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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Tale of Melibee

§ 45        Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that God suffred men to do yow this vileynye, certes, I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse. For th' apostle seith that 'the sciences and the juggementz of oure Lord God almyghty been ful depe; ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly. 'Nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve that God, which that is ful of justice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste cause resonable.
§ 46        Thy name is Melibee, this is to seyn, 'a man that drynketh hony.' Thou hast ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel richesses, and delices and honours of this world, that thou art dronken, and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour. Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte, ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith, under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule and Salomon seith, 'if thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth; for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe,' And be nedy and povre. And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and hath turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of misericorde; and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punysshed in the manere that thow hast ytrespassed. Thou hast doon synne agayn oure lord Crist; for certes, the three enemys of mankynde, - that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world, - thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body, and hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns hire assautes and hire temptaciouns, so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places; this is to seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into thyn herte by thy fyve wittes. And in the same manere oure lord Crist hath woold and suffred that thy three enemys been entred into thyn house by the wyndowes, and han ywounded thy doghter in the forseyde manere.
§ 47        "Certes," quod Melibee, "I se wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys, shewynge me the perils and the yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance. But whoso wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte sewe of vengeance-takynge, a man wolde nevere take vengeance, and that were harm; for by the vengeance-takynge been the wikked men dissevered fro the goode men, and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos, whan they seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of the trespassours.
§ 48        (Et a ce respont dame Prudence, certes, dist elle, "je t' ottroye que de vengence vient molt de maulx et de biens; mais vengence n' appartient pas a un chascun fors seulement aux juges et a ceulx qui ont la juridicion sur les malfaitteurs.) And yet seye I moore, that right as singuler persone synneth in takynge vengeance of another man, right so synneth the juge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han disserved. For Senec seith thus: 'that maister,' he seith, 'is good that proveth shrewes.' And as Cassidore seith, 'a man dredeth to do outrages whan he woot and knoweth that it despleseth to the juges and the sovereyns.' And another seith, 'the juge that dredeth to do right, maketh men shrewes.' And Seint Paul the apostle seith in his epistle, whan he writeth unto the romayns, that 'the juges beren nat the spere withouten cause, but they beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers, and for to defende the goode men.' If ye wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge that hath the jurisdiccion upon hem, and he shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth."
§ 49        "A!" quod Melibee, "this vengeance liketh me no thyng. I bithenke me now and take heede how fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede, and hath holpen me to passe many a stroong paas. Now wol I assayen hire, trowynge, with goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge."
§ 50        "Certes," quod Prudence, "if ye wol werke by conseil, ye shul nat assaye fortune by no wey, ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto hire, after the word of Senec; for 'thynges that been folily doon, and that been in hope of fortune, shullen nevere come to good ende.' And, as the same Senec seith, 'the moore cleer and the moore shynyng that Fortune is, the moore brotil and the sonner broken she is.' Trusteth nat in hire, for she nys nat stidefast ne stable; for whan thow trowest to be moost seur or siker of hire help, she wol faille thee and deceyve thee. And where as ye seyn that fortune hath norissed yow fro youre childhede, I seye that in so muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hire and in hir wit. For Senec seith, 'what man that is norissed by Fortune, she maketh hym a greet fool.' Now thanne, syn ye desire and axe vengeance, and the vengeance that is doon after the lawe and bifore the juge ne liketh yow nat, and the vengeance that is doon in hope of fortune is perilous and uncertein, thanne have ye noon oother remedie but for to have youre recours unto the sovereyn juge that vengeth alle vileynyes and wronges. And he shal venge yow after that hymself witnesseth, where as he seith, leveth the vengeance to me, and I shal do it'"
§ 51        Melibee answerde, "if I ne venge me nat of the vileynye that men han doon to me, I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me that vileynye, and alle othere, to do me another vileynye. For it is writen, 'if thou take no vengeance of an oold vileynye, thou sompnest thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileynye.' And also for my suffrance men wolden do me so muchel vileynye that I myghte neither bere it ne susteene, and so sholde I been put and holden overlowe. For men seyn, in muchel suffrynge shul manye thynges falle unto thee whiche thou shalt nat mowe suffre.'"
§ 52        "Certes," quod Prudence, "I graunte yow that over-muchel suffraunce is nat good. But yet ne folweth it nat therof that every persone to whom men doon vileynye take of it vengeance; for that aperteneth and longeth al oonly to the juges, for they shul venge the vileynyes and injuries. And therfore tho two auctoritees that ye han seyd above been oonly understonden in the juges. For whan they suffren over-muchel the wronges and the vileynyes to be doon withouten punysshynge, the sompne nat a man al oonly for to do newe wronges, but they comanden it. Also a wys man seith that 'the juge that correcteth nat the synnere comandeth and biddeth hym do synne.' And the juges and sovereyns myghten in hir land so muchel suffre of the shrewes and mysdoeres that they sholden, by swich suffrance, by proces of tyme wexen of swich power and myght that they sholden putte out the juges and the sovereyns from hir places, and atte laste maken hem lesen hire lordshipes.
§ 53        But lat us now putte that ye have leve to venge yow. I seye ye been nat of myght and power as now to venge yow; for if ye wole maken comparisoun unto the myght of youre adversaries, ye shul fynde in manye thynges that I have shewed yow er this that hire condicion is bettre than youres. And therfore seye I that it is good as now that ye suffre and be pacient.
§ 54        Forthermoore, ye knowen wel that after the comune sawe, 'it is a woodnesse a man to stryve with a strenger or a moore myghty man than he is hymself; and for to stryve with a man of evene strengthe, that is to seyn, with as strong a man as he is, it is peril; and for to stryve with a weyker man, it is folie.' And therfore sholde a man flee stryvynge as muchel as he myghte. For Salomon seith, 'it is a greet worshipe to a man to kepen hym fro noyse and stryf.' And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gretter myght and strengthe than thou art do thee grevaunce, studie and bisye thee rather to stille the same grevaunce than for to venge thee. For Senec seith that 'he putteth hym in greet peril that stryveth with a gretter man than he is hymself.' And Catoun seith, 'if a man of hyer estaat or degree, or moore myghty than thou, do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre hym; for he that oones hath greved thee, may another tyme releeve thee and helpe.' Yet sette I caas, ye have bothe myght and licence for to venge yow, I seye that ther be ful manye thynges that shul restreyne yow of vengeance-takynge, and make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to han pacience in the wronges that han been doon to yow. First and foreward, if ye wole considere the defautes that been in youre owene persone, for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I have seyd yow heer-biforn. For the poete seith that 'we oghte paciently taken the tribulacions that comen to us, whan we thynken and consideren that we han disserved to have hem.' And Seint Gregorie seith that 'whan a man considereth wel the nombre of his defautes and of his synnes, the peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth semen the lesse unto hym; and in as muche as hym thynketh his synnes moore hevy and grevous, in so muche semeth his peyne the lighter and the esier unto hym.' Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe youre herte to take the pacience of oure lord Jhesu Crist, as seith Seint Peter in his epistles. 'Jhesu Crist,' he seith, 'hath suffred for us and yeven ensample to every man to folwe and sewe hym; for he dide nevere synne, ne nevere cam ther a vileyns word out of his mouth. Whan men cursed hym, he cursed hem noght; And whan men betten hym, he manaced hem noght.' Also the grete pacience which the seintes that been in paradys han had in tribulaciouns that they han ysuffred, withouten hir desert or gilt, oghte muchel stiren yow to pacience. Forthermoore ye sholde enforce yow to have pacience, considerynge that the tribulaciouns of this world but litel while endure, and soone passed been and goon, and the joye that a man seketh to have by pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable, after that the apostle seith in his epistle. 'The joye of God,' he seith, 'is perdurable,' that is to seyn, everelastynge. Also troweth and bileveth stedefastly that he nys nat wel ynorissed, ne wel ytaught, that kan nat have pacience, or wol nat receyve pacience. For Salomon seith that 'the doctrine and the wit of a man is knowen by pacience.' And in another place he seith that 'he that is pacient governeth hym by greet prudence.' And the same Salomon seith, 'the angry and wrathful man maketh noyses, and the pacient man atempreth hem and stilleth.' He seith also, 'it is moore worth to be pacient than for to be right strong; and he that may have the lordshipe of his owene herte is moore to preyse than he that by his force or strengthe taketh grete citees. And therfore seith Seint Jame in his epistle that 'pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun.'
§ 55        "Certes," quod Melibee, "I graunte yow, dame Prudence, that pacience is greet vertu of perfeccioun; but every man may nat have the perfeccioun that ye seken; ne I nam nat of the nombre of right parfite men, for myn herte may nevere been in pees unto the tyme it be venged. And al be it so that it was greet peril to myne enemys to do me a vileynye in takynge vengeance upon me, yet tooken they noon heede of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wikked wyl and hir corage. And therfore me thynketh men oghten nat repreve me, though I putte me in a litel peril for to venge me, and though I do a greet excesse, that is to seyn, that I venge oon outrage by another."
§ 56        "A," quod dame Prudence, "ye seyn youre wyl and as yow liketh, but in no caas of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage ne excesse for to vengen hym. For Cassidore seith that 'as yvele dooth he that vengeth hym by outrage as he that dooth the outrage.' And therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of right, that is to seyn, by the lawe, and noght by excesse ne by outrage. And also, if ye wol venge yow of the outrage of youre adversaries in oother manere than right comandeth, ye synne. And therfore seith Senec that 'a man shal nevere vengen shrewednesse by shrewednesse.' And if ye seye that right axeth a man to defenden violence by violence, and fightyng by fightyng, certes ye seye sooth, whan the defense is doon anon withouten intervalle or withouten tariyng or delay, for to deffenden hym and nat for to vengen hym. And it bihoveth that a man putte swich attemperance in his deffense that men have no cause ne matiere to repreven hym that deffendeth hym of excesse and outrage, for ellis were it agayn resoun. Pardee, ye knowen wel that ye maken no deffense as now for to deffende yow, but for to venge yow; and so seweth it that ye han no wyl to do youre dede attemprely. And therfore me thynketh that pacience is good; for Salomon seith that 'he that is nat pacient shal have a greet harm.'
§ 57        "Certes," quod Melibee, "I graunte yow that whan a man is inpacient and wrooth, of that that toucheth hym noght and that aperteneth nat unto hym, though it harme hym, it is no wonder. For the lawe seith that 'he is coupable that entremetteth hym or medleth with swych thyng as aperteneth nat unto hym.' And Salomon seith that 'he that entremetteth hym of the noyse or strif of another man is lyk to hym that taketh an hound by the eris.' For right as he that taketh a straunge hound by the eris is outherwhile biten with the hound, right in the same wise is it resoun that he have harm that by his inpacience medleth hym of the noyse of another man, wheras it aperteneth nat unto hym. But ye knowen wel that this dede, that is to seyn, my grief and my disese, toucheth me right ny. And therfore, though I be wrooth and inpacient, it is no merveille. And, savynge youre grace, I kan nat seen that it myghte greetly harme me though I tooke vengeaunce. For I am richer and moore myghty than myne enemys been; and wel knowen ye that by moneye and by havynge grete possessions been alle the thynges of this world governed. And Salomon seith that 'alle thynges abeyen to moneye.'
§ 58        Whan Prudence hadde herd hir housbonde avanten hym of his richesse and of his moneye, dispreisynge the power of his adversaries, she spak, and seyde in this wise: "Certes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye been riche and myghty, and that the richesses been goode to hem that han wel ygeten hem and wel konne usen hem. For right as the body of a man may nat lyven withoute the soule, namoore may it lyve withouten temporeel goodes. And by richesses may a man gete hym grete freendes. And therfore seith Pamphilles: 'if a net-herdes doghter,' seith he, 'be riche, she may chesen of a thousand men which she wol take to hir housbonde; for, of a thousand men, oon wol nat forsaken hire ne refusen hire. And this Pamphilles seith also: 'if thow be right happy - that is to seyn, if thou be right riche - thou shalt fynde a greet nombre of felawes and freendes. And if thy fortune change that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe; for thou shalt be alloone withouten any compaignye, but if it be the compaignye of povre folk.' And yet seith this Pamphilles moreover that 'they that been thralle and bonde of lynage shullen been maad worthy and noble by the richesses.' And right so as by richesses ther comen manye goodes, right so by poverte come ther manye harmes and yveles. For greet poverte constreyneth a man to do manye yveles. And therfore clepeth Cassidore poverte the mooder of ruyne, that is to seyn, the mooder of overthrowynge or fallynge doun. And therfore seith Piers Alfonce: 'oon of the gretteste adversitees of this world is whan a free man by kynde or of burthe is constreyned by poverte to eten the almesse of his enemy,' and the same seith innocent in oon of his bookes. He seith that 'sorweful and myshappy is the condicioun of a povre beggere; for if he axe nat his mete, he dyeth for hunger; and if he axe, he dyeth for shame; and algates necessitee constreyneth hym to axe.' And seith Salomon that 'bet it is to dye than for to have swich poverte. And as the same Salomon seith, 'bettre it is to dye of bitter deeth than for to lyven in swich wise.' By thise resons that I have seid unto yow, and by manye othere resons that I koude seye, I graunte yow that richesses been goode to hem that geten hem wel, and to hem that wel usen tho richesses. And therfore wol I shewe yow hou ye shul have yow and how ye shul bere yow in gaderynge of richesses, and in what manere ye shul usen hem.
§ 59        First, ye shul geten hem withouten greet desir, by good leyser, sokyngly and nat over-hastily. For a man that is to desirynge to gete richesses abaundoneth hym first to thefte, and to alle othere yveles; and therfore seith Salomon, 'he that hasteth hym to bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent.' He seith also that 'the richesses that hastily cometh to a man, soone and lightly gooth and passeth fro a man; but that richesse that cometh litel and litel, wexeth alwey and multiplieth.' And, sire richesses by youre wit and by youre travaille unto youre profit; and that withouten wrong or harm doynge to any oother persone. For the lawe seith that 'ther maketh no man himselven riche, if he do harm to another wight.' This is to seyn, that nature deffendeth and fordedeth by right that no man make hymself riche unto the harm of another persone. And Tullius seith that 'no sorwe, ne no drede of deeth, ne no thyng that may falle unto a man, is so muchel agayns nature as a man to encressen his owene profit to the harm of another man. And though the grete man and the myghty men geten richesses moore lightly than thou, yet shaltou nat been ydel ne slow to do thy profit, for thou shalt in alle wise flee ydelnesse. For Salomon seith that 'ydelnesse techeth a man to do manye yveles.' And the same Salomon seith that 'he that travailleth and bisieth hym to tilien his land, shal eten breed; but he that is ydel and casteth hym to no bisynesse ne occupacioun, shal falle into poverte, and dye for hynger.' And he that is ydel and slow kan nevere fynde covenable tyme for to doon his profit. For ther is a versifiour seith that 'the ydel man excuseth hym in wynter by cause of the grete coold, and in somer by enchesoun of the greete heete.' For thise causes seith Caton, 'waketh and enclyneth nat yow over-muchel for to slepe, for overmuchel reste norisseth and causeth manye vices.' And therfore seith Seint Jerome, 'dooth somme goode dedes that the devel, which is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat unocupied.' For the devel ne taketh nat lightly unto his werkynge swiche as he fyndeth occupied in goode werkes.
§ 60        Thanne thus, in getynge richesses, ye mosten flee ydelnesse. And afterward, ye shul use the richesses which ye have geten by youre wit and by youre travaille, in swich a manere that men holde yow nat to scars, ne to sparynge, ne to fool-large, that is to seyen, over-large a spendere. For right as men blamen an avaricious man by cause of his scarsetee and chyncherie, in the same wise is he to blame that spendeth over-largely. And therfore seith Caton: 'use,' he seith, 'thy richesses that thou hast geten in swich a manere that men have no matiere ne cause to calle the neither wrecche ne chynche; for it is a greet shame to a man to have a povere herte and a riche purs.' He seith also: 'the goodes that thou hast ygeten, use hem by mesure;' that is to seyn, spende hem mesurably; for they that folily wasten and despenden the goodes that they han, what they han namoore propre of hir owene, they shapen hem to take the goodes of another man. I seye thanne that ye shul fleen avarice; usynge youre richesses in swich manere that men seye nat that youre richesses been yburyed, but that ye have hem in youre myght and in youre weeldynge. For a wys man repreveth the avaricious man, and seith thus in two vers: 'wherto and why burieth a man his goodes by his grete avarice, and knoweth wel that nedes moste he dye? For deeth is the ende of every man as in this present lyf.' And for what cause or enchesoun joyneth he hym or knytteth he hym so faste unto his goodes that alle hise wittes mowen nat disseveren hym or departen hym from his goodes, and knoweth wel, or oghte knowe, that whan he is deed he shal no thyng bere with hym out of this world? And therfore seith Seint Austyn that 'the avaricious man is likned unto helle, that the moore it swelweth. The moore desir it hath to swelwe and devoure.' And as wel as ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious man or chynche, as wel sholde ye kepe yow and governe yow in swich a wise that men calle yow nat fool-large. Therfore seith Tullius: 'the goodes,' he seith, 'of thyn hous ne sholde nat been hyd ne kept so cloos, but that they myghte been opened by pitee and debonairetee' -- that is to seyn, to yeven part to hem that han greet nede -- 'ne thy goodes shullen nat been so opene to been every mannes goodes. Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge hem, ye shul alwey have thre thynges in youre herte, that is to seyn, oure lord god, conscience, and good name. First, ye shul have God in youre herte, and for no richesse ye shullen do no thyng which may in any manere displese God, that is youre creator and makere. For after the word of Salomon, 'it is bettre to have a litel good with the love of God, than to have muchel good and tresour, and lese the love of his lord God.' And the prophete seith that 'bettre it is to been a good man and have litel good and tresour, than to been holden a shrewe and have grete richesses.' And yet seye I ferthermoore, that ye sholde alwey doon youre bisynesse to gete yow richesses, so that ye gete hem with good conscience. And th' apostle seith that 'ther nys thyng in this world of which we sholden have so greet joye as whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse.' And the wise man seith, 'the substance of a man is ful good, whan synne is nat in mannes conscience. Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge of hem, yow moste have greet bisynesse and greet diligence that youre goode name be alwey kept and conserved. For Salomon seith that 'bettre it is an moore it availleth a man to have a good name, than for to have grete richesses.' And therfore he seith in another place, 'do greet diligence, seith Salomon, 'in kepyng of thy freend and of thy goode name; for it shal lenger abide with thee than any tresour, be it never so precious.' And certes he sholde nat be called a gentil man that after God and good conscience, alle thynges left, ne dooth his diligence and bisynesse to kepen his goode name. And Cassidore seith that 'it is signe of a gentil herte, whan a man loveth and desireth to han a good name.' And therfore seith Seint Austyn that 'ther been two thynges that arn necessarie and nedefulle, and that is good conscience and good loos; that is to seyn, good conscience to thyn owene persone inward, and good loos for thy neighebor outward.' And he that trusteth hym so muchel in his goode conscience that he displeseth, and setteth at noght his goode name or loos, and rekketh noght though he kepe nat his goode neam, nys but a crueel cherl.
§ 61        Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul do in getynge richesses, and how ye shullen usen hem, and I se wel that for the trust that ye han in youre richesses ye wole moeve werre and bataille. I conseille yow that ye bigynne no were in trust of youre richesses, for thay ne suffisen noght werres to mayntene. And therfore seith a philosophre, 'that man that desireth and wole algates han werre, shal nevere have suffisaunce; for the richer that he is, the gretter despenses moste he make, if he wole have worshipe and victorie.' And Salomon seith that 'the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo despendours he hath.' And, deere sire, al be it so that for youre richesses ye mowe have muchel folk, yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat good, to bigynne werre, whereas ye mowe in oother manere have pees unto youre worshipe and profit. For the victorie of batailles that been in this world lyth nat in greet nombre or multitude of the peple, ne in the vertu of man, but it lith in the wyl and in the hand of oure lord God Almyghty. And therfore Judas Machabeus, which was Goddes knyght, whan he sholde fighte agayn his adversarie that hadde a gretter nombre and a gretter multitude of folk and strenger than was this peple of Machabee, yet he reconforted his litel compaignye, and seyde right in this wise: 'als lightly,' quod he, 'may oure lord God Almyghty yeve victorie to a fewe folk as to many folk; for the victorie of a bataille comth nat by the grete nombre of peple, but it cometh from oure Lord God of hevene.' And, deere sire, for as muchel is ther is no man certein if he be worthy that God yeve hym victorie, (ne plus que il est certain se il est digne de l' amour de Dieu), or naught, after that Salomon seith, therfore every man sholde greetly drede werres to bigynne. And by cause that in batailles fallen manye perils, and happeth outher while that as soone is the grete man slayn as the litel man; and as it is writen in the seconde Book of Kynges, 'the dedes of Batailles been aventurouse and nothyng certeyne, for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere as another;' and for ther is gret peril in werre; therfore sholde a man flee and eschue werre, in as muchel as a man may goodly. For Salomon seith, 'he that loveth peril shal falle in peril.'"
§ 62        After that dame Prudence hadde spoken in this manere, Melibee answerde, and seyde: "I see wel, Dame Prudence, that by youre faire wordes, and by youre resouns that ye han shewed me, that the werre liketh yow no thyng; but I have nat yet herd youre conseil, how I shal do in this nede."
§ 63        "Certes," quod she, "I conseille yow that ye accorde with youre adversaries and that ye have pees with hem. For Seint Jame seith in his Epistles that 'by concord and pees the smale richesses wexen grete, and by debaat and discord the grete richesses fallen doun.' And ye knowen wel that oon of the gretteste and moost sovereyn thyng that is in this world is unytee and pees. And therfore seyde oure lord Jhesu Crist to his apostles in this wise: 'wel happy and blessed been they that loven and purchacen pees, for they been called children of god.'"
§ 64        "A," quod Melibee, "now se I wel that ye loven nat myn honour ne my worshipe. Ye knowen wel that myne adversaries han bigonnen this debaat and bryge by hire outrage, and ye se wel that they ne requeren ne preyen me nat of pees, ne they asken nat to be reconsiled. Wol ye thanne that I go and meke me and obeye me to hem, and crie hem mercy? For sothe, that were nat my worshipe. For right as men seyn that 'over-greet hoomlynesse engendreth dispreisynge,' so fareth it by to greet hymylitee or mekenesse."
§ 65        Thanne bigan dame Prudence to maken semblant of wratthe, and seyde: "certes, sire, sauf youre grace, I love youre honour and youre profit as I do myn owene, and evere have doon; ne ye, ne noon oother, seyn nevere the contrarie. And yit if I hadde seyd that ye sholde han purchaced the pees and the reconsilacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel mystaken me, ne seyd amys. For the wise man seith, 'the dissensioun bigynneth by another man, and the reconsilyng bygynneth by thyself.' And the prophete seith, 'flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse; seke pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is.' Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue to youre adversaries for pees than they shuln to yow. For I knowe wel that ye been so hard-herted that ye wol do no thyng for me. And Salomon seith, 'he that hath over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal myshappe and mystyde.'
§ 66        Whanne Melibee hadde herd dame Prudence maken semblant of wratthe, he seyde in this wise: "dame, I prey yow that ye be nat displesed of thynges that I seye, for ye knowe wel that I am angrey and wrooth, and that is no wonder; and they that been wrothe witen nat wel what they don, ne what they seyn. Therfore the prophete seith that 'troubled eyen han no cleer sighte.' But seyeth and conseileth me as yow liketh, for I am redy to do right as ye wol desire; and if ye repreve me of my folye, I am the moore holden to love yow and to preyse yow. For Salomon seith that 'he that repreveth hym that dooth folye, he shal fynde gretter grace than he that deceyveth hym by sweete wordes.'"
§ 67        Thanne seide dame Prudence, "I make no semblant of wratthe ne anger, but for youre grete profit. For Salomon seith, 'he is moore worth that repreveth or chideth a fool for his folye, shewynge hym semblant of wratthe, than he that supporteth hym and preyseth hym in his mysdoynge, and laugheth at his folye.' And this same Salomon seith afterward that 'by the sorweful visage of a man, 'that is to seyn by the sory and hevy contenaunce of a man, 'the fool correcteth and amendeth hymself.'"
§ 68        Thanne seyde Melibee, "I shal nat koone answere to so manye faire resouns as ye putten to me and shewen. Seyeth shorthly youre wyl and youre conseil, and I am al redy to fulfille and parfourne it."
§ 69        Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hir wyl to hym, and seyde, "I conseille yow," quod she, "aboven alle thynges, that ye make pees bitwene God and yow; and beth reconsiled unto hym and to his grace. For, as I have seyd yow heer biforn, God hath suffred yow to have this tribulacioun and disese for youre synnes. And if ye do as I sey yow, God wol sende youre adversaries unto yow, and maken hem fallen at youre feet, redy to do youre wyl and youre comande mentz. For Salomon seith, 'whan the condicioun of man is plesaunt and likynge to god, he chaungeth the hertes of the mannes adversaries and constreyneth hem to biseken hym of pees and of grace.' And I prey yow lat me speke with youre adversaries in privee place; for they shul nat knowe that it be of youre wyl or of youre adsent. And thanne, whan I knowe hir wil and hire entente, I may conseille yow the moore seurely.
§ 70        "Dame," quod Melibee, "dooth youre wil and youre likynge; for I putte me hoolly in youre disposicioun and ordinaunce."
§ 71        Thanne dame Prudence, whan she saugh the goode wyl of hir housbonde, delibered and took avys in hirself, thinkinge how she myghte brynge this nede unto a good conclusioun and to a good ende. And whan she saugh hir tyme, she sente for thise adversaries to come unto hire into a pryvee place, and shewed wisely unto hem the grete goodes that comen of pees, and the grete harmes and perils that been in werre; and seyde to hem in a goodly manere hou that hem oughten have greet repentaunce of the injurie and wrong that they hadden doon to Melibee hir lord, and unto hire, and to hire doghter.




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The Tale of Melibee (§§ 72-87)