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Boece - Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy - Book 2
Incipit Liber Secundus
Prosa 1Aftir this sche stynte a lytel; and after that
sche hadde ygadrede by atempre stillenesse myn
attencioun, she seyde thus (as who so myghte
seyn thus: after thise thynges sche stynte a
5litil, and whan sche aperceyved by atempre
stillenesse that I was ententyf to herkne hire,
sche bygan to speke in this wyse): "If I," quod
sche, "have undirstonden and knowen outrely
the causes and the habyt of thy maladye,
10thow languyssest and art desfeted for desir
and talent of thi rather fortune. Sche (that
ilke Fortune) oonly, that is chaunged, as
thow feynest, to the-ward, hath perverted the
cleernesse and the estat of thi corage. I
15undirstonde the felefolde colours and desceytes
of thilke merveylous monstre Fortune and how
sche useth ful flaterynge famylarite with hem
that sche enforceth to bygyle, so longe, til that
sche confounde with unsuffrable sorwe
20hem that sche hath left in despeer unpurveied.
And yif thou remembrest wel the
kende, the maneris, and the desserte of thilke
Fortune, thou shalt wel knowe that, as in hir,
thow nevere ne haddest ne hast ylost any fair
25thyng. But, as I trowe, I schal nat greetly
travailen to don the remembren on thise
thynges. For thow were wont to hurtlen and
despysen hir with manly woordes whan sche
was blaundyssching and present, and
30pursuydest hir with sentences that weren
drawen out of myn entre (that is to seyn,
of myn enformacioun). But no sodeyn mutacioun
ne bytideth noght withouten a manere
chaungynge of corages; and so is it byfallen
35that thou art a litil departed fro the pees of thi
"But now is tyme that thou drynke and ataste
some softe and delitable thynges, so that whanne
thei ben entred withynne the, it mowe
40maken wey to strengere drynkes of medycines.
Com now forth, therfore, the
suasyoun of swetnesse rethorien, whiche that
goth oonly the righte wey while sche forsaketh
nat myn estatutz. And with Rethorice com forth
45Musice, a damoysele of our hous, that syngeth
now lightere moedes or prolacions, now
hevyere. What eyleth the, man? What is it that
hath cast the into moornynge and into wepynge?
I trow that thou hast seyn some newe thyng
50and unkouth. Thou wenest that Fortune be
chaunged ayens the; but thow wenest
wrong (yif thou that wene): alway tho ben hir
maneres. Sche hath rather kept, as to the-ward,
hir propre stablenesse in the chaungynge of
55hirself. Ryght swiche was sche whan sche
flateryd the and desseyved the with unleful
lykynges of false welefulnesse. Thou hast now
knowen and ateynt the doutous or double visage
of thilke blynde goddesse Fortune. Sche,
60that yit covereth and wympleth hir to other
folk, hath schewyd hir every del to the. Yif
thou approvest here (and thynkest that sche is
good), use hir maneris and pleyne the nat; and
yif thou agrisest hir false trecherie, despise and
65cast awey hir that pleyeth so harmfully. For sche,
that is now cause of so mochel sorwe to the,
sholde ben cause to the of pees and of joye. Sche
hath forsaken the, forsothe, the whiche that
nevere man mai ben siker that sche ne schal
70forsaken hym. (Glose. But natheles some
bookes han the texte thus: forsothe sche
hath forsaken the, ne ther nys no man siker
that sche ne hath nat forsake.) Holdestow
thanne thilke welefulnesse precious to the, that
75schal passen? And is present Fortune dereworth
to the, whiche that nys nat feithful for to duelle,
and whan sche goth awey that sche bryngeth a
wyght in sorwe? For syn she may nat ben
withholden at a mannys wille, [and] sche
80maketh hym a wrecche whan sche departeth
fro hym, what other thyng is
flyttynge Fortune but a maner schewynge of
wrecchidnesse that is to comen? Ne it suffiseth
nat oonly to loken on thyng that is present
85byforn the eien of a man; but wisdom loketh and
mesureth the ende of thynges. And the same
chaungynge from oon into another (that is to
seyn, fro adversite into prosperite) maketh that
the manaces of Fortune ne ben nat for to
90dreden, ne the flaterynges of hir to ben
desired. Thus, at the laste, it byhoveth the
to suffren wyth evene wil in pacience al that is
doon inwith the floor of Fortune (that is to seyn,
in this world), syn thou hast oonys put thy nekke
95undir the yok of hir. For yif thow wilt writen a
lawe of wendynge and of duellynge to Fortune,
whiche that thow hast chosen frely to ben thi
lady, artow nat wrongful in that, and makest
Fortune wroth and aspre by thyn
100inpacience? And yit thow mayst nat
chaungen hir. Yif thou committest and
betakest thi seyles to the wynd, thow schalt ben
shoven, nat thider that thow woldest, but whider
that the wynd schouveth the. Yif thow castest thi
105seedes in the feeldes, thou sholdest han in
mynde that the yeres ben amonges, outherwhile
plentevous and outherwhile bareyne. Thow hast
bytaken thiself to the governaunce of Fortune
and forthi it byhoveth the to ben obeisaunt
110to the maneris of thi lady. Enforcestow the
to aresten or withholden the swyftnesse
and the sweighe of hir turnynge wheel? O thow
fool of alle mortel foolis! Yif Fortune bygan to
duelle stable, she cessede thanne to ben Fortune.
Metrum 1"Whan Fortune with a proud ryght hand hath
turned hir chaungynge stowndes, sche fareth
lyke the maneres of the boylynge Eurippe.
(Glosa. Eurippe is an arm of the see that ebbeth
5and floweth, and somtyme the streem is on
o side, and somtyme on the tothir.) Textus.
She, cruel Fortune, casteth adoun kynges that
whilom weren ydradd; and sche, desceyvable,
enhaunceth up the humble chere of hym
10that is discounfited. Ne sche neither heereth
ne rekketh of wrecchide wepynges; and
she is so hard that sche leygheth and scorneth
the wepynges of hem, the whiche sche hath
maked wepe with hir free wille. Thus sche
15pleyeth, and thus sche prooeveth hir strengthes,
and scheweth a greet wonder to alle hir servauntz
yif that a wyght is seyn weleful and
overthrowe in an houre.
Prosa 2"Certes I wolde pleten with the a fewe
thynges, usynge the woordes of Fortune. Tak
hede now thyselve, yif that sche asketh ryght:
`O thow man, wherfore makestow me gyltyf by
5thyne every dayes pleynynges? What wrong
have I don the? What godes have I byreft the
that weren thyne? Stryf or pleet with me byforn
what juge that thow wolt of the possessioun
of rychesses or of dignytees; and yif
10thou maist schewen me that ever any mortel
man hath resceyved ony of tho thynges
to ben hise in propre, thanne wil I graunte freely
that thilke thynges weren thyne whiche that
thow axest.
15"Whan that nature brought the foorth out of
thi modir wombe, I resceyved the nakid and
nedy of alle thynges, and I norissched the with
my richesses, and was redy and ententyf thurwe
my favour to sustene the -- and that maketh
20the now inpacient ayens me; and I
envyrounde the with al the habundaunce
and schynynge of alle goodes that ben in my
ryght. Now it liketh me to withdrawe myn
hand. Thow hast had grace as he that hath
25used of foreyne goodes; thow hast no ryght to
pleyne the, as though thou haddest outrely
forlorn alle thy thynges. Why pleynestow
thanne? I have doon the no wrong. Richesses,
honours, and swiche othere thinges ben of
30my right. My servauntz knowen me for
hir lady; they comen with me, and departen
whan I wende. I dar wel affermen hardely
that, yif tho thynges of whiche thow pleynest
that thou hast forlorn [hem] hadden ben
35thyne, thow ne haddest nat lorn hem. Schal
I thanne, oonly, be defended to usen my ryght?
"Certes it is leveful to the hevene to maken
clere dayes, and after that to coveren tho same
dayes with dirke nyghtes. The yeer hath
40eek leve to apparaylen the visage of the
erthe, now with floures, and now with
fruyt, and to confownden hem somtyme with
reynes and with coldes. The see hath eek his
ryght to ben somtyme calm and blaundysschyng
45with smothe watir, and somtyme to ben
horrible with wawes and with tempestes. But
the covetise of men, that mai nat be stawnched
-- schal it bynde me to ben stedfast, syn that
stidfastnesse is uncouth to my maneris?
50Swiche is my strengthe, and this pley
I pleye continuely. I torne the whirlynge
wheel with the turnynge sercle; I am glad to
chaungen the loweste to the heyeste, and the
heyeste to the loweste. Worth up yif thow
55wolt, so it be by this lawe, that thow ne holde
nat that I do the wroong, though thow descende
adown whan the resoun of my pley axeth it.
Wystestow nat how Cresus, kyng of Lydyens,
of whiche kyng Cirus was ful sore agast a
60lytil byforn -- that this rewliche Cresus
was caught of Cirus and lad to the fyer to
ben brend; but that a rayn descendede down
fro hevene that rescowyde hym? And is it out
of thy mynde how that Paulus, consul of Rome,
65whan he had taken the kyng of Percyens, weep
pitously for the captivyte of the selve kyng?
What other thynge bywaylen the cryinges of
tragedyes but oonly the dedes of Fortune, that
with an unwar strook overturneth the
70realmes of greet nobleye? (Glose. Tragedye
is to seyn a dite of a prosperite for a
tyme, that endeth in wrecchidnesse.) Lernedest
nat thow in Greek whan thow were yong, that
in the entre or in the seler of Juppiter ther ben
75cowched two tonnes, the toon is ful of good,
and the tother is ful of harm? What ryght
hastow to pleyne, yif thou hast taken more
plentevously of the gode side (that is to seyn,
of my richesses and prosperites)? And
80what ek yif Y ne be nat al departed fro
the? What eek yif my mutabilite yeveth
the ryghtful cause of hope to han yit bettere
thynges? Natheles dismaye the nat in thi
thought; and thow that art put in the comune
85realme of alle, desire nat to lyven by thyn oonly
propre ryght.
Metrum 2"Though Plente that is goddesse of rychesses
hielde adoun with ful horn, and withdraweth
nat hir hand, as many richesses as the
see torneth upward sandes whan it is moeved
5with ravysshynge blastes, or elles as manye
rychesses as ther schynen bryghte sterres in
hevene on the sterry nyghtes; yit, for al that,
mankende nolde nat cese to wepe wrecchide
pleyntes. And al be it so that God resceyveth
10gladly hir preiers, and yyveth hem, as
fool-large, moche gold, and apparayleth
coveytous folk with noble or cleer honours;
yit semeth hem haven igeten nothyng, but
alwey hir cruel ravyne, devourynge al that
15they han geten, scheweth othere gapynges (that
is to seyn, gapyn and desiren yit after mo rychesses).
What brydles myghte withholden to
any certeyn ende the disordene covetise of
men, whan evere the rather that it fletith
20in large yiftes, the more ay brenneth in
hem the thurst of havynge? Certes he that
qwakynge and dredful weneth hymselven
nedy, he ne lyveth nevermo ryche.
Prosa 3"Therfore, yif that Fortune spake with the
for hirself in this manere, forsothe thow ne
haddest noght what thou myghtest answere.
And yif thow hast any thyng wherwith thow
5mayst rightfully defenden thi compleynte, it
behoveth the to schewen it, and I wol yyve
the space to tellen it."
"Serteynly," quod I thanne, "thise ben faire
thynges and enoynted with hony swetnesse
10of Rethorik and Musike; and oonly
whil thei ben herd thei ben delycious, but
to wrecches is a deppere felyng of harm
(this is to seyn, that wrecches felen the harmes
that thei suffren more grevously than the remedies
15or the delites of thise wordes mowen gladen
or conforten hem). So that, whanne thise
thynges stynten for to soune in eris, the sorwe
that es inset greveth the thought."
"Right so is it," quod sche. "For thise ne
20ben yit none remedies of thy maladye, but
they ben a maner norisschynges of thi
sorwe, yit rebel ayen thi curacioun. For whan
that tyme is, I schal moeve and ajuste swiche
thynges that percen hemselve depe. But natheles
25that thow schalt noght wilne to leten thiself
a wrecche, hastow foryeten the nowmbre
and the maner of thi welefulnesse? I holde
me stille how that the sovereyn men of the
cite token the in cure and in kepynge,
30whan thow were orphelyn of fadir and of
modir, and were chose in affynite of
prynces of the cite; and thow bygonne rather
to ben leef and deere than for to been a
neyghebour, the whiche thyng is the moste
35precyous kende of any propinquyte or alliaunce
that mai ben. Who is it that ne seide tho that
thow neere right weleful, with so gret a nobleye
of thi fadres-in-lawe, and with the chastete
of thy wyf, and with the oportunyte
40and noblesse of thyne masculyn children
(that is to seyn, thy sones)? And over al this
me list to passen of comune thynges, how
thow haddest in thy youthe dignytees that
weren wernd to oolde men; but it deliteth
45me to comen now to the synguler uphepynge
of thi welefulnesse. Yif any fruyt of mortel
thynges mai han any weyghte or pris of welefulnesse,
myghtestow evere forgeten, for any
charge of harm that myghte byfalle the, remembraunce
50of thilke day that thow seye
thi two sones maked conseileris and iladde
togidre fro thyn hous under so greet assemble
of senatours and under the blithnesse of peple,
and whan thow saye hem set in the court in
55hir chayeres of dignytes? Thow, rethorien or
pronouncere of kynges preysynges, desservedest
glorie of wit and of eloquence whan thow, syttynge
bytwixen thi two sones conseylers, in the
place that highte Circo, fulfildest the abydynge
60of the multitude of peple that was
sprad abouten the with so large preysynge
and laude as men syngen in victories. Tho
yave thow woordes to Fortune, as I trowe, (that
is to seyn, tho feffedestow Fortune with glosynge
65wordes and desceyvedest hir) whan sche
accoyede the and norysside the as hir owne
delices. Thow bare awey of Fortune a yifte
(that is to seye, swich guerdoun) that sche
nevere yaf to prive man. Wiltow therfore
70leye a reknynge with Fortune? Sche hath
now twynkled first upon the with a wikkid
eye. If thow considere the nowmbre and the
maner of thy blisses and of thy sorwes, thow
mayst noght forsaken that thow nart yit blisful.
75For yif thou therfore wenest thiself nat
weleful, for thynges that tho semeden joyeful
ben passed, ther nys nat why thow sholdest
wene thiself a wrecche; for thynges that semen
now sory passen also. Artow now comen
80first, a sodeyn gest, into the schadowe or
tabernacle of this lif? Or trowestow that
any stedfastnesse be in mannes thynges, whan
ofte a swyft hour dissolveth the same man (that
is to seyn, whan the soule departeth fro the
85body)? For although that zelde is ther any
feith that fortunous thynges wollen dwellen,
yet natheles the laste day of a mannes lif is
a maner deth to Fortune, and also to thilke
that hath dwelt. And therfore what wenestow
90dar rekke, yif thow forleete hir in
deyinge, or elles that sche, Fortune, forleete awey?
Metrum 3"Whan Phebus, the sonne, bygynneth to
spreden his clernesse with rosene chariettes,
thanne the sterre, ydymmed, paleth hir white
cheeres by the flambes of the sonne that overcometh
5the sterre lyght. (This to seyn, whan
the sonne is rysen, the day-sterre waxeth pale,
and leeseth hir lyght for the grete bryghtnesse
of the sonne.) Whan the wode waxeth rody
of rosene floures in the fyrst somer sesoun
10thurw the breeth of the wynd Zephirus that
waxeth warm, yif the cloudy wynd Auster
blowe felliche, than goth awey the fairnesse
of thornes. Ofte the see is cleer and calm
without moevynge flodes, and ofte the horrible
15wynd Aquylon moeveth boylynge tempestes,
and overwhelveth the see. Yif the forme
of this world is so zeeld stable, and yif it torneth
by so manye entrechaungynges, wiltow
thanne trusten in the tumblenge fortunes of
20men? Wiltow trowen on flyttynge goodes?
It is certeyn and establissched by lawe perdurable,
that nothyng that is engendred nys
stedfast ne stable."
Prosa 4Thanne seide I thus: "O norysshe of alle vertues,
thou seist ful sooth; ne I mai noght forsake
the ryght swyfte cours of my prosperite
(that is to seyn, that prosperite ne be comen
5to me wonder swyftli and sone); but this is a
thyng that greetly smerteth me whan it remembreth
me. For in alle adversites of fortune
the moost unzeely kynde of contrarious
fortune is to han ben weleful."
10"But that thow," quod sche, "abyest thus
the torment of thi false opynioun, that
maistow nat ryghtfully blamen ne aretten to
thynges. (As who seith, for thow hast yit
manye habundances of thynges.) Textus. For
15al be it so that the ydel name of aventuros
welefulnesse moeveth the now, it is leveful that
thow rekne with me of how many grete thynges
thow hast yit plente. And therfore yif that
thilke thyng that thow haddest for moost
20precyous in al thy rychesse of fortune be
kept to the yit by the grace of God unwemmed
and undefouled, maistow thanne
pleyne ryghtfully upon the mescheef of Fortune,
syn thow hast yit thi beste thynges?
25Certes yit lyveth in good poynt thilke precyous
honour of mankynde, Symacus, thi wyves fader,
whiche that is a man maked al of sapience and
of vertu, the whiche man thow woldest byen
redyly with the pris of thyn owene lif. He
30bywayleth the wronges that men don to
the, and nat for hymself; for he lyveth in
sikernesse of anye sentences put ayens hym.
And yit lyveth thi wyf, that is atempre of wyt
and passynge othere wommen in clennesse of
35chastete; and, for I wol closen schortly hir
bountes, sche is lyk to hir fadir. I telle the wel
that sche lyveth, loth of this lyf, and kepeth
to the oonly hir goost, and is al maat and overcomen
by wepynge and sorwe for desir of
40the; in the whiche thyng oonly I moot
graunten that thi welefulnesse is amenused.
What schal I seyn eek of thi two sones conseylours,
of whiche, as of children of hir age,
ther shyneth the liknesse of the wit of hir fadir
45or of hir eldefader! And syn the sovereyne
cure of al mortel folk is to saven hir owene
lyves, O how weleful artow, if thow knowe
thy goodes! For yit ben ther thynges dwelled
to the-ward that no man douteth that they
50ne be more derworthe to the than thyn
owene lif. And forthy drye thi teeris, for
yit nys nat every fortune al hateful to theward,
ne overgreet tempest hath nat yit fallen
upon the, whan that thyne ancres clyven faste,
55that neither wolen suffren the counfort of this
tyme present ne the hope of tyme comyng to
passen ne to faylen."
"And I preie," quod I, "that faste mote thei
halden; for, whiles that thei halden, how so
60evere that thynges been, I shal wel fleetyn
forth and escapyn: but thou mayst wel seen
how grete apparailes and array that me lakketh,
that ben passed awey fro me."
"I have somwhat avaunced and forthred
65the," quod sche, "yif that thow anoye nat, or
forthynke nat of al thy fortune. (As who seith,
I have somwhat conforted the, so that thou
tempeste the nat thus with al thy fortune, syn
thow hast yit thy beste thynges.) But I mai
70nat suffren thi delices, that pleynest the so
wepynge and angwysschous for that ther
lakketh somwhat to thy welefulnesse. For what
man is so sad or of so parfite welefulnesse, that
he ne stryveth and pleyneth on some halfe
75ayen the qualite of his estat? Forwhy ful anguysschous
thing is the condicioun of mannes
goodes; for eyther it cometh nat altogidre to
a wyght, or elles it ne last nat perpetuel. For
som man hath gret rychesse, but he is
80aschamed of his ungentil lynage; and som
man is renomyd of noblesse of kynrede, but
he is enclosed in so greet angwyssche of nede
of thynges that hym were levere that he were
unknowe; and som man haboundeth bothe in
85rychesse and noblesse, but yit he bewayleth his
chaste lyf, for he ne hath no wyf; and som man
is wel and zelily ymaried, but he hath no children,
and norissheth his rychesses to the eyres
of straunge folk; and som man is gladed
90with children, but he wepeth ful sory for
the trespas of his sone or of his doughter.
And for this ther ne accordeth no wyght lyghtly
to the condicioun of his fortune; for alwey to
every man ther is in somwhat that, unassayed,
95he ne woot nat, or elles he dredeth that he hath
assaied. And adde this also, that every weleful
man hath a ful delicaat feelynge; so that, but
yif alle thynges byfalle at his owene wil, for
he is inpacient or is nat used to have noon
100adversite, anoon he is throwen adoun for
every litil thyng. And ful litel thynges ben
tho that withdrawen the somme or the perfeccioun
of blisfulnesse fro hem that been most
fortunat. How manye men trowestow wolde
105demen hemself to ben almoste in hevene, yif
thei myghten atayne to the leste partye of the
remenaunt of thi fortune? This same place
that thow clepest exil is contre to hem that
enhabiten here, and forthi nothyng [is.
110wrecchide but whan thou wenest it. (As
who seith, thow thiself ne no wyght elles
nis a wrecche but whanne he weneth hymself
a wrechche by reputacion of his corage.) And
ayenward, alle fortune is blisful to a man by
115the aggreablete or by the egalyte of hym that
suffreth it. What man is that that is so weleful
that nolde chaunge his estat whan he hath lost
pacience? The swetnesse of mannes welefulnesse
is spraynd with many bitternesses;
120the whiche welefulnesse although it seme
swete and joieful to hym that useth it, yit
mai it nat ben withholden that it ne goth awey
whan it wole. Thanne is it wele seene how
wrecchid is the blisfulnesse of mortel thynges,
125that neyther it dureth perpetuel with hem that
every fortune resceyven agreablely or egaly, ne
it deliteth nat in al to hem that ben angwyssous.
"O ye mortel folk, what seeke ye thanne blisfulnesse
out of yourself whiche that is put
130in yowrself? Errour and folie confoundeth
yow. I schal schewe the schortly the
poynt of soverayn blisfulnesse. Is there anythyng
more precyous to the than thiself? Thow
wolt answere, `nay.' Thanne, yif it so be that
135thow art myghty over thyself (that is to seyn,
by tranquillite of thi soule), than hastow thyng
in thi powere that thow noldest nevere leesen,
ne Fortune may nat bynymen it the. And that
thow mayst knowe that blisfulnesse ne mai
140nat standen in thynges that ben fortunous
and temporel, now undirstond and gadere
it togidre thus: yif blisfulnesse be the soverayn
good of nature that lyveth by resoun,
ne thilke thyng nys nat soverayn good that
145may ben taken awey in any wise (for more
worthy thyng and more dygne is thilke thyng
that mai nat ben take awey); than scheweth
it wel that the unstablenesse of fortune may
nat atayne to resceyven verray blisfulnesse.
150And yit more over, what man that this
towmblynge welefulnesse ledeth, eyther
he woot that it is chaungeable, or elles he woot
it nat. And yif he woot it nat, what blisful
fortune may ther ben in the blyndnesse of ignoraunce?
155And yif he woot that it is chaungeable,
he mot alwey ben adrad that he ne lese
that thyng that he ne douteth nat but that he
may leesen it (as who seith he mot bien alwey
agast lest he lese that he woot wel he may
160lese it); for whiche the contynuel drede that
he hath ne suffreth hym nat to ben weleful --
or elles yif he lese it he weneth to ben
despised and forleten. Certes eek that is a
ful litel good that is born with evene herte
165whan it es lost (that is to seyn, that men do no
more force of the lost than of the havynge).
And for as moche as thow thiself art he to
whom it hath be [sewed] and proved by ful
many demonstracyons, as I woot wele that
170the soules of men ne mowen nat deyen in
no wyse; and ek syn it es cleer and certeyn
that fortunous welefulnesse endeth by the deth
of the body; it mai nat be douted that, yif that
deth may take awey blisfulnesse, that al the
175kynde of mortel thyng ne descendeth into
wrecchidnesse by the ende of the deth. And
syn we knowe wel that many a man hath
sought the fruyt of blysfulnesse, nat oonly with
suffrynge of deeth, but eek with suffrynge
180of peynes and tormentz, how myghte
thanne this present lif make men blisful,
syn that whanne thilke selve lif es ended it
ne maketh folk no wrechches?
Metrum 5"What maner man stable and war, that wol
fownden hym a perdurable seete, and ne wol
noght ben cast doun with the lowde blastes of
the wynd Eurus, and wole despise the see
5manasynge with flodes; lat hym eschuwen to
bilde on the cop of the mountaigne, or in the
moyste sandes; for the felle wynd Auster tormenteth
the cop of the mountaigne with alle
hise strengthes, and the lause sandes refusen
10to beren the hevy weyghte. And
forthi, yif thow wolt fleen the perilous
aventure (that is to seyn, of the werld) have
mynde certeynly to fycchen thin hous of a
myrie sete in a low stoon. For although the
15wynd troublynge the see thondre with overthrowynges,
thou, that art put in quiete and
weleful by strengthe of thi palys, schalt leden
a cler age, scornynge the woodnesses and the
ires of the eyr.
Prosa 5"But for as mochel as the norisschynges of
my resouns descenden now into the, I trowe it
were tyme to usen a litel strengere medicynes.
Now undirstand heere; al were it so that the
5yiftes of Fortune ne were noght brutel ne transitorie,
what is ther in hem that mai be thyn
in any tyme, or elles that it nys fowl, yif that
it be considered and lookyd parfitely? Richesses
ben they preciouse by the nature of hemself,
10or elles by the nature of the? What is
most worth of rychesses? Is it nat gold or
myght of moneye assembled? Certes thilke
gold and thilke moneye schyneth and yeveth
bettre renoun to hem that dispenden it than
15to thilke folk that mokeren it; for avaryce maketh
alwey mokereres to ben hated, and largesse
maketh folk cleer of renoun. For, syn that
swiche thyng as is transferred fro o man to an
othir ne may nat duellen with no man,
20certes thanne is thilke moneye precyous
whan it is translated into other folk and
stynteth to ben had by usage of large yyvynge
of hym that hath yeven it. And also yif al the
moneye that is overal in the world were gadryd
25toward o man, it scholde make alle othere men
to be nedy as of that. And certes a voys al hool
(that is to seyn, withouten amenusynge) fulfilleth
togydre the herynge of moche folk. But
certes your rychesses ne mowen noght
30passen unto moche folk withouten amenusynge;
and whan they ben apassed, nedes
they maken hem pore that forgoon tho rychesses.
O streyte and nedy clepe I this richesse,
syn that many folk ne mai nat han it al, ne al
35mai it nat comen to o man withoute povert
of alle othere folk. And the schynynge of
gemmes (that I clepe precyous stones) draweth
it nat the eighen of folk to hem-ward (that
is to seyn, for the beautes)? But certes, yif
40ther were beaute or bountee in the schynynge
of stones, thilke clernesse is of the
stones hemselve, and nat of men; for whiche I
wondre gretly that men merveylen on swiche
thynges. Forwhi what thyng is it that, yif it
45wanteth moevynge and joynture of soule and
body, that by right myghte semen a fair creature
to hym that hath a soule of resoun? For
al be it so that gemmes drawen to hemself a
litel of the laste beaute of the world thurw
50the entente of hir creatour and thurw the
distinccioun of hemself, yit, for as mochel
as thei ben put under yowr excellence, thei ne
han nat desserved by no way that ye schulde
merveylen on hem. And the beaute of feeldes,
55deliteth it nat mochel unto yow?"
Boece. "Why schulde it nat deliten us, syn
that it is a [fayr] porcioun of the ryght fair
werk (that is to seyn, of this worlde)? And
right so ben we gladed somtyme of the
60face of the see whan it es cleer; and also
merveylen we on the hevene, and on the
sterres, and on the sonne, and on the moone."
Philosophie. "Aperteneth," quod sche, "any
of thilke thynges to the? Why darstow glorifye
65the in the shynynge of any swiche thynges?
Artow distyngwed and embelysed by the
spryngynge floures of the first somer sesoun,
or swelleth thi plente in fruites of somer? Whi
artow ravyssched with idel joies? Why enbracest
70thow straunge goodes as they weren
thyne? Fortune ne schal nevere maken that
swiche thynges ben thyne that nature of thynges
hath maked foreyne fro the. Soth is that, withouten
doute, the fruites of the erthe owen to
75be to the noryssynge of beestis; and yif thow
wilt fulfille thyn nede after that it suffiseth to
nature, thanne is it no nede that thow seke
aftir the superfluyte of fortune. For [with]
fewe thynges and with ful litel thynges nature
80halt hir apayed; and yif thow wolt
achoken the fulfillynge of nature with superfluytees,
certes thilke thynges that thow
wolt thresten or powren into nature schulle
ben unjoyeful to the, or elles anoyous. Wenestow
85eek that it be a fair thyng to schyne with
diverse clothynge? Of whiche clothynge yif the
beaute be aggreable to loken uppon, I wol
merveylen on the nature of the matiere of
thilke clothes, or elles on the werkman that
90wroughte hem. But also a long route of
meyne, maketh that a blisful man? The
whiche servantz yif thei ben vicyous of condyciouns,
it is a gret charge and a destruccioun
to the hous, and a gret enemy to the lord hymself;
95and yif they ben gode men, how schal
straunge or foreyne goodnesse ben put in the
nowmbre of thi richesse? So that by alle thise
forseide thynges it es cleerly schewed, that nevere
oon of thilke thynges that thou acountedest
100for thyne goodes nas nat thi good.
"In the whiche thynges yif ther be no
beaute to ben desired, why scholdestow ben sory
yif thou leese hem, or whi scholdestow rejoysen
the for to holden hem? For yif thei ben faire
105of hir owene kynde, what aperteneth that to
the? For al so wel scholde they han ben fayre
by hemselve, though thei were departed fro
alle thyne rychesses. Forwhy fair ne precyous
were thei nat for that thei comen among
110thi rychesses; but for they semeden fair
and precyous, therfore thou haddest levere
rekne hem among thi rychesses. But what
desirestow of Fortune with so greet a noyse
and with so greet [affraie]? I trowe thou seeke
115to dryve awey nede with habundaunce of
thynges, but certes it turneth to you al in the
contrarie. Forwhy certes it nedeth of ful manye
helpynges to kepyn the diversite of precious
ostelementz; and sooth it es that of many
120thynges han they nede, that many thynges
han; and ayenward of litel nedeth hem
that mesuren hir fille after the nede of kynde,
and nat after the oultrage of covetyse.
"Is it thanne so, that ye men ne han no propre
125good iset in yow, for whiche ye mooten seke
outward your goodes in foreyne and subgit
thynges? So is thanne the condicion of thynges
turned up-so-doun, that a man, that is a devyne
beest be meryte of his resoun, thynketh
130that hymself nys neyther fair ne noble but
yif it be thurw possessioun of ostelementz
that ne han no soules. And certes alle othere
thynges ben apayed of hir owene beautes, but ye
men that ben semlable to God by yowr
135resonable thought, desiren to apparailen your
excellent kynde of the loweste thynges; ne ye
undirstanden nat how greet a wrong ye don to
your creatour. For he wolde that mankynde
were moost wurthy and noble of any
140othere erthly thynges, and ye thresten
adoun yowre dignytes bynethen the loweste
thynges. For yif that al the good of every
thyng be more precyous than is thilke thyng
whos that the good es, syn ye demen that the
145fowleste thynges ben your goodes, thanne
submitten ye and putten yourselven undir the
fouleste thynges by your estimacioun; and certes
this betydeth nat withouten your desert. For
certes swiche is the condicioun of alle mankynde,
150that oonly whan it hath knowynge
of itself, thanne passeth it in noblesse alle
othere thynges; and whan it forletith the
knowynge of itself, thanne is it brought
bynethen alle beestes. Forwhi alle othere lyvynge
155beestes han of kynde to knowe nat hemself;
but whan that men leeten the knowynge
of hemself, it cometh hem of vice. But
how broode scheweth the errour and the folie of
yow men, that wenen that anythyng mai
160ben apparailed with straunge apparailementz!
But forsothe that mai nat be done.
For yif a wyght schyneth with thynges that
ben put to hym (as thus, yif thilke thynges
schynen with whiche a man is aparayled),
165certes thilke thynges ben comended and preysed
with whiche he is apparayled; but natheles, the
thyng that is covered and wrapped under that
duelleth in his felthe.
"And I denye that thilke thyng be good
170that anoyeth hym that hath it. Gabbe I of
this? Thow wolt sey `nay.' Sertes rychesses
han anoyed ful ofte hem that han tho rychesses,
syn that every wikkide schrewe -- and for his
wikkidnesse the more gredy aftir othir folkes
175rychesses, wher so evere it be in ony place, be
it gold or precyous stones -- [weneth. hym
oonly most worthy that hath hem. Thow thanne,
that so bysy dredest now the swerd and the
spere, yif thou haddest entred in the path
180of this lif a voyde weyfarynge man, thanne
woldestow syngen byfor the theef. (As
who seith, a pore man that bereth no rychesse
on hym by the weie may boldely synge byforn
theves, for he hath nat whereof to be robbed.)
185O precyous and ryght cleer is the blisfulnesse of
mortel rychesses, that, whan thow hast geten it,
thanne hastow lorn thi sekernesse!
Metrum 5"Blisful was the firste age of men. They
heelden hem apayed with the metes that the
trewe feeldes broughten forth. They ne destroyeden
ne desseyvede nat hemself with outrage.
5They weren wont lyghtly to slaken hir
hungir at even with accornes of ookes. They
ne coude nat medle the yift of Bachus to the
cleer hony (that is to seyn, they coude make
no pyement or clarree), ne they coude nat
10medle the bryghte fleezes of the contre of
Seryens with the venym of Tyrie (this
to seyn, thei coude nat deyen white fleezes
of Syrien contre with the blood of a maner
schellefyssche that men fynden in Tirie, with
15whiche blood men deyen purpre). They
slepen holsome slepes uppon the gras, and
dronken of the rennynge watres, and layen
undir the schadwes of the heye pyn-trees. Ne
no gest ne straunger ne karf yit the heye
20see with oores or with schipes; ne thei ne
hadden seyn yit none newe stroondes to
leden marchandise into diverse contrees. Tho
weren the cruele claryouns ful hust and ful
stille. Ne blood ischad by egre hate ne hadde
25nat deyed yit armures. For wherto or which
woodnesse of enemys wolde first moeven
armes whan thei seyen cruele wowndes, ne
none medes be of blood ischad? I wolde that
our tymes sholde torne ayen to the oolde
30maneris! But the anguysschous love of
havynge brenneth in folk more cruely than
the fyer of the mountaigne of Ethna that ay
brenneth. Allas! What was he that first dalf
up the gobbettes or the weyghtes of gold covered
35undir erthe and the precyous stones that
wolden han be hydd? He dalf up precious
periles. (That is to seyn, that he that hem
firsst up dalf, he dalf up a precious peril;
for-why, for the preciousnesse of swich
40thyng hath many man ben in peril.)
Prosa 6"But what schal I seye of dignytes and of
powers, the whiche ye men, that neither
knowen verray dignyte ne verray powere,
areysen hem as heyghe as the hevene? The
5whiche dignytees and poweres yif thei comen
to any wikkid man, thei doon as greet damages
and destrucciouns as dooth. the flaumbe
of the mountaigne Ethna whan the flaumbe
walweth up, ne no deluge ne doth so cruele
10harmes. Certes the remembreth wel, as I
trowe, that thilke dignyte that men clepyn
the imperie of consulers, the whiche that
whilom was begynnynge of fredom, yowr eldres
coveyteden to han don awey that dignyte for
15the pride of the consulers. And ryght for the
same pride yowr eldres byforn that tyme hadden
doon awey out of the cite of Rome the
kynges name (that is to seyn, thei nolden han
no lengere no kyng).
20"But now, if so be that dignytees and poweris
ben yyven to gode men, the whiche
thyng is ful zelde, what aggreable thynges is
ther in tho dignytees or powers but oonly the
goodnesse of folk that usen hem? And therfore
25it is thus that honour ne cometh nat to
vertu for cause of dygnite, but, ayenward, honour
cometh to dignyte for cause of vertu. But
whiche is thilke your derworthe power that is
so cleer and so requerable? O, ye erthliche
30bestes, considere ye nat over whiche thyng
that it semeth that ye han power? Now yif
thou saye a mows among othere mysz that chalanged
to hymself-ward ryght and power over
alle othere mysz, how gret scorn woldestow han
35of it! (Glosa. So fareth it by men [that the
wikkid men have power over the wikkid men;
that is to seye], the body hath power over the
body.) For yif thou looke wel upon the body of
a wyght, what thyng schaltow fynde more
40freele than is mankynde; the whiche men
ful ofte ben slayn with bytynge of smale
flyes, or elles with the entrynge of crepynge
wormes into the pryvetees of mannes body?
But wher schal men fynden any man that mai
45exercen or haunten any ryght upon another
man, but oonly on his body, or elles upon
thynges that ben lowere than the body, the
whiche I clepe fortunous possessiouns? Maystow
evere have any comaundement over a free
50corage? Maystowe remuwen fro the estat
of his propre reste a thought that is
clyvynge togidre in hymself by stedfast resoun?
As whilom a tyraunt wende to confownde a fre
man of corage, and wende to constreyne hym by
55torment to maken hym discoveren and accusen
folk that wisten of a conjuracioun (which I clepe
a confederacye) that was cast ayens this tyraunt;
but this fre man boot of his owene tonge, and
caste it in the visage of thilk wode tyraunt.
60So that the tormentz that this tyraunt
wende to han maked matere of cruelte, this
wise man maked it matere of vertu. But what
thing is it that a man may doon to an other man,
that he ne may resceyven the same thyng of
65other folk in hymself? (Or thus: what may a
man don to folk, that folk ne may don hym
the same?) I have herd told of Busyrides, that
was wont to sleen his gestes that herberweden
in his hous, and he was slayn hymself of
70Ercules that was his gest. Regulus hadde
taken in bataile manye men of Affryke
and cast hem into feteres, but sone after he
most yyve hise handes to ben bownde with
the cheynes of hem that he hadde whilom
75overcomen. Wenestow thanne that he be
myghty that hath no power to doon a thyng that
othere ne mai doon in hym that he doth in
"And yit moreover, yif it so were that
80thise dygnytes or poweris hadden any
propre or naturel goodnesse in hemself,
nevere nolde they comen to schrewes. For
contrarious thynges ne ben nat wont to ben
ifelaschiped togydre. Nature refuseth that contrarious
85thynges ben ijoygned. And so, as I am
in certeyn that ryght wykkyd folk han
dignytees ofte tyme, thanne scheweth it wel that
dignytees and poweres ne ben nat gode of
hir owene kynde, syn that they suffren
90hemselve to cleven or joynen hem to
schrewes. And certes the same thyng mai I
most digneliche juggen and seyn of alle the
yiftes of Fortune that most plentevously comen
to schrewes. Of the whiche yiftes I trowe that it
95oughte ben considered, that no man douteth that
he ne is strong in whom he seeth strengthe; and
in whom that swyftnesse is, sooth it is that he
is swyft; also musyke maketh mucisyens, and
phisyk maketh phisicyeens, and rethoryke,
100rethoriens. Forwhy the nature of every
thyng maketh his proprete, ne it is nat
entremedlyd with the effectz of contrarious
thynges, and as of wil it chaseth out thynges that
to it ben contrarie. But certes rychesse mai nat
105restreyne avarice unstaunched; ne power ne
maketh nat a man myghty over hymselve,
whiche that vicyous lustes holden destreyned
with cheynes that ne mowen nat ben
unbownden. And dignytees that ben yyven
110to schrewide folk nat oonly ne maketh hem
nat digne, but it scheweth rather al opynly
that they been unworthy and undigne. And whi
is it thus? Certes for ye han joie to clepen
thynges with false names, that beren hem al in
115the contrarie; the whiche names ben ful [ethe]
reproved by the effect of the same thynges; so
that thise ilke rychesses ne oughten nat by ryghte
to ben cleped rychesses, ne swyche power ne
aughte nat ben clepyd power, ne swiche
120dignyte ne aughte nat ben clepyd dignyte.
And at the laste, I may conclude the same
thyng of alle the yyftes of Fortune, in whiche
ther nys nothyng to ben desired, ne that hath in
hymselve naturel bownte, as it es ful wel yseene.
125For neither thei ne joygnen hem nat alwey to
gode men, ne maken hem alwey gode to whom
they been ijoyned.
Metrum 6"We han wel knowen how many grete harmes
and destrucciouns weren idoon by the emperour
Nero. He leet brennen the cite of Rome,
and made sleen the senatours; and he cruel
5whilom sloughe his brothir, and he was maked
moyst with the blood of his modir (that is to
seyn, he leet sleen and slitten the body of his
modir to seen wher he was conceyved); and he
lookede on every halve uppon hir cold
10deed body, ne no teer ne wette his face,
but he was so hardherted that he myghte
ben domesman or juge of hir dede beaute. And
natheles yit governed this Nero by septre alle
the peples that Phebus, the sonne, may seen,
15comynge fro his uttreste arysynge til he hide
his bemes undir the wawes. (That is to seyn
he governede al the peples by ceptre imperial
that the sonne goth aboute from est to west.)
And ek this Nero governyde by ceptre alle
20the peples that ben undir the colde sterres
that highten the septemtryones. (This is
to seyn he governede alle the peples that ben
under the partye of the north.) And eek Nero
governede alle the peples that the vyolent
25wynd Nothus scorklith, and baketh the brennynge
sandes by his drye heete (that is to seyn,
al the peples in the south). But yit ne myghte
nat al his heie power torne the woodnesse of
this wikkid Nero? Allas! It is grevous fortune
30as ofte as wikkid sweerd is joyned to
cruel venym (that is to seyn, venymows
cruelte to lordschipe)."
Prosa 7Thanne seyde I thus: "Thow woost wel thiselve
that the covetise of mortel thynges ne
hadde nevere lordschipe of me, but I have wel
desired matere of thynges to done (as who
5seith, I desirede to have matiere of governaunce
over comunalites), for vertue stille sholde nat
elden (that is to seyn, that list that or he
waxe oold, his vertu, that lay now ful stille, ne
schulde nat perysshe unexercised in
10governaunce of comune, for whiche men
myghten speken or wryten of his gode
Philosophie. "For sothe," quod sche, "and
that is [o] thyng that mai drawen to governaunce
15swiche hertes as ben worthy and noble of hir
nature, but natheles it may nat drawen or tollen
swiche hertes as ben ibrought to the ful perfeccioun
of vertue; that is to seyn, covetise of
glorie and renoun to han wel adminystred
20the comune thynges, or doon gode desertes
to profyt of the comune. For see now
and considere how litel and how voyde of alle
prys is thylk glorye. Certeyn thyng es, as thou
hast leerned by the demonstracioun of astronomye,
25that al the envyrounynge of the erthe
aboute ne halt but the resoun of a prykke at
regard of the gretnesse of hevene; that is to
seyn that, yif ther were maked comparysoun of
the erthe to the gretnesse of hevene, men
30wolde juggen in al that the erthe ne heelde
no space. Of the whiche litel regioun of
this world, the ferthe partye is enhabited with
lyvynge beestes that we knowen, as thou hast
thyselve leerned by Tholome that proveth it.
35And yif thow haddest withdrawen and abated
in thy thought fro thilke ferthe partie as moche
space as the see and the mareys contene and
overgoon, and as moche space as the regioun
of drowghte overstreccheth (that is to
40seyn, sandes and desertes), wel unnethe
sholde ther duellen a ryght streyte place to the
habitacioun of men. And ye thanne, that ben
envyrouned and closed withynne the leeste
prykke of thilke prykke, thynken ye to manyfesten
45or publisschen your renoun and doon
yowr name for to be born forth? But yowr
glorye that is so narwe and so streyt ithrungen
into so litel bowndes, how mochel conteneth it
in largesse and in greet doynge? And also
50set this therto: that manye a nacioun, diverse
of tonge and of maneris and ek of resoun
of hir lyvynge, ben enhabited in the cloos
of thilke lytel habitacle; to the whiche nacyons,
what for difficulte of weyes, and what for diversite
55of langages, and what for defaute of
unusage [of] entrecomunynge of marchandise,
nat oonly the names of synguler men ne may
nat strecchen, but eek the fame of citees ne
may nat strecchen. At the laste, certes, in
60the tyme of Marcus Tulyus, as hymselve
writ in his book, that the renoun of the
comune of Rome ne hadde nat yit passid ne
clomben over the montaigne that highte Caucasus;
and yit was thilke tyme Rome wel waxen,
65and greetly redouted of the Parthes and eek of
the othere folk enhabitynge aboute. Seestow
nat thanne how streyte and how compressid is
thilke glorie that ye travailen aboute to schewe
and to multeplye? May thanne the glorie
70of a synguler Romeyn strecchen thider
as the fame of the name of Rome may nat
clymben ne passen? And ek seestow nat that the
maneris of diverse folk and ek hir lawes ben
discordaunt among hemselve, so that thilke
75thyng that som men juggen worthy of preysynge,
other folk juggen that it is worthy of torment?
And therof comyth it that, though a
man delyte hym in preysynge of his renoun, he
ne mai nat in no wyse bryngen forthe ne
80spreden his name to many manere peples.
And therfore every maner man aughte to
ben apayed of his glorie that is publysschid among
his owene neyghebours; and thilke noble renoun
schal ben restreyned withynne the boundes of
85o manere folk.
"But how many a man, that was ful noble in
his tyme, hath the wrecchid and nedy foryetynge
of writeris put out of mynde and doon awey; al
be it so that, certes, thilke wrytynges
90profiten litel, the whiche writynges long
and dirk eelde doth awey, bothe hem and
ek hir auctours! But yow men semeth to geten
yow a perdurablete, whan ye thynken that in
tyme comynge your fame schal lasten. But
95natheles yif thow wolt maken comparysoun to
the endles spaces of eternyte, what thyng hastow
by whiche thow mayst rejoisen the of long
lastynge of thi name? For yif ther were makyd
comparysoun of the abydynge of a moment
100to ten thowsand wynter, for as mochel as
bothe tho spaces ben endyd, [yit] hath the
moment som porcioun of it, although it litel be.
But natheles thilke selve nowmbre of yeeris, and
eek as many yeris as therto mai be multiplyed, ne
105mai nat certes be comparysoned to the
perdurablete that is endlees; for of thinges that
han ende may ben maked comparysoun, but of
thynges that ben withouten ende to thynges that
han ende may be makid no comparysoun.
110And forthi is it that, although renome, of as
longe tyme as evere the list to thynken,
were thought to the regard of eternyte, that is
unstaunchable and infynyt, it ne sholde nat only
semen litel, but pleynliche ryght noght.
115"But ye men, certes, ne konne doon no thyng
aryght, but yif it be for the audience of peple and
for idel rumours; and ye forsaken the grete
worthynesse of conscience and of vertu, and ye
seeken yowr gerdouns of the smale wordes
120of straunge folk. Have now here and
undirstand, in the lyghtnesse of swiche
pryde and veyne glorye, how a man scornede
festyvaly and myriely swich vanyte. Whilom ther
was a man that hadde [assaillede] with stryvynge
125wordes another man, the whiche, nat for usage
of verray vertu but for proud veyn glorie, had
taken upon hym falsly the name of a philosophre.
This rather man that I spak of thoughte
he wolde assaie where he, thilke, were a
130philosophre or no; that is to seyn, yif that
he wolde han suffride lyghtly in pacience
the wronges that weren doon unto hym. This
feynede philosophre took pacience a litel while;
and whan he hadde resceyved wordes of
135outrage, he, as in stryvynge ayen and rejoysynge
of hymself, seide at the laste ryght thus: `undirstondistow
nat that I am a philosophre?' The
tother man answerede ayen ful bytyngely and
seyde: `I hadde wel undirstonden it yif thou
140haddest holde thi tonge stille.'
"But what is it to thise noble worthy men
(for, certes, of swych folk speke I) that seken
glorie with vertue? What is it?" quod sche.
"What atteyneth fame to swiche folk, whan the
145body is resolved by the deeth at the laste? For if
it so be that men dyen in all (that is to seyen,
body and soule), the whiche thing our reson
defendeth us to byleeven, thanne is ther no
glorie in no wyse; for what schulde thilke
150glorie ben, whan he, of whom thilke glorie
is seyd to be, nys ryght naught in no wise?
And yif the soule, whiche that hath in itself
science of gode werkes, unbownden fro the
prysone of the erthe, weendeth frely to the
155hevene, despiseth it nat thanne al erthly
ocupacioun; and [usynge] hevene rejoyseth that
it is exempt fro alle erthly thynges? (As who
seith, thanne rekketh the soule of no glorye of
renoun of this world.)
Metrum 7"Whoso that with overthrowynge thought
oonly seketh glorie of fame, and weneth that
it be sovereyn good, lat hym looke upon the
brode schewynge contrees of the hevene, and
5upon the streyte sete of this erthe; and he schal
be asschamed of the encres of his name, that
mai nat fulfille the litel compas of the erthe.
O, what coveyten proude folk to lyften up hir
nekkes on idel in the dedly yok of this
10world? For although that renoun ysprad,
passynge to ferne peples, goth by diverse
tonges; and although that greet houses or
kynredes shynen with cleer titles of honours;
yit natheles deth despiseth al heye glorie of
15fame, and deth wrappeth togidre the heyghe
heved and the lowe, and maketh egal and
evene the heygheste to the loweste. Where
wonen now the bones of trewe Fabricius?
What is now Brutus or stierne Catoun? The
20thynne fame yit lastynge of here idel names
is marked with a fewe lettres. But althoughe
that we han knowen the fayre wordes
of the fames of hem, it is nat yyven to knowen
hem that ben dede and consumpt. Liggeth
25thanne stille, al outrely unknowable, ne fame
ne maketh yow nat knowe. And yif ye wene to
lyve the lengere for wynd of yowr mortel name
whan o cruel day schal ravyssche yow, than is
the seconde deth duellynge unto yow."
30(Glose. The first deeth he clepeth here departynge
of the body and the soule, and
the seconde deth he clepeth as here the styntynge
of the renoun of fame.)
Prosa 8"But for as mochel as thow schalt nat
wenen," quod sche, "that I bere an untretable
batayle ayens Fortune, yit somtyme it byfalleth
that sche desceyvable desserveth to han ryght
5good thank of men. And that is whan sche hirself
opneth, and whan sche discovereth hir
frownt and scheweth hir maneris. Peraventure
yit undirstandestow nat that I schal seie. It is
a wonder that I desire to telle, and forthi
10unnethe may I unplyten my sentence with
wordes. For I deme that contrarious Fortune
profiteth more to men than Fortune debonayre.
For alwey, whan Fortune semeth debonayre,
thanne sche lieth, falsly byhetynge the
15hope of welefulnesse; but forsothe contraryous
Fortune is alwey sothfast, whan sche scheweth
hirself unstable thurw hir chaungynge. The
amyable Fortune desceyveth folk; the contrarie
Fortune techeth. The amyable Fortune
20byndeth with the beaute of false goodes
the hertes of folk that usen hem: the contrarye
Fortune unbyndeth hem by the knowynge
of freel welefulnesse. The amyable Fortune
maystow seen alwey wyndy and flowynge,
25and evere mysknowynge of hirself; the contrarie
Fortune is atempre and restreyned and
wys thurw exercise of hir adversite. At the
laste, amyable Fortune with hir flaterynges
draweth myswandrynge men fro the sovereyne
30good; the contrarious Fortune ledeth
ofte folk ayen to sothfast goodes, and
haleth hem ayen as with an hook. Wenestow
thanne that thow augghtest to leeten this a litel
thyng, that this aspre and horrible Fortune
35hath discovered to the the thoughtes of thi
trewe freendes? Forwhy this ilke Fortune hath
departed and uncovered to the bothe the certein
visages and eek the doutous visages of thi
felawes. Whan she departed awey fro the,
40she took awey hir freendes and lefte the
thyne freendes. Now whanne thow were
ryche and weleful, as the semede, with how
mochel woldestow han bought the fulle knowynge
of thys (that is to seyn, the knowynge of
45thyne verray freendes)? Now pleyne the nat
thanne of rychesse ylorn, syn thow hast
fownden the moste precyous kynde of rychesses,
that is to seyn, thi verray freendes.
Metrum 8"That the world with stable feyth varieth
accordable chaungynges; that the contrarious
qualites of elementz holden among hemself
allyaunce perdurable; that Phebus, the sonne,
5with his goldene chariet bryngeth forth the
rosene day; that the moone hath comaundement
over the nyghtes, whiche nyghtes Esperus,
the eve-sterre, hath brought; that the
see, gredy to flowen, constreyneth with a
10certein eende his floodes, so that it is nat
leveful to strecche his brode termes or
bowndes uppon the erthes (that is to seyn, to
coveren al the erthe) -- al this accordaunce
[and] ordenaunce of thynges is bounde with
15love, that governeth erthe and see, and hath also
comandement to the hevene. And yif this love
slakede the bridelis, alle thynges that now loven
hem togidres wolden make batayle contynuely,
and stryven to fordo the fassoun of this
20world, the which they now leden in
accordable feith by fayre moevynges. This
love halt togidres peples joyned with an holy
boond, and knytteth sacrement of mariages of
chaste loves; and love enditeth lawes to trewe
25felawes. O weleful were mankynde, yif thilke
love that governeth hevene governede yowr
Explicit Liber Secundus