Ancrene Wisse: Author's Preface


1 I, In; nome, name; Ancrene Wisse, Anchoresses' Guide.

2-6 Recti diligunt te . . . te, "The righteous love you" (in the Song of Songs [1:3], the bride to the bridegroom). There is a right grammar, a right geometry, a right theology. There are different rules for each discipline. Our topic is right theology, which has two rules: one concerning the direction of the heart. The other is occupied with the ordering or rectification of outer things. "The righteous love you."

7-9 "Laverd," seith Godes spuse . . . me efter riwle, "Lord," says God's spouse (or, bride) to her precious spouse (or, bridegroom), "the righteous love you." They are righteous who love according to a rule. And you, my dear sisters, have many a day begged for a rule from me.

9-10 Monie cunne riwlen beoth . . . ower bone, There are many kinds of rules, but [there] are two from among all [of them] that I will speak about at your request.

10-12 The an riwleth . . . hit ahte! The one rules the heart and makes [it] even and smooth, without the lump and gash of a twisted conscience, and of an accusing [one], which [might] say, "here you sin!" or "this is not atoned for as well as it ought [to be]!"

12-13 Theos riwle . . . heorte, This rule is always within and directs the heart.

13-14 Et hec . . . ficta, And this is the love which the Apostle describes: "from pure heart and good conscience and unfeigned faith" (1 Timothy 1:5).

14-15 chearite of schir . . . bileave, the love of a clean heart and a pure conscience and true belief.

15-23 Pretende, inquit Psalmista . . . permaneamus, "Extend," says the Psalmist, "your mercy to those who know you through a faith unfeigned, and through your justice - that is, through rectitude of life - to those who are upright in heart" (Psalms 35:11) - all of those who direct their wills by the rule of the divine will. Such ones are said antonomastically (i.e., by rhetorical substitution - see note) to be good. The Psalmist: "Bless, o Lord, the good and right of heart" (Psalms 124:4). Concerning such ones it is said that they should glory manifestly in the testimony of a good conscience. "Glory, all those right in heart" (Psalms 31:11), who are directed by the highest rule, which rectifies all things, concerning which Augustine [writes], "Seeking nothing beyond the rule of the Master," and the Apostle, "Let all of us remain in the same rule" (Philemon 3:16).

23-25 The other riwle . . . wakien, The second rule - which teaches thoroughly how a person must behave (lit., bear himself) externally, how [one must] eat, drink, dress, sing, sleep, wake (or, hold vigils) - is completely without (i.e., on the outside) and governs the body and bodily deeds.

25-26 Et hec est exercitio . . . continetur, And this is the exercise of the body which, according to the Apostle, "avails little" (1 Timothy 4:8) and is like the rule of correct mechanics, which is contained within correct geometry.

27-28 nis nawt bute . . . thuften, does not exist (lit., is not) except to serve the other: the other is like a lady, this (i.e., the external rule) like her servant (or, handmaid).

28-29 For al thet me . . . withinnen, For everything that a person ever does by the second [rule] without (i.e., the external rule) is only to rule the heart within.

30-31 Nu easki ye . . . hire sake, Now, you ask what rule you anchoresses should hold. You should [in] every way, with all [your] might and strength, defend well the inner, and the outer (te = reduced form of the after preceding -t) for its sake.

33 is hit swa . . . riwle, it is so that all anchoresses can well hold one rule.

33-34 quantum . . . religio, with respect to purity of heart, about which all religion is concerned.

34-35 mahen ant ahen halden, can and ought to keep.

35-36 onont purte . . . i-bet, "with respect to purity of heart" - that is, pure and clean conscience, without the accusation of sin which is not atoned for through confession.

36-38 This maketh the leafdi . . . sunne ane, This makes [up] the Lady Rule, which governs and directs (or, straightens) and smoothes the heart and the conscience of sin (te = reduced form of the after preceding -t), for nothing makes it crooked but sin alone.

38-39 Rihten hire ant . . . strengthe, To straighten it (lit., her, the heart) and smooth it is the good and power of each religion (i.e., religious profession) and of each order (i.e., religious community).

39-42 i-maket nawt . . . uttre riwle, not made by man's invention, but is by God's commandment; therefore, she is always the same (lit., and one) without changing, and everyone ought to keep her always the same (lit., in one). But all [people] cannot keep one rule, nor need not, nor ought not to keep the outer rule in one [single] way.

42 quantum scilicet ad observantias corporales, "indeed, with respect to bodily observances."

43-46 "onont licomliche locunges" . . . mei nawt, "with respect to bodily observances (lit., lookings)" according to the outer rule, which I called a servant, and is man's invention, established for nothing else but to serve the inner [rule], which causes [people] to fast, hold vigils, wear cold and rough [clothes] - [and to undertake] such other hardships which many [a person's] flesh (or, body) can suffer, many [a person's] cannot.

46-48 For-thi mot . . . mid leasse, Therefore this [outer rule] must change herself variously according to each one's practice and according to her character. For one is strong, another weak, and can very well be excused and please God with less.

48-49 Sum is clergesse . . . dred of, One is a learned woman (or, a woman in an order), another not, and must work the more (i.e., harder) and say her prayers in another way. Another is old and frail and is the less to fear for.

50-52 luvelich . . . hire strengthe, lovely and is in need of better guarding. Therefore each anchoress will have (i.e., arrange) the outer rule according to her confessor's advice, and whatsoever he asks (bit = reduced form of biddeth) and commands her in obedience, who is familiar with her ways (lit., manner) and knows her strength.

53 sith, sees [fit]; thet te inre . . . i-halden, [so] that the inner [rule] may be best kept.

54 bi mi read, by my advice; bihaten ase heast, promise as a vow.

55-57 thet beoth . . . his herre, those are obedience, chastity, and steadfastness (or, fixity) of place, that she will never more change that place except for necessity (or, emergency) alone, [such] as force and fear of death, obedience to her bishop or to his superior (lit., higher).

57-59 For hwa-se nimeth . . . willes, For whosoever takes a thing in hand and promises it to God as a vow to do it, she binds (bint = reduced form of bindeth) herself to it (lit., there-to) and sins mortally in the breach (or, violation) if she breaks it willingly.

59-62 Yef ha hit . . . swucche wise, If she does not promise it, she can do it nevertheless and stop when she well wants, with (as not translated) food, with drink, to forgo (i.e., with going without) meat or fish, all other such things, with dressing, with sleeping (lit., lying), with [liturgical] hours, with other prayers - [she may] say as many or in such a way [as she wants].

62 thulliche othre, such others.

62-63 to leten . . . bihaten, to stop while one wants and when one wants, unless they are promised.

63 Ah, But.

64-67 eadmodnesse . . . Godes heastes, humility and patience, loyalty and the keeping of the ancient ten commandments, confession and penitence - these and such others, some of which are from the old law, some from the new, are not man's invention, or a rule which man established, but are God's commandments.

67-68 mot ham . . . heorte, must needs keep them, and you (pl.) above all, for these govern the heart.

68-69 Of hire riwlunge . . . leaste ende About its (i.e., the heart's) governance is mostly all that I write, except in the beginning of this book and at the very (lit., last) end.

69-71 ye ham haldeth . . . betere, you keep them (i.e., are keeping them) all, my dear sisters - our Lord be thanked! - and will [continue to keep them] through His grace, the longer the better.

71 Ant thah nulle ich nawt, And nevertheless I do not want; heaste, command.

72-74 hit walde to swithe . . . beon i-borhen, it would too severely wound your heart and make you so afraid that you could soon - may God forbid that for you! - fall into despair - that is, into a hopelessness and a disbelief that you will be saved (lit., a disbelief to be saved).

74-75 thet ich write ow, what I write you.

75-77 earste dale . . . bihaten, first part of your book, concerning your service (i.e., divine service), and especially in the last [part], you must not promise it, but have it in heart and do it as though you had promised it.

78-80 Yef ei unweote . . . brother, If any ignorant person asks you of which order (i.e., religious community) you are, as some do, you tell me - who strain the gnat and swallow the flea (or, fly) (see Matthew 23:24) - answer "of [the order of] Saint James," who was God's Apostle and for his great holiness called God's brother.

80-82 Yef him thuncheth . . . epistel, If [it] seems strange and curious to him concerning such an answer, ask (imper.) him what an order is, and where he [might] find [it] more openly described and revealed in Holy Writ than [it] is in Saint James' canonical epistle.

83 hwuch, which (or, what); riht ordre, a right, proper order.

83-85 Religio munda . . . seculo, "Clean and unspotted religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their need and to keep oneself unspotted from this world" (James 1:27).

85 withute wem, without blemish.

86-87 i-seon ant helpen . . . unwemmet, to see and help widows and fatherless children and to keep oneself pure and unspotted from the world.

87-89 The leatere dale . . . religiuse, The latter part of his saying applies to recluses, for [in the saying] there are two parts [corresponding] to the two ways of life which there are for religious [people] (i.e., those in religious professions).

89-91 To either limpeth . . . children, To each applies its part, as you can hear: some good religious are in the world, especially prelates and true preachers, who have the first part of what Saint James said, who are, as he says, [those] who go to help widows and fatherless children.

92 forloren hire spus, lost her spouse (or bridegroom).

92-93 eni heaved sunne, any capital sin (lit., head sin).

93 The is alswa federles the, He (or, the person) is also fatherless who.

94 Gan i-seon thulliche . . . lare, To go to see such [people] and strengthen them and help [them] with the food of holy teaching.

95-96 The leatere dale . . . unwemmet, The latter part of his saying applies to your profession, as I said before, [you] who keep yourselves from the world pure and unblemished.

98-99 Ah moni siheth . . . leaste, But many strain out the gnat and swallow the flea (or, fly) - that is, [they] put great importance where there is the least (Matthew 23:24).

99-102 Pawel, the earste ancre . . . of god ordre? Paul, the first anchorite, [Saint] Anthony and Arsenius, Macarius and the others, were they not professed and from Saint James' order? Also Saint Sarah and Saint Syncletica, and many such others, both men (lit., males - see glossary) and women, with their coarse beds (lit., mats) and their rough hairshirts, were they not from a good order?

102-03 Ant hwether hwite . . . curtel, "And [were their habits] white or black (hwether not translated - see glossary)?" as unwise [people] ask you, who imagine that the order resides in the tunic (i.e., outer garment).

103-05 Godd wat . . . formosa, God knows, indeed they were properly (lit., well) both, not though (tah = reduced form of thah after preceding -t) with respect to clothes, but as God's spouse (or, bride) sings about herself, "I am black, but beautiful" (Song of Songs 1:4).

105 tah, nevertheless.

105-06 ha seith . . . withinnen, she says - ugly on the outside, beautiful within.

106-07 this wise . . . seggeth, In this way answer (imper.) [back] to the askers (i.e., those who ask) about your order, whether [it be] white or black - say (imper.).

108-09 thet he wrat . . . unwemmet, which he wrote later (i.e., in the second half): "To keep oneself unblemished from this world" - that is what I said before, "to keep oneself from the world pure and unblemished."

110 hod, hood; cape, cope (i.e., hooded garment); hwite rochet, white surplice; greie cuvel, gray cowl.

111-13 Ther-as monie . . . withinnen, Where (as not translated) many are gathered together, there for constancy (or, single-mindedness) one must put importance on (or, make a strength of) unity of clothes, and on some other matters of external things, [so] that the unity (te = reduced form of the after preceding -t) on the outside may symbolize the unity of one love and of one will which they all have in common within.

113-15 With hare habit . . . as other, With their habit, which is one, which each has such as the other, and also with other things, they cry out that they all have together one love and one will, each [one] just as the other.

118 Hercne Michee, Hearken (i.e., listen to) Micah.

118-20 Indicabo tibi . . . tuo, "I shall point out to you, O man, what is good and what God requires from you, especially that you execute judgment and do justice and walk carefully with the Lord your God" (Micah 6:8).

120 "Ich chulle . . . mon," "I will show you, O man."

121 sothliche, truly.

121-22 hwuch religiun . . . of the, what kind of profession, and what kind of order, and what kind of holiness God requires of you.

122 low, lo, behold.

122-23 dem wac . . . Laverd, always judge yourself [to be] weak, and with fear and with love go with God, your Lord (ti = reduced form of thi 'thy' after preceding -d).

123-25 Ther-as theose thinges . . . gile, Where these things are (as not translated), there is right religion (or, profession), there is true order. And to do all the other [things] and to omit this is [nothing] but treachery and false deceit.

125-27 Ve vobis . . . dealbatis, "Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites, who wash what is on the outside of the cup and the dish. On the inside, however, you are full of all filth like whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:25, 27).

127 doth other werieth, do or wear.

128 is her-vore . . . her-towart, is to this end (lit. here-for), everything is [nothing] but as a tool to build toward this; thuften, handmaiden, servant.

130 This an boc . . . bokes, This one book is divided into eight lesser books.

131-33 Nu, mine leove sustren . . . the earre, Now, my dear sisters, I divide this book into eight divisions (lit., distinctions) which you call "parts." And each without mixing [will] speak all by itself of various things, and nevertheless each one comes (lit., falls) right after the other, and the later [section] is always tied to the earlier.

134 The earste dale, The first part; ower servise, your [divine] service.

135-36 The other is . . . is inne, The second is how you will through your five senses protect your heart, which order and profession and the soul's life is in.

136-38 as fif stuchen . . . o rawe, as five pieces (i.e., sub-divisions) corresponding to the five senses which protect the heart as watchmen, wherever they be trustworthy, and speaks of each sense separately in a row.

139-40 of anes cunnes fuheles . . . i-liche, about birds of a (or, one) kind which David in the Psalter compares himself to, as if he were an anchorite, and how the nature of the same birds are like anchorites.

141-42 fleschliche fondunges . . . hare salven, fleshly (or, bodily) temptations and spiritual [ones] both, and comfort against them, and about their remedies.

143 schrift, confession.

145-46 schir heorte . . . luvien, clean heart, why one ought, and why one must love Jesus Christ and what takes away His love [from] us and prevents us from loving (lit., to love) Him.

147 eahtuthe, eighth.

147-51 earst of mete . . . leofliche learen, first about food and drink, and about other things which pertain to that (lit., there-about), after that about the things which you may receive and what things you may keep or have (i.e., own), after that about your clothes and about such things as pertain to that, after that of your actions, about the clipping [of your hair] and about bloodletting, about your maiden's (or, servant's) rule, lastly how you must teach them lovingly.



Abbreviations: Caius: Gonville & Caius MS 234/120; Cleo.: British Library Cotton MS Cleopatra; Corpus: MS Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 402; Lat.: Latin text of Ancrene Riwle; MED: Middle English Dictionary; Nero: British Library MS Cotton Nero A.xiv; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PG: Patrologia Graecae; PL: Patrologia Latina; Titus: British Library MS Cotton Titus D.xviii; Trinity: Trinity College MS R 147 (French text); Vernon: Vernon MS (Oxford, Bodleian Eng. Poet a.1); Vitellius: British Library MS Cotton Vitellius F.vii (French text)

    These notes focus on a) introducing and outlining each of the eight parts of AW (in headnotes for each section), b) explaining problematic words and passages, c) pointing the reader to relevant scholarship, d) tracing the most important sources and influences, and e) identifying allusions which might be difficult for a modern reader to interpret. These notes do not aim, however, at providing an exhaustive account of all known (or suspected) sources. Readers interested in a more detailed treatment should consult the excellent notes in Savage and Watson's Anchoritic Spirituality, as well as those in Bella Millett's full critical edition (forthcoming) and, for Parts Six and Seven, those in Geoffrey Shepherd's edition. Our understanding of the sources for AW have been greatly expanded by the unpublished work of Mary Baldwin ("Ancrene Wisse and its Background in the Christian Tradition of Religious Instruction and Spirituality") and Sister Ethelbert Cooper ("Latin Elements of the Ancrene Riwle") - see Savage and Watson's notes for the details of their findings.
    Bibliographical references are listed here by author and, where helpful, an abbreviated title. See the Select Bibliography (pp. 45-58) for full references. See the Textual Notes (pp. 481-559) for a list of changes made to the original text either to correct errors in the MS or to restore missing text.

Author's Preface

    The Preface or introduction to AW establishes one of the over-arching concepts of the work - the distinction between the inner (spiritual) and outer (bodily) orientation. The structure of the entire AW is built around the tension between these two, as Janet Grayson points out: "the collective inner Rule . . . undergoes conversion from concern with the physical world to the spiritual, from preoccupation with the means to achieve Love to the actual reception of Love. Just as the individual image-motifs and distinctions move inward towards a settling in Christ, so the inner Rule moves relentlessly inward toward the center: the heart, Love, grace, Christ" (Structure and Imagery, p.12). Grayson goes on to suggest that the Parts One and Eight, which are mainly concerned with the outer rule, are also appropriately made into the outer chapters - they encircle the inner rule "like a protective band of tougher fiber" (p. 15).
    Dobson has probably given the closest attention to the Preface (see chapter 1 of Origins), using it to argue for the author's Augustinian affiliation on the basis of references to the "order of St. James" and to the habits of various religious orders (see Explanatory Notes to Pref.79, Pref.97, and Pref.110).


    Inner versus Outer rule (Pref.2-53). The opening of the Preface sets out in very clear terms the division between the inner and outer rules (governing the heart and the body respectively), likening them to a lady and her handmaiden (Pref.2-29). The author stresses the superiority of inner rule, as well as the variability of the outer for women of various circumstances (Pref.30-53).
    The Danger of Vows (Pref.54-77). This section outlines the dangers of vowing or promising anything pertaining to the outer rule. Anchoresses should vow three things only: obedience, chastity, and steadfastness of place (Pref.54 ff.). Other vows can lead to despair (Pref.71-77).
    Religious Orders and the Outer Rule (Pref.78-129). Membership in a particular religious order is unimportant so long as the anchoresses belong to the "Order" of St. James: i.e., they keep themselves chaste and unstained by the world (Pref.78-129). Habits of the various orders signify unity, but for hermits and anchoresses habits are largely unimportant - inner unity is paramount (Pref.109-29).
    Conclusion (Pref.130-51). The Preface concludes with a brief chapter outline of all eight parts of AW.
    The distinction between the inner and outer rules seems to be borrowed from Aelred of Rievaulx's De Institutione Inclusarum ("On the Instruction of Recluses [lit., enclosed women]"), a guide he wrote for his sister between 1160-62. Several other details in the Preface, Part Six, and Part Eight also lean heavily on Aelred's treatise (see Savage and Watson, p. 339n1). Throughout these notes, I will refer to Sister Penelope's translation in Aelred of Rievaulx: Treatises & Pastoral Prayer. Dobson sees a number of parallels between the Preface and various documents associated with the Rule of Augustine (see Origins, chapter 1 in particular).

1 Ancrene Wisse. The title given here, "Anchoresses' Guide," is often used to distinguish the Corpus version (the Ancrene Wisse proper) from all other versions, traditionally referred to as the Ancrene Riwle. Francis P. Magoun, however, argues convincingly that Ancren Riwle (Morton's editorial title) has little authority and that all texts should be called "Ancrene Wisse" (pp. 112-13). Wisse is a rare word derived from the OE verb wissian "to direct, guide, show the way" and, more rarely, "to rule, govern." Although it may merely be the English equivalent of French-derived riwle "rule," Dobson suggests that the author uses it here to avoid the implication that the text is an actual rule (i.e., the formal rule or regula of an established order) and that it may mean something more than "advice" but less than "command" (Origins, p. 53). Dobson's argument may be a bit tendentious, however, since he takes this position in order to bolster his claim that the Ancrene Wisse/Riwle was written by an Augustinian canon. The MED's translation of the title as "Rule for Nuns" is probably inaccurate on two counts - wisse probably does not mean "rule," and ancrene probably does not mean "nuns'" but rather "anchoresses'" (see Explanatory Note to Pref.30). See Yoko Wada's "Temptations" from Ancrene Wisse (pp. xiii-xviii) for an extensive discussion of the title.

2-6 Recti diligunt te . . . Recti diligunt te. The Latin opening, probably composed by the author, plays on various forms of the root rectus "straight, right" including regula "rule," directionem "regulation" and rectificationem (see Savage and Watson, pp. 339-40n2). In the body of AW, most Latin quotations are translated, sometimes quite loosely. It is notable that the long Latin passages on the first page of the Preface (lines 2-6, 15-23, and 25-26) go essentially untranslated. All are rhetorically charged in a way that most of the other quotations are not: the first relies on word play (paronomasia), while the second uses a rather technical rhetorical term (antonomastice, line 18). The discussion of right grammar, geometry, and theology (lines 2-5, 26) makes a clear reference to university subjects, and it seems possible that the author wished to open AW in an academic tone to establish his scholarly credentials to other religious who might scrutinize the treatise or act as spiritual directors (see Millett, "Women in No Man's Land," pp. 94-95). Shortly after this, the author settles into the more or less regular pattern of providing loose (and often expanded) translations, usually just after Latin citations.

8-9 Ant ye, mine leove sustren, habbeth moni dei i-cravet on me efter riwle. A very similar sentence appears in the opening of Aelred's preface: "For many years now, my sister, you have been asking me for a rule to guide you" (p. 43). The AW author lends a personal tone to the work by sprinkling direct address ("my dear sisters") throughout, occasionally dropping into the singular. Aelred also addresses his sister directly, usually simply as "sister." In AW the direct address at times seems suggestive of a homiletic style derived from vernacular preaching.

11 withute cnost ant dolc of woh in-wit. The meaning of dolc is debatable. The sense descended from OE dolg is "gash, scar," though Baldwin argues that the word really comes from the diminutive of OE dæl "valley" and means something like a "small hollow or cavity" ("Some Difficult Words," p. 274). In using these two words cnost "swelling" and dolc "cavity," the author is attempting to show the hills and valleys of an uneven (woh) surface.

15-23 This passage combines Psalm texts with their explanatory glosses (taken from Peter Lombard's standard Psalm commentary) and is unique to Corpus; at the same point in the Cleo. version, scribe B (perhaps the AW author) has added an explanation of how a bad conscience makes the heart lumpy and knotty but how the rule smoothes and softens it, returning to the images in Pref.10-11.

18 anto[no]masice. A rhetorical term, antonomasia, which describes a kind of substitution: here, "the good" is substituted for the concept of "those who direct their wills by the rule of the divine will." This serves to unite Psalm 35:2 and Psalm 124:4 so that in the latter verse David is seen to use the term "good" as a substitute shorthand for the virtue described in Psalm 35:2.

20 The recto side of the first folio of Corpus contains the following text, written in at the bottom margin in a later hand: Liber ecclesie sancti Jacobi de Wygemore, quem Johannes Purcel dedit eidem ecclesie ad instanciam fratris Walteri de Lodel' senioris tunc precentoris. Siquis dictum librum alienaverit a predicta ecclesia vel titulum hunc maliciose deleverit, anathema sit. Amen. Fiat, fiat, fiat. AMEN. ["(This is) a book belonging to (lit., of) the church of St. James of Wigmore, which John Purcel gave to the same church at the request of brother Walter de Lodel, then senior precentor (i.e., director of singing). If anyone removes the said book from the aforementioned church, or defaces this title maliciously, let there be excommunication (i.e., let the culprit be excommunicated). Amen. Let it be so, let it be so, let it be so. Amen."]

Dobson uses this dedication to bolster his identification of the AW author as Brian of Lingen, an Augustinian canon of St. James, Wigmore (Origins, pp. 137-38), though it is equally plausible that the Corpus MS arrived at Wigmore through some other means, especially given the fact that John Purcell came from a south Shropshire family (to the north of Wigmore) and that the dedication is much later, sometime around 1300 (see Origins, pp. 16, 291). For an amusing history of book curses see Marc Drogin's Anathema: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses (Montclair, NJ: Allanheld and Schram, 1983).

26 geometri[c]o. The fact that the scribe sometimes misspells technical terminology (see Textual Notes to this line and to Pref.18 and 2.361) might lead one to suspect that he or she was not university trained.

30 ancren. The term ancre (pl. ancren, gen. pl. ancrene) has a range of meanings from "recluse," "solitary," "hermit," perhaps to "monk" or "nun" (see MED). It is probably best rendered by "anchorite" since the word can refer either to men or women. The OED points out that the specifically female form ancress appeared first in the fourteenth century. However, since the AW assumes that an ancre is a woman, the word is translated here as "anchoress." In this assumption, the AW reverses the common pattern in English in which nouns describing the doer of an action designate both the generic and male. In AW, ancre seems to be both generic and female.

42 quantum scilicet ad observantias corporales. Baldwin, "Some Difficult Words," points out that Bernard uses a very similar phrase in his discussion of inner and outer rules in On Rule and Dispensation II.3-5 (see Savage and Watson, p. 341n9).

73-76 Aelred recommends that the anchoress not vow extra psalms or commemorations: "here again the number should not be determined by vow or obligation but inspired by devotion" (chapter 9, p. 56).

79 of Sein James. The "order" of St. James is in many ways a kind of "anti-order" which includes both secular priests - who visit widows and orphans - as well as recluses - who keep themselves pure (James 1:27). Dobson notes that Augustinian canons used this same verse to defend themselves against the supposedly superior claims of monks (Origins, pp. 32-33).

97 hwit ne blac. An apparent reference to the traditional colors of the Cistercians and the Benedictines, respectively, though Dobson thinks that black and white refer to two different sub-groups among the Augustinian canons: the Premonstratensians and the Victorines (Origins, p. 31). See Explanatory Note to Pref.110.

99-101 Pawel . . . Antonie . . . Arsenie . . . Makarie . . . Sare . . . Sincletice. As a group, these are desert saints, who appear in roughly this order in The Lives of the Desert Fathers, a work cited by title in AW (see Explanatory Note to 2.310). Much like the anchoresses themselves, these saints withdrew from society and took up solitary lives as hermits and recluses in the deserts of Egypt. Desert or "eremitic" spirituality viewed the body with disdain and sought to conquer it through a heavy regimen of physical tests and disciplines of sometimes incredible proportions: fasting for days before a plate of food, wearing shirts made of bristles, lashing the body with whips or nettles, sitting stationary, sometimes on the tops of poles, for months or even years on end, etc. For recent discussions of desert spirituality, see Peter Brown's The World of Late Antiquity and Phillip Rousseau's Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian. For a passionate appreciation of desert spirituality, see The Wisdom of the Desert by the poet Thomas Merton (New York: New Direction, 1970).

Paul (?229-342), called the "first hermit" to distinguish him from the Apostle Paul, fled the persecutions of the Emperor Decius and took up residence as a hermit in the Egyptian desert. St. Jerome visited him and wrote his life.

Anthony (251-356), the founder of western monasticism, abandoned a life of wealth and became a hermit in a cemetery near Memphis. He eventually wandered to a more desolate retreat, an abandoned fort on Mt. Pispir, and lived on whatever food was thrown to him over the walls. Later he organized a group of solitaries who had gathered around the mountain into a loose community with a rule. After battling the Arian heresy he returned to the solitary life in a cave on Mt. Kolzim. His life was written by St. Athanasius. See 4.1231-34 for an anecdote about him.

Arsenius "the Great" (?355-450) was a well-educated man who became the tutor of Emperor Theodosius' sons before renouncing the world to lead a solitary life in the desert of Scetis. Near the end of his life, he was driven from the desert by invading barbarians. See 3.496-99 for an anecdote about him.

Macarius (c. 300-90), called "the Elder" to distinguish him from Macarius "the Younger," another Egyptian hermit, was a camel herder as a young man but became a hermit of the most severe type. Later, falsely accused of impregnating a woman, he showed great patience during his trial and after his acquittal fled to the desert of Scetis.

Sarah (probably fourth century), called Amma ("mother"), was one of the desert mothers whose sayings are preserved in The Lives of the Desert Fathers. See 4.681-90 for an account of her austerity.

Syncletica (c. 316-400) was born of wealthy parents in Alexandria. She refused to marry and eventually became a recluse with her sister after giving her inheritance to the poor. She undertook austere fasting and other mortifications of the body.

110 nawt i the wide hod, ne in the blake cape, ne i the hwite rochet, ne i the greie cuvel. Continuing with the idea that the inner disposition of the heart is more important than the trappings of various external orders, the author says that religion "is not in the wide hood, nor in the black cope, nor in the white surplice, nor in the gray cowl." This list of ecclesiastical garb may describe several garments in the unique habit of the Augustinian canons (Dobson, Origins, p. 31). They may, however, point not to one order, but several. The "wide hood" probably refers more generally to the hood of a priest or any member of a religious order (MED). Allen suggests that the black cope indicates the Benedictines, the white rochet the Cistercians, and the gray cowl the monks of Savigny ("The Origin," p. 423), though Baldwin ("Some Difficult Words," pp. 289-90) rejects this idea, pointing out that black, white, and gray cowls may very well stand for the orders Allen suggested, but that the specific words "cope" and "rochet" point to a more complicated interpretation. She suggests that the black cope may signify regular canons (often known as "black canons"), while the white rochet may indicate the Augustinian canons. Fletcher suggests different identifications: the black cope (Dominicans), the white rochet (regular canons), and the gray cowl (the Franciscans). See his "Black, White, and Grey in Hali Meiðhad and Ancrene Wisse" for details (pp. 74-75). For a further reference to ecclesiastical clothing, see 2.82-86.

111-16 Dobson points to a close parallel for this passage in the Statutes of Prémontré (c. 1174-90), a document which influenced both the Augustinian and Dominican rules (Origins, pp. 19-20), though his claim of direct dependence on the Premonstratensian institutes may be a bit exaggerated since the verbal parallels are not exact.

131 destinctiuns. This rather academic word is translated by the English dalen "parts." In Latin, distinctio could refer simply to a division or section of a learned treatise, but could also describe a kind of theological writing popular in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. In collections called Distinctiones, individual entries would list a number of alternate meanings for biblical words or theological concepts, often with full allegorical treatment. Though the AW author does not apparently use the word in this technical sense, it probably had a learned, Latinate sound. See Richard H. and Mary H. Rouse's "Biblical Distinctiones in the Thirteenth Century" and Alexandra Barratt's "The Five Wits" (p. 13).

139 Davith. This spelling of David (MS: Davið) reflects the way the word was pronounced in medieval Latin (see Shepherd, p. 34).



In the following Textual Notes, "Tolkien," unless otherwise noted, refers to the emendations and notes of J. R. R. Tolkien's EETS edition of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 402, while references to "Dobson," unless otherwise noted, point to comments in E. J. Dobson's edition of the Cleopatra MS of the Ancrene Riwle. In supplying the variants from the other versions, I have silently expanded the abbreviations, unless they are problematic in some way. In a few cases in which scribes or correctors have altered any of the texts, the revisions generally appear in pointed brackets < >, while a slash (/) indicates an original line break in the MS.

In order to allow readers to follow editorial decisions more easily, I have provided variants from the other MSS in full rather than condensed or schematic form, and have made an effort to write the notes in terms reasonably easy to understand. The variants, grouped into English, French, and Latin versions, appear in rough order of authority, based on their date and relationship to Corpus (see the Introduction for more details about the individual MSS). In the cases where a variant text omits the passage in question, "lacking" means that it was intentionally excluded or recast, while "lost" means that the text is missing due to lost leaves or damage to the MS. For some of the most obvious mistakes, no variants are listed, while those which involve questions of Middle English spelling or grammar often include the variants from the English texts only.

Since this edition aims to provide a working text of the Corpus version of the Ancrene Wisse, and not a full critical edition, I rarely emend the text merely to bring it into line with the other versions. Instead, the text is changed only when it is problematic on its own terms. Revisions and variations in Corpus are allowed to stand.

Abbreviations: Bod.: Bodleian Library; BN: Bibliothéque Nationale; Caius: Gonville & Caius MS 234/120; Cleo.: British Library Cotton MS Cleopatra; Corpus: MS Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 402; Lan.: Bodleian MS. Eng. th.c.70; Lat.: Latin Text of the Ancrene Riwle; Nero: British Library MS Cotton Nero A.xiv; Pepys: Magdalene College, Cambridge MS Pepys 2498; Royal: British Library MS Royal 8 C.i; Titus: British Library MS Cotton Titus D.xviii; Trinity: Trinity College MS R 147 (French text); Vernon: Vernon MS (Oxford, Bodleian Eng. Poet.a.1.); Vitellius: British Library MS Cotton Vitellius F.vii (French text)

Author's Preface

7 deore-wurthe. MS: deorwerðe. A later reader modernized some spellings in the first few folios. Tolkien remarks, "On this page an ungainly late 14th-century hand began an attempt to modernize the text, chiefly by erasing, here and there, obsolete þ, ð and substituting p [runic wynn] for w; and incidentally altering dialectal e, ea to a. This 'emender' fortunately only looked at recto pages, and tired of the operation after disfiguring f. 3a" (p. 5, fol. 1a). Though the changes leave an interesting, though brief, record of a later engagement with the text, this edition will restore the original readings where possible, indicated in the text (though not in the notes) by italics. [Cleo.: deorewurðe; Titus (lost); Nero: deorewurðe; Vernon: derworþe; Pepys: derworþe; Caius (lacking).]

9 efter. The emender changed the original a to e, though the e is still partially visible.

12-13 is eaver in-with. MS: is eauer inwið. Although Tolkien believes that inwið (i.e., inwith) is a mistake for inwit (p. 5, fol. 1a, line 18), neither the sense of the phrase or the other readings bear out this suggestion. The form inwið appears frequently in Corpus as both a preposition and an adverb meaning "within." The MS form is retained here. [Cleo.: is eauer Inwið; Titus (lost); Nero: is euerre wiðinnen; Vernon: is euer in wiþ; Pepys: is euere inwiþ; Caius (lacking); Vitellius: est touz(iours) dedenz; Trinity: est dedenz; Lat.: est semper interior.]

18 anto[no]masice. MS: an/tomasice. Apparently a scribal error for anto[no]masice (Tolkien, p. 6, fol. 1b, lines 25-26). [Cleo. (lacking); Titus (lost); Nero: antonomatice; Vernon: antomasice; Pepys: atthonomasice; Caius (lacking), Vitellius (lacking); Trinity (lacking); Lat.: anthonomatice.]

25 exercitio. MS: exerci(ta)tio. As Tolkien notes, a faint hand has interlined ta after the ci of MS: exercitio (p. 6, fol. 1b, line 6). Exercitio, however, is a legitimate late Latin form (see the Oxford Latin Dictionary). See 7.3 for another occurrence of this spelling. [Cleo. (lacking); Titus (lost); Nero: excercitio; Vernon: exercicio; Pepys: exercicio; Caius (lacking); Vitellius: (lacking); Trinity: exercitacio; Lat.: excercitatio.]

26 geometri[c]o. MS: geometrio. Apparently a mistaken reading of geometrico, the standard form, though geometria is also possible. [Cleo. (lacking); Titus (lost); Nero: geometrico; Vernon: geometrico; Pepys: geometrio; Vitellius (lacking); Trinity: geometrico; Lat.: geometrico.]

39 god. MS: goð. The scribe writes ð for d, a common mistake (see Tolkien, p. 7, fol. 1b, line 26). Here it is emended to god "good." [Cleo.: god; Titus (lost); Nero: god; Vernon: goode; Pepys: goode; Caius (lacking); Vitellius (lost); Trinity: bonte; Lat.: perfectio.]

48 mot te mare wurchen. MS: moten mare wurchen. Tolkien suggests that moten mare wurchen "[they] must work more" is a mistaken reading of mot te mare wurchen "[he/she] must work the more" (p. 7, fol. 2a, line 12), a suggestion adopted here, as it is supported by the other MSS, and since Corpus' reading seems grammatically difficult: sum is singular and moten plural. [Cleo.: mot þe mare wurchen; Titus (lost); Nero: mot te more wurchen; Vernon: and mot þe more worchen; Pepys: hij moten þe more wirchen; Caius (lacking); Vitellius: couient le plus orer; Trinity: couient il le plus laborer e ourer; Lat.: quidam seruare possunt.]

78 as summe doth, ye telleth me. MS: as summe doð þe telleð me. As it stands, the text "as some do who tell me" probably should read "as some do you tell me" or "as some do as you tell me," as Tolkien notes (p. 9, fol. 3a, line 1). Here, þe "who/which" is emended to ye "you," as the least intrusive and best supported of these two alternatives (see particularly Cleo., closely related to the exemplar for Corpus). [Cleo.: ase summe doð 3e telleð me; Titus (lost); Nero: alse sum deð alse 3e telleð me; Vernon: as summe doþ 3e telleþ me; Pepys: as mamy foles willen; Caius (lacking); Vitellius: sicome vous me contez; Trinity: si com aucune fols genz uolent fere; Lat.: sicut quidam faciunt.]

82 openluker descrivet ant i-sutelet then is i Sein James canonial epistel. MS: openlukest descriueþ ant isutelet þen is i sein iames canonial epistel. There are two problems here. First, MS þen "than" seems to require the comparative openluker "more openly" rather than MS openlukest "most openly." Secondly, as Tolkien points out (p. 9, fol. 3r, line 6), the emender has mistaken descriuet "described," a past participle, for the third-person singular form descriueþ "describes" and has changed the likely original -t to -þ. The superlative form openlukest is here emended to openluker, and descriueþ is changed to descrivet. [Cleo.: openlukest descriuet ant isutelet þet(/þus) is i(n) seint iames pistel; Titus (lost); Nero: openluker descriued and isuteled; þen is i sein iames canoniel epistle; Vernon: openlokest descriuet and isotelet. þet is in seynt James canonial epistel; Pepys (recast); Caius (lacking); Vitellius: plus ouertement (descr)it. Cest en la epistre canonicale seint Jake; Trinity: plus ouertement e plus apertement descrit e mustre quei est ordre e religion. ke en le epistle canonies (BN, Bod.: canonciel) seint Iake; Lat.: apertius describitur quam in canonica Iacobi.]

83 hwet. MS: what. Altered from the probable original form hwet by the emender. [Cleo.: hwat; Titus (lost); Nero: hwuch; Vernon: wher; Pepys (recast); Caius (lacking).]

86 wydewen ant fe[der]lese children. MS: wydues ant fa/lese children. Tolkien observes, "[E]mender omitted der [from falese]; original probably widewen ant feder[lese], not room for feader" (p. 9, fol. 3a, line 11). Accordingly the text is emended to read wydewen ant federlese children "widows and fatherless children." [Cleo.: widewen ant federlase children; Titus (lost); Nero: widewen ant federlease children; Vernon: widewen and faderes children; Pepys: faderles children ant widewen; Caius (lacking).]

91 wydewen ant feaderlese children. MS: wydewes ant faderlese. The emender altered, among other things, the original plural -n of "widewen" to -s. Tolkien believes that the "space here suggests that original had wi/dewen ant feaderlese" (p. 10, fol. 3a, lines 19-20), a suggestion adopted here. [Cleo.: widewen ant federlese children; Titus (lost); Nero: widewen ant federlease children; Vernon: widewen and faderles children; Pepys (recast); Caius (lacking).]

92 sawle. MS: sowle. The last of the emender's alterations - changed here to the usual form, sawle. [Cleo.: saule; Titus (lost); Nero: soule; Vernon: soule; Pepys (lacking); Caius (lacking).]

101 Sincletice. MS: Sicleclice. The confused spelling here is probably owing to a mistake in the exemplar, also appearing in Cleo., where it was subsequently corrected by Scribe B (see Dobson, p. 10, note c). [Cleo. original sinchete corrected to sincletece; Nero: sincletice; Vernon: sincletyse; Pepys: Sincletice; Caius (lacking); Vitellius: synclitice; Trinity: sincletice; Lat.: Sincletica.]

106 of ower boc ordre. MS: of ower boc ordre. The scribe wrote and then canceled boc "book."

121 god. MS: godd. Very probably a mistaking of godd "God" for god "good," a spelling distinction consistently maintained in Corpus: probably influenced by the appearance of godd, almost directly underneath. [Cleo.: god; Titus (lacking); Nero: god; Vernon: God; Pepys (recast); Caius (lacking).]

126 spurcicia. MS: spursica. A mistake for spursicia (See Tolkien, p. 11, fol. 4a, line 14). [Cleo. (lacking); Titus (lacking); Nero (lacking); Vernon: spurcicia; Pepys: spurcicia; Caius (lacking); Vitellius (lacking); Trinity: spurcicia; Lat.: spurcicia.]

137-38 of euch wit. MS: of euch hwet. Tolkien believes that hwet is a mistake for wit (p. 11, fol. 4a, line 28), though Dobson ("Affiliations") disagrees, arguing that Corpus has the correct reading of euch hwet "of each (of them)": "in the context, it is easy to understand how hwet could be corrupted into wit, but hardly conceivable that wit would be corrupted or revised to hwet" (p. 130). The OED (see the entry for "what") lists the use of "what" as a noun in such phrases as "all what," "anywhat," "otherwhat," though not "each what." Mistaking wit for hwet may not be entirely implausible as a copying error, given the presence of "hwer" in the previous line, which could have influenced the respelling of wit as hwet. In addition, all the other versions, both English and French have the wit reading. Thus, MS: hwet is here emended to wit. [Cleo.: of vh an (wit), with wit erased but still visible; Titus (lacking); Nero: of eueriche wit; Vernon: of uche a wit; Pepys (lacking); Caius (lacking); Vitellius: de chescun sen; Trinity: de checun sen; Lat. (lacking).]

139 of anes cunnes fuheles. MS: of anes cunnes fuheles. Ackerman and Dahood defend Cleo.'s fif cunnes fo[w]eles"five kinds of birds" as follows:"Cleopatra seems occasionally, if in a minor way, to offer a better reading than Corpus, as in the rehearsal of the contents of AR at the end of the Introduction. The third 'distinction', or part, as [the] A [scribe of Cleopatra] accurately informs us (Cleopatra, fol. 8v), consists of likening the anchoress to five kinds of birds. But Corpus, in agreement with the other manuscripts of AR, speaks of anes cunnes fuheles, 'birds of one kind' to which David, as an anchorite, compared himself. In fact, Part III of the rule goes beyond the biblical basis for this comparison (Psalm 101:6-7), for in the Psalm only three different birds are mentioned. Moreover, the margins of Cleopatra contain emendations by B not carried over into Corpus which nonetheless improve the sense of the basic text" (pp. 5-6). In his translation, White provides a possible answer to the difficulty by rendering anes cunnes fuheles as"birds of a certain kind." Though it is tempting to follow Cleo. here, the MS reading is retained. [Cleo.: of fif cunnes fo(w)eles; Titus (lost); Nero: of ones kunnes fuweles; Vernon: of one kunne foules; Pepys (recast), Caius (lacking); Vitellius: dune maniere doyseaus; Trinity: de une manere de oiseaus; Lat.: de natura cuiusdam auis.]

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Ancrene Wisse: Author's Preface

from: Ancrene Wisse  2000


N, T  
N, T
N, T

I the Feaderes ant i the Sunes ant i the Hali Gastes nome her biginneth Ancrene Wisse.

Recti diligunt te (in Canticis, sponsa ad sponsum). Est rectum gramaticum,
rectum geometricum, rectum theologicum. Et sunt differencie totidem
regularum. De recto theologico sermo nobis est, cuius regule due sunt:
una circa cordis directionem. Altera versatur circa exteriorum rectificationem.
Recti diligunt te.

    "Laverd," seith Godes spuse to hire deore-wurthe spus, "the rihte luvieth the." Theo
beoth rihte the luvieth efter riwle. Ant ye, mine leove sustren, habbeth moni dei i-cravet
on me efter riwle. Monie cunne riwlen beoth, ah twa beoth bimong alle thet ich chulle
speoken of thurh ower bone, with Godes grace. The an riwleth the heorte ant maketh
efne ant smethe, withute cnost ant dolc of woh in-wit ant of wreiyende, the segge "her
thu sunegest!" other "this nis nawt i-bet yet ase wel as hit ahte!" Theos riwle is eaver
in-with ant rihteth the heorte. Et hec est caritas, quam describit Apostulus: de corde
puro et consciencia bona et fide non ficta. "Theos riwle is chearite of schir heorte
ant cleane in-wit ant treowe bileave." Pretende, inquit Psalmista, misericoridam
tuam scientibus te per fidem non fictam, et justiciam tuam - id est, uite
rectitudinem - hiis qui recto sunt corde - qui sunt omnes voluntates suas
dirigunt ad regulam divine voluntatis. Isti dicuntur boni anto[no]masice.
Psalmista: Benefac, Domine, bonis et rectis corde. Istis dicitur ut glorientur
testimonio videlicet bone conscientie. Gloriamini omnes recti corde, quos scil-
icet rectificavit regula illa supprema, rectificans omnia. De qua Augustinus: Nichil
petendum preter regulam magisterii. Et Apostolus: Omnes in eadem regula
The other riwle is al withuten ant riwleth the licome ant licomliche
deden, the teacheth al hu me schal beoren him withuten, hu eoten, drinken, werien,
singen, slepen, wakien. Et hec est exercitio corporis que, juxta apostolum, modi-
cum valet, et est quasi regula recti mechanici quod geometri[c]o recto continetur.
Ant theos riwle nis nawt bute for-te servi the other: the other is as leafdi, theos as hire
thuften. For al thet me eaver deth of the other withuten nis bute for-te riwlin the heorte
    Nu easki ye hwet riwle ye ancren schulen halden. Ye schulen alles weis, with alle
mihte ant strengthe, wel witen the inre, ant te uttre for hire sake. The inre is eaver i-lich;
the uttre is mislich, for euch schal halden the uttre efter thet ha mei best, with hire servi
the inre. Nu thenne is hit swa thet alle ancren mahen wel halden an riwle, quantum ad
puritatem cordis, circa quam versatur tota religio. Thet is, alle mahen ant ahen
halden a riwle "onont purte of heorte" - thet is, cleane ant schir in-wit (conscientia),
withuten weote of sunne thet ne beo thurh schrift i-bet. This maketh the leafdi riwle, the
riwleth ant rihteth ant smetheth the heorte ant te in-wit of sunne, for nawt ne maketh
hire woh bute sunne ane. Rihten hire ant smethin hire is of euch religiun ant of euch
ordre the god ant al the strengthe. Theos riwle is i-maket nawt of monnes fundles, ah is
of Godes heaste; for-thi ha is eaver ant an withute changunge, ant alle ahen hire in an
eaver to halden. Ah alle ne mahe nawt halden a riwle, ne ne thurve nawt, ne ne ahe nawt
halden on a wise the uttre riwle, quantum scilicet ad observantias corporales - thet
is, "onont licomliche locunges" efter the uttre riwle, thet ich thuften cleopede, ant is
monnes fundles, for na thing elles i-stald bute to servi the inre, the maketh feasten,
wakien, calde ant hearde werien - swucche othre heardschipes thet moni fles mei
tholien, moni ne mei nawt. For-thi mot theos changin hire misliche efter euch-anes
manere ant efter hire evene. For sum is strong, sum unstrong, ant mei ful wel beo cwite
ant paie Godd mid leasse. Sum is clergesse, sum nawt, ant mot te mare wurchen ant on
other wise seggen hire bonen. Sum is ald ant ethelich ant is the leasse dred of. Sum is
yung ant luvelich ant is neod betere warde. For-thi schal euch ancre habben the uttre
riwle efter hire schriftes read, ant hwet-se he bit ant hat hire in obedience, the cnaweth
hire manere ant wat hire strengthe. He mei the uttre riwle changin efter wisdom as he
sith, thet te inre mahe beo best i-halden.   
    Nan ancre, bi mi read, ne schal makien professiun - thet is, bihaten ase heast -
bute threo thinges: thet beoth obedience, chastete, ant stude steathel-vestnesse, thet ha
ne schal thet stude neaver mare changin bute for nede ane, as strengthe ant deathes
dred, obedience of hire bischop other of his herre. For hwa-se nimeth thing on hond ant
bihat hit Godd as heast for-te don hit, ha bint hire ther-to, ant sunegeth deadliche i the
bruche, yef ha hit breketh willes. Yef ha hit ne bihat nawt, ha hit mei do thah ant leaven
hwen ha wel wule, as of mete, of drunch, flesch forgan other fisch, alle other swucche
thinges, of werunge, of liggunge, of ures, of othre beoden - segge swa monie other o
swucche wise. Theos ant thulliche othre beoth alle i freo wil to don other to leten hwil
me wule ant hwen me wule, bute ha beon bihaten. Ah chearite - thet is, luve - ant
eadmodnesse ant tholemodnesse, treoweschipe ant haldunge of the alde ten heastes,
schrift ant penitence - theos ant thulliche othre, the beoth summe of the alde lahe,
summe of the neowe, ne beoth nawt monnes fundles, ne riwle thet mon stalde, ah beoth
Godes heastes. Ant for-thi euch mon mot ham nede halden, ant ye over alle, for theos
riwleth the heorte. Of hire riwlunge is al meast thet ich write, bute i the frumthe of this
boc ant i the leaste ende. The thinges thet ich write her of the uttre riwle, ye ham haldeth
alle, mine leove sustren - ure Laverd beo i-thonket! - ant schulen thurh his grace se
lengre se betere. Ant thah nulle ich nawt thet ye bihaten ham as heaste to halden, for as
ofte as ye th'refter breken eni of ham, hit walde to swithe hurten ower heorte ant
makien ow swa offearet, thet ye mahten sone - thet Godd forbeode ow! - fallen i
desesperance - thet is, in an unhope ant an unbileave for-te beon i-borhen. For-thi thet
ich write ow, mine leove sustren, of uttre thinges i the earste dale of ower boc, of ower
servise, ant nomeliche i the leaste, ye ne schule nawt bihaten hit, ah habbeth hit on
heorte ant doth hit as thah ye hit hefden bihaten.   
    Yef ei unweote easketh ow of hwet ordre ye beon, as summe doth, ye telleth me -
the siheth the gneat ant swolheth the flehe - ondswerieth "of Sein James," the wes
Godes Apostel ant for his muchele halinesse i-cleopet Godes brother. Yef him thuncheth
wunder ant sullich of swuch ondswere, easkith him hwet beo ordre, ant hwer he funde
in Hali Writ religiun openluker descrivet ant i-sutelet then is i Sein James canonial epistel.
He seith hwet is religiun, hwuch is riht ordre. Religio munda et immaculata apud
Deum et Patrem hec est: visitare puppillos et viduas in necessitate sua et
immaculatum se custodire ab hoc seculo.
Thet is, "cleane religiun ant withute wem
is i-seon ant helpen wydewen ant fe[der]lese children, ant from the world witen him
cleane ant unwemmet." Thus Sein Jame descriveth religiun ant ordre. The leatere dale
of his sahe limpeth to reclusen, for ther beoth twa dalen to twa manere the beoth of
religiuse. To either limpeth his dale, as ye mahen i-heren: gode religiuse beoth i the world
summe, nomeliche prelaz ant treowe preachurs, the habbeth the earre dale of thet Sein
Jame seide, thet beoth, as he seith, the gath to helpen wydewen ant feaderlese children.
The sawle is widewe the haveth forloren hire spus - thet is, Jesu Crist - with eni
heaved sunne. The is alswa federles the haveth thurh his sunne forloren the feader of
heovene. Gan i-seon thulliche ant elnin ham ant helpen with fode of hali lare - this is
riht religiun, he seith, Sein Jame. The leatere dale of his sahe limpeth to ower religiun, as
ich ear seide, the witeth ow from the worlt, over othre religiuse, cleane ant unwemmet.
Thus the apostle Sein Jame, the descriveth religiun, nowther hwit ne blac ne nempneth
he in his ordre. Ah moni siheth the gneat ant swolheth the flehe - thet is, maketh
muche strengthe ther-as is the leaste. Pawel, the earste ancre, Antonie ant Arsenie,
Makarie ant te othre, neren ha religiuse ant of Sein James ordre? Alswa Seinte Sare ant
Seinte Sincletice, ant monie othre swucche, wepmen ba ant wummen, with hare greate
matten ant hare hearde heren, neren ha of god ordre? "Ant hwether hwite other blake?"
as unwise ow easkith, the weneth thet ordre sitte i the curtel. Godd wat, no-the-les ha
weren wel bathe, nawt tah onont clathes, ah as Godes spuse singeth bi hire-seolven,
Nigra sum set formosa. "Ich am blac ant tah hwit," ha seith - unseowlich withuten,
schene withinnen. O this wise ondswerieth to the easkeres of ower ordre, hwether
hwite other blake - seggeth ye beoth ba twa, thurh the grace of Godd, ant of Sein
James ordre, thet he wrat leatere: Inmaculatum se custodire ab hoc seculo - thet is
thet ich seide ear, "from the worlt witen him cleane ant unwemmet." Her-in is religiun
nawt i the wide hod, ne in the blake cape, ne i the hwite rochet, ne i the greie cuvel.
Ther-as monie beoth i-gederet togederes, ther for anrednesse me schal makie strengthe
of annesse of clathes, ant of other-hwet of uttre thinges, thet te annesse withuten
bitacni the annesse of a luve ant of a wil thet ha alle habbeth i-meane withinnen. With
hare habit, thet is an, thet euch haveth swuch as other, ant alswa of other-hwet, ha
yeiyeth thet ha habbeth alle togederes a luve ant a wil, euch alswuch as other. Loke thet
ha ne lihen. Thus hit is i cuvent, ah hwer-se wummon liveth, other mon, bi him ane,
hearmite other ancre, of thinges withuten hwer of scandle ne cume nis nawt muche
strengthe. Hercne Michee: Indicabo tibi, O homo, quid sit bonum et quid Deus
requirat a te, utique facere judicium et justiciam et sollicite ambulare cum Domino
Deo tuo.
"Ich chulle schawi the, mon," seith the hali Michee, Godes prophete - "Ich
chulle schawi the sothliche hwet is god, ant hwuch religiun, ant hwuch ordre, hwuch
halinesse Godd easketh of the" - low, this, understond hit - do wel ant dem wac
eaver the-seolven, ant with dred ant with luve ga mid Godd ti Laverd. Ther-as theose
thinges beoth, ther is riht religiun, ther is soth ordre. Ant do al thet other, ant lete this nis
bute trichunge ant a fals gile. Ve vobis, scribe et pharisei, ypocrite, qui mundatis
quod deforis est calicis et parapsidis. Intus autem pleni estis omni spurcicia simi-
les sepulcris dealbatis.
Al thet gode religiuse doth other werieth efter the uttre riwle, al
togedere is her-vore, al nis bute ase tole to timbrin her-towart. Al nis bute as thuften to
servi the leafdi to riwlin the heorte.
    This an boc is todealet in eahte leasse bokes.   
    Nu, mine leove sustren, this boc ich todeale on eahte destinctiuns thet ye cleopieth
"dalen." Ant euch withute monglunge speketh al bi him-seolf of sunderliche thinges, ant
thah euch-an riht falleth efter other, ant is the leatere eaver i-teiet to the earre.
- The earste dale speketh al of ower servise.
- The other is hu ye schulen thurh ower fif wittes witen ower heorte, thet ordre ant
religiun ant sawle lif is inne. I this destinctiun aren chapitres five, as fif stuchen efter fif
wittes, the witeth the heorte as wake-men, hwer-se ha beoth treowe, ant speketh of
euch wit sunderlepes o rawe.
- The thridde dale is of anes cunnes fuheles the Davith i the Sawter eveneth him-seolf
to as he were ancre, ant hu the cunde of the ilke fuheles beoth ancren i-liche.
- The feorthe dale is of fleschliche fondunges ant gasteliche bathe, ant confort ayeines
ham ant of hare salven.
-The fifte dale is of schrift.
-The seste dale is of penitence.
-The seovethe of schir heorte, hwi me ah, ant hwi me schal Jesu Crist luvien, ant
hwet binimeth us his luve ant let us him to luvien.
-The eahtuthe dale is al of the uttre riwle, earst of mete ant of drunch, ant of othre
thinges thet falleth ther-abuten, th'refter of the thinges the ye mahen undervon ant hwet
thinges ye mahen witen other habben, th'refter of ower clathes ant of swucche thinges
as ther-abuten falleth, th'refter of ower werkes, of doddunge ant of blod-letunge, of
ower meidnes riwle, aleast hu ye ham schulen leofliche learen.

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