pensifnesse,
Thoruh fals desirs off pompous wilfulnesse,
To the Serpent whan thei gaff credence,
The Lord mistristyng thoruh inobedience.
But, o allas, where-as thei were fre,
Off ioie eternal stood in sekirnesse,
Thei were to blynde—allas, it was pite!—
To leue ther reste and lyue in werynesse,
Al ther offspryng to bryngyn in distresse,
Drawyng fro God his due reuerence
Thoruh fals consentyng to inobedience.

28

Wherfore, ye Pryncis, auisili doth see,
As this tragedie in maner berth witnesse,
Where-as wantith in any comounte
Subieccioun, for lakkyng off meeknesse,
And with pouert pride hath an interesse,
Ther folwith afftir thoruh froward insolence
Among the peeple fals inobedience.
And, noble Pryncis, which han the souereynte
To gouerne the peeple in rihtwisnesse,
Lik as ye cherisshe hem in pes and vnyte,
Or frowardli destroie hem or oppresse,
So ageynward ther corages thei will dresse
Lowli tobeie to your magnyficence,
Or disobeie bi inobedience.

[How Nembroth bilt the toure of babilone to saue him from noyous flodis which for his pride was put fro his magnificence and his toure with sodeyne levene smyten doun.]

Myn auctour Bochas, as he that vndirstood
The vengaunces & myscheuis huge
Which that God took with Noes Flood,
Whan he sente an vniuersel deluge,
Ageyn[e]s which there was no refuge,
Sauf eihte personis in that mortal wo
Withynne a ship were sauyd and no mo.
Wherfore myn auctour lihtli ouergoth,
Makith off that age no special remembraunce,
But passeth ouer from Adam to Nembroth,
Consid[e]ryng how in that dedli chaunce
The Lord for synne took so gret vengaunce,
That be writyng off cronique nor historie,
Off hih nor low was lefft[e] no memorie.
For ther was lefft cronicle noon nor book
Afftir the Flood, that made mencioun
Off noon auctour, who-so list to look;

29

For al was brouht to destruccioun
Bi a deluge, withoute excepcioun,
For which myn auctour transportid hath his stile,
And off that tyme list nothyng compile.
He fond no mater wheron he myht founde
Nor sette his foot, bi noon auctorite,
Nor no trouthe his purpos on to grounde
Off old[e] writyng that he coude see;
For which hym thouhte, off necessite
The surplusage off al that tyme lete,
And afftir Adam with Nembroth for to meete.
And certis, lich as Bochas in this book
Remembrith first off Adam the storye,
So next in ordre he the story took
To speke off Nembroth and his surquedie,
Which heere in erthe, as bookis specefie,
Afftir the Flood his wawes gan asswage,
Was maad a lord to gouerne in that age.
For whan the floodis begonne to discrese,
And God his vengaunce gan to modefie,
Withdrouh his hand, the watir tho gan cese,
Vpon the mounteyns hie off Armenye
The shipp gan reste, the Bible can nat lye;
And in that age, callid the secounde,
Lynage off man be-gan a-geyn tabounde.
Tencrese ageyn and to multeplie,
And bi discent, in bookis ye may see
Specefied the genealogie,
How that oon Chiris, cosyn to Noe,
A man that tyme off gret auctorite,
Onto this Nembroth, the story doth assure,
The fadir was, as bi engendrure.
This Nembroth wex myhti, large and long,
Excellyng othre as off his stature,
Surquedous, hardi and riht strong,
And in his tyme gret labour myht endure,
And in his force so moche he dede assure,

30

That ther was noon on watir nor on lond
Which durste presume his power to withstond.
And his noblesse mor to magnefie
In worldli worshepe, bi report off his glorie,
He was callid cheeff prynce off venerie,
Desirous euer for to han victorie
Off beestis wilde, to be put in memorie
And haue a pris amongis these champiouns,
Tigres to daunte, bores and leouns.
Ther was no beeste in wodes so sauage
That durste ageyn hym make resistence;
His furious ire so mortal was and rage,
The erthe quook for feer off his presence,
Til atte laste in his aduertence,
As a prynce deuoidid off al grace,
Ageyn[e]s God he gan for to compace.
He made a maner coniuracioun,
This froward geant, and a conspiracie,
Took his counseil bi fals collusioun,
His myht, his power for to magnefye,
And his estat for to glorefie,
Thouhte he wolde off his entent nat faile
God and the heuene proudli to assaile.
That maugre God, which [that] gouernyth all,
He thouhte he wolde proudli take on honde,
Ageyn deluges, yiff any falle shall,
Off prouidence pleynli hem withstonde,
Hymsilff tassure & make a place on londe
That sholde hym keepe & been to hym diffence
Bothe a-geyn God and watris violence.
And that thei myhte acomplisshe ther entent
Lich ther desir, thei dedyn ther labour,
Took ther counseil al be oon assent,
Chose Nembroth ther duc, ther gouernour
Hem to conveie and doon to hem socour,
To been ther guide, afforn as thei were war,
Toward a contre which callid is Sennar,

31

In compas wise round a-boute closid
With a gret flood namyd Eufrates.
Ther straunge foli which thei han purposid,
For to fulfille thei wer nat rek[e]les:
This to seyne, thei put hemsilff in pres,
So hih a tour for to edefie,
Which that sholde surmounte a-boue the skie,
That thei sholde greued be no more,
With no deluge brouht to destruccioun,
Nor that watres may nat greue hem sore,
This was the fyn off ther entencioun.
And off that tour & myhti strong dongoun,
Geyn God and floodis hemsiluen to assure,
The heihte and largesse were off o mesure.
Thus off Nembroth encresen gan the name;
And in the peeplis reputacioun,
Off gold and richesse he hadde so gret a fame,
Thei callid hym god in ther opynyoun,
Most eurous, most myhti off renoun,
The world al hool vndir his obeissaunce,
As god and lord he took the gouernaunce.
Vndir whos myht the peeple gan proceede,
He as a lord hauyng inspeccioun,
Pershyng the bowell[s] off the erthe in deede
To make myhti ther fundacioun;
And off fals glory and veyn ambicioun,
This proude Nembroth in his appetit,
To seen hem werke hadde ful gret delit.
His ioie was and his inward gladnesse
To beholde so gret a cumpanye
Percen the erthe bi so gret depnesse,
To make the ground[e] strong bi masounrye,
The werk vpward for to fortefie,
With many a ston, huge & large off weihte,
Thei han it reisid vp in the heir off heihte.
And fynali bi mediacioun
Off this gret werk Nembroth wex famous,
Takyng in herte gret consolacioun,

32

That be report he was so glorious,
Off so gret myht & off port so pompous,
That he was so myhti, riche and strong
To reise a tour, so wid, so large, so long.
For to this day touchyng the grete myht
Off this tour, which Babel yit men call,
Men fro ful ferr may han therof a syht,
For it surmountith othir touris all.
Off which[e] werk thus it is befall,
Off serpentis and many a gret dragoun
It is now callid cheeff habitacioun,
That no man dar, as ferr as thei it see,
For wikkid heir and for corrupcioun,
Bi a gret space and bi a gret contre
Approche no neer that merueilous dongoun,
So venymous is that mansioun
And so horrible, no man dar approche,
Lik to a mounteyn bilt off a craggi roche.
And as men seyn that haue had ther repair,
This tour atteynyth onto the sterris cleer,
And transcendith the regioun off the hair.
The ston, the syment wer maad off such mateer,
And the ioynyng so stedfast and enteer,
Thouh fir and watir bothe it dede assaile,
Ful lite or nouht ther power sholde auaile.
It was maad so myhti to endure,
So weel assurid be disposicioun,
That in this world no lyuyng creature
Sauh neuer noon lik in comparisoun;
Whos reryng up was cheeff occasioun,
And the richesse off the masounrye,
Wherthoruh Nembroth off pride and surquedie
Dempte proudli, as in his auys,
He transcendid all othre in noblesse,
Thouhte hymsilff most myhti & most wis,
Felawe to God, as be liklynesse.
But God, that can al worldli pride oppresse,
And make pryncis eclipsen in ther glory,
Such as truste in thyngis transitory—
The same Lord off his eternal myht,
This tour which Nembroth list to edefie,
He made with thondir & with leuene liht

33

Theroff to falle a ful gret partie;
The boistous wyndis and the rage skie,
And Goddis power on the tother side,
Gan thus a-bate a parcel off his pride.
And in discence and fallyng off the stonys,
Off the werkmen ful many a man was ded,
And oppressid, ther bak Ibroke and bonys,
The masounry with ther blood was red:
Yit proude Nembroth, that of this werk was hed,
With al these signes his Lord ne list nat knowe,
For which his pompe was afftir brouht ful lowe.
But in his errour procedith forth off newe,
Thouhte he wolde gete hymselff a name,
Off malencolie gan chaunge look and hewe,
And gan also attempten and attame,
For to encrece and magnefie his fame,
A newe tour to edefie a-geyn,
Lik as God hadde be blynd & nothyng seyn.
He wolde haue rauht up to the sterris seuene
Bassent off hem that gan hym first counsaile,
Robbid God, & from hym rauht the heuene;
But who presumeth the Lord aboue tassaile,
It were no resoun that he sholde auaile:
Pryncis may weel ageyn hym crie loude,
But his power may clipse with no cloude.
For in the middis off his grete emprises,
This proude Nembroth makyng his masouns
For to compasse and castyn there deuises,
Gemetriens in ther dyuysiouns,—
But God that hath his inspecciouns,
Seyng thentent off eueri ertheli man,
As he that is most myhti and best can
Ageyn ther malis make resistence,
Ther worldli power, ther domynacioun
Off his onchaungable & most magnificence

34

He can chastise and ouerwhelme doun—
The pride off pryncis in eueri regioun,
Bexaumple off Nembroth, a-noon as ye shal heer,
Whos pompe rauhte a-boue the sterris cleer.
For whan his werkmen stood at auauntage,
And most were besi to his entencioun,
And to-fortyme spak al o language,
Al sodenli be transmutacioun
Ther was off tunges maad a dyuysioun,
That in ther werkyng as thei gan abraide,
No man wiste what that othir saide.
And it is likli accordyng with resoun,
So as the chaung was maad off ther languages,
So off ther hertis was maad dyuysioun,
Bothe off ther will, and off ther corages;
And in descendyng off ther werkyng stages,
Ther was such chaung off brother onto brother,
Lik straungers noon knew thentent off other.
Myn auctour trowith that this dyuersite
Was for ther gilt causid be vengaunce,
And ellis God off riht and equite
Disposid hath in his ordenaunce
To been a-mong hem so gret a variaunce,
That thoruh the world thei sholde hemself deuyde,
And from Nembroth disseuere & nat a-bide.
Thei gan a-noon a-mong hemsilff disdeyne
To accepte this Nembroth for ther kyng;
Yit a-mong hem, in soth ther wer nat tweyne
Oon off a-nother that hadde cleer knowyng,
Nor off ther speche that knew the pleyn menyng:
For which the contre off Sennar thei forsook,
And ech off hem a sondri contre took.
Thei departid, made no lengere spacis,
Folwyng the fortune off ther dyuysioun,
And gan to chese hem newe duellyng placis
In the parties off many a regioun;
And thus Nembroth was pryued & put doun,
And off Babel, the myhti famous tour,
He was no lengere callid possessour:

35

For a-geyn the pride off this Nembroth
Froward Fortune gan hir cours to varie,
And God also was in maner wroth,
Off surquedie that he was so contrarie;
And for the place was wilde and solitarie
Off this Sennar, furious and sauage,
Nembroth gan feeble & falle into gret age.
And yit summe bookis off hym specefie,
He wix froward off his condicioun,
And was first ground off ydolatrie
And fyndere up off fals relegioun,
Causyng peeplis to haue openyoun
Goddis to worshepe in paganysme wise,
Foundour off rihtis and off fals sacrefise.
Toward Perce he ches his duellyng-place,
Which contre is in the orient;
That his lordship sholde strecch a gret[e] space,
He bounded hym into the occident:
For Perce-lond haueth his extent
Toward the parties of the Rede Se;
And this land Perce, who-so list [to] see,
As bookis olde remembre and put in mynde—
How that Perce costeieth enviroun
Septemtrion and the grettere Inde
And many a-nothir myhti regioun,
Wher Nembroth first hadde domynacioun,
Which extendith, as bookis specefie,
Out off Mede into Germanye.
But in lordshipes, as myn auctour seith,
Withoute that vertu be ther trewe guide,
In hem ther is suraunce noon nor feith—
Thyng that passith, which may no while abide;
Wherfore Bochas, in despit off pride
And in rebukyng off all folkis proude,
Makyng his compleynt crieth to hem ful loude:

36

The mater ageyn þe pride of princis.

[An exclamacioun of Bochas ageyn al proude men/ shewyng how god may them and theire pride whan him best list by many dyuers menes and wayes punysshe & chastise.]

Ye all proude, most royall in your flouris,
Which that most truste for to regne longe,
Dressith up your rochis & your touris,
And ageyn God make your-siluen stronge,
And lat your power proudli vndirfonge
Your-silff with pride for to magnefie,
Ageyns the heuene to holden chaumpartie.
Beeldith your castellis, reiseth hem vp on heihte
Off adamantis [with iren] stronge Ibounde,
With squar[e] stonys, large & huge off weihte,
Reise up your wallis, most myhti and profounde,
And shet your dongouns with myhti cheynys rounde,
Let men off armys, who-euer wake or sleepe,
Nyht & day your wacch so streihtli keepe,
As God nor man, in your opynyouns,
Your forteressis ne myhte nat assaile,
Your castellis nor your stronge dongouns
Stuffid with men and plente off vitaile,
Lik to stonde euere and neuere for to faile,
As God nat myhte a-geyn your fals puissaunce
Whan-euer hym list off riht to do vengaunce!
Settith afforn your eyen that be blynde
The monstruous werk off grete Babiloun;
The pride off Nembroth ther was put behynde,
Maugre his myht, and his tour smet doun:
For al the crafft off werkman or masoun
Destroied was with a sodeyn leuene,
Tauenge his pride sent a-doun fro heuene.
For thouh your strengthes so assurid be,
That noon engyn may therto atteyne,
Gunne nor bumbard bi no subtilite,

37

Shot off arblast nor touch off dundeyne;
Yit God that is lord and souereyne,
Which lich desertis can bothe spille and saue,
Mai al confounde with an erthe-quaue.
Myn auctour axith, what castel or what tour
May be so strong[e] maad in any wise,
But that be mene off sum fals tretour,
Or be sum weie that he can deuise,
It may be lost or sold for couetise
And delyuered, for al ther stronge bondis,
Into the power off enmyes hondis.
Or bi sum other sodeyn auenture,
Castellis, citees and many a riche toun
Han been lost; thei myhte hem nat assure
For to resiste a-geyn[e]s fals tresoun:
Summe ha be lost eek bi rebellioun;
And alle these menys, the trouthe to be-gynne,
Ys but punshyng which God sent for synne.
God hath a thousand handis to chastise,
A thousand dartis off punycioun,
A thousand bowes maad in vnkouth wise,
A thousand arblastis bent in his dongoun,
Ordeyned echon for castigacioun;
But where he fynt meeknesse & repentaunce,
Mercy is maistresse off his ordynaunce.
Ye that be wise, considreth how the roote
Off vicis alle is pride, ye may weel see;
Pullith hym doun and put hym vndir foote
And tak your counseil off humilite:
And yff ye list [to] stonde in surete,
Beeldith in herte for mor sekirnesse
A tour off vertues groundid on meeknesse,
Whos masonrie is off no costage,
Off vertues ground and souereyne,
Blast off wyndis and off wedris rage,
Nor no tempest hasti nor sodeyne,
Pompe nor bost, thouh thei doon her peyne,

38

This vertu meeknesse for to vndirmyne,—
Thei be to feeble to make hire for tenclyne.
For wher meeknesse is groundid verraily,
Thouh he sumwhile feele aduersite,
He passith ouer and suffreth paciently
And venguisshith al maner enmite,
Thassaut also and the contrariouste
Off infortune, and off worldli trouble,
And off victory conquereth a palme double.
And thouh meeknesse a-myd the flodis flowe
Off worldli myscheeff and persecucioun,
Whil Pacience in hir boot doth rowe,
Thouh froward wawes posse hir up & doun,
A calm shal folwe off consolacioun,
Whan sterne wyndis ther blastis ha[ue] leid lowe,
The name off meeknesse shal shewe & be knowe.
She may be troublid, but ouercome neuere;
But for a tyme she may suffer werre,
But atte eende she venquisshith euere,
On londe and se, wher she be nyh or ferre:
To the hauene off lyff she was our lodesterre,
I take record on the humylite
Off Mary, so blissid mut she be.
The roote off meeknesse flourith up so faire,
Whos beute dredith no tribulaciouns;
In somer, wyntir his flouris nat appaire,
And hir frut last in al maner sesouns:
Pride may assaile with his bostful souns,
But fynaly for hir encres off glorie,
With humblesse she wynnith the victorie.

[Lenvoy.]

O folkis all that this tragedie reede,
Haueth to meeknesse a-mong your aduertence,
Off proude Nembroth also takith heede,
How that he fill from his magnificence,
Onli for he be sturdi violence
List off malis the myhti Lord assaile,
But in such caas what myht his pride auaile?

39

Noble Pryncis, which that this world posseede,
Ye that be famous off wisdam and prudence,
And han so many subiectis, that you dreede,
In gouernaunce vndir your excellence,
Lat your power with meeknesse so dispence,
That fals[e] pride oppresse nat the poraile,
Which to your noblesse so moche may auaile.
Pride of Nembroth dede the bridil leede,
Which hym conueied to gret insolence;
Pride apperteneth nothyng to manheede,
Sauf in armys to shewen his presence—
Wherfore honour, laude and reuerence
Be to meeknesse, that hath the gouernaile
Off alle vertues man may most auaile.

[How many yeres was betwixt Adam and Nembroth and betwixt Nembroth and Cadmus and of other kynges.]

These olde poetis with ther sawes swete
Ful couertli in ther vers do feyne,
How olde Saturne was whilom kyng of Crete,
And off custum dede his besy peyne,
Off his godhed list for to ordeyne
That he sholde, as off his nature,
Echon deuoure as by his engendrure.
In this mateer shortli to soiourne,
To vndirstonde off poetis the processe,
Thei meene pleynli that this woord Saturne
Doth in it-silff nothyng but tyme expresse;
And philisophres bere also witnesse,
That as in tyme, foorth euery thyng is brouht,
So tyme ageynward bryngith euery thing to nouht.
Clerkis recorde eek in ther writyng,
Vndir support as I dar reherse,
How that fir wastith euery thyng,
And iren hard doth nesshe thynges perse;
Yiff auht a-bitt that they may nat transuerse,
Yit comyth tyme, and bi contynuaunce,
And al consumeth with his sharp[e] launce.

40

His sharp[e] toth of consumpcioun
In stille wise doth his besi cure
For to anentise, in conclusioun,
Alle thynge that is brouht foorth bi Nature,
Bi long abidyng thei may hem nat assure;
For olde thyngis deuourid men may see,
Fer out off mynde, as thei neuer had be.
Who can or may remembre in any wise
The glorious prowesse off these pryncis olde,
Or the noblesse of philisophres wise,
Or off poetis the feynyng to onfolde:
Processe off yeris, allas! as I you tolde,
Deuoured hath ther fame and ther noblesse,
Derkid ther renoun bi foryetilnesse.
Thus off ther namys is lefft no memory,
Tyme with his rasour hath doon so gret vengance,
Shauen a-wey the honour and the glory
Off many a noble, ful myhti off puissance,
That there is lefft now no remembrance
Off pryncis, poetis, nor off philisophres;
For whan that deth nailed hem in ther cofres,
Kam tyme vpon, and bi processe off yeeris
Ther memory hath duskid and ther mynde,
And reuolucioun off the heuenli speeris,
Bi offte turnyng ther glory hath lefft behynde:
Thus euery thyng which subiect is to Kynde,
Is in this liff withoute mor auauntage
Wastid with tyme and processe off long age.
In the firste age from Adam to Noe,
Prudent listres, which list in bookis reede,
Fynde off Fortune no mutabilite,
Nor off hir chaungis took[e] tho noon hede;
But from Adam ther reknyd been in deede
Onto Nembroth, bi turnyng off the heuene,
A thousand yeer, seuene hundrid and elleuene.
In which[e] space, who that considreth weel,
Ther be no thyngis write in special,
Digne off memorie nor spoke off neueradeel,

41

Which that be notable nor historial;
But fro the tyme Nembroth hadde a fal,
Onto Cadmus the yeeris to contene,
Thei were a thousand, foure hundrid & fourtene.
Touchyng [this] Cadmus, as Bochas list tendite,
It is rehercid bi rethoriciens,
How oon Vixoses, in bookis as thei write,
Was maad first kyng off the Egipciens,
Where philisophres & nygromanciens
Gan first tabounde ther renoun to auaunce,
Nachor that tyme hauyng the gouernaunce
Off the Hebreus, as maad is mencioun—
Afftir Nembroth, bi trewe rehersaile,
Thre hundred yeer bi computacioun,
Four score & tuelue, which tyme, it is no faile,
That Vixorses gan to werre & eek bataile
Off volunte geyn straunge naciouns,
And to conquere citees, burwes [&] touns.
Bi force onli, withoute title off riht,
He wan al Egipt to encrece his name;
But for al that, who list to haue a siht,
There is now lefft no report off his fame,
Sauf Bochas writ, how he first dede attame
His myhti conquest off entencioun
That the glory and the hih renoun
Ascryued were onto his worthynesse,
And the residue and the surplusage
Off gold, off tresor, off good & off richesse
Turne sholde to comoun auauntage
Off al his peeple, that euery maner age
Reporte myhte, it was to hym mor nerre
Boue syngulerte his comoun to preferre.
Eek Thanaus off Cithie first kyng,
Whan Saruch was duk & souereyne
Ouer the Iewes, be record off writyng,—

42

Too hundred yeer, sexti and eek tweyne
Afftir Nembroth, this Tanaus gan ordeyne
A myhti power and a strong bataile
Hem off Cithie proudli to assaile,
Conqueryng fro thens onto the ile
Callid Ponto, in ful cruel wise:
And thouh his lordship last nat but a while,
Al that he wan, it was for couetise;
And as Bochas doth off these folk deuise,
Processe off yeris, for al ther gret puissaunce,
Hath put ther namys out off remembraunce.
Zorastres eek, for al his grete myht,
Off Bactrians kyng and possessour,
Lord off Trace and a ful manli knyht,
Off all his dedis and off his gret labour,
Off his conquest nor off his gret honour
Is nothyng lefft, off writyng us beforn,
Sauf that he louh the hour whan he was born.
He began ful soone to be merie,
With sodeyn lauhtir at his natyuyte;
And worthy Nynus, that was kyng off Assirie,
Expowned his lauhtre to gret felicite,
The which[e] Nynus wan many a straunge cuntre,
And day be day his power gan encrese,
For which he wolde off his conquest nat cese.
For this the maner off these conqueroures:
Whan thei haue had in armis o victorie,
Thei do ther myht, ther peyne & ther laboures
With newe emprises to be put in memorie;
For ther corages, supprisid with veynglorie,
Can nat be stille content in ther estat
Til her parodie sey to hem chek-maat.
Fortune off armys, in bookis ye may reede,
With a fals lauhtre on folkis thouh she smyle,
She froward euere, or thei can takyn heede,
Off hir nature will falsly hem be-gyle;
Conquest bi werre lastith but a whyle,

43

For who bi deth doth sturdi violense,
God will bi deth his vengaunce recompense.
This worthy Nynus gan myhtili preuaile
A-geyn Zorastres, off whom I spak tofore;
For he with hym fauht last in bataile,
In which Nynus hath hym so weel Ibore,
That Zorastres hath the feeld Ilore.
And he was auctour, as bookis specefie,
Off fals magik and off nygromancie.
He fond the nature off euery element,
Ther kyndeli werkyng & ther mutaciouns,
The cours off sterris & off the firmament,
Ther influencis, ther disposiciouns,
Ther aspectis and ther coniuncciouns,
Wrot in peleris deuised off metall
The seuene sciencis callid liberall.
Eek in pilers off brik ful harde Ibake,
Which were up set, longe, large & huge,
He gan eek write hem & to vndirtake
To make hem seur, as for ther refuge,
That thei sholde be flood nor [no] deluge
Diffacid been, as off ther scripture,
But in ther grauyng perpetueli endure.
But thouh Zorastres this crafft first out fond,
Ful lite or nouht to hym it myhte auaile;
And thouh he were a good knyht off his hond,
He was off Nynus slay[e]n in bataile,
Loste his rewm and royal apparaile;
And Nynus deide withynne a litil throwe,
But in what wise the story is nat knowe.
Eek Moides kyng off Sodomee,
I fynde off hym no memory be writyng,
Sauff in a story, as men may reede and see,
He and his peeple were fre in ther lyuyng;
But he that was off Assiriens kyng,
Thoruh fals Fortune, that can so offte varie,
To Babiloyne made hem tributarie.

44

We han eek sey[e]n and rad also
The vengaunces and the pestilence
Doon in Egipt to kyng Pharao,
For that he made a maner resistence
Ageyn[e]s God, off wilful necligence;
Therfore his peeple vpon a day and he
Were dreynt echon amyd the Rede Se.
The peeplis off God lad be Moyses,
Withoute trouble off any maner wawe,
Wente echon sauf in quiete & in pes;
And Pharao, as he gan afftir drawe
Hem to pursue, bi a ful mortal lawe,
In his pursut froward and atteynt,
A-mong the wawes with his host was dreynt.
In Exodo ben the menciouns
Ceriousli put in remembraunce,
The twelue plages and persecuciouns
In Egipt doon, bi ful gret vengaunce;
And off ther tresor & ther gret substaunce
Thei were dispoilid bi Hebreus, it is told,
Off ther vesselis off siluer & off gold.
And out off Egipt ful gret tresor thei ladde,
Such as thei thouhte myhte hem most auaile;
And Pharao, I fynde that he hadde
Too hundrid charis enarmyd for bataile,
Hem to pursue and proudli to assaile,
And fifti thousand, in whom ther was no lak,
Off men off armys folwyng on horsbak.
Too hundred thousand off footmen hym aboute,
And off Egipt al this cheualrie;
And Pharao with al [t]his gret[e] route
Gan Israel pursuen off envie,
But for his pride and fals surquedie,
He and his peeple wer drownyd euerichon,
Off al his noumbre ther was lefft nat oon.
His froward herte a-geyn God indurat,
Fulfillid off malis and obstynacie,
And [in] his purpos proud and obstynat:

45

These foule vicis, or he koude hem espie,
From his glory and his regalie
He was cast doun, thouh he tofforn was crownyd,
A-myd the se a-mong his peeple drownyd.

[Off Oggigus, kyng of Thebes.]

A-nothir prynce callid Oggigus,
Kyng off Thebes, as bookis determyne,
And foundour was, thus Bochas tellith us,
Off a cite callid Eleusyne,
Which stant in Grece, whos power to declyne
Ther fill a flood in that regioun,
Which ouerflowed ful many a royal toun.
And in Achaia it dede most damage,
Tyme off Iacob, the patriark notable;
And this deluge with his wawes rage
Slouh lordis manye, & pryncis honurable:
For dame Fortune is so deceyuable,
That she sumwhile, whan she list disdeyne,
Can folk assaile with a flood sodeyne.
This flood also, where it dede assaile,
Wastid cornys bothe crop and roote,
Causid also scarsete off vetaile,
That many a man felte ful vnsoote;
The pore nat wiste wher to fynde boote,
For ther pryncis supprisid were with dreed,
Thoruh lak off vitaile in that grete need.

[Off a grete Flood in Tessalie.]

Anothir flood there was in Thessalie,
In the tyme whan kyng Amphioun
Heeld the sceptre and the regalie
Vpon Thebes the myhti stronge toun,
Beside the kyngdam off Semalioun,
This same tyme, this flood, ful dout[e]les,
Whan Goddis peeple was lad be Moises.
With this flood the land hadde be deuourid
Off Thessalie, and al that regioun,
But on Pernaso the peeple was socourid,

46

And on the rochis that stoden enviroun
Fond ther refut, to ther sauacioun,
And gret socour, til the flodis rage
Gan disencrece, withdrawen & asswage.
In olde stories ye may also see,
Whan Cicraps hadde first possessioun
Off Athenes the myhti strong cite,
An heete ther fill in that regeoun,
Be influence that descendid doun
From all the bodies aboue celestiall,
Which likli was for to deuouren all.
And this hete engendrid off the sunne,
In dyuers cuntrees, bothe in lengthe & breede,
Hath his cours so myhtili begunne
That many folkis fillyn in gret dreede—
Ryuers, wellis, who that list taken heede,
Consumed were and dreied up echon,
The hete callid then bracyng off Pheton.

[Off goodly Isis, Wiff to Apys kyng of Argyue slayn bi his broþer Tyffeus.]

We haue eek rad in stories heer-tofforn,
How that Ysis to Egipt took hir fliht
Out off Grece, the trewe douhter born
Off Promotheus, a ful manly knyht;
And this Ysis in euery mannys siht
So fressh, so goodli, weddid bi hir lyue
To worthi Apis, that was kyng off Argyue.
The which Ysis, excellyng off beute,
Afftyr tyme hir fadir was Igraue,
She was I put for mor surete
With hir vncle, that sholde keepe & saue
This seid[e] maide, that no man sholde hir haue;
And hir vncle, in Ouyde ye may see,
Lik as he writ, was callid Epymethe.
And flouryng up in hir tendir age,
This seid Ysis so plesant was & meete,
Off semlynesse, off look & off visage,

47

That Iubiter, the myhti kyng off Creete,
Was enamerid with hir for to meete;
And she, excitid off femynyte,
Enclynyd hir herte onto his deite.
And for she was off hir entent so cleene,
Obeieng hym in most lowli wise,
Off Argyuois he maad hir to be queene.
Because that she was smet in couetise,
Ageyn Argus a werre she gan deuise,
And for he was vnweeldi off his age,
Hir to withstonde he fond non auauntage.
But yit Fortune gan vp[on] hir frowne,
And kyng Argus thoruh his subtilite,
With his counseil so prudentli gan rowne,
That she was take bi ful gret cruelte,
And hir soudeours were eek made to fle;
And bi Argus, ther geyned no ransoun,
She fetrid was & put in strong presoun.
But hir sone, the god Mercurius,
Riht fressh, riht lusti & ful off hardynesse,
And off his herte inli coraious,
Ageyn[es] Argus gan his power dresse,
And so entierli dede his besynesse
That he was slay[e]n, in conclusioun,
And Ysis afftir delyuerid fro prisoun.
Off hir sleihtis afftirward nat feynt,
She took a ship and into Egipt wente,
In which[e] ship ther was a cow depeynt;
And Mercury, whom Iupiter eek sent,
Is gon with hir, bothe off oon entent,
To make a mariage afftir a-noon riht
Twen hir and Apis, a prynce off ful gret myht.
She was riht wis boue othir creatures,
Secret off cunnyng, weel expert in science,
She tauhte first lettres and figures
To Gipciens be pleyn experience,
Gaff hem cunnyng and intelligence

48

To tile ther land, tauhte ther laboreris
To sowe ther greyn & multeplie bi yeris.
And in Egipt hir fame and hir renoun
Gan day be day wexe and hir worthynesse,
Holde off cunnyng and reputacioun
Be signes shewed, nat onli a pryncesse,
But she was holde a-mong hem a goddesse,
And with worshepis which that were dyuyne
And sacrefises, to hir thei dede enclyne.
But to declare pleynli at a woord,
A-myd[des] al hir gret prosperite,
Myhti Apis, hir husbonde and hir lord,
Prynce off Egipt and duk off that cuntre,
Sone off Iubiter and off Nyobe,
Which Nyobe, bi lynage descendyng,
The douhter was off Phoroneus the kyng—
And Phoroneus first the lawes fond
To which al Grece stant vndir obeissaunce,
And the statutis off that myhti lond
Were establisshid bi his ordynaunce—
But for to write the vnhappi chaunce
Off kyng Apis, as it is remembrid,
He slay[e]n was and pitousli dismembrid
Bi his brother callid Tiffeus,
Sumwhat off hatrede, but mor for couetise;
For Tiffeus was inli desirous
To reioishe in ful mortal wise
The myhti kyngdam, as ye han herd deuise,
Off Argyuoys to haue possessioun,
Preferrid be moordre & fals successioun.
And whan that Ysis fond hir lord so ded,
Off entent that he were magnefied,
First off wisdam she gan takyn heed,
Ordeyned a mene that he were deified,
Hih a-mong goddis to be stellefied,
In Egipt templis maad hym to be stallid,
And god Serapis afftir he was callid.

49

[[O]ff Grisiton þat hes membres ete for hunger.]

What shal I write off the cas horrible
Off Erisiton, with hungir so constreynyd,
That his liff was to hymsilff odible,
In Thesalie with indigence peynyd;
And pitousli his fame was disteynyd,
Whan he solde his douhter in seruage,
Liriope, which was but yong off age,
Beschaung off gold to purueie hym vitaile,
Off verray neede he was so wo-begon;
He hadde no thyng that myhte his thrust auaile,
Nor staunche his hungir with gnawyng on a bon,
Wherfore he eet his membris oon bi oon.
A prynce, allas, was it nat pite
To seen hym deie in such aduersite!
We han eek rad, ful many a day tofor,
The grete baneshyng and proscripcioun,
Off Argyuois how kyng Gelanor
Was crueli put from his regeoun;
And his lieges, off indignacioun,
In his place thei sette oon Danaus,
Sone and eek heir onto the god Belus.
The peeple off malis dede hym so encoumbre,
Tencrece his sorwe and his aduersite,
And fifti douhtren he hadde also in noumbre,
And Egistus his brother, eek parde
Hadde fifti sones, the story ye may see,
Atween the which bi surete off hond
In mariage there was maad a bond,
Vndir which compassid was tresoun,
Couertli thouh thei dede it hide.
But yiff ye list han cleer inspeccioun
Off this story vpon eueri side,
Redith the legende of martirs off Cupide,
Which that Chaucer, in ordre as thei stood,
Compiled off women that were callid good.

50

Touchyng the story off kyng Pandioun,
And off his goodli faire douhtren tweyne,
How Thereus, fals off condicioun,
Hem to deceyue dede his besi peyne,
Thei bothe namyd, off beute souereyne,
Goodli Progne and yong[e] Philomene,
Bothe innocentis and off entent ful cleene.
Ther pitous fate in open to expresse,
It were to me but a presumpcioun,
Sithe that Chaucer dede his besynesse
In his legende, as maad is mencioun,
Ther martirdam and ther passioun,
For to reherse hem dede his besy peyne,
As cheef poete callid off Breteyne.
Off goode women a book he dede write,
The noumbre compleet fully off nynteene;
And there the story he pleynli dede endite
Off Tereus, off Progne & Philomeene,
Where ye may seen ther legende, thus I meene,
Doth hem worshepe & foorth ther liff doth shewe
For a cleer merour, because ther be so fewe.
I will passe ouer and speke off hem no more,
And onto Cadmus foorth my stile dresse—
Yit in my writyng it greueth me sore,
Touchyng off women off feith or stabilnesse,—
Blessid be God,—I fynde noon excesse;
And for ther been so fewe, as thynkith me,
The goode sholde been had in mor deynte.

Lenvoy.

This tragedie bereth to you witnesse,
How Saturnus bi disposicioun,
Maliciousli of his frowardnesse
Causith in Iune ful gret infeccioun,
She off nature conveieth the venym doun,
The hair infect, which no man may socoure,
Kometh deth a-noon, & all thynge doth deuoure.

51

Tyme from Adam, myn auctour doth expresse,
Doun to Nembroth bi successioun,
His stile conueied bi gret auysynesse,
From Zorastres to kyng Pharaoun;
Off too deluges he maketh mencioun,
In Thesalie the vengaunce gan laboure,
And in Achaia Thebes to deuoure.
Ye haue off hetis herd the gret excesse,
Off pryncis, pryncessis ful gret destruccioun,
Off Egistus the gret[e] wrechidnesse,
The furie off Tereus, the wo off Pandioun,
Off the too sustren the confusioun,
And how ther fate gan vpon hem loure,
Ther felicite vnwarli to deuoure.
Pryncis, Pryncessis, your eyen doth up dresse—
I meene the eyen off your discrecioun—
Seeth off this world the chaung, the doubilnesse,
The gret onseurnesse, the variacioun,
And aduertisith, for al your hih renoun,
Fortunes dewes, whan thei most suetli shoure,
Than is she falsest, your glorie to deuoure.

[How Iubiter rauisshed Europe, and how Cadmus was sent/to seke hir in diuers Regiouns.]

Be rehersaile off many an old poete,
Be discent the lyne conueied doun,
Next Saturnus, the myhti kyng off Crete,
Ioue was crownyd bi successioun,
As next heir bi procreacioun,
Afftir his fadir the lond to enherite,
Regned in Crete, as poetis list to write.
Sone off the lynage, as I you tolde afforn,
Off the goddis most souereyn and enteere,
Yit thouh he was off blood so hih I-born,
He ches Europa for to been his feere,
And doun descendid from his heuenli speere,
As he that was, for al his deite,
Supprisid in herte with hir gret beute.

52

And she was douhter to the myhti kyng
Callid Agenor, by lyneal discent,
Whos myhti kyngdam & roial fair duellyng
Was in Phenice toward the orient;
And to Arabie his land was adiacent,
Ferre be south, as ye may reede and see,
Toward the parties of the Rede Se.
But Iubiter, whan he dede aduerte
Off Europa the gret[e] semlynesse,
Hym thouhte he was woundid thoruh the herte
Onto the deth, beholdyng hir fairnesse,
And for his constreynt, & his mortal distresse,
Seyng she was so fair founde in his siht,
He rauesshid hire off veray force & myht.
But Agenor, hir owyn fadir deere,
Gan on this cas ful pitously compleyne,
Whan she, allas, most goodli and enteere,
Was hym berafft, which doublid al his peyne;
Recur was noon, thouh he dede pleyne,
Til he, remembrynge in his regalie,
Thouhte he wolde senden to espie
His sone Cadmus hir to recure ageyn,
For to serche hire in many a regeoun,
Wherso his labour were fructuous or in veyn.
His fadir sette hym a fell condicioun,
Nat to retourne bi noon occasioun,—
And therupon maad hym to be bounde,—
Til that he hadde the kyngis douhter founde.
He took his shippis bi gret auysynesse,
And gan to saile be many a straunge se,
Dede his labour and his besynesse,
With many a worthi that were with hym preue;
But whan that he off resoun dede see,
Ther was no mene for which that he was sent,
For tacomplisshe the fyn off his entent,
With glad[e] herte, deuoid off al gruchyng,
Seyng the cas froward and contraire,
Humble off [his] cheer[e] took his exilyng,

53

And off manhod list nat hymsilff dispaire,
But with his meyne knyhtli gan repaire
Toward Grece, & proudli ther to londe,
Off Appollo for to vndirstonde,
To what parti that he myhte drawe.
He praied the god to wissyn hym & reede,
Sum tokne shewe or sum maner lawe,
Onto what ile that he myhte hym speede;
Or that he wolde graciously hym leede
Where-as he myhte bilden a cite,
That were accordyng for hym & his meyne.
And to Appollo he dede sacrefise,
And maad to hym his oblacioun,
The god requeryng goodli to deuise,
To what lond or to what regeoun
For his duellyng and habitacioun
He sholde drawe, withoute mor obstacle,
For hym and hise to make his habitacle.
And Cadmus thus tofforn Appollo stood,
Knelyng a-mong with ful gret reuerence,
And in the temple off Delphos stille a-bod,
With humble attendaunce & deuout dilligence
Meekli besekyng, bi woord or sum sentence,
That Appollo to hym wolde onclose,
To what parti he sholde hymsilff dispose.
This was his answere in conclusioun,
As the statue to hym dede expresse:
To goon and serche contrees enviroun,
And til he fond, doon his besynesse,
A bole that were excellyng of fairnesse,
Which, bi precept off Appollos lawe,
Hadde neuer afforn in no yok Idrawe.
And where that euer sekyng that he fond
A bole stonde stille in his pasture,
Appollo bad vpon the same lond,
Where-as he sauh this sihte off auenture,
That he sholde doon his besi cure
To bilde a cite, he and his folkis all,
And Boecia, afftir the bole, it call.

54

And whan that Cadmus the precept vndirstood,
And in serchyng dede his besynesse,
He fond a place where-as a bole stood
Fedyng hymselff, which as bi liklynesse
Was a place ful plesant off largesse,
Wher-as he stynte and gan a cite reise,
Which that poetis gretli comende & preise.
And that his bildyng myhte the more auaile,
Alle tho foreyns that dede a-boute hym duelle,
Ful lik a knyht, be force and be bataile
Out off that cuntre he dede hem expelle,
Reisyng a cite which that dede excelle,
And as Ouide recordeth eek the same,
Into this day off Thebes berith the name.
And he was nat onli glorefied
For reryng up off this grete cite,
But he was also gretli magnefied
For his manhod and magnanymyte,
And most comendid, yiff ye list to see,
For the surmountyng famous excellence
Which that he hadde in wisdam & science.
For as myn auctour list off hym endite,
Thoruh his noble prudent purueiance
He tauhte figures & lettris for to write,
And made lawes off ful gret ordynance
A-mong the Grekis, and sette gouernance
Ther vicious liff bi vertu to restreyne;
And who outraied was punshid with the peyne.
And off entent tencrecen his lynage,
And his cite also to multeplie,
He took a wiff, that was but yong off age,
And she was callid, as bookis specefie,
Hermyone; and touchyng hir allie,
Thouh that she were born off roial blood,
She was also bothe inly fair and good.
And this was doon, as writith myn auctour,
Afftir the deth of worthi Iosue,
Gothonyel beyng his successour,

55

Hauyng the ledyng and the souereynte
Off Israel whan Thebes the cite
Was foundid first in tho daies olde
Bi kyng Cadmus, tofforn as I you tolde.
Foure douhtren he hadde be his lyue,
Ful faire echon and goodli on to see;
And ther names to rehersen blyue,
Semele was eldest, and next Authonoe,
The thridde in order was callid Ynoe,
And Agaue was yongest off hem all,
Off which[e] douhtres thus [it] is be-fall:
Thei were echon off port & off maneer
Ful weel fauoured in euery manys siht,
Riht womanli and heuenli of ther cheer;
And for ther beute, ther fadir anoon riht,
As it was sittyng, with al his ful[le] myht,
Lik ther estatis, ther berthe & eek ther age,
Maad hem be weddid & ioyned in mariage
To worthi pryncis, his lynage to auaunce.
And thei encreced bi procreacioun,
Wheroff the kyng hadde ful gret plesaunce
And gret reioishyng in his opynyoun
To seen his lyne bi generacioun,
With his nevewes & cosyns off allie,
Fro day to day so wexe and multeplie.
And this encreced his felicite,
Whan he considred verrali in deede
The riche bildyng off his roial cite,
And how Fortune dede his bridil leede
To gret richesse, in bookis as I reede,
To gret noblesse, hauyng residence
In his cite off most magnyficence.
His douhter Semele, record off myn auctour,
Thouh she descendid were off the blood roiall,
To Iubiter she was paramour,
And bi his power aboue celestiall,
She conceyued in especiall,
As poetis list off hire tendite,
Hym that is god off grapis rede & white,

56

Callid Bachus, which hath the gouernaunce
Off wynis alle and the regalie.
Wheroff afftir ther fill ful gret vengaunce:
[For] whan Iuno dede first espie
Off Iubiter the grete auoutrie,
Off gret hatrede and envious desir,
She made Semeles be brent with sodeyn fir,
Bi descendyng off a sodeyn leuene,
Wherthoruh hir paleis was into asshes brent—
The vnwar strook cam doun fro [the] heuene,
And on Semeles the vengaunce is doun went;
And or the flawme consumed was & spent,
Ther was off hir lefft no remembraunce,
But off hir eende the woful mortal chaunce.
Eek Antheon, sone off Authonoe,
To gret[e] myscheeff and infortune born,
Whos fadir was callid Eristee,
Come off the kynrede that I you tolde afforn;
With cruel houndis, allas, he was to-torn,
For that he sauh, as bookis off hym tell,
Diane nakid bathe hire in a well.
And as poetis remembryn atte leste,
Whan the ladies off Thebes the cite
Heeld off Bachus solempneli the feste,
The yongest suster, callid Agaue,
Douhter to Cadmus,—allas, it was pite!—
Ageyn Pantheus, hir owyn sone deere,
She wex so wood & mortal off hir cheere,
Moordryng hym in ful cruel wise,
In hir rage she was so furious:
For he louh[e] at the sacrefise
In Thebes doon bi women to Bachus;
The which[e] sone was callid Pantheus,
Whom that she slouh with a ful sharp[e] dart,
In hir woodnesse, as she hym fond a-part.
These grete myscheuys fellyn in the lyne
Off kyng Cadmus thoruh his onhappi chaunce;
Fortune his noblesse gan to vndirmyne,

57

And thouhte she wolde his glory disauaunce.
Al worldli gladnesse is medlid with greuaunce,
Experience in Cadmus ye may see,
So importable was his aduersite.
For whil he sat most hiest in his glory,
No parti clipsed off his prosperite,
His briht renoun and his roial memory
In rewmis sprad and many ferr cuntre,
And he most welful in his kyngli see
Sat with his lynage, most hih in his noblesse,
Than cam Fortune, the fals enchaunteresse,
Off wilfulnesse, and fond occasioun
A-geyn this Cadmus, & maad his renoun dulle,
And off his kynrede, bi fals collusioun,
She gan a-wey the brihtest fethres pulle;
And whan his shynyng was wexe up to the fulle,
Afftir the chaung off Fortunys lawe,
His glory gan discrecen and withdrawe.
It was mor greuous to his dignite,
A sodeyn fall from his hih noblesse,
Than yiff that he neuer hadde be
Set in thestat off [so] gret worthynesse;
For the furious mortal heuynesse
Off his kynreede, withoutyn any more,
Wolde haue greued a poore man ful sore.
And a-mong his sorwes euerichon,
To reherse pleynli as it was,
I dar afferme how that there was oon,
Most horrible & dreedful in such cas;
For Cadmus sone, callid Athamas,
His sone-in-lawe, thoruh fals malencolie
Fill sodenli into a frenesie.
Off whom the wiff was callid Ynoe,
Cadmus douhter, as ye han herd expresse,
Which thoruh the constreynt off his infirmite,
In his rage and furious woodnesse
Thouhte that his wiff was a leonesse,
And in his wilde ymagynaciouns,
That his too childre were also too leouns.

58

And vpon hem ful loude he gan to crie,
Toward his wiff in haste he ran anon,
And from hir armys, ther was no remedie,
The child he rente, and on a craggi ston
He gan to brose it and breke it eueri bon.
The which[e] child, Bochas writith thus,
Ful tendir and yong, was callid Learchus.
And off this woful sodeyn auenture
Off his rage, whan that [s]he took heed,
As most sorweful off any creature,
Hir othir child she hente anoon for dreed;
For off socour she knew no betir speed,
So as she myhte gan haste out off his siht.
But wellaway, as she took hir to fliht,
Hir husbonde cam afftir pursuyng
Lich a wood leoun in his cruelte;
Doun from a mounteyn, which was dependyng,
She and hir child fill into the se.
Was it nat routhe, was it nat pite,
A kyngis douhter, hir lord in Thebes crownyd,
He to be wood and she for feer so drownyd!
Loo, heer the fyn off Cadmus euerideel,
His childre slayn and his allies all,
And he hymsilff[e] fro Fortunys wheel,
Whan he lest wende, ful sodenli is fall,
His litil sugir temprid with moch gall:
For a-mong[es] all his mortal peynes,
His liege-men, off Thebes citeseynes,
Made ageyn hym a conspiracioun,
Put hym in exil and his wiff also,
His sonys, his douhtris brouht to destruccioun;
And to thencrecyng off his dedli wo,
He and his wiff compellid bothe too
For verray pouert and verray indigence
In ther last age to purchace ther dispence.
Thus [of] Cadmus the sorwes to descryue
And his myscheeff to putte in remembraunce,
He banshid was twies bi his lyue,

59

First bi his fadris cruel ordynaunce
Off his suster to maken enqueraunce,
And althirlast in his vnweeldi age
He was compellid to holden his passage
Out off Thebes, his wiff and he allone,
In sorwe & wepyng taccomplissh up ther daies.
Into Illirie to-gidre thei be gone,
Ther pacience put at fell assaies,
Whos bittirnesse felte noon allaies.
Eek off ther eende nor ther vnhappi fate,
Nor off ther deth I fynde noon other date,
Sauff that Ouide maketh mencioun,
And Iohn Bochas the poete excellent
Seith that the brethre, Zeto & Amphioun,
Out off Thebes, bothe bi oon assent,
Haue this Cadmus into exil sent,
His wiff also, afftir ther hih noblesse,
To eende her liff in sorwe and wrechidnesse.
But the goddis, off merci and pite,
Whan thei hem sauh bi Fortune so cast doun
From ther estatis into pouerte,
Hauyng off hem ful gret compassioun,
Thei made a-noon a transformacioun
Off bothe tweyne, hem yeuyng the liknesse
Off serpentis, to lyue in wildirnesse.

Lenvoye.

O what estat may hymsilff assure
For to conserue his liff in sekirnesse?
What worldli ioie may heer long endure,
Or wher shal men now fynde stabilnesse,
Sithe kyngis, pryncis from ther hih noblesse—
Record off Cadmus—been sodenli brouht lowe
And from the wheel off Fortune ouerthrowe?
Who may susteene the pitous auenture
Off this tragedie be writyng to expresse?
Is it nat lik onto the chaunteplure,
Gynnyng with ioie, eendyng in wrechidnesse?—
Al worldli blisse is meynt with bittirnesse,

60

The sodeyn chaung, no man theroff may knowe;
For who sit hiest is sonest ouerthrowe.
Was in this world yit neuer creature,
Rekne up pryncis, for al ther hih noblesse
Fortune koude recleyme hem to hir lure
And emporisshe thoruh hir frowardnesse.
Wherfore, ye Lordis, for al your gret richesse,
Beth war afforn or ye daunce on the rowe
Off such as Fortune hath from hir wheel throwe.

[A processe of Oetes kyng of Colchos, Iason, Medee, Theseus, Scilla Nisus, and other moo.]

Whan Iohn Bochas was most dilligent
To considre the successiouns
Off lynages, with all his hool entent,
In his writyng and descripciouns
To compile the generaciouns
Of many noble, famous off estat—
I meene off such as were infortunat,—
In his serchyng he fond nat a fewe
That were vnhappi founde in ther lyuyng;
To his presence a-noon ther gan hem shewe
A multitude ful pitousli wepyng,
A-mongis which, ful doolfully pleynyng,
Cam first Oetes, and hath his compleynt gunne,
Kyng off Colchos and sone onto the sunne.
For off Phebus, which is so briht & cleer,
Poetis write that he was sone and heir,
Because he was so myhti off poweer,
So fressh, so lusti, so manli [and] so feir;
But off Fortune he fill in gret dispeir,
Cursyng his fate and his destyne,
Whan Iason first entrid his cuntre,
Be Pelleus sent fro Thesalie,
Ther for taccomplisshe be dilligent labour
The grete emprises thoruh his cheualrie,

61

Yiff God and Fortune list doon to hym fauour,
That he myhte wynnen the tresour:
This is to meene, that he were so bold
The ram tassaile which bar the Flees of Gold.
This said Iason thoruh counseil off Mede,
Bi sorcery and incantacioun
The boolis slouh, horrible for to see,
And venquysshid the venymous dragoun,
The kyng despoilid off his possessioun,
Accomplisshid with carectis & figures
Off Colchos the dreedful auentures.
And afftirward, whan he his purpos hadde,
He leffte Oetes in ful gret dispair,
And Medea foorth with hym he ladde
And hir brother, which was the kyngis hair.
But as I fynde, how in his repair,
Out off Colchos whan thei gan remue,
Kyng Oetes afftir hem gan sue.
Vpon Iason auenged for to be,
Withoute tarieng, he folwid hem proudly;
The which[e] thyng whan Iason dede see,
This Medea gan shape a remedy:
She took hir brothir & slouh hym cruely,
And hym dismembrid, as bookis make mynde,
And pecemeel in a feeld behynde
She gan hym caste, al bespreynt with blood.
Wheroff his fader whan he hadde a siht,
Ful pale off cheer, stille in the feeld he stood,
Whil she and Iason took hem onto fliht—
I trowe that tyme the moste woful wiht
That was a-lyue, whan he dede knowe
His child dismembrid and abrood Isowe!
Which cause was, allas and wellaway!
That he so stynte, as man disconsolat,
Whil that Iason fro Colchos went a-way.
And Medea, most infortunat,
Was ground and roote off this mortal debat:

62

For who sauh euer or radde off such a-nothir,
To saue a straunger list to slen hir brothir?
Forsook hir fader, hir contre & kynreede,
The lond enporished thoruh hir robberie;
Off hir worshep she took noon othir heed,
Loue had hir brouht in such a fantasie.
And whil that she a-bood in Thesalie
And with Iason dede ther soiourne,
She made Eson to youthe to retourne.
A yerde she took, that was drie and old,
And in hir herbis and commixciouns
She made it boile, in Ouide it is told,
And bi carectis and incantaciouns,
And with the crafft off hir coniurisouns
The yerde be-gan [to] budde & blosme newe
And to bere frut and leuys fresh off hewe.
And semblabli with hir confecciouns
His olde humours she hath depurid cleene,
And with hir lusti fresh[e] pociouns
His empti skyn, tremblyng & riht leene,
Pale and wan, that no blood was seene,
But as it were a dedli creature—
Al this hath she transfformyd bi nature.
Made hym lusti and fressh off his corage,
Glad off herte, liffli off cheer and siht,
Riht weel hewed and cleer off his visage,
Wonder delyuer bothe off force & myht,
In all his membris as weeldi & as lyht
As euer he was, and in the same estat,
Bi crafft off Mede he was so alterat.
Afftir al this, a-geyn kyng Pelleus
She gan maligne, vncle onto Iason;
And off envie she procedith thus:
The kyngis douhtren she drow to hir anoon,
Hem counsailid that thei sholde goon
Onto ther fadir & pleynli to hym seyn,
Yiff he desirid to be yong a-geyn.

63

Ful restored his force to recure
And therwithal in lusti age floure,
She behihte to doon hir besi cure
Lik his desir to helpyn and socoure,
And in this mateer so crafft[i]li laboure,
Fynali stonde in the same caas
To be maad yong, lik as his brothir was.
Touchyng which thyng, for mor euydence
This Medea hath to the douhtren told,
Off entent to yeue the mor credence,
She bad hem take a ram that wer riht old,
And with a knyff for to be so bold
To sleen this beeste afforn hem ther he stood,
And in a vessel drawe out his olde blood,
Fulli affermyng lik as it wer trewe,
That he sholde been a lamb a-geyn.
For she be crafft wolde his blood renewe
In such wise be euidence pleyn
That off elde no tokne shal be seyn—
In al his membris as lusti and enteer
As was a lamb euyd off o yeer.
And therupon in ful sleihti wise
She gan a processe off ful fals tresoun,
The sustre made vpon this ram practise,
Drouh out his blood lik her entencioun;
And she bi crafft off fals illusioun
Blent her eyen bi apperence in veyn
The olde ram to seeme a lamb a-geyn.
Thus Medea be sleihte compassyng,
Off envie and venymous hatreede,
Excitid hath the sustre in werkyng,
A-geyn ther fadir mortali to proceede.
With sharp[e] knyuis thei made her fader bleede,
Mid the herte thoruhout euery veyne,
Supposyng, the celi sustren tweyne,
That Pelleus renewed sholde be
To youthe a-geyn off force & off substaunce.
But fynali bi tresoun off Mede

64

He lost his liff, such was his woful chaunce;
For she it wrouhte onli off vengaunce,
As roote & ground off this cruel deede,
A-geyn the nature off al womanheede.
Supposyng in hir opynyoun,
How that the deth gretli sholde plese
Off Pelleus onto hir lord Iasoun,
Thoruh gret encres sette his herte at ese;
But it rebounded into his disese,
That fynali Iason hir forsook
For hir offence, and he his weye took
Into Corynthe, toward the kyng Creon,
Whos douhter Creusa, for hir gret beute,
Was afftirward iweddid to Iason.
But whan this weddyng was knowe to Mede,
Caste she wolde theron auengid be,
Gan to conspire off malis and envie,
And thoruh hir magik and [hir] sorcerie,
In ful gret haste gan [for] to ordeyne
A litil coffre, onli off entent;
And bi hir yonge faire sonys tweyne,
With othre iewelis, she hath the coffre sent,
Onto Creusa makyng a present,
Which off malis she list so dispose,
That whan Creusa the coffre dede onclose,
The fir brast out a ful large space,
Brent Creusa bi ful gret violence,
Set a-fire pleynli al the place
Benchauntement; ther was no resistence—
Al wente affire that was in hir presence,
Bi vengance dede ful gret damage.
But whan Iason the fir sauh in his rage,
And considred the malis off Mede,
Thouhte he wolde doon execucioun
For to punshe the gret iniquite
A-geyn[e]s hym compassid off tresoun;
For she off vengance, a-geyn[es] al resoun,

65

Afftir that Creusa consumed was & brent,
Hir owne sonys, which she hadde sent,
Withoute routhe or womanli pite,
She falsli moordred—the childre that she bar—
Lik a stepmooder auenged for to be,
Cutte ther throtis or that thei wer war,
A-geyn nature, ther was noon othir spaar,
But for hatreede she hadde onto Iason.
Afftir this moordre she fledde hir way a-noon,
So escapyng his indignacioun.
Be crafft off magik she wente at liberte
To Athenys, and in that regioun
She weddid was onto the kyng Egee.
Nat longe afftir bi hym a sone had she,
The which[e] child, myn auctour tellith thus,
Afftir Medea callid was Medus.
Afftir whos name the famous regioun
I-named was, which is callid Meede.
But folwyng ay hir olde condicioun,
This Medea, void off shame & dreede,
Compassid hath off wilful fals hatreede,
That Theseus, the sone off kyng Egee,
With newe poisoun shal deuoured be.
But Theseus, ful lik a manli knyht,
In repairyng hom to his contre,
Off hih prudence espied a-noon ryht
The mortal vengance, the gret[e] cruelte
Off his stepmooder, which off enmite
Concludid hath in hir entencioun
Hym to destroie onwarli with poisoun.
Hir herte off malis, cruel & horrible,
As she that was with tresoun euer allied,
Whan that she sauh hir purpos most odible
Be kyng Egeus fulli was espied,
She hath hir herte & wittis newe applied,
As in ther bookis poetis han compiled,
A-geyn to Iason to be reconsiled.
She fledde away for dreed off Theseus,
List he hadde doon on hir vengaunce,
And fynali, as writ Ouidius,

66

And moral Senec concludith in substaunce,
In his tragedies makyng remembraunce,
How Medea, lik as poetis seyn,
Onto Iason restored was a-geyn.
Touchyng the eende off ther furious discord,
Poetis make theroff no mencioun
Nor telle no mene how thei fill at accord,
But yiff it were bi incantacioun,
Which so weel koude turne up-so-doun
Sundry thyngis off loue & off hatreede.
And in Bochas off hir no mor I reede,
Sauff whan she hadde fulfillid hir purpos,
Myn auctour tellith, that Iason & Mede
Resorted han a-geyn onto Colchos
Hir fadir Oetes, & from his pouerte
Brouht hym a-geyn into his roial see,
And to his crowne bi force thei hym restore:
Touchyng his eende, off hym I fynde no more.
Thus his fortune hath turnyd to and fro,
First lik a kyng hauyng ful gret richesse,
Afftir lyuyng in pouert and in wo,
Sithen restorid to his worthynesse:
Thus ay is sorwe medlid with gladnesse,
Who can aduerte, in al worldli thyng,
Record off Mynos, the noble worthi kyng.
To whom I muste now my stile dresse,
Folwen the tracis off Bochacius,
The which[e] Mynos, as Ouide doth expresse,
Touchyng his birthe writ[eth] pleynli thus,
That he was manli, wis and vertuous,
Sone bi discent off Iubiter the grete,
And off Europa born to been heir in Crete.
Off his persone wonder delectable,
Ful renommed off wisdam and science,
Bi dyuers titles off laude comendable
Off birthe, off blood, off knyhthod & prudence;
For bi his study and enteer dilligence
He fond first lawes groundid on resoun,
Wherbi off Crete the grete regioun

67

Gouernyd was and set in stabilnesse.
Alle iniuries and wrongis to refourme,
Made statutis extorsiouns to represse,
Off rihtwisnesse thei took ther firste fourme,
And that ech man sholde hymselff confourme
Lik ther degrees, subiect and souerayne,
That no man hadde no mater to complayne.
He made his liges to lyuen in quieete,
Cleer shynyng in his roial noblesse,
With suerd and sceptre sittyng in his seete;
And whil he floured in his worthynesse
He took a wiff off excellent fairnesse,
Douhter to Phebus, in Bochas ye may see,
And she was callid faire Pasiphe.
And hir fadir, bi record off writyng,
In his tyme was holden ful famous;
Off thile off Rodis he was crownyd kyng,
And in his daies off port ful glorious,
Riht proud in armis and victorious,
Takyng witnesse Methamorphoseos.
His douhter hadde thre childre be Mynos,
The firste a sone callid Androgee,
And afftirward ful faire douhtren tweyne,
Riht womanli and goodli on to see;
But, as Fortune for hem dede ordeyne,
Thei felte her lyue gret trouble & [gret] peyne—
Callid Adriana, and Phedra was the tothir,
Folwyng ther fate, it myhte be noon othir.
Androgeus bi kyng Mynos was sent,
For he sholde profityn in clergie,
To Athenys off vertuous entent
There to stodien in philosophie;
And for he gan tencrece & multeplie
And passe all othir bi studi in lernyng
And to excelle his felawes in cunnyng,
Thei off envie and fals malis, allas,
Made a-geyn hym a conspiracioun,
And from a pynacle sacrid to Pallas,

68

Off ful gret heihte, made hym tumble doun.
For which iniurie, Bochas maketh mencioun,
His fadir Mynos auengid for to be,
Leide a gret power a-boute the cite.
He caste hym fulli that no man sholde hym lette,
But that he wolde doon crueli vengaunce;
And round a-boute so sore he hem besette
With men off armys & with his ordynaunce,
That fynali he brouht hem to vttraunce,
And them constreynyd, withynne a litil space,
Ther liff, ther deth submyttyng to his grace.
But whil thei made ageyn hym resistence,
Supposyng his power to withstonde,
Nisus, that was kyng off Megarence,
A-geyn Mynos ther parti took on honde:
And offte tymes, as ye shal vndirstonde,
Whan kyng Mynos the cite dede assaile,
Nisus withynne, with myhti apparaile
Vpon the wal stood in his diffence—
Whan that Mynos, ful lik a manli knyht,
Fauht withoute with sturdi violence,
Lich Mars hymsilff in steel armyd briht.
Wheroff whan Scilla onys hadde a siht,
Douhtir to Nisus, aduertyng his prowesse,
A-noon for loue she fill in gret distresse.
She was supprisid with his hih noblesse;
His manli force, expert many-fold,
Set[te] Scilla in gret heuynesse:
For loue off Mynos, off poetis it is told,
Made hir herte presumen and be bold,
First hir-silff to putte in iupartie,
Hir fadris liff, the cite, the clergie.
From hir herte loue hath set a-side,
A-geyn nature, hir blood & hir kynreede;
And al frenshipe from hire she gan deuyde,
And off hir worship took no maner heede:
Loue maad hir cruel, a-geyn al womanheede,
First hir herte so sore sette affire,
Hir fadres deth falsli to conspire.

69

For kyng Mynos beyng a straunger
Was so enprentid in hir opynyoun,
Off creatures ther stood noon so neer;
And for his sake, bi ful fals tresoun,
She compassid the destruccioun
First off hir fadir and off the cite—
So straunge a thyng, allas, how myhte it be,
That a woman off yeris yong and tendre
Koude ymagyne so merueilous a thyng!
But offte it fallith, that creatures sclendre,
Vnder a face off angelik lokyng,
Been verrai wolues outward in werkyng.
Eek vnder colour off ther port femynyne,
Summe be founde verray serpentyne,
Lambis in shewyng, shadwid with meeknesse,
Cruel as tigres, who doth to hem offence,
Off humble cheer pretendyng a liknesse.
But, o allas! what harm doth apparence,
What damage doth countirfet innocence,
Vndir a mantil shrowdid off womanheed,
Whan feyned falsnesse doth ther bridil leed!
For this Scilla, the kyngis douhter deere,
In whom he sette hool his affeccioun,
His hertis ioie, his plesaunce most enteere,
His worldli blisse, his consolacioun,—
But she al turned to his confusioun,
Nat lich a douhter, but lik a sorceresse
His deth compassid, the story berth witnesse.
Hir fadir hadde a fatal her that shon
Brihtere than gold, in which he dede assure
Manli to fihte a-geyn his mortal fon;
For on his hed[e] whil it dede endure,
He sholde venquysshe bi manhod, & recure,
And thoruh his knyhthod, to his encres off glory,
In euery quarell wynnen the victory.
But whil hir fadir kyng Nisus lay & sleep,
Vpon a nyht, parcel affor day,
Ful secreli, or that he took keep,
The her off gold this Scilla kit away;
And onto Mynos, armyd wher he lay,

70

She it presentid thoruh hir ordynaunce,
Off fals entent hym for to do plesaunce.
But in this mateer, lik as writ Ouide,
Methamorphoseos, who-so taketh heed,
Hir fadir slepyng, she knelyng bi his side,
Took a sharp knyff withoute feer or dreed,
Whil he lay nakid, she karff a-too his hed,
Stal hir way[e] off ful fals entent,
And to kyng Mynos the hed she doth present.
And in hir comyng onto his presence,
Hir fadris hed whan she afforn hym laide,
No-thyng a-shamed off hir gret offence,
Onto Mynos thus she dede abraide,
And with bold cheer[e] euene thus she saide:
“Mi lord,” quod she, “with support off your grace,
Yeueth to my tale leiser tyme and space;
Certis, my lord, loue hath excitid me
And constreynyd to this cruel deede,
To slen my fader, destroien my cite,
Forgete my worshep, forsaken womanheede,
And maad me hardi to make my fader bleede—
Thynges horrible thus I haue vndertake
For tacomplisshe onli for your sake.
Mi-silff disheritid for loue off your persone,
Callid in my contre a fals traitouresse,
Disconsolat stole a-wey a-lone,
Off newe diffamed, named a maistresse
Off fals moordre, I brynge a gret witnesse,
Mi fadres hed and his dedli visage,
A-geyn nature to forthren your viage.
Wherfore, I praie that ye list aduertise,
And considreth lich a gentil knyht
How I, for loue toward your gret emprise,
And to gret fortheryng also off your ryht,
Haue first my fader depryued off his myht,
Rafft hym his liff, dispoiled his richesse
To do plesaunce to your hih noblesse.
And no-thyng axe onto my guerdoun
Nor to my reward that myhte me auaile,
But that I myhte haue ful possessioun

71

Off your persone, most worthi in bataile;
For ther is no tresor that myhte countiruaile
To my desir, as that ye wolde in deede
Goodli accepte me and my maidenheede.
Ye may me saue & spille with a woord,
Make most glad and most dolerous;
I nat requere off you, my souereyn lord,
But that ye wolde be to me gracious:
For blood and kyn, and my fadres hous
Al lefft behynde, yiff ye list aduerte,
And vndepartid youe to you myn herte.
Which to your hihnesse auhte inouh suffise,
All thynge considred, in your roial estat,
Conceyued also in how vnkouth wise
For your loue I stonde desolat,
Sauff off your mercy fulli disconsolat.
Heere is al and sum, your loue I beie to sore,
But ye do grace; I can sey you no more.”
And whan she hadde hir tale told knelyng,
With a maner pretense off womanheed,
Off al hir tresoun a poynt nat concelyng,
The kyng astonyd off hir horrible deed,
Bi gret auys peised and took heed,
It was not sittyng to prynce nor to no kyng
To do fauour to so froward a thyng.
With troublid herte and with a face pale,
His look vpcast, [he] seide, “God forbeede,
That euer in cronycle, in story or in tale,
That any man sholde off Mynos reede,
How he supported so venymous a deede—
Fauoure a woman, allas and wellaway!
Which slouh hir fader whan he a-bedde lay.
But for your hatful and vnkyndli rage,
I pray the goddis echon and Saturne
To take vengaunce on your fals outrage:
For euery-wher, wher ye do returne,
And eueri place wher-as ye soiourne,

72

Lond and se, shortli to expresse,
Thei been infect with your cursidnesse.
Your owne mouth your outrage doth accuse;
And your accus is so abhomynable,
That your gifftis I fulli do refuse,—
Thei be so froward and repreuable.
And your persone, disnaturel & vnstable,
Withynne my court, it were a thyng nat fayr,
That ye sholde a-bide or haue repair.
Ye be so hatful vpon eueri side
And contrarious off condicioun,
I praie Tellus, which off the erthe is guide,
And to Neptunus I make this orisoun:
As ferr as strecchith ther domynacioun
Vnder the boundis off ther regalie,
A duellyng-place that thei to you denye!”
Whan Mynos hadde his answer thus deuised,
On resoun groundid and on equite,
And Scilla sauh how she was despised,
Knew no parti, passage nor contre
To fynde socour whedir she myhte fle,
But disespeired as a traitouresse,
Toward the se a-noon she gan hir dresse
Tentre the water pleynli yiff she myhte,
For verrai shame hirseluen for to shrowde;
And whan the goddis theroff hadde a syhte,
Thei turned hire, as thei that myhte & kowde,
In-ta quaile for to synge lowde.
Hir fader Nisus thei dede also transmue
In ta sperhauk, the quaile to pursue.
This was the eende off Nisus & off Scille.
And afftirward off Athenes the toun
Was yolden vp to stonden at the wille
Off kyng Mynos, withoute condicioun;
Euery thre yeer bi reuolucioun
Thei off the cite sholde nat dellaie
Nyne off ther childre for a tribut paie.

73

This was bi Mynos thymposicioun
Vpon Athenys; and off verrai dreed
Thei obeied, as maad is mencioun,
And ther childre yeer bi yeer thei leed
Into Crete the Mynotaur to feed,
Onto this monstre ordeyned for repast,
Which at ther comyng deuoured wer in hast.
But or that I ferthere do proceede
In this mater, I will do my cure
To declare, yiff ye list take heede,
Off this monstre to telle the engendrure,
Vnkouth to heere and a-geyn nature;
For bi the writyng off Ouidius,
This ougli beeste was engendrid thus,
Methamorphoseos, the maner ye may see:
Mynos hadde a bole off gret fairnesse,
Whit as mylk; and the queen Pasiphe
Loued hym so hote, the story berth witnesse,
And Dedalus dede his besynesse
[Bi sotil craft, & made his gynnys so,
That ayenst kynde with hir he had to do,
And conceyued a beest[e] monstruous,
That was departid, halfe bole, half man;
And as the poete bi wrytyng techith vs,
Off Mynotaurus thus the name began.
And Dedalus, not long aftir whan]
That this monstre was bi the queen forth brouht,
This subtil werkman hath an hous Iwrouht
Callid Laboryntus, dyuers and vnkouth,
Ful off wrynkles and off straungenesse,
Ougli to knowe which is north or south,
Or to what part a man sholde hym dresse;
Folk were ther blent with furious derknesse,
Who that entred, his retourn was in veyn,
Withoute a clue for to resorte a-geyn.

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Off Mynotaurus this was the habitacle,
Lik a prisoun maad for tormentrie,
For dampnyd folk a peynful tabernacle;
For all that lay ther in iupartie,
The monstre muste deuoure hem & defie:
And speciali was ordeyned this torment
For all that wern doun from Athenys sent.
But in this mater summe bookis varie,
And afferme how queen Pasiphe
Off kyng Mynos loued a secretarie
Callid Taurus, in Bochas ye may see;
And thus the kyng, for al his rialte,
Deceyued was, for who may any while
Hymsilff preserue wher women list begile?
For bi this Taurus, Bochas berth witnesse,
Queen Pasiphe hadde a child ful fair,
Mynos nat knowyng bi no liklynesse
But that the child was born to been his hair.
His trust was good, he fill in no dispair;
For some husbondis, as poetis han compiled,
Which most assure [hem] rathest been begiled.
Innocentis can nat deeme a-mysse,
Namli off wyues that be founde trewe;
Clerkis may write, but doutles thus it isse,
Off ther nature thei loue no thynges newe:
Stedfast off herte, thei chaunge nat her hewe;
Hawkes best preued, sumwhile a chek can make,
Yit for o faute the foul is nat forsake.
Off these materes write I will no more.
But ay the tribut & seruage off the toun
Procedith foorth, thei constreyned wer so sore,
Lich as ther lott turned up and doun;
For ther was maad[e] non excepcioun
Off hih nor louh, nothir for sour nor swete,
But as it fill, thei were sent into Crete.

75

The statut was so inli rigerous,
Thei took ther sort as it cam a-boute,
Til atte laste it fill on Theseus,
That he mut gon foorth a-mong the route,
Kyng Eges sone, beyng in gret doute
Touchyng his liff, which myht nat be socoured,
But that he muste with othre be deuoured.
Which Theseus, for his worthynesse,
And off his knyhthod for the gret encres
Thoruh manly force, & for his hih prowesse
Whilom was callid the seconde Hercules,
Mong Amazones put hymselff in pres,
Weddid Ypolita, as bookis specefie,
The hardi queen [callid] off Femynye.
And afftirward to Thebes he is gon,
Halp there the ladies in especiall,
Which that compleyned vpon the kyng Creon,
Which hem destourbed, lik ther estat roiall
To holde and halwe the festis funerall
Off ther lordis, as queenys & pryncessis,
Off wifli trouthe to shewe ther kyndenessis.
For whan this Duk the maner hadde seyn,
And off Creon the grete iniquite,
To the ladies he made delyuere a-geyn
Ther lordis bonys, off routhe & off pite.
Yit in his youthe out off his cite
He was delyuered, bi statut ful odible,
To be deuoured off this beeste horrible.
He goth to prisoun, for al his semlynesse,
As the statut felli dede ordeyne;
But off routhe and off gentilesse,
Hym to preserue from that dedli peyne,
Off kyng Mynos the goodli douhtren tweyne,
Adriane shoop off a remedie,
And faire Phedra, that he shal nat die.
Thoruh ther helpe he hath the monstre slayn,
That was so dreedful & ougli for to see;
Bi hem he scapid, wheroff he was ful fayn,

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Lad hem with hym, toward his contre.
And bi the weie, deuoid off al pite,
Adriane he falsli hath forsake
A-geyn his surance, & Phedra he hath take.
Amyd the se [he] lefft hir in an ile,
Toward no parti she knew no declyn;
She crieth, wepith, allas, the harde while!
For off hir fate this was the mortal fyn,
That for pite Bachus, the god off wyn,
Took hir to wyue, whos crowne of stonys fyne
Doth now in heuene with the sterris shyne.
Thus off Theseus ye may beholde and see
To Adryane the gret onstedfastnesse,
The grete ontrouthe, the mutabilite,
The broke assurance and newfangilnesse;
But celi women keepe ther stedfastnesse
Ay ondefouled, sauff, sumwhile off ther kynde,
Thei must hem purueie, whan men be founde onkynde.
Off Theseus I can no more now seyn
In this mater to make off hym memorie,
But to kyng Mynos I will resorte a-geyn
To tell how Fortune, ay fals & transitorie,
In what poyntis diffacid hath his glorie.
First off echon Bochas doth specefie
Off Pasiphe the foule aduout[e]rie,
Which was his wiff, and stood weel in his grace,
To his plesance she was most souerayne;
But a cloude off [a] smal trespace
Made hir lord at hir to disdeyne:
But he off wisdam bar preuyli his peyne,
For in this cas, this is my sentence,
Lat prudent husbondis take hem to pacience.
On other thyngis Mynos gan compleyne,
Hauyng in herte theroff ful gret greuaunce,
That he so loste his faire douhtren tweyne,

77

And Mynotaurus slay[e]n with myschaunce.
Eek onto hym it was a gret penaunce
That Theseus was gon at liberte,
And from al tribut delyuered his cite.
It greued hym eek in contenance & cheer,
That Theseus Adriane forsook,
It liked hym nat also the maneer
Onto his wiff that he Phedra took;
And yit this Phedra, lich as seith my book,
Hadde too sonys bi this Theseus,
First Demephon & next Anthilocus.
Eek Theseus afftir gan hym drawe
Toward Cecile, in steel armyd cleene,
With Pirotheus, in armys his felawe,
For to rauysshe Proserpyna the queene.
But off entent Phedra ful oncleene,
Loued hir stepsone callid Ypolitus.
But for he was to hire daungerous,
And to hir lust froward and contrarie,
In his apport nat goodli nor benigne,
Off fals entent anon she gan to varie,
And a-geyn hym ful felli to maligne,
With a pretence off many tokne & signe
Off womanhed, she gan hym accuse,
Hire auoutry falsli to excuse.
Who seith that women can nat ymagyne
In ther diffence talis ful vntrewe,
To ther desir yiff men list nat enclyne
Nor on ther feyned fals[e] wo to rewe,
Anon thei can compasse[n] thynges newe,
Fisshe and fynde out in ther entencioun
A couert cloude to shadwe ther tresoun.
She hath accusid yonge Ypolitus
Off fals auoutri in his tendre age,
Tolde & affermed to duk Theseus,
With ful bold cheer[e] & a pleyn visage,
How he purposed in his furious rage

78

Onli bi force hir beute to oppresse,
Hir lord besechyng to refourme & redresse
The grete iniurie doon onto his wiff
Whil he was absent for thyngis that bar charge.
Wyues off talis been sumwhile inuentiff
To suffre ther tunges falsli fleen at large;
But folk that list off daunger hem discharge,
Off such accusyng ne take thei noon heed
Til the trouthe be tried out in deed.
I meene nothyng off wyues that been goode,
Nor off women that floure in innocence;
For God forbeede, and the Hooli Roode,
But men sholde do deu reuerence
To ther noblesse and ther excellence,
Declare ther bounte and ther vertu shewe,
And more them cherisshe be-cause ther be so fewe.
Touchyng thaccusyng ageyn Ypolitus,
Thouh it so were that it was fals in deede,
Yit he for shame and feer off Theseus,
As in the story ye may beholde and reede,
In his herte he cauhte a maner dreede,
That he, allas! this cely yonge knyht,
Fledde & withdrouh hym out off his fadris siht,
His indignacioun pleynli to eschewe,
Thouh bi desert in hym ther was no lak.
Off hasti dreed as he gan remewe
Other in a chaar or vpon hors[e]bak,
His hors affraied, ther fill a sodeyn wrak
Doun from a roche pendant, as ye shal lere—
He and his chaar wer drownyd bothe Ifeere.
Thus ongilti, in his most lusti youthe
He was conueied to his destruccioun;
The sclandre conspired, as it is weel kouthe,
Bi fals[e] Phedra: but in conclusioun
The sclandre turned to hir confusioun;
For whan she wiste Ypolitus was ded
Thoruh hir defaute, anon for shame & dreed

79

She took a swerd, ful sharp[e] whet & grounde,
And therwithall she rooff hir herte on tweyne.
Loo, how that vengaunce will euer a-geyn rebounde
On hem that falsli doon ther bisi peyne
To sclandre folk; for lik as thei ordeyne
With ther defautis othir folkis tattwite,
God atte laste ther malice can acquite!
Yit summe bookis off Phedra do recorde
That she, a-shamyd & confus off this deede,
Heeng hirsilff up ful hih[e] with a corde.
Loo, how fals sclandre can quite folk ther meede!
Wherfore, I counseile eueri man tak heede,
In such materis as stonde in noun certeyn,
From hasti doomys his tunge to restreyn.
Among these stories woful for to reede,
Al bespreynt with teris in his face,
Ful sodenli, Iohn Bochas gan take heede,
A-myd the pres Zizara cam in place—
And how that Fortune gan eek to manace
This proude duk, ful myhti & notable,
Off kyng Iabyn callid the grete constable.
Off his hoost ledere and gouernour,
To Israel verray mortall fo;
With peeple he rood lich a conquerour,
And wher that euer his meyne dede go,
The erthe quook, peeplis drad hym so,
Fledde from his face wher-as he cam a-ferre.
Nyne hundred waynes he hadde for the werre,
Strongli enarmed with hookes made lyk sithes,
Who that approched to mayme hym & to wounde.
For this tirant off custum offte sithes

80

Hadde gret delit the Iewes to confounde;
And alle tho that his swerd hath founde,
Kyng Iabyn bad, the prynce off Canaan,
In Israel to spare child nor man.
This Zizara was sent to been ther scourge,
Bi Goddis suffrance ther synnes to chastise,
Ther olde offences to punshen & to pourge,
As a flagelle, in many sundry wise;
But whan off resoun thei gan hem bet deuyse,
And for ther trespacis to falle in repentaunce,
God gan withdrawe the hand off his vengaunce.
For in ther myscheef thei gan the Lord to knowe,
Felyng the prikke off his punycioun;
And mercy thanne hath vnbent the bowe
Off his fell ire and castigacioun:
To God thei made ther inuocacioun,
And he hem herde in ther mortal dreede.
In Iudicum the story ye may reede,
How in the while that this Zizara
Shoop hym off newe Iewes to oppresse,
In ther diffence God sent hem Delbora,
A prophetesse, the story berth witnesse,
To yeue hem counsail ther harmys to redresse,
And bi the sperit off hir prophecye
For to withstonde the grete tirannye
Off Zizara, which was descendid doun
With a gret hoost into the feeld repeired.
But Delbora, of hih discrecioun,
Whan that she sauh the Iewes disespeired,
And for to fihte ther corages sore appeired,
She made hem first deuoutli in ther dreed
To crie to God to helpe hem in ther need.
She was ther iuge and ther gouerneresse,
Cheeff off ther counsail; & off custom she,
Causis dependyng, bi gret avisynesse,
That stood in doute, bi doom off equite
She tried hem out vnder a palme tre,

81

And was nat hasty no mater to termyne
Til she the parties affor dede examyne.
And whan she knew & herde off the komyng
Off Zizara with ful gret puissaunce,
That was constable off the myhti kyng
Callid Iabyn, with al his ordenaunce,
Vpon Iewes for to doon vengaunce,
This Delbora gan prudentli entende
The Iewes parti bi wisdam to diffende.
She bad Barach, hir husbonde, anon riht
Off Neptalym ten thousend with hym take,
Geyn Zizara to fihten for ther riht,
And that he sholde a gret enarme make.
But he for dreed this iourne gan forsake,
And durste nat a-geyn hym tho werreye
But she were present, and list hym to conveye.
“Weel weel,” quod she, “sithe it stondith so,
That off wantrust ye haue a maner dreed,
I will my-silff[e] gladli with you go,
You to supporte in this grete need;
But tristith fulli, as ye shal fynde in deed,
That a woman, with laude, honour & glorye,
Shal fro you wynne the pris off this victorye.”
It folwid afftir sothli as she saide.
Auysili she made hir ordynaunce,
And the cheeff charge on hirsilff she laide,
As pryncesse off Iewes gouernaunce,
And prudentli gan hirsilff auaunce,
With God conueied & support off his grace,
With Zizara to meetyn in the face.
And specialli touchyng this viage,
God took a-way the sperit and the myht
Fro Zizara, his force and his corage,
That he was ferfull tentren into fyht,
Kepte his chaar & took hym onto flyht,
Knowyng no place seurli in tabide,
Til that Iahel, a woman, dede hym hide

82

Withynne hir tente, almost ded for dreed,
Vnder a mantell desirous for to drynke.
She gaff hym mylk; the slep fill in his hed,
And whil that he for heuynesse gan wynke
And sadli slepte, she gan hir to be-thynke;
Thouhte she wolde for Zizara so shape,
That with the liff he shulde nat escape.
She took a nail that was sharp & long,
And couertli gan hirsilff auaunce;
With an hamer myhti, round & strong
She droff the nail—loo, this was hir vengaunce!—
Thoruhout his hed: seeth heer þe sodeyn chaunce
Off tirantis that trusten on Fortune,
Which wil nat suffre hem longe to contune
In ther fals vsurped tirannye
To holde peeplis in long subieccioun.
She can hem blandissh with hir flat[e]rye
Vnder a colour off fals collusioun,
And with a sodeyn transmutacioun
Fortune hem can, that pore folkis trouble,
Reuerse ther pride with hir face double.
What sholde I lengere in this mater tarye?
Thouh that lordshep be myhti & famous,
Lat Zizara been your exaumplarye,
It nat endureth but it be vertuous.
Conquest, victory, thouh thei be glorious,
Onto the world, yiff vertu be behynde,
Men nat reioise to haue ther name in mynde.
For Fortune thoruh hir frowardnesse
Hath kyngis put out off ther regiouns,
And she hath also thoruh hir doubilnesse
Destroied lynages, with ther successiouns:
Made she nat whilom hir translaciouns
Off the kyngdam callid Argyuois,
To be transportid to Lacedemonois?
The same tyme whan Zizara the proude
Gan Goddis peeple to putte vnder foote,
Famys trumpe bleuh his name up loude

83

With sugred sownys semyng wonder soote;
But al his pride was rent up bi the roote,
Whan that his glori was outward most shewyng;
But who may truste on any worldli thyng!
Folk han afforn seyn the fundacioun,
Bi remembraunce off old antiquite,
Off myhti Troye and off Ylioun,
Afftir destroied bi Grekis that cite,
To vs declaryng the mutabilite
Off fals Fortune, whos fauour last no while,
Shewyng ay trewest whan she will begile.
So variable she is in hir delites,
Hir wheel vntrusti & frowardli meuyng,
Record I take off the Madianytes,
Ther vnwar fall ful doolfully pleynyng,
Which shewed hemsilff [ful] pitousli wepyng
To Iohn Bochas, as he in writyng souhte
How that Fortune a-geyn ther princis wrouhte,
Which that gouerned the lond off Madian,
Trustyng off pride in ther gret puissaunce;
And a-geyn Iewes a werre thei be-gan,
Purposyng to brynge hem to vttraunce:
But God that holdeth off werre the balaunce,
And can off pryncis oppresse the veynglory,
Yeueth wher hym list conquest & victory,
Nat to gret noumbre nor to gret multitude,
But to that parti where he seeth the riht;
His dreedful hand, shortli to conclude,
So halt up bi grace and yeueth liht
The hiere hand, where he caste his siht;
List his power and his fauour shewe,
Be it to many or be it onto fewe.
The wrong[e] parti gladli hath a fall,
Thouh ther be mylliouns many mo than oon:
I take witnesse off Ieroboall,

84

Which is also callid Gedeon,
That with thre hundrid fauht a-geyn the foon
Off Israell, the Bible can deuyse,
Whan he to God hadde doon his sacrefise.
Shewyng to hym a signe merueilous,
Whan the flees with siluer deuh ful sheene
Was spreynt and wet, the story tellith thus,
And round a-boute the soil and al the greene
Was founde drie, and no drope seene,
In tokne onli, this duk, this knyhtli man,
Shold ha[ue] victory off al Madian.
Thus Gedeon took with hym but a fewe,
Thre hundred chose, which laped the ryuer,
God onto hym such toknys dede shewe
And euydencis afforn that wer ful cleer,
That he sholde been off riht good cheer
And on no parti his aduersaries dreede,
For no prowesse nouthir [for] manheede.
Where God a-boue holdith chaumpartie,
There may a-geyn hym be makid no diffence;
Force, strengthe, wisdam nor cheualrie
A-geyns his myht ar feeble off resistence.
This was weel preued in experience,
Whan thre hundred with Gedeon in noumbre
So many thousandis bi grace dede encoumbre.
This said[e] peeple, deuyded into thre,
With ther trumpis, vpon the dirk[e] nyht,
Bi Gedeon, that hadde the souereynte,
With void[e] pottis & laumpis therynne lyht;
And thus arraied thei entred into fyht.
But onto hem this tokne was first knowe:
Whan Gedeon his trumpe dede blowe,
Thei bleuh echon & loude gan to crie,
Brak ther pottis and shewed anon riht,
As the story pleynli doth specefie,

85

Ther laumpis shewed with a ful sodeyn liht,
Wheroff ther enmyes, astonyd in ther siht,
Were so troublid vpon euery side,
That in the feeld thei durst[e] nat a-bide.
The cri was this off hem euerichon:
“Thank to the Lord most noble & glorious,
Pris to the suerd off myhti Gedeon,
Which vs hath causid to be victorious,
Maad our enmyes, most malicious,
Thoruh influence onli off his grace,
For verray feer to fleen afforn our face!”
Thus can the Lord off his magnyficence
The meeke exalte & the proude oppresse,
Lich as he fyndeth in hertis difference,
So off his power he can his domys dresse,
Merci ay meynt with his rihtwisnesse,
His iugementis with long delay differrid;
And or he punshe, pite is ay preferrid.

Lenvoye.

Mihti Princis, remembre that your power
Is transitory & no while a-bidyng,
As this tragedie hath rehersid heer
Bi euidencis ful notable in shewyng,
And bexaumples, in substaunce witnessyng,
That all tirantis, platli to termyne,
Mut from ther staat sodenli declyne.
Phebus is fresshest in his mydday speer,
His bemys brihtest & hattest out spredyng;
But cloudi skies ful offte approche neer
Teclipse his liht with ther vnwar comyng:
Noon ertheli ioie is longe heer abidyng,
Record off Titan, which stound[e]meel doth shyne,
Yit toward nyht his stremys doun declyne.
Whan that Fortune is fairest off hir cheer
Bi apparence, and most blandisshyng,
Thanne is [she] falsest ech sesoun off the yeer,
Hir sodeyn chaungis now vp now doun turnyng;
The nyhtyngale in May doth fresshli syng,

86

But a bakwynter can somer vndermyne
And al his fresshnesse sodenli declyne.
Al ertheli blisse dependith in a weer,
In a ballaunce oneuenli hangyng,—
O Pryncis, Pryncessis most souereyn & enteer,
In this tragedie conceyueth be redyng,
How that estatis bi ful vnwar chaungyng,
Whilom ful worthi, ther lyues dede fyne,
Whan fro ther noblesse thei wer maad to declyne.

[Of mighty Iabyn Kyng of Canane, of quene Iocasta/ and how Thebes was destroied.]

Now must I write the grete sodeyn fall
Off myhti Iabyn for his iniquite,
Which onto Iewes was enmy ful mortall,
With sceptre & crowne regnyng in Canane,
And vpon Affrik hadde the souereynte,
Rebel to God, and list hym nat obeye,
But euer redi his peeple to werreye.
The Lord a-boue, seyng the tirannye,
Forbar his hand with ful long suffraunce,
And was nat hasti on his obstynacye,
Lich his desert, for to do vengaunce;
But ay this Iabyn bi contynuaunce
Endured foorth in his cursidnesse,
Til that the suerd off Goddis rihtwisnesse
Was whet ageyn hym, this tirant to chastise.
And to represse his rebellioun,
From his kyngdam, the story doth deuise,
Mid off his pride he was pullid doun,
Texemplefie wher domynacioun
Is founde wilfull trouthe to ouercaste,
God wil nat suffre ther power longe laste.
For this Iabyn, founde alway froward,
Off hih disdeyn list nat the Lord to knowe,
Therfore his power drouh alwey bakward,

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And his empire was I-brouht ful lowe;
His roial fame Fortune hath ouerthrowe,
His name eclipsid, that whilom shon so cleer
Off grete Cison beside the ryueer.
Off queen Iocasta Bochas doth eek endite,
Pryncesse off Thebes, a myhti gret cite,
Off hir vnhappis he doolfulli doth write,
Ymagynyng how he dede hir see
To hym appeere in gret aduersite,
Lich a woman that wolde in teres reyne,
For that Fortune gan at hir so disdeyne.
Thouh she were diffacid off figure,
Ther shewed in hir a maner maieste
Off queenli honour, pleynli to discure
Hir infortunys and hir infelicite,
And to declare pleynli how that she
Off all princessis which euer stood in staat,
She was hirselff the moste infortunat.
Which gaff to Bochas ful gret occasioun,
Whan he sauh hir pitous apparaile,
For to make a lamentacioun
Off vnkouth sorwe which dede hir assaile,
With a tragedie to wepyn and bewaile
Hir inportable & straunge dedli striff,
Which that she hadde duryng al hir liff.
He wrot off hir a story large & pleyn,
And off hir birthe first he doth diffyne,
And affermeth in his book certeyn,
She was descendid off a noble lyne;
In flouryng age eek whan she dede shyne,
She weddid was, for hir gret beute,
Onto the kyng off Thebes the cite,
Which in his tyme was callid Layus.
And whan hir wombe bi processe gan arise,
The kyng was glad and also desirous

88

The childes fate to knowe[n] in sum wise,
And thouhte he wolde go do sacrefise
Onto Appollo, to haue knowyng aforn
Touchyng this child whan that it were born.
What sholde folwen in conclusioun,
He was desirous and hasti for to see,
First bi the heuenli disposicioun,
And bi the fauour, yiff it wolde be,
Off Appollos myhti deite
To haue answere, a-mong his rihtis all,
Off his child what fate ther sholde fall.
His answere, thouh it were contrarie
To his desir, yit was it thus in deede:
Appollo told hym, & list no lenger tarie,
That this child sholde verraili in deede
Slen his fader, & make his sides bleede,
And with his handis; ther was noon othir weie,
But on his swerd he muste needis deie.
The kyng was heuy and trist off this sentence,
Sorful in herte, God wot, and no thyng fayn,
And caste afforn thoruh his prouidence,
That his sone in al haste sholde be slayn,
And that he wolde nat oon hour delayn
Afftir his berthe, but bad his men to goon
Into a forest and sle the child a-noon.
Lik his biddyng the mynystres wrouhte in deede,
Takyng the child, tendre and yong off age;
And in-tafforest with hem thei gan it leede,
To be deuoured off beestis most sauage:
The mooder, allas, fill almost in a rage,
Seyng hir child, so inli fair off face,
Shal thus be ded, and dede no trespace.
Litil wonder thouh she felte smerte!
To all women I reporte me,
And onto moodres that be tendre off herte,

89

In this mater iuges for to be.
Was it nat routhe, was it nat pite,
That a pryncesse and a queen, allas,
Sholde knowyn hir child deuoured in such cas!
Afftir his berthe Layus took good keep,
Withoute mercy, respit or delay,
That onto oon, which that kepte his sheep,
This yonge child vpon a certeyn day
Shal be delyuered in al the haste he may,
To this entent, it myht nat be socourid,
But that he sholde off beestis be deuourid.
This seid[e] shepperde goth foorth a-noon riht,
The child beholdyng, benygne off look & face,
Thouhte in his herte & in his inward siht,
He sholde doon to God a gret trespace
To slen this child; wherfore he dede hym grace,—
Took first a knyff, & dede his besi peyne
Thoruhout his feet to make holis tweyne.
Took a smal rod off a yong oseer,
Perced the feet, allas, it was pite!—
Bond hym faste, and bi good leiseer
The yonge child he heeng vpon a tre,
Off entent that he ne sholde be
Thoruh wilde beestis, cruel & sauage,
Been sodenli deuoured in ther rage.
Vpon the tre whil he heeng thus bounde,
Off auenture bi sum occasioun,
A straunge shepperde hath the child I-founde,
Which that off routhe & pite took hym doun,
Bar it with hym hoom onto his toun,
Made his wiff for to doon hir peyne
To fostre the child with hir brestis tweyne.
And whan he was brouht foorth & recurid,
And ful maad hool off his woundis sore,
The yonge child, which al this hath endurid,
When he in age gan to wexe more,
And that nature gan hym to restore,
The said[e] shepperde, that loued hym best off all,
Afftir his hurtis Edippus dede hym call.

90

For Edippus is no more to seyne,
Who that conceyueth thexposicioun,
But feet Ipershid throuhout bothe tweyne,
In that language, as maad is mencioun.
And to Meropa, wyff off kyng Poliboun,
The shepperde, off ful humble entente,
Gan the child ful lowli to presente.
And for she was bareyn off nature,
She and the kyng off oon affeccioun
Took Edippus bothe into ther cure,
As sone and heir bi adopcioun,
To regne in Corynthe bi successioun;
The kyng, the queen off Corynthe the contre
Haddyn the child in so gret cheerte.
Let men considre in ther discrecioun
Sodeyn chaung off euery maner thyng:
This child sent out for his destruccioun,
And now prouydid for to been a kyng;
And thoruh Fortune, ay double in hir werkyng,
He that was refus to beestis most sauage,
Is now receyued to kyngli heritage.
Destitut he was off his kenreede,
Forsake and abiect off blood & off allie,
In tendre youthe his feet wer maad to bleede,
Heeng on a tre and gan for helpe crie;
But God that can in myscheeff magnefie
And reconforte folk disconsolat,
Hath maad this child now so fortunat,
And prouyded to been a kyngis heir,
Off hym that stood off deth in auenture.
Fortune can shewe hir-selff bothe foul & fair,
Folkis brouht lowe ful weel a-geyn recure;
And such as can pacientli endure,
And list nat gruchch a-geyn ther chastisyng,
God out off myscheeff can sodenli hem bryng.
But whan Edippus was growe vp to good age,
Lich a yong prynce encresyng in noblesse,
Lusti and strong, and fresh off his corage,

91

Off auenture it fill so in sothnesse,
Other be striff or be sum frowardnesse,
Or be sum contek, he hadde knowlechyng
How he was nat sone onto the kyng
As be discent, but a ferr foreyn.
Wherupon ful sore he gan to muse,
And for to knowe and be put in certeyn,
Thouhte he wolde sum maner practik vse;
And to the kyng he gan hymselff excuse,
For a tyme withdrawyn his presence,
Til that he knew bi sum experience
Or bi sum signe how the mateer stood.
Thouhte he wolde doon his dilligence
To knowe his fader, and also off what blood
He was descendid, and haue sum euidence
Touchyng trouthe, how it stood in sentence.
And heerupon to be certefied,
Toward Appollo faste he hath hym hied,
Which in Cirra worsheped was that tyme,
And yaff answeris thoruh his deite
To folk that cam, at euen and at pryme,
Off eueri doute and ambiguite.
And there Edippus, fallyng on his kne,
Afftir his offryng hadde answere anoon,
Toward Greece that he sholde goon
Onto a mounteyn that Phocis bar the name;
And there he sholde off his kenrede heere.
Eek lik his fate the answere was the same:
He sholde slen his owne fader deere,
And afftir that to Thebes drawe hym neere,
Wedde his mooder, off verray ignoraunce,
Callid Iocasta, thoruh his vnhappi chaunce.
He list no lengere tarien nor abide,
This said Edippus, but foorth in haste goth he,
And on his weye he gan [anon] to ride,
Til he the mounteyn off Phocis dede see,
Vnder the which stood a gret contre

92

Callid Citoiens, which that tyme in certeyn
Werreied hem that were on the mounteyn.
His fader Layus, throuh his cheualrie,
With Citoiens is entrid in bataile;
And Edippus cam with the partie
Off the hillis, armed in plate & maile.
And as thei gan ech other to assaile,
Among the pres at ther encount[e]ryng,
Off auenture Edippus slouh the kyng.
Onknowe to hym that he his fader was,
Hauyng theroff no suspecioun;
Passid his way, platli this the cas,
And eek onknowe he cam onto the toun
Off myhti Thebes, where for his hih renoun
He was receyued with ful gret reuerence,
Because that he slouh in ther diffence
Spynx the serpent, horrible for to see,
Whilom ordeyned bi incantaciouns
For to destroie the toun and the contre
Bi his compassid sleihti questiouns.
Slouh man and child in all the regiouns,
Such as nat koude bi wisdam or resoun
Make off his problem pleyn exposicioun.
Who passid bi, he koude hym nat excuse,
But the serpent hym felly wolde assaile,
With a problem make hym for to muse,
Callid off summe an vnkouth dyuynaile,
Which for texpowne, who that dede faile,
Ther was noon helpe nor other remedie,
Bi the statut but that he muste deie.
And for alle folk ha[ue] nat knowlechyng
Off this demaunde what it was in deede,
I will reherse it heer in my writyng
Compendiousli, that men may it reede.
First this serpent, who that list take heede,
Was monstruous & spak a-geyn nature,
And yiff it fill that any creature,

93

Man or woman sholde forbi pace,
Hih or low, off al that regioun,
As I seide erst, ther was noon othir grace,
But yiff he made an exposicioun
Off this serpentis froward questioun,
He muste deie and make no diffence.
Which demaunde was this in sentence:
The serpent askid, what thyng may that be,
Beeste or foul, whan it is foorth brouht,
That hath no power to stonde, go nor fle;
And afftirward, yiff it be weel souht,
Goth first on foure, & ellis goth he nouht:
Afftir bi processe, on thre, & thanne on tweyne;
And efft ageyn, as nature doth ordeyne,
He goth on thre and efft on foure ageyn,
Off kyndly riht nature disposith it so.
And in a while it folwith in certeyn,
To the mateer which that he cam fro,
He muste off keende resorte ageyn therto.
And who cannat the menyng cleerli see,
He off this serpent shal deuoured be.
Which Edippus, ful so[b]re in his entent,
Nat to rakell nor hasti off language,
But in his herte with gret auisement,
And ful demur off look & [of] visage,
Considred ferst this pereilous fell passage,
Sauh weel toforn that it was no iape,
And ful prouyded that no woord escape,
At good leiser with hool mynde & memory,
Seyng the ernest off this mortal emprise,
His liff dependyng a-twen deth and victory,
“This beeste,” quod he, “pleynli to deuise,
Is first a child, which may nat suffise,
Whan it is born, the trouthe is alday seene,
Withouten helpe hymseluen to susteene.

94

Afftir on foure he naturali doth kreepe,
For inpotence and greene tendirnesse,
Norices can telle that doon hem keepe.
But afftirward, vp he doth hym dresse
With his too feet; the thridde to expresse,
Is hand or bench or support off sum wall
To holde hym vp, list he cachche a fall.
And afftirward encresyng off his myht,
To gretter age whan he doth atteyne,
Off his nature thanne he goth vpriht,
Mihtili vpon his leggis tweyne.
Thanne kometh age his power to restreyne,
Crokid and lame, lik as men may see,
With staff or potent to make up leggis thre.
But whan feeblesse or siknesse doon assaile,
On feet and handis he must bowe & loute;
For crossid potentis may nat thanne auaile,
Whan lusti age is banshed & shet oute.
Thanne efft ageyn, heeroff may be no doute,
With foure feet terthe he doth retourne
Fro whens he cam, ther stille to soiourne.”
Al cam from erthe, and [al] to erthe shall;
Ageyn nature is no proteccioun;
Worldli estatis echon thei be mortall,
Ther may no tresor make redempcioun.
Who clymbeth hiest, his fal is lowest doun;
A mene estat is best, who koude it knowe,
Tween hih presumyng & bowyng doun to lowe.
For who sit hiest, stant in iupartie,
Vndir daunger off Fortune lik to fall:
Myscheeff and pouert as for ther partie,
Be lowest brouht among these peeplis all.
Summe folk han sugir, summe taste gall;
Salamon therfore, merour off sapience,
Tween gret richesse and atween indigence

95

Axed a mene callid suffisaunce,
To holde hym content off competent dispence,
Nat to reioishe off to gret habundaunce,
And ay in pouert to sende hym pacience,
Sobre with his plente, in scarsete noon offence
As off gruchchyng, but atwen ioie and smert
Thanke God off all, and euer be glad off hert.
Erthe is the eende off eueri maner man;
For the riche with gret possessioun
Deieth as soone, as I reherse can,
As doth the poore in tribulacioun:
For deth ne maketh no dyuisioun
Bi synguler fauour, but twen bothe iliche,
Off the porest and hym that is most riche.
This seid problem concludith in this cas,
Which the serpent gan sleihtili purpose,
That whan a child is first born, allas,
Kynde to his dethward anon doth hym dispose;
Ech day a iourne; ther is noon other glose;
Experience can teche in eueri age,
How this world heer is but a pilgrymage.
This said Edippus, first in Thebes born,
Sent to a forest deuoured for to be,
Founde & brouht foorth, as ye han herd toforn,
And afftir, drawyng hom to his contre,
Slouh his fader, so infortunat was he
Off froward happis folwynge al his lyue,
As this tragedie his fortune shal descryue.
But for that he thoruh his hih prudence
Onto the serpent declared euerideel,
He slouh hym afftir be myhti violence,
Mor bi wisdam than armure maad off steel,—
Stace off Thebes can telle you ful weel,—

96

Which was o cause, yiff ye list to seen,
Wherthoruh Edippus weddid hath the queen
Callid Iocasta, pryncesse off that cite,
His owne mooder, onknowe to hem bothe.
And thouh she were riht fair vpon to see,
With this mariage the goddis were ful wrothe;
For ther alliaunce nature gan to lothe,
That a mooder, as ye shal vndirstonde,
Sholde take hir sone to been hir husbonde.
There was theryn no convenyence,
To be supportid be kynde nor be resoun,
But yiff so be the heuenli influence
Disposid it be thyclynacioun
Off sum fals froward constellacioun,
Causid bi Saturne, or Mars the froward sterre,
Tengendre debat or sum mortal werre.
In this mateer, pleyn[li] thus I deeme
Off no cunnyng but off opynyoun:
Thouh he wer crownyd with sceptre & diademe
To regne in Thebes the stronge myhti toun,
That sum aspect cam from heuene doun,
Infortunat, froward and ful off rage,
Which ageyn kynde deyned this mariage.
He crownyd was bassent off al the toun,
Flouryng a seson be souereynte off pes;
And whil he heeld[e] theer possessioun,
Sones & douhtres he hadde dout[e]les:
The firste sone callid Ethiocles,
Pollynyces callid was the tothir,
As seith Bochas, the seconde brothir.
Also he hadde goodli douhtren tweyne,
The eldest callid was Antigone,
And the seconde named was Ymeyne;
Bothe thei wern riht fair vpon to see:
The queen Iocasta myhte no gladdere be,

97

Than to remembre, whan thei wex in age,
How goddis hadde encreced her lynage.
It was hir ioie and hir felicite
To seen hir childre, that were so inli faire:
But offte in ioie ther cometh aduersite,
And hope onsured whanhope doth ofte appaire;
Contrarious trust will gladli ther repaire
Wher fals[e] wenyng in hertis is conceyued
Thoruh ignoraunce, which fele folk hath deceyued.
What thyng in erthe is more deceyuable,
Than whan a man supposith verraily
In prosperite for to stonde stable,
And from his ioie is remeued sodenly?
For wher Fortune is founde to hasty
To trise folk, is greuous to endure,
For sodeyn chaungis been hatful to nature.
Vnwar wo that cometh on gladnesse,
Is onto hertis riht passyng encombrous;
And who hath felt his part off welfulnesse,
Sorwe suynge oon is to hym odious.
And werst off all and most contrarious,
Is whan estatis, hiest off renoun,
Been from ther noblesse sodenli put doun.
There is no glory which that shyneth heer,
That fals Fortune can so magnefie;
But whan his laude brihtest is and cleer,
She can eclipse it with sum cloudy skie
Off vnwar sorwe, onli off envie.
Seeth off Edippus an open euydence,
Which bi his lyue hadde experience
Off hih noblesse, and therwith also
Part inportable off gret aduersite.
Is ioie ay meynt with ful mortal wo:
For whil he regned in Thebes his cite,

98

And Iocasta, with ful gret royalte,
Withynne the contre ther fill a pestilence,
The peeple infectyng with his violence
Thoruh al the land and al the regioun
In eueri age; but most greuousli
On hem echon that were[n] off the toun
Thenfeccioun spradde most speciali.
And off vengaunce the suerd most rigerousli
Day be day [be]gan to bite and kerue,
Off ech estat causyng folk to sterue.
Thus gan encrece the mortalite,
That eueri man stood in iupartie
Off ther lyues thoruhout the contre,
So inportable was ther maladie.
Men myhte heer the peeple clepe & crie,
Disespeired so were thei off ther lyues.
Void off al socour and off preseruatyues,
Thei souhte out herbes & spices in ther coffres,
And gan to seeke for helpe and for socours,
The cause enqueryng off prudent philisophres
And off ther moste expert dyuynours,—
Whi that the goddis with so sharpe shours
Off pestilence, and in so cruel wise,
List hem, allas, so mortali chastise?
But among alle, in soth this is the cas,
Ther was founde oon ful prudent and riht wis,
A prophete callid Tiresias,
Off prophesie hauyng a souereyn pris,
Which that affermed and seide in his auys,—
As onto hym was shewid be myracle,
Phebus hymselff declaryng the oracle,—
Cause off this siknesse and these maladies,
As the goddis pleynli han disposid,
And Senek writ eek in his tragedies,
Thouh the cause be secre and iclosid,
Onto the tyme ther be a kyng deposid,

99

Which slouh his fader & reffte hym off his liff,
And hath eek take his mooder to his wiff,
Til this be doon and execut in deede,
Ther may be maad[e] no redempcioun;
But pestilence shal multeplie & spreede
Ay mor and mor thoruhout that regioun,
Til onto tyme that he be put doun
From his crowne,—which nat longe a-goon
His fader slouh among his mortal foon,
And hath his mooder weddid eek also,
A-geyn[e]s lawe and a-geyn al riht.
Til that vengaunce vpon this crym be do,
Ther shal be werre, pestilence and fiht,
Sorwe and gret striff, and euery maner wiht
Off vengaunce his neyh[e]bour shal hate;
Brother with brother, & blood with blood debate.
This al and sum; ther may be no socour.
Which brouht the peeple in ful gret heuynesse,
For Tiresia the grete dyuynour,
Bi prophecie tolde hem thus expresse.
And atte laste, bi toknys and witnesse,
Men vndirstood be signes out shewyng,
This pestilence was brouht in bi the kyng.
And thouh the peeple [ne] gaff no credence
To Tiresia, nor to his prophesie,
The queen Iocasta cauhte an euidence,
And in hir herte a ful gret fantasie,
Speciali whan she dede espie
Off kyng Edippus the feet whan she sauh woundid,
How this rumour was vpon trouthe [I]groundid:
Because also there was a dyuynour
Which tolde afforn Edippus sholde be
To Layus in Thebes successour.
Wherbi the kyng, the queen, and the cite
Fill in gret trouble and gret aduersite,—
Weel more than I be writyng can reporte,
For ther was nothyng that myhte hem reconforte.

100

Ful ofte a-day Iocasta gan to swowne,
Kyng Edippus sobbe, crie and weepe,
In salt[e] teris as they wolde hem drowne,
Deth craumpisshyng into ther brest gan creepe,
A-day compleynyng, a-nyht they may nat sleepe,
Cursyng the hour off ther natyuyte,
That thei sholde a-bide for to see
Ther mortal chauns, ther dedli auenture,
Ther fortune also, which gan on hem frowne,
Inpacient and doolful to endure,
Ther froward fate with hir lookis browne.
The kyng for ire cast a-wey his crowne,
And gan tarace, for constreynt off his peyne,
Out off his hed his woful eyen tweyne.
Day and nyht he cried afftir deth,
Hatful to come in any manys siht,
Most desirous to yelden vp the breth,
Woful in herte to come in any liht,
Croked for sorwe, feeble to stonde vpriht;
And speciali in his dedli distresse,
For dreed & shame he dared in derknesse.
The cruel constreynt off his most greuaunce
Was that his sonys hadde hym in despiht,
Which gan his sorwe gretli to auaunce,
For hym to scorne was set al ther deliht;
Was neuer [man] that stood in a wers pliht.
For thus liggyng and destitut off cheer,
Onto the goddis he made this praier,
Besechyng hem with a ful doolful herte
Vpon his wo to haue compassioun,
And that thei wolde, for tauenge his smerte,
Atween his sonys make a dyuysioun,
Ech to brynge other to destruccioun:
This was his praier pleynli in substaunce,
That ech on other take may vengaunce

101

In yeeris fewe for ther onkynd[e]nesse.
Thei herd his praier, as ye han herd deuyse;
The brethre too, thoruh ther cursidnesse,
Euerich gan other mortali despise,
For lak off grace and for fals couetise,
Ech for his parti desirous in deede
Toforn other to regne and [to] succeede.
And thus this brethre most infortunat,
A-tween hemsilff fill at discencioun;
And fynali this vnkynde[ly] debat
Brouht al Thebes onto destruccioun:
Yit was ther first maad a convencioun,
Bi entirchaungyng that ech sholde regne a yeer,
The tother absent, go pleie & come no neer.
This was concludid bi ther bothe assent
And bi accord off al the regioun.
Polynyces rod foorth and was absent,
Ethyocles took first possessioun.
But whan the yeer bi reuolucioun
Was come a-boute, he, fals off his entent,
Onto thaccord denyed to consent.
This was o cause off ther bothe stryues,
Polynyces thus put out off his riht.
Til Adrastus, that kyng was off Argyues,
Which thoruh al Grece grettest was off myht,
Sente onto Thebes Tideus a knyht,
His sone-in-lawe, to trete off this mateere,
And the cause fynali to lere,
Whethir the kyng callid Ethiocles
Wolde condescende off trouthe and off resoun
To stynte werre and to cherisshe pes,
Affter thaccord and composicioun,
Vp to delyuere Thebes the myhti toun

102

Onto his brother, which absent was withoute,
Now that his yeer was fully come a-boute.
But he was fals, & frowardli gan varie,
Ethiocles, from his conuencioun.
For which Adrastus no lenger wolde tarie,
Whan Tideus hadde maad relacioun;
But callid anoon throuhout his regioun
Alle worthi, bothe nyh and ferre,
A-geyn[es] Thebes for to gynne a werre.
For this cause, lich as ye shal lere,
Polynyces, to forsen his partie,
I-weddid hadde the kyngis douhter deere,
I meene Adrastus, flour of cheualrie,
Whan Tideus dede hym certefie
Touchyng the answere off Ethiocles,
And off his trouthe how he was rech[e]les,
Fals off his promys & cursidli forsworn;
For to his trouthe noon aduertence had he,
Nor to thaccord that was maad beforn
Touchyng delyueraunce off Thebes the cite.
But who that list this story cleerli see
Off these too brethre & ther discencioun,
And how Adrastus lay tofor the toun,
And Tideus, thoruh his hih prowesse,
Fauht bi the way[e] goyng on message,
And how off Grece al the worthynesse
With kyng Adrastus wente in this viage,
And off the myscheff that fill in ther passage
For lak of water, til that Ysiphile,
Norice of Ligurgus, so fair vpon to see,
Tauhte Tideus to fynde out a ryueer,
(She that dede in fairnesse so excell,)
Nor how the serpent, most ougli off his cheer,
Off kyng Ligurgus the child slow at a well,
Nor how Amphiorax fill a-doun to hell,—

103

Al to declare, me semeth it is no neede,
[For] in the siege of Thebes ye may it reede,
The stori hool, and maad ther mencioun
Off other parti, ther puissaunce & ther myht,
And how Adrastus lay toforn the toun,
And how thei metten eueri day in fiht,
And Tideus, the noble famous knyht
So renommed in actis marciall,
Was slayn, allas, as he fauht on the wall.
And how the brethre mette a-mong the pres,
Lich too tigres or leouns that were wood,
With sharp[e] speris; this is dout[e]les,
Euerich off hem shadde other[s] herte blood:
This was ther fyn, & thus with hem it stood,
Sauf at ther festis callid funerall,
Ther fill a merueile which reherse I shall.
Whan thei were brent into asshes dede,
Off ther envie there fill a [ful] gret wonder:
A-mong the brondes and the coles rede,
Hih in the hair the smokes wente assonder,
The ton [to] oo parti and the tother yonder,
To declare, the story list nat feyne,
The grete hatrede that was atwen hem tweyne.
Thus for ther ire and fals discencioun,
Alle the lordis and al the cheualrie
Were slayn off Grece and also off the toun.
And roote off all, myn auctour list nat lie,
Was fals alliaunce and fraternal envie;
And cheeff ground, with al the surplusage,
Who serche a-riht, was onkyndli mariage.
The queen Iocasta felte hir part off peyne
To seen hir childre ech off hem slen other,
Hir sone hir lord, blynd on his eyen tweyne,
Which to his sonys was fader & eek brother:
Fortune wolde it sholde be noon other,

104

Eek Parkas sustre, which been in noumbre thre,
Span so the threed at ther natyuyte.
Eek whan Iocasta stood thus disconsolat,
And sauh off Thebes the subuersioun,
The contre stroied, wast and desolat,
The gentil blood shad off that regioun,
Withoute confort or consolacioun,
Thouhte she myhte be no mor appeired;
But off al hope fulli disespeired,
Trist and heuy, pensiff & spak no woord,
Hir sorwes olde & newe she gan aduerte,
Took the swerd off hym that was hir lord,
With which Edippus smot Layus to the herte,
She to fynisshe all hir peynes smerte,
And fro the bodi hir soule to deuyde,
Roff hir-selff[e] thoruhout eueri side.
She weri was off hir woful liff,
Seyng off Fortune the gret[e] frowardnesse,
How hir diffame & sclandre was so riff,
And off Edippus the gret[e] wrechidnesse,
Eek off hir sones the gret onkynd[e]nesse:
Alle these thyngis weied on hir so sore,
For distresse that she list lyue no more.
Bochas writith, the flour off hir fairnesse,
Constreynt off sorwe causid it to fade;
The famous liht also off hir noblesse
And al the cleernesse off hir daies glade
With vnwar harmys was so ouerlade,
Off verrai angwissh, that she hirselff dede hate,
So inli contrari [disposid] was hir fate.
Thus deth devoureth with his bittir gall
Ioie and sorwe, deuoid off al mercy;
And with his darte he maketh doun to fall

105

Riche and poore, hem markyng sodenly:
His vnwar strook smyt[eth] indifferently,
From hym refusyng fauour & al meede,
Off all estatis he takith so litil heede.
Bet is to deie than lyue in wrechidnesse,
Bet is to deie than euer endure peyne,
Bet is an eende than dedli heuynesse,
Bet is to deie than euer in wo compleyne;
And where-as myscheeff doth at folk disdeyne
Bi woful constreynt off long contynuaunce,
Bet is to deie than lyue in such greuaunce.
Taketh exaumple heeroff and a preeff
Off kyng Edippus, that was so longe a-go,
Off queen Iocasta, that felte so gret myscheeff,
And off ther childre remembrith eek also,
Which euer lyued in envie, sorwe & wo:
Fortune, allas, duryng al ther daies
Was founde so froward to hem at all assaies.
Touchyng Edippus processe fynde I noon
What eende he made in conclusioun,
Sauf Bochas writith, how the kyng Creon,
Cosyn and heir bi successioun,
Exilid hym cheyned ferr out off the toun,
Where he endured in myscheeff, sorwe & dreed,
Till Antropos ontwynid his lyuis threed.

Lenvoye.

In this tragedie foure thinges ye may see,
The pride off Iabyn & fals presumpcioun,
Off queen Iocasta the gret aduersite,
Off kyng Edippus thynclynacioun
To vices all, and the deuysioun
Off the too brethre, pleynli vs tassure,
Kyngdamys deuyded may no while endure.

106

For who sauh euer kyngdam or contre
Stonde in quyeet off ther possessioun,
But yiff ther wer pes, riht and equyte
And iust accord, withoute discencioun,
Void off ontrouthe and fals collusioun,
Pleynli declaryng bexaumple & bi scripture,
Kyngdamys deuyded may no while endure.
Seeth heer exaumple off Thebes the cite,
And how that noble myhti regioun,
Thoruh ther froward [fals] duplicite
With werre brouht to ther destruccioun;
Ther promys brokyn, and ther couert tresoun,
Shewed bi the[r] harmys, impossible to recure,
Kyngdamys deuyded may no while endure.
Pryncis, Pryncessis, which han the souereynte
Ouer the peeple and domynacioun,
Yiff ye list lyue longe in felicite,
Cherisshith your subiectis, doth noon extorsioun,
And aduertisith off wisdam and resoun,
As this tragedie doth to you discure,
Kyngdamys deuyded may no while endure.

[How Atreus Kyng of Messene wrouȝt ayenst his brothir Thiestes/slouh his iij. childre dismembrid hem in pecys made Thiestes to ete of ther flessh and drynke of ther blood.]

Bochas the poete, auctour off this book,
Hym purposyng to-gidre to compile
Dyuers stories, anoon his penne he took,
Hym remembryng withynne a litil while,
In this chapitle gan direct his stile
To write the story, and be compendious,
Afforn all othre off Duk Theseus,
Lord off Athenys, a famous gret cite,
Ryht strong and myhti vpon eueri side,—
But at his bak Bochas dede oon see,

107

Which cried loude & bad he sholde a-bide:
“Bochas,” quod he, “fro the me list nat hide
My woful cas, nor in no wise spare
My pitous compleynt to the to declare!
I am Thiestes, be-spreynt al with wepyng,
Drownyd in teris, as thou maist weel see,
Whilom sone off the myhti kyng
Philistynes, and born also parde
Off queen Pellopia, excellyng off beute;
And for thou art desirous for tendite
Off peeple onhappi, & ther wo to write,
My will is this, that thou anon proceede
To turne thi stile, and tak thi penne blyue,
Leue Theseus, tak now off hym non heede,
But my tragedie first that thou descryue.
For I suppose that in al thi lyue,
That thou sauh neuer a thyng mor dolerous,
Mor onhappi, mor froward nor pitous
Than is, allas, my mortal auenture,
Incomparable, the sorwe surmountyng
Off queen Iocasta, most woful creature,
Or off Edippus, his fate ay compleynyng:
For my compleynt haueth non endyng,
But lastith euere, & bereth me witnesse,
No wo rassemblith onto myn heuynesse.”
And with that woord John Bochas stille stood,
Ful sobirly to yiue hym audience;
And in the place demeurli he a-bod
To heere the substaunce off his mortal offence,
Which thus began to shewen his sentence.
“O Iohn,” quod he, “I pray the take good heed
My wo to write that men may it reed.
Allas! my brother, roote off onkynd[e]nesse,
Attreus callid, off tresoun sours & well,
And fyndere out off tresoun & falsnesse,

108

And all other in fraude doth precell,
Whos couert hate is more than I can tell—
I supposyng, off verray innocence,
In hym no malice, deceit, nor offence,
But as a brother sholde his brother triste,
I trusted hym off herte, will & thouht;
Bi apparence non othir cause I wiste,
For in his persone I supposid nouht
That euer he koude so fals a thyng ha wrouht.
But who may soner a-nother man deceyue,
Than he in whom no malice men conceyue?
I dempte off hym as off my trewe brother,
Wenyng he hadde feithful been to me;
I sauh no signe, nor I kneuh non other,
In hym supposyng no duplicite.
But, o allas, how myhte it euer be,
Or who dede euer in any story fynde
Blood onto blood to be so onkynde!
I will passe ouer to telle the worthynesse,
Touchyng thestatis off our progenytours,
Off our kynreede, and the gret noblesse,
I telle no thyng, nor off our predecessours,
Nor off my youthe how passid been the flours—
I leue al this, and onto mynde call
The wrechidnesse that I am in fall.
My brothir fond a fals occasioun
A-geyn[e]s me, and gan a cause feyne
To ban[y]she me out off our regioun,
And gan at me off hatrede so disdeyne,
Vpon me affermyng in certeyne,
In our kyngdam, which callid is Missene,
I sholde haue ley[e]n bi his wiff the queene.
This he compassid ful falsli off malis,
Hymsilff weel knowyng that it was nat so,
Ay founde onkynde, and in his auys

109

Nat lik my brother, but my dedli fo;
And to encrece gret parcell off my wo,
Bi long processe in his entencioun
He ymagined my destruccioun.
And his cheeff cause was fals[e] couetise,
Touchyng this thyng which he dede on me feyne;
And yit this kyngdam, treuli to deuise,
Shold haue be partid of riht atwen vs tweyne:
But a-geyn trouthe he dede so ordeyne
Me to exile out off that regioun,
Hymsilff allone to haue possessioun.
Yit in his herte he caste a-nother wile
To myn ondoyng and desolacioun:
To the place where he me dede exile,
Vnder a shadwe off fals collusioun
To make a maner reuocacioun,
Off brethirheed shewyng a pretense,
Me to resorte a-geyn to his presence,
To be accepted, as a brother sholde,
With ful accord stille with hym tabide,
All iniuries, off which afforn I tolde,
On outher part forgete & set a-side,
That nothyng afftir sholde our loue deuyde;
But of oon will and oon entencioun
Leede al our liff withoute dyuysioun.
Wheroff the peeple was ful glad and liht
Thoruhout Missene the myhti regioun,
At my resortyng fyndyng euery wiht
Redi off herte and hool affeccioun
Me to receyue into that noble toun;
And noon so redy, bi signes out shewyng,
To make me cheer, in soth, as was the kyng.
There is no damage in comparisoun,
That may be likned, bi no rassemblaunce,
To feyned trouthe and symulacioun,

110

Whan fraude is hid with a fair contenaunce,
Pretendyng trouthe outward bi disseyuaunce,
And vndirnethe, off most fals entent,
Off doubilnesse darith the serpent.
As vnder floures is shroudid the dragoun,
For to betraisshe bi sodeyn violence
Such folk as haue no suspecioun,
But treuli meene in ther peur innocence,
Til thei be cauht dispurueied off diffence,
As is a fissh with bait off fals plesaunce,
The hook nat seyn, to brynge hym to myschaunce.
Thus semblabli, at myn hom comyng
I was receyued with eueri circumstaunce,
Lich as halff heir and brother to the kyng;
And he, pretendyng, as bi contenaunce,
That he hadde so inli gret plesaunce
Off my repair, off trouthe he tolde so,
For, reioisshyng, saide he wolde go
Onto his goddis to doon sum obseruaunce
For this accord, and humble sacrefise,
Made his mynystris with feithful attendaunce
Tawaite on me in al ther beste wise;
It nedith nat to tellyn nor deuise,
Nor in writyng in bookis for to sette
Halff the ioie he made whan we mette.
First how freendli he dede me embrace
Off hertli gladnesse withynne his armis tweyne,
And how for ioie the teris on his face
Ful entierli gan doun distill & reyne,
That, for my part, I koude me nat restreyne,
But that I muste off frenshipe fraternall
Weepe as dede he in his estat roiall.
The wili wolff that cast hym to deuoure
The celi lamb, which can no diffence,
Nor non helpe hymseluen to socoure,
So feeble he is to make resistence,
Which demeth trouthe off fals apparence—
What wonder ist the fraude nat conceyued,
Thouh such lambes onwarli be deceyued?

111

Thouh that roses at mydsomer be ful soote,
Yit vndirnethe is hid a ful sharp spyne;
Summe fressh[e] floures han a ful bittir roote,
And lothsum gall can sugre eek vndermyne;
In dreedful stormys the sonne among doth shyne,
And vnder a shadwe off feyned freendliheed,
Ther is no frenship so pereilous for to dreed.
Thus remembryng the feithful woordis stable
Off my brother shewed onto me,
At our meetyng the kyssyng amyable,
Thassurid couenantis off our fraternite—
But offte tyme men may beholde and see
That lelies growe among these netlis thikke,
And flourdelis amyd these weedie wikke.
Thus whil I restid in the kyngis hous,
Nothyng aduertyng his dedli cruelte,
His olde hatreed was so venymous
And so odible to destroie me,
Hymsilff tauenge he took my childre thre,
And secreli—is it nat a wonder?—
He kutte her throtes with a knyf assonder.
For he thouhte that it dede hym good
Hem to dismembre into pecis smale,
And in a vessel for to gadre ther blood,
Whil thei lay still & loked on hym ful pale.
This was his deede in a desert vale,
Withynne a kaue, that no man sholde espie
Tresoun conspired off his fals tirannye.
This was the substaunce off his sacrefise,
To sle my childre & do ther throtis bleede!
I trowe the goddis theroff dede agrise,
Off his fals offryng whan thei token heede.
He dede ther membris afftir roste & seede,
And with this viaunde most abhomynable
He made me be serued at the table.

112

In couert cruses, also thus it stood,
To staunche my thrust, thoruh his cruel vengaunce
He made me vnknowne to drynke ther blood.
Was nat this thyng to goddis displesaunce?
Yis, I dar sey[e]n; for bi demonstraunce,
Vpon this deede, withoute mor obstacle,
The sonne in heuene shewed a myracle.
Which sore agrisid myht[e] nat beholde
With his bemys theron to caste his siht,
For displesaunce his clernesse gan withholde,
And for vengaunce to withdrawe his liht,
The day turnyng for horrour onto nyht,
Whan he shon brihtest in his mydday speer,
Shrowded his face and wolde nat appeer.
But I, allas, vpon this cas horrible,
That koude nat ymagyne nouther thynke
On ony mater that was so odible,
Eet off ther flessh & off ther blood dede drynke,
Which so sore doth in myn herte synke,
That I may nat, touchyng this auenture,
The circumstaunces for constreynt to discure.
It nedith me nat to make rehersaile
Touchyng myn exil, off alle maner thynges,
Off dyuers sorwes that me dede assaile,
My woful sihhes, nor my greuous wepynges,
Nor vpon nyhtes my dolorous wakynges,
My pouert[e], nor how I stood in dreed
To lese my liff; wheroff, Bochas, tak heed,
And remembre alle [the] circumstaunces:
Yiff euer thou sauh, off hih or low degre,
Mor contrari or mor onhappi chaunces,
Than thou herd remembrid heer off me.
Weie in ballaunce my sorwes, and lat see
Yiff any sorwe or myscheuys onrecurid
May countirpeise to that I haue endurid!

113

Myn infortunyes, I fond hem ay so fell,
Withoute fauour & socour dispurueied,
My brother euer on me so cruell,
That I ful offte desired to haue deied;
For to this day my sperit hath be conveied
With sorwe and wo, deuoid off al refuge,
Wherfore I pray, O Bochas be my iuge,
And in thi writyng leff me nat behynde,
Nor in thi book[e] that thou nat disdeyne
Among tho folk that thou ha[ue] me in mynde,
Which that for sorwe weepe, waile & pleyne.”
And thus Thiestes, rehersyng al his peyne,
Lich as he wolde hymsilff on pecis reende,
Maad onto Bochas off his tale an eende.

[How Atreus accusid himsilf of mordre and his brothir vpon auoutry don with Europa the quene.]

Atreus afftir, with a ful pale cheer,
And off envie ful ded in his visage,
Onto Iohn Bochas gan approche neer,
Lich as he hadde be fallen in a rage,
And furiousli abraid in his langage,
“How may this be, that lik a man wer wood,
Thiestes hath his venym sowe a-brod,
And lik a rebaude falsli me accusid,
Nat-withstandyng that I ful cleerli see
Myn infortunyes, which may nat be refusid,
So sore, allas, thei werke ageyn[e]s me!
And thouh Thiestes fals & ontrewe be,
And to the, Bochas, with a face pale
Ageyn[e]s me hath forged heer a tale
Which in effect shal be founde ontrewe,
Yiff I ha[ue] space my compleynt to declare.
For I purpose to telle a tale newe
Fro poynt to poynt, & for no man to spare,

114

How he was roote & ground off al my care,
And euene lik as it is befall
Reherse the gynnyng off my sorwes all.
Whilom whan I regned in Messene,
Off age lusti, flouryng in my fresshnesse,
With my wyff Europa, that was queene,
Most renommed that tyme off hir fairnesse,
Thiestes thanne, ground off al falsnesse,
As a traitour his tyme dede espie,
Thoruh his fals fraude & his flat[e]rie
Compassid a mene withynne my cite
Bi sleihti wilis that were incomparable,
To corrupte my wyuys chastite,
Mi bed defoulyng, a thyng intollerable,
And to the goddis verray abhomynable—
Vsyng the queen to his flesshli plesaunce,
Til onto tyme that bi continuaunce
She bi hym hadde sonys too or thre,
Echon brouht forth in fals auout[e]rye.
Deemyng euer that thei hadde be
Myn owne childre, til that I dede espie,
How that this swyn thoruh his fals lecherie,
This Thiestes, afftir Europa,
Lay bi his douhter callid Pellopia.
And bi processe foorth a child she brouhte,
Callid Egistus, which whan he cam to age,
As seith Bochas, ful gret tresoun he wrouhte;
For bi his malice and his gret outrage
Destroied was al hooli the lynage
Off Tantalus, which bi his lyuyng
In Frigia regned as lord and kyng.
But this Egistus, off whom I spak afforn,
Falsli begote, myn auctour writ the same,
Off Pelopia, anon as he was born,
To hide the sclaundre & also the diffame
Off Thiestes, and for to saue his name,

115

Whan that he was but a day off age,
He was out cast to beestis ful sauage
To be deuoured, the story is weel kouth.
A mylch[e] goot God list for hym prouyde,
To fostren hym in his tendre youth,
He day & nyht liggyng bi hir side.
Withynne the forest thus he dede abide
Onto tyme that he gan growe in age;
Thanne to the court he holdeth his passage,
As onknowe to eueri maner wiht,
Wher he herde, abidyng in houshold,
Off his kenreede, & how, ageyn al riht,
Thiestes was presumptuous and bold,
Bi his deceytis compassid manyfold,
With Europa my wiff to haue a-do,
And on Pelopia begat a child also,
Which was hymsilff, as he dede vndirstonde
Bi euydencis many mo than on.
Wherfore off malice he took on honde,
On me, his vncle, tauengid been anon.
For Thiestes, cheuest off all my fon,
Myn owne brothir, made Egistus blyue
To make a suerd thoruhout myn herte ryue.
Thus bi this moordre, conspired bi tresoun,
On me Atreus, liggyng pale and ded,
Cam Thiestes to haue possessioun,
And sette a crowne oniustli on his hed.
He nouther hadde conscience nor dreed,
Routheles to see my woundis bleede,
With this that he myhte in my land succeede.
This same Egistus, ful falsli in his liff,
As a yong braunche spronge out off tresoun,
Lay bi Clymestra, which that was the wiff
Off the noble worthi kyng Agamenoun,
Liggyng a-siege toffor Troie toun.
And this Egistus, which is a thyng nat fair,
Moordred hym also in Grece at his repair.

116

Wherfore, O Bochas, off herte I pray[e] the,
Which off these stories is now most terrible?—
Off Edippus, Iocasta, or off me?
Telle on anon, yiff it be possible,
Which off ther sorwes is founde most penyble,
Off Theban brethre, most ful off wo & teene,
Or off vs tweyne brethern off Missene?
I am a-knowe, as for my partie,
Off vengaunce I dede a cruel deede:
I slouh his childre off malice & envie
And rosted hem, whan that thei wer dede,
Onli because, yiff thou list take heede,
That he begat hem, as roote off al this striff,
Vpon Europa, which that was my wiff.
Such hatful thyngis echman sholde lothe,
Which appertene to moordre and to tresoun:
Thus may I seyn, we been vnhappi bothe,
He first bi trespas off fornycacioun
Doon bi the queen withynne my regioun,
And I, disclaundrid, on the tothir side,
Off hasti vengaunce to been an homycide.
My bed he fouled bi his auoutrie,
To God & man a thyng most detestable;
And I off malice and fals malencolie
Slouh his childre & serued hem atte table.
Thus entirchaungyng, yiff it be comendable,
Ech was desirous, thoruh our vnhappi chaunce,
Vpon other for to do vengaunce.
Our gret hatreede, most odious founde att all,
Our cruel deedis wrouht on outher side,
Senech rehersith hem in especiall
In his tragedies; and ther he doth deuyde
Our compleyntis, our malice & our pride,
Our fatal eende in sorwe & myscheeff fyned,
Whan Antropos our lyuys threed hath twyned.”

117

Whan Iohn Bochas fulli hadde espied
Off these too brethre thaccusaciouns,
And how thei hadde maliciousli replied
Ech ageyn other in ther discenciouns,
He gan dulle to heere ther mociouns,
Put vp his penne, & wrot nat mor a woord
Off the[r] furie nor off ther fals discord.

[Lenvoy.]

This tragedie sheweth a figure,
A maner ymage & also a liknesse,
How contrari it is onto nature,
Blood onto blood to shewe onkynd[e]nesse.
This woful story can ber [ful] weel witnesse,
All such debatis been, as ye shal fynde,
Hatful to God and contrary onto kynde.
For there is non mor dreedful auenture,
Than in kynredis to fynde frowardnesse,
Nor no damage mor pereilous to endure,
Than in frenshepes whan there is straungenesse
A maner parti; bexaumple I dar expresse,
To seen the tre debate ageyn the rynde,
To God were hatful and contrary onto kynde.
Eueri beeste and eueri creature
Loueth his semblable, off kyndli riht, I gesse;
And whan on trouthe tweyne hertis assure,
Vndepartid, off verray parfitnesse,
It were a vicious froward cursidnesse,
Ther loue so knet, to losne it or onbynde,
Hatful to God and contrari onto kynde.
Pryncis, Pryncessis, doth your besi cure
Fro you tauoide striff, fraude & doubilnesse,
Remembrith you vpon thunhappi eure
Off these too brethre & off ther wrechidnesse,
And off ther bothe malicious wilfulnesse,
And how ther stryues—hath this weel in mynde—
To God was hatful and contrary onto kynde.

118

[Off Duk Theseus and Adriane þat saued his liff in the Caue/and how he lik a forsworn man forsook hir and weddid faire Phedra/whiche aftirward slouh hirsilf.]

Athenes whilom, whan it was in his floures,
Was callid norice of philisophres wise,
Princesse off poetis & expert oratoures,
Sonne off all sciences, as clerkis can deuise,
Whens al cunnyng most cleerli dede arise,
Named off Grece the lanterne and the liht,
Which thoruh al erthe shadde his beemys briht.
With noble titles, which been out off noumbre,
In eueri coost his renoun dede shyne,
The fame theroff was clipsed with non oumbre,
All other scooles it dede so enlumyne;
For in that cite, pleynli to termyne,
Off the seuene artis, as doun from on hedspryng,
Ther ran out ryuers and stremys off al cunnyng.
These sciences were callid liberall,
Onli off fredam, fraunchise and liberte;
For off a stok that were preued thrall,
Ther sholde no braunche studie in that cite,
But thilke blood that were founde fre,
Bothe be discent & lyneal hih noblesse,
Ther to scoleie sholde haue interesse.
This cite was sacrid to Mynerue,
For ther wisdam and ther sapience;
Off Mercurie the feestis thei obserue,
For rethorik and for eloquence;
And myhti Mars gaff hem influence
With glade aspectis, ther parti to a-mende,
Noblesse off knyhthod ther clergie to diffende.
This toun was nobleied be title of other thynges,
And most glorious reknyd in that age
Be successioun off dukes and off kynges,

119

A-mong[es] which duk Theseus bi lynage,
Sone off Egistus, ful fressh off his corage,
Excellyng alle of prudence & manheede
That euer dede the crowne ther posseede.
For to that cite, thoruh his hih noblesse,
In ther diffencis such trust, such [af]fiaunce
He gaff to hem bi his expert prowesse,
Off his triumphes so gret habundaunce,
And speciali ther renoun to auaunce,
He made hem fre ther truage for to lete
Ageyn Mynos the myhti kyng off Crete.
For bi his force, the story is weel kouth,
Them to fraunchise and al that regioun,
The Mynotaur he slouh in tendre youth;
And afftirward he off deuocioun,
Taquite hymsilff[e] lik a champioun,
Theroff made solempne sacrefise
To Iubiter in most humble wise;
And in a theatre callid Maratoun,
Duk Theseus hadde this victorie.
Afftir he wente to Colchos with Iasoun,
Cheeff off counseil, as makid is memorie,
And bi processe to augmente his glorie,
With Hercules his brother to conveie,
Geyn Amazones he wente to werreie,—
Conquered hem, his manhod was weel seene,
His force, his noblesse in that mortal stryff.
And afftir that, Ypolita the queene
This Theseus took onto his wiff.
And for his brother he list iuparte his liff,
Duk Pirotheus, whan he dede vndirtake
The centaures to outraie for his sake.
This centaures poetis specefie,
And Seruyus maketh mencioun,
How thei were whilom engendrid on a skie,
Whan first ther fadir, callid Yrion,
Was enamourid, ful many day agon,

120

Vpon Iuno, because she was so fair,
Gouerneresse and goddesse off the hair.
This Yrion was hir secretarie,
And for hir fairnesse & excellent beute,
Loued hir ful hote, al-be she was contrarie
To his desir, in Bochas ye may see.
Hym to delude, he writith, how that she
Hirsilff transfourmyd, as she [that] myhte & koude,
Into the liknesse off an heuenli cloude,
This Yrion pleynli supposyng
It was hirsilff, and euene thus he wrouhte,
The cloude enbracyng, withoute mor tarieng,—
Off his foli the goddesse there he souhte;
And with ther medlyng atwen hem foorth thei brouhte
The centauris, these beestis merueilous,
Which off nature be founde monstruous.
Halff man, halff hors, [de]partid thus on tweyne,
And wonderful bi ther descripcioun,
Off fals[e] malice dede hemselff ordeyne
On Pirotheus to make invasioun,
And hym to putte out off possessioun
Off his wiff, callid Ypodamen,
And hir to rauysshe, maugre all his men.
Ther were off hem an hundred [as] in noumbre,
Swifft as the wynd in ther cours rennyng,
Which off malice cast hem to encoumbre
Duk Pirotheus the day off his weddyng,
And to rauysshe his wiff at ther comyng,
Yiff for his parti ther were no diffence
Ageyn ther power to make resistence.
But Theseus list nat to delaie
Pirotheus his brother to diffende.
First the centaures he knyhtli dede outraie
So mortalli, thei durste hym nat offende;
Afftir this conquest to helle thei descende,

121

Duk Pirothe and worthi Theseus,
Maugre the daunger off cruel Cerberus.
There thei rauysshe in ther mortal teene,
Thoruh ther knyhthod, yiff ye list to lere,
Despiht off Pluto, Proserpyna the queene,
Which off Iubiter was the douhter deere.
And Pirotheus fond first the manere
Off wilful force, thoruh his hih renoun,
Rewmys to conquere and holde possessioun.
But bi writyng sothli off Ouyde,
He pleynli tellith how duk Theseus
Arested was in hell, and muste abide,
Bi the force off cruel Cerberus;
And Pluto was to hym contrarious,
Til Pirotheus, to fynden a reles,
The cas declared onto Hercules.
Which off his knyhthod a remedi fond,
To helpe his freend [he] dede his besi peyne;
First bi his prowesse Cerberus he bond
At helle gatis with a treble cheyne,
And off his manhod he dede so ordeyne,
Duk Theseus from daunger to discharge,
Maugre Pluto for to gon at large.
Thei were in armys brethre bothe tweyne,
Louede as brethre bothe in werre and pes,
That nouther koude onto other feyne,
Ther liff to iuparte & putte hemsilff in pres.
And bothe as brethre wer callid Hercules,
To signefie, poetis can weel tell,
This name in conquest all other doth excell.
Bi old[e] tyme thei that were pereles
For ther noblesse in dyuers regiouns,
All thei for manhod wer namyd Hercules,
Such as were noised for famous champiouns,
Tigres to daunte, boores and leouns,
And renommed among hem euerichon,
Bookis afferme, that Theseus was on.

122

First, as I saide, bi his knyhtli trauaile,
Whan Athenes stood in dyuysioun
A-mong hemsilff bi werre and bi bataile,
Bi his wisdam and his discrecioun,
He sette accord withynne that noble toun:
Them that were exilid & stood in nouncerteyn,
He off his knyhthod made hem resorte ageyn;
He gaff hem lawes wherbi thei sholde hem gie,
Noble statutis foundid on resoun,
Sette among hem so prudent policie,
In ther lyuyng that no discencioun
Sholde arise bi non occasioun
A-mong hemsilff, in hih or low estat,
Prouydyng euere that there were no debat.
Thus gan the cite encrece and multeplie,
To wexe famous off wisdam and richesse;
Ther sprang the welle first off philosophie;
Ther first off knyhthod ros the hih noblesse,
Bi Theseus, Bochas bereth witnesse:
Thus thynges too, lik as it is founde,
Clergie and knyhthod dede there habounde.
And for to sette the cite in quieete,
He made pes thoruh al that regioun;
And off knyhthod he manli dede meete
The cruel tiraunt that callid was Creoun,
Maugre hym made restitucioun
Off lordis bonys, that were at Thebes slayn,
To the ladies, wheroff thei were ful fayn.
Thus thoruh Grece abrod his renoun spradde;
His knyhtli fame gan gretli multeplie,
And longe in ioie thus his liff he ladde,
Whil that Fortune list hym magnefie:
But ay hir gladnesse is meynt with sum envie,
For she, froward, list no mor soiourne
With Theseus, but gan hir face tourne

123

Awey from hym, wex peruers and froward,
Off his glorie ongoodli gan to dulle,
Doun from hir wheel she made [him] go bakward,
Off his good fame she gan the fethres pulle;
Whan his noblesse was hiest at the fulle—
I meene the fulle off his felicite—
Ther folwed an ebbe off gret aduersite.
And, morouer, hir frowardli to quite,
His onhappis rehersyng on bi on,
On the firste, as Bochas list endite,
Was whan he lay in Crete among his fon,
And out off prisoun sholde into Grece gon,
Repeiryng homward & hymsilff withdrawe,
The Mynotaur whan he hadde slawe.
The firste emprise that he vndirtook,
Was whan he scaped thymportable peyne
Off Mynotaurus, lik as seith my book,
And with hym ladde the kyngis douhtren tweyne,
That he off malice falsli list disdeyne
Geyn Adriane, which that dede hym saue
From the deth, whan he lay in the caue.
Sholde ha be slayn, hadde nat hir socour be,—
In his repair he took theroff non heed;
He leffte hir sool in gret aduersite
Withynne an yle, in myscheeff, sorwe & dreed.
And fair[e] Phedra with hym he dede leed,
Weddid hir, lik a forswore man:
Thus with ontrouthe his myscheeff first began.
How Phedra quit hir,—the story is weel knowe—
In his absence, Bochas writith thus,
Whan that she, withynne a litil throwe,
Loued ageyn kynde his sone Ypolitus;
But he to hire was contrarious,

124

Nolde [not] assente to so foul a deede;
For shame he fledde, & parcel eek for dreede,
To his fader for she hym dede accuse,
As ye toforn ha[ue] the story sayn.
And for he dede hir cumpany refuse,
He wente his way & cam neuer agayn;
For ye haue herd[e] how that he was slayn
Withynne a char, thoruh his vnhappi chaunce,
And how Phedra throuh myscheeff & vengaunce
Slouh hirselff, ageyn al womanheed—
Heer in this book toforn as I you tolde.
Of which[e] thyng, whan Theseus took heed,
Thouhte it was vengaunce for his offencis olde;
For he nat quit hym lik as he was holde
To Adriane, which sholde ha been his wiff,
Bi whos socour he scaped with the liff.
This infortune and this vnhappi chaunce
Was to his noblesse ful contrarious.
The deth also was to hym a vengaunce
Off his sone callid Ypolitus,
For sorwe off whom, this duk Theseus
With salte teris sore gan compleyne
At the exequies off these ilke tweyne.
I trowe also it dede hym sore greue,
Duk Pirotheus whan he sauh li ded,
Slayn with a beeste, & myht[e] nat releue,—
Kyng Orchus hound, which hadde a treble hed,
Whos teth horrible off his blood were red.
Which infortunye, whan he gan beholde,
Onto the deth he felte his herte colde.
And for to rekne the grete wrechidnessis,
Thunhappi chaunces that fill hym in his liff,
Amongis alle his other gret distressis,
Was non so mortal nor so ful off striff
As whan that he gaff credence to his wiff,

125

Phedra callid, which off entencioun
Compassid ontreuli an accusacioun
Vpon Ypolitus, off hatreed and envie,
Because he nolde do so gret offence
As for tassente to hir lecherie;
Therfore off deth he felte the violence.
And for his fader to soone gaff credence,
Bochas forbit husbondis al ther lyues,
Withoute preeff, nat leeue to soone her wyues,
Nor be [to] hasti talis for to leeue
Off flaterers in chaumbre nor at table;
Forgers of lesyngis, myn auctour doth weel preeue,
Tabide with lordis that thei be nat able.
Heeron he maketh a chapitle ful notable,
And off his writyng, this was the cause whi:
That pryncis sholde examyne ech parti,
Off wisdam also and off discrecioun,
Withoute a preeff nat be parciall;
For to a prynce it is confusioun,
Yiff atween parties he be nat founde egall,
Causid many on for to haue a fall;
God suffred such nat longe to contune,
Withdrouh ther grace & hyndred ther fortune.
Thus Theseus for his hastynesse,
His happ, his grace discrecid day be day,
The fame appallid off his worthynesse,
And froward Fortune in a-wait eek lay,
For his diffautis to hyndre hym yiff she may;
Caste she wolde his noblesse disauaunce.
And thanne his kyngdam bi disobeisaunce
From hym withdrouh honour and reuerence,
Ful frowardli thoruh al his regioun.
Thei off Athenys, bi cruel violence,
Fill ageyn hym in rebellioun,
That he was fayn to fleen out off the toun:

126

Thus hath Fortune dirked the brihtnesse
Off al his nobley, and cast hym in distresse.
This was the eende bi gret contrariouste
Off Theseus, afftir his daies glade,
Whan the fressh floures off old felicite,
Fortune aduerse made hem for to fade;
Ech thyng mut bowwe whan it is ouer-lade,
Worshepis & honouris, whan thei brihtest shyne,
With vnwar chaunges than rathest doun declyne.

[Lenvoy.]

The onseur gladnesse, the ioie transitorie,
Thunstable seurnesse, the transmutaciouns,
The cloudi brihtnesse, the fals eclipsid glorie
Off erthly pryncis which han possessiouns,
Monarchies and dominaciouns—
Ther sodeyn chaung declareth to vs all,
Ther pompous sugre is meynt with bittir gall.
This blynde goddesse in hir consistorie,
With hir plesaunce medlith discenciouns,
Afftir tryumphes, conquest and victorie,
Reueth fro pryncis ther sceptres & ther crouns,
Troubleth the peeple with fals rebelliouns:
Seeth bi these dukis, which from her wheel be fall,
Al worldli sugre is meynt with bittir gall.
This tragedie maketh a memorie
Off dukis tweyne, & off ther hih renouns;
And off ther loue writ a gret historie,
And how thei conquered dyuers regiouns,
Gouerned cites, contres and eek touns,
Til Fortune ther prowesse dede appall,
To shewe ther sugre was meynt with bittir gall.

127

Pryncis, Pryncessis, seeth how deceptorie
Been alle these worldli reuoluciouns,
And how Fortune in hir reclynatorie,
With hir triacle tempreth fals poisouns:
So merueilous been hir confecciouns,
Off frowardnesse she will, what-so be-fall,
Ay with hir sugre off custum tempre gall.

Here Bochas repreuyth all thunstabilnes of Princis & oþir persones þat ȝeve hasti credence to euery report with-out preef.

Althouh so be, in eueri maner age
Folkis be dyuers off condiciouns,
To turne, plie & chaunge in ther corage,
On outher parti with sodeyn mociouns,
And for to bowe bi transmutaciouns
With eueri wynd, as doon thunstable leuys,
Which hange on trees in forestis and in greuys.
But off alle chaungis, that chaung is most to dreede,
And most feerful is that variaunce,
Whan that pryncis, which may the peeple leede,
Be founde vnstable in ther gouernaunce:
For ther noblesse and ther hih puissaunce
Assureth hem, bi a maner [of] fourme,
What-euer hem list taccomplisshe and parfourme.
To comoun profit thei may most auaile,
Whan thei be reulid bi wisdam and resoun;
And to the peeple thei may most disauaile,
Whan thei lakke wit and discrecioun:
Thus atwen tweyne, in eueri regioun,

128

The peeple draweth, who that can discerne,
To good or badde, as pryncis hem gouerne.
Thei may nat be to hasti nor sodeyne,
But doon all thynge bi good auysement,
Keepe hem from tunges that parted been on tweyne,
Nat be to rakill to yiue no iugement,
And off no folkis, whan thei been absent,
Leue no talis nor yiue no credence,
Till that the parti may come to audience.
Sumwhile hath happid, how that slouh credence
Hath in sum cas be founde ful noious;
But hasti credence, I dar sey in sentence,
A thousend fold is more pereilous;
For onauysid al haste is odious:
For haste ful offte, for lakkyng off resoun,
Off moch[e] peeple hath be destruccioun.
There is no damage that men can purpose,
Mor to be drad nor mor lamentable,
Than a prynce his eris to onclose
To eueri tale and to eueri fable;
It is a tokne ther hertis be nat stable,
Whan thei to flatereris ther eris do applie,
Namli to such that can weel forge and lie.
Folkis be dyuers, summe fals and summe trewe,
In dyuers studies doon ther besynesse;
Summe can studie to fynde out talis newe,
And summe for lucre can meyntene weel falsnesse
And holde up quarelis ageyn[e]s rihtwisnesse,
Pretendyng trouthe vnder a fals entent
To hyndre folkis which that been innocent.
Men to suppose it were a gret foli,
That folkis sholde in ther oppynyoun
Speke or pronounce alle on o parti,
Or holde o weie in ther entencioun;
For semblabli as there is dyuysioun

129

Off corages, off hih or low degre,
So is ther treuli a gret dyuersite
In rehersaile or report off a thyng,
For to his parti ech man is fauourable:
Sum man can sey weel in his rehersyng,
Sum man is double, & sum man deceyuable,
Sum men sey trouthe, and summe be variable;
Wherfore a prynce off riht, as it doth seeme,
Sholde weel examyne afforn or that he deeme.
For there is noon mor dreedful pestilence
Than a tunge that can flatre and fage;
For with his cursid crabbid violence
He enfectith folk off eueri maner age.
Wo to tunges froward off ther language,
And wo to tunges fals, furious and wood,
Which off no persone neuer can sey good.
Bochas rehersith, it is riht weel sittyng
That eueri man other do comende,
And sey the beste alwey in reportyng;
For in weel-seieng may no man offende.
Where men sey weel, God will his grace sende;
Afftir men been, men mut the pris vpreise,
Lich ther meritis allowe hem or dispreise.
But wher a thyng is vttirli onknowe,
Lat no man ther been hasti off sentence;
For rihtful iuges sittyng on a rowe,
Off ther wisdam and off ther hih prudence
Will of trouthe haue first sum euydence—
I meene such as gouerned be bi grace—
Or any doom forbi ther lippis pace.
A prynce sholde assemble thyngis tweyne
Withynne hymsilff: [afforn] ful prudently
Shet up his doomys betwixe lokkis tweyne,
On off the soule, resoun for that party,
Prudence chose out, and riht for the body;

130

And atween bothe, or he yiue a sentence,
To counseil calle trouthe and good conscience.
First to considre with eueri circumstaunce,
Dilligentli doon theron his labour,
Off discrecioun to take the ballaunce,
And first weie out who is thaccusour,
And whethir that he for falsnesse or fauour
In his processe list for to proceede;
Heroff a prynce must off riht take heede.
He muste also considre bi and bi,
What that he is, which is to hym accusid,
And whethir thaccusour be freend or enmy,
Or whethir he shal been accepte or refusid
In his accus—this muste affor be musid—
And whethir he be, bi report off his name,
A man weel noised or sclaundrid bi diffame.
Yiff Theseus hadde be thus auysed,
And considred off resoun the maner,
He hadde nat so hastili deuysed
His sonys deth, lich as ye shal ler:
For yiff ther hadde assemblid been I-feer
In his persone prudence and resoun,
He sholde ha[ue] seyn in his discrecioun,
Be knowlechyng off long experience,
Off his wiff the gret onstedfastnesse,
Which thoruh hir froward compassid eloquence
Was redi euere to brynge folk in distresse,
As in his writyng Bochas berth witnesse,
Off ther nature women can flatre and fage,
And been sumwhile to copious off language.
Also off wisdam, this duk Theseus
Shold ha[u]e considred afforn in his entent,
How that his sone, callid Ypolitus,

131

Off al onclennesse was founde ay innocent;
And how that he off custum made his went
Into forestis duryng his yong age,
To hunte at beestis which that were sauage.
Rennyng on foote, as ye shal vndirstonde,
On hillis, valis teschewen idilnesse,
Mooder off vicis, with his bowe in honde,
Diane to serue off huntyng cheeff goddesse.
Sumtyme to hauke he dede his besynesse;
Eek onto fisshyng he gretly was applied,
So that his youthe was neuer onocupied.
Thus he lyued in wodis solitarie,
And off Venus despised the seruyse;
A-mong[es] women he wolde neuer tarie,
Ther felashipp he dede alwey despise:
For he dempte, be sentence off the wise,
Who touchith pich, bassay men may see,
It failith nat he shal defouled be.
Ypolitus sauh weel this thyng afforn,
Kept hym at large from such contrariouste;
His greene youthe he wolde nat haue it lorn,
To be diffoulid for lak off chastite:
For he lyued euer in virgynyte,
And neuer dede, Bochas wil nat varie,
Nothyng that was onto God contrarie.
Thus off entent he kepte his bodi cleene
Duryng his liff, bothe in thouht & deede,
Whos mooder was Ypolita the queene
Off Amazones, in Ouyde ye may reede.
But, o allas, that Theseus took heede,
For a tale off Phedra ful off gile,
Withoute gilt his sone to exile.
Afftir whos deth[e], summe poetis seyn,
How that Diana, for his chastite,
Restorid hym onto lyue ageyn
Bi Esculapius, and gaff hym liberte
In hir forestis to hunten and go fre.

132

For which restoryng, as writ Ouidius,
As twies a man, men callid hym Virbius.

Heer Bochas makith an exclamacion a-geyn the pride of vommen And thonseurnes of princes.

But Bochas heer, I not what he doth meene,
Maketh in his book an exclamacioun
Ageyn[e]s women, that pite is to seene—
Seith how ther lyne, ther generacioun
Been off nature double off condicioun,
And callith hëm eek dyuers and onstable,
Beestis rassemblyng that been insaciable.
He meneth off women that be born in Crete,
Nothyng off hem that duelle in this contre:
For women heer, al doubilnesse thei lete,
And ha[ue] no tech off mutabilite,
Thei loue no chaungis nor no duplicite;
For ther husbondis, in causis smal or grete,
What-euer thei seyn, thei can nat countirplete.
Blessid be God, that hath hem maad so meek,
So humble and feithful off ther condiciouns;
For thouh men wolde cause and mater seek
Ageyn ther pacience to fynde occasiouns,
Thei han refusid al contradicciouns,
And hem submittid thoruh ther gouernaunce,
Onli to meeknesse and womanli suffraunce.
I speke off alle, I speke nat off on,
That be professid onto lowlynesse;
Thei may ha[ue] mouthes, but language ha[ue] thei non:
Alle trewe husbondis can bern heroff witnesse;
For weddid men, I dar riht weel expresse,
That haue assaied and had experience,
Best can recorde off wifli pacience.

133

For as it longeth to men to be sturdy,
And sumwhat froward as off ther nature,
Riht so can women suffre paciently,
And alle wrongis humbl[el]i endure.
Men sholde attempte no maner creature,
A[nd] namli women, ther meeknesse for to preue,
Which may weel suffre whil no man doth hem greue.
Eueri thyng resortith to his kynde,
As Bochas writith, sum tyme off the yeer;
And yit, who serchith, bi processe he shal fynde
That trouthe and vertu may neuer fade off cheer:
For rihtwisnesse will alwey shyne cleer;
Trouthe & falsnesse, in what thei ha[ue] to doone,
Thei may no while assemble in o persone.
Feith and flatrie, thei be so contrarie,
Thei may togidre holde no soiour;
Nor symplesse, which that can nat varie,
May neuer accorde with a baratour,
Nor innocence with a losengour,
Nor chastite can nat hirsilff applie
Hir to confourme onto [no] ribaudie.
Crafft and nature sue the professioun
Bi thordynaunce set in ther courage;
And ech man folweth his condicioun,
As off the stok the frut hath his tarage:
Pilgrymes may gon ful ferr in ther passage,
But I dar seyn, how ferr that euer thei go,
Ther bit sum tarage off that that thei cam fro.
Bochas maketh an introduccioun
In this chapitle, off the hih noblesse
That pryncis han in ther possessioun;
And bi a maner lawhhyng doth expresse,
How for to sette hem in gret sekirnesse,

134

Thei han sergauntis vpon hem abidyng,
And men off armys day and nyht waityng.
That no man entre, but yiff he ha[ue] licence,
The froward porteris stondyng at the gate
Putte men a-bak be sturdi violence;
It were ful hard ageyn hem to debate,
Ther wachchis kept erli and eek late;
And hem tassure a-nyhtis whil thei slepe,
The chaumberleyns ther dorys streihtli keepe.
Men assigned ther metis to assaie,
To taste ther wynes, list ther were tresoun;
Such mortal dreed these lordis doth affraie;
So is ther seurnesse meynt with suspecioun:
Who fedith hym gladli, that ferith hym off poisoun?
But pore folk fraunchised from such dreed,
[With] such as God sent meryly thei hem feed.
But poetis that write tragedies,
Ther compleynyng is al off hih estatis,
Rehersyng euer ther pitous iuparties,
Ther sodeyn chaungis & ther woful fatis,
Ther dyuysiouns and ther mortal debatis,
And ay conclude ther dites, who can reede,
Hiest estatis stonde ay most in dreede.
And ground & roote off al this mortal trouble,
As writ Bochas and pleynli berth witnesse,
Been these lieres with ther tunges double,
Themsilff afforcyng ay trouthe to oppresse;
With whom flatrie is a cheeff maistresse:
And, werst off all, to ther dreedful sentence,
Is whan pryncis been hasti off credence.
Hasti credence is roote off al errour,
A froward stepmooder off al good counsail,
Ground off gret hyndryng, a dreedful deceyuour,

135

Fair offte off face, with a ful pereilous tail,
Gladli concludyng with ful gret disauail,
Next neyh[e]bour onto repentaunce
To all that truste & haue in hir plesaunce.

Lenvoye.

Pryncis, considreth, how in eueri age
Folkis be dyuers off ther condicioun
To plie & turne & chaunge in ther corage;
Yit is ther non, to myn opynyoun,
So dreedful chaung nor transmutacioun,
As chaung off pryncis to yiue a iugement,
Or hasti credence, withoute auisement.
It is weel founde a passyng gret damage,
Knowe and expert in eueri regioun,
Thouh a tale haue a fair visage,
It may include ful gret decepcioun:
Hid vndir sugre, galle and fell poisoun,
With a fresh face off double entendement—
Yit yiueth no credence withoute auisement.
Let folkis alle be war off ther language,
Keep ther tunges from oblocucioun,
To hyndre or hurte bi no maner outrage,
Preserue ther lippis from al detraccioun,
Fro chaumpartie and contradiccioun;
For list that fraude wer founde in ther entent,
Ne yiueth no credence withoute auisement.
Pryncis, Pryncessis, off noble and hih parage,
Which ha[ue] lordshipe and domynacioun,
Voide hem a-side, that can flatre and fage;
Fro tunges that haue a tarage off tresoun,
Stoppith your eris from ther bittir soun;
Beth circumspect, nat hasti but prudent,
And yiueth no credence withoute auisement.

136

[Off Quene Althea, and how Hercules by women was brouht to confusioun.]

Whan Bochas hadde shewed his sentence,
And declared his opynyoun
Geyn hem that wer[e]n hasti off credence,
He gan anon make a digressioun
Fro that mater, and off entencioun
To serche out mo, his purpos to contune,
That were doun cast & hyndred bi Fortune.
And, as he thouhte, he sauh a cumpanye
Off many worthi, which to hym dede appeere;
And a-mong alle first he dede espie
Queen Althea, as she gan neihhe hym neere,
Al bedewed hir face and eek hir cheere
With salt[e] teris, that pite was to seene,
Which whilom was off Calidonye the queene.
She was the douhter off kyng Testius,
Weddid to Oene off Calidoyne kyng,
Off cheer and face apperyng ful pitous,
Hir her to-torn and frowardli liggyng;
And in tokne also off compleynyng,
As writ Bochas, wheroff he took [good] heed,
Blak was hir habite, and al to-rent hir weed.
A sone she hadde, Mell[e]ager he hihte;
In erthe was ther non fairere for to see,
Riht weel fauoured in eueri manys sihte;
And, as I fynde, at his natyuite
Present wern the Fatal Sustren thre
With ther rokke, and gan to spynne faste,
And took a brond and into fir it caste.
And in that hour this was her language:
“Touchyng this child, we ful accorded be,
And han disposid the terme eek off his age,

137

The space concludid off his destyne,
As long[e] tyme, who-so list to see,
Til this brond among the coles rede
Be ful consumed into asshes dede.”
But whan Althea espied ther entente,
And conseyued the fyn off ther sentence,
She ros hire up, and the brond she hente
Out off the fir with gret dilligence,
Queynt anon the fires violence;
The doom off Parcas she gan thus disobeie,
The brond reseruyng vnder lok and keie.
Touchyng the fader off this Mell[e]ager,
Oeneus, off hym thus I reede,
How he wente and souhte nyh and fer
Goddis and goddessis, who-so list take heede,
In hope onli for to ha[ue] gret meede;
For to hem alle, poetis thus deuise,
Sauf to Diana, he dede sacrefise.
Wheroff she cauhte an indignacioun;
Caste she wolde on hym auengid be;
Sente a boor into his regioun,
Ful sauage and ful off cruelte,
Which deuoured the frut off many a tre
And destroied his cornys and his vynes,
That such scarsete off vitaile and off wynes
Was in his land vpon euery side,
That the peeple off necessite
Compellid wern a-mong hem to prouide
Sum mene weie to saue ther contre.
And at the laste thei condescendid be,
That Mell[e]ager, lusti off his corage,
Shold chese with hym folk fresh & yong off age,
This dreedful boor myhtili tenchace.
And foorth thei wente, echon deuoid off dreed,
With rounde speris thei gan hym to manace,
But Mell[e]ager made first his sides red,
And with a suerd[e] thanne smet off his hed;

138

Wheroff the contre was ful glad & fayn,
And in this wise the tusshi boor was slayn.
Summe bookis telle off this huntyng,
That a ladi, which was born in Arge,
Callid Athalanta, douhter to the kyng,
To sle this boor took on hire the charge,
And with an arwe made his wounde large.
Eek in Ouide lik as it is founde,
Because that she gaff the firste wounde,
Mell[e]ager anon for a memorie,
As he that was hir owne chose knyht,
Gaff hir the hed in tokne off this victorie.
But his tweyne vncles, ageyn al skile & riht,
Rafft hir the hed, off verray force & myht,
Hauyng despiht that she, in ther auys,
Off this victorie sholde bere awey the prys.
With which iniurie Mell[e]ager was wroth,
And ageyn hem proudli gan disdeyne;
Pullith out a suerd and vpon hem he goth,
And thoruh his manhod slouh his vncles tweyne,
And afftir that dede his besi peyne
To take the hed, and with ful humble entente,
To Athalante ageyn it to presente.
On off his vncles was callid Flexippus,
A manli knyht, and but yong off age;
The tother brother named Thesyus.
But whan ther suster herde off this outrage,
How thei were slayn, she gan in hir visage
Wexe ded [&] pale, allas, for lak off blood,
Whan she espied the cause how it stood.
She hadde no mater, God wot, to be fayn,
Queen Althea, to stonden and beholde
Hir brethre tweyne off hir sone slayn
At the huntyng, off which toforn I tolde.
First thyngis too she gan peise & onfolde:

139

Off hir brethre the loue and nyh kenrede,
And off hir sone the hasti cruel deede.
And remembryng, she castith in ballaunce,
Off hertli wo that she dede endure,
Thouhte yiff she dede vpon ther deth vengaunce,
To slen hir sone it were ageyn nature.
Thus in a weer longe [time] she dede endure,
Hir dedli sorwe peisyng euerideel,
Whethir she shal be tendre or cruel.
Thus tendre, I meene, hir sone for to spare,
Or punshe the deth off hir brethre tweyne.
Thus counfortles, al destitut and bare,
In langwisshyng shendureth foorth hir peyne;
And remedie can she non ordeyne,
Sauf fayn she wolde auenge hir, yiff she may,
But thanne cam nature foorth and seide nay.
It was hir sone, a-geyn al kyndli riht
On whom she caste auenged for to be:
To women alle an ougli straunge siht,
That a mooder, deuoid off al pite,
Sholde slen hir child so merciles parde.
Nay nay, nat so, nature wil nat assente;
For yiff she dede, ful sore she shal repente.
But O allas, al fatal purueiaunce
Kepith his cours, as summe clerkis seyn;
But the writyng off doctours, in substaunce,
And these dyuynes replie ther ageyn,
And afferme thoppynyoun is in veyn
Off hem that truste on fate or destyne:
For God aboue hath the souereynte,
And off Fortune the power may restreyne,
To saue and spille lik as folk disserue;
Ageyn his will thei may nothyng ordeyne
Off necessite, what cours that thei conserue.
But this mateer al hooli I reserue

140

Onto deuynys to termyne and conclude,
Which apparteneth to no folkis rude.
But Althea, off Calidoyne queen,
Gan sore muse, and heeng in a ballaunce:
Hir brethre ded, whan she dede hem seen,
Thanne was she meued anon to do vengaunce
Vpon hir sone bi ful gret displesaunce;
But as poetis list for to compile,
Nature made hire withdrawe hir hand a while.
Thus atwen ire and twen affeccioun
She heeld hir longe, on nouther parti stable,
Till that she cauhte in hir opynyoun
A sodeyn rancour, which made hire be vengable;
And hasti wrathe, which is nat comendable,
Ageyn hir sone, maad hire with hir hond
Out off hire chest to take the fatal brond.
And sodenli she cast it in the fir,
And wex cruel, ageyn al womanheede,
To execute hir venymous desir.
The fatal brond among the flawmys rede
Consumed was into asshes dede;
And furiously in hir malencolie,
The vengaunce doon, thus she gan to crie:
“O ye Parchas, froward sustre thre,
Which off Ioue keepe the librarie,
And off childre at ther natyuyte
Waite his sentence, which [that] may nat varie,
Wherso it be welful or contrarie,
Vpon his doomys takyng alway heed,
How that ye shal dispose the fatal threed.
Thou Cloto first takest thi rokke on honde,
And Lachesis afftir doth begynne,

141

Bi gret auys, who can vndirstonde,
The threed on lengthe to drawen & to spynne;
But whan the sperit shal fro the bodi twynne,
Thou Attropos doost thi cruel peyne
Ful frowardli to parte the threed on tweyne.
I may weel pleyne on such departisoun,
Nat for a day, but, o allas, for euere!
Ye han ontwynyd and maad dyuysioun
Off my too brethre, [and] causid hem disseuere,
That heer a-lyue I shal seen hem neuere.
And I off haste, allas, whi dede I so!
Tauenge ther deth ha[ue] slayn my sone also.
O ye thre douhtren off Herberus the felle,
Whos ougli mooder was the blake nyht,
Al your kynreede and lynage lith in helle;
And for tauenge the wrong and gret onriht
Which that I haue accomplisshid in your siht,
I will with you perpetueli compleyne,
Lich my desert endure sorwe & peyne!”
And whil she gan thus with hirself[e] stryue
Vpon hir sorwes, that were eend[e]les,
She made a suerd thoruhout hir herte ryue,
Off hir liff heer she was to rech[e]les.
And Bochas affter, amonges al the pres,
Sauh, as hym thouhte, with a ful hidous cheer,
Ded off visage, Hercules appeere,
Whos fader was Iubiter the grete,
His mooder douhter off kyng Amphitrion,
Callid Alcumena, whilom born in Crete.
And as poetis rehersyn oon bi oon,
So excellent was ther neuer noon,

142

To speke off conquest, [of] victorie and [of] fame,
Heer in this world that hadde so gret a name.
Dreedful of look he was, and riht terrible,
His berd eek blak, which heeng ful lowe doun,
And al his her as bristlis wer horrible,
His robe also, ful merueilous off facioun,
Was off the skyn off a fers leoun,
Which [from his bake] of verray force he rente,
With-in a forest alone whan he wente.
In his hand he bar a maas off steel,
Which to beholde was wonder large & huge
Bi apperence, as Bochas felte weel;
Dempte off resoun, as a rihtful iuge,
That Hercules hadde to his refuge
Wisdam with force, for tencrece his fame,
Alle beestis wilde for to make hem tame.
And onto Bochas he gan loude crie,
“Tak riht good heed[e], for it is no fable,
I for my meritis, to speke off cheualrie
And noble triumphes, am most comendable,
To be preferrid most worthi and most hable,
Which haue accomplisshid al that may excelle
Thoruh hih prowesse, that any tunge can telle.
Eek off my berthe, in heuene ful yore ago
Fulli conceyued my constellacioun,
Mihti Ioue saide onto Iuno,
On such a day, in such a regioun,
Oon shal be born, most myhti off renoun,
Noblest off nobles bothe in werre and pes,
Off whom the name shal be Hercules.

143

The which[e] doom whan Iuno vndirstood,
Off Iubiter conceyuyng the entente,
And knew my fate sholde be so good,
To Lucynya hir messager she sente.” . . .
But summe seyn, how doun hirselff she wente
To this goddesse, goddesse off childyng,
And hir besouhte to graunte hire hir askyng:
That she wolde from Hercules translate
The influence off his natyuyte,
Helpe to reuerse his fame and eek his fate,
And graunte it hooli to yong Euristee;
And that Lucynya present wolde be
The same hour bi Iubiter prouyded,
It to posseede al hool and ondeuyded.
Thus to the mooder off [this] Euristee,
Iuno the goddesse grauntid hir fauour,
Therbi disposyng that he sholde be
Mihti off puissaunce lik an emperour;
But off his noblesse the conquest & labour,
And off his manhod the prowesse and pursut
Bi Hercules was fully execut.
Thus Hercules hadde the trauaile,
And Euristeus bar awey the name;
Eek Hercules fauht in plate & maile,
And hih emprises proudli dede attame:
But the report off his noble fame
To Euristeus was fynali ascryued;
Thus off his thank was Hercules depryued.
Ful offte in armys sum man doth riht weel,
And offte causith that the feeld is wonne;
And off a-nother that dede neueradeel,
The price out-spredith lich a sheene sonne.
And offte it happith, that he that best hath ronne
Doth nat the spere lich his desert posseede,
Wher fals fauour yeueth eueri man his meede.

144

Fame in hir paleis hath trumpes mo than oon,
Summe off gold that yeuen a ful fressh soun;
Sum man hath laude, that deserueth non,
And summe ha[ue] been ful worthi off renoun,
Nothyng preferrid bi comendacioun,
As bi report off statis hih and lowe,
So frowardli Famys trumpe hath blowe.
Touchyng armys, the poore nor the riche
Be nat echon off herte coragous;
Nor alle men may nat been iliche,
Nor off ther name egal nor gracious.
And thouh the poore ha[ue] be victorious,
Off auenture to do ful weel sum day,
Other ha[ue] pynchid to take his thank away.
Oon sleth the deer with an hokid arwe,
Whos part is non yit off the venysoun;
Oon bet the bussh, another hath the sparwe,
And alle the birdis in his possessioun;
Oon draweth his nettis in ryuers vp & doun,
With sundri baitis cast out lyne and hook,
And hath no part off al that euer he took.
An euidence heeroff ye may see,
Ful notable to be put in memorie,
Off Hercules and [of] Euristee;
For Hercules gat ay the victorie,
And Euristeus receyued hath the glorie.
Thus ther palme partid was on tweyne;
The ton reioisshid, the tother bar the peyne.
Euristeus was a prynce off Athene,
Sone and hair be discent off lyne
Onto the kyng that callid was Stillene,
Vnder whos myht, as Bochas doth termyne,
Hercules thoruh knyhtli disciplyne
Profitid so, most manli and most wis,
That from all othre he bar awey the pris.

145

But O allas, that euer it sholde fall,
So noble a knyht, so manli, so notable,
That any spotte sholde his pris appall
Or cause his corage for to been onstable,
Which is a thyng doolful and lamentable,
From his knyhthod, which is a thyng to straunge,
That euer a woman sholde his herte chaunge!
I will excuse hem, because ther nature
Ys to chaungen hertis and corages;
A-geyn ther power no force may endure,
For ther flatrie and sugrid fair language,
Lich Sirenes, fressh off ther visage,
For tenchaunge off pryncis the noblesse,
Mo than Hercules can bern heeroff witnesse.
Thus Hercules, astoned and ashamed,
Onto Bochas shewed his presence,
Seide, “allas! my knyhthod is diffamed
Bi a ful fals amerous pestilence,
So sore constreyned bi mortal violence,
Wherbi, allas, my manhod was applied,
Be sleihte off women oppressid & maistried,
To take ther habite & clothe me in ther weede,
To shaue my berd and farse my visage
With oynementis, ageyn[es] al manheede,
To make it souple, & chaungid my language;
And to compleyne mor off myn outrage,
Vpon my fyngris, fyue twies told,
I hadde ryngis richeli wrouht off gold.
Thus was my corage chaungid femynyne
For loue off oon callid Yole,
Off condiciouns thouh she were serpentyne,
Me thouhte she was so fair vpon to see,
That al my ioie was with hire to be;
And that non sholde apparceyue my trespace,
I chaungid bothe habite, look and face,

146

And was a woman outward in apparence,
Off entent to haue mor liberte
To vse my lustis, and haue experience
Off appetitis which that onleefful be.
Wheroff the sclaundre reboundeth onto me,
That I dar seyn, myn outragous trespace
Doth al my knyhthod & my prowesse difface.
Wherfore, O Bochas, I pray the tak good heede
For to descryue in termys pleyn and cleer
Myn infortunye, riht as it was in deede,
That whan other conceyue the maneer
Off myn onhappis, contagious for to heer,
Thei may bexaumple off me doon ther peyne,
From vicious liff ther hertis to restreyne.
For these foolis that al wisdam despise,
And be contrarie to vertuous disciplyne,
May yiue exaumple to folkis that be wise,
And been to hem a lanterne off doctryne,
Vices teschewe and prudentli declyne
Fro flesshli lustis; for it is tauht in scoolis,
That wise men been alday war be foolis.”
Whan Bochas hadde conceyued the compleynt
Off Hercules in his appeeryng,
And how his noblesse bi women was atteynt
Thoruh his pitous disordynat lyuyng,
He thouhte anon, hymselue remembryng,
It hadde be routhe for taput in mynde
His vicis alle, and vertues lefft behynde.
Considred also it was inpertynent,
Outher bi language to write, ageyn al riht,
Any thyng that sholde in sentement
The fame amenuse off so noble a knyht,
Or to discrece in ony manys siht
His glorious prowesse, sith poetes for his werris
Reisen his renoun so hih aboue the sterris.

147

For he was bothe knyht and philisophre,
And for his strengthe callid a geaunt;
For comoun profit he proudli gan eek profre,
Off manli corage yaff therto ful graunt,
Tentre in Egipt & slen ther the tiraunt
Callid Busiris, which off ful fals entente
Slouh all straungers that thoruh his kyngdam wente.
For vnder a colour off liberalite,
To his paleis he gladli wolde calle
Straungers echon that cam thoruh his contre,
And sollempneli receyue hem oon and alle,
And lich a kyng, bothe in chaumbre and halle
Make hem such cheer in alle maner thyng,
As appertened onto a worthi kyng.
But whil his gestis lay a-nyht and sleep,
This fals[e] tiraunt, in ful cruel wise,
Moordred hem echon or thei toke keep;
And afftir that—this was eek his gise—
With ther blood to make a sacrefise
To Iubiter, god off that contre,
Off hool entent to plese his deite,
That in his kyngdam, on frutis & on greyn
The land tencrece bi gret[e] habundaunce,
Doun from heuene he wolde sende hem reyn.
This mene he made and this fals cheuysaunce,
To moordre and slen he hadde so gret plesaunce;
For off alle thynge hym thouhte it dede him good
To slayen straungers and to sheede ther blood.
But whan this moordre off Busiris was kouth,
That no straunger myht passe his lond in pes,
This manli knyht, yit flouryng in his youth,
This noble famous, this worthi Hercules,
Amonges other put hymsilff in pres,
And lich a gest outward in shewyng
Cam to the paleis off Busiris the kyng,

148

Rebuked hym off his gret outrage
Doon to his gestis bi cruel violence.
And for to make pesible that passage,
And for to auenge his inportable offence,
And off his moordre to make recompence,
This Hercules slouh Busiris in deede,
And took the blood which he dede bleede,
Offrid it vp Iubiter to plese,
For this victorie hym to magnefie;
And al Egipt thus was set in ese:
Ther lond, ther frutis gan also multeplie,
Ther greyn encrece a-boute on ech partie
And to habounde bi influence off reyn,
Which affortyme off vitaile was bareyn.
Another geaunt callid Antheus,
Kyng off Libie, and gouerned al that lond,
Whom Hercules, most strong & coraious,
Whilom outraied [&] slouh hym with his hond;
For as thei wrastlid, bexperience he fond,
Touchyng therthe this geaunt, it is trewe,
His force, his myht dede alwey renewe.
But whan Hercules the maner dede espie,
How his strengthe renewed ageyn so offte,
Ther ageyns he shoop a remedie:
Hie in the hair he reised hym vp a-loffte;
And with his armys, hard & nothyng soffte,
Bak and bonys so sore he dede enbrace,
That he fill ded toforn hym in the place.
But summe bookis off this geaunt telle,
Withynne his kyngdam who dede hym assaile,
He wolde off newe his cheualrie compelle
Efft ageyn to meete hym in bataile;
And in this wise ful seelde he dede faile
Tafforce off newe, as folk shal vndirstonde,
His strengthe, his myht al enmyes to withstonde.
But Hercules off hih discrecioun,
The feeld on hym manli to recure,
Hadde hym be sleihte out off his regioun;
And as thei mette theer off auenture,
The said Antheus myht[e] nat endure,

149

But was disconfited bi Hercules anon,
Maugre his myht, he and his men echon.
Afftir this conquest Hercules is gon,
For exercise his prowesse for to vse,
Ageyn the myhti stronge Gerion,
Kyng off Spaigne, off Malliagre & Ebuse,
The which[e] tirant myhte hym nat excuse,
That al his labour, as poetis do compile,
Was fro these rewmys his peeple to exile.
His tirannye ne myht nat longe endure;
For Hercules, the noble worthi knyht,
Made vpon hym a gret disconfiture,
And slouh the tirant as thei mette in fiht.
And afftir that, he, thoruh his grete myht,
Off his prowesse and magnanymyte
Slouh Cerberus with his hedis thre.
The famous boole off the lond off Crete,
Which that destroied al that regioun,
He slouh also whan thei dede meete;
And in Nemea he slouh a fers leoun,
And for a record off his hih renoun,
Off manli force his skyn away he took,
And to his bodi a coote theroff he shoop:
To all his enmyes to shewe hym mor dreedful,
Therfore he werid that hidous garnement.
And for in armys he neuer was founde dull,
But euer ilich[e] fressh in his entent,
Into a mounteyn he made anon his went,
Callid Erimantus; and ther in his passage
He slouh a boor, most wilde & most sauage.
Beside a ryuer callid Stiphalus,
Off furious birdis he slouh a gret[e] noumbre;
Withynne the kyngdam off kyng Fyneus
Al the contre for thei dede encoumbre:
For with ther shadwe & outraious oumbre,
On seed or frutis whereuer thei aliht,
Al was deuoured in eueri manys siht.
Vpon the mounteyn callid Auentyne,
Which is nat ferr fro Rome the cite,
Ther is a wode, as cronycles determyne,

150

Riht fressh off siht and goodli on to see.
And Hercules passyng bi that contre,
Fro Spayneward goyng be Ytaile,
Cachus the geaunt dede hym ther assaile.
Whil Hercules among the leues greene
Leide hym to slepe, off sodeyn auenture,
And his beestis ageyn the sonne sheene,
Whil that he slepte, wente in ther pasture,
Cam Cachus foorth, ful hidous off stature,
Thouhte he wolde these beestis with hym haue,
Stal hem echon and hid hem in a caue.
And lik a theeff he made hem go bakward,
That no man sholde the tracis off hem knowe,
Nor off ther passage haue no reward;
For bi ther tailis he ladde hem on a rowe
Into his caue, which that stood ful lowe.
And for thei wern off excellent fairnesse,
To keepe hem cloos he dede his besynesse.
Out off his slep whan Hercules awook
And aparceyued his oxes were away,
He roos hym up, and caste aboute his look,
Gan tespie in al the haste he may
To what parti the tracis off hem lay.
And whil he stood thus musyng in the shade,
[He] herde lowyng that his oxes made.
And bi ther lowyng he gan anon approche
Toward the parti wher thei were kept ful cloos,
Fond the caue vndir a myhti roche;
And proude Cachus, which hadde hem in depoos,
Geyn Hercules he sturdili aroos:
But for al that, he myht hymsilff nat saue,
For he hym slouh at thentre off the caue.
And thus his beestis he hath ageyn recurid,
That sempte afforn irrecuperable.
Afftir the mounteyn be force he hath assurid,

151

Which for brigantis aforn was ful doutable;
But bi his manhod it was maad habitable,
That men myhte, for dreed off any fo,
Whan euer thei wolde freli come or go.
Touchyng his conquest vpon Femynye,
Geyn Amazones with Theseus he wente,
The queen Ypolita thoruh his cheualrie,
For his parti anon to hym he hente.
And Ypolita off ful trewe entente
Gaff onto hym in tokne off victorie
Off gold a girdil to haue hir in memorie.
Afftir to Affrik he wente a ful gret pas,
Onli off purpos the gardeyn for to see,
Which appertened to [the] kyng Athlas,
That brothir was to kyng Promothe,
In astrologie ful weel expert was he.
And in this gardeyn, off which I ha[ue] you told,
The riche braunchis and applis were off gold,
Thoruh magik maad bi gret auisement,
Ful streihtly kept and closid enviroun,
And Iwachchid with a fell serpent,
That no man entred that riche mansioun.
But Hercules, most myhti off renoun,
The serpent slouh throuh his manli pursuit,
And fro that gardeyn he bar awey the fruit.
This seid Athlas, as bookis specefie,
And poetis eek off hym endite,
He was ful cunnyng in astronomie
And theryn dede ful gretli hym delite;
And many a book he made & dede write
With gret labour and gret[e] dilligence
In his tyme vpon that science,
The which[e] wern mor precious than gold,
And mor riche in his opynyoun.
But Hercules, in soth as it is told,

152

Gat alle the bookis thoruh his hih renoun,
Bar hem bi force out off that regioun;
And into Grece, lich a conquerour,
With hym he brouhte for a gret tresour.
Off Trace he slouh the tirant outraious
That whilom was callid Diomede,
Which moordred al that cam in[to] his hous,
And with ther flessh his hors he dede feede.
And thoruh his witt, labour and manheede,
Off Achelaus, which was a gret[e] wonder,
He made the stremys for to parte assonder;
And bi his wisdam dede hem so deuide,
In too parties disseueryng his passage:
For tofortyme no man myhte abide
Off his cours the furious fell outrage;
For in contrees it dede so gret damage,
Turnyng vpward, ther was noon othir boote,
Where it flowed, off trees cropp and roote.
A gret emprise he dede eek vndirtake,
Whan that the [wor]mees, hidous & horrible,
Aryued up off Archadie in the lake
Callid Lerne, the beestis ful odible,
Which with ther teeth & mouthes ful terrible
Frut, greyn and corn dede mortali deuoure;
But Hercules, the contre to socoure,
Cam lik a knyht ther malice for to lette;
And bi his prudence destroied hem euerichon.
Withynne the lake the wermys up he shette,
Sauff among alle behynde was lefft on;
And ageyn hym this Hercules anon
Off knyhthod cauhte so gret auauntage,
That to the contre he dede no mor damage.
Thus al that euere may rehersed be
Touchyng knyhthod, prowesse or prudence,
Glorious fame or long felicite,
This knyhtli man hadde most excellence,
And in armys lengest experience.

153

For his tryumphes and actis marciall
Sette up pilers for a memoriall,
Which remembrid his conquestis most notable,
And his deedis bi grauyng dede expresse—
Beyonde which no lond is habitable,
So ferr abrod spradde his hih noblesse.
But as the sonne lesith his brihtnesse
Sumwhile whan he is fresshest in his speer,
With onwar cloudis that sodenli appeer,
Semblabli the noblesse and the glory
Off Hercules in this onstable liff
Eclipsid was and shadwid his memory
Bi Deianira, that whilom was his wiff:
For bi hir fraude cam in the mortal striff,
As ye shal heere the maner and the cas,
Wherbi that he loste his liff, allas.
Yit for hir sake, this most manli man
Fauht, as I fynde, a synguler bataile
With Achelous, sone off the occian,
Lik as poetis make rehersaile.
And as ech other proudli dede assaile,
This Hercules, off knyhthod souereyne,
Rente from his hed oon off his hornys tweyne.
Off kyng Oene she was the douhter deere,
To Hercules ioyned in mariage;
And as thei cam to a gret ryuere
With sturdi wawes, wher was no passage,
Nessus, the geaunt, ougli off visage,
To Hercules profred his seruise,
And ful falsli ageyn hym gan deuise.
Made his promys to Hercules in deede,
To putte his liff in gret auenture,
Ouer the strem Deianire to leede,
Because he was large off his stature.
And for she was a riht fair creature,
Whan thei were passid and Icome to londe,
Nessus falsli wolde vpon the stronde

154

Ha[ue] knowe hir flesshli, lik as writ Ouide,
Hercules hauyng theroff a siht,
As he abood vpon the tother side.
And for tauenge hym off his grete onriht,
Took his bowe and bente it anon riht,
And with an arwe, filid sharp & grounde,
Gaff to Nessus his dedli fatal wounde.
Lich a conduit gusshed out the blood,
And whan he sauh that he muste deie,
To Deianire afforn hym ther she stood,
With al his herte hire he gan to preie,
That in o thyng his lust she wolde obeie,
To take his sherte, and be nat rech[e]les,
With blood disteyned, and sende it Hercules,
Therwith to hym to be reconcilid.
And she the sherte to hym anon hath sent,
Thoruh whos venym, allas, he was begilid!
For what be touchyng, & what benchauntement,
His flessh, his bonys furiousli were brent,
And among his dedli peynes alle,
Into a rage he sodenli is falle.
[And] as a beeste furiousli he ran
On valis, hillis among the craggi stonys,
Semblabli as doth a wood[e] man,
Pullid up trees & rootis al attonys,
Brak beestis hornys, & al tognew ther bonys.
Was it nat pite that a knyht so good
Sholde among beestis renne sauagyne & wood!
Thus ouerwhelmyd was al his worthynesse,
And to declyn wente his prosperite.
And cause & roote off al his wrechidnesse,
Was for that he sette his felicite
To truste so moche the mutabilite
Off these women, which erli, late & soone
Off ther nature braide vpon the moone.

155

Allas, allas! al noblesse & prudence,
Prowesse off armys, force & cheualrie,
Forsihte off wisdam, discrecioun & science,
Vertuous studie, profityng in clergie,
And the cleer shynyng off philosophie,
Hath thoruh fals lustis been heeraforn manacid,
Be sleihte off women dirkid and diffacid!
O Hercules, my penne I feele quake,
Myn ynke fulfillid off bittir teris salte,
Thi[s] pitous tragedie to write for thi sake,
Whom alle poetis glorefie and exalte;
But fraude off women made thi renoun halte,
And froward muses thi tryumphes al toreende,
For to descryue, allas, thi fatal eende.

[Lenvoye.]

The soote venym, the sauouri fals poisoun,
The dreedful ioie, the dolerous plesaunce,
The woful gladnesse, with furious resoun,
Feith disespeired, ay stable in variaunce,
Vertu exilyng, where lust hath gouernaunce,
Thoruh fals luxurie diffacen al noblesse,
As this tragedie can bere ful weel witnesse.
Wher froward Venus hath dominacioun,
And blynde Cupide his subiectis doth auaunce,
And wilful lust thoruh indiscrecioun
Is chose iuge to holden the ballaunce,
Ther chois onlefful hath thoruh onhappi chaunce
Dirked off pryncis the famous hih prowesse,
As this tragedie can bere ful weel witnesse.
O thou Hercules, for al thyn hih renoun,
For al thi conquest and knyhtli suffisaunce,
Thou were thoruh women brouht to confusioun
And thoruh ther fraude thi renommed puissaunce
Disclaundred was and brouht onto myschaunce.

156

I were ashamed to write it or expresse,
Except this tragedie can bere me weel witnesse.
Pryncis, Pryncessis, off hih discrecioun
This thyng enprentith in your remembraunce;
Off othres fallyng make your proteccioun,
You to preserue thoruh prudent purueiaunce;
Afforn prouyded, that your perseueraunce
Be nat perturbid bi no fals sorceresse,
As this tragedie off other berth witnesse.

[A processe, of Narcisus, Biblis, Mirra and of othir ther onfortunys to Bochas compleynyng.]

Narcisus, Biblis & Mirra, alle thre
Tofor Bochas dede pitousli appeere,
Ther infortunyes, ther infelicite
To hym compleynyng with a dedli cheere.
And off ther comyng to telle the manere,
Narcisus first, with sorwe & dool atteynt,
Gan first off alle declaren his compleynt.
He was [the] sone off Cephesus the flood,
And his mooder callid Liriope,
And bi discent born off gentil blood,
Off creatures fairest on to see;
And, as I fynde, at his natyuite
Tiresias, be sperit off prophesie,
Touchyng his fate thus gan specefie:
The goddis han prouydid hym a space
To lyue in erthe, and so longe endure
Til that he knowe & see his owne face;
And for his sake ful many creature,
Bi ordynaunce off God and off Nature,
Whan thei hym seen shal feelyn ful gret peyne,
Yiff thei in loue his grace may nat atteyne.

157

But he shal be contrarie & daungerous,
And off his port ful off straungenesse,
And in his herte [riht] inli surquedous,
Bi thoccasioun off his natif fairnesse;
And, presumyng off his semlynesse,
Shal thynke no woman so fresh nor fair of face,
That able were to stonden in his grace.
And for thexcellence off his gret beute,
He hym purposid in his tendre age,
Neuer in his liff weddid for to be—
He thouhte hymsilff so fair off his visage.
For which he cast hym, throuh his gret outrage,
Ageyn all lustis off loue to disdeyne,
To hunte at beestis alone and be soleyne.
And in this while that he kepte hym so
In forestis and in wildirnesse,
A water goddesse, that callid was Echcho,
Loued hym ful hoote for his gret fairnesse;
And secreli dede hir besynesse
To folwe his steppis riht as any lyne,
To hir desirs to make hym to enclyne.
He herde hir weel, but he sauh hir nouht,
Wheroff astonyd, he gan anon tenquere,
As he that was amerueilid in his thouht,
Saide euene thus, “is any wiht now heere?”
And she ansuerde the same, in hir manere,
What-euer he saide, as longeth to Echcho,
Withoute abod she seide the same also.
“Come neer,” quod he, and began to calle.
“Come ner,” quod she, “my ioie & my plesaunce.”
He lokid aboute [among] the rokkis alle
And sauh nothyng beside nor in distaunce;
But she abraide, declaryng hir greuaunce,
And to hym seide, “myn owyn herte deere,
Ne be nat straunge, but late us duelle ifeere.”

158

“Nay, nay,” quod he, “I will nothyng obeie
To your desirs, for short conclusioun;
For leuere I hadde pleynli for to deie,
Than ye sholde haue off me possessioun;
We be nothyng off on opynyoun,
I heere you weel, thouh I no figure see,
Goth foorth your way & spek no mor to me!”
And she ashamed fledde hir way anon,
As she that myhte off hym no socour haue.
But disespeired, this Echcho is foorth gon
And hidde hirsilff in an ougli caue
Among the rokkis, as beried in hir graue.
And thouh so be that men hir vois may heere,
Afftir that tyme she neuer dede appeere.
And thus Narcisus thoruh daunger and disdeyn
Vpon this lady dede crueli vengaunce.
But whan the goddis his cruelte han seyn,
Towardis hym thei fill in gret greuaunce,
Off his vnmerci thei hadden displesaunce;
And riht as he merciles was founde,
So with onmerci he cauhte his dedli wounde.
For al daunger displesith to Venus,
And al disdeyn is lothsum to Cupide:
For who to loue is contrarious,
The God of Loue will quite hym on sum side,
His dreedful arwis so mortali deuyde
To hurte & mayme alle that be rech[e]les,
And in his seruise founde merciles.
And for Narcisus was nat merciable
Toward Echcho, for his gret beute,
But in his port was founden ontretable,
Cupide thouhte he wolde auengid be,
As he that herde hir praier off pite,
Causyng Narcisus to feele & haue his part
Off Venus brond and off hir firi dart.

159

And on a day whan he in wildirnesse
Hadde afftir beestis ronne on huntyng,
And for long labour gan falle in werynesse,
He was desirous to ha[ue] sum refresshyng;
And wonder thrustleuh afftir trauailyng,
Miht nat endure lengere ther to duelle;
And atte laste he fond a cristal welle,
Riht fressh spryngyng & wonder agreable,
The watir lusti and delectable off siht:
And for his thrust was to hym inportable,
Vpon the brynkis he fill doun anon riht,
And be reflexioun, myd off the watir briht
Hym thouhte he sauh a passyng fair ymage
To hym appeere, most aungelik off visage.
He was enamoured with the semlynesse,
And desirous theroff to stonde in grace;
And yit it was nat but a likenesse,
And but a shadwe reflectyng off his face,
The which off feruence amerousli tenbrace,
This Narcisus with a pitous compleynt
Sterte into the welle & hymseluen dreynt.
And thus his beute, allas, was leid ful lowe,
His semlynesse put ful ferre a-bak;
Thus whan that he gan first hymsilff to knowe
And seen his visage, in which ther was no lak,
Presumptuous pride causid al to gon to wrak:
For who to moch doth off hymsilff presume,
His owne vsurpyng will sonest hym consume.
And fynali, as poetis telle,
This Narcisus, withoute mor socour,
Afftir that he was drowned atte welle,
The heuenli goddis dede hym this fauour,
Thei turned hym into a fressh[e] flour,

160

A watir-lelie, which doth remedie
In hote accessis, as bookis specefie.
Afftir Narcisus was at the well[e] dreynt,
And to Iohn Bochas declared hadd his wo,
Biblis appered, with teris al bespreynt,
And toward hym a gret pas she gan go;
And hir brother Caunus cam also,
And off o wombe as gemellis tweyne;
But she toforn hir fate gan compleyne.
She in hir loue was nat vertuous,
For ageyn God and Kyndis ordynaunce,
She loued hir brother that callid was Caunus;
And whan he sauh hir froward gouernaunce,
He onto hire gaff non attendaunce,
Thouh she off sleihte tacomplisshe hir entent,
In secre wise a pistil to hym sent.
She seide it was an inpossible thyng
Withoute his grace hirseluen for to saue,
[And] but he were to hire assentyng,
She ellis pleynli may non helthe haue
But onli deth, and afftirward hir graue.
Thus in hir writyng, to hym she dede attame;
And to be couert she ne wrot no name.
But whan this pistil cam to his presence,
Vertuousli therat he gan disdeyne,
And gaff therto no maner aduertence,
Nor took non heed off hir furious peyne,
But suffred hir eternali to pleyne
Til that she was, as Ouide can weel telle,
With offte wepyngis transformed to a welle.
Next cam Mirra with face ful pitous,
Which that whilom loued ageyn nature
Hir owne fadir callid Cinarus,

161

For whos sake gret peyne she dede endure.
But she ne durste hir sorwe nat discure,
Til hir norice be signes dede espie
The hertli constreynt off hir maladie.
For hir norice, off which that I ha[ue] told,
Conceyued hath, bi open euidence,
As she that koude bothe off newe and old
In such materis al hool thexperience,
That thoruh long labour & sleihti diligence,
Dyuers meenes & weies out she souhte,
To hir fadres bed that she Mirra brouhte.
With whom she hadde hir lust & hir plesaunce;
For she onknowe lay with hym al nyht:
He was deceyued bi drunkleuh ignoraunce,
And on the morwe, longe or any liht,
She stal awey and went out off his siht.
With hir norice kepte hir longe cloos,
Til onto tyme that hir wombe aroos.
But hir fadir, that was off Cipre kyng,
Which, as I tolde, was callid Cinarus,
Whan he the trouthe espied off this thyng:
That bi his douhter he was deceyued thus,
She wex to hym lothsum and odious,
Fledde from his face, so sore she was afferd,
And he pursued afftir with his suerd.
In Arabie, the hoote myhti lond,
Kyng Cinarus hath his douhter founde,
And crueli he gan enhaunse his hond,
With his suerd tayouen hir a wounde;
But the goddis, off merci most habounde,
Han fro the deth[e] maad hire [to] go fre,
And thoruh ther power transfourmed to a tre.
Whiche afftir hire berith yit the name,
Callid Mirra, as she was in hir liff.
Out off which, as auctours sey the same,
Distillith a gomme, a gret preseruatiff,
And off nature a ful good defensiff,

162

To keepe bodies from putrefaccioun
And hem fraunchise from al corrupcioun.
Bi influence off the sonne-bemys
Mirre is engendrid, distillyng off his kynde
With rounde dropis ageyn[es] Phebus stremys,
And doun descendith thoruh the harde rynde.
And thoruh the rifftis, also as I fynde,
The said[e] Mirra hath a child foorth brouht,
In al this world, that yiff it be weel souht,
Was non so fair[e] fourmed bi nature;
For off his beute he was pereles.
And as poetis recorden bi scripture,
He callid was the faire Adonydes;
And to his worshep and his gret encres—
For he off fairnesse bar awei the flour—
Venus hym ches to been hir paramour.
The which[e] goddesse gaff to hym in charge,
That he sholde in his tendre age,
In forestis whil he wente at large,
Hunte at no beestis which that were sauage;
But he contrary, to his disauauntage,
Thoruh wilfulnesse—I can sey you no mor—
Was slayn onwarli off a tusshi bor,
At the whiche he felli dede enchace,
But off foli in veyn was his labour;
For he lay slayn, ful pale off cheer & face,
Whom Venus turned to a ful fressh[e] flour
Which was as blood, lich purpil off colour,
A budde off gold with goodli leuys glade
Set in the myddis, whos beute may nat fade.
And whan [that] Mirra fro Bochas was withdrawe,
And hadde declarid hir gret aduersite,
And off hir fate told the mortal lawe,
Cam Orpheus, ful ougli on to see,
Sone off Appollo and off Calliope,

163

And appered with a ful doolful face,
Whilom brouht foorth and iborn in Trace.
Ful renommed in armys and science,
Famous in musik and in melodie,
And ful notable also in eloquence.
And for his soote sugred armonie,
Beestis, foulis, poetis specefie,
Wodes, flodes off ther cours most strong,
Stynt of ther cours to herkne his soote song.
An harpe he hadde off Mercurius,
With the which Erudice he wan;
And to Bachus, as writ Ouidius,
Sacrifises ful solempne he began,
And onto helle for his wiff he ran,
Hir to recure with soote touchis sharpe
Which that he made vpon his heuenli harpe.
But whan that he this labour on hym took,
A lawe was maad[e] which that bond hym sore,
That yiff that he bakward caste his look,
He sholde hire lese & seen his wiff no more:
But it is seid[e] sithen gon ful yore,
Ther may no lawe louers weel constreyne,
So inportable is ther dedli peyne.
Yiff summe husbondis hadde stonden in the cas
Ta lost her wyues for a look sodeyne,
Thei wolde ha[ue] suffred and nat seid allas,
But pacientli endured al ther peyne,
And thanked God, that broken was the cheyne
Which hath so longe hem in prisoun bounde,
That thei be grace han such a fredam founde.
To lyn in prisoun, it is a ful gret charge,
And to be stokked vndir keie and lok;
It were weel meriere a man to gon at large,

164

Than with irenes be nailed to a blok:
And there is o bond, which callid is wedlok,
Fretyng husbondis so sore, that it is wonder,
Which with no file may nat be broke assonder.
But Orpheus, fadir off armonye,
Thouhte Erudice, which was his wiff, so fair,
For hir sake he felte he muste deie,
Because that he, whan he made his repair,
Off hir [in] trouthe enbracid nothyng but hair.
Thus he lost hire, there is no mor to seyne;
And for the constreynt off his greuous peyne,
At his herte hir partyng sat so sore,
The greene memorie, the tendre remembraunce,
That he neuer wolde wyuen more,
So faire he was escapid his penaunce;
For wedlok is a liff off most plesaunce.
But who hath onys infernal peynys seyn,
Will neuer his thankis come in the snare ageyn.
This Orpheus gaff counseil ful notable
To husbondis that han endurid peyne,
To such as been prudent and tretable:
Oon hell is dreedful, mor pereilous be tweyne;
And who is onys boundyn in a cheyne,
And may escapen out off daunger blyue—
Yiff he resorte, God let hym neuer thryue!
On this sentence women wer vengable,
And to his writyng ful contrarious,
Seide his counseil was nat comendable.
At the feste thei halwed to Bachus,
Thei fill echon vpon this Orpheus;
And, for alle his rethoriques suete,
Thei slouh, allas, this laureat poete.

165

And off his harpe yiff ye list to lere,
The god Appollo maad a translacioun
Among the ymages off the sterris cleere,
Wheroff men may haue yit inspeccioun.
But Fortune, to his confusioun,
Denyed hym, froward off hir nature,
Whan he was slayn fredam off sepulture.
Next Orpheus, ther dede appeere also
Off Amazones worthi queenys tweyne,
Marpesia and hir suster Lampedo,
Which in conquest dede ther besi peyne,
And gret worship in armys dede atteyne,
Namyng hemsilff, be writyng nyh and ferr,
Douhtren to Mars, which is the God off Werr.
Marpesia rood out in regiouns
And conquered ful many a gret cite,
For couetise off gret possessiouns,
Tencrece hir lordshepe, yiff it wolde be.
And hir suster kepte surli ther contre
From alle enmyes, that ther was no doute,
Whil Marpesia rood with hir host aboute.
But whil she was in conquest most famous
And hir enmyes proudli dede assaile,
Fortune anon wex contrarious,
And causid she was slay[e]n in bataile.
Loo, what conquest or victory may auaile,
Whan that Fortune doth at hem disdeyne;
Seeth heer exaumple bi these queenys tweyne.

Lenvoye.

This tragedie remembrith thynges fyue:
Off Narcisus thexcellent beute,
And off Biblis doth also descryue
The grete luxur[y]e and dishoneste,
Mirra diffamed, turned to a tre,

166

Texemplefie that lecherie and pride
Been from al vertu set ful ferr a-side.
How Orpheus endured in his lyue
Ioie entirmedlid with aduersite;
In his youthe whan he dede wyue
He felte in wedlok ful gret felicite,
His worldli blisse meynt with duplicite,
As Fortune hir chaungis gan deuyde,
Which from al vertu be set ful ferr a-side.
Marpesia, for hir list to stryue
With wilful werris tencrecen hir contre,
But hir pompe was ouerturned blyue,
Whan in bataile vnwarli slayn was she:
For off al werre deth is the fyn parde,
So furious Mars can for his folk prouide,
Which from al vertu is set ful ferr a-side.
Ye myhti Pryncis, lat wit and resoun dryue
Your hih noblesse to considre and see
How Fortune estatis can depryue
And plunge hem doun from ther prosperite.
Pride and luxure, I counsaile, that ye fle,
Fals auarice ne lat nat be your guide,
Which from al vertu is set ful ferr a-side.

[Off Priamus kyng of Troye, and how the monke of Bury translatour of this book wroot a boke of the siege of Troye callid Troye book.]

Afftir these compleyntis & lamentaciouns,
Which [that] Bochas dede in his book compile,
Medlid among with transformaciouns
Set in Ouide be ful souereyn stile,
Whan he on hem hadde musid a long while,
Seyn the maner bothe off ther sorwe & ioie,
He gan remembre on Priamus off Troie.

167

First off his berthe and off his kenreede,
How among kynges he was most famous;
And as poetis recorde off hym in deede,
He descendid of worthi Dardanus,
Which, as his lyne declareth onto vs,
From Iubiter was lyneali come doun
Onto his fader callid kyng Lamedoun.
Off olde Troie this Lamedoun was kyng;
Destroied bi Grekis he and his contre.
Afftir whom, [this] Priamus regnyng,
Made there ageyn a myhti strong cite,
Where he ful longe in ful gret rialte,
With wiff and childre, most worthi of renoun,
With sceptre & crowne heeld possessioun.
Gouerned his cite in pes and rihtwisnesse,
And Fortune was to hym fauourable;
For off al Asie the tresour and richesse
He dede assemble, this kyng most honourable.
And in armys he was so comendable,
That thoruh the world as ferr as men may gon,
Off hih noblesse the renoun off hym shon.
This Priamus hadde childre many on,
Worthi pryncis, & off ful gret myht;
But Ector was among hem euerichon
Callid off prowesse the lanterne & the lyht;
For ther was neuer born a bettir knyht.
Troilus in knyhthod so manli eek was founde,
That he was named Ector the secounde.
But yiff I shulde reherse the manheede
Off kyng Priam & off his sonys all,
And how his cite besieged was in deede,
And al the story to remembraunce call,
Tween hym & Grekis how it is befall,
The circumstaunces rehersyng vp & doun,
To sette in ordre the firste occasioun
Off the siege, whi it was first laid
Bi Hercules and also bi Iason,—
The maner hool in Troie Book is said,

168

Reudli endited off my translacioun,
Folwyng vpon the destruccioun
Callid the seconde, which, bi acountis cleer,
Fulli endured the space off ten yeer,—
For, as me semeth, the labour were in veyn.
Treuli also I not to what entent,
That I shold[e] write it newe ageyn;
For I hadde onys in comaundement,
Bi hym that was most noble & excellent
Off kynges all[e], for to vndirtake
It to translate and write it for his sake.
And yiff ye list to wetyn whom I meene,
Henry the Fiffte, most myhti off puissaunce,
Gaff me the charge off entent most cleene,
Thyng off old tyme to putte in remembraunce,
The same Henry, for knyhtli suffisaunce,
Worthi for manhod, reknyd kynges all,
With nyne worthi for to haue a stall.
To hooli chirch he was chieff defensour;
In alle such causes Cristes chosen knyht.
To stroie Lollardis he sette al his labour,
Loued alle vertues, and to sustene riht,
Thoruh his noblesse, his manhod & his myht,
Was dilligent & dede his besi peyne
To ha[ue] set pes atween[e] rewmys tweyne,—
I meene, in sooth, twen Ing[e]land & Fraunce,
His purpos was taue had a pes fynall,
Souhte out menys with many circumstaunce,
As weel be trete as actis marciall,
Theron iupartid goodis, liff and all.
But, o allas, ageyn deth is no boone!
This lond may seyn he deied al to soone.
For a-mong kynges he was oon the beste,
So alle his deedis conueied were with grace.
I pray to God, so yiue his soule good reste,
With hooli seyntis in heuene a duellyng-place.
For heere with vs to litil was the space

169

That he abood; off whom the remembraunce
Shal neuer deie in Ingland nor in Fraunce.
This worthi kyng gaff to me in charge,
In Inglissh tunge make a translacioun
Out off Latyn, withynne a volum large,
How longe the Grekis lay afor the toun,
And how that Paris first at Citheroun
In Venus temple slili dede his peyne
Ther to rauesshe the faire queen Heleyne.
In which[e] book the processe ye may see:
To hym how she was weddid in the toun,
And off the siege leid to the cite
Be Menelay and kyng Agamenoun,
And many another ful worthi off renoun
On outher party, which that in bataile
Fro day to day ech other dede assaile.
What sholde I telle, or wherto sholde I write
The deth off Ector or off Achilles?
Or wherto sholde I now off newe endite
How worthi Troilus was slayn among the pres?—
The eende off Paris or off Pallamydes,
Or the slauhtre off manli Deiphebus,
Or how his brother, callid Helenus,
Told afforn how it was gret folie
That Paris sholde wedde the queen Heleyne;
And how Cassandra in hir prophecie
On this weddyng sore gan compleyne,
And for the constreynt off hir hertly peyne,
How she wex mad and ran aboute the toun
Til she was cauht and shet up in prisoun.
Alle these materis ye may beholde in deede
Set bi and bi withynne Troie Book,
And how Cressaide loued Diomeede,

170

Whan worthi Troilus she wilfulli forsook:
Off hir nature a quarel thus she took,
Tassaie bothe, yiff neede eek wer, to feyne
To take the thridde, & leue hem bothe tweyne.
I [wil] passe ouer and telle off hir no more;
Nor bi what menys Grekis wan the toun—
How Eneas, nor how that Anthenore
Ageyn kyng Priam conspired fals tresoun,
Nor how Vlixes gat Palladioun—
The deth off Priam nor Heccuba the queene,
Nor how that Pirrus slouh yonge Polliceene.
Nor heer to write, it is nat myn entent,
Repair off Grekis hom to ther contre,
Afftir the cite and Ylioun was brent,
Nor off ther myscheuys thei hadde in the se,
Nor how Vlixes fond Penolope
A trewe wiff, thouh he were longe hir fro;—
Thoruhout al Grece I can reede off no mo.
Off these materes thus I make an eende:
What fell off Grekis afftir ther viage,
To Troie Book the folk echon I sende,
Which haue desir to seen the surplusage,
How Grekis first maden ther passage
Towardis Troie, besegyng the cite—
Redith the story;—ye gete no mor off me.

Bochas ageyn þe surquedous pride of hem that trusten in her riches.

Ye proude folkis that sette your affiaunce
In strengthe, beute or in hih noblesse,
Yff ye considre Fortunys variaunce,
And coude a merour affor your eyen dresse

171

Off kyng Priam and off his gret richesse,
To seen how he and [how] his children all
From ther noblesse so sodenli be fall!
Ector off knyhthod callid sours and well,
Sad and demur & famous off prudence,
Paris also in beute dede excell,
And Helenus in parfit prouidence;
Troilus in armys hadde gret experience,
Eek Deiphebus preued manli on his fon:
Yit in the werre thei wer slayn euerichon.
Hadde nat this kyng, eek as I can deuise,
Noble Eccuba, which that was the queene,
A douhter callid Cassandra the wise,
Hir yonge suster faire Polliceene?—
Allas, allas! what may such pride meene!
For al-be-it ther renoun sprang ful ferre,
Yit were these women deuoured in the werre.
Was he nat myhti & strong in all[e] thynges,
And hadde also off his alliaunce
Riht worthi princis, & many riche kynges,
And nyh al Asie vndir obeisaunce?—
Holde in his tyme most famous off puissaunce,
Most renommed off richesse and tresours,
Til that Fortune with hir sharp[e] shours,
Whan that he sat hiest on hir wheel,
This blynde goddesse gan hym to assaile.
Hir froward malice, he felte it ful weel:
His gold, his tresour first thei gan to faile,
And dirke gan his roial apparaile.
Be which exaumple all proude men may see
The onseur trust, the mutabilite,
Which in this world is seyn & found alday.
Mid off estatis in ther magnyficence,
Ebbe afftir flowe maketh no delay,

172

But halt hir cours; there is no resistence:
The tide abit nat for no violence;
Ech man that standith off chaunges heer in doute
Mut take his turn as it cometh a-boute.
Let Priam been to you a cleer merour,
Ye proude folkis, that sette your affiaunce
In such veyn glorie, which fadith as a flour,
And hath off beute heer noon attendaunce.
The world to you cast a ful bittir chaunce:
For whan ye wene sitte hiest atte fulle,
Than will she rathest your briht[e] fethres pulle.
Ye han warnyngis for to taken heed
Bexaumple off other, cleer & riht visible,
How worldli blisse is medlid ay with dreed.
And yiff your resouns and wittis be sensible,
Thyng seyn at eye is nat incredible;
And al this doctryn is to you in veyn,
Yiff in your tyme ye ha[ue] no chaunges seyn.
Wherfore Bochas onto your auail
Ful prudentli put you at this issu:
First of all he yeueth you this counsail,
To leue your vices & take you to vertu,
And sette your trust al hooli on Iesu;
For he may best in myscheeff helpe, & neede,
Off worldli chaunges that ye thar nat dreede.

The preis of Bochas & suerte that stondith in pouert.

These grete lordshipes, these hih[e] dignites,
Cheeff thyng annexid onto ther regalie,
Whan thei sitten hiest in ther sees,
And round aboute stant ther cheualrie,
Dreed entreth in, pereil and envie,
And onwar chaung[e], which no man may knowe,
The hour whan Fortune will make hem loute lowe.

173

Thei may weel holden a statli gret houshold,
With a veyn trust ther power sholde ay laste,
Clad in ther mantles off purpil, perle & gold,
And on the wheel off Fortune clymbe up faste—
Lich as she myhte neuer doun hem caste;
But ay the hiere ther clymbyng is att all,
Allas, the sorere is ther onhappi fall.
The fal off Priam and kyng Agamenoun
Ouhte off riht mor to be compleynyd,
Whan Fortune hadde hem pullid doun
And off hir malice hath at hem disdeynyd,
Than yiff thei neuer to worshepe hadde atteynyd;
But ther fallyng was the more greuous
Because thei wern toforn so glorious.
O thou Pouert, meek, humble and debonaire,
Which that kepest the lawes off Nature,
For sodeyn chaunges thou wilt nat disespaire,
So art thou fraunchised fro Fortunys lure;
Alle hir assautis thou lowli doost endure,
That she may haue no iurediccioun
To interupte thi possessioun.
Thou settist litil bi al worldli richesse,
Nor be his tresours which be transitorie;
Thou scornest hem that ther sheltrouns dresse
Toward batailles for conquest and victorie;
Thou despisist al shynyng off veynglorie,
Laude off tryumphes which conquerours ha[ue] souht,
With all ther pillages, thou settist hem at nouht.
Thou dispreisist al superfluite;
Non infortunye may chaunge thi corage:
And the shippis that saile bi the se
With marchaundise among the floodis rage,
Ther auentures and ther pereilous passage—
Lyff, bodi, good, al put in auenture
Onli for lucre, gret richesse to recure—

174

Off al such thyng thou takest litil heede,
Nor off that peeple that maneres do purchace,
Nor off plederes, which for lucre & meede
Meyntene quarelis & questis doon enbrace,
Thou hem beholdest with a ful stille face,
Ther sotil werkyng souht out for the nonys,
And sodenli departe from al attonys.
Thou canst in litil also haue suffisaunce,
And art content with ful smal dispence;
For thi richesse and thyn habundaunce
Withoute gruchchyng is humble pacience.
Yiff any man do to the offence,
Thou foryetist and lihtli canst foryiue;
To the suffisith so [that] thou maist lyue.
The sterrid heuene is thi couerture
In somer sesoun; vnder the leuys greene
Thou makest thi duellyng & doost thiselff assure
Ageyn gret heetis off the sunne sheene:
Content with frutis & watir cristal cleene
To staunche thyn hunger & thi thrustis sore,
Afftir the sesouns, & carest for no more.
Pouert eek liggith the colde wyntris nyht
Wrappid in strauh, withoute compleynynge;
Withoute dreed he go[e]th glad and liht,
And tofor theuys he merili doth synge:
He goth also withoute patisynge
Fro lond to lond among[es] poore & riche;
For freend and fo to hym be bothe aliche.
Moral Senec recordeth be writyng,
Richest off thynges is Glad Pouerte,
Euer off o cheer[e], void off al gruchchyng,
Bothe in ioie and in aduersite:
Thoruh al the world[e] last hir liberte,
And hir fraunchise stant in so gret ese,
That off hir fredam no man will hir displese.

175

She is norice off studie & off doctryne,
In vertuous labour doth hir dilligence;
And off sciences, which that be dyuyne,
She is callid mooder be clerkis, in sentence.
Off philisophres most had in reuerence,
Fortune and she so ferr assonder varie,
That ech to other off custum is contrarie.
Hir hertili ioie is for to lyue in pes,
Hateth tumulte, noise and disturbaunce;
For hir disciple, callid Zenocrates,
In wilful pouert set hooli his plesaunce,
Sobre off his port, thoruh whose attemp[e]raunce
Ful many a man bexaumple off his techyng
Wer brouht to vertu fro vicious lyuyng.
His diete was so mesurable
And deuoid off superfluite,
That his corage he kepte ferme & stable,
Fro flesshli lustis he was so attempre:
Resoun maistred his sensualite,
Desirs onleefful for to sette a-side;
Duryng his liff Pouert was his guide.
His abidyng and conuersacioun
Was in placis that were solitarie;
Mong trees & wellis he bilt hym a donioun,
With multitude he hated for to tarie:
For Pouerte was his secretarie,
Sobre off his cheer & stable off his entent,
And in Athenes first to scoole he went.
He was so myhti off auctorite,
Rihtwisnesse & iustice to obserue,
That rihtful iuges his sentence took at gre:
He coude his mouth & tunge so weel preserue,
That in the temple onys off Mynerue,
Withoutyn oth, onto his sentence,
To that he saide the iuges gaff credence.

176

He axed was among gret audience,
Whi he was soleyn off his daliaunce:
His answere was, that neuer for silence
Thoruh litil spekyng he felte no greuaunce.
Spech onavised causeth repentaunce;
And rakil tunges, for lak off refreynyng,
To many a man hath be ful gret hyndryng.
Diogenes, trewe heir and next allied
To wilful pouert be iust enheritaunce,—
For al richesse he pleynli hath diffied,
It was to hym so gret[e] encumbraunce
With worldli tresour to haue alliaunce.
His duellyng made withynne a litil tunne,
Which turned a-boute with concours off the sunne,
Hymselff refresshyng with hete off Phebus bemys;
For he was content, God wot, with ful lite.
Kyng Alisaundre, that conquered rewmys,
Cam ridyng doun, & gan hymselff delite
This philisophre to seen and visite,
Hymselff sequestred sool from al the pres,
And cam alone to seen Diogenes.
Proffred to hym gret richesse & tresour,
Bad hym aske what thyng that he wolde,
That myhte hym plese or doon to hym socour;
But off al that, he nothyng ne tolde,
But praied hym ful lowli, that he sholde
Nat drawe from hym þat thyng, ageyn al riht,
Which for to yiue lay nat in his myht.
“What thyng is that?” quod Alisaundre ageyn,
“I ha[ue] be conquest al ertheli tresour wonne.”
The philisophre seide he spak in veyn,
“Thou hast,” quod he, “no lordshep off the sonne.
Thi shadwe lettith his bemys fro my tonne;

177

And sithe thou hast no power off his liht,
I pray the freendli, forbarre me nat his siht.”
Thouh Alisaundre was myhti off puissaunce,
And al the world[e] hadde in his demeyne,
Yit was his resoun vnder thobeisaunce
Off flesshli lustis fetrid in a cheyne;
For in his persone will was souereyne,
His resoun bridled be sensualite,
Troublyng the fredam off riht & equite.
For where that will hath dominacioun
In a prynce, which sholde sustene riht,
And parcial fauour oppressith his resoun,
And trouthes title is bor doun with myht,
And egall doom hath lost his cleer[e] lyht:
Thouh for a sesoun thei sitte in hih[e] chaieres,
Ther fame shal fade withynne a fewe yeres.
In this mater mak a comparisoun
Twen Alisaundre and Diogenes:
The ton endured but a short sesoun,
For that he loued werre more than pes;
And for the tother was nat rech[e]les,
But heeld hym content with gifftis off Nature,
Onto gret age his pouert dede endure.
Alisaundre was slay[e]n with poisoun,
In his triumphes whan he dede excell;
But in a tonne that lay ful lowe doun
Diogenes drank watir off the well.
And off ther eende the difference to tell,
Alisaundre with couetise was blent;
The philisophre with litil was content.
Blessid be pouert, that may endure longe,
Maugre the fraude & daunger off Fortune,
Where-as kynges & emperour[e]s stronge
In ther estat no while may contune.
And off all vertues rekned in comune,
Tween indigence and gret habundaunce,
Is a good mene content with suffisaunce.

178

For with gret plente men be nat assurid,
Afftir ther lust alway to lyue in ese;
And thouh that men gret tresour han recurid,
With ther richesse thei feele many disese:
Lordis ha[ue] nat all thynge that may hem plese;
But hertili ioie, philisophres expresse,
Is grettest tresour tween pouert & richesse.
For this chapitle sheweth a figure,
A maner liknesse and demonstracioun,
How Diogenes lengere dede endure
Than myhti Priam or kyng Lamedoun:
Texemplefie, in conclusioun,
Ther is mor trust in vertuous symplesse,
Than in presumyng off vicious fals richesse.
For thauoutrie off Paris and Heleyne
Brouhte al Troye to destruccioun;
Pride & luxure were also menys tweyne
Whi Grekis leide a siege to the toun,
And fynal cause off ther confusioun,
To outher parti losse off many a man,
The ground conceyued whi first the werre gan.

Lenvoye.

This tragedie pitous & lamentable
And dolerous to writen & expresse,
That worthi Priam, of kynges most notable,
Was falle in pouert from his gret richesse,
Fro kyngli honour into wrechidnesse,
Fro sceptre & crowne, & from his regalie
To myschieff brouht thoruh fals auoutrie.
Was nat Fortune froward and deceyuable
For to suffre bi her doubilnesse,
And bi hir cours, which euer is variable,
That worthi Ector, flour off hih prowesse,
Sholde onwarli, most famous off noblesse,
Be slayn allas, cheeff stok off cheualrie,
For a quarell off fals auoutrie?

179

Agamenoun coumptid incomparable
Among Grekis for trouthe & rihtwisnesse,
To gouerne most glorious and hable,—
Withynne his paleis, the story berth witnesse,
His wiff Clymestra thoruh hir cursidnesse
Assentid was to moordre hym off envie,
For thoccasioun off fals auoutrie.
Ye noble pryncis, conceyueth how chaungable
Is worldli honour thoruh onstedfastnesse!
Seeth off kyng Pryam the glori was onstable;
Fix in your mynde this mateer doth inpresse,
And your corages knyhtli doth vp dresse,
Ageyn all titles holdeth chaumpartie
Which appertene to fals auoutrie.

[Off mighty Sampson whiche tolde his counsaile to Dalida wherby he was deceived.]

Who was mor myhti or strong than Sampson?
Non mor delyuer, þe Bible berth witnesse:
Withoute wepne he slouh a fers leoun,
And for his enmyes to hym dede expresse
His vnkouth problem, anon he gan hym dresse
Geyn Philistes, and slouh off hem thretti,
To paie his promys spoiled hem bi and bi.
His problem was, the text thus rehersyng,
Afftir the lettir in veray sothfastnesse:
“Ther cam out mete off a thyng etyng,
And fro the stronge ther wente out suetnesse.”
But his wiff, off froward doubilnesse,
Which euer wrouhte to his disauail,
Off worthi Sampson tolde the counsail:
“What is mor strong than is a leoun,
Or mor soote than hony in tastyng?”—
But women haue this condicioun,
Off secre thynges whan thei haue knowlechyng,
Thei bollyn inward, ther hertis ay fretyng:
Outher thei musten deien or discure,
So brotil is off custum ther nature.

180

This was the cas: the leoun that was ded,
Ageyn the sonne gapyng lay vpriht;
A swarm off been entred in his hed,
Off whom ther cam hony anon riht.
And whan Sampson theroff hadde a siht,
He fantasied in his opynyoun
Ful secreli this proposicioun,
As ye han herd, and gan it foorth purpose,
That Philistes to hym it sholde expowne,
Vnder a peyne the trouthe to hym onclose.
But with his wiff thei preueli gan rowne;
And she on Sampson gan compleyne & frowne,
And feynyngli so longe vpon hym weepe,
That he nat coude his counsail from hir keepe.
Which whan she kneuh, she made no tarieng,
But pleyn and hool she gan it to declare.
Such double trust is in ther wepyng;
To keepe ther tunges wommen can nat spare.
Such wepyng wyues, euel mut thei fare!
And all husbondis, I pray God yiue hem sorwe,
That to hem tell ther counseil eue or morwe.
She told hem hool, she tolde it hem nat halff;
And Sampson thanne gan vpon hem smyle,
“Yiff ye nat hadde herd it in my calff,
Ye sholde nat a founde it a gret while.”
Who may be seur, wher women list begile!—
Thouh bookis Sampson off strengthe so comende,
Yit durste he nat ageyn his wiff offende.
This myhti Sampson dede also his peyne,
Thre hundred foxis onys that he fond,
He took her tailes, knet hem tweyne & tweyne,
And amyd euerich he sette a feer-brond;
And as thei ran in Philistes lond,
So furiousli vp and doun thei wente,
That thei her frutis & ther vynes brente.
Eek be tresoun whan he was onys bounde
With newe cordis as he lay and sleep,
Ther cam thre thousand, which that Sampson founde,

181

Tamoordred hym, or that he took keep:
He brak his bondis, and vp anon he leep,
Off an asse [he] cauhte a chaule-bon,
And a thousand he slouh off hem anon.
He gan to feynte & hadde a sodeyn lust
For to drynke, fadid face and cheer;
And God sente hym to staunche with his thrust
From thassis toth watir cristal cleer,
Which that sprang out large as a ryuer,
Refresshid his sperit, which afforn gan dull,
Til that he hadde off watir drunke his full.
Afftir he wente to Gazam the cite,
Mong all his enmyes, that were off gret myht,
To his plesaunce where he dede see
A ful fair woman, lay with hire al nyht,
And on the morwe, longe or it was lyht,
Maugre the wach, vpon his shuldres squar
The gatis stronge vp to an hill he bar.
And in a vale which callid was Soret
Ful hoote he loued Dalida the faire,
On whom his herte was ful sore set,
She koude hir feyne so meek & debonaire,
Make hym such cheer whan that hym list repaire.
But I dar calle hir Dalida the double,
Cheeff roote & cause off al his mortal trouble.
He neuer drank wynes whiht nor red,
Off Nazarees such is the goueraunce;
Rasour nor sheer touchid neuer his hed,
For in long growyng stondeth ther plesaunce.
And this Sampson, most myhti off substaunce,
Hadde al his force be influence off heuene,
B[y] heris wexyng, that were in noumbre seuene.
It was ful secre in euery manys siht,
Among peeple told for an vnkouth thyng,
Wheroff Sampson hadde so gret myht,
Outward shewed bi force off his werkyng.
But Dalida with hir flateryng

182

Wolde neuer stynte, enqueryng euer among,
Til that she kneuh wherbi he was so strong.
She lich a serpent daryng vnder floures,
Or lik a werm that wrotith on a tre,
Or lich an addere off manyfold coloures,
Riht fressh apperyng and fair vpon to see:
For shrowdid was hir mutabilite
With lowliheed[e] and a fair pretense
Off trewe menyng vnder fals apparence.
He mente trouthe, & she was variable,
He was feithful, and she was ontrewe,
He was stedfast, and she was onstable,
His trust ay oon; she loued thynges newe:
She wered coloures off many dyuers hewe,
In stede off bleu, which stedfast is and cleene;
She loued chaunges off many dyuers greene.
But to the purpos for to condescende,
Whan she off Sampson kneuh al the preuite,
Hir falsheed shortli for to comprehende,
She made hym slepe ful sofftli on hir kne;
And a sharp rasour afftir that took she,
Shoof off his her, large and off gret lengthe,
Wherbi, allas, he loste al his strengthe.
Damage is erthe is non so greuous,
As an enmy which that is secre,
Nor pestilence non so pereilous
As falsnesse where he is preue,
And speciali in femynyte;
For yiff wyues be founden variable,
Wher shal husbondis fynden other stable?
Thus Sampson was be Dalida deceyued,
She coude so weel flatre, forge and feyne,—
Which Philistes, whan thei ha[ue] conceyued,
Onwarli bond hym in a myhti cheyne,
Cast hym in prisoun, put out his eyen tweyne,
And off despiht, afftir, as I fynde,
At ther queernys maad hym for to grynde.

183

Thei made a feste statli and solempne,
Whan thei hadde al this tresoun wrouht;
And to rebuke hym, scorne hym & condempne,
Blynde Sampson was aforn hem brouht:
Which thyng ful sore greued hym in his thouht,
Caste he wolde in his preue mynde
Tauenge his blyndnesse sum maner weie fynde.
And whan he hadde thus bethouht hym longe,
He made a child hym preueli to leede
To tweyne postis, large, squar and stronge,
Enbraced hem, or any man took heede,
And gan to shake hem, withoute feer or dreede,
So sturdili among his fomen all,
That the temple is vpon hem fall.
Thus he was auengid on his foon,
Which that falsli dede ageyn hym stryue,
Slouh in his deieng, God wot, many on
Mo than he dede euer afforn his lyue.
And he was also, the date to descryue,
In Israel, the Bible is myn auctour,
Twenti yeer ther iuge and gouernour.

[Lenvoy.]

This tragedie yeueth in euidence
To whom men shal ther counseil out discure;
For rakell tunges, for lak off prouidence,
Ha[ue] do gret harm to many a creature:
Whan harm is doon, ful hard is to recure.
Beth war be Sampson, your counsail weel to keepe,
Thouh Dalida compleyne, crie and weepe.
Whilom Sampson, for manhod & prudence,
Hadde Israel in gouernaunce and cure,
Daunted leouns thoruh his magnyficence,
Made on a thousand a disconfiture;
But his moste pereilous auenture,
Was whan he lay with Dalida to slepe,
Which falsli coude compleyne, crie and weepe.
Ye noble Pryncis, conceyueth the sentence
Off this story, remembrid in scripture,
How that Sampson off wilful necligence

184

Was shaue & shorn, diffacid his figure;
Keep your conceitis vnder couerture,
Suffre no nyhtwerm withynne your counsail kreepe,
Thouh Dalida compleyne, crie and weepe!

A chapitle of Bochas discryuyng þe malis of wommen.

Myn auctour Bochas reioished in his lyue,
(I dar nat seyn, wher it was comendable)
Off these women the malice to descryue
Generali, and writ—it is no fable—
Off ther nature how thei be variable,
And how ther malice best be euidence
Is knowe to hem that haue experience.
Thei can afforce hem, alday men may see,
Be synguler fredam and dominacioun
Ouer men to ha[ue]n souereynte,
And keepe hem lowe vnder subieccioun.
Ful sore laboure in ther opynyoun,
Bi sotil crafft that thyng to recure,
Which is to hem denyed off Nature.
Bochas affermeth, & halt it for no tale,
Yiff thei wante fresshnesse off colour,
And han ther face iawne, swart & pale,
Anon thei doon ther dilligent labour
In such a neede to helpe and do socour,
Ther reuelid skyn abrod to drawe & streyne,
Froward frounces to make hem smothe & pleyne.
Yiff no rednesse in ther chekis be,
Nor no lelies delectable and white,
Than thei take, tencrece ther beute,
Such oynementis as may most delite;
Wher Kynde faileth the surplusage tacquite,
Thei can be crafft so for hemsilff dispose,
Shewe rednesse thouh ther be no rose.
And for to shewe ther face cleer and briht,
With hoote spices and oynementis soote
Thei can be crafft countirfete a-riht,

185

Take in such cas many an holsum roote:
Wher Kynde faileth, cunnyng can do boote,—
Yiff ther brestis vp to hie hem dresse,
Thei can ful weel thenbosyng doun represse.
And yiff thei been to soffte or to tendre,
Thei ha[ue] cunnyng to make hem hard & rounde.
Ther corsifnesse thei can eek make sclendre
With poynant sausis that been in phesik founde;
Ther sotil wittis in sleihtis so habounde,
Thyng that is courbid or wrong in mennys siht
To make it seeme as it wente vpriht.
Thei han strictories to make ther skyn to shyne,
Wrouht subtili off gommes & off glaire;
Craffti lies to die ther her citryne,
Distillid watres, to make hem seeme faire,
Fumygaciouns to rectefie the aiere,
Stomachers and fressh confecciouns
To represse fals exallaciouns.
Off alle these thynges Bochas hath most despiht,
Whan these vekkes, ferre Ironne in age,
Withynne hemsilff han veynglori and deliht
For to farce and poppe ther visage,
Lich a[s] peyntour[s] on an old ymage
Leyn ther coloures, riche and fressh off hewe,
Wermfrete stokkes to make hem seeme newe.
Ther slak[ke] skyn be craft abrod is streynyd,
Lik an orenge fro the galei brouht;
Riche relikes aboute ther necckis cheynyd,
Gold vpon gold, with perle & stonys wrouht.
And that ther colour outward appeire nouht
With wynd or sonne, which sholde hem steyne or fade,
For onkynde heetis thei vse citrynade.

186

What sholde I write al ther vnkouth desires,
Sumtyme froward, sumtyme debonaire;
Ymagynyng sundry fressh attires,
Contreued off newe many thousand paire;
Dyuers deuyses to make hem seeme faire
In ther apport, be countirfet liknesse
For to rassemble Venus the goddesse.
Off on deuys thei holde hem nat appaied,
Thei mut ech day han a straunge weede;
Yiff any be than othir bet arraied,
Off froward gruchchyng thei feele ther herte bleede:
For euerich thynkith veraili in deede,
Amorwe prieng withynne a merour briht,
For to be fairest in hir owen siht.
Thei can ther eyen and ther lookis dresse
To drawe folk be sleihtis to ther lure;
And sumwhile bi ther frowardnesse
And feyned daunger, thei can off men recure
What-euer thei list, such is ther auenture.
Ageyn whos sleihtis force nor prudence
May nat auaile to make resistence.
With constreynt wepyng & forgid flaterie,
Subtil spech[e] farcid with plesaunce,
And many fals dissemelid maladie—
Thouh in ther hertis thei feele no greuaunce—
And with ther couert sobre daliaunce,
Thouh vndirnethe the double serpent dare,
Ful many a man thei ha[ue] brouht in ther snare.
O suet[e]nesse ful off mortalite!
Serpentyne with a plesaunt visage!
Onstable ioie ful off aduersite;
O most chaungable off herte & off corage!
In thi desirs hauyng this auauntage,
What-euer thou list to daunten and oppresse,—
Such is thi fraunchise, Bochas berth witnesse.

187

Off nature thei can in many wise
Off myhti geauntis the power weel aslake:
What wit off man can compass or deuise,
Ther sleihti wilis dar it vndertake,
And, yiff hem list, theroff an eende make.
Fro this conceit, who-so that discorde,
A thousand stories the reuers can recorde.
Remembre first, how Hercules most strong
Was brouht be women to his destruccioun;
The queen Clymestra dede also gret wrong
To moordre hir lord kyng Agamenoun.
Dalida betraished also Sampsoun;
Amphiorax sanc doun deepe into hell,
Because his wiff his counsail dede out tell.
It nedith nat to make mencioun,
Thouh Phillis deide thoruh inpacience
Off longe abidyng off hir Demephoun,
Nor how that Nisus, kyng off Magarence,
Was bi his douhtres cursid violence
Onwarli moordred, in Ouide it is told,
Whan from his hed she stal the her off gold.
Bochas rehersith off wyues many on,
Which in ther werkyng wer ful contrarious;
But among all, he writith ther was on,
Queen off Assirie and wiff to kyng Nynus,
And be discent douhter to Neptunus,
Semiramis callid in hir daies,
Which off all men wolde make assaies.
She nouther spared straunger nor kynreede;
Hir owne sone was nat set a-side,
But with hym hadde knowlechyng in deede,
Off which the sclaundre wente abrod ful wide.
For with on man she koude nat a-bide,
Such a fals lust was vpon hir fall,
In hir corage to haue a-do with all.

188

And treu[e]li it doth my witt appall
Off this mateer to make rehersaile;
It is no resoun tatwiten women all,
Thouh on or too whilom dede faile.
It sittith nat, nor it may nat auaile,
Hem to rebuke that parfit been & goode,
Ferr out off ioynt thouh sum other stoode.
The riche rube nor the saphir ynde
Be nat appeired off ther fressh beute,
Thouh among stonys men countirfetis fynde;
And semblabli, thouh summe women be
Nat weel gouerned afftir ther degre,
It nat diffaceth nor doth no violence
To hem that neuer dede in ther liff offence.
The white lelie nor the holsum rose,
Nor violettis spred on bankis thikke,
Ther suet[e]nesse, which outward thei onclose,
Is nat appeired with no weedis wikke;
And thouh that breris, and many crokid stykke
Growe in gardyns among the floures faire,
Thei may the vertu off herbis nat appaire.
And I dar seyn, that women vertuous
Been in the[r] vertu off price mor comendable,
That ther be summe reknyd vicious,
And off ther lyuyng founde also onstable.
Goode women auhte nat be partable
Off ther trespas nor ther wikked deede,
But mor comendid for ther womanheede.
What is appeired off Hester the meeknesse,
Thouh that Scilla was sturdi & vengable?
Nor off Alceste the parfit stedfastnesse
Is nat eclipsed, but mor acceptable,
Thouh Clymestra was founde variable;—
Lik as whan cloudis ther blaknesse doun declyne,
Phebus mor cleer doth with his bemys shyne.

189

Ful many on ha[ue] cleene been al ther lyue,
Ondefouled kept ther virgynyte;
And summe coude ageyn alle vices stryue
Hem to conserue in parfit chastite,
Deuoid off chaung and mutabilite:
Thouh sum other ha[ue] therageyn trespacid,
The laude off hem is therwith nat diffacid.
And who that euer off malice list accuse
These celi women touchyng variaunce,
Lat hem remembre, and in ther wittis muse,
Men be nat ay stable in ther constaunce.
In this world heer is no perseueraunce;
Chaung is ay founde in men & women bothe,
On outher parti, be thei neuer so wrothe.
No man sholde the vertuous atwite
In stede off hym that dede the trespace;
Nor for a theeff a trewe man endite,
Nor for the gilti an innocent manace.
Goode and wikked abide in eueri place;
Ther price, ther lak, lat hem be reseruyd
To outher parti as thei han disseruyd.
Thouh Iohn Bochas in his opynyoun
Ageyn[es] women list a processe make,
Thei that be goode off condicioun
Sholde ageyn hym no maner quarel take,
But lihtli passe, and ther sleuys shake;
For ageyn goode myn auctour nothyng made,
Who can conceyue theffect off this balade.

Thexcus of Bochas for his vriting ageyn mysgovern[ed] vommen in stede of lenvoye.

Ye women all, that shal beholde & see
This chapitle and the processe reede,—
Ye that be goode founde in your degre,
And vertuous bothe in thouht and deede,
What Bochas sei[e]th, tak[e] ye noon heede;

190

For his writyng, yiff it be discernyd,
Is nat ageyn hem that be weel gouernyd.
For thouh it fall that oon, or too, or three
Ha[ue] doon amysse, as therfore God forbeede
That other women which stable & feithful be
Sholde be atwited off ther ongoodliheede,
But mor comendid for ther womanheede:
For this scripture, yiff it be concernyd,
Is ageyn hem that be nat weel gouernyd.
A gallid hors, the sooth yff ye list see,
Who touchith hym, boweth his bak for dreede;
And who is knowe ontrewe in his cuntre,
Shrynkith his hornis whan men speke of falsheede.
But goode women ha[ue] ful litil neede
To gruchch or frowne whan the trouthe is lernyd,
T[h]ouh ther be summe which be nat weel gouernyd.
Off Dalida and queen Pasiphe,
Thouh doubilnesse dede ther bridil leede,
Yit off Lucrece and Penolope
The noble fame abrood doth shyne and spreede:
Out off good corn men may sum darnel weede,
Women rebuke, in ther diffautis wernyd,
And nat touche hem that be weel gouernyd.

[Off mighti pirrus that slouh pollicene which for his pride and auoutrye deied in pouerte/slayn atte last bi Horestes.]

Bochas musyng in his remembraunce,
And considred in his fantasie
The onseur trust off worldli variaunce,
Off men & women the chaung and the folie,
The same tyme he sauh a cumpanye

191

Off myhti pryncis, ful pitousli wepyng,
To hym appeere ther fortune compleynyng.
Among other that put hemsilff in pres,
Off myhti Pirrus first he hadde a siht,
That was the sone off worthi Achilles,
Among Grekis the moste famous knyht,
Most comendid off manhod & off myht,
Sone and next heir, [as] bookis specefie,
Off Pelleus kyng off Thesalie.
This Achilles, ful manli off his herte,
Hurt off Ector, and his wounde greene,
Slouh Ector afftir or he dede aduerte.
The which Achilles, for loue off Polliceene,
Bi compassyng off Eccuba the queene,
Vnder trete this Grekis champeoun
Was slayn off Paris withynne Troie toun.
Whos deth tauenge Pirrus in his teene,
Furiousli, with face ded and pale,
Slouh afftirward the said[e] Polliceene,
And dismembrid al on pecis smale,
Which for to heere is a pitous tale,
That a knyht so vengable was in deede
To slen a maide, quakyng in hir dreede.
He koude for ire on hir no merci haue;
But with his suerd, most furious & wood,
Merciles vpon his fadres graue,
Lik a tirant he shadde hir chast[e] blood.
The deede horrible diffacid his knyhthod,
That to this day the sclaundre & the diffame
Be newe report reboundeth on his name.
Poetis seyn, and speciali Ouide
Writ, whan Grekis fro Troie sholde saile,
How ther shippis ban anker dede ride,
Off ther purpos which longe made hem faile.
But in this while, he maketh rehersaile,
Out off therthe, manacyng off cheere,
Off Achilles an ymage dede appeere.

192

To Grekis saide with a dedli face,
“I feele weel myn honour & my glorie,
And my noblesse ful lihtli foorth dooth pace,
Onkynde peeple, out of your memorie,
Which bi me hadde your conquest & victorie.
Your deuer doth Polliceene to take,
And on my graue a sacrefise to make.
With hir blood looke ye spare nouht
To sprynge it round aboute my sepulture;
Thus blood for blood with vengaunce shal be bouht,
And for my deth, the deth she mut endure.”
And hool the maner off this auenture,
And how she deied in hir maydenheed,
Methamorphoseos, the processe ye may reed.
In hasti vengaunce set was al his ioie,
With thrust onstaunchid Troian blood to sheede;
He slouh Priam, the worthi kyng off Troie,
And into Grece with hym he dede leede
Andromecha—the story ye may reede—
Weddid hir, and afftir in certeyne
Be hym she hadde worthi sonys tweyne.
But in repairyng hom to his cuntre,
As Eolus dede his shippis dryue,
I fynde he was a pirat off the se;
And into Grece whan he dede aryue,
Fortune onwarli gan ageyn hym stryue:
Forsook his wiff, leet hir lyue alone,
Took a-nother callid Hermyone.
Which was that tyme ioyned in mariage
To Horestes, sone off Agamenoun;
And he, alas, off wilful louys rage,
Took hir be force to his possessioun.
But off auoutrie folwith this guerdoun,
Sodeyn deth, pouerte or shame,
Open disclaundre, gret myscheeff or diffame.

193

Eek in his tyme this Pirrus, as I reede,
Fill into myscheeff and gret pouerte;
And with such meyne as he dede leede,
He was a rouere, and robbed on the se.
And as poetis reherse, ye may see,
Off such robbyng be sclaundre & diffame
This woord Pirat off Pirrus took the name.
And as the story afftir doth deuise,
The said Horestes gan secreli espie
Wher that Pirrus dede sacrefise
Toforn Apollo, that god to magnefie.
Ful onwarli Horestes off enuie
Took a sharp suerd or Pirrus coude aduerte
Wher that he stood, & roof hym thoruh the herte.
This was the fyn off Pirrus in substaunce,
For al his pride and gret presumpcioun.
Off fals auoutrie folwith this vengaunce:
Losse off sum membre, pouert or prisoun,
Or hatful sclaundre bi sum occasioun,
Or sodeyn deth, shortli in sentence,
Compleet in Pirrus be ful cleer euidence.

[Off Machaire and his suster Canace.]

Afftir this Pirrus cam Canace the faire,
With teres distillyng from hir eyen tweyne,
And hir brother, that callid was Machaire;
And bothe thei gan ful pitousli compleyne,
That Fortune gan at hem so disdeyne,
Hyndryng ther fate be woful auenture
Touchyng ther loue, which was ageyn nature.
He was hir brother and hir loue also,
As the story pleynli doth declare;
And in a bed thei lay eek bothe too,
Resoun was non whi thei sholde spare:
But loue that causith wo and eek weelfare,
Gan ageyn kynde so straungeli deuise,
That he hir wombe made sodenli tarise.

194

And fynali, myn auctour berth witnesse,
A child she hadde bi hir owne brother,
Which excellid in fauour and fairnesse;
For lik to hym off beute was non other.
But off ther loue so guyed was the rother,
That Karibdis, tween wyndis ful contraire,
Hath Canace destroied and Machaire.
For whan ther fadir the maner dede espie
Off ther werkyng, which was so horrible,
For ire almost he fill in frenesie,
Which for tappese was an inpossible;
For the mater was froward & odible:
For which, pleynli, deuoid off al pite,
Vpon ther trespas he wolde auenged be.
The cause knowe, the fadir anon riht
Caste for ther deth off rigour to prouide;
For which Machaire fledde out off his siht,
And from his face his presence gan to hide.
But, o alas! his suster muste abide,
Merciles, for ther hatful trespace
Suffre deth; ther was non other grace.
First hir fader a sharp suerd to hir sente
In tokne off deth for a remembraunce,
And whan she wiste pleynli what he mente
And conceyued his rigerous ordenaunce,
With hool purpos tobeien his plesaunce,
She gruchchith nat, but lowli off entente
Lich a meek douhter to his desir assente.
But or she died she caste for to write
A litil lettre to hir brother deere,
A dedli compleynt compleyne & endite
With pale face and a mortal cheere,
The salt[e] teris from hir eyen cleere,
With pitous sobbyng, fet from hir hertis brynke,
Distillyng doun to tempre with hir ynke.

The lettre of compleynt of Canace to hir brothir Macharie.

Out off hir swouh[e] whan she dede abraide,
Knowyng no mene but deth in hir distresse,
To hir brother ful pitousli she saide:

195

“Cause off my sorwe, roote off myn heuynesse,
That whilom were cheeff sours off my gladnesse,
Whan bothe our ioies be will were so disposid,
Vnder o keie our hertis to be enclosid.
Whilom thou were support and sekirnesse,
Cheeff reioisshyng off my worldli plesaunce;
But now thou art the ground off my siknesse,
Welle off wanhope, off my dedli penaunce,
Which haue off sorwe grettest habundaunce
That euer yit hadde any creature,
Which mut for loue the deth alas endure!
Thou were whilom my blisse & al my trust,
Souereyn confort my sorwes to appese,
Spryng and well off al myn hertis lust;
And now, alas, cheeff roote off my disese.
But yiff my deth myht do the any ese,
O brother myn, in remembraunce off tweyne,
Deth shal to me be plesaunce & no peyne.
Mi cruel fader, most onmerciable,
Ordeyned hath, it needis mut be soo,
In his rigour he is so ontretable,
Al merciles he will that it be doo,—
That we algate shal deie bothe too.
But I am glad, sithe it may been noon other,
Thou art escapid, my best beloued brother.
This is myn eende, I may it nat asterte,
O brother myn, there is no mor to seye,
Lowli besechyng with al myn hool[e] herte
For to remembre speciali I preie,
Yiff it befall my litil sone deie,
That thou maist afftir sum mynde vpon us haue,
Suffre us bothe be buried in o graue.
I holde hym streihtli atwen myn armys tweyne,
Thou and Nature leide on me this charge;
He gilt[e]les with me mut suffre peyne.
And sithe thou art at fredam and at large,
Lat kynd[e]nesse our loue nat so discharge,
But haue a mynde, where-euer that thou be,
Onys a day vpon my child and me.

196

On the and me dependith the trespace
Touchyng our gilte and our gret offence;
But, wellaway, most angelik off face,
Our yonge child in his pur innocence
Shal ageyn riht suffre dethis violence,
Tendre off lymes, God wot, ful gilt[e]les,
The goodli faire that lith heere specheles.
A mouth he hath, but woordis hath he noone,
Cannat compleyne, alas, for non outrage,
Nor gruchith nat, but lith heer al a-loone,
Stille as a lamb, most meek off his visage.
What herte off steel coude doon to hym damage,
Or suffre hym deie, beholdyng the maneer
And look benygne off his tweyne eyen cleer?
O thou, my fader, to cruel is thi wreche,
Hardere off herte than tigre or leoun,
To slen a child that lith withoute speche,
Void off al mercy and remissioun.
And on his mooder hast no compassioun,
His youthe considred, with lippis softe as silk,
Which at my brest lith still & souketh mylk.
Ys any sorwe remembrid be writyng,
Onto my sorweful sihhes comparable?
Or was ther euer creature lyuyng
That felte off dool a thyng mor lamentable?
For counfortles and onrecuperable
Ar thilke hepid sorwes, ful off rage,
Which han with wo oppressid my corage.
Rekne all myscheuys in especiall,
And on my myscheeff remembre & ha[ue] good mynde:
Mi lord my fadir, is myn enmy mortall,
Experience inouh theroff I fynde;
For in his pursuit he hath lefft behynde,
In destruccioun off the, my child and me,
Routhe and al mercy and fadirli pite.
And the, my brother, auoidid from his siht,
Which in no wise his grace maist atteyne,
Alas that rigour, vengaunce & cruel riht

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Sholde a-boue merci be lord & souereyne!
But cruelte doth at me so disdeyne,
That thou, my brother, my child & also I
Shal deie alas exiled from al mercy.
Mi fader whilom, be many sundri signe,
Was my socour, my supportacioun,
To the and me most gracieux & benygne,
Our worldli gladnesse, our consolacioun.
But loue and Fortune ha[ue] turned up-so-doun
Our grace, alas, our welfare & our fame,
Hard to recure, so sclaundrid is our name.
Spot off diffamyng is hard to wasshe away,
Whan noise and rumour abrod do folk manace;
To hyndre a man ther may be no delay:
For hatful fame fleeth ferr in ful short space.
But off vs tweyne ther is non othir grace
Sauff onli deth, and afftir deth, alas,
Eternal sclaundre off vs; thus stant the cas.
Whom shal we blame, or whom shal we atwite
Our gret offence, sithe we may it nat hide?
For our excus reportis to respite
Mene is ther non, except the god Cupide.
And thouh that he wolde for vs prouide,
In this mateer to been our cheeff refuge,
Poetis seyn he is blynd to been a iuge.
He is depeynt[e] lich a blynd archer,
To marke ariht failyng discrecioun,
Holdyng no meseur, nouther ferr nor neer;
But lik Fortunys disposicioun,
Al upon happ, void off al resoun,
As a blynd archer with arwes sharp[e] grounde
Off auenture yeueth many a mortal wounde.
At the and me he wrongli dede marke,
Felli to hyndre our fatal auentures,
As ferr as Phebus shynyth in his arke,
To make us refus to alle creatures,
Callid us tweyne onto the woful lures
Off diffame, which will departe neuere,
Be newe report the noise encresyng euere.

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Odious fame with swifft wengis fleeth,
But al good fame envie doth restreyne;
Ech man off other the diffautis seeth,
Yit on his owne no man will compleyne.
But al the world out crieth on vs tweyne,
Whos hatful ire bi us may nat be queemyd;
For I mut deie, my fader hath so deemyd.
Now farweel, brother, to me it doth suffise
To deie allone for our bothe sake.
And in my moste feithful humble wise,
Onto my dethward thouh I tremble & quake,
Off the for euere now my leue I take.
And onys a yeer, forget nat, but take heed,
Mi fatal day this lettre for to reed.
So shaltow han on me sum remembraunce,
Mi name enprentid in thi kalender,
Bi rehersaile off my dedli greuaunce;
Were blak that day, & mak a doolful cheer.
And whan thou comest & shalt approche neer
Mi sepulture, I pray the nat disdeyne
Vpon my graue summe teris for to reyne.”
Writyng hir lettir, awappid al in dreede,
In hir riht hand hir penne gan to quake;
And a sharp suerd to make hir herte bleede
In his lefft hand, hir fader hath hir take.
And most hir sorwe was for hir childes sake,
Vpon whos face in hir barm slepyng
Ful many a teer she wepte in compleynyng.
Afftir al this, so as she stood and quook,
Hir child beholdyng, myd off hir peynes smerte,
Withoute abood the sharp[e] suerd she took
And rooff hirselff euene to the herte.
Hir child fill doun, which myht[e] nat asterte,
Hauyng non helpe to socoure hym nor saue,
But in hir blood the silff began to bathe.
And thanne hir fader, most cruel off entent,
Bad that the child sholde anon be take,
Off cruel houndis in haste for to be rent
And be deuoured for his mooder sake.
Off this tragedie thus an eende I make,

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Processe off which, men may reede and see,
Concludith on myscheeff & furious cruelte.
Remembryng first, as maad is mencioun,
How that Pirrus delited hym in deede,
Whan Troie was brouht to destruccioun,
With cruel suerd[e] Troian blood to sheede,
But of such slauhtre, seeth heer the cruel meede,
As riht requereth, bi vnwar violence,
Blood shad for blood is fynal recompence.

Lenvoye.

Whan surquedie oppressid hath pite,
And meeknesse is with tirannie bor doun
Ageyn al riht, & hasti cruelte
To be vengable maketh no dilacioun,
What folweth theroff?—be cleer inspeccioun,
Seeth an exaumple how Pirrus in his teene
Off hatful ire slouh yonge Polliceene.
Kyng Eolus to rigerous was, parde,
And to vengable in his entencioun
Ageyn his childre Machaire & Canace,
So inportable was his punycioun,
Off haste procedyng to ther destruccioun;
Wers in his ire, as it was weel seene,
Than cruel Pirrus, which slouh Polliceene.
Noble Pryncis, prudent and attempre,
Differrith vengaunce, off hih discrecioun;
Til your ire sumwhat asuagid be,
Doth neuer off doom non execucioun:
For hate and rancour perturben the resoun
Off hasti iuges, mor off entent oncleene
Than cruel Pirrus which slouh Polliceene.
Explicit liber primus. Incipit prologus libri secundi.

200

BOOK II

[Prologue.]

To summe folk, parcas, it wolde seeme,
Touchyng the chaunges & mutabilites
Bi me rehersid, that thei myhte deeme,
Off Fortunes straunge aduersites
To pryncis shewed, doun pullid from ther sees,
The tragedies auhte inouh suffise
In compleynyng, which ye han herd deuise.
The stori pitous, the processe lamentable,
Void off ioie, al gladnesse and plesaunce,
A thyng to greuous and to inportable,
Where-as no merthe is medlid with greuaunce,
Al upon compleynt standith thalliaunce,
Most whan Fortune, who that hir cours weel knewe,
Chaungith old ioie into sorwes newe.
For onto hym that neuer wiste off wo,
Remembraunce off his old gladnesse,
Whan his weelfare & plesaunce is ago,
And neuer aforn knew off non heuynesse,—
Such vnwar chaung, such vnkouth wrechidnesse
Causith in pryncis, thoruh newe dedli trouble,
Afftir ther fallyng ther sorwes to be double.
Olde exaumples off pryncis that ha[ue] fall,
Ther remembraunce off newe brouht to mynde,
May been a merour to estatis all,
How thei in vertu shal remedies fynde
Teschewe vices, off such as wer maad blynde,
Fro sodeyn fallyng hemsiluen to preserue,
Longe to contune and thank off God disserue.
The fall off on is a cleer lanterne
To teche a-nother what he shal eschewe;
Pereil off on, is, who can discerne,
Scoole and doctryn from pereil to remewe.
As men disserue such guerdoun ther mut sewe;

201

In vice nor vertu no man may God deceyue,
Lik ther desertis ther meede thei [shal] receyue.
Who folweth vertu lengest doth perseuere,
Be it in richesse, be it in pouerte;
Liht off trouthe his cleernesse kepith euere
Ageyn thassautis off al aduersite.
Vertu is cause off long prosperite;
And whan pryncis fro vertu doun declyne,
Ther fame is shroudid vndir the cliptik lyne.
For fals Fortune, which turneth as a ball,
Off vnwar chaunges thouh men hir wheel atwite,
It is nat she that pryncis gaff the fall,
But vicious lyuyng, pleynli to endite:
Thouh God aboue ful offte hem doth respite,
Longe abidith, and doth his grace sende
To this entent, thei sholde ther liff amende.
For ther weelfare and ther abidyng longe,
Who aduertisith, dependith nat on chaunce.
Good liff and vertu maketh hem to be stronge,
And hem assureth in long perseueraunce;
Vertu on Fortune maketh a diffiaunce,
That Fortune hath no domynacioun
Wher noble pryncis be gouerned be resoun.
But such as list[e] nat correctid be
Bexaumple off othre fro vicious gouernaunce,
And fro ther vices list nat for to fle:
Yiff thei be troubled in ther hih puissaunce,
Thei arette it Fortunys variaunce,
Touchyng the giltes that thei deden vse,
Ther demerites ful falsli to excuse.
Vertu conserueth pryncis in ther glorie
And confermeth ther dominaciouns;
And vicis put ther price out off memorie,
For ther trespacis and ther transgressiouns.
And in alle such sodeyn mutaciouns,
Thei can no refut nor no bet socour,
But ageyn Fortune to maken ther clamour.

202

Make an outcri on hir doubilnesse,
As no gilt were in ther owne deede;
Thus ontreuli thei calle hir a goddesse,
Which lite or nouht may helpe at such a neede.
But yiff thei hadde God in loue & dreede,
Trustid his lordshep in herte, will & thouht,
Thei sholde Fortune pleynli sette at nouht.
Euidencis ful expert and palpable,
Toforn rehersid, told off dyuers ages,
Worldli glorie veyn and ful onstable,
With deceites double off ther visages,
Shewyng to pryncis ferme off ther corages,
Be these exaumples, how and in what wise
By othris fallyng thei shal hemsilff chastise.
Signes shewed and toknes in the heuene,
Dyuers cometis and constellaciouns,
Dreedful thundryng, feerful firi leuene,
Rumour in erthe and gret discenciouns,
Disobeisaunce in sondry regiouns,
Shewen exaumples, ful weel afferme I dar,
To myhti pryncis, hem biddyng to be war,
Ther liff tamende or the Lord do smyte,
Thoruh necligence or it be to late;
And or the suerd off vengaunce kerue & bite,
Into vertues ther vicious liff translate,
Cherisshe rihtwisnesse, ageyn al wrong debate,
With dreed off God make hemsiluen stronge:
Than is no doubte thei shal enduren longe.
Who is nat war bi othres chastisyng,
Othre bi hym shal chastised be:
Hard is is that herte, which for no writyng,
For no dottryn nor non auctorite,
For non exaumple will from his vices flee;
To indurat is his froward entent,
Which wil nat suffre his hardnesse to relent.
The rounde dropis off the smothe reyn,
Which that discende & falle from aloffte

203

On stonys harde, at eye as it is seyn,
Perceth ther hardnesse with ther fallyng offte,
Al-be in touchyng, water is but soffte;
The percyng causid be force nor puissaunce,
But off fallyng be long contynuaunce.
Semblabli, off riht I dar reherse,
Offte reedyng on bookis fructuous
The hertis sholde off prudent pryncis perse,
Synke in ther mynde & make hem vertuous
Teschewe all thynge that is vicious:
For what auaileth thexaumples that thei reede,
To ther reedyng yiff contraire be the deede?
Cunnyng and deede, who can comprehende,
In cleer conceites thei be thynges tweyne;
And yiff cunnyng doth the deede amende,
Than atwen hem is maad a myhti cheyne,
A noble thyng, and riht souereyne:
For thanne off cunnyng the labour is weel spent,
Whan deede folweth, & bothe been off assent.
Thus Iohn Bochas procedyng in his book,
Which in noumbre is callid the secounde,
Gan for to write, and his purpos took
To sette in stories such as he hadde founde,
Off entent alle vices to confounde
Be thexaumples which he dede expresse.
And at the gynnyng off his besynesse,
Myhti Saul to hym dede appeere,
Kyng off Israel, pitousli wepyng,
Dedli off face, and with an hidous cheere,
His vois Ibroke be manyfold sobbyng;
And to myn auctour his sorwe compleynyng,
Requeryng hym, togidre whan thei mette,
First in his book his woful fate to sette.
Anon afftir, I off entencioun,
With penne in hande faste gan me speede,
As I koude, in my translacioun,
In this labour ferthere to proceede,
My lord cam forbi, and gan to taken heede;

204

This myhti prynce, riht manli & riht wis,
Gaff me charge in his prudent auys,
That I sholde in eueri tragedie,
Afftir the processe made mencioun,
At the eende sette a remedie,
With a lenvoie conueied be resoun,
And afftir that, with humble affeccioun,
To noble pryncis lowli it directe,
Bi othres fallyng [thei myht] themsilff correcte.
And I obeied his biddyng and plesaunce,
Vnder support off his magnyficence.
As I coude, I gan my penne auaunce,
Al-be I was bareyn off eloquence,
Folwyng myn auctour in substaunce & sentence:
For it suffised, pleynli, onto me,
So that my lord my makyng took at gre.
Finis prologi libri secundi.
Sequitur liber secundus.

[How Saul, Kyng of Ierusalem born of low degre as long as he dred god was obedient to him/and rewlid by good counsaile had many grete disconfitures/ but atte last/for his pride presumpcioun and grete disobysaunce/he lost his crowne and was slayn by Philestees.]

This said[e] Saul, of whom I spak toforn,
Ful weel compact & large of his stature,
Off the lyne of Beniamyn eek born,
His fader Ceis was callid in Scripture,
Whos assis whilom leffte ther pasture;—
Space off thre daies Saul hadde hem souht,
Loste his labour and ne fond hem nouht.
For thei were gon out so ferr a-stray,
So disseuered he ne koude hem meete,
Til that a child hym suyng al the way
Gaff hym counseil his labour for to lete,
And that he sholde gon to the prophete,
Which was ful famous holde in Israel,
Off whom the name was callid Samuel.

205

Which Saul made in his hous to dyne,
Receyued hym off gret affeccioun;
And be precept & ordenaunce deuyne,
Samuel made no prolongacioun,
But shadde the hooli sacred vnccioun
Vpon the hed off Saul, doun knelyng,
And ful deuoutli off Israel made hym kyng,
Off goddis peeple to ha[ue] the gouernaunce,
With sceptre & crowne, and hool the regalie.
And his noblesse mor myhtili tauaunce,
With meek[e]nesse to reule his monarchie,
God gaff to hym a sperit off prophecie,
Which was gret glorie to his magnyficence,
Off futur thynges to haue prescience.
And whil that he was meek & humble in deede,
Void off pride and fals presumpcioun,
And prudent counsail with hym dede leede,
Hym to gouerne bi good discrecioun,
He fond quiete thoruh al his regeoun;
No foreyn enmy durst hym tho werreye,
Whil he the Lord meekli dede obeie.
Non enmy myhte ageyn[e]s hym recure
Thoruh non enprises, but sore dede hym dreede;—
Made many gret disconfiture
Thoruh his force, knyhthod & manheede
On Philistes, and dauntid eek in deede
Too myhti kynges, the ton off Ammonytes,
And a-nother, that gouerned Moabites.
He was founde eek strong and victorious,
The Palestynes bryngyng to myschaunce;
Geyn Ydumes, so myhti and famous,
Thoruh his knyhtli prudent gouernaunce,
That he ther pride brouhte onto vttraunce,
Outraied hem off wisdam and manheede,—
Primo Regum, as ye may pleynli reede.
He was a sone callid off o yeer,
In Israel whan his regne began,
Stable off herte and benygne off cheer,
Froward nor sturdi to no maner man.
Al that while loue off the peeple he wan,

206

The tyme, I meene, whil he was iust & stable,
And in his werkis nat founde variable.
But whan that pride gan his herte enhaunce,
Wilfulnesse and fals malencolie
Outraied resoun, to ha[ue] the gouernaunce
Off his olde famous policie,
And hadde forgetyn in his fantasie
To knowe the Lord & meekli sue his lawe,
God from his crowne his grace gan withdrawe.
Thonkynde werm off foryetilnesse
In his herte hadde myned thoruh the wall,
Whan he to God, for his kynd[e]nesse,
Gaff no laude nor no thank attall,
Which hadde hym reised onto estat royall
Fro pore degre, mong al his kyn alone,
Be synguler fauour to sette hym in his throne.
What thyng in herte mor froward mai be thouht
Than is the sodeyn fals presumpcioun
Off a wrechche that cam vp off nouht,
To yeue hym lordshepe and dominacioun?
And for to make a pleyn comparisoun,
Men sholde off resoun dreede a leoun lasse
Than the reudnesse off a crownyd asse.
What thyng to God is mor abhomynable
Than pride upreised out off pouerte?
And nothyng gladli is founde mor vengable
Than ar wrechchis set in hih degre:
For from his stok kynde may nat fle;
Ech thyng resortith, how ferr euer it go,
To the nature which that it cam fro.
Frut and apples taken ther tarage
Wher thei first greuh off the same tre,
And semblabli ech kynreede & lynage—
Onys a yeer it will non othir be—
Be tokne or signe, at eye as men may see,
Draweth comounli in eueri creature
Sum tech to folwen afftir his nature.

207

I write nat this in rebuk off pouert;
But for suche onli as that it disserue:
God off his myht, as men be weel expert,
May hem in vertu encresen and conserue,
From al myscheeff a poore man preserue,
Reise hem on heihte to dominaciouns
Thoruh hih noblesse off ther condiciouns.
Be influence God may his grace sheede
Wher he fynt cause onli be meeknesse,
A poore man to reise hym vp in deede
Onto thestat off vertuous noblesse;
For out off vertu cometh al gentilesse,
In poore and riche mak non excepcioun,
But hem comende lik ther condicioun.
A poore man which that is vertuous
And dredith God in his pouerte,
Ech thyng eschewyng that is vicious,
And to his power doth trouthe & equite,—
I dar riht weel, what-euer that he be,
Puttyng no rebuk onto his kynreede,
But calle hym gentil veraili in deede.
But kyng Saul was contrarious,
Disobeisaunt founde in his werkyng,
Whan God made hym to be victorious
On Amalech, where Agag was kyng,
Hym comaundyng to spare no maner thyng,
Man nor woman, beeste nor child socoure,
But that his suerd sholde al quyk thyng deuoure.
But Saul wrouhte al in other wise,
Ech thyng reseruyng that was fair to siht;
And off entent to make a sacrefise,
Afftir his victorie he shoop hym anon riht,
Fattest beestis he ches, & hath hem diht
Toward the fir to maken his offryng,
And fro deth he spared Agag the kyng.
He was repreued afftir of Samuel,
To Godis biddyng for he was contraire,
As abiect to regne in Israel,

208

That al good hope in hym gan disespaire;
His grace, his myht gan pallen & appaire,
His prophecie afftir hath hym failed,
And with a feend he was also trauailed.
Thus from hir wheel Fortune cast hym doun,
Aualed hym from his roial see;
And God also took awey the crown,
Bothe from hym and his posterite,
And set up Dauid for his humilite.
Loo, how the Lord his doomys can deuyde
Tenhaunce meeknesse and tabate pryde!
Saul endured in his frenesie,
A wikked sperit so sore hym dede assaile;
Onto Dauid euer he hadde envie,
That he was hardi tentren in bataile,—
With a stafslynge, void off plate & maile,
Slouh Golias, withoute feer or dreed,
Pulled out his suerd[e] & smet off his hed.
At ther repairyng hom out off the feeld,
Whan Dauid hadde slay[e]n this Golie,
Yonge maidnes whan [that] thei beheeld
The grete victory, thei in ther armonye
In laude off Dauid thus gan synge & crie:
“Saul hath slayn a thousand thoruh his myht,
Dauid ten thousand, the lusty yonge knyht!”
Saul disdeyned and seide frowardli,
“Thei grauntid han a thousand to my name,
And to the sone heer off Ysai
Youe ten thousand to encrece his fame,
Which is to me a rebeuk and a shame.”
Wherupon this Saul, fret with ire,
Off yonge Dauid gan the deth conspire.
In his herte he hadde a fantasie
Off ther syngyng whan that he took heede,
Dempte it was a maner prophecie,
That Dauid sholde preferrid be in deede
And to the crowne afftir hym succeede.
Thouhte his childre, as he gan dyuyne,
Sholde be depryued off the roial lyne.

209

Thus day be day Saul weies souhte
To sle[en] Dauid, pleynli yiff he myhte,
Al-be-it so that he no malice thouhte,
But euer kept hym lowli in his sihte.
Therfore good eure & grace on hym alihte;
For ay the Lord off his magnyficence
Ageyn tirantis preserueth innocence.
And as the Bible pleynli doth us lere,
This Dauid hadde in his tendre age
For his noblesse the kyngis douhter deere,
Callid Michol, ioyned be mariage.
And whan that Saul fill in any rage,
Dauid anon, tasswagen his woodnesse,
Touchid his harpe & brouht him in gladnesse.
Saul ful offte gan Dauid to enchace
And werreie thoruhout all his londis,
Thoruh desertis hym pursue & manace,
Off entent tashet hym up in bondis
Or taslaie hym, yiff he com in his hondis.
But fynali God thoruh his ordynaunce
Preserued his knyht from al maner myschaunce.
Saul ful offte was brouht to myscheeff,
Yit ay fro deth[e] Dauid dede hym saue;
And heeroff this was a special preeff,
Whan Dauid kitte his garnement in the caue.
And mo toknys yiff ye list to haue,
Another tyme Dauid also kepte
The liff off Saul, whan he lay & slepte.
The cas was this: as thei lay hosteieng
Nat ferr assonder, and Saul lay and sleepe,
Al his peeple aboute[n] hym slepyng,
And onpurueied lik a flok off sheepe;
Off which[e] thyng Dauid took good keepe,
Doun descendid, and made no delay,
Cam to the tente wher kyng Saul lay.
The spere off Saul stondyng at his hed,
Dauid took it and wente his way anon;
Off his comyng ther was no man took heed,

210

For Saul slepte and his men echon.
And whan that he vp to the hill was gon,
Toward Saul ageyn he cast his look,
Made a noise that all his knyhtes wook.
First to Abnor, prynce off his cheualrie,
Dauid seide these woordis in sentence:
“Abnor,” quod he, “thou hast doon gret folie,
This day shewed a gret necligence,
To suffre off Saul the magnyficence
In pereil stonde, and non heed [to] take,
Aboute his persone to make his knyhtis wake.
Thou art to blame for thi reklesnesse,
To leue the kyng stonde in so gret a dreede,
In slep to haue mor sauour & suetnesse
Than off his liff [for] to taken heede.
Such necligence requereth for his meede
Deth and torment, be rihtful iuggement,
Aboute a prynce whan folk be necligent.
And yiff thou list to seen an euidence,
How that his liff stood in iupartie,
See heer his spere, & yiff therto credence,
How onprouyded ye were on your partie,—
Saul nor thou, ye may it nat denye,
Your liff, your deth, your power, your puissaunce
This day God put hool in my gouernaunce.
But me taquiten off pur innocence,
As eueri man sholde onto his kyng,
And to declare in me was non offence
Ageyn his noblesse in will nor in werkyng,
As God weel wot, that knoweth euery thyng,
That I neuer be no conspiracie
Wrouhte nor compassid ageyn his regalie.”
Loo, heer exaumple off parfit pacience
Ageyn malice to shewe kynd[e]nesse!
Wher Saul shewed his mortal violence,
Dauid aquit hym with suffraunce & goodnesse,
The tirant venquysshid bi his prudent meeknesse.
Men ageyn trouthe may weel a werre gynne,
But at the eende the palme he doth ay wynne.

211

For off this story yiff that ye take heed,
Saul is falle for his frowardnesse
Into myscheeff and into sodeyn dreed;
For Philistees, the Bible berth witnesse,
With a gret power gan ther wardis dresse
Vpon kyng Saul auenged for to be,
Ther tentis pihte beside Gelboe.
Wheroff kyng Saul, astonyd in his herte,
Hadde lost his sperit off knyhtli hardynesse,
And speciali whan he dede aduerte
Prophete was non his harmys to redresse,
Off futur thynges trouthe to expresse
In Israel, which cast hym in gret dreed,
Because that tyme Samuel was ded.
For Saul hadde cast out alle dyuynes
From Israel and ech dyuyneresse,
Nat-withstandyng [that] the Palestynes
Were rise ageyn, his power to oppresse;
And he ne knew no maner sorceresse
Off whom he myhte any counseil take,
And he off God that tyme was forsake.
In this wise he stood disconsolat,
Counseil off God nor prophete kneuh he non,
But lik a man most infortunat,
Ongraciousli he spedde hym foorth anon,
And secreli this Saul is foorth gon
To a woman that sholde hym reede and wisse,
In Israel callid a phetonysse.
Which is a name, as clerkis writen all,
And office, who that takith heede,
Soulis off men ageyn to clepe & call—
I meene such[e] that toforn wer dede—
Which is a thyng straunge for to reede,
That any woman sholde, who list to lere,
Make soulis of dede men appeere.

212

Vnkouth & straunge is ther opynyoun,
And to my witt a maner inpossible,
Nat accordyng, me semeth, to resoun,
Nor lik a thyng which that is credible,
That a soule, off nature inuisible,
Mihte appeere or shewe visibly
Onto eyen which that be bodily.
But or that I any ferthere flitte,
List I were holde to presumptuous,
To dyuynys this mater I commytte
And wise clerkis that be vertuous,
In ther wittis subtil and corious
To conclude, as it doth hem seeme,
In this mater a trouthe for to deeme,
Whethir it was the soule off Samuel,
Or other sperit, that she dede call,
Which that tolde the kyng off Israel
Off the bataile that sholde afftir fall,
His auenturis and his myscheuys all.
And off his deth he tolde also in deede,
And how Dauid sholde afftir hym succeede,
Because onli off his disobeisaunce,
As it is write, and for his reclesnesse,
On Amalech for he took nat vengaunce.
Thus the sperit bar to hym witnesse.
Whereoff Saul fell in gret heuynesse,
Knowyng no mene tescape out off this doute,
But take his fortune as it cometh aboute.
Tolde hym also his enmyes were so wroth,
The Philistees beside Gelboe,
In that bataile he and his childre both
Sholde deie that day, off necessite;
His cheualrie shal sconfited be,
Off his regne there is no lengere date,
For God from hym his kyngdam will translate.
And thus Saul retourned is agayn,
His meyne afftir brouht to disconfiture.
And whan he sauh al his peeple slayn,
And how ther was no mene to recure
In that dedli woful auenture,

213

He bad his squier take his suerd as blyue,
And thoruh the herte that he sholde hym ryue,
That his enmyes, which were oncircumsised,
Sholde ha[ue] no power, in story it is founde,
To falle vpon hym as thei han deuised,
To yeuen hym his laste fatal wounde,
His hih noblesse at myscheeff to confounde.
But his squyer, for feer of God and dreed,
Wold nat assente to doon so foul a deed;
To slen his lord he gretli was afferd,
A thyng hatful in eueri manys siht.
But Saul took the pomel off his suerd,
And in the ground ful deepe anon it piht;
And in al hast possible that he myht,
Made the poynt, in his furious peyne,
To perce his herte & parte euene on tweyne.
The Philistees, anon as he was ded,
Spoiled hym off his roial armure,
Dismembrid hym and smet off his hed,
And in tokne off ther disconfiture
Took the spoiles with al ther besi cure
And theroff made, in al ther beste entent,
To Astaroth off pride a gret present.
Thus was Saul slay[e]n in sentence
Off Philistees vpon Gelboe,
Forsake off God for inobedience,
Abiect also doun from his roial see:
And thus for lakkyng off humylite,
Off God he was for euere set a-side.
Loo, heer the eende off surquedie & pride!

Lenvoye.

Hath mynde on Saul, which to estat roiall
Fro louh degre was callid for meeknesse;
But presumpcioun made hym haue a fall,
Off God abiect for his frowardnesse,
Loste his crowne, the Bible berth witnesse.
And cause was, for his disobeisaunce;
To Godis biddyng he gaff non attendaunce.

214

God nat axeth no mor off man att all
But hool[e] herte withoute doubilnesse,
For alle the gifftes, which in especiall
He gaff to man off his hih goodnesse;
But he chastisith al onkynd[e]nesse,
Such as be rebel for to do plesaunce,
And to his biddyng ne yeue non attendaunce.
Noble Pryncis, vertu most pryncepall
You to conserue in your hih noblesse,
Is to enprente in your memoriall
Feith, equite, alle wrongis to redresse,
To susteene trouthe and rihtwisnesse,
And tofor God holdeth euenli the balaunce,
And to his biddyng yeueth hool your attendaunce.

The comendacion of Bochas oppon the vertu of obedience.

Vertu off vertues, most off excellence,
Which that hath most souereyn suffisaunce,
Is the vertu off trewe obedience,
Which set all thynge in rihtful gouernaunce:
For ne wer nat this prudent ordenaunce,
Summe tobeie and summe aboue to guie,
Destroied were al worldli policie.
Where that vertu and hih discrecioun
Auoided han from hem al wilfulnesse,
Be title onli off domynacioun,
Trewli lyuyng vpon rihtwisnesse,
Wrong and errours iustli to redresse,
Off trouthe I may riht weel afferme & seie,
The peeple meekli ther biddyng sholde obeie.
This noble vertu off feithful obeisaunce,
Establisshid vpon humylite,
Which includith no double variaunce,
In all regeouns and in ech contre
Causeth weelfare, ioie and prosperite;
And as vertu, cheeff and souereyne,
Al vicious riot it pleynli doth restreyne.

215

Obedience eek, as men may see,
Falsnesse exilith and al rebellioun;
For bi atempraunce, riht and equite
Stant the weelfare off eueri regeoun:
For the meeknesse and low subieccioun
Off comountes halt up the regalies
Off lordshepes & off all monarchies.
And, no doubte, whan lordshepes off entent
Besi been the souereyn Lord to queeme,
To ther subiectis do rihtful iugement,
In conscience as riht and resoun deeme,
Than shal ther crowne and [ther] diadeeme
Vpon ther hed perseuere & fresshli shyne,
And make subiectis to her biddyng enclyne.
Thus obeisaunce pleynli at a woord,
In such as han lordshepe and souereynte,
Doon off entent to ther souereyn Lord,
Shal cause hem regne in long prosperite,
And ther subiectis off humylite,
For ther noble famous gouernaunce,
Ay to be redy vnder ther obeisaunce.
For who that serueth the Lord off Lordis all,
And hath the peeple in his subieccioun,
God will keepe hym that he shal nat fall,
Longe preserue his domynacioun;
But ageynward, whan wisdam and resoun
Been ouermaistried with sensualite,
Farweel the floures off ther felicite!
Obedience bluntith the sharpnesse
Off cruel suerdis in tirantis hondis,
And meeknesse appesith the felnesse
Off hasti vengaunce, brekith atoo the bondis;
Eek pacience set quyete in londis:
And where these thre contune in comountes,
Long pes perseuereth in kyngdames & cites.
Obedience doth also restreyne
Conspiracies and fals collusiouns;
Whan she stant onpartid, nat on tweyne,

216

There is no dreed off no discenciouns:
For she combyneth the trewe opynyouns
In peeplis hertis, ful weel aforn prouyded,
Vnder pryncis to stonde hool ondeuyded.
Wher pryncis be meek, humble & debonaire
Towardis God off hool affeccioun,
Ther subiectis be gladli nat contraire
In ther seruise be no rebellioun;
For ther is founde no deuysioun,
But hed & membris, ech for his partie,
Be so gouerned be prudent policie.
Contrariousli Saul was put doun,
Abiect off God for his obstynacie,
Put from his sceptre, his crowne, his regeoun,
Off Israel loste al the monarchie,
For he list nat make off his alie,
Off frowardnesse and wilful necligence,
This noble vertu callid obedience.
For as it longith in kyngdamys & citees,
Vnder a keye off on benyuolence,
Pryncis, kynges to gouerne [in] ther sees,
So apperteneth deu[e] reuerence
To ther subiectis bi obedience,
Tobeie ther lordis, as thei been off degre,
Be title off riht in eueri comounte.
For obeisaunce, iff it be discernyd
With Argus eyen, who that taketh heed,
As riht requereth is nat weel gouernyd,
Whan the membris presume ageyn the hed,
Off gouernaunce ther is no parfit speed;
From vnyte thei gon a froward weie,
Whan subiectis ther pryncis disobeie.

[How kyng Roboam for gevyng feith to yonge counsaile lost the beneuolence of his peple and deied a fool.]

Onto Iohn Bochas in ordre next ther cam,
With ful gret dool and lamentacioun,
The yonge kyng callid Roboam,

217

Sone and next heir to Salamoun,
Entryng be title off iust successioun,
Besouhte myn auctour to make off his folie
And off his fallyng a pitous tragedie.
First whan he entred into his regeoun,
Twelue tribus gouernyng in deede,
Rewlid hymsilff be will and no resoun,
Kepte his subiectis pleynli, as I reede,
Nat vnder loue but vnder froward dreede;
Off olde wise, to his gret disauail,
He despised the doctryn and counsail.
He demened, as it is weel kouth,
His sceptre, his crowne and his regalie
Be such folk as floured in her youth,
Coude off custum ther wittis weel applie
To bleende hym falsli with ther flat[e]rie,
Which is a stepmooder callid in substaunce
To al vertu and al good gouernaunce.
Alas, it is gret dool and gret pite,
That flat[e]rie sholde haue so gret fauour,
Which bleendith princis that they may nat see,
Mistith the eyen off eueri gouernour,
That thei can nat knowe her owne errour,
Fals hony shad ay on ther sentence.
A fool is he that yeueth to hem credence.
Thei may be callid the deuelis taboureris,
With froward sownys eris to fulfille;
Or off Circes the pereilous boteleris,
Which galle and hony [togedir] doun distille,
Whos drynkes been bothe amerous & ille,
And, as clerkis weel deuise cunne,
Wers than the drynkes off Cirenes tunne.
Eris off pryncis ful weel thei can enoynte
With the soffte oile off adulacioun,
And ther termys most subtili appoynte,
Ech thyng concludyng with fals decepcioun,
Ay blandisshyng with amerous poisoun;

218

And fynali, as the poete seith,
Ther feith off custum concludith with onfeith.
Flourying in woordis, thouh ther be no frut,
Double off herte, plesaunt off language,
Off trewe menyng void and destitut,
In mustryng outward pretende a fair visage:
Who trusteth hem fyndeth smal auauntage,
Be apparence & glorious fressh shewyng
Pryncis deceyuyng & many a worthi kyng.
Roboam can bere ful weel witnesse,
From hym auoidyng folkis that were trewe,
How he was hyndred be flatrie & falsnesse
Be hem that coude forge out talis newe;
Whos counseil afftir sore dede hym rewe,
And with ther feyned fals suggestioun
Gretli abreggid his dominacioun.
He dempte hymsilff off more auctorite,
Off foli youthe and off presumpcioun,
Than was his fader in al his rialte.
And this pompous fals opynyoun
Cam into his conceit bi adulacioun;
For flatereris bar to hym witnesse,
How he excellid his fadres hih noblesse.
He dede gret rigour and oppressioun
Vpon his peeple, as it was weel preued;
And thei to fynde sum mytigacioun
In materis which that han hem greued,
Off ther tributis for to be releued,
Besouhte he wolde relece hem in ther neede:
But al for nouht; he took theroff non heede.
Al old counsail from hym he sette a-side
And refusid ther doctryn and ther lore;
And be fals counsail off folkis ful off pride,
His poore liges he oppressid sore.
And ten kynredis anon, withoute more,
For tirannye and for mysgouernaunce
From hym withdrouh ther trouthe & legeaunce.

219

Thus off the kyng conceyued the rigour,
The peeple anon off indignacioun
Stooned Adoram, which was collectour
Off the tributis in al his regeoun;
From hym departyng bi rebellioun.
Wheroff astonyd, tauenge his gret onriht,
Into Iherusalem took anon his fliht.
And whan thei were partid from Roboam,
The ten kynredis be dyuysioun
Ches hem a kyng callid Ieroboam.
And Roboam, withynne his roial toun,
To been auengid on ther rebellioun
And for to doon on hem cruel iustise,
An hundred thousand he made anon tarise.
With Ieroboam he caste hym for to meete,
And al attonys sette in iupartie;
But Semeias the prophete bad hym lete,
And from the werre withdrawen his partie.
And mor the quarel for to iustefie,
Off his peeplis froward departyng,
It was Godis will doon for a pun[y]shyng.
Touchyng the surplus off his gouernaunce,
His roial beeldyng off many fair cite,
His grete riche famous suffisaunce,
Off wyn and oile hauyng gret plente,
And how his empire encrecid yeres thre,
Eek how that tyme he rihtful was in deede,
In Josephus his story ye may reede.
Off his childre born in the riht[e] lyne,
Eihtene wyues, as maad is mencioun,
I fynde he hadde, and many concubyne,
Sonys and douhtris be procreacioun;
And how his richesse and gret pocessioun
That tyme encreced, as it is weel knowe,
To God a-boue whil that he bar hym lowe.
But, as this auctour maketh rehersaile,
In his encres and augmentacioun,
Meeknesse off herte in hym gan waste & faile,

220

And pride entrid with fals presumpcioun,
Vertu dispisyng and al relegeoun;
Affter whos vices, as seith the same book,
Wikkid exaumple off hym the peeple took.
Affter the maneres, wher thei be good or ille,
Vsid off pryncis in dyuers regeouns,
The peeple is redy to vsen and fulfille
Fulli the traces off ther condiciouns:
For lordis may in ther subiecciouns,
So as hem list, who-so can taken heede,
To vice or vertu ther subiectis leede.
Thus Roboam for his transgressiouns,
In Iosephus as it is deuised,
And for his froward fals opynyouns,
Onli for he al vertu hath despised,
Off God he was rihtfully chastised:
In Ierusalem his cheeff roial toun
Off his enmyes besegid enviroun.
The kyng off Egipt a sege aboute hym laide
With so gret peeple, that socour was ther non,
Al-be-it so that Roboam abraide
And preied God delyuere hym from his fon,
Tauoide off merci his enmies euerichon.
But God list nat to granten his praiere,
But hym chastised, lik as ye shal heere.
First his cite and his noble toun
Delyuered was, he knew no bet socour,
Vnder a feyned fals composicioun;
For at ther entryng, void off al fauour,
Kepyng no couenant, took al the tresour,
Withynne the temple hauyng no pite,
But ladde it hom to Egipt ther contre.
And to reherse, it is a gret[e] dool,
How Roboam, as Iosephus doth declare,
Was inli proud and therwithal a fool,
And off al wisdam destitut and bare,
Onmerciable his peeple for to spare,
Hatyng good counsail, and so in his folie
Regnyng a fool; and so I lete hym deie.

221

[Lenvoye.]

Philisophres concluden and deuise
In ther bookis off old experience,
That counseilour[e]s sad, expert & wise,
Trewe off ther woord, stable off ther sentence,
Hasti nor rakel for no violence,
Keepe & preserue, the trouthe I dar attame,
Noblesse off pryncis fro myscheeff & diffame.
Hasty youthe and rancour in contrari wise,
Which han to will[e] al ther aduertence,
Except hemsilff all othir men despise
Thoruh ther onbridled furious insolence,
Nothyng aqueyntid with wisdam nor prudence,
Brynge ageynward, wheroff thei be to blame,
Noblesse of princis in myscheff & diffame.
Kyng Roboam, ageyn riht and iustise,
To yonge foolis gaff feith & most credence,
Crueli his subiectis to chastise;
Which put his peeple from his benyuolence,
Drouh ten kynredis from his obedience,
Which was to hym, be record, ful gret shame,
Puttyng his noblesse in myscheff & diffame.
Noble Pryncis, doth wisli aduertise,
In preseruyng off your magnyficence,
Off olde expert nat blent with couetise
Taketh your counseil and doth hem reuerence,
Eyed as Argus in ther hih prouidence,
Which conserue be report off good name
Noblesse off pryncis from myscheeff & diffame.

[A Chapitle/descryuyng how prynces beyng hedis of ther comountees sholde haue noble cheualrie true Iuges &c ther commounte to gouerne &c.]

What ertheli thyng is mor deceyuable,
Than off pryncis the pompe & veynglorie,

222

Which weene [to] stonde in ther estatis stable,
As thei the world hadde conquered be victorie—
And sodenli be put out off memorie,
Ther fame cloudid, allas, and ther noblesse
With a dirk shadwe off foryetilnesse!
Wheroff kom[e]th the famous cleer shynyng
Off emperoures in ther consistories?—
Or wheroff komth ther laude in reportyng,
Sauff that clerkis han wreten ther histories?
Or where were now conquestis transitories,
Or ther tryumphes—wher sholde men hem fynde,
Ne had writeris ther prowesse put in mynde?
Rekne up all, and first the worthy nyne,
In hih noblesse which hadde neuer peeris:
Ther marcial actis, which cleerli dede shyne,
Ther fame vorn aboue the nyne speeris
With loude sownys off Famys clariouneris,
Ther glorious palmes, yiff thei be weel peised,
Be low labour off comouns was first reised.
Mak a liknesse off thes gret ymages
Coriousli corue out be entaile,—
Hed, armys, bodi, and ther fressh visages,
Withoute feet or leggis may nat vaile
To stonde vpriht; for needis thei mut faile.
And semblabli subiectis in comountees
Reise up the noblesse off pryncis in ther sees.
As hed and membres in ymages been o ston,
Outher o stok, be cumpas ondeuyded,
And be proporcioun ther feturis euerichon
Set in trewe ordre, as Nature hath prouided,
So that all errours thoruh crafft be circumcided:
The hed set hiest be custom, as men knowe,
The bodi amyd, the feet benethe lowe.

223

Mihti pryncis for ther hih renoun,
As most worthi shal ocupie the hed,
With wit, memorie and eyen off resoun
To keepe ther membris fro myscheeff & dreed,
Lik ther degrees take off hem good heed,
With cleer[e] forsiht off a prudent thouht
Ther feet preserue that thei erre nouht.
Ther mut been handis & armys off diffence,
Which shal this ymage manli keepe & guie
From alle assautis off foreyn violence,
Which shal be named noblesse off cheualrie—
Ther trewe office iustli to magnefie,
Sustene the chirch & make hemsiluen strong
To see that widwes nor maidnes ha[ue] no wrong.
Prudent iuges, as it is skele and riht,
To punshe wrong and surfetis to redresse,
In this ymage shal ocupie the siht:
For loue or hate, bi doom off rihtwisnesse,
For freend or fo his iugementis dresse,
So egali the lawes to susteene,
In ther werkis that noon errour be seene.
Mid this ymage there is a bodi set,
An agregat off peeplis and degrees,
Be parfit pes and vnyte I-knet
Bi thestatis that gouerne comountees,—
As meires, prouostes & burgeis in citees,
Marchauntis also, which seeke sundri londis,
With othir crafftis which lyuen bi ther hondis.
And as a bodi which that stant in helthe
Feelith no greeff off no froward humours,
So eueri comoun contynueth in gret welthe,
Which is demened with prudent gouernours,
That can appese debatis and errours,
The peeple keepe from al contrauersie,
Causyng the[r] weelfare tencrece & multeplie.

224

This bodi must haue a soule off liff
To quyke the membris with gostli mociouns,
Which shal be maad off folk contemplatiff,
The cherche committed to ther pocessiouns,
Which bi ther hooli conuersaciouns
And good exaumple[s] sholde as sterris shyne,
Be grace and vertu the peeple [t]enlumyne.
Vpon the liht off ther condiciouns,
Off this bodi dependith the weelfare;
For in ther techyng and predicaciouns
Thei sholde trouthe to hih & low declare,
And in ther office for no dreed ne spare
Vices correcte, lich as thei ar holde,
Sithe thei been heerdis off Cristes folde.
Folwyng vpon, off entent ful cleene,
Laboreris, as ye han herd deuised,
Shal this bodi bern up and susteene
As feet and leggis, which may nat be despised;
For trewe labour is iustli auctorised,
And ner the plouh vpholden be trauaile,
Off kynges, pryncis farweel al gouernaile.
Thus first yiff pryncis gouerned been be riht,
And knyhthod suffre the peeple to ha[ue] no wrong,
And trouthe in iuges shewe out his cleer liht,
And feith in cites with loue be drawe a-long,
And hooli cherche in vertu be maad strong,
And in his labour the plouh ne feyne nouht,—
Thanne be proporcioun this ymage is weel wrouht.
This mateer hool for texemplefie,
Kyng Roboam for fals oppressioun
And for his wilful froward tirannye
Loste a gret parti off his regeoun;
Wherfore, let pryncis considren off resoun,
God sette the peeple for lordis auauntage,
And nat to been oppressid with seruage.

225

Vpon summe pryncis Bochas doth compleyne,
Such as haue a custum and maneer
Ageyn ther subiectis ongoodli to disdeyne,
And off pride to shewe hem froward cheer;
Counseileth hem to remembre & ler,
As this chapitle doth fynali deuise,
First out off labour al lordshepe dede arise.

[How Mucyus Sceuola slouh an Innocent in stede of Kyng Porcenna that leide siege to Rome.]

Whan kyng Porcenna with his cheualrie
Ageyn Romeyns a werre first began,
The toun besegyng vpon ech partie
With gret puissaunce brouht out off Tuskan,
In the cite ther was a knyhtli man,
Mucius Sceuola, which caste in ther distresse
To breke the siege thoruh his hih prowesse.
Leet arme hymsilff[e] cleene in plate & maile,
For comoun profit, tauauncen his corage
Kyng Porcenna proudli to assaile;
A tyme prouyded to his auauntage,
Thoruh the siege to maken his passage,
And fynali at his in-comyng
Iuparte his persone for to sle the kyng.
But lik as tellith Titus Lyuyus,
Wher Porcenna sat in his roial see,
This senatour, this manli Mucius,
Sauh a prynce off gret auctorite,
The kyng rasemblyng, clad [both] in o lyuere,
Atween discernyng no maner variaunce;
Slouh that prynce off veray ignoraunce.
But whan he knew[e] that he dede faile
To slen Porcenna, enmy to the toun,
And sauh he hadde lost al his trauaile,
He made a pitous lamentacioun,
Because he dede execucioun
Off ignoraunce, ageyn his owne entent,
To spare a tirant and slen an innocent.

226

For which he was with hymsilff ful wroth,
That he was founde so necligent in deede,
And with his hand onto a fir he goth,
Made it brenne briht as any gleede,
Bothe nerff & bon and his flessh to sheede,
His hand consumyng on pecis heer & yonder,
And from his arm made it parte assonder.
And as the story declareth onto vs,
This manli man, this noble senatour,
Afor tyme was callid Mucius,
Which for the comoun dede many gret labour;
And for the vnkouth hasti fell rigour
Doon [vn]to hymsilff, the Romeyns all,
Sceuola thei dede hym afftir call.
As moche to seyne be language off that lond—
Who take ariht the exposicioun—
As a man which is withoute an hond.
And afftir hym bi successioun
Al his offspryng, that wer bor in the toun,
In remembraunce for tencrece his fame,
Off Sceuola bar afftir hym the name.
Be this exaumple and many a-nother mo,
Yiff men list her corages to awake,
Thei sholde seen what pereil & what wo
For comoun profit men haue vndirtake,
As whilom Brutus for Lucrecis sake
Chaced Tarquyn for his transgressioun
And kynges alle out off Rome toun.
Touchyng Lucrece, exaumple off wifli trouthe,
How yonge Tarquyn hir falsli dede oppresse,
And afftir that, which was to gret a routhe,
How she hirsilff[e] slouh for heuynesse,
It nedith nat rehersyn the processe,
Sithe that Chaucer, cheeff poete off Bretayne,
Wrot off hir liff a legende souerayne.
Rehersyng ther among[es] other thynges
Ech circumstaunce and ech occasioun:
Whi Romeyns exilid first ther kynges,

227

Neuer to regnen afftir in ther toun,
As olde cronycles make mencioun,
Remembryng also thunkyndli gret outrage
Bi Eneas doon to Dido off Cartage.
Eek othir stories which he wrot his lyue
Ful notabli with eueri circumstaunce,
And ther fatis dede pitousli descryue,
Lik as thei fill put hem in remembraunce,
Wherfore yiff I sholde my penne auaunce,
Afftir his makyng to putte hem in memorie,
Men wolde deeme it presumpcioun & veynglorie.
For as a sterre in presence off the sunne
Lesith his fresshnesse and his cleer[e] liht,
So my reudnesse vnder skies dunne
Dareth ful lowe and hath lost his siht,
To be compared ageyn the bemys briht
Off this poete; wherfore it were but veyn
Thyng seid be hym to write it newe ageyn.

[How Lucrece/oppressid bi Tarquin slouh hirsilf.]

But at Lucrece stynte I will a while,
It were pite hir story for to hide,
Or slouthe the penne of my reud[e] stile,
But for hir sake alle materis set a-side.
Also my lord bad I sholde abide,
By good auys at leiser to translate
The doolful processe off hir pitous fate.
Folwyng the tracis off Collucyus,
Which wrot off hir a declamacioun
Most lamentable, most doolful, most pitous,
Wher he descryueth the dolerous tresoun
Off hir constreyned fals oppressioun,
Wrouht & compassid bi vnwar violence,
The liht ontroublid off hir cleer conscience.

228

Hir fader whilom callid Spurius,
Hir worthi husbonde named Collatyn,
Which bi the luxure & tresoun odious
And vicious outrage of Sextus, proud Tarquin,
Oppressid was & brouht onto hir fyn.
Whos dedli sorwe in Inglissh for to make,
Off pitous routhe my penne I feele quake.
This said Tarquyn, this euel auised knyht,
This sclaundrid man, most hatful for his deede,
Cam lich a theeff, alas, vpon a nyht
With naked suerd, whan no man took non heede,
Vpon Lucrece, she quakyng in hir dreede,
Liggyng abedde ferr from hir folkes all,
And knew no refuge for helpe for to call.
He manacyng in his froward entent,
On hir beholdyng with a furious cheer,
That with his suerd[e], but she wolde assent,
Hire and a boy he wolde prente ifeer,
Such on as was most ougli off maner,
Most onlikli off persone and off fame:
Thus he hir thratte for to sclaundre hir name.
But his entent[e] whan she dede feele,
And sauh no mene ageyn hir woful chaunce,
The morwen afftir she list nothyng concele,
Tolde hir husbonde hooli the gouernaunce,
Hym requeryng for to do vengaunce
Vpon this crym, saide lik a trewe wiff,
She wolde hir herte percen with a knyff.
In this mater this was hir fantasie:
Bet was to deie than to lyue in shame,
And lasse wikke, to putte in iupartie
Hir mortal bodi than hir good[e] fame.
Whan honour deieth, farweel a manys name!
Bet it were out off this liff disseuere,
Than sclaundrous fame to slen a man for euere.

229

But to that purpos hir husbonde seide nay,
Hir fader also was therto contrarie,
Makyng a promys, withoute mor delay,
To do vengaunce how thei wil nat tarie.
To hir declaryng with resouns debonarie,
Vnder these woordis trouthe & riht conserued,
To slen hirsilff she hath nothyng disserued:
[“My dere Lucrece, tempeste the nat at al,
We knowe thy menyng and thy clene entent,
Thy vertu prevyd in especial,
Which yevith to vs a ful pleyn argument,
Vn-to thavoutour thow gaff nevir assent,
And for a more singuleer evydence,
Cryest euere to punysshe his greet offence.
Lyst nat cese, but euere theron abydest,
And al counfort doost fro thy-sylff refuse;
Thyng that was secre, in covert thow nat hydest,
But rygerously thavoutour doost accuse,
Wheer expert vertu thy renoun doth excuse.
Thy wyffly trouthe can bern also witnesse
By cleer repoort to vs of thy clennesse.
For in the eyen of folkys ferre and neer,
The glorye and honour of wyffly chastite
Hath to this day with bryghte beemys cleer
In thy persone enlvmyned this cyte.
For bothe in opyn and also in secre
The fame hath flouryd of thy chaast[e] name,
Fre fro thatwytyng of ony spot of blame.
We can our-sylff recordyn and expresse,
How thy delyght and thyn hertly plesaunce
Was to worshepe wyffly sobirnesse,
And to werreye al chaunge and varyaunce,
Lyk a lanterne set vp of constaunce,
Or lyk a merour, in euery mannys syght,
Off good exaumple to yive al othir lyght.

230

My trewe Lucrece, hastow nat in mynde,
Nat yoore agoon, in verray sekirnesse,
How thavoutour and I the did[e] fynde
Amyd thy women in vertuous besynesse
Occupyed,—a tokne of stedfastnesse,
Therby concludyng of trouthe and of resoun,
Modir of vertu is occupacyoun.
I fond the thanne, as I haue do ful offte,
Among thy maydenys besily sittyng,
To make hem werke vpon wollys soffte,
In ther werkyng hem womanly cherysshyng.
On vicious lust ful smal was thy thynkyng;
Wherfore, thow shuldyst of resoun advertyse,
Tatempre thy dool in more tendir wyse:]
For sodenli and also onauised,
As a foul is trappid in a snare,
Be onwar fraude vpon the practised,
Thou were deceyued, pleynli to declare,
Hauyng this conceit, hard is to repare
The name off hem which falsli be diffamed,
Whan wrong report the[r] hih renoun hath shamed.
Touchyng thi persone, I dar afferme & seyn,
That it were a maner inpossible,
And lik a thyng which neuer yit was seyn,
That thi worshepe was founde coruptible,
But stedfast ay and indyuysible,
Ondepartid in vertu and maad strong,
And now desirous tauenge thi pitous wrong.
On thyn iniurie we shal auengid be,
Considred first the dedli heuynesse
Which thou suffredist bi gret aduersite,
Whan thauoutour thi beute dede oppresse,
And reioishyng bi a fals gladnesse,
Maugre thi will[e], as a theeff be nyht
The encoumbred off veray force & myht.

231

But yiff thou woldist leue al thi moornyng
And restreyne thyn inportable wo,
Thou sholdist seen so egal a punshyng
Vpon thi moste froward mortal fo,
To warne alle othre, thei shal no mor do so,
In chastisyng off fals auoutrie,
The and thi renoun off riht to magnefie.
What was diffacyng to thi trewe entent,
Thouh his youthe onbridled wente at large,
So for tafforce a celi innocent?
Whos wikkednesse ouhte to bere the charge,
And we off riht thi conscience discharge.
The ioie onleefful off his fals plesaunce,
With double palme thyn honour doth auaunce.
Conceyue and see, o thou my Lucrece,
How that resoun and good discrecioun
Sholde thi trouble & thi mournyng cese,
Off riht restreyne thyn opynyoun,
So reklesli to do punycioun,
With knyf on honde to slen thisilff, alas!
For othres gilt, and dedist no trespas.
Lat be, Lucrece, lat been al thi dool,
Cese thi compleynt & thi wo restreyne.
Sholde I fro the lyue alone al sool,
And thi deth perpetueli compleyne?
To putte thi fader in inportable peyne,—
Off our weelfare be nat so rek[e]les,
To deie and leue our childre moodirles.
Off prudence eek thou ouhtest for to see
And aduertise onli off resoun,
Thouh off force thi bodi corupt be,
Thi soule inward and thyn entencioun
Fraunchised been from al corupcioun.
Offens is noon, considre in thyn entent,
But will and herte yiue therto ful consent.
Thou were nakid in thi bed liggyng,
Alone, onwar, slepyng and void off myht,
Suspeciounles al off his comyng,

232

That tyme namli, because that it was nyht.
A feerful woman, and he an hardi knyht,
Al-be-it so onknyhtli was his deede,
With nakid suerd tassaile thi womanheede.
He myhte thi bodi be force weel oppresse
Be sleihti weies that he hadde souht;
But weel wot I, for al his sturdynesse,
He myhte neuer ha[ue] maistri off thi thouht.
The bodi yolde, the herte yald hym nouht.
Ye wer[en] tweyne, thou feeble & he riht strong,
Thi trouthe afforced, he werkere off the wrong.
Where myhtistou ha[ue] grettere price or laude,
Al riht considred, trouthe and equite:
First countirpeised his force & sleihti fraude,
Thanne to perseuere in femynyte
With thouht onchaungid, & in fragilite
Off womanheed to haue an herte stable,—
What thyng in the myht be mor comendable?
It is weel knowe thou were off herte ay oon,
To all fals lustis contraire in gouernaunce,
Mor lik an ymage korue out off a ston,
Than lik a woman flesshli off plesaunce
The tirant fond the in cheer & contenaunce,
Which euer afftir be womanli victorie
Shal be ascryued to thyn encres off glorie.
Thi fadir Brutus hath the weel excusid,
Misilff also, thi blood & thi kynreede,—
On this mater lat no mor be musid.
To sle thisilff or do thi sidis bleede,
Certis, Lucrece, thou hast ful litil neede;
It were gret wrong be al our iugement
To spare a tirant and slen an innocent.
Thi-silff to moordre, to summe it wolde seeme
Thou were gilti, wher-as thou art cleene.
Dyuers wittis dyuersli wolde deeme,
Reporte thyng thou neuer dedist meene.
For which thou shalt pacientli susteene,

233

Till thi chast[e] wiffli innocence
May seen hym punshed for his violence.
Folk wil nat deeme a persone innocent,
Which wilfulli, whan he is nat coupable,
Yildith hymselff to deth be iugement,
And neuer afforn was off no gilt partable.
His owne doom, vpon hymsilff vengable,
Causeth the peeple, thouh ther report be nouht,
To deeme a thyng that neuer was doon nor thouht.
To been auengid vpon thyn owne liff,
In excusyng off thi dedli diffame,
To shewe thou art a trewe parfit wiff,
Wenyng be deth to gete the a name,—
In this deuys thou art gretli to blame,
Wher thou yit knowest thyn honour cleerli shyne,
To yiue the peeple mater to deuyne.”
And with that woord Lucrece dede abraide,
Ful dedli pale bothe off look and cheer,
To them ageyn, euene thus she saide:
“Lat be, husbonde, lat be, my fader deer,
Spekith no mor to me off this mateer,
List men dempte, in hyndryng off my name,
I dradde deth mor than fals diffame.
Your counsail is, I shal my liff conserue
To sorwe and sclaundre, but to no gladnesse;
But lasse wikke is at an hour to sterue
Than euer langwisshe in sorwe & heuynesse.
Deth maketh an eende off al worldli distresse;
And it was said sithe[n] ful yore ago,
Bet is to deie than euer to lyue in wo.
Whan that worshepe in any creature
Is slayn and ded be sclaund[e]rous report,
Bet is off deth the dreedful peyne endure,
Than be fals noise ay luye in disconfort,
Wher newe & newe diffame hath his resort,

234

Neuer deieth, but quekith be thoutrage
Off hatful tunges & venymous language.
Doth your deuer to halwe & make stable
The chast[e] chaumbres off wifli gouernaunce;
For in this cas yiff ye be variable
On fals auoutri for to do vengaunce,
Ther shal folwe euerlastyng remembraunce,
How trewe spousaile, as ye han herd deuysed,
In your cite was broke and nat chastised.
Yiff ye be founde in such cas necligent
To punysshe auoutours, off riht as is your charge,
Thoruh your slouthe, as ye were off assent,
Luxure onbridled shal renne abrod at large.
Who shal thanne your conscience discharge,
Or what woman stonde in sekirnesse,
Off Lucrece afforced the clennesse?
O deere husbonde, what ioie sholde it be
To thyn estat, in ony maner place,
Lich as thi wiff [for] to cherisshe me,
Or in thyn armys me goodli to enbrace,
The gilt horrible considred and trespace
Be Tarquyn doon—alas and welaway!—
Which in my persone may neuer be wasshe away?
And fader myn, how sholdestou me calle,
Afftir this day, thyn owne douhter deere,
Which am, alas, refus off women alle,
That to thi plesaunce was whilom most enteere,
Withynne thi hous whan I dede lere,
Bi cleer exaumple off manyfold doctryne,
Al that partened to vertuous disciplyne?
Which I haue lost now in my daies olde,
Disespeired it to recure ageyn.
Myn owne childre, I dar hem nat beholde,
Because the wombe in which that thei ha[ue] leyn
Diffouled is and pollut in certeyn,
Which was toforn in chastite conserued.
Chastisith thauoutour, as he hath disserued!

235

And for my part to speke in woordes fewe,
Lenger to lyue I ha[ue] no fantasie;
For wher sholde I out my face shewe,
Or dore appeere in any cumpanye,
Sithe a dirk spotte off fals auoutrie
Shal euer encrece, wher it be fals or trewe,
Into myn hyndryng the sclaundre to renewe?
Lust afforcid hath a fals appetit,
Of freelte includid in Nature;
Maugre the will, ther folweth a delit,
As summe folk seyn, in eueri creature.
Good fame lost, ful hard is to recure;
And sithe I may myn harmys nat redresse,
To you in open my gilt I will confesse.
Al-be I was ageyn my will oppressid,
Ther was a maner constreyned lust in deede,
Which for noun power myht nat be redressid,
For febilnesse I stood in so gret dreede.
For which offence deth shal be my meede,
Sith leuer I haue with sum egge tool
To sle mysilff, than lyue in sclaundre & dool.
O fader myn, spare and ha[ue] pite!
And deere husbonde, rewe on myn offence!
Goddis & goddessis callid off chastite,
To my trespace graunteth an indulgence;
For off my gilt to make a recompence,
Wher that Venus gat in me auauntage,
Deth shal redresse & chastise myn outrage.
For yiff I sholde make a delay
To perce my brest bi sharpnesse off a knyff,
Men wolde deeme and sey fro day to day,
To make my sclaundre mor open & mor ryff,
How that I was mor tendir off my lyff
Than off my worshep, which wer to gret a shame,—
To loue my liff mor than my good[e] name!

236

In this mateer no witnesse is so good,
To putte a-way al fals suspecioun,
As with a knyff to sheede myn herte blood:
I myht nat make a bet purgacioun
To alle folk that ha[ue] discrecioun,
Than fynali be my deth texcuse
The gilt horible, off which men me accuse.
Go foorth my soule, peur & inmortal,
Cheeff[e] witnesse off myn innocence,
Tofor tho iuges which be infernal:
First Mynos, kyng, to deeme my conscience,
With Radamanthus to yeuen a sentence
Lik my desert, that it may be seene,
In wifli trouthe how that I was cleene.
Thou ertheli body, which thoruh thi fairnesse
Were to auoutri ful gret occasioun,
Off thi blood sheede out the red[e]nesse,
And be thi sides late it raile doun;
Stere and excite the peeple off this toun
To doon ther deuer, withynne a litil while,
For loue off Tarquyn, alle kynges to exile.
And first I praie, myn husbonde most enteere,
Off this vengaunce to make no delay;
With helpe & socour off my fader deere
To punysshe thauoutour, in al the haste ye may;
Let hym take his wages and his pay,
Lik as ye seen, and pleynli now conceyue,
For his offence the deth I do receyue.”
And sodenli, or thei myhte aduerte,
She took a knyff, and with gret violence,
Thoruh the brest, euene onto the herte
She made it glide,—ther was no resistence.
Ful pale and ded fill doun in ther presence.
And bi occasioun off this pitous deede,
Tarquyn exilid, and hooli his kenreede.

237

For which[e] cause, be record off writyng,
Was ther neuer in Rome the cite,
Afftir that day no man crownyd kyng,
As in cronycles ye may beholde and see.
Thus for luxur[y]e and ther cruelte,
Ther tirannye and fals extorsioun,
Thei wer exilid out off Rome toun.

[How Rome aftir was gouerned and virginea bi hir fadir slayn.]

Gouerned afftir bi other officeres,
As is remembred in Titus Lyuyus,
Callid decemvir of dyuers cronycleres;
Among[es] which ther was on Appius,
A iuge ontrewe, proud and luxurious,
Which thoruh the cite, the story berth witnesse,
Behatid was for his gret falsnesse.
And onys it fill, as he caste his look
Vpon a maide most inli fair off siht,
A fals desir withynne his herte he took
Hir to disuse, ageyn al skele and riht.
And she was douhter to a worthi knyht,
Ful manli founde in his deedis all,
And Virginius the Romeyns dede hym call.
Whos goodli douhter, the story doth us lere,
Was afftir hym for his noble fame
Virginia callid, most goodli & enteere;
And for this cause she bar the same name.
But Appius ful gretli was to blame,
Which hath conspired thoruh his gret falsnesse,
Yiff that he myhte hir beute to oppresse.
This iuge ontrewe bothe in thouht and deede,
Off lawe onrihtful souhte out occasioun;
Made a sergeant off his to proceede,
Ageyn this maide to take an accioun,
Cleymed hir his seruant bi fals collusioun.
And this was doon be Appius off entent
That he on hir myht yiue a iugement.

238

And be this mene, in his fals delit,
Thouhte he myhte hir beute best disuse,
So for taccomplisshe his flesshli appetit,
She beyng feeble thaccioun to refuse.
Wherupon hir fader gan to muse,
Fulli conceyued off Appius the maner,
In hir diffence wrouhte as ye shal heer.
Whan Appius hadde youe his iugement
Ageyn this maide, which aforn hym stood,
Hir manli fadir, most knyhtli off entent,
Took hir appart, as he thouhte it good,
And with a knyff shadde hir herte blood:
Dempte it bettre to slen hir in clennesse,
Than the tirant hir beute sholde oppresse.
Thus hool conserued was hir chastite
And ondefoulid was hir maydenheede;
For Virginius to keepe hir honeste
Spared no thyng to make hir sides bleede.
But Appius for this horible deede,
And decemvir, thoruh this onhappi chaunce,
Hadde in that cite neuer afftir gouernaunce.
As the story maketh also mencioun,
Appius, ashamed off this deede,
Slouh hymsilff[e] fetrid in prisoun:
Off a fals iuge, loo heer the fynal meede!
And tho tribuni in Rome gan succeede,
Twen riht & wrong treuli to discerne,
And Romayn lawes iustli to gouerne.
Men may heer seen as in a merour cleer,
Estatis chaungid for ther gret offencis;
And be sum poore persone synguleer
Pryncis put doun from ther magnyficencis,
Which nat considre in ther gret excellencis,
How God ordeyneth his yerde [in] sundri wise,
The poore sumwhile the pompous to chastise.

239

Heeron to shewe exaumple anon riht,
Markid in story for a notable thyng,
Pausanias, off Grece a manli knyht,
Off Macedonye slouh Phelipp the kyng
At a table where he was sittyng
Tween Alisandre and Olimpiades,
His wrong tauengen, amyddis al the pres.
Eek Salmator, a knyht off low degre,
For wronges doon in especiall,
Off manli force groundid on equite
Slouh off Cartage the prynce Hastruball,
Which brother was onto Duc Hanyball,
Beside a ryuer, as thei mette in bataile,
Callid Metaure, which renneth in Ytaile.
Wherfore, ye Pryncis, yiff ye list longe endure,
Beth riht weel war, be ye neuer so strong,
In your lordshepis nat to moche assure
Off surquedie the poraile to do wrong,
In your discrecioun conceyuyng euer a-mong,
Grettest dreed is, that may your staat assaile,
Whan subieccioun doth in the peeple faile.

Lenvoy.

This tragedie declareth in partie,
What myscheef folweth of extorsioun,
Eek off spousbrech and of auoutrie
Be Tarquyn doon thoruh fals oppressioun
Onto Lucrece withynne Rome toun;
Kynges exiled for such mysgouernaile
And fals outrages doon to the poraile.
Eek Appius, off wilful tirannye,
Ageyn Virginia took an accioun,
Thoruh a fals lust off froward lecherie,
Blent and fordirked his memorie & resoun,
Which was cheeff cause and occasioun
Whi thestat off dishomme dede faile,
Thoruh fals outrages doon to the poraile.

240

Kyng Phelipp loste sceptre and regalie
Off Macedonye the famous regeoun,
Onwarli slay[e]n, myd his cheualrie
Sittyng at mete withynne his cheeff dongoun.
And grettest cause off his fallyng doun,
Was whan Fortune his pride dede assaile
For fals outrages doon to the poraile.
Duk Hastrubal, whom bokis magnefie
Vp to the heuene for his hih renoun,
Whos tryumphes rauht up to the skie,
And hadde al Cartage in his subieccioun,—
Yit was he slayn onwarli be tresoun,
Be a seruant; loo, what doth disauaile
Treson purposid aforn in the poraile!
Noble Pryncis, your resoun doth applie,
Whiche ouer the peeple ha[ue] dominacioun,
So prudentli to gouerne hem and guie,
That loue and dreed be trewe affeccioun
Preserue ther hertis from fals rebellioun,
Sithe to your hihnesse nothyng may mor preuaile
Than trewe subieccioun expert in the poraile.

[How Ieroboam Kyng of Israel for Idolatrie and disobedience cam to mischeues ende.]

Next these stories, in Bochas as I fynde,
Ther dede appeere onto his presence
Kynges sexe, hym praieng to ha[ue] mynde
Vpon ther fall be onwar violence
From ther estatis off roial excellence.
And toforn alle, I fynde, that ther cam
Off al Israel kyng Ieroboam.
Onto myn auctour he began declare
His dedli compleynt with a pale face,
His gret myscheuys and his euel fare,
And how he fill doun from his kyngli place
Thoruh gret onhappis, which dede his herte enbrace,

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And, as this story pleynli hath deuysed,
For his offencis how he was chastised.
An ydolatre he was, as it is told,
Reised up auteres, off veray force & myht,
Set therupon too calueren of peur gold,
Dede hem worshepe, ageyn al skele & riht,
Gaff euel exaumple in the peeplis siht,
Whan he dede with fumys and encens
To fals ydoles ondeu reuerens.
Fro the temple he made the peeple gon,
Preestis ordeyned afftir his owne guise,
Forsook the tribe off Leuy and Aaron,
And vpon Bethel his offryng gan deuise.
And whil he dede onleefful sacrefise,
God, that weel knew off hym the fals entent,
Fro Ierusalem a prophete to hym sent.
Which hym rebuked off his mysgouernaunce,
And gan the pereiles to hym specefie;
Told hym aforn[e], for to do vengaunce
Off Dauid[s] kyn ther sholde come on Iosie,
Which sholde his preestis, that falsli coude lie,
Manli destroie, and slen hem alle attonys
And into asshes brenne hem flessh and bonys.
And in tokne off ther destruccioun,
The prophete told among hem all,
How his auteris sholde bowe doun,
And his ydoles from ther stage fall,
Whom that foolis ther goddis falsli call,
Which ha[ue] no power to helpe in no manere,
For thei may nouther feele, see nor heere.
Afftir this prophete, Iadan, hadde told
These said[e] signes pleynli to the kyng,
His auter fill on pecis manyfold,

242

And ouerturned bakward his offryng;
For which the kyng, furiousli lokyng,
Put foorth his hand, the story maketh mynde,
Bad his men the prophete take and bynde.
And as he his arm rauht out on lengthe,
Hadde no power it to withdrawe ageyn,
Wex onweeldi, contract and lost his strengthe.
And whan the kyng hath these toknys seyn,
And how the prophete spak no woord in veyn,
Gretli astonyd, koude sey no more,
But prai[e]de Iadan his arm for to restore.
And be his praier and mediacioun,
Off his arm, afftir this vengaunce,
Ther was anon maad restitucioun,
And off his peyne feelith alegaunce.
For which the kyng, with ful gret instaunce,
Requered hym to be so gracious,
That day tabide and dynen in his hous.
But the prophete wolde nat assente,
Nouther with hym to ete nor to drynke;
Took his asse, and foorth anon he wente,
On whose departyng the kyng gan sore thynke,
And fantasies gan in his herte synke,
Speciali whan he taketh heede
Off all his toknys, how thei were trewe in deede.
God bad Iadan in this gret emprise
To Ieroboam first whan he was sent,
Ete nor drynke, in no maner wise,
In that cite whil he was present;
But a-nother prophete off entent,
Ful old and slyh, on the tother side,
Compellid hath this Iadan to abide.
Hym afforcyng be fals collusioun
To resorte ageyn to the cite,
And to make no contradiccioun
With hym to dyne off fraternyte,
To hym affermyng, it may non other be:

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For God sent hym as to his freend and brother,
Tabide with hym & pleynli with non other,
Off freendliheed and trewe affeccioun
Withynne his hous to shewen his presence,
For a repast and a refeccioun:
This Godis will and fulli his sentence.
To whos woordis the prophete gaff credence.
And as thei sat at dyner bothe ifeere,
God onto Iadan seide in this manere:
“For the brekyng off my comaundement,
Thi grete offence and transgressioun,
That thou hast been so wilful necligent,
Thou shalt endure this punycioun,
Been al to-torn and rent off a leoun,
And in thi cuntre thou shalt nat recure,
With prophetis to haue thi sepulture.”
Off which[e] tithyng, this Iadan nothyng fayn,
Gan to departe with a ful heuy thouht:
Off a leoun myd off the weye slayn;
But his asse harmyd was riht nouht.
A ful gret merueile, yiff it be weel souht,
The leoun sittynge as in ther diffence,
And kept hem bothe from al violence.
Alle these toknys myht[e] nat conuerte
Ieroboam from his iniquite;
Godis warnyng hym list nat to aduerte,
Nor be his prophete correctid for to be.
Wherfore, God wolde that he sholde see
Vengaunce folwe, as it fill in deede,
Bothe vpon hym and [on] his kynreede.
A sone he hadde, which fill in gret siknesse,
Callid Abimen, the book doth specefie;
For which the kyng bad the queen hir dresse,
To gon disguised, withoute cumpanye,
Onto a prophete which callid was Achye,
Hym to requere, treuli for to seye
Whethir the child sholde lyue or deye.

244

And in his inward sihte contemplatiff,
God shewed hym bi cleer inspeccioun,
Off Ieroboam how she was the wiff,
For al hir sleihti transformacioun.
For nouther fallas nor fals decepcioun
May be to God, but it be parceyued;
For he nys prophetis may nat be deceyued.
She cam to hym in a straunge weede;
At thentryng he callid hir bi hir name:
“Com foorth,” quod he, “for it is no neede
To hide thi-silff[e], as it were for shame;
For the trouthe treuli to attame,
God hath youe me fulli knowlechyng
What thou shalt answere & seyn onto the kyng.
Sey pleynli to hym, & marke it in thi thouht,
In thi repair these woordis rehersyng,
‘Sith God hath maad the, & reised the up off nouht,
From a seruaunt to regnen as a kyng,
Fro Dauidis kyn, most worthi[ly] regnyng,
Partid the kyngdam & youen it onto the,
And thou onkynde theroff canst nothyng see,—
His grete goodnesse is out off remembraunce,
Fulli forgetyn off thi froward pride;
In fals[e] goddis put thyn affiaunce,
God aboue falsli set a-side,
Wherfore from the anon he shal deuyde
Thy kyngdam hool, withoute mor delay,
And fro thi lyne the crowne take away.
And for thou hast to thi confusioun
Thi feith, onfeithful, to false goddis take,
Wrongli refused thi relegeoun
Off God aboue, & pleynli hym forsake,
This thende which that thou shalt make:
The and thi kyn no man may socoure;
Flessh, skyn and bon houndis shal deuoure.

245

And at thentryng hom to thi cite,
Thi sone and his, thou shalt fynde hym ded,
Off al his kyn thouh ther was non but he
Founde veray good[e]; tak heeroff good heed.’”
Off which answere the queen fill in gret dreed,
Entryng the cite in especiall,
Hir child was ded, & lay cold be the wall.
Off this warnyng the kyng took non heed,
But made hym redi with ful gret apparaile,—
Fourti thousand with hym he dede leed
Off manli men armed in plate & maile,
With kyng Abias to haue a gret bataile.
The which Abias, that was off Iuda kyng,
Onto his peeple saide at ther meetyng:
“O noble knyhtis, hath o thyng in memorie,
No man venquysshith, platli to conclude,
With gret peeple, nor getith hym victorie
With noumbres hepid nor gret multitude;
Fals ydolatres, God will hem dillude,
Nat suffre his seruauntis that be trewe & sad
Off mescreantis to been ouerlad.
Tryumphe is non founde off newe or old
In these ydoles off ston nor siluer sheene,
Nor in caluere off metal maad or gold,
Youe to that parti which ontreuli meene.
And sithe that God knoweth our quarel cleene,
Ther is non hope, force non nor myht
With hem that grounde hem a cause ageyn[e]s ryht.
Hope off victorie stant on rihtwisnesse,
Off them that caste ther synful liff tamende,
And list forsake wrong and al falsnesse,
And with hool herte onto the Lord entende;
Which shal this day his grace to you sende,

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Our trewe cause iustly to termyne.”
And thus Abias gan his tale fyne.
His preestis gan ther trumpes for to blowe;
And kyng Abias thoruh his hih renoun
Gaff to his peeple, bothe to hih & lowe,
Ful manli confort and consolacioun.
And fifti thousand be computacioun
Wer slayn that day, which ful proudli cam
Vpon the parti off kyng Ieroboam.
And al the parti off Ieroboam,
And al that wer[e]n off his lyne born,
Afftir this bataile onto myscheeff cam,
Whan thei were slayn, with houndis al to-torn,
As the prophete hadde hem told beforn.
But for the kyng took theroff non heed,
With sodeyn vengaunce God quit hym his meed.

[How Zareas Kyng of Ethiope was slayn in bataile.]

Afftir hym to Bochas dede appeere,
Next in ordre pleynli, as I fynde,
On Zareas, with a sorweful cheere.
And he was kyng off Ethiope and Ynde,
Whos eyen wern almost with wepyng blynde,
Praieng myn auctour, his onhappi chaunce
With othre woful to putte in remembraunce,
And that he wolde recorden be scripture
His sodeyn fall and dolorous distresse,
And his diffamous hatful disconfiture,
With the dispoilyng off his gret richesse,
And how kyng Asaph, thoruh his hih noblesse,
Myd his peeple, as he dede hym assaile,
Hath hym venquysshid & slay[e]n in bataile.

247

[How Adab kyng of Ierusalem lost sceptre & crowne.]

Off Israel than cam the woful kyng
Callid Adab, ful pitousli wepyng,
Onto Bochas his compleynt rehersyng,
How kyng Basa, be subtil fals werkyng,
With sodeyn slauhtre caused his fallyng,
Whan Fortune gan falsli [on hym] frowne,
And took oniustli from hym sceptre & crowne.

[How the vengeable prince Zambrias set a toure on fire and brent himsilf.]

Next cam Zambrias, a prince [ful] vengable,
Which slouh kyng Helam be fals tresoun,
That fond also Fortune ful onstable;
For this Zambrias off entencioun
Hath moordrid hym withynne the cheeff dongoun
Off his castell, with a ful gret[e] route,
As he onwarli laide a siege aboute.
But Amaryn, a prynce off ful gret myht,
Cam into Tharse, a famous strong cite,
And cast hym pleynli, lik a worthi knyht,
On this Zambrias auenged for to be,
Hym to destroie withoute merci or pite.
But into a tour as Zambrias wente,
Set it affire, and so hymsilff he brente.

[Off Kyng Achab & Iezabel his wiff.]

Wyth sihhes sore & wepyng inportable,
Cam kyng Achab onto Iohn Bochas,
Whos hertli sorwe was incomparable.
And, compleynyng, ful offte [he] seide, alas!
Besechyng hym to write his woful cas,

248

Compile his fallyng and the fate ifeere
Off Athalia his owne douhter deere.
To God aboue most contrarious
This Achab was in al his gouernaunce,
And hadde a wiff cruel and lecherous
Callid Iezabel, which set al hir plesaunce
On Godis prophetis for to do vengaunce:
In the Bible ther malice men may see,
And ydolatres thei were, bothe he and she.
God for ther trespacis, as it was weel seyn,
Afforshewed be trewe prophesie,
Sente thre yeer nouther deuh nor reyn
Vpon the erthe ther greyn to multeplie;
Till efft ageyn, bi praier off Helie,
Holsum watres from heuene gan descende,
Which gaff hem cause ther cursid liff tamende.
But his wiff, that cursid Iezabel,
To ech thyng hatful which that was dyuyne,
An hundred prophetis she slouh in Israel,
Onto Baal for thei ne wolde enclyne;
And she also slouh Naboth for his vyne,
Thoruh whos outrage & fals oppressioun
Achab was brouht to his confusioun.
Off his enmyes outraied in bataile,
With a sharp arwe cauht his fatal wounde,
Till al his blood be bledyng dede raile
Aboute his chaar, with many dropis rounde;
That the woordis wer ful trewe founde
Off Helias, which told hym, as it stood,
That hungri houndis sholde likke his blood.
In a cite, than callid Iezrael,
Doun from a tour ioynyng to the wall,
The said[e] queen, callid Iezabel,
Was ouercast & hadde a dedli fall.
Touchyng these myscheuys, for she was cause of all,

249

Bewar ye Pryncis, remembryng al your lyues,
Teschewen fals counsail youen by your wyues.

[Off queene Gatholia for hir tyrannye slayn.]

Next to Achab in ordre dede sue
Gatholia, with doolful contenaunce
Bochas besechyng, as she thouht it due,
Hir sodeyn fall to putte in remembraunce,
Sours and cheff roote off sorwe and myschaunce,
Vsurpacioun and off fals couetise,
Lik as hir story heeraftir shal deuise.
She was vpreised be fauour in thre thynges;
For fader, brother, and also hir husbonde
Wer in that tyme echon crownyd kynges,
With sceptre and suerd, as ye shal vndirstonde,
Many emprises ther daies took on honde;
And how Fortune ther hihnesse dede assaile,
I caste shortli to make rehersaile.
She fill off Fortune in thunhappi boundis,
First whan hir fader was with an arwe ded,
His blood vplikked with cruel hungri houndis,
A-boute his chaar[e] rennyng doun ful red.
His bodi pale lay, who that took heed,
Lik a careyn, naked and dispoiled,
With foul blak erthe myd the feeld isoiled.
Cause of a-nother onhappi heuynesse
And off hir dedli desolacioun,
Was, the peeple felli dede hem dresse
Off Arabie in ther rebellioun
Ageyn hir husbonde, off entencioun
To robbe his tresour to ther auauntage,
And his richesse be outraious pillage.

250

Summe off his meyne thei puttyn in prisoun—
Ther was ageyn hem maked no diffence,—
Spared nouther cite, boruh nor toun,
Slouh man and child be sturdi violence.
Hir lord infect with sodeyn pestilence,
Conceyued fulli bi his maladie,
There was no geyn but he muste [nedis] deie.
Afftir his deth, most wrechchid and odible,
His body corupt, his bowelis fell doun;
Off his careyn the stench was so horible,
Their infect aboute hym enviroun
With so gret horrour and putrefaccioun,
That no man myhte abiden nor endure
To brynge his bodi onto sepulture.
Hir thridde onhapp, wheroff she was ful fayn
That Fortune list hir efft assaile,
Made hir vncle, kyng Ioram, to be slayn
With an arwe, as he fledde in bataile.
She supposyng it gretli sholde auaile,
Lik a woman most furious and wood,
She off kyng Dauid slouh al the roial blood.
Hir purpos was to gouerne al the rewm,
Alone hirsilff ta dominacioun,
To regne in Iuda and Ierusalem,
This Gatholia be vsurpacioun.
And for that cause in hir entencioun,
With mortal suerd she made all tho to fyne
That were descendid from Dauid doun be lyne.
Except on Ioas ther leffte non alyue,
Child off a yeer, sone off kyng Ochosie,
Whom Iosaketh, the story doth descryue,
Off verai pite cauhte a fantasie
The child to saue, that he shal nat deie,
From the malice off Gatholia.
And she was wiff to bisshop Ioiada.

251

She and this bisshop, with hool herte & enteer,
Kepte this child in ful secre wise
Withynne the temple the space off seuene yeer,
And in the seuente, the story doth deuise,
Ioiada took on hym this emprise:
Yonge Ioas withynne a certeyn day
Be iust[e] title to crowne hym yiff he may.
His massageris he sendith out anon,
Off pryncis, tribunes gan a counseil call,
Off preestis eek, and leuytes euerichon.
And whan he hadde discured to hem all
Hool his entent, thus it is befall:
Sworn and assentid, as it was sittyng,
That yonge Ioas shal be crownyd kyng.
“For be promys, which that is dyuyne,”
Quod Ioiada, “yiff ye taken heede,
God hath behestid to Dauid and his lyne,
And assurid onto his kynreede,
In Ierusalem how thei shal succeede;
And thouh Ioas be yong & tendre off myht,
He to the crowne hath neuer-the-lesse ryht.
In this mateer I wil nat that ye slepe,
But to shewe your trewe deligence,
On foure parties the temple for to keepe,
That no man entre be no violence;
And in the myddis, be roial excellence,”
Quod this bisshop, “no man shal us lette,
On Ioas hed a crowne for to sette.”
And whan ech thyng was brouht onto the poynt,
His hih estat tencrece and magnefie,
The peeple anon, whan he was enoynt,
Viuat rex!” thei began to crie.
And whan Gatholia gan this thyng espie,
For veray ire and the sodeyn wonder,
Off malencoli hir clothes kitte assonder.
Ran to the temple and gan make affray
With hir meyne, and to crie loude,
Bad hem go slen, and make no delay,

252

The yonge kyng, in al the haste thei coude:
Hir venym hid vnder a couert cloude,
Al attonys hir purpos to recure,
Be sodeyn malice she gan that day discure.
The temple kept, entre had she non,
Peeple ordeyned awaityng for the nonys;
And or she myhte any ferthere gon,
Clenli armed, the centurionys
The cruel queen assailed al attonys.
And off hir malice to writen a short tale,
Thei slouh hir afftir off Cedron in the vale.
Loo, heer the eende off moordre and tirannye;
Loo, heer the eende off vsurpacioun;
Loo, heer the eende off fals conspiracye;
Loo, heer the eende off fals presumpcioun!
Born rihtful heires, wrongli to put hem doun.
O noble Pryncis, thouh God hath maad you strong,
To rihtful heires be war ye do no wrong!

Lenvoye.

These tragedies testatis & degrees,
Fulli declareth the decepciouns
Off Fortunys fals mutabilitees
Shewed in provyncis, citees and eek touns.
Pryncis onwarli lost ther posessiouns,
Which from ther synnes, in no maner wise,—
Hadde off God warnyng, and list nat for to rise.
Mihti kynges cast doun from ther sees,
Loste ther lyues and ther regeouns,
Onwarli throwe from ther felicitees:
Ieroboam for his oppressiouns
And for his froward fals oblaciouns
Doon to ydoles, his story doth deuise,
Had off God warnyng, & list nat for to rise.

253

Achab also hadde gret aduersitees
Thoruh fals counsail and exortaciouns
Off Iezabel, roote off iniquitees;
Dede to his peeple gret extorsiouns:
She slouh prophetis, Godis champiouns.
Bothe he and she, most cursid in ther guise,
Had off God warnyng, & list nat for to rise.
Gathalia with hir duplicitees
And conspired fals intrusiouns
Slouh Dauides seed, tentre ther dignitees,
And to possede ther domynaciouns;
But for hir hatful fals collusiouns
Onwarly slayn, for hir gret couetise,
Had off God warnyng, & list nat for to rise.
Pryncis remembreth in your prosperitees,
And seeth aforn in your discreciouns,
Wrong clymbyng up of statis or degrees,
Outher be moordre or be fals tresouns,
Axeth a fall for ther fynal guerdouns;
Namli off them that the Lord despise,
And for his warnyng list nat for to rise.

[How Dido queen of Cartage slouh hirsilf for conseruacion of hir chastite.]

Now must I putte my reud[e] stile in pres,
To queen Dido make my passage:
Hir lord Siche was preest to Hercules,
Hir fadir Belus, falle into gret age,
Kyng off Tire, and she queen off Cartage.
And it is rad in bookis that be trewe,
How first in Tire was founde purpil hewe.

254

Cadmus fond first lettres for to write,
Gaff hem to Grekis, as maad is mencioun,
Whos brother Fenix, as clerkis eek endite,
Fond first the colour off vermelioun.
And off Cartage, the famous myhti toun,
This said[e] Dido, hir story doth expresse,
How she was bothe queen and founderesse;
But hir husbonde was cheeff lord and sire,
Callid Sicheus, ful famous off renoun,
Off this noble cite named Tire,
Hadde gret tresour & gret possessioun.
And for envie kyng Pigmalioun,
Brother to Dido, this Siche slouh in deede,
Off fals entent his richesse to posseede.
Dido this slauhtre took greuousli at herte,
Sore compleynyng this onhappi chaunce,
Caste she wolde, yiff she myhte asterte,
Fleen out off Tire and hirsilff auaunce,
With al the tresour and the habundaunce
Behynde lefft whan hir lord was ded,
Hir shippis entryng, went away for dreed.
She knew & dradde the gredi auarice
Off hir brother, kyng Pigmalioun,
And how that hatful onstaunchable vice
Was ground and roote & cheeff occasioun
Whi that hir lord was slay[e]n in that toun.
For whom ful offte she cried welaway,
Whos deth was cause whi she fledde away.
She hadde also this opynyoun,
Which caused most hir hertli heuynesse,
That sithe hir brothir, kyng Pigmalioun,
Hadde slyan hir lord for his gret richesse,
Yiff she abod, that he wolde hym dresse,
Parcel for malice, parcel for couetise,
To haue hir tresour sum tresoun to practise.

255

And for teschewe his malice and tresoun,
For hir nauye she maketh ordenaunce
Bauys off them, in whom, as be resoun,
She sholde off riht sette hir affiaunce.
And thei ful redy hir to do plesaunce,
Be on assent, for nothyng wolde faile,
With faire Dido out off that lond to saile.
In Cipre first was hir arryuaile;
And ther she fond[e] be a ryuer side,
Off yong[e] maidnes, with ful riche apparaile,
Sexti and ten in the same tide,
Which in the temple off Venus dede abide,
Afftir the custom, as I can reporte,
Off Cipriens straungeris to disporte.
And in ther moste feithful humble wise,
Afftir the rihtis off Cipre the cuntre,
Onto Venus ech day do sacrefise,
Them to conserue in ther virgenyte,
Duryng ther liff to lyue in chastite,
Neuer to been ioyned in mariage;
And with queen Dido thei went to Cartage.
In ther passage fill a gret meracle,
As Seruyus maketh mencioun;
For Dido took off Iuno this oracle,
Outher baperyng or bi auisioun,
Off Cartage to beelde that myhti toun.
And at reuerence off that gret goddesse,
She to tho parties faste gan hir dresse,
The said[e] cite statli for to founde.
And hir werkmen, as thei therthe souhte,
An oxes hed off auenture thei founde;
And to queen Dido anon the hed thei brouhte,
Menyng wheroff to serchyn out she thouhte.
And hir clerkis in ther dyuynaile,
Tolde it was tokne off seruage & trauaile.

256

For which she leffte to beeldyn [in] that place,
And gan remeue, as she ouhte off riht;
And fro then[ne]s but a litil space
A soil she fond ful delectable off siht;
And as hir werkmen with ther ful[le] myht
The ground gan serche, anon, or thei took heed,
The stori tellith, thei fond an horsis hed.
And bi expownyng off hir dyuynours,
Fond [that] this beeste gretli myhte auaile
Onto pryncis & myhti conquerours,
Necessarie in werre and in bataile.
And for no wiht hir noblesse sholde assaile,
Cartage she bilte, off so gret excellence,
Geyn all enmyes to stonden at diffence.
Summe bookis declare and specefie,
Dido dede as moche lond purchace
As a skyn in round myhte ocupie
Off an oxe, theron to beelde a place;
The ground cumpasid took a large space,
Which strongli bilt, thus it is befall,
Afftir the skyn men dede it Birsa call.
And whan this cite myhtili was wallid,
Afftir a skyn, wrouht be good curray,
The name take, Carta it was callid,—
Lethir off Birsa, pleynli this no nay,
Took eek his name duryng many a day,—
Carta and Birsa knet in ther language,
As moch to seyne as this woord Cartage.
And in Affrik stant the teritorie
Wher she bilte this cite delectable,
Founded it in laude and in memorie
Off myhti Iuno, the goddesse honourable,
The cite wallid, with tour[e]s strong & stable,

257

Tyme off kyng Dauid myd the fourte age,
As I seide erst, callid it Cartage.
With gret worshepe she regned in that toun,
Euer off purpos to lyue in chastite;
And round aboute floured the renoun
Off hir prudence and hir honeste.
Til the report off hir famous beute
Cam to the eris, which gladli wil nat hide,
Off a kyng that duellid ther beside.
Off Musitan[e]s he was lord and sire,
As poetis pleynli list descryue,
Which in his herte gretli gan desire
The queen Dido bi hir assent to wyue,
Onto hir grace yiff he myhte aryue.
But for she hadde auowed chastite,
She neuer caste maried for to be.
The kyng supprised with loue in his corage
For hir wisdam and hir gret beute,
Sent[e] for the pryncis off Cartage,
On this mater to han a gret trete,
To condescende, yiff it myhte be,
Lich his desir, in al ther beste entent,
Doon ther deuer to make hir to consent.
With his request he gan hem eek manace,
Yiff he failed off his entencioun,
Lik his desir to stonden in hir grace,
Saide he wolde been enmy to ther toun,
Tordeyne be force for ther destruccioun.
Nat fulli sobre, nor fulli in a rage,
This was to hem pleynli his language.
But for thei knew hir gret[e] stedfastnesse,
And hir herte veray inmutable,
Thei were affer[e]d any woord texpresse,
Lest ther answere wer nat acceptable
To his hihnesse, for he was nat tretable.
Eek in ther conceit thei gan also recorde,
To his desir the queen wold nat accorde.

258

With good auys an answere thei purueie
To his purpos in parti fauorable,
Afferd he wolde ther noble toun werreie,
Or off disdeyn vpon hem be vengable.
But queen Dido, in hir entent ay stable,
Caste she wolde, what-euer thei hir tolde,
Hir chast auow feithfulli to holde.
She set a-side off this cruel kyng
His fell manacis & his woordis grete;
And to hir pryncis for ther consentyng,
Which stood in feer off that he dede hem threte,
She onto hem gaff a maner hete,
For thei wer bold tattempten or tattame
To trete off mater reboundyng to hir shame.
“Nay, rather deie,” quod she, “than tassente
To his desirs, which thyng God forbeede,
Or fro the centre off my chast entente
For to remeue, outher in thouht or deede,—
Which were disclaundre to al womanheede,
To condescende for any manacyng
To breke my vow for plesaunce off a kyng.
Touchyng manacis maad to this cite,
For to destroie it with his gret[e] myht,
Withoute cause or title off equite
To grounden hym a quarell ageyn riht,
Onli for he is blyndid in his siht
With froward lust my chast auow tassaile,
Beth riht weel seur how he theroff shal faile.
Yiff ye wer bold and manli off corage,
For comoun profit your cite to defende,
And to withstonde his vicious outrage,
To trete with hym ye wold nat condescende.
But myn entent, platli to comprehende,
Wher it to you be ioie or displesaunce,
In my promys shal be no variaunce.

259

My lord Sicheus, the which, alas, is ded
Onto the world[e], who[-so] list aduerte;
Trustith riht weel, for manacyng nor dreed,
That he shal neuer deien in myn herte,
Nor ye shal neuer myn auow peruerte,
Thus auysed, whil that I stonde fre,
Queen off Cartage to gouerne this cite.
Myn hasti answere, I pray you nat disdeyne,
But that ye list to gyue me liberte,
With your support that I may atteyne
To haue a space graunted onto me:
This to meene, the space off monthes thre,
Mi lordis will taccomplissh off entent,
Which he whilom made in his testament.”
Vnder colour to hir auauntage
She took this space, bookis specefie,
That she myhte hir cite off Cartage
The mene while strongli fortefie
Ageyn hir enmyes, that for no slogardrie,
Off them that wolde hir hih estat confounde,
Onpurueied hir cite nat be founde.
Whan thre monthes passed were & gon,
She afftir wolde, for hir hertli plesaunce,
With sundri rihtes, many mo than on,
To all hir goddis doon sum obseruaunce,
For a special synguler remembraunce
Off hym that was, as folk shal vnderstonde,
Whilom hir lord & best beloued husbonde.
And mor texalte his glorie & his honour,
Heeld his exequies, be due reuerence,
Off al Cartage in the hiest tour,
With brennyng fir, fumys and encence,
Hir pryncis all beyng in presence;
To which she gan declare in compleynyng,
Hir dedli sorwe, doun from hir tour lokyng.

260

“Farweel my freendis, farweel for euermore!
Onto my lord myn husbonde I mut gon,
To hym, I meene, that was my lord off yore:
For off husbondis, God wot, I ha[ue] but on;
Praieng you to reporte euerichon
Afftir my deth, [how] Dido off Cartage
I-ioyned was but onys in mariage.
Seith to the kyng, which hath you manacid,
Mi chast[e] beute that he wolde assaile,—
Go, tellith hym how that I am pacid,
And off his purpos how that he shal faile.
His manacyng shal hym nat auaile.
And seith how Dido deied for the nonys,
For she nat wolde be weddid mor than onys.
Leuere I haue my liff as now to lese,
Rathere than soile my widwes chastite.
Lat hym go ferthere, sum other for to chese;
For in such cas he shal nat speede off me.
And with the tresour off myn honeste,
Which I ha[ue] treuli obserued al my lyue,
I will departe out off this world now blyue.”
And into fir, that brente cleer and briht,
She ran in haste, there is no mor to seyne,
Sauff with a knyff in euery manys siht
Ful sodenli she roff hir herte on tweyne.
Whos pitous deth the cite gan compleyne,
Sore wepyng for wonder and for routhe,
In a woman to fynde so gret a trouthe.
Afftir hir deth thei dede ther besynesse
To holde and halwe a feste funerall;
Worsheped hir lik a chast goddesse,
And hir comendyn[g] in especiall
To heuenli goddis, & goddis infernall.
And widwes all[e], in ther clothes blake,
At this feste weptyn for hir sake.

261

Touchyng Dido lat ther be no striff:
Thouh that she be accusid off Ouide,
Afftir Bochas I wrot hir chast[e] liff,
And the contrary I ha[ue] set a-side;
For me thouhte it was bet tabide
On hir goodnesse, than thyng reherse in deede,
Which myhte resowne ageyn hir womanheede.
To Eneas thouh she was fauourable,
To Ytaile makyng his passage,
Al that she dede, [it] was comendable,
Hym to receyue comyng be Cartage;
Thouh sum folk wern large off ther language,
Amysse texpowne be report, or texpresse
Thyng doon to hym onli off gentilesse.
Ther shal for me be maad no rehersaile
But as I fynde wretyn in Bochas;
For to sey weel may moch[e] more auaile
Than froward speche, in many dyuers cas.
But al Cartage offte seide alas,
Hir deth compleynyng thoruhout ther cite,
Which slouh hirselff tobserue hir chastite.

[Lenvoy.]

O fair[e] Dido, most stable in thi constaunce,
Queen of Cartage, merour off hih noblesse,
Regnyng in glorie & vertuous habundaunce,
Callid in thi tyme cheeff sours off gentilesse,
In whom was neuer founde doubilnesse,
Ay off on herte; and so thou dedest fyne,
With liht off trouthe alle widwes tenlumyne.
Chast and onchaungid in thi perseueraunce,
And inmutable founde in thi goodnesse,
Which neuer thouhtest vpon variaunce,
Force and prudence wardeyns off thi fairnesse,
I ha[ue] no language thi vertues to expresse,
Be newe report so cleerli thei [do] shyne;
With liht off trouthe alle widwes tenlumyne.

262

O lode-sterre off al good gouernaunce,
All vicious lustis be wisdam to represse;
Thi grene youth flouryng with al plesaunce,
Thou di[d]st it bridle with vertuous sobirnesse.
Diane demened so chastli thi clennesse,
Whil thou wer soul[e], pleynli to termyne,
With liht off trouthe alle widwes tenlumyne.
Thi famous bounte to put in remembraunce,
Thou slouh thiselff off innocent peurnesse,
Lest thi seurnesse wer hangid in ballaunce,
Off such as cast them thi chastite toppresse—
Deth was inouh to bere theroff witnesse—
Causyng thi beute to al clennesse tenclyne,
With liht off vertu alle widwes tenlumyne.

Lenvoye direct to wydowis of the translatour.

Noble matrones, which han al suffisaunce
Off womanhed, your wittis doth vp dresse,
How that Fortune list to turne hir chaunce,
Beth nat to rakell off sodeyn hastynesse,
But ay prouideth in your stabilnesse,
That no such foly entre your corage
To folwe Dido, that was queen off Cartage.
With hir maneris hath non aqueyntaunce,
Put out off mynde such foltissh wilfulnesse:
To slen yoursilff[e] wer a gret penaunce!
God off his grace defende you and blesse,
And preserue your variant brotilnesse,
That your trouthe falle in non outrage,
To folwe Dido, that was queen off Cartage!
With couert colour and sobre contenaunce,
Off feithful menyng pretendith a liknesse,
Countirfetith in speche and daliaunce
Alle thynge that sowneth unto stedfastnesse;

263

Off prudence be gret auisenesse
Yoursilff restreyneth, yong & old off age,
To folwe Dido, that was queen off Cartage.
Lat al your port be void off displesaunce;
To gete freendis doth your besynesse,
And beth neuer withoute purueiaunce:
So shal ye best encresen in richesse,—
In on alone may be no sekirnesse;
To your herte beth dyuers off language,
Contraire to Dido, that was queen off Cartage.
Hold your seruauntis vnder obeisaunce,
Lat hem nouther ha[ue] fredam nor largesse,
But vnder daunger doon ther obseruaunce.
Dauntith ther pride, them bridlyng with lownesse,
And whan the serpent off newfangilnesse
Assailith you, doth your auauntage,—
Contraire to Dido, that was queen off Cartage.

[How vicious Sardanapalle kyng of Assirie brent himsilff and his tresour.]

Off Assirie to rekne kynges alle
Which hadde that lond vnder subieccioun,
Last off echon was Sardanapalle,
Most femynyne off condicioun,
Wherfore Fortune hath hym throwe doun:
And compleynyng, most ougli off maneere,
Next afftir Dido to Bochas dede appeere.
To vicious lust his liff he dede enclyne;
Mong Assiriens, whan he his regne gan,
Off fals vsage he was so femynyne,
That among women vppon the rokke he span,
In ther habite disguisid from a man.
And off froward flesshli insolence,
Off alle men he fledde the presence.
First this kyng ches to been his guide
Moodir off vices, callid idilnesse,
Which off custum ech vertu set aside

264

In ech acourt wher she is maistresse.
Off sorwe & myscheeff the firste founderesse,
Which causid onli this Sardanapall,
That to al goodnesse his wittis dede appall.
He fond up first ryot and drunk[e]nesse,
Callid a fadir off lust and lecherie;
Hatful off herte he was to sobirnesse,
Cherishyng surfetis, wach and glotonye,
Callid in his tyme a prynce off baudrie,
Fond rere soperis and fether beddis soffte,
Drynke late, and chaunge his wynes offte.
The air off metis and off baudi cookis,
Which off custum alday roste and seede,
Sauour off spetis, ladlis & flesshhookis
He loued weel, and took off hem gret heede.
And folk that drank[e] mor than it was neede,
Smellyng off wyn for ther gret excesse,
With hem tabide was hooli his gladnesse.
He thouhte also that it dede hym good
To haue aboute hym, ageyn skele and riht,
Boistous bocheris, al bespreynt with blood,
And watry fissheris abood euer in his siht,
Ther kootis poudrid with scales siluer-briht:
Dempte ther odour, duryng al his liff,
Was to his corage best preseruatiff.
For ther nas herbe, spice, gras ne roote
To hym so lusti, as was the bordelhous,
Nor gardeyn non so holsum nor so soote
To his plesaunce nor so delicious,
As the presence off folkis lecherous;
And euer glad to speke off ribaudie,
And folk cherisshe that koude flatre & lie.
Til at the laste God off veray riht
Displesid was with his condiciouns,
Because he was in euery manys siht

265

So femynyne in his affecciouns,
And hooli gaff his inclynaciouns
Duryng his liff to eueri vicious thyng,
Terrible to heere, a[nd] namli off a kyng.
But, as Bochas list to putte in mynde,
Whan Arbachus, a prynce off gret renoun,
Sauh off this kyng the flesshli lustis blynde,
Made with the peeple off that regeoun
Ageyn[e]s hym a coniuracioun,
And to hym sente, for his mysgouernaunce,
Off hih disdeyn a ful pleyn diffiaunce.
Bad hym be war, & proudli to hym tolde,
That he hym caste his vicious liff tassaile,
And in al haste, also, that he wolde
Withynne a feeld[e] meete hym in bataile.
Wheroff astonyd, his herte gan to faile,
Wher among women he sat & made gaudes,
No wiht aboute but flatereres and baudes.
And vp he ros, & gan hymsilff auaunce,
No stuff aboute hym but sergauntis riotous;
Took the feeld withoute gouernaunce,
No men off armys but folkis vicious,
Whos aduersarie, callid Arbachus,
Made hym proudli the feeld to forsake,
That lik a coward his castell he hath take.
And for his herte frowardli gan faile,
Nat lik a knyht, but lik a losengour,
His riche perre, his roial apparaile,
His gold, his ieweles, vesseles & tresour
Was brouht aforn hym doun [out] off a tour,
Mid off his paleis, & gaff his men in charge
Off cole and fagot to make a fir ful large.
In which he caste his tresour and ieweles,
Mor bestial than lik a manli man;
And myd his riche stonys and vesseles,
Into the fir furiousli he ran.
This tryumphe Sardanapallus wan,
With fir consumyd for his fynal meede,
Brent al to asshes among the coles rede.

266

Toforn his deth[e] bad men sholde write
Vpon his graue, the book doth certefie,
With lettres large, this resoun for tendite:
“Mi cursid liff, my froward glotenye,
Myn idilnesse, myn hatful lecherye,
Han causid me, with many fals desir,
My laste daies to be consumpt with fir.”
This epitaffe on his graue he sette,
To shewe how he was in al his lyue
Besi euer to hyndren and to lette
Al maner vertu, & therageyn to stryue.
Who folweth his tras is neuer lik to thryue,
For which, ye Pryncis, seeth for your auail,
Vengaunce ay folweth vices at the tail.

A comendacion of Bochas of vertuous besines rehersing names fondours of diuers sciencis & cunnyngis in reprefe of Idilnes.

Ther wer eek other, þat list falsli prouide
Fals flesshli lustis & dissoluciouns,
Riot, outrage, froward disdeyn & pride,
Vices tenhaunce in ther affecciouns
With many onlefful croked condiciouns,
Resoun auoidyng, as I reherse shall,
Themsilff delityng for to be bestiall.
Tweyne maner folkis to putte in remembraunce,
Off vice and vertu, and sette a difference:
The goode alway han set ther plesaunce
In vertuous labour to doon ther deligence;
And vicious peeple in slouthe & necligence.
And the report off bothen is reserued,
With laude or lak, as thei han disserued.
Men muste off riht the vertuous preferre,
And treuli preise labour and besynesse;
And ageynward, dispreisen folk that erre,
Which ha[ue] no ioie but in idilnesse.
And to compare bamaner off witnesse,
Vertuous folk I will to mynde call
In rebukyng off kyng Sardanapall.

267

The olde wise, callid Pictagoras,
Be soun off hameris, auctours certefie,
Exaumple took[e], and cheeff maister was
That fond out first musik and melodie.
Yit off Tubal summe bookis specefie,
That he be strok of smethis where thei stood,
Fond first out musik tofor Noes flood.
And Iosephus remembreth be scripture,
That this Tubal koude forge weel,
First ymagyned makyng off armure
With instrumentis off iren and off steel,
And ther temprures he fond out euerideel.
Lucyus Tarquyn, in stori as I fynde,
Fond cheynes first, folk to fetryn & bynde.
The childre off Seth, in story ye mai see,
Flouryng in vertu be long successiouns,
For to profite to ther posterite,
Fond first the crafft off heuenli mociouns,
Off sondri sterris the reuoluciouns;
Bequath ther cunnyng, off gret auauntage,
To them that afftir cam off ther lynage.
For ther vertu God gaff hem gret cunnyng,
Touchyng natures bothe off erthe & heuene,
And it remembrid sothli be writyng,
To lasten ay for water or for leuene.
Generaciouns ther wer off hem seuene,
Which for vertu, withoute werre or striff,
Trauailed in cunnyng duryng al ther liff.
And for that Adam dede prophesie,
Twies the world destroied sholde be,
With water onys stonde in iupartie,
Next with fir, which no man myht[e] fle:
But Sethis childre, as thei dede see,
Made too peleris wher men myhte graue,
Fro fir & watir the carectis for to saue.
The ton was maad off tilis hard ibake,
Fro touch off fir to saue the scripture;
Off hard marbil thei dede a-nother make,
Ageyn[es] water strongli to endure,

268

To saue off letris the preent & the figure:
For ther cunnyng afforn gan so prouide,
Geyn fir & watir perpetueli tabide.
Thei dempte ther cunnyng hadde be in veyn,
But folk with them hadde be partable;
And for ther labour sholde afftirward be seyn,
Thei it remembrid be writyng ful notable:
Onto-for God a thyng ful comendable,
To them that folwe, be scripture or writyng
Or that men deie departe ther cunnyng.
For be old tyme folk dyuers crafftis founde
In sundri wise for ocupacioun;
Vertu to cherisshe, vices to confounde,
Ther witt thei sette & ther entencioun
To putte ther labour in execucioun,
And to outrage, this is veray trouthe,
Fro manys liff necligence & slouthe.
Olde Ennok, ful famous off vertu,
Duryng that age fond first off euerichon
Thoruh his prudence lettres off Hebreu;
And in a piler thei wer kept off ston,
Til that the flood off Noe was agon.
And afftir hym, Cam was the secounde
Bi whom off Hebreu lettres wer first founde.
And Catacrismus the firste was that fond
Lettres also, as off that language.
But lettres wreten with Godis owne hond
Moyses first took, most briht off his visage,
Vpon Syna as he heeld his passage,
Which off carectis & namys in sentence
From other writyng hadde a difference.
Eek afftirward, as other bookis tell,
And Seyn[t] Ierom rehersith in his stile,
Vnder thempire off Zorobabell,
Esdras off Hebreu gan lettres first compile;
And Abraham, gon sithen a gret while,
The firste was, in bookis men may see,
That fond lettres off Cire & off Caldee.

269

Ysis in Egipt fond dyuersite
Off sundri lettres, parted into tweyne:
First for preestis, and for the comounte
Vulgar lettres he dede also ordeyne.
And Fenyces dede ther besy peyne
Lettres off Greek to fynde in ther entent,
Which that Cadmus first into Grece sent,
Which in noumbre fulli wer seuenteene;
Whan off Troye was endid the bataile,
Pallamydes, ther language to susteene,
Put thre therto, which gretli dede auaile.
Pidagorus, for prudent gouernaile,
Fond first out Y, a figur to discerne
The liff heer short and liff that is eterne.
First Latyn lettres off our A. B. C.,
Carmentis fond, off ful hih prudence.
Grete Omerus, in Isidre ye may see,
Fond among Grekis crafft off eloquence.
First in Rome, be souereyn excellence,
Off rethorik Tullius fond the flours,
Ple and diffence off subtil oratours.
Callicrates, a grauer most notable,
Off whiht yuor dede his besynesse,
His hand, his eye so iust wer & so stable,
Off an ampte to graue out the liknesse,
Vpon the ground as Nature doth hym dresse.
This crafft he fond, as Sardanapall
Fond idilnesse mooder to vices all.
Off a screueyn Bochas maketh mencioun,
How in a scrowe off litil quantite
Wrot off al Troie the destruccioun,
Folwyng Omerus be gret subtilite:
Which among Grekis is had in gret deynte,
Because he was founde in his writyng,
So compendious the story rehersyng.

270

Mirmecides made a char also
And a smal shipp, with al the apparaile,
So that a bee myhte close hem bothe too
Vnder his weengis, which is a gret meruaile—
And nothyng seyn off al the hool entaile:
This crafft he fond off vertuous besynesse
Teschewe the vice off froward idilnesse.
Pan, god off Kynde, with his pipes seuene,
Off recorderis fond first the melodies.
And Mercurie, that sit so hih in heuene,
First in his harpe fond sugred armonyes.
Holsum wynes thoruhfyned from ther lyes
Bachus fond first, of vynes heuy lade,
Licour off licours corages for to glade.
Perdix be cumpas fond triangle and lyne,
And Euclid first fond geometrie,
And Phebus fond the crafft off medicyne.
Albumasar [first] fond astronomye;
And Mynerua gan charis first to guye.
Iason first sailed, in story it is told,
Toward Colchos to wynne the Flees off Gold.
Ceres the goddesse fond first tilthe off lond;
Dionisius tryumphes transitorie.
And Bellona be force first out fond
Conquest be knyhthod, & in the feeld victorie.
And Martis sone, as put is in memorie,
Callid Etholus, fond speris sharp & keene,
To renne a werre in platis briht and sheene.
Eek Aristeus fond out the vsage
Off mylk & cruddis, & off hony soote.
Piroides, for gret auauntage,
Fro flyntes smet fir daryng in the roote.
And Pallas, which that may to cold do boote,
Fond out weuyng, this is veray soth,
Thoruh hir prudence, off al maner cloth.

271

And Fido first fond out the science
Off mesours and off proporciouns,
And for marchantis dede his deligence
To fynde ballaunces be iust dyuysiouns,
Tauoide al fraude in citees & in touns
On outher parti, pleynli to compile,
Off trewe weihte that ther wer no gile.
Compare in ordre cleerli all these thynges
Founde off old tyme be deligent trauaile,
To the plesaunce off pryncis & off kynges,
To shewe how moch[e] cunnyng may auaile,
And weie ageynward the froward aquitaile,
Contrariousli how Sardanapalle
Fond idilnesse mooder off vices alle.
Lat pryncis alle heeroff taken heed,
What auaileth vertuous besynesse,
And what damage the reuers doth in deed,
Vicious liff, slouthe and idilnesse;
And these exaumples lat hem eek inpresse
Amyd ther herte, and how Sardanapalle
Fond idilnesse mooder off vices alle.

[Lenvoy.]

Noble Pryncis, heer ye may weel see
As in a merour, off ful cleer euydence,
Be many exaumple mo than too or thre,
What harm folweth off slouthe & necligence,
Deepe enprentyng in your aduertence,
How gret hyndryng doth wilful frowardnesse
To your estat thoruh vicious idilnesse.
Whan resoun faileth, and sensualite
Holdeth the bridel off lecherous insolence,
And sobirnesse hath lost his liberte,
And to fals lust is doon the reuerence,
And vice off vertu hath an apparence,—
Misledith pryncis off wilful reklesnesse
To gret errour off froward idilnesse.

272

Ther may to slouthe non other guerdoun be,
Nor non other condigne recompense,
But sorwe, myscheeff and aduersite,
Sodeyn vengaunce and onwar violence,
Whan ye be froward in your magnyficence
To knowe the Lord and bowe be meeknesse
Tobeie his preceptis and eschewe idilnesse.

[How Amazias in Iuda kyng for pride and presumpcioun was venquysshed in bataile & aftir slayn.]

In his studi as Bochas sat musyng,
With many vnkouth soleyn fantasie,
To hym appered many a myhti kyng;
And toforn alle cam worthi Amazie,
His sone also, that callid was Iosie,
Off Dauidis blood descendyng, as I reede,
Ech afftir othir in Iuda to succeede.
First Amazias compleyned on Fortune,
Causyng his greuous gret aduersites,
The traitouresse callid in comune,
These kynges tweyne castyng from ther sees;
Whos ouerturnyng from ther dignites,
Onwar fallyng, dreedful and terible,
Been ceriousli remembrid in the Bible.
Ther pitous eende men may ther reede & see,
How Fortune ther fatis dede entrete.
Wherfore teschewe & fleen prolixite,
Al tedious thyng in this processe to lete,
And in substaunce to glenen out the grete,
Off ther fallyng I purpose nat to spare
Compendiousli the causes to declare.
This Amazias hauyng gouernaunce
Be ful iust title off successioun,
The sceptre off Iuda, with al the hool puissaunce,

273

Ful pesibli in his possessioun,
Til that pride and fals presumpcioun
Most frowardli dede his herte enbrace,
Which al attonys made hym lose his grace.
In herte he hadde a maner veynglorie,
Because that God made hym to preuaile
In his conquest and to have victorie,
Amalechitis to venquysshe in bataile,
Eek Gabanytis, as he them dede assaile,
Purposyng[e] afftir, yiff he myhte,
With Israelitis off pride for to fyhte.
Onto kyng Ioas off Israel he sente,
Hym comaundyng to obeien his biddyng,
And be lik subiect, as wern in ther entente,
His predecessours in al maner thyng,
Whilom to Dauid, the noble worthi kyng.
This was his sonde to Ioas, plat and pleyn,
Which bi a problem thus wrot to hym ageyn:
“The ougli thistil off the valis lowe,
Proudli presumyng aboue[n] his degre,
To make his pride openli be knowe,
Sent his message to the cedre tre,
That his sone myhte weddid be
To his douhter; al-thouh in substaunce
Atwen hem too was a gret discordaunce.
But off the forest the beestis sauagyne
In ther corages hadde theroff disdeyn.
Alle off assent fersli dede enclyne
The thistel leuys abrod vpon the pleyn,
That ther was nouther leff nor prikke seyn.”
This was the problem, which Ioas be writyng
Sent in a pistil to Amazie the kyng.
But Iosephus in his origynal,
The said epistil, as he doth expresse,
Seith off the vale how the pouder smal
Off pride sente to the hih cipresse,
That his douhter, off excellent fairnesse,
Onto his sone, pleynli to descryue,
Myhte be delyuered & hauen hir to wyue.

274

But a fell beeste, which that beside stood,
Off cruel ire and indignacioun,
With feet disdeynyng the pouder caste abrod
Hih in the air aboute hym enviroun.
The which exaumple conceyued off resoun,
Who that attempteth to clymben hih aloffte,
With onwar chaung his fall is ful onsoffte.
Atwen the cedre, off tre[e]s most roiall,
And a sharp thistil is no convenyence,
Nor twen a cipresse, statli founde att all,
And lothsum pouder is a gret difference:
For roial blood sholde ha[ue] non assitence
To be ioyned nor knet in mariage
With such as been brouht foorth off low parage.
The cedre is strong & myhti off substaunce,
In his vpgrowyng riht as any lyne;
And thouh the thistil ha[ue] spottis off plesaunce,
He hath eek prikkis, sharp as any spyne.
And bothe naturis, pleynli to termyne,
The cedre off kynde, who looke[th] weel aboute,
To no thistil sholde his braunchis loute.
Holsum off odour is the fair cipresse,
As bookis telle, and vertuous off kynde;
Dust & pouder, pleynli to expresse,
Troubleth the air & maketh folkis blynde:
For which in spousaile convenyence to fynde,
Lat estatis off ther berthe honurable,
Voide al raskail & wedde ther semblable.
But Amazias wolde nat be war
For no warnyng, nor for no prophecie,
But stille in herte gret hatrede [he] bar
Ageyn kyng Ioas, off malice & envie;
Into a feld brouht al his cheualrie,
Gadred them out, bothe nyh and ferre,
Geyn Godis will on hym to gynne a werre.

275

And kyng Ioas, ful lik a worthi knyht,
Into the feeld[e] faste gan hym speede;
And alle the knyhtis off Iuda anon riht
Wer smet off vengaunce with a sodeyn dreede—
To bidde hem fle, God wot, it was no neede,
And Amazias, for al his gret[e] pride,
Stood destitut and no man be his side.
With hym was non lefft off al his meyne,
So God and Ioas ageyn hym wrouhte.
Off Ierusalem entred the cite,
And Amazie off force with hym he brouhte;
And in the temple the tresour out he souhte,
Gold and siluer, and hooli ther richesse;
And to Samarie hom he gan hym dresse.
And Amazias he leet out off prisoun,
Afftir al this, and suffred hym go fre.
To his myscheeff and his confusioun,
He was delyuered from his captiuite;
For slayn he was in Lachis the cite,
Among his freendis be symulacioun,
His deth conspired vnder ful fals tresoun.

[How god vpon Iosias succedyng kyng next in Iuda toke vengeaunce/smot him with lepre.]

Afftir in Iuda, the myhti regioun,
Next Amazias, Iosias gan succeede,
Wonder manli & famous of renoun,
In alle his werkis ful prouident in deede.
And off his knyhthod venquisshid, as I reede,
The Palestynes, for al ther gret puissaunce,
With al Arabie he brouht onto vttraunce.
Bilte touns and many strong cite,
And onto Egipt he his boundis sette;
Made castelis beside the Rede Se,
And in his conquest, whom that euer he mette,
Off manli pride he ne wolde lette—
I meene alle tho that were his aduersaires—
To his lordshepe to make hem tributaires.

276

He dede his labour also to repare
Ierusalem afftir his ruyne;
The wallis rered, which on the soil lay bare,
Made newe tour[e]s, riht as any lyne,
Fanys off gold ther torettis tenlumyne,
And tafforce hem, leet werkmen vndertake
Squar bastiles & bolwerkis to make.
He delited to make fressh gardynes,
Dyuers greynes & herbis for to knowe,
Reioisshid to plante sundri vynes,
To griffe trees and seedis for to sowe,
And straunge frutis [to] make hem growe arowe.
And with hym hadde, his enmyes to encoumbre,
Thre hundrid thousand manli men in noumbre.
His noble fame gan to sprede wide,
And gret[e]li drad for his hih prowesse,
Wherthoruh his herte corupt was with pride,
Because onli off his gret richesse;
And frowardli he dede his besynesse
For to maligne in his estat roial
Ageyn the Lord, the which is inmortal.
To God aboue he gan wexe obstynat,
That be processe ful smal he dede wynne;
And sauour cauhte in his roial estat
To folwe his fader in onthrift & synne,
That grace and vertu from hym dede twynne.
In most shynyng off his magnyficence,
Fortune proudli assailed his excellence.
Caste she wolde withynne a litil while
His surquedie & froward pride assaile,
And ful onwarli deceyue hym and begile,
To make his power tappallyn & to faile,
Whan that this kyng took on thapparaile
Off a bisshop, off veray frowardnesse,
And into temple proudli gan hym dresse,
Beyng in purpos, on a solempne day,
To take his way up to the hih auter,
Falsli vsurpyng, who-euer seide nay,

277

To sacrefie, holdyng the censer,
Tofor the auter, that shon of gold ful cleer.
For which offence, the Bible seith the same,
Azarias the bisshop dede hym blame.
Gan withstonde hym in the face anon,
Four score preestis beyng in presence,
Off the kynrede descendid off Aaron,
Which forbad hym & made resistence,
That with his hand he sholde putte incence
Vpon the auter, ageyn[es] Godis lawe,
Hym chargyng boldli his presence to withdrawe.
But off despiht he made them holde ther pes,
In peyne off deth began hem to manace;
And sodenli among[es] al the pres,
An erthequaue fill in the same place.
And therwithal in the kynges face,
Off the sonne ther smet a bem so briht,
That al his visage was scorkid with the liht.
He wex a lepre, ful foul and riht horible
For his offence, as God list ordeyne;
To euery man off look he was terible,
And but fewe his myscheeff gan compleyne.
And a gret hill the same hour karff on tweyne,
Nat ferr a-side from the toun withoute,
Cites destroieng that stood round aboute.
On kyng Iosie God took his vengaunce,
For al his lordshepe & his magnyficence,
To punyshe his pride & his froward puissaunce,
And brouht hym lowe for his gret offence:
For his persone was put out off presence
Perpetueli, as Hooli Writ can telle,
Fer from al peeple with lepres for to duelle.
His flessh was troubled with dyuers passiouns,
For his siknesse auoided the cite;
In cri and sorwe and lamentaciouns
His liff he ladde, in gret aduersite.
And so he deied in sorwe and pouerte,
Sympli buried, for al his grete myht,
Withynne an iland that stood ferr out of siht.

278

An exortacion to Princis to be auisid to do ageyn goddis Preceptes.

Lat pryncis all[e] in ther prouidence
Be riht weel war any thyng tattame,
Which onto God sholde been offence,
List that the fyn conclude to ther shame.
Lat them thynke, for al ther noble fame,
But thei repente, God off his iustise
Ther froward pride onwarli will chastise.
Lat hem be war off malice to presume
Ageyn his cherche to doon offencioun;
For God off riht all tirantis will consume
In ful short tyme for ther presumpcioun.
Which wil nat suffre ther dominacioun
To interupte, for al ther grete myht,
Nor breke the fraunchise off hooli cherches ryht.
To prudent pryncis, which that can discerne,
Lat kyng Iosias, considred his offence,
Been in ther mynde a merour & lanterne,
To hooli cherche to do due reuerence;
And conceyue in ther magnificence,
God will off riht, be thei neuer so stronge,
Chastise ther malice, thouh he abide longe.

[How kyng Ozie was taken bi kyng Salmanazar and deied in prisoun.]

Ther was a-nother, that callid was Ozie,
Which whilom regned, as I afferme dar,
In Israel, whom Fortune be envie
Made hym be take or that he was war,
Besegid aboute off kyng Salmanazar;
And in Tassirie vnder his daunger,
The Bible tellith, he was prisoner.
His cites, touns brouht to destruccioun,
And al his peeple vnder long seruage
Wer take and kept in strong[e] Babiloun,

279

Suffred ther gret peyne & gret damage.
And in a presoun, be furious outrage,
This said Ozias, in cheynes bounde sore,
For sorwe deide: off hym write I no more.

[How Senacheryb kyng of Assirie was slayne.]

With these forsaid woful kynges thre,
Senacherib, off Assirie kyng,
Cam to Iohn Bochas, most ougli on to see,
Ful pitousli his fate compleynyng.
And speciali his onwar chaungyng
He gan bewaile, oppressid in his thouht,
From hih noblesse how he was brouht to nouht.
His renoun spradde thoruh many dyuers rewm,
And peeplis all[e] gan hym magnefie;
A siege he laide onto Ierusalem,
In the tyme off kyng Sedechie.
But in his most froward surquedie,
Godis aungel tofor the cite
An hundrid thousand slouh off his meyne.
And the mor to maken hym afferd,
Mid off his peeple, the silue same nyht,
Godis aungel shooff awey his berd
With a sharp suerd that shon cleer & bryht.
Leffte his siege & took hym onto flyht;
And in a temple, his goddis worshepyng,
His sonys slouh hym as he sat knelyng.

[How kyng Sedechie/for fals forsweryng was slayn and made blynde in prisoun.]

Touchyng the compleynt of kyng Sedechie,
And off his sorwes to shewe the maner,
Hooli Writ dooth cleerli specefie,
Wherfore it were but veyn to telle hem heer.
For ther men may the processe pleynli ler,
How Ioachym, kyng off Ierusalem,
His owne brother, was lad out off his rewm.

280

Wheroff in herte he felte ful gret sor,
This Sedechias, as it is ther founde,
Because the kyng Nabugodonosor
His brother heeld, strong in prisoun bounde,
Fulli in purpos the Iewes to confounde;
For this tirant hadde in that mortal striff
His brethre, childre in prisoun, & his wiff.
And yit this tirant in his tirannye
This fauour dede in al his fell[e] rage
Onto this moste woful Sedechie,
To suffre hym regne in his gret[e] age,
Fro yeer to yeer to paie hym a truage,
Be feith and oth and composicioun,
Reised off his peeple & brouht to Babiloun.
Yit Sedechias in especiall,
Be a maner off fals felicite,
Hymselff reioished in his see roiall
To ocupie that noble dignite,
And so forgat the gret aduersite
Off his brother and other freendis all,
Touchyng the myscheeff that thei wer in fall.
Off pride he fill into presumpcioun,
Whan he remembrid his brethre & his lynage,
Considred how fro kyng Salamoun
He was descendid be title off heritage,
Gan disdeyne to paien his truage,
And to maligne, in herte he was so wroth,
And falsli brak his suraunce and his oth.
He hadde a maner indignacioun,
Which he cauhte off old remembraunce,
How tyme passid, to kyng Salamoun,
Be his manli prudent gouernaunce,
Kynges aboute for a recognisaunce
Paied tribut, and durst it nat withseie
Fro yeer to yeer his noblesse to obeie.
Which thyng remembrid off kyng Sedechie,
As he wex gret and strong in his puissaunce,
Off hih disdeyn his tribut gan denye,

281

Sette a-side his feith and assuraunce,
So that his oth stood in no substaunce;
For he ageyn the kyng off Babiloun
Presumptuousli fill in rebellioun.
And his kyngdam to strengthe & fortefie,
Thouhte he wolde to his auauntage
The kyng off Egipt haue on his partie,
Off pride he fill into so gret outrage,
That he no mor wolde paien his truage;
But fynali such weies he hath souht,
That off his oth litil he rouhte or nouht.
But O alas, it is a doolful thyng
To be remembred, in hih or low degre,
That any prynce or any worthi kyng
Sholde false his oth or ontrewe be;
Or that men sholde such variaunce see
In ther corages, which been so hih[e] born,
For any cause falsli to be forsworn.
Be report it doth ther fame trouble,
Infortuneth and clipseth ther noblesse,
Whan a prynce is off his heste double,
And chargith nat, off wilful reclesnesse,
Al-be his promys conclude on doubilnesse.
Thouh God a while suffre hem and respite,
At onset hour ther falsnesse he will quite.
His warnyng offte he sent to them affor,
Because thei lacke prudent policie,
Record I take off Nabugodonosor,
Which cam onwarli on kyng Sedechie,
For he his tribut gan falsli hym denye;
With al his power, as he dede abraide,
To Ierusalem a myhti siege he laide.
Thei withynne constreyned were off neede,
The kyng hymsilff, ther was no bett diffence,
With manys flessh his peeple for to feede,
Whil the Caldeies be myhti violence,
Off verai force, withoute resistence,
On fals forsweryng for to taken wrake,
Ther myhti tour[e]s and ther wallis brake.

282

To slen and kille thei list non for to spare,
Whom-euer thei mette or cam in ther siht;
Sedechias leffte the toun al bare,
But take he was, as he hym took to fliht,
In cheynys bounde and fetrid anon riht,
In whose presence, tencrece his peynes anon,
His yonge childre were slay[e]n euerichon.
His wyues all, most woful off ther cheres,
Which in ther tyme most goodli were and fair,
Delyuered wern in handis off straungeres;
And mor, alas, to putte hym in dispair,
Into his kyngdam neuer to ha[ue] repair,
With sharp[e] tonges, it was to gret a peyne,
Out off his hed wer rent his eien tweyne.
Off Ierusalem his cite was ibrent
Pleyn to the ground into asshes dede.
His gret richesse, his tresour hooli sent
To Babiloun, with stonys bleu and rede;
Vesselis off gold, which richest wer in deede,
Withoute merci or remissioun,
Caldeies took to ther possessioun.
And thus in sorwe and in wrechidnesse
He deied, alas, fetred in prisoun.
Loo, heer the eende off periurie & falsnesse!
Loo, how Fortune can turnen vp-so-doun
Off mortal men the condicioun:
Now richest shynyng in prosperite,
With onwar chaung to hatful pouerte.
Now men lefft up to roial dignites,
Now hih aloffte be fulsum habundaunce:
But what auaileth to sitte in roial sees
To folk that han therin non assuraunce,
Namli whan Fortune holdeth the balaunce,
Which ay off custum onto hih estatis
Hath a fals ioie to shewen hir chekmatis.
Record I take off pryncis mo than on,
Ther woful fatis hanging in iupartie,
Remembrid late, and among echon

283

The woful fal off kyng Amazie,
His sone eek lepre, which callid was Iosie,
And last off all[e], how in Babiloun,
Kyng Sedechias deied in prisoun.

Lenvoye.

Noble Pryncis, considreth the fallas
Off Fortunys froward flat[e]rie;
Seeth hir deceites in many dyuers cas,
How she first mokkid manli Amazie,
Which slay[e]n was for his surquedie
To yeue you warnyng, bexaumple as ye may reede,
Whan ye sit hiest, your fal is most to dreede.
And as it is remembred in Bochas,
Eek in the Bible off the kyng Iosie,
In his tyme how famous that he was
Bothe off richesse and off cheualrie,
Punshed with lepre, bookis specefie,
For his presumyng: remembrith this in deede,
Whan ye sit hiest, your fal is most to dreede.
Al worldli glorie fleeth hens a gret[e] pas,
I take witnesse off kyng Sedechie;
For fals forsweryng he slay[e]n was, alas!
Maad blynd in prisoun; this story cannat lie.
Thus sheweth Fortune, thoruh hir froward envie,
To you, Pryncis, yif ye list taken heede,
Whan ye sit hiest, your fal is most to dreede.

[How kyng Astriages labored to disherite Cirus/but god suffrid his malice not to preuaile.]

Afftir these kynges, on folwed in the pres,
And gan to Bochas his compleynt discure;
And he was callid the grete Astriages,
Which tolde in ordre his vnkouth auenture,
Lord off Asie, as bookis us assure,
And hadde off tresour duryng al his liff
A-boue alle kynges a prerogatiff.

284

Most fortunat in al his gouernaile,
Felte off Fortune non aduersite,
Sauff an heir male, nothyng dede hym faile;
For he most glorious sat in his roial see:
Off worldli welthe he lakked no plente,
Except onli, as clerkis off hym write,
He hadde no sone his kyngdam tenherite,
Which to his welthe was gret disencres,
Lest successioun failed in his lyne.
A douhter had he callid Mundanes,
Out off whos wombe, as bookis determyne,
He drempte a-nyht[e] how he sauh a vyne
In his auesioun, with hym so it stood,
Ouer al Asie his braunchis spredde abrod.
He hadde also a reuelacioun,
Slepyng a-nyht[e] afftir his souper,
Thouh he nat knew thexposicioun,
He thouhte he sauh a cristallyn ryuer,
With lusti watris, as any berell cleer,
Out off hir wombe, with his stremys fressh
The soil of Asie make tendre and nessh.
Touchyng this reuer and this lusty vyne
To hym shewed in his auisioun,
Withynne hymsilff he coud[e] nat termyne,
Theroff to fynde no cleer conclusioun
Withoute sum maner exposicioun
To hym declared be folkis in sentence,
Which off such dremys hadde experience.
To hym he callid his astronomeris,
His philisophres and his dyuynours,
That knew the meuyng off the nyne speeris,
Ymages off sterris, ther houses & ther tours;
And such as wern expert expositours.
And whan thei wern assemblid euerichon,
Touchyng his drem thei corded all in on.
To telle hym trouthe thei wer nat rec[e]les,—
Saide his douhter, fro whom ther cam a vyne,
She that be name was callid Mundanes,
Sholde haue a sone descendyng from his lyne,
Whos noble fame thoruh Asia sholde shyne,
Which sholde [hym] putte, thoruh his hih renoun,
Be force off armys out off his regioun.

285

This was his fate; he myhte it nat refuse,
The heuenli cours but it dede faile.
Wherupon he sore gan to muse,
Such fantasies dede his herte assaile;
Fill in gret doubte off ther dyuynaile,
Thouhte he wolde make purueiaunce
For to withstonde Godis ordenaunce.
Ful hard it is to make resistence
Geyn thyng ordeyned, whan God will that it be;
And namli ther, wher as influence
Off heuene aboue hath shape a destyne:
Sum men recorde that no man may it fle.
The doom off this, wher that it holde or flitte,
Tastronomeris al hooli I committe.
This said[e] kyng, off whom I spak but late,
Caste he wolde, for his auauntage,
The ordenaunce reuersen and the fate
Off the heuene, with al the surplusage,
And yeue his douhter as in mariage
To sum onworthi poore infortunat
That neuer were likli to rise to hih estat.
And in this wise, kyng Astriages
Maried his douhter, as in his entent,
To on onworthi callid Cambises,
Deemyng therbi, be short auysement,
Withynne hymselff that he was riht prudent,
Wenyng that noblesse cam be discent off blood,
And nat be grace, nor as the heuene stood.
In his resoun was nat comprehendid,
How Socrates, maistir off Platoun,
Off ful low bed bi berthe was descendid,
And nat tenherite kyngdam nor regioun,
But for to haue fulli possessioun
Off moral vertu and philosophie,
Duryng his liff his witt he dede applie.
He souhte contrees for wisdam and science,
And secre cunnynges to serch[e] dede his peyne;
And he fond out thoruh his deligence,

286

This philisophre, as bookis acerteyne,
To ioie reserued outher onto peyne,
Be grace off God, which is eternall,
How menys soulis be founde ay inmortall.
The grete Appollo, in bookis it is founde,
Gaff iugement off equite and riht,
That Socrates in vertu most habounde,
And most preferrid in eueri manys siht,
Was callid off wisdam the lanterne & the liht,
And wisest named, at evyn and at pryme,
Off philisophres that wer in his tyme.
The poete also callid Euripides,
Most honourable callid in that age,
Al-be his mooder off liff was rec[e]les
And contagious thoruh vicious outrage:
Yit was this poete, for al his vil lynage,
Most vertuous founden at assaies,
Off alle poetis that wer in his daies.
Callid in his tyme a gret tragician,
Because he wrot many tragedies,
And wolde off trouthe spare no maner man,
But hem rebuken in his poetries,
Touchyng the vices off flesshli fantasies,
Compleyne in pryncis ther deedis most horible,
And ech thyng punshe that was to God odible.
A-nother clerk callid Demostenes,
The moste subtil rethorician,
And most inuentiff among al the pres,
That euer was sithe[n] the world began,
Al-be off berthe he was a poore man,
Yit hadde he most souereyn excellence
Mong philisophres off speche & eloquence.
Be which exaumple, me semeth dout[e]les,
That roial blood, nouther hih lynage
To mennys berthe yeueth but smal encres,
Nor onto vertu but litil auauntage:
For hih noblesse taketh nat his corage
Off riche nor poore, nor statis souereyne,
But off his grace, as God list to ordeyne.

287

Wherfore, off foli kyng Astriages,
Contrariousli ageyn al gent[e]rie,
Bad that his douhter callid Mundanes,
First whan folk with childe hir dede espie,
For tacomplishe his froward fantasie,
Whan it wer born, chargyng aboue all thyng,
Off Archanye to bern it to the kyng.
Which in that tyme was callid Arpagus;
And, as I fynde, he dede in vertu floure,
And pite hadde, the story tellith thus,
That beestis sholde the litil child deuoure.
But God that may in myscheeff best socoure,
To keepe the child was nat rek[e]les,
Ageyn the malice off kyng Astriages,
Which hadde comaundid off malice & hatreede,
How that this child, greene & tendre off age,
Bi Arpagus sholde be cast in deede
To be deuoured off beestis most sauage.
But for he dradde to doon so gret outrage,
To his shepperde, hymselff to stonde at large,
The child to slen he fulli gaff the charge.

[How yong Cirus was in to the Forest/cast with bestys to be devoured.]

This heerdeman, albe that he was loth
To execute this woful auenture,
Inta forest foorth with the child he goth,
And gaff to beestis that litil creature;
Whom to fostre, be grace ageyn nature,
A wilde bichche hir whelpis ther forsook,
And to hir pappis the litil child she took.
And with hir mylk she made hym suppe & dyne,
And bisi was fro hym to enchace
Wilde foulis and beestis sauagyne,

288

That non ne durste neihhen to that place.
Loo, how that God disposen can his grace,
Innocentis fro myscheeff to preserue
Geyn fals envie, which wolde make hem sterue!
O blood onkynde, founden in kynreede,
For couetise, O blood disnaturall
Off fals malice, O blood ful off hatreede!—
To moordre a child born off the stok roiall!
Wher manys resoun is turned bestiall,
Falsli transfourmed onto cruelte,
To slen a child wher beestis han pite!
The celi heerde hath told his wiff the cas;
And she anon off pite dede arise,
With hir husbonde wente a ful gret pas
Into the forest, beholdyng al the guise,
As heer-tofor[e]n ye han herd deuyse,
Seyng the child, with lippis tendre & soffte,
The bichchis pappis how he sok ful offte.
The said[e] heerde callid Sparagos,
His wiff also, off whom toforn I tolde,
This yonge child took in ther depos;
And in hir armys she sofftli gan it folde.
And he ful goodli hir face gan beholde,
And on his maner in the same while,
In childli wise on hir gan to smyle.
The childes lauhtre whan she dede aduerte,
With al hir hool[e] feithful dilligence
She gan to cherishe it, and with al hir herte
She gaff it souk, with ful gret reuerence,
Albe the bichche made resistence,
Compleynyng stood felli at abay,
The litil child whan she sauh lad away.
Ful pitousli she gan to houle and crie,
At ther departyng doolfully compleyne,
And afftir them ful faste gan to hie,
The child to lete she felte so gret a peyne.
Loo, how that God off merci can ordeyne
A cruel beeste such sorwe for to make,
And so to mourne for a childes sake!

289

But eueri thyng that God will ha[ue] preserued,
Ne may nat faile to stonde in sekirnesse.
His secre doomys been to hymsilff reserued;
Ther can no man expowne hem, as I gesse.
For he shoop first that this shepperdesse,
Off Sparagos the trewe poore wiff,
For to be mene to saue the childes liff.
Hom to hir hous the child she ladde anon,
And it to fostre dede hir besynesse:
Off othir salari, God wot, knew she non,
Sauff that hir herte therto dede hir dresse.
And mor enterli, the story berth witnesse,
She tendrid hym, and with mor besi cure,
Than hym that was hir child born off nature.
And as the story pleynli doth expresse,
This yonge child, as he wex in age,
Fro day to day encreced in noblesse,
Lik for to been riht manli off corage.
Cirus callid he was in that language,
To seyne in Latyn pleynli in substaunce,
A man iborn to gret enheritaunce.
And whan the renoun off his excellence
Bi long processe, and off his gret encres
Cam be report onto the audience
Off his aiel, the grete Astriages,
And how the kyng was founde rech[e]les,
Callid Arpagus, for to do vengaunce
On yonge Cirus, he fill in displesaunce.
This is to meene Astriages was wroth,
That Arpagus was founde merciable
Cirus to saue, and for that he was loth
Ageyn[e]s al riht for to be vengable
To slen a child, a thyng nat comendable,—
Demyng off trouthe in his conscience,
God was nat paied, to moordre innocence.
Astriages caste hym to be wreke
On Arpagus be fals collusioun,
Because that he his biddyng dede breke,
And was contraire to his entencioun
Cirus to slen, ageyn[es] al resoun.
And for that cause Astriages, I reede,
Off Arpagus leet slen the child in deede.

290

This to seyne, be ful fals compassyng
And couert moordre, wrouht bi Astriages,
The sone was slayn off Arpagus the kyng,
And afftir rosted, allas, ful causeles,
And sithe presentid, amongis al the pres,
Toforn his fader, a thyng most lamentable,
With Astriages as he sat at table.
But whan this kyng callid Arpagus
Conceyued hath this moordre most terrible,
And how his sone & heir was slay[e]n thus,
In his ire most furious and odible,
In al the haste that it was possible,
He is repaired hom to his houshold,
And al the cas to Cirus he hath told.
And how his sone was slay[e]n for his sake,
In the most hatful odious cruelte,
Excityng hym with hym to vndirtake
On this fals moordre auengid for to be,
To hym declaryng off trouthe & equite,
How he was bor[e]n be discent in deede,
As riht[e] heir to regne in Perse & Mede.
To hym declaryng the stori bi and bi,
First off the drem off Astriages,
And how that he be fraude ful falsli
Made his douhter, callid Mundanes,
Poorli be weddid onto Cambises,
Which was his mooder, & how in tendre age
He was out cast to beestis ful sauage.
Be a shepperde and a shepperdesse
Fostred he was in gret[e] pouerte,
And brouht fro beestis out off wildirnesse,
Because God wolde he sholde saued be:
For thilke Lord, which euery-thyng may see,
Whan that he hath a thyng aforn disposid,
Nedis it mut fall & may nat be deposid.
This said[e] Cirus, at his natyuyte,
Ordeyned was be reuolucioun
Off the heuenli speeris, in noumbre thries thre,
(So stood that tyme his constellacioun,)

291

That he sholde haue the domynacioun
Ouer al Asie, be influence dyuyne,
Aforn figured be spredyng off the vyne.
What may the fraude off sleihti folk auaile,
Innocentis to putte out off ther riht?
Thouh trouthe be hid amongis the poraile,
Hard brouht foorth, & dar nat shewe his liht,
Yit God will ordeyne that the bemys briht
Shal sum o day shewe out his cleernesse,
Maugre all tho that wolde his title oppresse.
For this Cirus, as clerkis off hym write,
Was bi the title off his mooder side
Born to be kyng al Asie tenherite,
Al-be his aiel from hym wolde it deuide;
But God, that can for trouthe best prouide,
Hath for Cirus be processe so ordeyned,
That he off Asie the lordshep hath atteyned.
Cirus that tyme was growe up weel on lengthe,
Weel proporciownyd off membris & stature,
Wonder delyuer, & passyng off gret strengthe,
Straunge emprises proudli to endure;
And to iuparte & putte in auenture
His owne persone, the fame was off hym so,
Was non mor likli wher men sholde haue a-do.
And bi the counsail off kyng Arpagus,
Whan this Cirus was weel waxe in age,
With Perciens proude & surquedous,
And Archanytes cruel off corage,
For to recure his rihtful heritage
Be go with Cirus, armed in plate & maile,
With Astriages to holden [a] bataile.
And he ageynward gan to taken heede,
And with hym took[e] many worthi knyht,
With al the puissaunce off the lond off Mede
Hath take the feeld the same dai foorth-ryht,
To disherite Cirus off his ryht.
But God and trouthe was atwen hem tweyne
Egal iuge ther quarel to dareyne.

292

The feeld ordeyned, & splaied ther baneris,
On outher parti ful proudli on thei sette,
At thassemblyng lik liouns off ther cheris,
In the face as thei fersli mette
With rounde speris, ful sharp[e] grounde & whette,
Til that Cirus, off grace mor than noumbre,
Off his aiel the parti dede encoumbre.
This myhti Cirus, this yonge champioun,
Thoruhout the feeld gan such a slauhtre make,
With his knyhtis as he wente up and doun,
That as the deth his fomen hym forsake.
Astriages vnder his baner take,
The feeld venquysshid, for al his fals veynglorie,
To shewe that riht hath alwey the victorie.
A man off malice may a thyng purpose
Bi a maner froward prouydence;
But God a-boue can graciousli dispose
Ageyn such malice to make resistence:
Men for a while may suffre violence
And wronges grete, wher-so that thei weende,
But trouthe alway venquysshith at the eende.
Astriages fond ful sooth his drem;
Thouh he ageyn it made purueiance
To haue depryued Cirus off his rem,
He was deceyued in his ordynance:
For wher that God thoruh his myhti puissance
List for heires iustli to prouide,
Sleihte in such cas off man, is leid a-side.
Maugre the myht[e] off Astriages,
Cirus on hym made a disconfiture;
And al Asie reioisshed eek in pes,
Off verai riht, as was his auenture.
And be iust title he dede also recure
The lond off Mede, lik as was his fate,
And into Perse he dede it hool translate.
Ageyn his aiel he was nat vengable,
Which hadde wrouht to his destruccioun,
But was to hym benygne and merciable,
And grauntid hym, off hool affeccioun,
The fourte part off the regioun

293

Off Archanye, off which aforn I tolde,
Hym to sustenyn in his daies olde.
For kyng Cirus wold[e] nat his lyue
Suffre his aiel, off veray gentilesse,
That men sholde hym fynali depryue
Off kyngli honour, for non onkynd[e]nesse,—
To yeue exaumple to pryncis in sothnesse,
Thouh God ha[ue] youe hem power in erthe & myht,
Thei sholde ay merci medle with the ryht.

[Lenvoye.]

Noble Princis, your eris doth enclyne,
And considreth in your discreciouns,
How dremys shewed binfluence dyuyne
Be nat lik sweuenys, but lik auysiouns,
Or resemblable to reuelaciouns,
Which thouh men wolde distourbe & make faile,
God wil nat suffre ther malice to preuaile.
Astriages drempte he sauh a vyne,
Shewed off trouthe and non illusiouns,
From his douhter wombe, riht as lyne,
Spred in Asie ouer the regiouns;
But to disherite be fals collusiouns
Yonge Cirus, the kyng dede his trauaile,
But God nat suffred his malice to preuaile.
Pryncis remembreth, ye that in honour shyne,
Vpon this stori in your entenciouns,
And beth weelwillid, wher God list forthre a lyne
Outher to richesse or dominaciouns,
To fauour them to ther promociouns,—
Be nat contrarie in your acquitaile,
Sithe God will suffre no malice to preuaile.

294

[How Candalus kyng of Lide was made Cokewold/and aftir slayn.]

Whil Iohn Bochas caste his look a-side,
In his studie as he sat writyng,
To his presence cam the kyng off Lide
Callid Candalus, ful pitousli pleynyng,
With salte teris ful lowli besechyng,
That he wolde, tasswagen his greuaunce,
His dedli sorwe to putte in remembraunce.
His compleynt was most off onkynd[e]nesse,
For fals deceit, ageyn al skile and riht,
That wher his trust was most off gentilesse,
He mokkid was, for al his gret[e] myht;
For off his hous ther was a certeyn knyht,
Giges callid, thyng shamful to be told,
To speke pleyn Inglissh, made hym a cokold.
Alas, I was nat auysid weel beforn,
Oncunnyngli to speke such language;
I sholde ha said, how that he hadde an horn,
Or souht sum tee[r]me with a fair visage
Texcuse my rudnesse off this gret outrage,
As in sum land Cornodo men them call,
And summe afferme how such folk ha[ue] no gall.
This was the cas: whan Phebus shon [ful] sheene
The somer sesoun in his ascencioun,
Whan soote braunchis wer clad in newe greene,
Heete inportable hadde domynacioun,
Whan that the queen for recreacioun,
Onprouyded that no man dede hir keepe,
Vpon hir bed lay naked for to sleepe.
And, as clerkis off hir beute write,
Ther was a-lyue no fairere creature,
Nor mor excellyng, lik as thei endite,
Off semlynesse, hir stori doth assure:

295

Callid for beute cosyn to Nature,
And worthi eek, yiff I shal nat feyne,
To be comparid to Griselde or Eleyne.
Kynde in hir forge list nothyng to erre,
Whan she hir wrouhte, bi gret auysynesse,
To make off beute the veray lode-sterre,
And yeue hir fauour, beute & semlynesse;
But for Nature hadde so gret besynesse
To fourme a woman that was so fressh of hewe,
She hadde forgete for to make hir trewe.
Hir eyen wer verai celestiall,
Hir her ontressid, lik Phebus in his speer,—
A thyng rasemblyng that were inmortall,
So angelik she was off look and cheer,
An exaumplaire off port & off maneer,—
Ther was no lak, sauf Nature, thoruh hir slouthe,
Hadde lefft behynde to yeue hir feith & trouthe.
And on a day, as she lay slepyng
Naked a-bedde, most goodli on to siht,
Ful onwarli cam Candalus the kyng
Into the chaumbre, wher Titan shon ful bryht,
And shewed hir beute onto his owne knyht,
Off entent he sholde ber witnesse
How she excellid all othir in fairnesse.
And whan Giges gan in ordre see
Off this queen the gret[e] excellence,
He was enamoured vpon hir beute
Al the while he stood ther in presence,
Gan ymagyne a tresoun in silence,
To slen his lord, withoute long tarieng,
Wynne the queen, and afftir regne as kyng.
This was the eende, doolful and pitous,
To be remembrid hatful and terrible,
Off this noble worthi Candalus;
For off his trust to moche he was credible
Onto Giges, the traitour most odible.
And yit mor foltissh, wherbi he lost his liff,
Outward to shewe the beute off his wiff.

296

Thouh she were fair & goodli on to see,
Ther was no trust nor no sekirnesse,
For other hadde as good[e] part as he,—
Giges koude bere theroff witnesse.
Alas, a queen, or any gret pryncesse
Assente sholde hir fame for to trouble,
But yiff Nature excuse hem to be double.

[How what thing kyng Midas touched was golde/ yitt deied he in misery and wrecchidnesse.]

But who-so-euer was therwith loth or fayn,
Giges was afftir crownyd kyng off Lide,
Whan that his lord was be tresoun slayn.
Off hym the surplus Bochas set a-side.
And in his studi, as he dede abide,
Ther cam off Frige, Midas the riche kyng,
Told myn auctour his compleynt with wepyng.
For ther was neuer, be conquest nor labour,
No kyng aforn that hadde mor richesse,
Nor mor plente off gold nor off tresour.
At whose berthe poetis thus expresse:
A-boute his cradel amptis gan hem dresse,
Whil he slepte, and gan a-boute hym leyn
A ful gret noumbre off purid whete greyn.
Wherupon, most expert dyuynours,
As thei took heed in ther attendaunce,
Such as wer[e]n best expositours,
Saide it was a tokne off habundaunce,
To haue off richesse al maner suffisaunce,
And concludyng, pleynli gan to tell,
How he alle other in tresour sholde excell.
Poetis off hym wrot that were ful olde,
How Bachus gaff hym—the myhti God of wyn,—
What he toucheth shal turnen into golde
As good as that which cam out off the myn,
At all assaies to been as pur and fyn.
This request, as writ Ouidius,
Was onto Midas grauntid off Bachus.

297

He thouhte gold myhte hym most auaile:
What he handlid was gold with touchyng,
But whan hunger his stomak gan assaile,
His bred, his mete was cleer gold in shewyng;
And whan he gan to faile off his fedyng,
And fond in gold no recour to escape,
Besouhte Bachus sum remedi to shape.
Bachus bad hym go bathe in a ryuer
To wasshe a-way the colour aureat,
Wher yit is shewed the goldi grauel cleer.
Which exaumple declareth to ech estat,
That gold alone maketh men nat fortunat:
For what may gold or tresour ther auaile,
Wher men in hunger fynde no vitaile?
Or what is worth gold, perle or stonys red,
Grene emeraudis or saphir[e]s ynde,
Whan men enfamyned ha[ue] no[u]ther greyn nor bred,
Nor in such myscheeff vitaile may non fynde
For to fostre ther nature and ther kynde,—
A barli loff in such a distresse
Mor myhte auaile than al worldli richesse!
This knew Midas, & was expert in deede,
Thouh he off gold hadde so gret plente,
That with metall he myhte hymselff nat feede.
Which caused hym off necessite
To considre and cleerli for to see,
That bred mor vailith for fostryng off nature,
Than al [the] richesse that men may heer recure.
For which this kyng gan haten al richesse;
Gold and tresour he hadde eek in disdeyn,
Leffte his crowne and his roial noblesse,
And ches to keepe sheep vpon a pleyn.
Al worldli worshepe was to hym but veyn.
Off malencolie & froward pouerte,
Endid his liff in gret aduersite.

298

For off ire and inpacience,
Fynally thus with hym it stood:
Furiousli in his gret indigence,
As writ Bochas, how he drank the blood
Off a bole, sauagyne and wood,
With loue enchaufid, made no delaies,
Most bestiali eendid thus his daies.

[Off Balthasar kyng of Babilone and how Danyel expowned, Mane, Techel, Phares.]

Next to Bochas, or that he was war,
As he sat writyng with ful gret labour,
Off Babilon cam grete Baltazar
To declare his sorwe and his langour.
Which had mysusid ful falsli the tresour
And the vesseles brouht fro Ierusalem,
In Babilon cheeff cite off his rewm.
For at a souper with his lordis all,
Whan off the vesselis he drank myhti wynes,
And solempli sat in his roial stall,
And round a-boute all his concubynes,
Philisophres, magiciens and dyuynes,
Ther cam an hand, the Bible doth assure,
And on the wall gan writen this scripture:
Mane techel phares wreten in his siht,
Thouh he the menyng conceyued neueradeel,
Which on the wall shewed cleer & briht,
Fro whos sentence auailed non appel.
But the prophete, hooli Danyel,
Fulli expownyd to Baltazar the kyng
The mysterie off this derk writyng.

299

“This woord Mane, pleynli and nat tarie,
In Latyn tunge betokneth in substaunce,
The daies countid & rekned the noumbrarie
Off thi regnyng & off thi gret substaunce.
And Techel sowneth a weieng in ballaunce,
In tokne thi power & kyngdam be mesure,
God hath hem peised, thei shal no while endure.
Phares also betokneth a brekyng,
In Romayn tunge, into pecis smale;
For thi power & froward rebellyng
Shal from an hih be brouht into the vale,
This Hooli Writ & no feyned tale:
For whan pryncis wil nat ther liff redresse,
God will onwarli ther surquedie represse.
Thou wer be toknys warned longe affor,
Be many exaumple, the story ye may reede,
Bi the fallyng off Nabugodonosor,
And thou theroff took ful litil heede,
The Lord to thanke & haue his name in dreede.
For which thou shalt withynne a litil throwe
Lese sceptre & crowne, & be brouht ful lowe.”

[Lenvoye.]

Lat pryncis all this story haue in mynde,
And for themsilff[e] notabli prouide,
A[nd] namli thei that be to God onkynde,
Ther concubynes for to sette a-side,
And make vertu for to been ther guide,
Voide lecheri and fals presumpcioun,
Which haue so many brouht to destruccioun.
Nabugodonosor hadde repentaunce,
And was restorid to his possessiouns;
But God off riht took sodenli vengaunce
On Balthasar for his transgressiouns.
Wherfore, ye Pryncis, disposith your resouns,

300

Afftir your meritis to ha[ue] God merciable,
For your demeritis to fynden hym vengable.
Geyn hooli chirch[e] taketh no quarelis,
But aduertisith in your inward siht;
For Balthasar drank off tho vesselis
Stole fro the temple off verrai force & myht:
He loste lordshepe and liff vpon a nyht,
So that the kyngdam off Assiriens
Translatid was to Mede & Persiens.

[How Cresus & balthasar were venquisshed bi Cirus and the son of Cresus slayn at huntyng of a boor.]

Next to Iohn Bochas, withynne a litil throwe,
Writyng off princis many pitous fate,
He sauh kyng Cresus, with other on þe rowe,
Lowli besechyng his fallyng to translate;
And how Fortune ageyn hym gan debate,
And off his myscheeff, doolful for to reede,
For to descryue anon he gan proceede.
For as it is remembrid in writyng,
As God and Kynde list for hym ordeyne,
Off Lide he was gouernour & kyng,
And lordshep hadde, the story cannat feyne,
Off many kyngdam mo than oon or tweyne;
Fame in that tyme so dede hym magnefie,
That he was callid flour off al cheualrie.
And he was also in his tyme founde
The most expert in werre & in bataile,
And off richesse was the most habounde,
And most excellyng in conquest to preuaile—
Plente off peeple, with roial apparaile,
And with al this, to his gret auauntage,
Noumbre off childre tenbelishe his lynage.
In the most hiest off his roial see,
And al was weel & nothyng stood amys,
Yit tamenuse his felicite,
A drem he hadde; & trewli that was thys,

301

How that his sone, which callid was Athys,
Was take fro hym, & be mortal outrage
Slayn sodenli in his tendre age.
This woful drem dede hym gret distresse
And putte his herte in ful gret disespeir,
Stondyng in feer & in gret heuynesse
Because his child, tendre, yong & fair,
Which that was bor[e]n for to been his hair,
Sholde causeles in such[e] myscheeff die,
So as his drem afforn dede specefie.
Off this processe to declare moor,
How Cresus drem fulfellid was in deede:
From Olympus ther cam a wilde boor,
Most furious & sauagyne off dreede,
With fomy tusshes, which faste gan hym speede,
Doun descendyng, & nowher list abide
Til that he cam into the land off Lide,
And gan destroie ther fruitis & ther vynes,
Wher-euer he cam in any maner place,
Brak the nettis and the stronge lynes
Off the hunteris, that dede at hym enchace;
But vnder support off the kynges grace,
His sone and heir, off whom I spak tofor,
Gat hym licence to hunten at this boor.
His fader Cresus deemyng off this cas,
Ther was no cause off dreed in no maner,
Thouh his sone wer present at the chas
With other hunteris such game for to ler:
But ay Fortune with hir double cheer
Is reedi euere bi sum fatal treyne
At such disportis sum myscheef to ordeyne.
For oon ther was which hadde gouernaunce
Vpon this child tawaiten and to see,
Chacyng the boor, to saue hym fro myschaunce,
From al damage and aduersite,—
Which many lusti folk off that contre,
With hornys, houndis & sharp speris grounde,
Sekyng the boor til thei han hym founde.

302

And as thei gan fersli this boor enchace,
He that was chargid to been the childis guide,
As with his spere he gan the boor manace,
The hed nat entred, but forbi gan to glide,
And on the child, which that stood beside,
The strook alihte, & or he dede aduerte,
The speris hed rooff hym thoruh the herte.
But off this child, whan the deth was kouth,
Told & reportid hooli the manere
How he was slay[e]n in his tendre youth,
Born to been heir onto his fader deere,
Cresus for sorwe chaunged look & cheere,
And for constreynt off dool, in his visage
He resemblede a verrai ded ymage.
But eueri sorwe, be long continuaunce,
At the laste it sumwhat must aswage;
For ther is noon so furious greuaunce,
Nor so mortal importable rage,
But long processe yeueth hym auauntage:
I meene as thus, ther is noon so gret a sorwe,
But it muste cese, outher eue or morwe.
Philisophres concluden & discerne,
And bi ther resouns recorden in scripture,
Thyng violent may nat been eterne;
Nat in o poynt a-bit noon auenture,
Nor a sorwe alway may nat endure:
For stound[e]meel thoruh Fortunys variaunce
Ther folweth ioie afftir gret greuaunce.
The sorwe off Cresus, thouh it wer intollerable,
And at his herte the greuaunce sat ful sore,
Sith that his dool was irrecuperable,
And mene was non his harmys to restore,
Myn auctour Bochas writ off his wo no more,
But off his fall, how that it fill in deede,
To telle the maner forth he doth proceede.
And for a while he set his stile a-side,
And his processe in parti he forbar
To speke off Cresus, that was kyng off Lide,
And gan resorte to write off Balthazar,
Ageyn rehersyng: or that he was war,

303

How myhti Cirus, off fatal auenture,
Made on hym proudli a disconfiture.
And as it is put in remembraunce,
Off Balthazar to holde up the partie,
Cresus with hym had maad an alliaunce
With al his puissaunce & al his cheualrie,
His liff, his tresour to putte in iupartie,
Sworn in armis as brother onto brother,
Be Cirus venquysshed, the ton afftir the tother.
Ther bothe myscheeff no lenger was delaied,
Al-be that Cresus fauht longe in his diffence,
He fynali be Cirus was outraied
And depryued be knyhtli violence,—
Take in the feeld, ther was no resistence,
And rigorousli, to his confusioun,
With myhti fetris cast in a derk prisoun.
And mor tencrece his gret aduersite,
A sone off his, tendre & yong off age,
That was doumb from his natyuyte
And neuer spak woord in no maner language—
Cirus comaundyng be furious outrage,
That Cresus sholde, be vengable cruelte,
Ba knyht of Perse in prisoun heuedid be,—
And with his suerd as he gan manace,
Cresus taslayn withoute al reuerence,
The doumb[e] child, ther present in the place,
Which neuer had spoke, thus saide in audience:
“Withdrauh thi strok and do no violence
Onto my lord, thi fame for to confounde,
To slen a kyng that lith in prisoun bounde.”
The knyht astonyd, hath his strok forborn,
Gretli abaued in that derk habitacle,
Which herd a child that neuer spak toforn
A-geyn his suerd to maken an obstacle:
Ran & tolde this merueilous myracle
To myhti Cirus, with eueri circumstaunce,
Hopyng therbi tattemprid his greuaunce.

304

But wher-as tirantis be set on cruelte,
Ther crokid malice ful hard is to appese,
So indurat is ther iniquite,
That al in vengaunce is set ther hertis ese,
Themsilff reioisshyng to seen folk in disese,
Lich as thei wer, in ther froward daunger
Clenli fraunchised fro God and his power.
This cruel Cirus, most vengable off desir,
Texecute his fel entent in deede,
Leet make in haste off faget a gret fir,
And gan them kyndle with many colis rede,
And made Cresus, quakyng in his dreede,
For to be take wher-as he lay ful lowe,
And bad men sholde into the fir hym throwe.
But Iubiter, which hath this vengaunce seyn,
How cruel Cirus with malice was atteynt,
From heuene sente a tempest & a reyn,
That sodenli the horrible fir was queynt;
[And] woful Cresus, with dreedful fir maad feynt,
Escapid is his furious mortal peyne—
God and Fortune for hym list so ordeyne.
This auenture, in maner merueilous,
The herte off Cirus gan sumwhat to enbrace,
And caused hym for to been pitous
Ageyn Cresus, & grauntid hym this grace,
To ocupie, whil he hath liff and space,
The lond off Lide; except onli this thyng,
He sholde nat afftir no mor be callid kyng.
And thus off Lide the kyngdam dede fyne,
Which took his gynnyng off oon Ardisius,
And endured the space off kynges nyne,—
Look who will, the bookis telle thus.
Heroff no mor, but forth onto Cirus
I will proceede, with al my wise cure
For to translate his woful auenture.

305

[How the cruel tiraunt Cirus delited euer in slauhtre & shedyng of blood and so ended.]

Heir be discent to gret Astriages,
Poorli brouht forth, as maad is mencioun,
And hadde al Asie to his gret encres,
Holdyng that regne be iust successioun
In long quiete withoute rebellioun,
Til tyme he thouhte, in ful froward wise,
The world was smal to staunche his couetise.
He hadde an etik most contagious
Fretyng vpon hym for desir off good,
A dropesie, hatful and furious,
Off froward rage, that made his herte wood,
A woluysh thrust to sheede manys blood,
Which ouerthwertid, be fals malencolie,
His roial corage into tirannye.
But whan he gan presumptuousli entende
To robbe and reue folk thoruh his pillage,
God & Fortune made hym to descende
Ful sodenli from his roial stage,
Demyng off pride it was a gret vauntage
To wynne londis, off verray force & myht,
Thouh in his conquest ther wer no title off ryht.
To will he gaff hooli the souerynte,
And aduertisid nothyng to resoun,
But preferrid his sensualite
To haue lordshep & domynacioun
A-boue sad trouthe and discrecioun.
Which causith pryncis from ther estat roiall,
Or thei be war, to haue a sodeyn fall.
For the lordshepe off al Asia
Miht nat suffise to Cirus gredynesse,
But thouhte he wolde conquere Cithia,
And ther werreie tencrece his gret richesse,
Thouh he no title hadde off rihtwisnesse,
Sauff a fals lust; wheroff men sholde ha[ue] routhe,
That will in pryncis sholde oppresse trouthe.

306

First this Cirus all pryncis dede excell
Bothe in conquest, victorie and bataile,
Off gold & tresour, as bookis off hym tell:
Kyngdamys to wynne he dede most preuaile;
And yit too vicis dede his herte assaile,
First couetise euere tencrece in good,
With a desir to sheede mennys blood.
With these too vices he brenneth euer in oon,
That neuer myhte from his herte twynne,
Made a gret arme toward Sceptemtrion,
And cast hym proudli to sette on & begynne,
Scithia, the myhti lond, to wynne,
Queen Thamaris ther regnyng, as I fynde,
Whos kyngdam ioyneth to Ethiope and Inde.
Toward the parti which is orientall,
The Se off Surrie floweth ful plenteuous
Doun to the Se callid Occidentall,
And southward renneth toward Coucasus.
And folk off Cithie that been laborious,
Which tile the lond, hanat to ther lyuynge
But onli fruitis which from the erthe sprynge.
The lond off Cithie is riche for the nonys,
For greyn and fruit a lond ful couenable,
Riche off gold, perle and precious stonys,
Riht comodious & wonder delectable;
But a gret parti is nat habitable,
The peeple dreedful to beelde ther mansiouns,
For feer off deth, because off the griffouns.
The noble fame nor the hih renoun
Was nat ferr knowe nor Isprad a-boute
Off Thamaris, queen off that regioun,
Nor off hir noblesse, withynne nor withoute,
Till that kyng Cirus, with a ful gret route,
Into Scithia gan hym proudli dresse,
The hardi queen to spoile off hir richesse.
But she, hir fame mor to magnefie,
Gan in gret haste with ful riche apparaile
Ful prudentli assemble hir cheualrie,
And took a feeld, yiff he hir wolde assaile,

307

Redi with hym to haue[n] a bataile.
And off hir meyne, lich as seith my book,
Onto hir sone the thridde part she took.
And gaff hym charge in the same place,
Hymsilff tacquite that day lik a knyht,
And for to meete Cirus in the face,
And nothyng dreede with hym for to fyht.
But whan kyng Cirus off hym hadde a syht,
Cast hym that day the yong[e] prynce [t]oppresse,
Rather be wilis than manhod or prowesse.
First he leet stuffe his large pauillouns
With gret plente off drynkis delectable,
Duyers metis and confecciouns
Round aboute vpon eueri table;
And in his menyng passyng deceyuable,
Lich as he hadde in maner dreedful be,
Took al his hoost & gan anon to fle.
This yonge prynce, off menyng innocent,
Nothyng demyng as be supposaile,
But that Cirus was with his me[y]ne went
And fledde for feer, he durste hym nat assaile.
And whan he fond such plente off vittaile,
He & his knyhtis thoruh mysgouernaunce,
To ete & drynke set al ther plesaunce.
Thei hadde off knyhthod lost al the disciplyne,
Forsook[e] Mars and put hym out off siht,
And to Bachus ther hedis gan enclyne,
Gorge vpon gorge till it drouh to nyht.
And proude Cirus cam on hem anon riht
With al his hoost, thei out off ther armure,
On bestial folk made a disconfiture.
Cruel Cirus leffte non a-lyue,
Off hih nor low made non excepcioun,
Thei wer to feeble ageyn his myht to stryue:
For cheeff cause off ther destruccioun
Was dronkenesse, which voideth al resoun;
And wise men rehersen in sentence,
Wher folk be dronke ther is no resistence.

308

And whan this slauhtre be relacioun
Reported was and brouht to the presence
Off Thamaris, queen off that regioun,
Onto hir herte it dede ful gret offence.
But off ire and gret inpacience,
Seyng hir sone slayn in tendre age,
For sorwe almost she fill into a rage.
But for al hir woful dedli peyne,
She shewed no tokne off femynyte,
But off prudence hir wepyng gan restreyne,
And caste hir pleynli auengid for to be
Vpon kyng Cirus & on his cruelte.
Sente out meyne tespien his passage,
Yiff she hym myhte fynde at a-vauntage.
And with hir meyne gan feyne a maner fliht
Vp to the mounteyns, dreedful & terrible;
And Cirus afftir gan haste hym anon riht,
In hope to take hir, yiff it wer possible.
Among which hilles, mor than it is credible,
Been craggi roches, most hidous off entaile,
Pereilous off passage & void off al vitaile.
And Cirus ther fill in gret daunger,
Al onpurueied off drogeman or guide;
To fostre his peeple vitaile was non ther,
Erryng as beestis vpon eueri side.
And thei off Scithie gan for hym so prouide,
Wheroff ther queen[e], God wot, was ful fayn,
At gret myscheeff that al his men wer slayn.
Non off alle was take to ransoun,
Nor he hymsilff escapid nat ther boundis,
Such wait was leid to his destruccioun.
And he thoruh perced with many mortal woundis,
On pecis rent, as beris been with houndis,
The queen comaundyng, whan he lay thus totorn,
To hir presence his bodi to be born.
First she hath chargid to smyte off his hed,
Whan she thus hath the victorie off hym wonne.
And in a bath, that was off blood al red,

309

She gan it throwe, withynne a litil tonne.
And off despiht riht thus she hath begonne,
Most tirantli in hir woful rage,
To dede Cirus to hauen this language:
“O thou Cirus, that whilom wer so wood
And so thrustleuh in thi tirannye,
Ageyn Nature to sheede manys blood,
So woluyssh was thyn hatful dropisie,
That merci non myhte it modefie,
Thyn etik ioyned, gredi and onstable,
With thrust off slauhtre ay to be vengable!”
It is an horrour in maner for to thynke
So gret a prynce rebuked for to be
Off a woman, manys blood to drynke,
For to disclaundre his roiall maieste.
But gladli euer vengable cruelte
Off riht requereth, with onwar violence
Blood shad for blood iustli to recompence.
Off myhti Cirus thymperial noblesse
Was bi a woman venquysshid & bor doun;
God made hir chastise his furious woodnesse,
And for toppresse his famous hih renoun:
For wher vengaunce hath dominacioun
In worldli pryncis, pleynli to deuyse,
With onwar strok God can hem weel chastise.
The eende off Cirus can ber ful weel record,
How God withstondith folk that be vengable;
Lordshepe & mercy, whan thei been at discord,
Riht wil nat suffre ther staat to stonde stable.
And for this Cirus was so onmerciable,
He with onmerci punshed was in deede:
Deth quit for deth; loo, heer his fynal meede!
In slauhtre & blood he dede hym most delite;
For in tho tweyne was his repast in deede.
He fond no mercy his vengaunce to respite
Wher he fond mater any blood to sheede,
Such ioie he hadde be deth to see folk bleede;
And for the siht dede hym so mekil good,
His fatal eende was for to swymme in blood.

310

Loo, heer thexequies off this myhti kyng!
Loo, heer the eende off his estat roiall!—
Ther wer no flawmys nor brondis cleer shynyng
To brenne his bodi with fires funerall,
Nor obseruaunces nor offrynges marciall,
Nor tumbe off gold with stonys riche & fyne
Was non ordeyned that day to make his shryne!
Epitaphie ther was non rad nor sunge
Be no poete with ther poetries,
Nor off his tryumphes ther was no belle runge,
Nor no weperis with sobbyng tragedies,—
Non attendaunce, but off his enmyes,
Which off hatrede in ther cruel rage
Cast out his kareyn to beestis most sauage.
Loo, heer off Cirus the fynal auenture,
Which off al Asie was whilom emperour!
Now lith he abiect, withoute sepulture,
Off hih ne low he fond no bet fauour.
Loo, heer the fyn off al worldli labour,
Namli off tirantis, which list nat God to dreede,
But set ther lust in slauhtre, & blood to sheede!

Lenvoye.

Ryht noble Princis, considreth in your siht
The fyn off Cirus, pitous & lamentable,
How God punsheth off equite & riht
Tirantis echon, cruel and vengable:
For in his siht it is abhomynable,
That a prynce, as philisophres write,
In slauhtre off men sholde hymsilff delite.
This said[e] Cirus was a ful manli knyht,
In his begynnyng riht famous & notable,
Nature gaff hym semlynesse & myht;
For in conquest was non seyn mor hable,
Till tirannye, the serpent deceyuable,
Merciles his corage dede atwite,
In slauhtre off men whan he hym gan delite.

311

Wherfore, ye Princis, remembreth day & nyht
Tafforce your noblesse & make it perdurable,
To gete you fauour & loue off euery wyht,
Which shal your statis conserue & keepe stable:
For ther is conquest non so honourable
In gouernaunce, as vengaunce to respite,
Merci preferryng, in slauhtre nat delite.

[How Amilius for couetise slouh his brothir and Remus and Romulus norisshed by a woluesse.]

Afftir kyng Cirus, Bochas dede espie
Too worthi brethre, with facis [ful] pitous,
Born be discent to regne in Albanye,
Bothe off o fadir, the story tellith vs.
The ton off hem callid Amylius,
And to remembre the name [eek] off the tother,
Muniter Icallid was his brother.
Thei hadde a fader, which named was Prochas,
Kyng off that lond, the story doth deuyse.
Afftir whos deth[e], pleynli this the cas,
Amilius for fals[e] couetise
His brother slouh in ful cruel wise,
That he oniustli, be fals[e] tirannye,
Miht ha[ue] the kyngdam alone off Albanye.
This Albania be descripcioun,
Lik as Bochas affermeth in certeyn,
Ys a cite nat ferr fro Rome toun,
Set on an hill beside a large pleyn,
The beeldyng statli, riche and weel beseyn,
Stronge Iwallid, with many riche tour,
And Ascanius was first theroff foundour.
Which callid was in his fundacioun
Albania, for the gret whihtnesse;
Ther kynges afftir be successioun
Named Albanoys, princis off gret noblesse.
And be discent, the story berth witnesse,
Fro kyng Prochas, record on bookis olde,
Cam these too brethre, & Rea, ther suster, tolde.

312

Muniter slayn, as maad is mencioun,
The kyngdam ocupied be Amilius;
And Rea entred into relegioun,
For to be wympled in that hooli hous
Sacred to Vesta, with virgynys glorious,
Ther for tabide and be contemplatiff,
With othre maidnes, duryng al hir liff.
And this was doon whil she was yong off age
Bi hir brother, off fals entencioun,
That she sholde ha[ue] no maner heritage,
Nor cleyme no title in that regioun
Off hir kynreede be non occasioun,
But stonde professid to virgynyte
Tofor Vesta, and lyue in chastite.
Yit natwithstandyng hir virgynal clennesse,
She hath conceyued be natural miracle;
Gan to encrece in hir hoolynesse,
Whos wombe aroos, in Kynde was noon obstacle:
Ageyn such bollyng auaileth no triacle;
But the goddesse for hir so dede ordeyne,
That she attonys hadde sonys tweyne.
The temple off Vesta stood in wildirnesse,
Wher Rea hadde hooli the gouernaunce
Off preestli honour doon to the goddesse,
With many straunge vnkouth obseruaunce.
But bi hir brothris mortal ordenaunce,
Hir yonge sonys myhte nat be socourid,
But cast out to beestis to be deuourid.
But a she-wolff, which whelpid hadde late,
To yeue hem souke dede hir besynesse,
Be God ordeyned, or be sum heuenli fate,
Them to conserue fro deth in ther distresse.
For Hooli Writ pleynli ber[i]th witnesse,
God can diffende, as it is weel kouth,
Childre fro myscheeff in ther tendre youth.
But in this while this said Amilius,
That was ther vncle, as maad is mencioun,
Ageyn his suster froward & furious,
Made hir be shet in a ful derk presoun;

313

And ther compleynyng the destruccioun
Off hir too childre born to hir repreeff,
For veray sorwe deied at gret myscheeff.
These said[e] childre, deuoid off al refut,
Beside a ryuer lay pitousli crieng,
From al socour naked & destitut,
Except a woluesse vpon hem awaityng,
At whos wombe ful stille thei lay sowkyng,
Onto Nature a thyng contrarious,
Childre to souke off beestis rauynous.
But he, this Lord off eueri creature,
Riht as hym list[e] can bothe saue & spille;
And beestis which be rage off ther nature,
He can adaunt & make hem li ful stille,—
Tigres, leouns obeien at his wille.
The same Lord hath maad a fell woluesse
Onto twei childre hir bigges for to dresse.
And whil this woluesse hadde hem in depos,
Ther cam an heerde callid Faustulus,
Beheeld ther sowkyng & sauh hem lyn ful clos,
Which shepperde was off kyng Amilius,
Cauht up these childre, the story tellith thus,
And brouht hem hom with ful gret dilligence
Onto his wiff, that callid was Laurence.
And she for loue dede hir besi peyne
Them to fostre till thei cam to age,
Gaff them sowken off hir brestis tweyne
Fro day to day, off herte and hool corage.
And thei wer callid as in that language,
Afftir the story, the ton off hem Remus,
And the seconde was named Romulus.
Off which[e] brethre, brefli to termyne,
The toun off Rome took his origynall.
Off fals disclaundre first began that lyne,
The roote out souht, ful vicious founde att all,
Cleerli remembred for a memoriall,
Ther gynnyng greuh off such incontinence
As clerkis call incestus in sentence.

314

Incestus is a thyng nat fair nor good,
Afftir that bookis weel deuise cunne,
As trespasyng with kyn or with blood,
Or froward medlyng with hir that is a nunne.
And thus the lyne off Rome was begunne:
For slauhtre, moordre & fals robberie
Was cheeff gynnyng off al ther auncetrie.
Off couetise thei took ther auauntage,
Liggeris off weies & robbours openli,
Moordrers also off ther owne lynage,
And strengest theuys gat to ther cumpany,
Spoilyng all tho that passed hem forby;
Vnder shadwe off kepyng ther beestaile,
Al maner peeple thei proudli dede assaile.
To slen marchantis, thei had no conscience,
And for to moordre folk off eueri age,
Women toppresse off force and violence,
In al that cuntre this was ther vsage:
Wher thei abood ther was no seur passage;
And these too brethre, lik as it is founde,
Fond first the maner off speris sharp Igrounde.
A spere in Greek[e] callid is quiris,
And for that cause, the said[e] Romulus,
As bookis seyn, and sothli so it is,
He afftirward was callid Quirinus.
Which with his brother, that namyd was Remus,
Was in alle thynge confederat & partable,
That tofor God was vicious & dampnable.
And as it was accordyng to ther liff,
For lak off vertu thei fill in gret diffame;
And atwen hem ther was an vnkouth striff,
Which off bothe sholde yeue the name
Onto the cite, atwen ernest & game,
Afftir ther namys Rome to be callid.
Thus fill the cas afforn or it was wallid.
And therupon ful longe last ther stryues,
Which sholde off hem ha[ue] dominacioun,
Shewyng ther titles & prerogatyues,

315

Who sholde off hem yeue name to the toun
And regne as kyng in that regioun.
Ther was no resoun who sholde go beforn,
Because thei wer[e]n bothe attonys born.
But to fynysshe ther fraternal discord,
Thei han prouyded atwen hem anon riht;
Thus condescendyng to put hem at accord
Nouther be force, oppressioun nor myht,
That which off hem first sauh grettest fliht
Off briddes fleen hie vpon an hill,
Sholde name the cite at his owne will.
Off this accord for to ber witnesse,
Thei with hem ladde a ful gret multitude,
Theron to yeue a doom off rihtwisnesse,
Bothe off wise and off peeplis rude,
All attonys this mateer to conclude.
And vp tan hill[e] callid Auentyne,
Thei been ascendid this mateer for to fyne.
And birdis sexe to Remus dede appeere,
Bi augurie as thei gan proceede,
Callid vultures, ful fers in ther manere.
But the noumbre in double dede exceede,
That Romulus sauh, whan he took good heede.
Wheroff ther fill a gret contrauersie,
Which off hem sholde preuaile on his partie.
Thus first off all[e] Remus hadde a siht
Off sexe birdis callid vultures,
And for tauaunce and preferre his riht,
He ful proudli put hymsilff in pres.
But Romulus was nat rek[e]les,
His brothres cleym pleynli to entrouble,
Afforced his title with the noumbre double.
Yit off his purpos on off hem mut faile,
Thouh it so be that thei euer stryue;
But Romulus gan fynali preuaile,
And to the cite foorth he wente blyue.
And, as auctours list echon descryue,

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And in ther bookis as thei rehersen all,
Afftir his name Rome he dede it call.
And all foreyn[e]s for texcluden oute,
And ageyn hem to make strong diffence,
First he began to walle it round aboute,
And made a lawe ful dreedful in sentence:
Who clamb the wall be any violence,
Outward or inward, there is no mor to seie,
Be statut maad, he muste needis deie.
This was enact be ful pleyn ordynaunce,
In peyne off deth, which no man breke shall.
But so befill, Remus off ignoraunce,
Which off the statut kneuh nothyng att all,
Off auenture wente ouer the wall.
For which a knyht ordeyned in certayn,
The said[e] Remus with a pekeis slayn.
His brother list nat in no maner wise
Ageyn the lawe to be fauourable,
But assentid, parcel for couetise,
Vpon Remus to be mor vengable,
Off this entent, to make his regne stable,
That he alone myhte gouerne & non other,
Be no claym founde nor brouht in bi his brother.
And that the peeple sholde hem mor delite,
Ther tabide and ha[ue] possessioun,
As olde auctours off Romulus do write,
Withynne the boundis off the same toun,
That he deuysed, bi gret prouisioun,
In cumpas round, so cronycles compile,
A teritorie that callid was Asile.
This Asilum be Romulus deuised,
Was a place off refuge and socours,
Lik a theatre, with libertes fraunchised,
For to resseyue all foreyn trespassours,
Theuys, moordreris, weiliggeris & robbours,
Be gret resort, withynne the wallis wide,
To fostre all bribours that nowher durste abide.

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And with fled peeple fro dyuers regiouns,
The cite gan tencrece & multeplie;
And banshed folk off straunge naciouns
To fynde refuge thedir gan hem hie.
And thus be processe gan ther cheualrie
First thoruh tirantis, rekles off werkyng,
Till al the world obeied ther biddyng.
Off wilfull force withoute title off riht
Thei brouht al peeple vnder subieccioun.
A cleym thei made be violence & myht,
And took non heed off trouthe nor resoun.
And the first auctour off ther fundacioun
Was Romulus, that gadred al this route
Withynne the cite, & wallid it round aboute.
And many day, as maad is mencioun,
He hadde that cite in his gouernaunce;
And was the firste kyng crownyd in that toun,
And regned ther be contynuaunce
Ful many yeris, till the variaunce
Off Fortune, thoruh hir fals envie,
In Campania made hym for to die
Vpon a day whan it gan thundre loude,
His name for euere to be mor magnefied.
Summe bookis seyn, he was rapt in a cloude,
Hih up in heuene to be stellefied,
With othre goddis estatli deified,
Ther to be stallid be Iubiteris side,
Lik for his knyhtis as Mars list prouide.
Loo, heer off paynymys a fals opynyoun,
To Cristes lawe contrarie and odious,
That tirantis sholde for fals oppressioun
Be callid goddis or named glorious,
Which bi ther lyue wer founde vicious:
For this pleyn trouthe, I dar it riht weel tell,
Thei rathere be feendis ful deepe in hell.
For but in erthe ther dominacioun
Conveied be bi vertuous noblesse,
And that ther power & ther hih renoun

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Be set on trouthe and on rihtwisnesse,
Lich ther estatis, in prynce or in pryncesse,
I dar afferme off them bothe tweyne,
For vicious lyuyng thei mut endure peyne.
But whan thei been feithful off entent,
Riht and trouthe iustli to meynteene,
And in ther roial power be nat blent,
Wrongis redressyng & poore folk susteene,
And so contynue, with conscience most cleene,
Such liff, mor rathe than pompe of worldli werris,
Shal make hem regne in heuene aboue the sterris.
For which lat pryncis vndirstonde attonys,
And worldli princesses, with al ther gret richesse,
That ther hih hornys, fret with riche stonys,
Toward heuene ther passage doth nat dresse.
But vertuous liff, charite and meeknesse,
Whan thei list pride out off ther herte arace,
That causeth hem in heuene to wynne a place.
Ther is no mor straunge abusioun,
Nor tofor God grettere ydolatrie,
Than whan pryncis list cachche affeccioun
Creaturis falsli to deifie,
Be collusioun brouht in be sorcerie.
Now God diffende alle princis weel disposid,
With such fals crafft neuer to been enosid!
And that ther eyen bi non illusiouns
Be nat englued nouther with hook nor lyne,
Nor be no baites off fressh inspecciouns,
Wrouht bi Cirenes, be drynk or medicyne,
Which off ther nature resemble to a shryne,
Thoruh richesse outward & beute souereyne,—
And, who looke inward, be lik a foul kareyne.
God off his grace amende al such outrage
In noble pryncis, & saue hem fro such werre,

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And hem enlumyne, disposyng ther corage
In such fals worshepe that thei no mor ne erre;
Lik to Argus that thei mai seen a-ferre,
That no fals fagyng cause hem to be blynde,
Goddis nor goddessis to worshepe ageyn kynde.
And thouh that Romeyns dede worshepe & honour
To Romulus, bi a constreynt[e] dreede,
Lat no man take exaumple off ther errour,
But to that Lord whos sides were maad rede
To saue mankynde, and on a crosse was dede,—
Lat men to hym in cheeff ther loue obserue,
Which can hem quite bet than thei can disserue.

[How Mecyus kyng of Albanoys beyng fals of his othe and assuraunce/was drawen in to pecys.]

Next Romulus, with teris al bespreynt
Onto Iohn Bochas appered Mecius,
Off cheer & look, & off his port ful feynt,
His fall declaryng, froward and despitous.
And he was callid eek Suffecius,
Louh off birthe, and symple in vpgrowyng,
Off Albanoys till Fortune made hym kyng.
Ageyn whos pride the Romayns gan werreie,
Ful myhtili oppressyng his cuntre;
And for kyng Mecius list hem nat obeie,
Thei caste hem fulli auengid for to be,—
Because his berthe was but off low degre,
And was rise up onto estat roiall,
Thei hem purpose yeue hym a sodeyn fall.
Hasti clymbyng off pouert set on heihte,
Whan wrong[e] title maketh hym to ascende,
With onwar peis off his owne weihte,
A sodeyn fall maketh hym to descende,
Whan he list nat off surquedie entende
Fro whens he cam, nor hymsilff to knowe,
Till God & Fortune his pompe hath ouerthrowe.

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For this Mecius off presumpcioun
Thouhte ageyn Romeyns his pride myhte auaile,
Gan werre ageyn hem be rebellioun,
Was nat feerful ther noblesse to assaile,
Till on a day was signed a bataile,
Bothe ther hoostis withynne a feeld to meete,
To take ther part, were it off sour or sueete.
That tyme in Rome regned Hostilius,
A manli man and a ful worthi knyht;
Tween hym concludid and kyng Mecius,
Thei tweyne to meete in steel armed bryht,
For bothe batailes to trien out the ryht
Be iust accord, and therfro nat varie,
The parti venquysshid to be tributarie,
And hooli put hym in subieccioun,
Withoute entretyng or any mor delay.
And fynali, for short conclusioun,
Kyng Hostilius the tryumphe wan that day,
That Albenoys ne koude nat sey nay,
But that Romeyns, as put is in memorie,
Be synguler bataile hadde wonne the victorie.
Thus hadde Romayns first possessioun
Off Albanoys tobeie hem & to dreede,
Mecius yolde, and sworn onto the toun
Neuer to rebell, for fauour nor for meede.
But for he was double founde in deede
Off his assuraunce, & fals to ther cite,
He was chastised, anon as ye shal see.
Geyn Fidenates, a cuntre off Itaile,
Kyng Hostilius, for ther rebellioun,
Caste he wolde meete hem in bataile
For comoun profit and for diffencioun
Bothe off his cite & off his roial toun.
And for tafforce his parti in werkyng,
Off Albanois he sente onto the kyng,
To come in hast with his hool cheualrie,
And tarie nat in no maner wise,
But make hym strong to sustene his partie
Lich his beheste, as ye han herd deuise.

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But kyng Mecius ful falsli gan practise
A sleihti tresoun and a couert wile,
Ageyn his promis the Romeyns to begile.
Yit he, outward pretendyng to be trewe,
Cam to the feeld with a ful gret meyne,
Lyuyng in hope to see sum chaungis newe,
That he on Rome myhte auengid be,
And speciali that he myhte see
Kyng Hostilius, off froward [fals] envie,
That day outraied with al his cheualrie.
First whan he sauh the Romeyns enbatailed,
And Fidynates on that other side,
Ther wardis redi for to haue assailed,
He couertli dede on an hill abide,
And to nor fro list nat go nor ride,
Nor his persone putte in iupartie,
But who was strengest, to holde on that partie.
Wheroff the Romayns fill in suspecioun
Off kyng Mecius whan thei token heed,
Till Hostilius off hih discrecioun,
Thoruh his knyhthod put hem out off dreed,
And gan dissymyle off Mecius the falsheed;
And to conforte his knyhtis off entent,
Seide what he dede was doon bi his assent.
He was ful loth that his cheualrie
Sholde knowe theffect off Mecius tresoun,
Which cause myhte, in al or in partie,
Ful gret hyndryng be sum occasioun,
To deeme in hym falsnesse or tresoun;
Yit off trouthe, the story berth witnesse,
Al that he mente was ontrouthe & falsnesse.
Thus off manhod and off hih prudence
He to his knyhtis gaff herte & hardynesse,
Made hem sette on be so gret violence,
That he the feeld[e] gat off heih prowesse,
On Fidynates brouht in so gret distresse,
And so outraied off force on eueri side,
Tofor Romayns that thei ne durste abide.

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And whan Mecius sauh hem thus outraied,
Bi a maner off feyned fals gladnesse,
Lik as he hadde in herte be weel [a]paied,
To Hostilius anon he gan hym dresse,
Hymsilff reioisshyng bacountirfet liknesse:
And for his menyng pleynli was conceyued,
So as he cam, riht so he was receyued.
Thus whan Mecius stood in his presence
With a pretense off feithful stabilnesse,
And al thapport off trouthe in apparence,
He shadwed hath his expert doubilnesse—
Under soote hony, couert bittirnesse,
Freendli visage, with woordis smothe & pleyne,
Thouh mouth & herte departed wer on tweyne.
But Hostilius hath al his fraude espied
And his compassed falsnesse and tresoun,
And therupon hath iustli fantasied
A peyne accordyng, Ipeised off resoun,
Hym to pun[y]she badouble passioun;
This to meene, lik as he was deuyded,
A double torment for hym he hath prouyded.
This was his doom and his fatal peyne,
Be Hostilius contryued off iustise:
His feet, his armys tween chariettis tweyne,
Naked and bare, the story doth deuise,
To be bounde and knet in trauers wise,
Contrariousli the hors to drawe & hale
Till al his bodi wer rent on pecis smale.
And riht as he was cause off ful gret trouble,
Founde ay in deede most ful off variaunce,
Therfor his peyne was maad in maner double,
Riht as hymsilff was double in gouernaunce:
Fals off his oth, off heste and assuraunce,
And double in menyng as he hath perseuerid,
So at his eende his membris wer disseuered.

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His feet wer drawe from the hed assonder,
Ther was no ioynt with other for tabide:
Heer was a legg, and an arm lay yonder;
Thus ech membre from other gan deuide.
And for he koude holde on outher side,
Be fals pretense to outher parti trewe,
Hym to chastise was founde a peyne newe.

Bochas ageyn doubilnes and fals symulacion.

Lo, heer the eende off double fals menyng,
Whan woord & herte be contrarious,
Oth & beheste fals founden in a kyng,
Off Albanoys as was this Mecius!
O noble Pryncis, prudent and vertuous,
Lat neuer story afftir mor recorde,
That woord & deede sholde in you discorde.
For kyng Mecius variaunt off corage,
Whos inward menyng was euer on tresoun set,
Treynes contreuyng with a fair visage,
His thouht, his herte with double corde fret,
Be Bochas called deceit and fals baret,
Which vice descryuyng, concludeth off resoun,
Fraude off all fraudes is fals decepcioun.
For with a face flatryng and pesible,
Pretendyng trouthe vnder fals plesaunce,
With his panteris pereilous & terrible
Trappeth innocentis with granys off myschaunce,—
I meene deceit, that with hir c[o]untenaunce
Folkis englueth, symple and rek[e]les,
And them werreieth vnder a face off pes.
Puissaunce off pryncis famous & honourable
Hath be deceyued bi this traitouresse,
And folk most prudent in ther estat notable
Ha[ue] be distourbled be such fals doubilnesse;

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And many a knyht victorious off prowesse
Hath been entriked, for al his hih renoun,
Be treynes founde off deceit and tresoun.
Deceit deceyueth and shal be deceyued,
For be deceit[e] who is deceyuable,
Thouh his deceitis be nat out parceyued,
To a deceyuour deceit is retournable;
Fraude quit with fraude is guerdoun couenable:
For who with fraude fraudulent is founde,
To a diffraudere fraude will ay rebounde.

[Off kyng Hostilius that first wered purpill hewe consumpt with firy Levene.]

What sholde I mor off deceit endite,
Touchyng the fraude of kyng Mecius?
For I me caste now fynali to write
The fatal eende off kyng Hostilius,
Which was the firste, as seith Valerius,
In Rome cite that auctour[e]s knewe,
Among kynges, that wered purpil hewe.
But afftir al his tryumphal noblesse
And many vnkouth knyhtli hih emprise,
Fortune tappalle the pris off his prowesse,
Made hym to be, in ful froward wise,
Rekles and slouh[e] to do sacrifise
To Iubiter; for which, sent from heuene,
He was consumpt with sodeyn firi leuene.
Heer men mai seen the reuoluciouns
Off Fortunys double purueiaunce:
How the most myhti off Romayn champiouns
Haue sodenli be brouht onto myschaunce;
And ther outrages to put in remembraunce,
Grete conquestis turned to wo fro ioie,
For a rebuk I sende hem this lenuoie.

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[Lenuoie.]

Rome, remembre off thi fundacioun,
And off what peeple thou took[e] thi gynnyng:
Thi bildyng gan off fals discencioun,
Off slauhtre, moordre & outraious robbyng,
Yevyng to vs a maner knowlechyng,—
A fals begynnyng, auctours determyne,
Shal be processe come onto ruyne.
Wher be thyn Emperours, most souereyn off renoun?
Kynges exiled for outraious lyuyng?
Thi senatours, with worthi Scipioun?
Poetis olde thi tryumphes rehersyng,
Thi laureat knyhtis, most statli ther ridyng,
Thyn aureat glorie, thy noblesse tenlumyne,
Is be long processe brouht onto ruyne.
Wher is now Cesar, that took possessioun
First off thempire, the tryvmphe vsurpyng?
Or wher is Lucan, that maketh mencioun
Off al his conquest be cerious writyng?
Octovian most solempneli regnyng?
Wher is become ther lordshepe or ther lyne?
Processe off yeris hath brouht it to ruyne.
[Where is the palace or royall mancion,
With a statue clere of golde shining
By Romulus wrought & set on that dongeon?
Where is thy temple of christal bright shewing,
Made half of gold, most rich[e]ly moustryng
Þe heauenly spheres, by compasse wrought & line,
Which that long processe hath brought vnto ruine?]
Wher is Tullius cheeff lanterne off thi toun,
In rethorik all other surmountyng?
Moral Senek or prudent sad Catoun,
Thi comoun proffit alwei preferryng,

326

Or rihtful Traian, most iust in his demyng,
Which on no parti list nat to declyne?
But long processe hath brouht al to ruyne.
Wher is the temple off thi proteccioun
Maad be Virgile, most corious off beeldyng?
Ymages erect for eueri regioun,—
Whan any land was founde rebellyng,
Toward that part a smal belle herd ryngyng,
To that prouynce thymage dede enclyne,—
Which bi long processe was brouht onto ruyne.
Wher is also the grete extorsioun
Off consuleris and prefectis oppressyng?
Off dictatours the fals collusioun?
Off decemvir the froward deceyuyng?
And off tribunys the fraudulent werkyng?
Off alle echon the odious rauyne
Hath be processe the brouht onto ruyne.
Wher is become thi dominacioun?
The grete tributis thi tresours enrichyng?
The world al hool in thi subieccioun,
The suerd off vengaunce all peeplis manacyng,
Euer gredi tencrece in thi getyng,
Nothyng be grace, which that is dyuyne,
Which hath the brouht be processe to ruyne.
In thi most hiest exaltacioun,
Thi proude tirantis provyncis conqueryng,
To God contraire be long rebellioun,
Goddis, goddessis falsli obeieng,
Aboue the sterris bi surquedous clymbyng,
Till [olde] vengaunce thi noblesse dede ontwyne
With newe compleyntis to shewe thi ruyne.
Ley doun thi pride and thi presumpcioun,
Thi pompous boost, thi lordshepis encresyng,
Confesse thyn outrage, & lei thi boost a-doun,
Alle false goddis pleynli diffieng!
Lefft up thyn herte onto that heuenli kyng,

327

Which with his blood, thi sorwes for to fyne,
Hath maad thi ransoun to saue the fro ruyne!
From olde Saturne drauh thyn affeccioun,
His goldene world[e] fulli despisyng;
And fro Iubiter make a digressioun,
His siluerene tyme hertili dispreisyng.
Resorte ageyn with will and hool menyng
To hym that is Lord off thordres nyne,
Which meekli deide to saue the fro ruyne.
Thouh Mars be myhti in his ascencioun,
Be influence victories disposyng,
And brihte Phebus yeueth consolacioun
To worldli pryncis, ther noblesse auaunsyng,—
Forsake ther rihtis and thi fals offryng,
And to that Lord bowwe doun thi chyne,
Which shadde his blood to saue the fro ruyne!
Wynged Mercurie, cheeff lord and patroun
Off eloquence and off fair spekyng,
Forsak his seruise in thyn opynyoun,
And serue the Lord that gouerneth all thyng—
The sterrid heuene, the speeris eek meuyng,
Which for thi sake was crownyd with a spyne,
His herte eek perced to saue the fro ruyne!
Cast up off Venus the fals derisioun,
Hir firi brond, hir flatries renewyng,
Off Diana the transmutacioun,
Now briht, now pale, now cleer[e], now drepyng,
Off blynde Cupide the fraudulent mokkyng,
Off Iuno, Bachus, Proserpina, Lucyne:
For non but Crist may saue the fro ruyne!
Voide off Circes the bestiall poisoun,
Off Cirenes the furious chauntyng;
Lat nat Medusa do the no tresoun,
And fro Gorgones turne thi lookyng;
And lat Sinderesis ha[ue] the in kepyng,

328

That Crist Iesu may be thi medicyne
Geyn such raskaile to saue the fro ruyne!
Off fals ydoles mak abiuracioun,
To Simulacres do no worshepyng;
Mak thi resort to Cristes passioun,
Which may be merci redresse thyn erryng,
And be his grace repare thi fallyng,
So thou obeie his vertuous disciplyne,
Truste that he shal restore thi ruyne.
His merci is surmountyng off foisoun,
Euer encreceth withoute amenusyng,
Ay at the fulle ech tyme and ech sesoun,
And neuer waneth be non eclipsyng.
Whan men list make deuoutli ther reknyng,
To leue ther synne & kome to his doctryne,
He redi is to keepe hem fro ruyne.
O Rome, Rome, al old abusioun
Off cerimonies falsli disusyng,
Ley hem a-side, and in conclusioun,
Cri God merci, thi trespacis repentyng!
Truste he wil nat refuse thyn axyng,
The to receyue to laboure in his vyne,
Eternali to saue the fro ruyne.
O noble Pryncis, off hih discrecioun
Seeth in this world ther is non abidyng,
Peiseth conscience atwen will and resoun
Whil ye ha[ue] leiser, off herte ymagynyng,
Ye ber nat hen[ne]s but your disseruyng:
Lat this conceit ay in your thouhtis myne,
Bexaumple off Rome how al goth to ruyne!
Explicit liber Secundus. Sequitur prologus libri tercij.

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PART II

BOOK III.

[Prologue.]

Lik a pilgrym which that goth on foote,
And hath non hors to releue his trauaile,
Hot, drie [&] wery, & fynde may no boote
Off welle cold, whan thrust hym doth assaile,
Wyn nor licour, that may to hym auaile,
Riht so fare I, which in my besynesse
No socour fynde my rudnesse to redresse.
I meene as thus: I ha[ue] no fressh licour
Out off the conduitis off Calliope,
Nor thoruh Clio in rethorik no flour
In my labour for to refresshe me,
Nor off the sustren, in noumbre thries thre,
Which with Cithera on Pernaso duell,—
Thei neuer me gaff drynk onys off ther well!
Nor off ther sprynges cleer & cristallyne,
That sprang be touchyng off the Pegase,
The fauour lakkith my makyng tenlumyne,
I fynde ther bawme off so gret scarsete,
To tame ther tunnys with sum drope of plente;
For Poliphemus thoruh his gret blyndnesse
Hath in me dirked off Argus the brihtnesse.
Our liff heer short, off wit the gret dulnesse,
The heuy soule troublid with trauaile,
And off memorie the glacyng brotilnesse,—
Dreed & onkunnyng ha[ue] maad a strong bataile
With werynesse my sperit to assaile,
And with ther subtil crepyng in most queynte
Ha[ue] maad my sperit in makyng for to feynte.

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And ouermor, the feerful frowardnesse
Off my stepmooder callid oblyuyoun,
Hath maad a bastile off foryetilnesse,
To stoppe the passage & shadwe my resoun,
That I myht haue no cleer direccioun
In translatyng off newe to quikke me,
Stories to write off old antiquite.
Thus was I set, and stood in double werre
At the meetyng off feerful weies tweyne.
The ton was this, who-euer list to lere,
Where-as good[e] will gan me constreyne,
Bochas taccomplisshe for to do my peyne,
Cam Ignoraunce with a maas off dreede
Mi penne tarreste; I durst[e] nat proceede.
Thus be my-selff remembryng on this book,
It to translate how I hadde vndirtake,
Ful pale off cheer, astonyd in my look,
Myn hand gan tremble; my penne I felte quake,
That disespeired, I hadde almost forsake
So gret a labour, dreedful & inportable,
It to parfourme I fond my-silff so onable.
Twen the residue off this gret iourne
And litil part theroff that was begunne,
I stood chekmaat for feer whan I gan see
In my weie how litil I hadde runne;
Lik taman that failed day & sunne,
And hadde no liht taccomplisshe his viage,
So ferr I stood a-bak in my passage.
The nyht cam on, dirked with ignoraunce,
Mi witt was dull be cleernesse to discerne
In rethorik for lak off suffisaunce,
The torchis out, & queynt was the lanterne.
And in this caas my stile to gouerne,
Me to forthre I fond non other muse
But, hard as ston, Pierides and Meduse.
Support was non my dulnesse for to guie;
Pouert approchid; in stal crokid age:
Mercurie absent and Philologie;
Mi purs ay liht and void off al coignage.

331

Bachus ferr off to glade my corage;
An ebbe off plente; scarsete atte fulle,
Which of an old man makth the sperit dulle.
But hope & trust to putte away dispair
Into my mynde off newe gan hem dresse;
And cheeff off all to make the wethir fair,
Mi lordis fredam and bounteuous largesse
Into myn herte brouht in such gladnesse,
That thoruh releuyng off his benygne grace,
Fals Indigence list me no mor manace.
A, how it is an hertli reioishyng
To serue a prynce that list to aduertise
Off ther seruauntis the feithful iust menyng,
And list considre to guerdone ther seruise.
And at a neede list hem nat despise,
But from al daunger that sholde hem noye or greue
Been euer redi to helpe hem and releue.
And thus releued be the goodliheed,
And thoruh the noblesse off this most knyhtli man,
Alle mystis cleerid off disespeir & dreed,
Trust, hope and feith into myn herte ran;
And on my labour anon forthwith I gan:
For be cleer support off my lordis grace,
Al foreyn lettyng fro me I dede enchace.
Folkis that vse to make grete viages,
Which vndirfonge long trauaile & labour,
Whan thei ha[ue] doon gret part off ther passages,
Off werynesse tasswagen ther rigour,
Ageyn feyntise to fynde sum fauour,
Looke offte ageyn, parcell to be releued,
To seen how moch ther iourne is a-cheued.
Cause whi thei so offte looke ageyn,
Bakward turne look and eek visage,
Is onli this: that it may be seyn
To them how moch is doon off ther viage.
Eek weri folk that gon on pilgrymage
Reste hem sumwhile a ful large space,
Laborious soot to wipen from ther face.

332

Ther heuy fardell among thei caste doun
At certeyn boundis to do ther bakkis ese,
At wellis colde eek off entencioun
Drynke fressh watris ther greuous thrust tapese,
Or holsum wynes ther appetit to plese,
Reknyng the miles be computaciouns,
Which thei ha[ue] passid, off castellis & off touns.
It doth hem ese the noumbre for to knowe
Sithe thei began off many gret iournees,
Off hih[e] mounteyns and off valis lowe,
And straunge sihtes passyng be cuntrees,
Thunkouth bildyng off burwes & citees,
Countyng the distaunce fro toun[e]s & the spacis:
This ther talkyng at ther restyng placis.
The residue and the surplusage
Thei rekne also off ther labour komyng,
Thynke it is a maner auauntage
To haue & seen a cleer[e] knowlechyng
Off thynges passid & thynges eek folwyng;
For to ther hertis it doth ful gret plesaunce,
Whan al such thyng is put in remembraunce.
And semblabli Iohn Bochas, as I fynde,
Gan turne his bak, look and c[o]untenaunce,
And to remembre, apoyntyng in his mynde
To the stories rehersed in substaunce
In his too bookis off sorwe & displesaunce,
Hymsilff astonyd, merueilyng a gret deel
The fall off pryncis fro Fortunys wheel.
Off ther onhapp, as he doth reherce,
Toward hemsilff the cause doth rebounde;
Ther clymbyng up the heuenes for to perce,
In worldli richesse tencrecen and habounde,
Ther gredi etik doth hemsilff confounde;
And ther thrust off hauyng onstaunchable
Causeth ther noblesse to be so variable.
Hih clymbyng up, off resoun who can see,
Dulleth off braynes the memoriall,
Blunteth the sihte, in hih & low degre,
Which from a-loffte makith hem haue a fall.

333

Men seyn off old, who that coueitith all,
At onset hour suchon shal nat chese,
But al his gadryng attonys he shal lese.
For worldli folk which so hih arise
With the gret peis off worldli habundaunce,
And with the weihte off froward couetise,—
Namli wher Fortune holdeth the ballaunce,—
With onwar turn off sum onhappi chaunce,
This stormy queen, this double fals goddesse,
Plungeth hem doun from al ther gret richesse.
Wherfore Bochas heeroff to make a preeff
Sheweth to purpos a sentence ful notable,
A cleer exaumple off onwar such myscheeff,
Write off an auctour be maner off a fable,
Al-be the menyng be ful comendable,
And weel accordyng in conclusioun
To the cleer purpos off this entencioun.
Finis Prologi.
[Incipit liber Tercius]

[How Andalus doctor of Astronomye concludith/ how princys sholdenot atwite constellacions nor fortune of theire vnhappy fallyng but theire owne demeritys and vicious lyuyng.]

At Naples whilom, as he doth specefie,
In his youthe whan he to scoole went,
Ther was a doctour off astronomie,
Famous off cunnyng & riht excellent.
Off hym rehersyng, shortli in sentement,
His ioie was most to studyen and to wake;
And he was callid Andalus the blake.
He radde in scoolis the meuyng off the heuene,
The kynde off sterris and constellaciouns,
The cours also off the planetis seuene,
Ther influencis and ther mociouns,
And heeld also in his opynyouns,
The fall off pryncis, the cause weel out souht,
Cam off themsilff & off Fortune nouht.

334

Nor the sterris wer nothyng to wite,
Be ther meuyng nor be ther influence,
Nor that men sholde off riht the heuene atwite
For no froward worldli violence:
For this clerk ther concluded in sentence,
How men be vertu longe may contune
From hurt off sterris outher off Fortune.
Ther owne desert is cheeff occasioun
Off the onhap, who-so taketh heede,
And ther demeritis onwarli put hem doun,
Whan vicious liff doth ther bridil leede.
Cours off Fortune nor off the sterris rede
Hyndrith nothyng geyn ther felicite,
Sithe off fre chois thei ha[ue] ful liberte.
God punsheth synne in many maner wise;
Summe he chastisith for ther owne auail:
Men may off resoun in such cas deuise,
Synne ay requereth vengaunce at his tail.
God off Fortune taketh no counsail,
Nor from hir meuyng no man is mor fre,
As clerkis write, than is Glad Pouerte.
And onto purpos, this auctour ful notable,
To his scoleris ther beyng in presence,
Ful demurli gan reherse a fable,
With many a colour off sugred eloquence;
Theron concludyng the summe off his sentence
Touchyng a striff, which he dede expresse,
Atwen Glad Pouert & this blynd goddesse.

[A disputacion between fortune & glad pouert.]

Qvod Andalus: “Whilom off fortune
In a streiht place ther sat Glad Pouerte,
Which resemblid off look & figure
A rekles woman, most ougli on to see,
At a naruh meetyng off hih-weies thre,
Al totorn, to-raggid and to-rent,
A thousend pachchis vpon hir garnement.

335

She was hidous bothe off cheer and face,
And in semyng void off sorwe and dreed.
And bi that way as Fortune dede pace,
And off Glad Pouert sodenli took heed,
She gan to smyle & lauhhe at hir in deed,
Bi a maner scornyng in certeyn,
Off hir array she hadde so gret disdeyn.
Whos froward lauhtre, whan Pouert dede espie
How she off hir hadde indignacioun,
She roos hire up off hih malencolie,
Pleynli to shewe hire entencioun,
Withoute good day or salutacioun,
Doyng to Fortune no maner reuerence,
Vnder these woordis declaryng hir sentence:
‘O thou Fortune, most fool off foolis all,
What cause hastow for to lauhhe at me,
Or what disdeyn is in thyn herte fall?
Spare neueradeel, tell on, lat me see,
For I ful litil haue a-do with the;
Off old nor newe I ha[ue] noon aqueyntaunce
Nouther with the nor with thi gouernaunce.’
And whan Fortune beholdeth the maneer
Off Glad Pouert in hir totorn[e] weede,
And kneuh also be contenaunce & cheer,
How she off hire took but litil heede,
Lik as she hadde to hir no maner neede,—
The which[e] thynges conceyued and Iseyn,
To Pouerte she ansuerde thus ageyn:
‘Mi scornful lauhtre pleynli was for the,
Whan I the sauh so megre, pale and leene,
Nakid and cold, in gret aduersite,
Scabbid, scuruy, scallid and oncleene
On bak and body, as it is weel seene.
Many a beeste walke in ther pasture,
Which day be day off newe thou doost recure.

336

Hauyng nothyng to wrappyn in thyn hed
Sauff a brod hat, rent out off nattis olde,
Ful offten hungri for defaute off bred,
Slepyng on straw[e] in the frostis colde.
And wher thou comest, as men may weel beholde,
For feer off the, childre them withdrawe,
And many a dogge hath on thi staff ignawe.
To alle estatis thou art most odious,
Men with the will ha[ue] no daliaunce,
Thi felaship is so contrarious,
Wher thou abidest ther may be no plesaunce.
Folk hate so dedli thi froward aqueyntaunce,
That fynali, I dar conclude off the,
Wher-euer thou comest thi felaship men fle!’
Whan Glad Pouert gan pleynli vndirstonde
These rebukes rehersed off Fortune,
The rud[e] resouns that she took on honde,
Which frowardli to hire she dede entune,
As Pouert were a refus in comune,
Bi the repreuis that Fortune on hir laide;
For which Pouert replied ageyn & saide:
‘Fortune,’ quod she, ‘touchyng this debat,
Which off malice thou doost ageyn me take,
Be weel certeyn, touchyng my poore estat,
I off fre will thi fauour ha[ue] forsake.
And thouh folk seyn thou maist men riche make,
Yit I ha[ue] leuere be poore with gladnesse,
Than with trouble possede gret richesse.
For thouh thou seeme benygne & debonaire
Bi a maner countirfet apparence,
Fat & weel fed, with rounde chekis faire,
With many colours off trouthe as in pretence,
As ther off feith wer werrai existence,—
But vnder all thi floures off fresshnesse
The serpent glidith, off chaung & doubilnesse.
And thouh thi clothyng be of purpil hewe,
With gret awaityng off many chaumbereris,
Off gold & perle ech dai chaunges newe,
Clothes off gold & sondry fressh atiris,
And in thyn houshold ful many officeris,—

337

Yit I dar weel putte in iupartie,
With the to plete and holde chaumpartie.’
Thus Glad Pouert gan wexen inportune,
Off cheer contraire, off look & off language,
Ageyn this ladi which callid is Fortune,
That off disdeyn she fill into a rage:
‘Behold,’ quod she, ‘off Pouert the corage,
In wrechidnesse standyng disconsolat,
How ageyn me she is now obstynat!
She cannat see, how she stant outraied,
Fer from the fauour off my felicite,
Yit off pride she is nat disamaied,
Nor list nat bowwe for tobeie me,
Thouh she be cast in mendicite,
Ferthest a-bak, I do you weel assure,
In myscheeff set off any creature.
But treuli, Pouert, for al thi truaundise,
Maugre thi pride and thi gret outrage,
I shal the pun[y]she in ful cruel wise,
To make the loute vnder my seruage.
Which resemblest a dedli pale ymage,
That were off newe rise out off his graue,
And yit off pride darst ageyn me raue.’
But whan Fortune hadde these woordis said,
Glad Pouert gan falle in gret gladnesse,
And ageyn Fortune with a sodeyn braid,
She gan hir conceit out shewe & expresse:
‘Fortune,’ quod she, ‘thouh thou be a goddesse
Callid off foolis, yit lerne this off me,
From thi seruage I stonde at liberte.
But yiff I shal algatis haue a-doo
With the in armis, most cruel & vengable,
Touchyng the quarel that is atwen vs too,
Ther is o thyng to me riht confortable,
That thi corage is flekeryng & onstable;
And wher an herte is in hymsilff deuyded,
Victorie in armys for hym is nat prouyded.

338

Me list[e] nouther flatre the nor fage,
Nor the tenoynte be adulacioun,
Thouh flat[e]rie & feyned fals language
Approprid be to thi condicioun;
And in despit off thi presumpcioun,
I ha[ue] forsake off my fre volunte
All the tresours off worldli vanite.
Whilom I was, as thou hast deuised,
Seruant to the, and onto thi tresours;
But fro thi daunger now that I am fraunchised,
Sekyng off the nouther helpe nor socours,
Manace kynges & myhti emperours:
For Glad Pouert, late nouther soone,
With thi richessis hath nothyng to doone.
For thouh thou haue enbracid in thi cheyne
Worldli pryncis & goodes transitorie,
And riche marchantis vndir thi demeyne,
Yeuest to knyhthod conquest and victorie,
The fadyng palme off laude & veynglorie,—
But whan echon thi fauour han recurid,
Than is Glad Pouert fre fro thi lure assurid.
All thi seruantis standen vnder dreede,
Quakyng for feer[e] off thi doubilnesse;
For nouther wisdam, force nor manheede,
Fredam, bounte, loue nor ientilesse
Mai in thi fauour ha[ue] no sekirnesse;
Thei be so possid with wyndis in thi barge,
Wher-as Glad Pouert goth freli at his large.
Thi manacyng doth me no duresse,
Which worldli pryncis dredyn euerichon.
Thei may weel quake for losse off gret richesse;
But I, Glad Pouert, theroff desire non,
As flowe & ebbe al worldli thyng mut gon;
For afftir flodis off Fortunys tyde,
The ebbe folweth, & will no man abide.

339

Flowe and ebbe be to me bothe aliche;
I dreede nothyng thi mutabilite,
Mak whom thou list[e] outher poore or riche;
For I nothyng will requere off the,
Nouther lordshepe nor gret prosperite:
For with thi gifftes who that hath to doone,
Off chaunges braideth offter than the moone.
Out off pouert cam first these emperours
That were in Rome crownyd with laurer;
Fredam & largesse made hem first victours,
Causyng ther fame to shyne briht and cleer,
Till couetise brouht hem in daunger,
Whan thei off foli, in ther most excellence,
To thi doubilnesse dede reuerence.
For whan fredam a prynce doth forsake,
And couetise put awei largesse,
And streihtnesse is into houshold take,
And negardship exilith ientilesse,
Than is withdrawe from ther hih noblesse
The peeplis herte; and, pleynli to deuise,
Off ther seruauntis farweel al good seruise.
Al such sodeyn chaungis in comune
In this world vsid now fro day to day,
Echon thei come be fraude off fals Fortune;
Experience hath put it at assay,
Loue, trouthe & feith be gon [so] ferr away.
And yiff that trust with pryncis wil nat tarie,
Litil merueile thouh the peeple varie.
For thoruh thi chaungis off fraudulent fairnesse,
Ther is now vsid in eueri regioun
Glad cheer out shewed with couert doubilnesse,
Vnder the courtyn off symulacioun.
So secre now is adulacioun,
That in this world may be no sur[e]te,
But yiff it reste in Glad Pouerte.
Yit off thi pereilous froward variaunce
I sette no stor, treuli as for me;
For al thi frenship concludeth with myschaunce,
With sodeyn myscheeff off mutabilite,
Which yeueth me herte to haue a-do with the:

340

For suffisaunce in my poore estaat
Shal to thi chaunges seyn sodenli chekmaat.’
Fortune almost with anger disespeired,
Off these woordis took ful gret greuaunce.
‘Pouert,’ quod she, ‘which maist nat been apeired!
But I now shewe ageyn the my puissaunce,
Men wolde litil accounte my substaunce,
O myhti Pouert! O stronge Hercules!
Which ageyn[s] me puttest thi-silff in pres!
Supposest thou it sholde the auaile,
Outher be force or be hardynesse
To haue a-do with me in bataile,
Which am off conquest & off hih prowesse
In armys callid ladi and pryncesse?
For ther is non so myhti conquerour,
That may preuaile withoute my fauour.’
Off these woordis Pouert nothyng afferd,
Ansuerde ageyn, thus pleynli in sentence:
‘Thouh heer I ne haue spere, sheeld nor suerd,
Nor chosen armour to stonden at diffence,
Pollex nor dagger to make resistence,
But bare and naked, anon it shal be seyn,
Wher thou with me darst wrastlen on this pleyn.
Which shal be doon vnder condicioun
That non off vs shal hymsilff withdrawe,
But stille abide off entencioun,
Till he that venquysshe ordeyned hath a lawe,
Such as hym likith, ageyn[e]s his felawe.
The which[e] lawe shal nat be delaied
To be acomplisshid on hym that is outraied.’
Off whos woordes Fortune ageyn gan smyle,
That Pouert proffred so proudli to assaile.
And vpon this she stynte a litil while,
And to Pouert she putte this opposaile:
‘Who shal,’ quod she, ‘be iuge off this bataile,
Or yeue a doom iustli atwen vs tweyne
Off this quarell which we shal darreyne?

341

I axe also a-nother questioun
Touchyng thi profre off furious outrage:
Wher-as thou puttest a condicioun
And a lawe with ful proud language,—
Wher shaltow fynden pleggis or hostage
To keepe the promys which thou doost ordeyne,
Theroff tabide the guerdoun or the peyne?
I meene as thus: yiff ther be set a lawe
Atween vs too or a condicioun
Be sur[e]te, which may nat be withdrawe,
As vnder bond or obligacioun;
But there is nouther lawe nor resoun
May bynde a beggere, yiff it be weel souht,
Whan it is preued that he hath riht nouht.
Thi sect off pouert hath a proteccioun
From all statutis to gon at liberte,
And from al lawe a pleyn exempcioun:
Than folweth it, yiff thou bounde the
To any lawe that may contreuid be,
It wer fraude, pleynli to endite,
Which hast riht nouht thi parti to aquite.
Thou art so feeble, yiff it cam therto,
That thou were brouht onto vttraunce,
For noun power, whan al that wer do,
Thou sholdist faile to make thi fynaunce,
Bothe destitut off good and off substaunce;
And sithe no lawe thi persone may coarte,
It wer foli with suchon to iuparte.
Yiff I wolde compulse the to wrak,
Taxe off the the tresour off kyng Darie,
On that parti thou stondest ferr abak,
Mi paiement so longe sholde tarie,
Indigence wolde make the to varie.
And yiff I wolde thi persone eek compare
To Alisandre,—thi sides been ful bare!
And fynali thou stondest in such caas
Off miserie, wrechidnesse and neede,
That thou myhtest off resoun seyn allas,
Bothe forsake off frenshipe & kenreede,
And ther is non dar plegge the for dreede:

342

Yit lik a fool supprisid with veynglorie,
Hopest off me to wynne the victorie.’
Quod Glad Pouert, ‘I doute neueradeel
That the victorie shal passen on my side.
Plegge & hostages, lat hem go farweel!
I axe no mor off al thi grete pride,
But to the eende that thou wilt abide.
Plegge thi feith, al-be that sum men seith,
To truste in Fortune ther is ful litil feith.
And for my part, in this hih emprise,
Sithe I ha[ue] pleggis nouther on nor tweyne,
Mor sur hostage can I nat deuise,
But yiff so be the victorie thou atteyne,
Than yelde my bodi bounden in a cheyne,
Perpetueli, lik the condicioun,
With the tabide fettrid in prisoun.’
Than Fortune louh mor than she dede afforn,
Whan she sauh Pouert so presumptuous;
In hir arrai al ruggid and totorn,
And hadde nouther rente, lond nor hous.
‘It is,’ quod she, ‘a thyng contrarious
Onto nature, who that can aduerte,
To a beggere to haue a sturdi herte.
And yiff that I the venquisshid in bataile,
It were to me no worshepe nor auauntage,—
What sholde thi bodi onto me auaile,
The tenprisowne streihtli in a cage?
It sholde been a charge and a costage,
Thyn empti wombe ech day to fulfill,
Yiff thou myhtest haue vitaile at thi will!
And yiff I wolde my-silff to magnefie,
Tokne off tryumphe afftir my char the leede,
Men wolde deeme it a maner moquerie,
And seyn in scorn: ‘tak off that fool good heede,
How he a beggere hath ouercome in deede,
Fauht with hym for to encrece his name,
Which conquest turneth to his disclandre & shame!’

343

Yit whan I haue brouht the to vttraunce,
Mi power shewed and my grete myht,
And thyn outrage oppressid bi vengaunce,—
Afftir al this, as it is skile and riht,
It shal be kouth in eueri manys siht,
Out declarid the gret[e] difference
Twen thi feblesse & my gret excellence.
Than to represse thi surquedie attonys,
Cruel Orchus, the teidogge infernall,
Shal reende thi skyn assonder fro thi bonys,
To shewe my power, which is imperiall,
And to declare in especiall,
Pouert recleymed onto Pridis lure,
With me to plete may no while endure.’
And sodenli, or Glad Pouert took heed,
Fortune proudli first began tassaile;
And onwarli hent hire bi the hed,
Demyng off pride, that she may nat faile
Thoruh hir power to venquysshe this bataile.
But it may falle a dwery in his riht
Toutraie a geaunt, for al his grete myht.
God taketh non heed to power nor to strengthe,
To hih estaat[e] nor to hih noblesse,
To squar[e] lemys, forged on breede or lengthe,
But to quarelis groundid on rihtwisnesse;
For out off wrong may growe no prowesse.
For wher that trouthe holdeth chaumpartie,
God will his cause be grace magnefie.
Wherfor Pouert, strong in hir entent,
Liht and delyu[e]re, auoid off al fatnesse,
Riht weel brethed, & nothyng corpulent,
Smal off dieete surfetis to represse,
Ageyn Fortune proudli gan hir dresse,
And with an ougli, sterne cruel face,
Gan in armys hir proudli to embrace.

344

Pouert was sclendre & myhte weel endure;
Fortune was round[e], short off wynd and breth.
And wombes grete oppressid with armure,
For lak off wynd the grete stuff hem sleth;
And many a man bryngeth to his deth:
For ouermekil off any maner thyng
Hath many on brouht to his ondoyng.
A mene is best, with good[e] gouernaunce;
To mekil is nouht, nor ouer-gret plente:
Gretter richesse is founde in suffisaunce
Than in the flodis off superfluyte.
And who is content in his pouerte
And gruchchith nat, for bittir nor for soote,
What-euer he be, hath Fortune vndir foote,
Coueitise put hym in no dispeir,—
Wherfor Pouert, off herte glad and liht,
Leffte Fortune ful hih up in the heir,
And hir constreyned off verai force & myht.
For Glad Pouert off custum and off riht,
Whan any trouble ageyn hir doth begynne,
Ay off Fortune the laurer she doth wynne.
Maugre Fortune, in the hair aloffte
Constreyned she was be Wilful Pouerte,
That to the erthe hir fal was ful onsoffte:
For off Pouert the bony sharp[e] kne,
Sclendre and long & leene vpon to see,
Hitte Fortune with so gret a myht
Ageyn the herte, she myht nat stande vpriht:—
To signefie that Pouert with gladnesse,
Which is content with smal possessioun
And geueth no fors off tresour nor richesse,
Hath ouer Fortune the dominacioun,
And kepith hir euer vnder subieccioun,
Wher worldli folk, with ther riche apparaile,
Lyue euer in dreed Fortune wolde faile.
The poore man affor the theeff doth synge
Vnder the wodis with fresh notis shrille;
The riche man, ful feerful off robbynge,

345

Quakyng for dreed[e], rideth foorth ful stille.
The poore at large goth wher hym list at wille,
Strongli fraunchised from al debat and striff;
The riche afferd alwei to lese his liff.
Thus Glad Pouert hath the palme Iwonne,—
Fortune outraied, for al hir doubilnesse.
Vpon whom Pouert in haste is ronne,
And streyned hir with so gret duresse,
Till she confessid & pleynli dede expresse
With feith & hand, in al hir gret[e] peyne,
Tabide what lawe Pouert list ordeyne.
And in haste afftir this disconfiture,
Fortune began to compleyne sore.
But Glad Pouert, which all thynge myhte endure,
Charged Fortune scornen hire no more.
For it was said[e] sithen go ful yore,
He that reioishith to scorne folk in veyn,
Whan he wer lothest shal scorned been ageyn.
‘Yit,’ quod Pouert, ‘thouh thou were despitous,
Woordis rehersyng which wer nat faire,
Straunge rebukis ful contrarious,
And repreuys many thousend paire,
Thou shalt me fynde ageynward debonaire:
For thouh a tunge be sclandrous & vengable,
To sclandre ageyn is nothyng comendable.
Thou must considre, touchyng our bataile
The ordynance and imposicioun,
That which off vs in conquest do preuaile
To brynge his felawe to subieccioun,
He shal obeie the statut off resoun,
And acomplisshe, off verai due dette,
What lawe the victour list vpon hym sette.
For which thou shalt the said[e] lawe obeie,
With circumstaunces off the condicioun
Bi me ordeyned, and nothyng ageyn seie,—
Make no gruchchyng nor replicacioun.
Considred first the fals opynyoun
Off hem that seyn, al worldli auenture
Off good and badde abide vnder thi cure,—

346

Summe poetis and philisophres also
Wolde in this caas make the a goddesse,
Which be deceyued, I dar seyn, bothe too;
And ther errour and foli to redresse,
I shal withdrawe in verai sekirnesse
Onhappi Auenture away fro thi power,
That she no mor shal stonde in thi daunger.
This lawe off newe vpon the I make,
That first thou shalt, al open in sum pleyn,
Euel Auenture bynden to a stake,
Or to sum peler wher she mai be seyn,
To shewe exaumple to folkis in certeyn,
That no man shal loosne hire nor discharge,
But such as list with hire to gon at large.
Heeroff to make a declaracioun,
Touchyng thi myht off Euel Auenture,
Thou shalt forgon thi dominacioun
To hyndre or harme any creature,
But onli foolis, which in thi myht assure.
Thei off ther foli may feele gret damage,
Nat off thi power, but off ther owne outrage.’
For thilke foolis, which that list onbynde
This wrechche callid Onhappi Auenture,
Off witt & resoun thei make hemseluen blynde,
Lich as the world stood in Fortunys cure,
As thouh she myhte assure hem & onsure,
And hem dispose to welthe or wrechchidnesse,—
In ther errour hir callyng a goddesse!
Such wilful wrechchis that hemsilff betake
To putte ther fredam in hir subieccioun,
Off God aboue the power thei forsake,
And hem submitte, ageyn[e]s al resoun,
Vnder Fortunis transmutacioun,
Ther liberte ful falsli for to thrall,
Namli whan thei a goddesse list hir call.
With a dirk myst off variacioun
Fortune hath cloudid ther cleer natural liht,
And ouershadwed ther discrecioun,
That thei be blent in ther inward siht
For to considre and to beholde ariht,

347

How God aboue put vnder mannys cure
Fre chois off good, his resoun to assure.
The Lord enlumyned off his bounteuous largesse
With mynde and witt his memoriall,
Toward al vertu his steppis for to dresse,
Endued his resoun for to be naturall,
Off frowardnesse till he wex bestiall,
To bynde hymsilff contrariousli in deede
To serue Fortune, atwixen hope and dreede.
Thus bestiall folk made hire a goddesse,
Falsli wenyng she myhte hem most auaile
With hir plentes off habundant richesse;
And summe demen in ther supposaile,
With onwar chaung she dar the grete assaile,
Whos trust[e] alwei medlid is with trouble,
And hir plesaunce includith menyng double.
And summe afferme that she mai auaunce
Conquestis grete and disconfitures,
And how [it] lith also in hir puissaunce
To forthre & hyndre all maner creatures,
And calle hir pryncesse off fatal auentures,
The riche tenhaunce be roial apparaile,
And be disdeyn to hyndre the poraile.
Whan she maketh most fulsumli hir profres,
Hir blaundisshyng is farsid with falsheed;
Whan hir richessis be stuffid up in coffres,
Thei been ay shet vnder a lok off dreed.
Wherfore, ye riche, off o thyng takith heed,
As your gadryng cam in with plesaunce,
Riht so your losse departeth with myschaunce.
Your gredi thrust tresour to multeplie
Causith an etik off nounsuffisaunce,
In you engendryng a fals ydropisie,
With a sharp hunger off worldli habundaunce,
Makyng off you a maner resemblaunce

348

With Tantalus,—whan ye deppest synke,
Than is your nature most thrustleuh for to drynke.
Who clymbeth hiest on Fortunys wheel
And sodenli to richesse doth ascende,
An onwar turn, afforn seyn neueradeel,
Whan he leest wenyth makith hym descende.
Fro such chaungis, who may hymselff defende,
But thei that be with Pouert nat dismaied,
And can with litil holde hemsilff appaied.”

[How kyng hostilius worshippyng fals goddis/was consumpt with firy Levene.]

And whil Bochas gan muse in this mateer,
Considred first al worldli thyng mut faile,
With wepyng eien [to hym] ther dede appeer
Pryncis that whilom wer famous in Itaile,
Which gan ther fall ful pitousli bewaile:
For mor contrarie was ther fallyng lowe,
That thei toforn hadde [of] no myscheeff knowe.
For mor vnkouth is thilke aduersite,
Namli to pryncis, whan it is sodeyne,
Which euer ha lyued in prosperite,
Hauyng on Fortune no mater to compleyne,
Than off a wrechche, that lyueth ay in peyne,—
Off custom causeth, conceyued the sentence,
Off ioie and sorwe a ful gret difference.
Off ioie passid the newe remembraunce,
Whan folk be falle from ther felicite,
In treble wise it doth hem gret greuaunce;
Thonwar turn from ther tranquillite,
Thonsur trust and mutabilite
In worldli power, which that thei ha[ue] founde,
Onto ther hertis yeueth a greuous wounde.
But a wrechche, which in wrechchidnesse
Hath euer lyued, and neuer was partable
Off no weelfare nor off welfulnesse,

349

Nor neuer fo[u]nd[e] Fortune fauourable,—
His sorwe, his myscheeff been so custumable,
That off his peynys long contynuaunce
Doth to his greuys a maner allegaunce.
But to pryncis, which sat so hih aloffte,
A sodeyn fall is most contrarious,
And ther descendyng weel the more onsoffte,
In ther tryumphes that thei wer glorious.
Record I take off kyng Hostilius,
Which in Rome from his roial stalle,
Whan he sat crownyd, most sodenli is falle.
It is remembrid off old and nat off newe,
Off al Rome that he was lord and sire;
The firste off kynges that wered purpil hewe,
And off that cite gouerned the empire,
Hadde off Fortune al that hym list desire,
Till that he fill, in all his regalie,
Into a froward dedli maladie.
And off his peynes to fynden allegaunce,
To the temples he wente on pilgrymage,
His offryng made with deuout obeisaunce,
Wherbi sumdeel his peynes gan asswage;
And when he was restored off corage,
Felt hymsilff[e] that he dede amende,
To comoun proffit ageyn he gan entende.
Vpon Thalbanys, regnyng in his glorie,
To gret auail off Rome the cite,
Thoruh his knyhthod he hadde a gret victorie,
Afftir the which, be ful gret cruelte,
He beraffte hem fraunchise and liberte,
And made hem afftir, thoruh his hih renoun,
To been to Rome vnder subieccioun.
Afftir this conquest, the stori doth deuyse,
In his noblesse ful staatli and roial,
He gan make a riche sacrifice
To queeme and plese for a memorial,
Affter the rihtes cerymonyal,

350

To Iubiter, be ful gret reuerence,
Aforn his auteres with fires & encence.
But for that he in his inward entent,
Be circumstaunces off his oblacioun,
Was rechles founde and also necligent,
Be sum froward fals affeccioun,
The goddis kauhte an indignacioun;
And sodenli descendyng frothe from the heuene,
He was consumpt with a firi leuene,—
His false goddis myhte hym nat auaile,
Iubiter, Saturnus nor Venus.
Lat al Christene defie such rascaile;
For to our feith thei be contrarious.
And among goddis, a thyng most outraious,
Ys, whan that pryncis, blent in ther folie,
List ertheli thynges falsli deifie.
For onto God is hatful and odible
A withdrawyng off his reuerence,
To magnefie thynges coruptible
With ondue honour, be fals concupiscence.
Wherfor, ye Pryncis, beth war, off hih prudence,
List God onwarli pun[y]she your noblesse,
Maak you in erthe no fals god nor goddesse.

[How Anchus kyng of Rome was moordred by Lucynyo, bi thassent of his wiff.]

Thynkith on Anchus, kyng off Rome toun,
Which was so noble shynyng in his glorie,
Wered a crowne, ful famous off renoun,
Next Hostilius, as put is in memorie,
Wan the palme off many gret victorie;
But for al that, with a ful sharp[e] knyff
He moordred was bassentyng off his wyff.
He loued hir best aboue ech creature,
Considred nat hir flatrie nor falsnesse,
Hir double menyng vnder couerture
Falsli blent this pryncis worthynesse.
To robbe and reue hym off his gret richesse

351

Was hir labour, with countirfet plesaunce,
In hir entent to brynge hym to myschaunce.
This Anchus hadde a gret affeccioun,
Onto his goddis to make sacrifises,
And to augmente the religioun
Off paganysme, maad in sundri wises.
Thoruh his manhod and circumspect deuyses,
Vpon Latynes, rebel to his cite,
For comoun profit he made a gret arme.
Oon off ther cites, callid Politorie,
He knyhtli wan, maugre al ther myht;
And whan he hadde off hem ful victorie,
He abod no lenger, but anon foorth ryht
Made al the peeple, in eueri mannys siht,
As prisoneris, this Romayn champioun,
Be brouht aforn hym bounde into the toun.
Eek, as I fynde, this Anchus nolde cese,
For comoun proffit in his affeccioun,
Ther teritories taugmenten and encrese
In all the cuntres abouten enviroun
Toward the ryuer wher Tibre renneth doun;
At which[e] place he leet[e] edefie
A ful strong cite, which callid is Ostie.
But natwithstandyng al his worthynesse,
He was depryued, the story tellith so,
Off his kyngdam and his gret richesse
Bi a foreyn callid Lucynyo.
His wiff Tarquild assentid was therto,
Bi whos outrage and gredi couetise
Anchus was moordred in ful cruel wise.

[How Lucynyo that mordred Anchus was aftir mordred.]

Thus fro the wheel of Fortune he is fall;
Lucynio in Rome is crownyd kyng,
And the Romayns afftir dede hym call
Tarquyn the olde, be record off writyng.

352

Which hath atteyned, be fraudulent werkyng,
And bi his subtil forged eloquence
Onto thestat off roial excellence.
He first ordeyned in his estat roial
Turneis, iustes in castell[s] and cites,
And other pleies callid marcial,
With many famous gret solempnites,
Sessiouns for statis and degrees.
This Tarquyn eek, was first that dede his peyne
In open stretis tauernys to ordeyne.
Eek to preserue his cite out off doubte,
Yiff ther enmyes list them to assaile,
He was the first that wallid Rome aboute
With myhti tours, onlikli for to faile,
And hadde also many strong bataile
With the Sabynes in ther rebellioun,
And made hem subiect onto Rome toun.
But for he was assentid to depryue
Worthi Anchus from his estat roial,
And afftir that took Tarquyld [on]to wyue,
Which slouh hir lord be tresoun ful mortal,
God wolde off riht that he sholde haue a fal:
The Lord wil nat, which euery thyng may see,
Suffre moordre longe to be secre.
For Lucynio, for his gret offence,
Touchyng the moordre off the kyng Anchus,
Islay[e]n was be sodeyn violence
Off too shepperdis, the stori tellith thus,
Which off entent[e] wer contrarious
Atwen hemsilff[e] be a feyned striff,
To fynde a weie to reue hym off his liff.
For whil the kyng sat in iugement
Upon ther quarel for to do iustise,
Ful sodenli, thei beyng off assent,
Fill vpon hym in ful cruel wise,
And with an ax, the story doth deuise,
Oon off hem, or any man took heed,
On too parties roff the kynges hed.

353

This thyng was doon bi the procuryng
Off too childre, sonys to Anchus,
Which were exilid be fals compassyng
Off Lucinio, ageyn hem most irous,—
To hym ther presence was so odious.
But thei hem shoop, thouh thei were out off siht,
Ther fadres deth tauengen yiff thei myht.
For off nature blood will vengid be,
To recompense the wrong off his kynreede,
In this chapitle, lik as ye may see,
Blood shad for blood: thus bothe dede bleede.
Be which exaumple, lat pryncis taken heede,
How moordre doon for supplantacioun
Requereth vengaunce for his fynal guerdoun.

[Lenvoye.]

This tragedie be cleer inspeccioun
Openli declareth in substaunce,
How slauhtre of princis causith subuersioun
Off rewmys, cites put out off ordynaunce,
Off mortal werre long contynuaunce.
Blood be supplantyng shad off kynges tweyne,
Bexaumple heer shewed, fals moordre to restreyne,
The fyn declaryng off moordre & fals tresoun:
The deede horrible crieth ay vengaunce
To God aboue to caste his eien doun,
To punshe this synne thoruh his myhti puissaunce;
For it is mooder off myscheeff & myschaunce.
Wherfor, ye Pryncis, doth sum lawe ordeyne,
Withynne your boundis thre vices to restreyne:
The vice off sclaundre, moordre and poisoun.
Wher-euer these thre hauen aqueyntaunce,
Thei brynge in sorwe and desolacioun,
Put at a preeff be newe remembraunce
Off falsheed vsed vnder fair cuntenaunce.
Wherfor, ye Pryncis, doth your besi peyne,
Withynne your boundis these vices to restreyne.

354

God diffende this noble regioun
With these thre vices to haue alliaunce:
For sclaundre first deuoureth hih renoun,
And sleth good fame thoruh fals dalliaunce.
Harm doon, to late folweth repentaunce,
Wherfor, ye Pryncis, doth a lawe ordeyne
To punshe ther malice, fals tunges to restreyne.
God hath off moordre abhominacioun,
And fals poisoun doth to hym displesaunce;
Ther is no peyen in comparisoun
Condigne to moordre, peised in ballaunce.
Wherfor, ye Pryncis, makith an ordynaunce,
Withynne your boundis off sum dedli peyne
Bi du[e] punshyng fals moordre to restreyne.
O noble Pryncis, prouydeth off resoun
Ageyn these vices to make purueiaunce,
Off rigour sheweth due execucioun
With al your labour & your hertli instaunce.
Lat deth be guerdoun for ther fynal penaunce,
To warne all othre, be constreynt off ther peyne,
Fro these thre vices ther corages to restreyne.

[How for the offence don to Lucrece by Tarquyn was never aftir crowned kyng in Rome.]

Touching this Tarquyn, of whom I now[e] tolde,
As myn auctour maketh mencioun,
He callid was Tarquinius the olde,
Which longe in Rome hadde dominacioun,
Till his kynreede and generacioun,
For thoffence doon onto Lucrece,
Caused off kynges the name [for] to cese.
For his sone, which afftir gan succeede,
For his outrages and his extorsiouns,
And for many a-nother cruel deede,

355

For his haatful vsurpaciouns,
His froward liff and fals condiciouns,
Among the peeple, bothe stille and loude,
He callid was Tarquinius the proude.
Ful obstynat he was in his entent,
Ambicious tacroche gret richesse,
Till that Fortune wex inpacient
Ageyn[e]s hym, in al his gret noblesse.
Gan hir snares and hir crokes dresse,
Thouhte she wolde, but he kept hym weel,
Al sodenli cast hym from hir wheel.
A sone he hadde, ful vicious, as I fynde,
To all vertu most contrarious—
To be froward it cam to hym off kynde—
And off nature proud and despitous,
Ageyn the peeple fell and malicious,
Nat louyd but drad; for tirannye off riht
Is thyng most hatid in the peeplis siht.
This proude Tarquyn, the story is weel kouth,
Ageyn Lucrece dede a gret outrage,
Oppressid hir beute in his onbridled youth,
Hir trouthe assailyng in a furious rage.
For which his fader, he, and his lynage
Exilid wern, and for this hatful thyng
Ther was neuer afftir in Rome crownyd kyng.
Hir bodi corupt, she cleene off herte & thouht,
Be force assailed was hir innocence,
Oppressid hir beute, but hir sperit nouht,
Hir chaast[e] will dede non offence;
But entred is into hir conscience
A gret remors, for al hir wifli trouthe,
To slen hirsilff, which was to gret a routhe.
And for that Bochas remembreth pitousli
Hir dedli sorwe and lamentacioun,
Writ hir compleynt in ordre ceriousli,
Which that she made for hir oppressioun,
I folwe muste and make mencioun,
Afftir myn auctour parcel rehersyng,
Touchyng hir woordis said in hir deieng.

356

Al-be-it so, be biddyng off my lord,
Rehersed haue in my translacioun
Afftir Pierius heer and ther a woord
Off a ful doolful declamacioun
Be hym remembred off entencioun,
For hir sake men myhte seen and rede
What wifli trouthe was in hir womanheede.
And Iohn Bochas list nat sette a-side,
But that he wolde rehersen in sentence
Hir woful compleynt, & therupon abide,
Off wrongis doon onto hir innocence.
And thouh I cannat folwe his eloquence,
I shal sue the trouthe off rehersyng
As in substaunce theffect off his writyng.
The morwe next afftir this foule deede,
Lucrece vproos with a ful dedli cheer.
Out off hir face gon was al the rede,
And dirked wern hir heuenli eien cleer,
Al clad in blak[e] afftir the maneer
Off thilke folk which in especiall
Ar wont to gon to feestis funerall.
All hir freendis beyng in presence,
Husbonde, fader, with other eek also,
Bi and bi rehersyng in sentence
The circumstaunces off hir hertli wo.
And or that I any ferther go,
Vnder hope my lord will me supporte,
What that she saide I will to you reporte.

[The greuous compleynt of Lucrece vpon hir oppressioun.]

For-asmoche,” quod she, “as I Lucrece
Am be the lawe ioyned in mariage
To the, my lord, whos loue shal ay encrece
Towardis the, with al the surplusage
Off wifli trouthe tenduren al myn age,
As humble subiect with feithful obeisaunce
Vnder thi lordshipe and thi gouernaunce,

357

O Colatyn, my lord and trewe husbonde,
Best beloued off hool affeccioun,
I will no mor no quarell take on honde
Nor in no wise make non accioun,
Withoute that thou list enclyne doun
Goodli thyn eris to yiue me audience
To that I shall reherse in thi presence.
Iniurie doon or any maner wrong
Ageyn my worshepe or myn honeste,
Bi the lawe my sentence is maad strong,
It touchet[h] you also weel as me,
I am so hooli yolden onto the,—
Thou art myn hed, who cleerli can discerne,
Lord and husbonde my bodi to gouerne.
Parcial causes in sooth ther may non be
Atwen vs tweyne nor no disseueraunce:
For soote and bittir, ioie and aduersite,
We must hem weie bothe in o balaunce,
Countirpeise our sorwes [&] our plesaunce,
Entirmedle all thynge that is in doubte,
Receyue our fortune as it komth aboute.
Ther may atwen vs be no menyng double,
But oon herte, o will and o corage.
And as [a] woman that stondeth now in trouble,
Withoute polishyng off any fair language,
I mut disclose to you the gret outrage
Doon onto me, and pleynli it discure,
Which to redresse lith hooli in your cure.
For the mater, to speke in woordes pleyne,
A-riht out serchid and the trouthe out founde,
As a iust cause, ondifferent to tweyne
Toward vs bothe the quarell doth rebounde.
And mor strongli our mater for to grounde,
Reherse I will, so that ye sauff it vouche,
A mortall wrong which the & me doth touche.

358

In a castell which callid is Collace,
Off which my lord heer hath the gouernaunce,
Tarquyn the yonge cam into that place.
I, full diswarre to make purueiaunce
Ageyn his comyng or any ordenaunce,
Toforn nat warnyd off his officeris,
Sat onpurueied among my chaumbereris.
Off entent teschewen idilnesse,
We sat and span vpon wolles soffte;
For she off vices is a cheeff maistresse
Wher she is cherisshid & iset aloffte:
But off custum as I haue do ful offte,
I and my women duli as we ouhte,
Tauoide slouthe ful bisili we wrouhte.
His ent[e]ryng was meek and debonaire,
Benygne off port, off look & off visage,
With a pretence off many woordes faire,
In whos menyng was ful gret outrage,
His cheer contrarie onto his corage.
In this wise ther he was receuyed,
Wherbi, alas, I falsli was deceyued!
At pryme face, as me thouhte it due,
I hym receyued at his in comyng:
Roos up meekli and gan hym to salue,
As appertened in alle maner thyng
Onto the sone off a worthi kyng.
And treuli Tarquyn, for which I seie alas,
Me to be-traisshe stood in the same caas.
A kynges sone sholde off du[e]te
Been to wommen wall and proteccioun,
Preserue and keepe hem in al surete,
That no man sholde, off no presumpcioun,
Doon hem no wrong nor oppressioun,

359

Rather deie than seen hem suffre onriht,
Aduertisynge thoffice off a knyht.
But in contraire off knyhthod he hath wrouht,
Be fals outrage doon ageyn[e]s me.
Wrong[e] weies and crokid menys souht
Off lawes tweyne to breke the liberte,
And difface the auctorite
Off lawe ciuyle & natural also,
In my persone offendyng bothe too.
First be his fals[e] subtil compassyng
He gan espie thestris off the place;
And whan a-bedde alone I lay slepyng,
Lik a leoun, ful sterne off look and face,
With his lefft hand my throte he dede enbrace,
And in his other heeld ageyn al lawe
Me for toppresse a naked suerd idrawe.
Thus afforcyng my wifli chastite,
Ageyn knyhthod he dede this gret offence,
Mi liff, my worshepe put in perplexite,
Hauyng no myht to make resistence,—
Me manacyng be dedli violence,
The ton off tweyne: to deie in his entente,
Or to auoutri falsli to consente.
Thus I stood sool atwen deth & diffame,
Mi bodi corupt, my sperit abood[e] cleene;
Mi spousaile broke, & my good[e] name
For euer disclaundred, that whilom shon ful sheene.
Euel fame off custum will alwei wexe greene,
Neuer deie, the peeple so hem disporte
The werste off thynges gladli to reporte.
Alas, alas! among my sorwes all,
This oon the moste that doth myn herte agrise;—
I am nat worthi that men me sholde call,
Or haue the name in no maner wise,
For thoffence which ye han herd deuise,
To be callid, in this wrecchid liff,
Off Collatyn from hen[ne]sfoorth the wiff.

360

Myn eien also be blyndid with derknesse,
Onli for shame to lefften vp ther siht,
Outher ther stremys or bemys vp to dresse,
Off the cleer heuene to looke vpon the liht.
Nor I mai neuer been off the noumbre off riht,
Off trewe matrones, among hem ferr nor neer,
For to be rekned in ther kalendeer.
Lat myn Iniurie and this mortal cryme
Be so pun[y]shed off riht and equite,
Withoute delay off any lenger tyme,
That euer afftir it may exaumple be
Thoruh al the world and eek in this cite,—
With such a peyne therupon deuised,
That all auoutours may be therbi chastised.
And yiff it seeme in your opynyoun,
In this caas I sholde been onpure,
I will receyue iust punycioun
And the peyne pacientli endure,
Yiff it so stonde that parauenture
Ye deeme off resoun, that be so iust & stable,
In this mateer that I be coupable.”
Hir tale told. Whan thei longe hadde musid
On this compleynt in ther inward siht,
Off trouthe echon thei heeld hir ful excusid,
Made all beheste, with al ther ful[le] myht
Tauenge hir wrong; and Lucrece anon riht
Took a sharp knyff, or thei myhte aduerte,
And rooff hirsilff euene thoruh the herte.

The Compleynt of Bochas Oppon þe luxurie of Princis by examplis of diuers myschevis.

Bochas in herte brennyng hoot as fir
Off verai ire and indignacioun
Ageyn tho princis, which in ther desir
Han fulli set ther delectacioun,
Ther felicite and ther affeccioun
To folwe ther lustis off fals lecherie,
Froward spousbreche and off auoutrie.

361

He writ ageyn hem that seeke occasiouns,
Places off lust to han ther libertees
For to fulfille ther delectaciouns;
And for tacomplisshe ther gret dishonestees,
Deuyse out tauernes in burwes & citees,
And sittyng ther among ther cumpanye,
Afftir the deede thei booste off ther folye.
Yiff any man pynche at ther outrage,
Or them rebuke for ther tran[s]gressiouns,
Thei will ansuere with froward fals language,
And for ther parti allegge gret resouns:
First how it longeth to ther condiciouns
Be riht off Nature, as it is weel kouth,
Freli to vse lecheri in youth;
Afferme also, how lawe of Kynde is fre,
And so afforce hem to sustene ther partie
Bexaumple off Dauid, which that took Bersabe,
And for hir sake how he slouh Vrie,
Dede manslauhtre and fals auoutrie,—
For hem aleggyng, ageyn riht and resoun,
For Dalida the luxure off Sampsoun.
The stori also thei frowardli applie,
How for a woman prudent Salamoun,
The Lord offendyng, dede ydolatrie.
And in diffence off ther opynyoun,
Reherse these storyes for excusacioun
Off ther errour, therbi a pris to wynne,
As tofor God lecheri wer no synne.
Thei nat considre in ther entencioun
Off these stories eueri circumstaunce:
First off kyng Dauid the gret contricioun,
Nor vpon Sampson how God took gret vengaunce;
First how he loste his force & his puissaunce
For his offence—thei ha[ue] nat this in mynde,
Nor how that bothe his eien wer maad blynde.
Nor ther resouns thei list nat to enclyne
For to conceyue in ther discrecioun,
The sperit off wisdam, heuenli & dyuyne,
Was take away fro prudent Salamoun
In chastisyng for his transgressioun.

362

And summe doctours affermen ouermore,
How Salamon repentid hym ful sore.
The play off youthe folk calle it lecherie,
Seyn that it is a gamen off Nature,
And to sustene and bern vp ther partie,
How it sit weel, be record off scripture,
Onto euerich liffli creature
That stant in helthe and is coraious,
Off verrai kynde for to be lecherous.
Vicious report thei han in remembraunce,
But vertuous thyng is ferr out off mynde;
Flesshli lustis and lecherous plesaunce
In ther desirs be nat lefft behynde.
Auauntyng, lieng thei can off newe out fynde;
And now-adaies thei holde curtesie
Othes horrible, flatryng and ribaudie.
In ther auys thei taken litil heede
Onto the doctryn off noble Scipioun,
Which comaundid, in story as I reede,
To Masmissa, ful famous off renoun,
Nat to touche be no condicioun
Sophonisba, fairest off visage,
But yiff it were be weie off mariage.
Thouh she wer born off the blood roiall,
Hir youthe was set to al honeste,
Douhter and hair to noble Hastruball,
Duc off Cartage, the story ye may see;
And for hir vertues off femynyte,
She weddid was, off berthe as she was lik,
To kyng Siphax, which regned in Affrik.
And for to preue the grete liberte
Which is in vertu conveied be resoun,
And the fals thraldam off dishoneste,—
Off bothe to make a pleyn comparisoun,
Afftir the doctryn off Censoryn Catoun,
Shewid be hym to folkis in comune,
That vertu neuer is subiect to Fortune:

363

Vertu conserueth mesour and resoun,
Considreth thynges aforn or thei befall,
Takith non enprises but off discrecioun,
And on prudence foundeth hir werkes all;
Ay to hir counsail attempraunce she doth call,
Warli prouydyng in hirsilff withynne
The eende off thynges toforn or she begynne.
This was the doctryn tauht foorth off Catoun,
Lecherous lustis to put hem vndir foote,
Grauntyng to vertu the domynacioun,
Plukke up vices, braunche, cropp & roote.
Frut off goodnesse groweth up so soote,
Whan it is plauntid off youthe in a corage,
It neuer appalleth in helthe off his tarage.
Catoun with vertu was a cheeff officer,
Preferryng euer comoun commodites
Tofor profites that wer synguler;
Tenhaunce the comoun in kyngdames & citees,
Ther wittis peised and ther habilitees,
Personys promotyng, in whom it was supposid,
That thei in vertu wer natureli disposid.
Manli off herte he was ay to susteene
Indifferentli trouthe and al iustise;
Flesshli delites off folk that wer oncleene
He was ay redi be rigour to chastise,
And sette lawes in ful prudent wise
For to punshe flaterers and lechours
And such as wern openli auoutours.
He hadde off wommen non opynyoun
With hem to dele for lust nor for beute,
But yiff it were for procreacioun,—
So stable he was founde in his degre,
The book reedyng off inmortalite
Which Plato made, the trouthe weel out souht,
Therin concludyng, how soulis deie nouht,
But lyueth euer outher in ioie or peyne.
Thus wrot Plato in his orygynall:
Men may the body be deth ful weel constreyne,

364

But the soule abit ay inmortall.
For which this Catoun, stedfast as a wall,
For comoun profit to deie was nat afferd,
Whan he hymsilff slouh with a naked suerd.
But to Fortune aforn his deth he saide,
“O thou pryncesse off worldli goodes veyne,
To thi flatereris I neuer dede abraide,
Thi fauour is so fals and oncerteyne
That neuer I fauht no fraunchise to atteyne
As for my-silff, nor parcial syngulerte,
But al for profit touchyng the comounte.
A-geyn Cesar I made resistence,
To conquere fredam to me & to the toun,
Freli teschewe his mortal violence,
This world despisyng in myn opynyoun,—
Our fraunchise thrallid vnder subieccioun,
Iustli forsakyng the variaunce off this liff,
Mi soule conveied to be contemplatiff.”
This philisophre, this prudent old Catoun,
Tendryng in herte comoun comoditees,
Toforn his deth wrot off compassioun
To them that sat in roial dignitees,
Which hadde off vertu lost the libertees,
Pryncis besechyng, that wer luxurious,
To take exaumple and folwe kyng Drusus.
The which[e] Drusus, be successioun
Heir to Augustus, was next hym emperour,
Sett al in vertu his affeccioun,
And it to cherishe dede hooli his labour.
To lust onleefful he neuer gaff fauour;
And touchyng loue, duryng all his liff,
He neuer hadde lust but onli to his wiff.
And in his paleis, myd off his roiall see,
Off noble pryncis duellyng in Rome toun
He axed was, for al his dignite,
What maner corage or temptacioun,
Or what feruence or delectacioun

365

Withynne hymsilff he hadde off louys play,
Sool bi his wiff whan he a-bedde lay.
And lik a prynce fulfillid off hih noblesse,
Ansuerde ageyn with sobre cuntenaunce,
“Touchyng such lust as folweth flesshlynesse,
Lik as Nature me put in gouernaunce,
In oon alone is set al my plesaunce:
For with non other for no concupiscence,
Sauff with my wiff I neuer dede offence.”
Pryncis echon folwe nat the traas
Off noble Drusus, as ye shal vndirstonde;
For summe ha[ue] stonde al in a-nother caas,—
Such as can holde too or thre on honde,
Now heer, now ther, as botis home to londe,
Nat considryng ther cres nor disauail,
Whan newfangilnesse bloweth in ther sail.
Eek Bochas writith, sum princis ha[ue] be founde,
Which viciousli ha[ue] do ther besy peyne,
Vertuous wommen be flatrie to confounde,
And tendre maidnes to bryngen in a treyne,
Such manacis & tormentis to ordeyne,
Them to transfourme from ther perseueraunce
And interrupte ther virgynal constaunce.
But off such folk that yeue no fors off shame,
Nor dreede God such treynes to deuise,
Husbondmen in soth ar most to blame
With foreyn women to trespase in such wise:
I trowe ther wyues may hem inouh suffise;
For many ar feeble ther dettis for to quyte,
Thouh thei in chaung themsilff falsli delite.
Summe afferme, for themsilff alleggyng,
To such outrage that thei ha[ue] licence
Freeli off Nature to vse ther owne thyng,
And in such caas to no wiht doon offence.
But froward is ther errour in sentence,
Fro bond off wedlok, whan thei be so onstable,
And tofor God most hatful and dampnable.

366

For she that is thoruh hir hih noblesse
Namyd off clerkis, which cleerli can concerne,
Douhter off God, ladi and pryncesse,
Resoun callid, to guye man and gouerne,
Tween good and euel iustli to discerne,—
She hath departid, pleynli to conclude,
The liff off man fro liff off beestis rude.
This ladi Resoun, sithen go ful yore,
Gaff onto man witt and discrecioun,
Tauhte hym also bi hir souereyn lore
Twen vice and vertu a gret dyuysioun,
And that he sholde in his eleccioun
Onto al vertu naturali obeie,
And in contraire al vicious liff werreie,—
And to enprente in his memorial,
How off luxure the gret dishoneste
Difforme a man & make hym bestial,
And disfigure, off what estaat he be:
For whan that resoun, in hih or low degre,
Is fled away, folk may afferme than,
He is lik a beeste rather than a man.
Wherfor lat pryncis that ha[ue] be defectiff
To folwe ther lustis off sensualite,
Shape hem be resoun for tamende ther liff
And to conserue and keepe ther chastite,
Bothe off virgines and wiffli honeste,
And to pun[y]she all tho that list laboure
The honest fame off wommen to deuoure.
For whan a lechour be force or be maistrie
Defoulid hath off virgynes the clennesse,
Widwes oppressid, and be auoutrie
Assailed wyues that stood in stabilnesse,
Who mai thanne ther sclaundrous harm redresse,
Whan ther good name is hurt be such report?—
For fame lost onys can neuer haue his resort.

367

A theeff may robbe a man off his richesse
And be sum mene make restitucioun;
And sum man may disherite & oppresse
A poore man from his possessioun,
And afftir[ward] make satisfaccioun;
But no man may restore in no degre
A maide robbid off hir virgynyte.
A man mai also bete a castell doun,
And beelde it afftir mor fresshli to the siht,
Exile a man out off a regioun
And hym reuoke, wher it be wrong or riht;
But no man hath the poweer nor the myht
For to restore the paleis virgynal
Off chastite, whan broken is the wal.
Men mai also put out off seruise,
And officeres remeue from ther place,
And at a day, whan Fortune list deuise,
Thei mai ageyn restored been to grace;
But ther is nouther tyme set nor space,
Nor neuer in story nouther rad nor seyn,
That maidenhed lost recurid was ageyn.
For which men sholde haue a conscience,
Rewe in ther herte and repente sore,
And ha[ue] remors off ther gret offence,
To rauysshe thyng which thei may nat restore.
For it is said and hath be said ful yore,
The emeraud greene off parfit chastite,
Stole onys away may nat recurid be.
And hard it is to rauysshe a tresour
Which off nature is nat recuperable;
Lordshipe may nat, off kyng nor emperour,
Refourme a thyng which is nat reformable:
Rust off diffame is inseparable,
And maidenheed[e] lost off newe or yore,
No man alyue mai it ageyn restore.

368

Romeyns olde thoruh ther pacience
Suffrede tirantis in ther tirannyes,
And in ther cite to do gret violence,
The peeple toppresse with ther robberies;
But to pun[y]she thei sette streiht espies
On fals auoutours, as it is weel kouth,
Widwes to rauysshe & maidnes in ther youth.
Vpon this mateer the stori berth witnesse,
Touchyng thexil off kyng Tarquynyus,
Afforn rehersed be writyng ful expresse
The hatful deth off Appius Claudius
For his trespas doon to Virgynyus,
The iugementis rehersed and the peyne;
And fro ther office depryued bothe tweyne.
Was nat the cite whilom desolat
Off Synachites for the ribaudie
Off oon Sychem, which gan a gret debat
To haue acomplisshed his foul lecherie,
Whan yonge Dyna, as bookis specefie,
Wente rek[e]lesli walkyng vp and doun
To seen the maidnes off that roial toun?
But whan Sichem this Dyna dede espie
Sool bi hirselff[e] walke in the cite,
He gan anon assaile hir be maistrie,
And for tafforcen hir virgynyte,
Because she hadde no leiser for to fle.
Whos gret offence and transgressioun
The cite brouhte onto destruccioun.
Hir fadir Iacob & hooli hir kynreede
Ageyn this Sichem gan inwardli disdeyne;
Whan the furie off Mars was most to dreede,
To be vengid thei dede ther besy peyne.
And speciali hir worthi brethren tweyne
Fill on the cite, Symeon and Leuy,
Tauenge ther suster & stroie it fynaly.

369

So mortalli thei gan with hem stryue,
With ther suerdis grounde sharp & keene,
Off male childre thei leffte non alyue,
Thei wer so vengable in ther furious teene.
The Sichanytes myhte nat susteene
That dai ageyn hem to stonden at diffence,
So importable was ther violence.
For wher that God list punshe a man off riht
Bi mortal suerd, farweel al resistence:
Whan grace faileth, awey goth force & myht,
Feblith off pryncis the magnyficence,
Chaungeth ther power into inpotence,
Reuersith the kynges ther statli regalie,
Exaumple in Sichem, for his fals ribaudie.
It was an hard dreedful punycioun,
That, O Pryncis, trespas in lecherie
Caused afor God that al a regioun
Destroied was withoute remedie.
This story told[e] for texemplefie,
Whan noble pryncis to wommen them submitte,
Grace and al fauour anon doth fro them flitte.
Off this stori what sholde I write mor?
In Genesis the residue ye may reede,
The deth off Sichem and off kyng Emor,
And how ther kyngdam destroied was in deede.
Off Sichanites, loo, heer the fynal meede,
Off lecherie and off his fals plesaunce,
Which many a rewm hath brouht onto myschaunce!
What sholde I efft reherse ageyn or write
The fals auoutri off Paris and Heleyne?
Ther woful fall Guido dede endite;
Poetis echon dede eek ther besi peyne
To declare, how onli bi these tweyne
The worthi blood, for short conclusioun,
Off Troie and Grece cam to destruccioun.

370

But offte it fallith that mekil habundaunce
Off worldli good, with gret ese and richesse,
In folkis that sette al hooli ther plesaunce
To folwe ther lustis off froward wilfulnesse,
Hath caused in londes gret myscheeff & distresse,
Whan vicious liff ther corages dede encoumbre,
Destroied kyngdames & peeplis out off noumbre.
For whan the peeple thoruh fals obstynacie
Is indurat tamende hem and correcte,
And wil nat turne hem from ther lecherie,
But ay ar redi ther soules to infecte,—
And onto purpos my stile I will directe,
Texemplefie how Gabaa the toun
Was for his synne brouht to confusioun.
Whilom this peeple callid Gabanytes,
From Beniamyn descendid in ther lyne,
Wer ai disposid to folwe ther delites,
And off custum ther wittis dede enclyne
In worldli plente to flouren & to shyne,
And dempte alwai, to them it was most due
Off wilfulnesse ther lustis for to sue.
In lecherie was set al ther plesaunce,
And in that vice thei ladde most ther liff,
Wherbi thei wer[e]n brouht onto myschaunce,
And many on slayn be ful mortal striff,
Whan the Leuite cam forbi with his wiff,
Ful excellent off fetures and beute,
And took his loggyng withynne that gret cite.
He was ful old, and she was inli fair,
He inpotent and she but tendre off age,
Thoruh Gabaa makyng ther repair.
The citeseyns off inportune rage,
Shewing the furie off ther gret outrage,
So longe that nyht hir beute dede assaile,
Till liff and breth attonys dede faile.

371

Contagious was the sclaundre & diffame,
In Iudicum the story ye mai reede,
Which to reherse is a maner shame,
To heere thabusioun off that foule deede;
And how the Leuite amorwe gan take heede
With pitous cheer, & sauh his yonge wiff
Tofor the gate depryued off hir liff.
He hente hir up & leid hir on his asse;
To noise this crym vpon eueri side,
Thouhte in such caas he myhte do no lasse,—
Took a sharp suerd, & list no lenger bide,
On twelue parties he gan hir to deuide,
And to ech Tribe off Jacob he hath sent
A certeyn parti, to seen ther iugement.
Which thyng to hem was hatful & terrible,
And in ther siht ful abhomynable.
And in al haste likli and possible,
Alle off o will and o corage stable,
On Gabonites for to be vengable
Thei gadred han, shortli to conclude,
Tassaile that toun a ful gret multitude.
Whan thei first mette, atwen hem thus it stood:
The twelue Tribus wer twies put to fliht,
On outher parti gret quantite off blood
Was shad among hem in that mortal fiht;
For sexti thousand, who that counte ariht,
Wer slay[e]n ther, the stori wil nat lie,
Tauenge the sclaundre off fals avoutrie.
Loo, heer the guerdoun off the froward firis
In lecherous folk, that wil nat staunchid be,
That brente so hoote thoruh bestial desiris
In Gabaa the myhti strong cite,
Which was destroied for his iniquite,
And almost brouht off Beniamyn the lyne
Thoruh this offence to eternal ruyne.

372

Eek for his feruent dronken lecherie
Oloffernes be Iudith loste his hed;
And al his host and al his cheualrie
Leffte the feeld & fledde awei for dreed,
And he lai bathed in his blood al red.
Thus thoruh this vice, yiff it be weel souht,
Ful many a prynce hath be brouht to nouht.
These said[e] stories ouhte inouh suffise,
Yiff men wolde considre & taken heede,
The grete vengaunces in many sundri wise
Which God hath take for this synne in deede,
As in ther bookis thei may beholde & reede
Warnynges afforn, ful offte put at preeff,
How thei hemsilff shal saue fro myscheef.

Lenvoye.

This tragedie yeueth vs a gret warnyng,
Be cleer exaumples of manyfold resoun,
How many a prince for ther mysleuyng,
And many riche, roial, myhti toun,
Many a cite and many a regioun
Ha[ue] been euersid, ful notable & famous,
For synne off pryncis that wer lecherous.
The chose off God, Dauid the worthi kyng,
Prophete off prophetis, most souereyn off renoun,
On Bersabe for a sodeyn lokyng
To slen Vrie cauhte occasioun,
For which he suffred gret punycioun,
Chastised off God, he and al his hous,
For cause onli that he was lecherous.
Gret repentaunce he hadde & gret sorwyng,
And made psalmis off gret contricioun,
With woful teris & manyfold wepyng
To make a-seeth for his transgressioun,
Yeuyng to pryncis ful cleer direccioun
For to eschewe the flatri odious
And the fals fraude off wommen lecherous.

373

Wher was ther euere off science or cunnyng
So renommed as was kyng Salamoun?
Yit wommen made hym, thoruh [ther] fals flateryng,
To foreyn goddis doon oblacioun,
Which clipsid his honour & brouht his fame doun,
That was in wisdam whilom most vertuous,
Til he thoruh wommen fill to be lecherous.
Is it nat eek remembrid be writyng,
Off Israel how the cheeff[e] champioun,
Which goddis peeple hadde in his ledyng,
I meene the famous, myhti, strong Sampsoun,
That thoruh his force to-rente the lyoun,—
But Dalida with teres plenteuous
His grace berafft hym & made hym lecherous.
Sichem was slayn eek for the rauasshyng
Off yong Dyna, as maad is mencioun;
His fader Emor brouh[t] to his eendyng,
Lost his richesse in that discencioun,
And his kyngdam brouht to destruccioun.
Loo, heer the fyn off pryncis vicious,
Which them dispose for to be lecherous!
It is in erthe oon the moste pereilous thyng,
A prynce to been off his condicioun
Effemynat, his wittis enclynyng,
Be fals desirs off flesshli mocioun,
To put hymselff vnder subieccioun,
And thralle his resoun, tresour most precious,
To onleeful lustis, hatful & lecherous.
This is the sentence ful pleynli in menyng:
Wher women haue the dominacioun
To holde the reyne, ther hookis out castyng,
That sensualite ha[ue] iurediccioun
To entre on resoun bi fals intrusioun,
Werre ageyn vertu most contagious,
To be venquysshid off lustis lecherous,—
It taketh fro men ther cleernesse off seyng,
Causeth gret siknessis and corrupcioun,
And to al vertu it is grettest hyndryng,

374

Maketh men seeme old, as be inspeccioun,
Appallith ther mynde and disposicioun,
Shorteth ther daies, thyng dreedful & pitous,
Whan thei dispose hem for to be lecherous.
Noble Pryncis, in your ymagynyng
Conceyueth off wommen the fals decepcioun,
Namli off them that loue but for wynnyng,
And laboure ay for your possessioun,
Whos sugred flatrie is fals collusioun,
Lik to Sirenes with vois melodious
Enoynte your eres to make you lecherous.

[How Cambises assentyng to the moordre of his brothir Mergus at last slouh himsilf.]

Afftir the deth of myhti kyng Cirus,
Next cam his sone callid Cambises,
Heir be successioun ful victorious,
Which tofor Bochas put hymselff in pres
And gan his compleynt—this is dout[e]les,—
That thei off Egipt, in many vnkouth wise,
To sundri goddis dede sacrifise.
First onto Apis thei dede reuerence,
Callid Serapis, ther grettest god off all,
Regnyng in Egipt off most excellence,
And god of goddis foolis dede hym call.
And off his noblesse thus it is befall,
Slayn bi his brother, which is a gret wonder,
Seuered on pecis & ful ferr cast assonder.
And thei off Egipt made ther ordynaunces,
Vp peyne off deth in ther statutis olde,
A god to calle hym, & doon ther obseruaunces
Withynne his templis, lik as thei wer holde.
Wheroff Cambises, toforn as I you tolde,
Alle the templis off that regioun
Cast hym be force for to throwe doun.

375

The temple off Iubiter to robbe it be rauyne,
Callid Amon, withoute excepcioun,
His knyhtis sente to brynge it to ruyne.
But thei echon for ther presumpcioun,
With sodeyn leuene wer smet & bete doun.
Wheroff Cambises, in Asie tho regnyng,
Hadde this drem as he lai slepyng.
He drempte his brother, that called was Mergus,
Sholde in the kyngdam afftir hym succeede.
Wheroff in herte he wex so envious,
That he purposed, off rancour and hatreede,
Bi sum mene to make his sides bleede;
And that his purpos sholde take auail,
A magicien he took to his counsail.
And he was holde a ful gret philisophre,
Callid Cometes, ful sleihti and cunnyng,
To whom Cambises made a large proffre
Off gold and tresour to make hym assentyng
To execute this horrible thyng;
And that he wolde in most cruel wise
The moordre off Mergus compassen & deuise.
And whil Cambises ordeyned this tresoun,
To slen Mergus, his owne brother deere,
God from aboue caste his eien doun,
Hym to pun[y]she in ful cruel manere:
For he wex wood[e], who-so list to lere,
Cauht a sharp suerd, & roff his thih on tweyne;
And sodenli he deied for the peyne.
For too causes God took on hym vengaunce,
As myn auctour Bochas doth expresse:
For his presumptuous fals disobeisaunce,
Spoilyng the goddis off her gret richesse,
And for the froward gret onkynd[e]nesse
To yeue assent to the contagious caas,
Whan that Mergus his brother moordred was.

376

The deth off whom was cheeff occasioun
Off ful gret werre, stryues and debat,
Eek fynal cause whi al the regioun
Off myhti Perse stood disconsolat:
For heir was non, off hih nor low estat,
Be title off riht, thoruh this onhappi chaunce,
To been ther kyng and ha[ue] the gouernaunce.
For the magicien callid Cometes,
Which slouh Mergus, as ye haue herd expresse,
Took his brother callid Oropastes,
And made hym kyng, the stori berth witnesse,
Because that he resembled in liknesse
Onto Mergus off face and off stature,
To crowne hym kyng therfore he dede his cure.
The deth off Mergus outward was nat knowe
Nor pleynli publisht in that regioun;
His bodi buried and cast in erthe lowe.
Off whom the moordre and fraudulent tresoun,
The pitous slauhtre wrouht be collusioun,
And al the maner, bi processe was espied
So openli it myhte nat be denyed.
And in what wise the noise gan out spreede
Touchyng this moordre odious for to heere:
Whan that Orapastes ocupied in deede
The crowne off Perse, the stori doth vs lere,
Ther was a prynce ful notable & enteere,
Callid Hostanes, that gan his witt applie,
Off hih prudence this moordre out tespie.
Whil that Orapastes, vnder a fals pretence,
Off Perciens was resseyued as for kyng,
The said[e] prynce dede his deligence,
Bi inquisicioun to ha[ue] knowlechyng,
Be what engyn or be what sleihti thyng
The said Orapastes cauhte occasioun
In stede off Mergus to ocupie the croun.

377

On this mateer he hadde a coniecture,
That his title was nouther hool nor cleer.
The trouthe to trie he dede his besi cure,
And to serche out hooli the maneer,
He souht[e] so ferr that he cam riht neer,
And in this caas lettid for no slouthe,
Till that he hadde founden out the trouthe.
The cas was this, pleynli to termyne:
He hadde a douhter, ful fair off hir visage,
Which off the kyng was cheuest concubyne,
Bi whom he thouhte to cachchen auauntage.
And onto hir he hath sent his massage,
Secreli tenqueren how it stood,
Wher that the kyng wer come off Cirus blood.
And bad she sholde secreli taken heed,
Whil that he slepte to doon hir besi peyne
With hir handis for to feele his hed,
And to grope afftir bothe his eris tweyne.
And yiff it fill—ther is no mor to seyne—
Vpon his hed that she non eris founde,
To telle hir fadir, off trouthe as she was bounde.
This myhti prynce Hostanes knew[e] weel,
Riht as it is recorded be scripture,
Touchyng this caas how it stood euerideel,
How kyng Cambises off sodeyn auenture,
Bi his lyue for a forfeture,
Made off Orapastes, the stori seith nat nay,
Bothe his tweyne eris to be kit away.
And heerupon to be certefied,
He was desirous ta[ue] ful knowlechyng.
Which be his douhter whan it was espied,
Vpon a nyht liggyng bi the kyng,
Gropyng his hed[e] as he lai slepyng,
Ful subtili felte and took good heed,
How he non eris hadde vpon his hed.
And to hir fadir anon she hath declarid
The secrenesse off this auenture.
And for no feer nor dreed he hath nat sparid,

378

How that it stood[e] pleynli to discure.
And first off all he dede his besi cure,
Alle the pryncis off Perse-lond ifeere
To counseil calle tentrete off this mateere.
And whan thei wern assemblid euerichon,
Off Orapastes he told hem al the chaunce,
And how that Mergus was moordred yore agon,
As heer-toforn is put in remembraunce.
Wherupon to sette an ordynaunce
And to redresse these wronges doon toforn,
Off Perse-lond wer seuene pryncis sworn.
Off oon assent in ther entencioun,
Bi bond off oth thei made ther assuraunce,
And a ful secre coniuracioun
To putte Orapastes from his roial puissaunce,
Which hadde al Perse vnder his gouernaunce
Bi a ful fals pretens off heritage,
For he was lik to Mergus off visage.
These seuene pryncis, off which toforn I tolde,
Alle off oon herte, & bi ther oth ibounde,
Prudent and manli and off yeris olde,
Han souht a tyme Orapastes to confounde.
And with ther suerdis sharp[e] whet & grounde,
Wonder couert in ther apparaile,
Cam off entent Orapastes to assaile.
And in the paleis whom-euer that thei mette
Or ageyn hem made resistence,
Alle off accord thei fersli on hym sette.
But the magicien, that was ther in presence,
Cam ageyn hem be sturdi violence,
And at thencountre gan hem so constreyne,
That off the pryncis thei haue islay[e]n tweyne.

[Oropastes occupyeng the crowne of Perce bi iniust title was moordred.]

But fynali the tother pryncis fyue,
Whan that thei sauh ther tweyne feeris bleede,
In al the paleis thei leffte non alyue.

379

And kyng Orapastes, quakyng in his dreede,
Ful onwarli, or that he took heede,
Was slay[e]n ther, guerdoned for al his myht,—
Off pretens kynges which regne & ha[ue] no riht.

[How Dary obteynyng the kyngdam of perce be sleiht eended with shame.]

Afftir the deth of this magiciens
Was lefft no kyng to ha[ue] the gouernaunce,
Nor for to reule the lond off Perciens,
Sauff pryncis fyue, ful famous off puissaunce,
Which made a statut and an ordynaunce
Off oon accord, be record off writyng,
Theron concludyng who sholde be chose kyng.
Ther sort, ther happe and al ther auenture
Was youe to Fortune off this eleccioun,
As thus: that prynce the crowne shal recure
Among these fyue, be ther convencioun
For to gouerne the myhti regioun
And in that lond to regne & contune,
Lik as the fauour list ordeyne off Fortune.
This was the statut: vpon a morwenyng,
Alle attonys erli for to ride
Atwen Aurora and Phebus vprisyng,
Vp to an hill to houe[n] and abide,
Al rancour & discord set a-side,
Whos hors among hem was first herd neieng,
Withoute gruchchyng sholde be crownyd kyng.
Vpon this mateer what sholde I lenger tarie?—
Heeron was maad an oth in sekirnesse.
Among these pryncis ther was on callid Darie,
A prynce off Perse excellyng off noblesse,
Which hadde a seruaunt, the stori berth witnesse,
That kept his hors, & thouhte in verrai deede
He wolde his lord preferre at such a neede.

380

The said seruant, ful sleihti in werkyng,
His deligence list nothyng to spare.
The dai toforn[e] set off ther meetyng,
At a place smothe, pleyn and bare,
His lordis hors he made lepe a mare.
And on the morwe whan the pryncis mette
On hors[e]bak, there his lord he sette.
And whan the hors thedir cam ageyn,
Nature anon afforced his corage
To neie loude vpon the same pleyn,
Wher-as the mare had vsid hir passage.
Kynde in such caas hadde gret auauntage.
Be which[e] sleihte, pleynli to reherse,
The said[e] Dary was crownyd kyng off Perse.
The pryncis alle, lik ther convencioun,
Or Phebus shewed his firi bemys briht,
Withoute striff or contradiccioun
From ther hors sodenli aliht;
And onto Dari, as lowli as thei myht,
Saide in Greek[e] or thei vp aros,
“Policronitudo Basileos!”
Which is in Latyn, to speke in wordes pleyn,
And in Inglissh, bexpownyng off scripture,
Afftir the Greek, as moche for to seyn
As, “long[e] tyme mote the kyng endure,”—
And lyue in helthe with good auenture,
Bi the grace and fauour off Fortune
Vpon al Perse to regnen and contune.
Who list considren eueri circumstaunce,
It is a merueil nat groundid on prudence,
Bi such a sleihte a kyng tagouernaunce,
Thoruh title or cleym as off iust euidence,
So to be reised to kyngli excellence.
But whan Fortune fauoureth such assay,
Till that she chaunge, ther can no man sei nay.

381

Thus was kyng Darie, born off louh lynage,
Set up be sleihte in estaat honurable.
Thouhte that he wolde for his auauntage,
To make his kyngdam & his regne stable,
Wedde such a wiff as to hym was most hable,
Demyng off trouthe his cleym wer weel amendid,
Off Cirus lyne yiff she were descendid.
To wedde suchon was al his couetise,
Stable for to regne vpon the Persiens.
And, as I fynde, in ful cruel wise,
Bi the counseil off fals magiciens
A werre he gan vpon the Egipciens.
Eek folili he gan for to werreie
Them off Athenys, which list hym nat obeie.
And, as myn auctour maketh rehersaile,
He for his pride and fals presumpcioun
Was disconfited twies in bataile,
And neuer afftir, as maad is mencioun,
He was nat had in reputacioun,
Mong Persiens so gan his honour fade.
With sleihte he gan; with shame an eende he made.

[How Corolian bi Romayns exilid gan werre ayenst hem and how aftir thei sent out his moder with othir for pees, which had, thei eft him exilid & aftir was slayn.]

Afftir this Darie, as I reherse can,
And myn auctour likith to conclude,
To Iohn Bochas cam Corolian,
The moste woful off al that multitude.
Which gan compleyne vpon thyngratitude
Off the Romeyns, how thei whilom in deede
Exilid his persone, off rancour & hatreede.
Which in his tyme wolde neuer cese,
Thoruh his noblesse and his hih renoun,
Ther comoun profit tawmente and encrese,
And for to brynge to ther subieccioun
Many a cite and many a noble toun.

382

Yit thei ageynward, for al his cheualrie,
Han hym exilid off malice and envie.
But whan this Marcus, callid Corolian,
Sauh off Romeyns the gret onkynd[e]nesse,
Toward a cuntre that callid was Tuskan
Off hih disdeyn anon he gan hym dresse,
And hem entretid, off manli fell prowesse
To gynne a werre, sithe thei so manli be,
Thoruh his conveieng geyn Rome the cite.
And for to put hem mor in assuraunce,
To ha[ue] victorie thoruh ther hih renoun,
He tolde hem pleynli off a gret distaunce,
Off a fals striff and a discencioun
That was off newe falle in Rome toun;
Wherfor thei shulde, yiff it be prouided,
Conquere hem lihtli, because thei were deuided.
Bi ther assent he made a gret arme,
With stuff for werre richeli apparailed,
Pihte his tentis tofor that strong cite,
And in the feeld stood proudli [en]batailed.
But the hertis off Romeyns han hem failed,
And durst nat passe the gatis off ther toun,
Ther was among hem so gret deuysioun.
Ther cite stood that tyme destitut,
With feer supprised for lak off gouernaunce.
Them to diffende thei fond[e] no refut,
So ferr enfeeblisshid was ther old puissaunce.
For euer gladli, wher striff & variaunce
In any kyngdam haue an interesse,
Touchyng diffence, a-dieu al hardynesse!
Withynne hemsilff[e] thei stood at debat;
Afforn ther enmyes redi for tassaile;
Confort was non in hih nor low estat:
For wher discord is, what counsail mai auaile?
Ther foon withoute, withynne hemsilff bataile,
Brouht in, alas, to ther confusioun,
Bi the fals serpent off discencioun.

383

But at the laste afforced and constreyned,
Thei were coact[e] afftir pes to seeke.
The caas stood so: off nede thei wer peyned,
Maugre ther myht, ther hertis for to meeke.
And ther myscheeff mor tencrece and eeke,
In awmentyng off ther cruel fatis,
Thei sauh ther enmyes briht armed at ther gatis.
Thei sent out first preestis off the toun
With ther enmyes for tentrete off pes,
With humble proffres & low subieccioun;
But Corolian, this is dout[e]les,
Ageyn the Romeyns was so merciles,
That grace non myht in his herte myne
To ther request his eris to enclyne.
Thanne the Romeyns, the stori telle can,
To Venturia made ther praier,
Which was the mooder off Corolian,
And to Volumia, his feithful wiff enteer,
That thei sholde bothe gon ifeer
Onto that prynce, besechyng at the leste,
Benygneli to heryn ther requeste.
His mooder first ful prudentli abraide,
Onto hir sone makyng this questioun,
At ther meetyng to hym thus she saide:
“Shal I,” quod she, “for short conclusioun,
Off feithful herte and trewe affeccioun
To thi presence declare fynali,
Be now receyued as mooder or enmy?
Afftir thyn answere I mut myselff dispose
And my wittis speciali applie,
Cause off my komyng cleerli to onclose,
And telle theffect of myn ambassiatrie,
And my speche so gouerne and guie,
Afftir I am receyued to thi grace,
Mi-silff declaryng, yiff I ha[ue] tyme and space.
For lik thi mooder yiff thou receyue me
And me accepte onto thi presence,
I mut therafftir so gouerned be
To telle my tale pleynli, in sentence,—
So that thou yiff me freendli audience.
And yiff I be nat receyued in such wise,
Mor straung[e]li my tale I mut deuise.”

384

This noble prynce, this Corolian,
Whan that he herde his mooder thus compleyne,
Ful lik a lord and a knyhtli man
Gan hir enbracen in his armis tweyne
In lowli wise, ther is no mor to seyne,—
Sauff lik a sone, off due and off riht,
To hire he saide ful lik a ientil knyht:
“Madame,” quod he, “be it to your plesaunce
To heere my conceit as in this mater.
With feithful herte and humble attendaunce
I you receyue as for my mooder deer;
But, & ye like benygneli to heer,
Thyngratitude, doon in most cruel wise
To me off Romayns, I purpose to chastise.”
“A sone,” quod she, “touchyng ther offence
Doon to thi noblesse and ther gret outrage,
Thei shal be menys ther trespas recompence.
And thynk[e] thou art born off ther lynage,
And suffre that merci thi rigour mai asswage,
And thynk off nature thou maist nat weel withseie
Thyng for the which thi mooder doth now preie.
Thou shalt nat close thyn entrailes off pite
To the requestis off me and off thi wiff,
Nor gynne a werre ageyn[e]s thi cuntre,
To stroie thi lyne bi newe mortal striff,
Thi childre and me to make vs lose our liff.
Weie in ballaunce to Romayns thyn hatreede
Ageyns the loue off me and thi kenreede.
Send hom ageyn thi straunge soudiours,
Which be so redi the Romayn blood to sheede;
Lat stonde in pes our wallis and our tours;
Suffre thi grace thi rancour to exceede,
So that thi pite mai putte awai al dreede,
And condescende to receyue for hostage
Me to be plegge for ther gret outrage.
Behold the wombe in which that thou wer born,
And see also my naked brestes tweyne,
Bi which thou were fostred heer-toforn:

385

Yiff ther was lak, thou woldest crie & pleyne.
Remembre theron, and at me nat disdeyne,
But onto merci receyue this cite
At the request heer off thi wiff & me.
Whilom my mylk thi cherisshyng was & foode
To stynte thi cri whan thou dedist weepe,
Ther soote dropis ful holsum wer & goode,
Thi tendre youthe for to preserue and keepe.
And lik a mooder to brynge the a-sleepe,
I wook ful offte, to the I was so kynde,—
Wherfor, deere sone, on my request ha[ue] mynde.
Yiff that thou list this cite now tormente,
Ther demerites be rigour recompense,
Pun[y]she me for them, and I will assente
To ber the gilt off ther gret offence.
But, deere soone, lat thi magnyficence
Suffre off knyhthod that merci mai in deede
Attempre thi riht, or thou to doom proceede.
Suffre Romayns to lyuen in quiete,
Graunt hem pes ageyn ther gret outrage,
Sum drope off pite lat in thyn herte fleete,
And thynk[e] thou art born off ther lynage.
Looke vpon hem with merciful visage,
Which offre hemsilff[e], as thei shal fulfille,
Ther liff, ther deth, al hooli at thi wille.
Remembre off nature how that the leoun
Set a-side his rage and his woodnesse
To them that meekli aforn hym falle doun;
His roial kynde will doon hem no duresse.
Texemplefie to thi knyhtli noblesse,
With rigerous suerd thou shalt no mor manace
Them that be lowli, yolde onto thi grace.”
And whan this prynce, this Corolian,
Had herd al that his mooder list to seyne,
He goth to hire in al the haste he can,
Bespreynt with teris that on his chekis reyne,
And hire enbracid in his armis tweyne,

386

And saide, “mooder, ther mai be no lettyng,
Me off hool herte to graunte your axyng.”
The siege he made for tauoide awai,
And to repaire hom to her cuntre;
And with his mooder & wiff he was that dai
With gret[e] gladnesse and solempnite
Anon receyued into that cite,
Lik as Fortune wolde hym neuer haue failed.
But she soone afftir off newe hath hym assailed.
The geri Romayns, stormy and onstable,
Which neuer in oon stille koude abide,
Ageyn this prynce, most knyhtli and notable,
For to conspire off newe thei gan prouyde,
And ban[y]shed hym to Tuskan ther beside,
Wher he was slayn withynne a litil space,
For he the Romayns took affor to grace.

[How Melciades duk of Athenys with smal noumbre venquysshed vjc. Ml. perciens, and aftir bi his comonte that ay of custum desireth a chaunge of princes newe he was cheyned in prisoun and so deied.]

Among other that put hemsilff in pres
For to bewaile ther greuous heuynesse,
Cam off Athenys duc Meltiades,
Which thoruh his manhod & famous hih prowesse,
And thoruh his knyhtli renommed noblesse,
Lich as auctours his tryumphes list comende,
Fauht many a bataile his cite to diffende.
And off [his] victories, as it is compiled,
For comoun profit off that noble toun,
Fauht with a tirant that was toforn exiled,
Callid Hippias, which be fals tresoun

387

Hadde to kyng Darie maad a suggestioun,
Vpon Athenys, in al the haste he myhte,
To reise al Perse ageyn that toun to fihte.
Sexe hundred thousand acountid was the noumbre
Off Persiens, armed in plate and maile,
Them off Athenys be force to encoumbre,
Echon assemblid them proudli to assaile.
But this duc for nothyng wolde faile,
Meltiades, but knyhtli took his place:
With ten thousand he met hem in the face.
For bothe he was riht manli and riht wis,
And off his handis proued a good knyht.
Set vpon them with so prudent auys,
That thei off Perce, for al ther grete myht,
Wer foure tymes put onto the flyht
Bi thilke duc, yiff I shal nat feyne,
And bi the noblesse off other knyhtis tweyne.
Themystodes icallid was the ton,
Which off his hand, as auctours list descryue,
Was in a feeld[e] prouyd on his fon
The manli[est] knyht in his tyme alyue.
Which thilke dai so proudli dede stryue
Geyn them off Perse, & such a slauhter make,
That fynali the feeld thei ha[ue] forsake.
Cynegirus, a knyht eek off ther toun,
The same dai thoruh his cheualrie,
With bloodi suerd, as he wente vp & doun,
Withoute noumbre in his malencolie,
Slouh Persiens, [as] bookis specefie,
That for the tyme thei no refut cunne,
Sauff to ther shippis for dreed off deth thei runne.

388

And ther he wrouhte a straunge gret mervail,
As writ Bochas, affermyng in certeyne,
The grettest shipp that bar [the] largest sail,
With his riht hand he gan it so restreyne,
Lik as it hadde be fastned with a cheyne,
Maugre Perciens, which dede hem sore greue,
That be no crafft thei koud nat make it meue.
But whan that thei non other refut wiste,
Freli tescape[n] out off his daungeer,
Till thei his riht hand heuh off bi the wriste.
But with his lefft hand he gan approche neer,
And heeld it stille, an vnkouth thyng to heer,
That he hadde force so gret a shipp to lette.
But than, alas, his lefft hand off thei smette!
Yit maugre them, whan he ther malice seeth,
Al-were-it so that he hadde lost ech hand,
The shipp he heeld stille with his teeth,
That thei ne myhte departe fro the land,
Lik as ther vessel hadde falle vpon a sand,—
Causere that day, myn auctour doth reherse,
Too hundred thousand wer slayn off them off Perse.
And whan this synguler myhti champioun,
Cynegirus, most vnkouth off corage,
Had doon this meruail, as maad is mencioun,
Off verrai angwissh he fill into a rage:
Lik a beeste furious and sauage
Ran a-boute, alas, for lak off mynde!—
In Bochas book no mor off hym I fynde.
But in this processe afftir I beheeld
Ay how that Fortune can hir freendis faile:
For Meltiades, ledere off that feeld
And gouernour off al that gret bataile,
Causyng victoire, as maad is rehersaile,—
Yit his peeple off malice and off ire
Ageyn his noblesse falsli gan conspire.
Thei off Athenys set hym in prisoun,
And in cheynys myhtili hym bounde,
Onkynd[e]li thei gaff hym this guerdoun,

389

For al the knyhthod [that] thei in hym founde.
Yit had he suffred many mortal wounde
In ther diffence and for ther libertees,
To saue ther lyues, ther toun & ther cuntrees.
This was the eende off duc Meltiades,
Thoruh the constreynt off his stronge bondis.
Eek thei exilid the knyht Themystodes
Out off ther toun to lyue in straunge londis,
That was so worthi preued off his hondis:
To shewe the chaung and mutabilite
Founde in Fortune and eueri comounte!

[Lenvoye.]

The stormy trust off eueri comounte,
Ther geri corages & troublid constaunce,
In this tragedie men mai beholde & see,
Now vp, now doun, as Fortune cast hir chaunce.
For thei off custum ha[ue] ioie & most plesaunce,
In ther desirs onstedfast and ontrewe,
To seen ech day a chaung off pryncis newe.
Corolian off Rome, a cheeff cite,
Was ther protectour thoruh his myhti puissaunce:
Venquisshid ther enmies, set hem in surte,
Brouht in rebellis to ther obeisaunce.
But thei ageynward, off wilful variaunce
Ban[y]shed hym twies, & no cause knewe,
Sauff for to seen a chaung off pryncis newe.
The knyhtli noblesse, the magnanymyte,
The policie, the prudent gouernaunce
Off Meltiades, duc off the cuntre,
Wher that Athenys is cheeff toun in substaunce,—
Whan he ther comoun gan most to auaunce,
The mor onkyndli, in honour that thei grewe,
Most thei wer besi to chaunge hym for a newe.

390

Themystodes, hauyng the souereynte
Off knyhtis alle that bar spere or launce,
Duryng his tyme,—I tak no mor on me,
For comparisouns doon offte gret greuaunce,—
Sexe hundred thousand he putte to vttraunce,
Onto Athenys neuer founde ontrewe;
Yit thei conspired his exil for a newe.
What thyng mai heer floure in felicite,
Or stonde stable be long contynuaunce
In hih estatis outher in low degre?—
Now flowe, now ebbe, now ioie, now myschaunce,
Afftir Fortune holdeth the ballaunce.
And speciali, fals, feynyng and ontrewe,
Comouns desir a chaung off pryncis newe.
Noble Pryncis, in your prosperite,
On sodeyn chaungis set your remembraunce,
Fresshnesse off floures, off braunchis the beute
Haue ai on chaung a tremblyng attendaunce,
In trust off comouns is no perseueraunce:
As wynter [&] somer be dyuers off ther hewe,
So be thei dyuers in chaung off pryncis newe.

[Ho[w] xerses kyng of Perce, for his ravyne and couetise was dismembrid in smale pecys.]

Un-tofor Bochas, ful pitousli wepyng,
For to declare his dedli heuynesse,
Cam Xerses next, that was of Perse kyng,
And gan compleyne his dool and his distresse.
Which in thre thynges, his stori berth witnesse,
And as the cronycle cleerli can vs telle,
All othir pryncis in erthe he dede excelle:
In hih estat was non so gret as he,
Nouther in richesse nor worldli habundaunce,
Nor non that tyme off so gret dignite;
For as it is iput in remembraunce,
He hadde al Perse vnder his obeisaunce,
Nor neuer prynce, as auctours do conclude,
Hosteied attonys with such a multitude.

391

Space off fyue yeer he made his ordenaunce,
Seuene hundred thousand peeple he dede reise;
Dempte off fals pride ageyn his gret puissaunce
Non ertheli power myhte countirpeise.
But summe auctours alowe hym nat nor preise,
Because that he, peeplis to encoumbre,
Set al his trust to conquere with gret noumbre.
But manli pryncis han this opynyoun:
In multitude stondeth nat victorie;
For knyhtli prowesse off eueri champioun,
Which manli cast hem in armys to ha[ue] glorie,
Enprentid hath fix in his memorie,
Marcial tryumphes God ne doth nat shewe
In noumbres grete no rather than in fewe.
This said[e] Xerses, be record off auctours,
Had also, in cronycles as I reede,
Thre hundred thousand straunge soudiours,
Withoutyn othir, that wern off Perse & Mede.
Which gan the erthe for to cure and sprede,
Dried ryuers wher thei dede atteyne,
Karff doun hillis and made valis pleyne.
This was cheeff conceit off his fantasies,
To haue al erthe vnder subieccioun;
Thouhte his power rauhte aboue the skies,
Off surquedie and fals presumpcioun:
For as he dempte in his opynyoun,
How in his poweer pleynli that it lai,
Fro God aboue the heuene to take awai.
But thilke Lord that can the meeke enhaunse,
And from ther sees the proude putte doun,
A[nd] namli them that ha[ue] no remembraunse
To aduertise off wisdam and resoun,
To knowe the Lord, most myhti off renoun,—
The Lord off Lordis, which, pleynli to compile,
Will suffre tirantis to regne but a while.
And oon the merueile that euer I dede reede,
Grettest and vnkouth pleynli onto me,
Is how Xerses, kyng off Perse and Mede,
For to shewe a special syngulerte,

392

Out off Asie, ouer the Grete Se,
As seith myn auctour, whom I dar alegge,
Into Europe made a myhti bregge.
Sum men paraunter will therat disdeyne,
And seyn it is a merueile nat credible;
Yit crafft in cas to such thyng mai atteyne,
Which bi nature semeth an inpossible:
And, as to me, it is a thyng odible,
Thynges tenpugne, awtentik and olde,
Which notable clerkis in ther daies tolde.
These newe men that han but litil seyn,
Nouther expert in crafft nor in nature,
For lak off resoun holde al such thyng veyn,
Thouh that it be remembred in scripture.
For eueri meruail and eueri auenture
Is straunge to hym, as I reherse can,
That lakketh the cause wherof the ground began.
This said[e] Xerses hadde eek possessioun,
Be the title off his fader Darie,
Off al Egipt, as maad is mencioun;
But thei off Grece were to hym contrarie:
Wherfor he caste no lenger for to tarie,
This proude prynce, but myhtili werreie
Lacedemonoys, which wolde hym nat obeie.
But oon that was callid Demaratus,
Which off that cuntre hadde aforn be kyng
And was exilid, the stori tellith thus,
That tyme with Xerses in houshold abidyng,
Which loued that lond, for al his exilyng,
Gaff them warnyng, to saue hem fro myschaunce,
Off Xerses poweer and al his ordenaunce.
He wrot hem lettres grauen in a table,
All themprises off Xerses, out off doute,
Off al his stuff and peeple incomparable,
And off his noumbre and his gret[e] route.

393

The which[e] table curid was withoute
Ful subtili with wex iplanyd pleyn,
That off his sonde ther was no lettre seyn.
Thus was thentent off Xerses first discurid
Onto the Grekis, and al his fel werkyng.
But in o thyng thei gretli wer assurid,
Off trust thei hadde bi expert knowlechyng
In Leonidas, ther noble famous kyng,
Which among Grekis, off prowesse & forsiht,
Was in tho daies holde on the beste knyht.
Off cheualrie callid the lode-sterre,
The sunne off knyhthod, that shon so briht & sheene,
The berere up, bothe in pes and werre,
And strengest piler his parti to meynteene,
The Grekis riht hand ther noblesse to susteene,
Charboncle off armys, merour off policie,
And surest capteyn a feeld to reule & guie.
And as myn auctour remembreth in his book,
How in this cas he was nat rech[e]les,
But in al haste foure thousand men he took,
To lette the weies and comyng off Xerses.
And bi an hill callid Termophiles,
Wher Persiens began first ther viage,
He knyhtli caste to stoppe ther passage.
And secreli espieng the comyng
Off kyng Xerses with strong apparaile,
He, lik a knyht, made no tarieng,
Ches out sexe hundred, armed in plate & maile,
Which in such cas myhte most auaile,
And in diffence and helpe off ther cuntre
Wolde rather deie than from the feeld to fle.
And couertli thei took[e] ther loggyng,
And kept hem cloos, till it drouh to nyht.
And at ther dyner themsilff refresshyng,
So as thei sat, in steel armed briht,
The kyng abraide lik a manli knyht,

394

Into the feeld aforn thei shulde gon,
Riht thus he saide among hem euerichon:
“Sires,” quod he, “now dyneth merili,
And with good wyn afforceth your corage,
Lik goode knyhtis in purpos fynali,
For liff nor deth nat turnyng your visage,
But off assent, cast in your passage,
As ye heer dyne now in especiall,
To suppe at nyht with goddis infernall.
This is to meene, ye shul your liff iuparte,
As hardi knyhtis, proudli to prouide
Withynne the feeld assonder nat departe,
But keep you cloos, & for no dreed deuide.
Desir off worshepe make to be your guide,
Your expert noblesse eternali tauaunce
Be quyk report off newe remembraunce.
And hath this dai nothyng in memori[e],
Nouther your richesse, your blood nor your kenreede,
Sauff onli hope and good trust off victorie,
And hardi prowesse you to conducte and leede.
And thynkith knyhtli what shal be your meede,
With marcial palmys your renoun & your name
In the hiest place set in the Hous off Fame.
And thouh ye been but a fewe in noumbre,
Lat in your hertis o thyng be fantasied:
Whil dyuysioun doth you nat encoumbre,
Victorie in armys mai you nat be denyed;
For nothyng is to conquest mor applied
Than trewe accord among your-silff to shewe,
Thouh ye in noumbre be [founde] but a fewe.”
By this counseil syngulerli notable,
And be this kynges knyhtli good language,
Thei reconforted heeld themsiluen able
Ageyn ther fomen to holden ther passage.
And first off all, off hertli proud corage,

395

The Perciens mor mortali to greue,
Withynne ther tentis thei fill on hem at eue.
Thei off Perce idrownyd were with wyn;
This to seyen, thoruh ther gret excesse
Thei lai and slepte lik as dronke swyn,
Ther wach nat kept: loo, how that dronkenesse
Causeth offte, off verrai reklesnesse,
Ful many a man, that wil nat take keep,
For to be moordred anyhtis in ther sleep.
And as this kyng dede his knyhtis leede,
The Percien tentis assailyng sodenli,
Or thei wer war or token any heede,
Them for taffraie thei made an hidous cri.
Diffence was noon vpon ther parti;
For men mai knowe bi olde experience,
In folkis dronke mai be no resistence.
Out off noumbre thei slowen off ther foon,
And cesed nat off al the longe nyht,
Till on the morwe that the sunne shoon,
That to beholde it was an ougli siht.
And proude Xerses put anon to fliht—
Euer the laste that wolde his foon assaile,
And ay the firste that fledde in bataile!
In his fliht so faste awei he ran,
For theryn was hooli al his trust!—
And off gret trauaile anon this Xerses gan
Off coward dreed to han so gret a thrust,
So drie he was, off salt sond and off dust.
And bi the weie serchyng ferr nor neer,
He nouther fond welle nor reuer.
Off auenture a meri ground he fond,
The water trouble and bloodi off colour;
And Xerses ther drank water with his hond,
Hym to refresshe in his dedli labour.
And, as he thouhte, he neuer drank licour
To hym mor holsom, so streiht[e] stood the caas,
Confect with spices, pyment nor ypocras.

396

This was the firste myscheeff and the dreed
In which that Xerses, the myhti prynce, stood.
Heer men mai see, such as list take heed,
How geri Fortune, furious and wood,
Wil nat spare, for richesse nor for good,
Mihti pryncis, which list nat God to knowe,
From ther estatis to brynge hem doun ful lowe.
O hatful serpent of hih presumpcioun,
Ay onstaunchable with gredi vsurpyng,
Be newe trouble, off fals sedicioun,
Which list off pride receyue no warnyng:
For now Xerses, off Perse & Mede kyng,
Purposid hath with odious apparaile
The temple off goddis contagiousli tassaile.
For as hym thouhte, it myhte nat suffise,
To gret exaumple off his outraious pride,
How heer-toforn God dede hym chastise
Bi manys hand, to sette his pompe a-side.
But now off newe he gan ageyn prouide,
Bi sacrilege his myhti hand to dresse,
To spoile Appollo and reue hym his richesse.
Ther was in Delos a temple thilk[e] dai,
Most statli bilt and set up be masouns,
Gret ymages, reliques, riche arai
Off gold and stonys in sundri mansiouns;
And ther Appollo to sundri questiouns
Gaff redi answere, the stori tellith thus,
And he was callid Appollo Delphicus.
Foure thousand men Xerses thedir sente,
Bi his auys chose out for the nonys,
Ful clenli armed; & as thei thedir wente
To spoile the temple off gold and riche stonys,
With sodeyn leuene thei wer brent, flessh & bonys,
With tempest, thunder, hail & hidous reyn
Consumpt echon and neuer afftir seyn.
The grete Appollo, which shyneth briht in heuene,
Hadde off this Xerses gret indignacioun,
Which made his peeple be consumpt with leuene,

397

In cruel punshyng off his presumpcioun.
Yit he purposed, to his confusioun,
Sithe on the lond he nothyng myhte wynne,
Vpon the se a werre to begynne.
Gan to make so gret an ordenaunce,
That his naueie couered al the se:
Yit Neptunus thouhte hym nat tenhaunce,
Withynne his boundis to ha[ue] no liberte;
For Themystodes with a smal meyne,
Beside a cite callid Salamyne,
Hym & his shippis brouhte onto ruyne.
Yit, as I fynde, this proude kyng Xerses
Hadde on his parti Themydora, the queene
Off Halcarnois, which put hirselff in pres,
Armed in platis that shon ful briht and sheene.
And thenarme off Xerses to susteene,
This womman fauht[e] lik a fell woluesse,
And many Greek that dai she dede oppresse.
It was a straunge merueil for to heere,
To seen a woman so sturdi off visage;
Yit men expert aldai may seen and lere,
Thei be bi nature ful cruel off corage,
And no cowardis founde off ther language.
Sett at assai, and thanne it shal be seene,
Wher thei be feerful ther quarel to susteene!
Thei mai off meeknesse shewe a fair pretense,—
Sum serpent is off colour siluer sheene,
And summe floures, ful fressh off apparense,
Growe on thistles rouh[e], sharp and keene,
And summe that been angelic to seene,
And verai heuenli, with ther golden tressis,
Been at a preeff[e] verrai leonessis.
To seyn the sothe, a poore man mai be shent,—
I dar no mor[e] speke off this mateere. . . .
But kyng Xerses, for al his proude entent,
Al his naueie and his peeple ifeere
Wer put to fliht & outraied off ther cheere.

398

Ther shippis drownyd among the wawes rude,
That non abod off al that multitude.
Kyng Xerses hurt and woundid mortali,
Onnethe he myhte the grete peyne endure;
His quakyng herte quit hym so cowardli,—
On se and lond such was his auenture.
And yit ageyn his damages to recure,
Thre hundred thousand off fihteres he gan call,
Vpon Grekis off newe for to fall.
A myhti duc callid Mardonyus
Was capteyn maad his peeple for to leede;
But Themystodes, myn auctour tellith thus,
Knowyng off Xerses the cowardise & dreede,
A lettre made for to be sent in deede,
Enfourmyng hym, bi Grekis gret outrage
How off his bregge was broken the passage.
Off which[e] merueil whan ther cam tidyng
To kyng Xerses, he afftir anon riht,
As he that was aferd[e] off ech thyng,
Ful lik a coward took hym to the fliht.
Fledde in a boot, lik a coward knyht,
Off al his peeple ther wer no mo iseyn
Tawaite vpon hym, sauff a chaumberleyn.
Al his peeple departed heer and yonder,
Stondyng in myscheeff and gret indigence;
To many a coost thei wente and rood asonder,
Pyned with hunger, lakked ther dispence,
Punshed also with onwar pestilence,
Feeble off trauaile myhte nat endure
For impotence to karien ther armure.
Alas ech wai[e] lai ful off careynes;
The soil with blood[e] steyned & the greene;
The hair terrible off pathes & off pleynes,
That no man myhte endure it nor susteene,
The sauour was so odious and oncleene.

399

Raueynous foulis, ful homli in ther siht,
Themsilff to feede vpon the corps aliht.
Thre hundred thousand off Perciens wer slayn,
Which Mardonyus aforn ful proudli ladde.
Off which[e] tidyng kyng Xerses was nat fayn,
But for distresse and sorwe gan to madde.
An[d] oon the laste myscheeff that he hadde,
Was whan Thymon, a noble Grekissh knyht,
Xerses disconfited & put his men to fliht.
This Thymon was sone to Meltiades,
His fadir whilom off Athenes kyng,
Which last off all outraied hath Xerses,—
Sauff off his eende ther fill a-nother thyng:
Artabanus, ful sleihti in werkyng,
Which to Xerses was nat suspect in deede,
Compassid his deth, in Bochas as I reede.
This Artaban was prouost off his hous
And an officer most especial,—
With his seuene sonys strong & despitous,
Vpon a nyht furious and fatal,
Fill vpon Xerses in his paleis roial.
And in his stori as it is remembrid,
On pecis smale thei han hym al dismembrid.
This was off Xerses the laste fynal meede,
Off his hih pride the funeral guerdoun;
From his too kyngdamys off Perse & [eek] Mede
Froward Fortune hath hym plukked doun.
What mai auaile the dominacioun
Off such pryncis as holde hemseluen evene
For to been egal with goddis hih in hevene?
Men list nat knowe such chaunges for no preeff,
A[nd] namli pryncis in ther gret puissaunces.
Geyn ertheli pereiles & al worldli myscheeff
Thei can prouide hem & set ordynaunces,
As thei that dreede Fortunis variaunces;
But to Godward thei take litil heede,
For the gret richesse which thei do possede.

400

Yiff thei mai heren off an erthe-quaue
Toforn it falle, or any tokne see,
Than will thei gon anon themsilff to saue
Out off ther houses, & from ther toun[e]s flee,
To putte ther liff the mor in surete,
List ther beeldyng, maad off gret costage,
Fill vpon hem in that mortal rage.
Or yiff an hors ronne out off his stable,
Breke his coleer thikke, double & long,
Men will ordeyne a lok off iren able
To keepe hym in, be he neuer so strong.
And thus men can redressyn eueri wrong
Touchyng the bodi, bi gret avisynesse;
Sauff for the soule thei will nothyng redresse.
Whan a ryuer passeth ferr his boundis,
Boilith vpward, fynt no resistence,
Wynneth land & ouerfloweth groundis,
Drowneth toun[e]s with his violence,—
Yit men will trauaile to fynden a diffence;
To turne his cours sum weie shal be souht,
But toward God men thynke lite or nouht.
Ageyn siknesse men seeke medicynes,
Letuaries and dyuers pociouns,
Serche in phesik sundri disciplynes
Them to diete in ther transgressiouns,
Restoratyves and eek confecciouns,
But onto Godward, in this present liff,
Men nat trauaile for no confortatiff.
Men ther bodies will putten in distresse
Off fals desir and coueitous feruence,
Onli tacroche and wynne gret richesse,
Suffre cold, labour and violence,
And nouther spare for gold nor for dispence
To vndirfonge pereilles off veynglorie,
Onli for thynges that be transitorie.
Thei passe mounteyns & many hidous roche,
In hope it sholde to ther entent auaile,
To many mortal monstre thei approche,

401

And be many vnkouth se thei saile,
Iuparte ther liff in werre and in bataile,
Be many daunger & many streiht thei ride
For worldli tresour, which shal no while abide.
But toward goodis that be perdurable,
Ful lite or nouht ther hertis thei enclyne;
Nor to the heuenli cuntre most notable,
Thei wil nat lefft up nouther hed nor chyne,—
Toward the speeris off Phebus & Lucyne,
Castyng ther stremys to vs fro so ferre,
Which to considre all worldli men doon erre.
What myhte auaile the grete couetise
Off kyng Xerses in [his] estaat roial?
Or the gret peeple, which ye han herd deuise,—
Ten hundred thousand;—the peeple was nat smal.
But, for al that, he hadde an hidous fal,
Whan that he was, as is toforn remembrid,
On pecis smale pitousli dismembrid.

Lenvoye.

This tragedie put vs in remembraunce
Off thonsekir flatryng & blyndnesse
Bothe off Fortune & off hir variaunce,
And off hir ougli froward doubilnesse,
In Xerses shewed, for al his gret richesse,—
To vs declaryng, pleynli in figure,
A raueynous prynce mai no while endure.
Kyng Xerses hadde vnder his obeisaunce
Al Perse & Mede, the stori berth witnesse;
Thouhte al erthe to litil in substaunce
To staunche the etik off his gredynesse,
A frett off hauyng put hym in such distresse.
Whos fyn declarid, bi record off scripture,
A raueynous prynce mai no while endure.
He made also an odious ordenaunce,
Off surquedie his poweer for to dresse,
To robbe the goddis, maugre ther puissaunce,
And spoile ther templis, off froward wilfulnesse,

402

Take ther tresours ageyn al rihtwisnesse.
But thei hym shewed, off sodeyn auenture,
A raueynous prynce mai no while endure.
Grete Appollo took on his men vengaunce
With onwar tempest, for al ther sturdynesse,
Leuene and thunder brouht hem to myschaunce,
Guerdoun most hable ageyn ther gret falsnesse,—
In pryncis hertis, pleynli to expresse.
Who be raueyne richessis will recure,
God wil nat suffre hym longe to endure.
Noble Pryncis, stable in your constaunce,
Ye that desire to stonde in sekirnesse,
Remembreth offte vpon the fatal chaunce
Off proude Xerses and his cursidnesse,
Your-silff disposyng in your hih noblesse,
Yiff that ye list your statis to assure,
Escheweth raueyne & ye shal longe endure!

[How Artabanus moordred kyng xerses and how aftir himsilf was moordred.]

Next these tragedies, wepyng & dolerous,
Whil Bochas stynte, & wolde ha been in pes,
A knyht appered callid Artabanus,
Which hadde aforn[e] moordred kyng Xerses;
And gan his compleynt for to putte in pres,
Ful concludyng, to speke in wordes pleyn,
Who vseth moordre, bi moordre he shal be slayn.
This Artabanus, be record off writyng,
With Xerses prouost whilom, as I reede,
Falsli conspired be sleihte off his werkyng,
For to be kyng bothe off Perse & Mede,
Hauyng seuene sonys, which that wer in deede
Worthi knyhtis, manli and riht strong,
Al-be ther fader was set to do gret wrong.
For he presumed bi vsurpacioun,
In Perse and Mede to quench the cleer[e] liht,
And trouble the lyne off iust successioun:

403

For so as he off force and nat off riht,
Nothyng rasemblyng to a trewe knyht,
The moordre off Xerses falsli dede ordeyne,
Riht so he caste to moordre his sonys tweyne.
And to conclude pleynli and nat tarie,
The said[e] kyng that callid was Xerses,
Hadde too sonys, the yongest callid Darie,
And the tother named Artaxerses,
Which, as the stori reherseth dout[e]les,
Wer be discent bor[e]n for to succeede,
Afftir ther fader to regne in Perse & Mede.
The moordre off Xerses outward was nat knowe,
Nor how Artabanus hadde the tresoun wrouht,
Till afftirward withynne a litil throwe
He hadde off newe forged out & souht
Fals odious treynes that wer neuer thouht:
Tolde Artaxerses, as he gan with hym rowne,
How Darie caste to ocupie the crowne,
And how the deth off Xerses was ordeyned
Onli be Darie and be noon othir wiht.
Wherupon, which auhte be compleyned,
Artaxerses prouyded anon riht
The slauhtre off Darie; & so, ageyn al riht,
This yonger brother in his innocence
Was falsli slayn, and dede non offence.
Ye wete, be whom this tresoun was compassid,
Twen brethre tweyne to make dyuysioun,
The yonger slayn, & nothyng hath trespasid,
Most redi were to the destruccioun
Off Artaxerses; for in conclusioun,
Whan the brethre moordred wer in deede,
Artabanus thouhte to succeede.
But Artaxerses, be pleyn instruccioun
Off oon that callid was Baccar[i]us,
Be toknys kneuh the couert fals tresoun

404

Off this forsaid double Artabanus,
And how that he be treynes outraious
Hadde Xerses slayn, as ye han herd toforn,
And Darie appechid, wherbi that he was lorn.
But off this vnkouth straunge tresoun wrouht,
Whan Artaxerses hadde knowlechyng,
Bi gret auys weies he hath souht,
Artabanus to brynge to rek[e]nyng.
But speciali he dradde hym off o thyng:
He feeble was to brynge this thyng aboute,
Off his seuene sonys he stood in so gret doute.
But for tacomplisshe fulli his entent
Ful secreli, this was his ordenaunce:
To all the worthi he hath his lettres sent,
Duellyng in Perse vnder his obeisaunce,
Withoute excus or lenger attendaunce,
Armed echon, and in especial
To come in haste onto his court roial.
Cause off ther komyng was to hem nat knowe,
The kynges purpos was holden so secre
And kept so cloos, bothe from hih & lowe,
That to his menyng no man was pryve,
Except the kyng saide he wolde see
What noumbre off men, yiff it cam to neede,
In his diffence he myht[e] gadre and leede.
And among other cam Artabanus
Onto the court, and list nat for to faile,—
A man that was cruel and coraious,
Ful off sleihtis in al his gouernaile,
Which thilke tyme armyd was in maile;
For he with hym non other armour ladde,
Sauff on his bak an haberioun he hadde.
Thanne Artaxerses, beyng in his strengthe,
To hym abraide off fals affeccioun:
“For that my maile wantith off his lengthe,
I wolde with the chaunge myn haberioun.”
The tother hauyng noon euel suspeccioun,
Ongirt hymsilff[e], wolde no lenger bide,
Bothe suerd & dagger cast hem ferr a-side.

405

And whil that he threuh off his haberioun,
And with the maile stoppid was his siht,
He beyng naked, for short conclusioun,
The kyng out pullith a suerd[e] keene & briht;
And thoruh the herte he rooff hym anon riht.
And afftir that, off indignacioun
Took his seuene sonys & cast hem in prisoun.
Off ther eende what sholde I mor endite,
Nor off ther deth make a digressioun?
God mai his vengaunce a while weel respite,
But moordre will out, & al such fals tresoun.
And for Artaban hadde a condicioun,
Falsli to moordre, as ye toforn ha[ue] seyn,
With onwar moordre he guerdonyd was ageyn.
Thus euer moordre requereth for his wages
Sclaundre inportable, odious for to heere,—
A woord diffamous, most foul in al languages,
The soun horrible bi report to appeere,
A clips duryng, whos dirknesse may nat cleere;
For this woord moordre, most ougli & onfair,
Bi a rehersyng infectith al the hair.

[Off duk Palantus, and Spartenois werred them of Missene for rauysshing theire maidenes.]

Afftir the deth[e] and [the] fatal cas
And pitous moordre off Artabanus,
Next in ordre appered to Bochas
A myhti duc, callid Palantus,
Sone off a knyht Inamed Arathus.
Which was exiled, thouh he no tresoun mente,
Out off his cite, that callid was Tarente.
Vpon his exil he sore gan compleyne,
Besechyng Bochas to getyn hym a space
Withynne his book, to write his greuous peyne,
Al-be that he whilom stood in grace

406

Be glad aspectis off Fortunys face;
For she hym reised be fauour off hir myht
To dukis estat from a ful poore knyht.
But ceriousli this mater to conveie,
How he was maad[e] duk & gouernour,
Whan Sparteyns gan mortali werreie
Geyn Messeniens, as seith myn auctour,
With gret costage and deligent labour.
And cause was this; for thei with myhti hond
Rauesshid be force all maidenys off that lond.
For this peeple, now named Spartenoys,
As the stori cleerli can deuise,
Wer callid aforn[e] Lacedemonoys,
In armis preued, manli and riht wise.
And whil thei dede a solempne sacrefise
Onto ther goddis, the peeple off Messenye
Rauesshid ther maidenys, or thei it koude espie.
On which[e] wrong for to do vengaunce,
The Spartenois kauhte indignacioun;
And off assent, with al ther hool puissaunce,
Thei leide a siege round aboute the toun.
And off o will and oon affeccioun
Thei made a vow the siege whan thei begunne,
Neuer to departe til the toun wer wonne.

[[H]ow Spartenois lay ten yere atte sege and how their wyves displesid with their longe absence sent hem a message vt infra.]

Afor the toun fulli ten yeer thei lai,
And fro the siege, as thei hadde maad ther oth,
Thei nat departed nouther nyht nor dai,
But stille abood and nat assonder goth.
Theroff ther wyues beyng at hom wer wroth;
To ther husbondis a massager thei sente,
Vnder these woordis declaryng ther entente.

407

Saide it was nat accordyng with resoun,
Thei lik widwes to lyue disconsolat,
Withoute confort or consolacioun,
Ferr from ther husbondis to stonde al desolat,
Myscheuys considred, that fall in ech estat
Be long absence, which ech man sholde dreede,
Thoruh duyers siknesse that fall in womanheede.
“The tid abit nat for no maner man,
Nor stynt his cours for no creature;
And hard it is, as we reherse can,
Thyng to withstonde that kom[e]th off nature.
Harm doon be kynde is froward to recure;
And ther is founde ful litil sekirnesse,
Wher-as nature afforceth brotilnesse.
This litil sonde auhte inouh suffise,
To declare damage that mai fall
Be long absence, folkis that be wise.
Sumtyme departed, ageyn men may nat call;
That seelde is seyn, in loue doth appall;
And nothyng mor maketh wyues erre,
Than disseueraunce off folk that be in werre.”
This was theffect, pleynli in substaunce,
Sent to ther husbondis, which at the siege lai,
Compleynyng thei hadde had no plesaunce
Space off ten yeer, as in louys plai;
But desolat, in sorwe and gret affrai,
Ther liff thei ladde, affermyng in sentence,
Cause off ther constreynt was ther long absence.
And whan the lettres wer at the siege rad
Toforn the cite in al ther mortal stryues,
Thei wer astonyd and gan to wexe sad,
And verrai weri almost off ther lyues,
For to considre the compleynt off ther wyues.
Till ther capteyn a remedie out souht,
Be whos counsail euene thus thei wrouht:
First olde knyhtis that hadde the siege sworn
It for tacomplisshe, and cast hem to be trewe,
His counsail was, as thei hadde hiht beforn,
To holde ther promys & theroff nothyng rewe;
But yonge knyhtis, that wer come off newe,

408

Mihte as thei list[e], freli at ther will,
Chese wher thei wolde go or bide still.
And heerupon for ther most auail,
In haste ther capteyn, as maad is remembraunce,
Off hih prudence gaff hem this counsail:
That knyhtis olde, lich ther assuraunce,
Sholde off the siege haue the gouernaunce,
And yonge knyhtis, most fressh & weel beseyn,
Sholde from the siege hom be sent ageyn.
Thei made among hem a ful straunge ordenaunce
At ther hom comyng: withoute difference
To entirchaunge ther wuyes for plesaunce,
And take hir first that cam to ther presence.
This was thaccord among hem in sentence,
Most redi weie, to ther opynyoun,
To engendrure and procreacioun.
Ther was among hem quarel nouther striff
In this mateer, nor no variaunce;
For eueri man mysused othres wiff
To ther desirs as was to hem plesaunce.
And thus childre thoruh this ordenaunce
That wer engendrid, the cas is thus befall,
Parthenois men dede hem afftir call.
Which in our tunge, to speke in woordes pleyne,
Afftir the Greek, who list considre and see,
Is no mor[e], platli for to seyne,
Than thilke childre which engendrid be
In auoutrie: wherfor, in that cuntre,
Parthenois off custum thei wer namyd,
Born off wombes which that wer diffamyd.
The fals occasioun off this auoutrie
Caused afftir gret myscheeff & damage,
That no man koude, as for his partie,
Be successioun, whan he cam to age,
Be title off riht cleyme his heritage;
For wher a lyne falsli doth proceede,
Hard is to knowe be riht who shal succeede.

409

The disturbaunce off fals successioun
And titles cleymed, afforced with gret myht,
Wher that auoutrie hath domynacioun
And is supportid off will & nat off riht,
And cleym off trouthe hath lost his cleer[e] liht,—
Thouh ther parties myhti been and stronge,
God wil nat suffre thei shal endure longe.
And Spartennois peisyng all these thynges,
How fals assurance was in ther lynage,
The ientil blood troublid first off kynges;
For no man knew, off hih nor low parage,
His owne fader be liknesse off visage,—
Nor fader non, bi his gret errour,
Koude yeue no title to his successour.
Wherupon folwed a gret myschaunce,
Hatful to heere: thoruhout the cuntre
Ech man troubled in his cuntenaunce,
Who sholde cleyme be any liberte
To entre his lond or to stonde fre,
Such doubte thei hadde, ech man for his partie;
So importable was the[r] auoutrie!
This grete myscheeff, who-so taketh heed,
Be long processe made hem to knowe & see
How thei wer able, as be likliheed,
For ther outrages to fall in pouerte.
And off assent thei cast hem for to fle,
Vnder a capteyn, be strong & myhti hond,
Fro that cuntre to wynne sum other lond.
And, as I reede, thei ches duk Palantus,
Off whom I spak, to gouerne ther passage,
Takyng no leue, the stori tellith thus,
At ther departyng, begynnyng ther viage,
Thei wer so confus off cheer & off visage:
For ther was noon off al that grete route,
To chese his fader but that stood in doute.

410

Thei heeld hemsilff[e] verrai[ly] ashamed,
And for shame out off that lond thei wente,
Lik a peeple disclaundred & diffamed
Thoruh thauoutrie, to which thei dede assente.
And to a cite that callid was Tharente,
Which stant in Poile, a myhti strong cuntre,
This duk Palantus cam with his meyne.
And ther he putte, thoruh his gret[e] myht,
The citeseyn[e]s out off that cite,
And gat Tharente ful lik a manli knyht,
And ther abood in long prosperite
As gouernour & duk off that cuntre,
Till that his peeple be fals collusioun
Hym to depryue souht out occasioun.
Thei hym exilid whan he was fall in age.
Loo, what it is in comouns to assure!
Stormy off herte, onseur off ther corage,
That seelde or neuer ther frenship doth endure.
Men mai to-dai ther fauour weel recure,
And tomorwe lat set it at a preeff:
Thei rathest hyndre whan men stonde at myscheeff.

[Off Ceson Quincius exiled and Graccus take prisonere.]

I can no mor reherse off Palantus,
Duk & ledere off Parthennois;
But I will tell how Ceson Quincius
Cam tofor Bochas, with a ful pitous vois
His tale gan, and Graccus prince off Equois,—
Bothe attonys gan ther song entune,
Most doolfulli to pleyne vpon Fortune.
This myhti prince Ceson Quincius
Compleyned first, as maad is mencioun,
How thei off Rome wer contrarious
And felli wrouhte to his destruccioun,
And ful oniustli banshed hym the toun,

411

And natwithstandyng he was a dictatour,
Hym to confounde thei dede ther labour.
Cause off his exil compassid, as I reede,
That he was slouh, thei saide, & necligent
Hym to defende touchyng apel in deede,
[Which] that ageyn hym was wrouht off fals entent.
Yit Cincinnatus, his fader, be assent
Paide for amendis, as seyn cronycleris,
Met out off lond drauht off thre arblasteris.
Yit his enmyes wolde nat be content,
But proceded that he was exiled,
Dede execucioun off his iugement,
As in his story ful pleynli is compiled,
He afftir neuer myht be reconciled,
Which I ha[ue] pite to put in remembraunce,—
So litel offence sholde ha[ue] so gret vengaunce!
Graccus off Rome, callid Cloellius,
Prynce off Equoys, myn auctour seith the same,
Was in his tyme notable and glorious,
And a gret duk, ful renommed off fame.
But how the peeple of Equois first took name,
Vnder support, that no man ha[ue] disdeyn,
I will the processe declare heer in certeyn.
Iohn Bochas