Eight Goodly Questions with Their Aunswers

EIGHT GOODLY QUESTIONS WITH THEIR AUNSWERS: NOTES

19 coffour. This scribal emendation is found in the Bannatyne manuscript. Thynne reads tree. See Fox and Ringler, eds., Bannatyne Manuscript.

32 to lye. Perhaps a double entendre suggesting both "to slander" and "to have intercourse with."

42 Sir Guy. This is either an idiomatic name for a swindler or is perhaps a reference to the villain Guy of Gisborne. In Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Robin states, "Thou hast beene traytor all thy liffe, / Which thing must have an ende" (lines 165-66). The earliest extant version of this ballad dates from the seventeenth century, but the episode is thought to be based on a much older version. See Knight and Ohlgren, eds., Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales.

51 There is no indent in the print.

56 Proverbial; see Whiting G217 and C751.

58 There is no indent in the print.

62-63 had I venged . . . furred halfe so warme. In other words, "had I spent all my energy avenging my injuries, I would not be half as prosperous."
 
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Eight Goodly Questions with Their Aunswers

   
   
   
   
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Somtyme in Grece, that noble region,
There were eight clerkes of grete science,
Philosophers of notable discretion,
Of whom was asked, to prove their prudence,
Eight questions of derke intellygence;
To whiche they answered, after their entent,
As here dothe appere playne and evydent.

The fyrst questyon: What erthly thyng
Is best, and to God moost commendable?
The first clerke answered without tarying:
"A mannes soule ever ferme and stable
In right, from trouthe nat varyable;
But nowe, alas, ful sore may we wepe,
For covetyse hath brought trouth a slepe."

The seconde: What thyng is moost odious?
"A double man," sayd the philosophre,
"With a virgyn face and a tayle venomous,
With a fayre vieu and a false profre;
A corrupte caryen in a golden coffour,
It is a monster in natures lynage,
One man to have a double vysage."

The thirde: What is the best dower
That maye be to a wyfe appropriate?
"A clene lyfe," was the clerkes aunswer,
"Without synne, chast, and invyolate
From al disceytes and speches inornate,
Or countenaunce, whiche shal be to dispyse:
No fyre make and no smoke wol aryse!"

The fourth questyon: What mayden may
Be called clene in chastyté?
The fourth clerke answered: "Whiche alway
Every creature is ashamed on to lye,
Of whom every man reporteth great honesté;
Good maydens kepe your chastyté forthe,
And remembre that good name is golde worthe."

Who is a poore man, ever ful of wo?
"A covetouse man whiche is a nygon,
He that in his herte can never say 'ho';
The more good, the lesse distributyon,
The richer, the worse of condityon;
Men in this cost clepen him a nygarde;
Sir Guy the bribour is his stewarde."

Whiche is a riche man withouten fraude?
"He that can to his good suffyse,
Whatsoever he hath, he geveth God the laude,
And kepeth him clene from al covetyse;
He desyreth nothyng in ungoodly wyse;
His body is here, his mynde is above:
He is a riche man, for God doth him love."

Who is a foole, is the seventh demaunde.
"He that wolde hurte and hath no powere,
Myght he, mykel moche wolde he commaunde,
His malyce great, his myght nought were;
He thretteth ful faste, ful lytel may he dere;
Thynketh nat howe men have sayd beforne:
God sendeth a shreude cowe a shorte horne!"

Who is a wyse man, is the eight question:
"He that myght noye and dothe no noyaunce,
Myght punysshe and leaveth punyssion;
A man mercyful without vengeaunce;
A wyse man putteth in remembraunce,
Sayeng, 'Had I venged al myne harme,
My cloke had nat be furred halfe so warme!'"
 
Once
learning
moral discernment

difficult subject matter
opinion








caused; to be neglected



innocent
offer
decayed corpse; coffin; (see note)
family


dowry

pure

indecorous
conduct





to slander; (see note)

continuously



miser
stop
spending

condition
swindler; overseer; (see note)


is able to be content with his prosperity
gives; praise





question
(see note)
very

threaten; injure

malicious; (see note)


harm; injury; (see note)



avenged; (see note)


 
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