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Sawles Warde


ABBREVIATIONS: AW: Ancrene Wisse, ed. Hasenfratz; B: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 34 [base text]; BS: Bennett and Smithers edition (1968); BT: Bosworth and Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary; CT: Canterbury Tales; HM: Hali Meithhad; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWB: Millett and Wogan-Browne edition (1990); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; R: British Library MS Royal 17 A XXVII; SJ: The Liflade ant te Passiun of Seinte Juliene; SM: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Margarete; SW: Sawles Warde; T: British Library MS Cotton Titus D XVIII; W: Wilson edition (1938).

Header Sawles Warde. SW is a translation of a sermon,“De Custodia Interioris Hominis,” attributed to St. Anselm by R. W. Southern and F. S. Schmitt (Memorials of St. Anselm). Generations of critics falsely identified the source as Hugh of St. Victor’s De Anima 4.13–15, though Becker points out that this false identification was used “before De Custodia was edited critically” (“Source Text,” pp. 44–45). Robertson notes that scholars have insufficiently acknowledged “De Custodia” (Early English Devotional Prose, p. 208).

1.1 Si sciret paterfamilias . . . perfodi domum suam. Compare Matthew 24:43 and Luke 12:39. Perkins identifies this verse as the “pericope” from which the rest of the text develops: “The figural nature of the verse is already apparent in the Gospel, and . . . initiates a process of narrative and figurative development” (“Reading the Bible,” p. 211). Perkins discusses the rich interplay of metaphor and biblical allusion, where reference to the “theof” (sin, the Devil) entering the “hus” (body) to steal the “tresure” (soul) consistently relies and builds upon images from Gospel verses, particularly Luke (12:36, 34, and 39) and Matthew (6:20). Perkins’ exhaustive identification of scriptural verses tied to the text of SW has been extremely helpful in compiling these notes, and many of our references have been borrowed from his discussion.

3.2 te fulitohe wif mei beon wil ihaten. Hassel sees the introduction of Will as wife as “disrupt[ing] neat dualism, preventing a simple dichotomy of gender . . . although she is contrasted most obviously with Reason, Will is also envisioned as an alternative or opposite to the other women in the narrative, the four virginal Virtues. The role or image of women in Sawles Warde is not consistent and stable. Rather, the meaning of women in the text depends on position, their relationship to masculine authority” (Choosing Not to Marry, p. 87). For an earlier discussion of gender in SW see Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose, pp. 126–43; for a more recent discussion see Masha Raskolnikov, Body against Soul.

Wit is the translator’s word for the Latin animus, which refers specifically to the intellectual powers of the soul rather than the spirit of the soul (anima). Wit regularly appears in Middle English allegorical texts, often representing the intellectual powers of reasoning and standing in for the Latin term ratio. However, compare the use of the term in Langland and Chaucer, where wit describes natural human intelligence as opposed to knowledge based on education or auctoritas. In Piers Plowman, Will often must rely on his “kynde wit” (natural wit) instead of the corrupt words of clerics. See for example Conscience’s declaration in regards to the practices of clerical orders: “‘by Criste, kynde wit me telleth / It is wikked to wage yow” (B.XX.268–69). Chaucer’s Friar Thomas, in contrast, relies solely on his natural intelligence when he should be using this natural intelligence together with the Scriptures in his preaching: “I have to day been at youre chirche at messe, / And seyd a sermon after my symple wit — / Nat al after the text of hooly writ” (CT III[D] 1788–90).

3.7 fol semblant. This line is the first occurrence of “semblant” in Middle English, borrowed from the French word for “face.” Skaffari notes that this example shows “great adherence to the orthography of the source language” (“Lexical Borrowings, p. 89, italics in original) which could demonstrate a very recent borrowing from the French. This phrase is one of two entirely “French-derived elements” in the text (Skaffari, “Lexical Borrowings,” p. 92), and the first instance of a phrase which was to become common in later Middle English. However, the MED distinguishes falssemblaunt (fals (adj.), sense 1b) as in Gower’s quasi-allegorical use in the Confessio Amantis (“treacherous, untrustworthy”), and fol semblaunt (fol (adj.), sense 2) which cites this line of SW to mean “evil appearance or demeanor.” The difference lies in the prefix fals rooted in Latin falsum and fol rooted in Old French fol (“foolish, mad, crazy” [Hindley et al., p. 323] which carries over to Middle English to mean not just “foolish, stupid” [MED fol (adj.), sense 1a] but “sinful, wicked” [sense 1b] as well). Hence we should be cautious about making any connection here between fol semblant and the later falssemblaunt.

3.8 efter hire. I.e., according to her will.

3.9 ham. Refers to the “hinen” the five senses, while “wit” remains in the singular since it refers to the singular sense.

3.11–13 Ah ne bihoveth . . . amurthrin hire thrinne. The author’s description of the thief and murderer here allegorically describes the process of sin and temptation; the numerous thieves represent the vices (classified under the Seven Deadly Sins) and the guards their opposing virtues. In keeping with the pervasive emphasis on vigilance in SW, the idea is that should the guards fail to maintain watch, the vices may approach the house, break in, and steal the most sacred treasure: the human soul. This metaphor for sin and temptation builds on Matthew 24:43 and Luke 12:39. See Hassel’s discussion of this metaphor as it compares to AW (Choosing Not to Marry, pp. 91–95).

3.13 Godes deore castel. For a history of the metaphor of self as castle, see Christina Whitehead, Castles of the Mind, as well as Christopher Cannon’s discussion of the role defensive structures play in the imagination of the authors of the Katherine Group in his Grounds of English Literature.

3.15 keis. A word of Welsh origins, from cais (plural caisiaid), referring to a historical class of sergeants, policemen of a kind who helped enforce the law and carry out executions (Breeze, “Welsh Cais,” p. 298). Breeze argues that the term carried extremely “penetrating implications for the forms of evil” due to the historical role of the caisiaid in Wales and the marches, hence the use of the term for the devil’s henchmen (p. 303). See Breeze for a thorough discussion of the origins and contexts of the term and its implications in English and Welsh. The presence of Welsh terms in the Katherine Group indicates to some extent the geographical origin of the language: see Dobson, Origins of Ancrene Wisse, pp. 115–16; as well as Russell-Smith, “Keis in Sawles Warde.” Other Welsh terms in the Katherine Group include cader (HM 29.2), cokkunge (HM 41.3), genow (SM 31.9). See also Cannon, Grounds of English Literature, pp. 139–71, for a discussion of the significance of the Welsh marches to the imagination of the Katherine Group.

ure Lauerd haveth . . . of his dehtren. Originally described as the Four Virtues in “De Custodia,” SW’s four daughters are an early English incarnation of the Four Daughters of God: Vigilance, Strength, Moderation, and Righteousness (Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose, p. 130). A more traditional version of the Four Daughters, such as that in Piers Plowman, consists of Truth, Mercy, Justice, and Peace. The daughters play a different role in SW, as they are frequently depicted in other English literatures as debating the righteousness of the possible salvation of humanity through Christ’s sacrifice (compare the Castle of Perseverance [lines 3129–3649], Piers Plowman B.XVIII, and the Salutation in the Mary Play of the N-Town cycle). For an early and yet-to-be superseded discussion of the history of the Four Daughters of God see Traver, “The Four Daughters of God: A Mirror,” as well as her monograph The Four Daughters of God.

3.16 The earste is . . . Rihtwisnesse the feorthe. To the Latin source’s list of the cardinal virtues Prudentia, Fortitudo and Iustitia, the author adds Temperentia, in Middle English, meath.

Warschipe. Literally, “ware-ship,” i.e., the quality of being watchful and aware. See MED warshipe (n.), sense a. Savage and Watson translate as “Caution.” It should be noted that Warschipe in SW does not solely concern awareness of one’s physical space, but a moral watchfulness as well, hence the alternative translation, “prudence” (see MED warshipe (n.), sense b).

4.1 Wit, the husbonde, Godes cunestable. Though the texts in the Katherine Group have been read frequently as intentionally nativist works, as part of the first movement to compose in the vernacular again after the Norman conquest, the language itself demonstrates the international nature of early Middle English. Skaffari points out that this phrase uses words of French (conestable), Germanic (God), and Scandinavian (hus-bonda) origins (“Lexical Borrowings,” p. 82). The line also records the first instance of cunestable in Middle English and means “the chief officer of the household, court, administration, or military forces of a ruler” (OED constable (n.), sense 1). See also W, p. 47n42. See also BS who note that constable used as “‘governor of a (royal) fortress’ is perhaps more appropriate than ‘chief officer of a household’ (OED s.v. 1) and perhaps more likely to be in the mind of a [West Midlands] writer at a time when royal castles were being built to hold the Welsh border” (p. 421n43).

4.3 Meath . . . tuht forte halden. Price (“Moderation in Sawles Warde”) illustrates the implications of the different manuscript readings of these lines. Our text follows B and T, whereas R reads, instead of “the middel of twa uveles,” “þe middel of twa þing” (W, p. 6). Price considers this difference “a good example of the lectio difficilior principle” and chooses the B/T text over R since it illustrates more closely the Ciceronian and Aristotelian concepts of moderation, such as those discussed in Aquinas’ De medio virtutum. However, Price does not consider this single instance to be enough evidence to consider SW as a part of the “early thirteenth century’s assimilation of Aristotelian material,” although it does reflect the “author’s command of contemporary intellectual interests” while placing them in the context of “psycho-moral thinking” (pp. 116–17).

mete, thet me “meosure” hat. Of note is that the writer here defines “meosure” according to another synonym; thus Dor suggests that meosure may be a recent loan word from French (“Post-dating Romance”). The MED lists the earliest occurrences of “mesure” in SW (this line) and the roughly contemporary Trinity College, Cambridge Homilies.

5.3 lonc. Related to “lank” according to MED lank (adj.), sense a, which cites this line to mean “skinny, lean.” T reads “long” which refers to height or stature (MED long (adj.1), sense 1b). “Lank” or “lanky” implies, in modern idiom at least, height in addition to skinniness, hence our translation.

leor. Derived from Old English hleor, this native term for “face” is used twice in the text, here and at 26.1 (BT, hleor (n.)). Skaffari notes that both instances are used in alliterative passages (“Lexical Borrowings,” p. 86), and the author’s choice of this term (over the two other words — nebbe and wlite — used throughout the text for “face”) indicates an attempt to link native vocabulary with native poetic devices.

elheowet. Literally, “ill-hued.”

6.3 thet best con bisetten hire wordes. I.e., express herself.

7.1–2 Ich nat nawt . . . . me least weneth. These lines conflate several biblical verses, and also echo the earlier pericope for the entire text (see the explanatory note 1.1). Compare in particular Matthew 24:36 (where Christ predicts the end of days: “But of that day and hour no one knoweth: no, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone”); Matthew 25:13 (on the parable of the foolish and wise virgins: “Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour”); and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night”) and 5:6 (“Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do: but let us watch, and be sober”). Two separate topics of interest to the author of SW seem to be raised between these lines and 1.1–2.2: first, the author further emphasizes the need for constant vigilance against sin, given Death’s penchant for arriving suddenly and unexpectedly. Secondly, through biblical allusion, the author may be referring to the double use of the thief metaphor: while it often stands in (as in 1.1) for sinfulness, and sometimes even for the Devil himself, the reversal of the metaphor to indicate Christ’s coming in 1 Thessalonians indicates the power of choice, as indicated by the two thieves on either side of Christ during the Crucifixion.

7.3 euchan bereth a gret boc al of sunnen. See Apocalypse 20:12–15.

with soth schrift ant with deadbote. Compare HM 8.23.

8.1–13.1 Ant Warschipe hire . . . Ich chulle reodien. Eggebroten, who asserts that SW is a translation of Hugh of St. Victor’s De anima, sees this playful dramatic dialogue as evidence that our text was intended for “gently bred young women . . . of landed families, familiar with courteous life centered on the great hall of a manor or castlel [sic].” Thus, the arrival of a visitor from the outside world who came bearing exciting news would be familiar to the female audience of the tale (“Sawles Warde: A Retelling of De Anima,” p. 32). However, compare Perkins’ overview of SW’s changes from the source; he notes that the drastic reduction of active dialogue like this from “De Custodia” suits SW better to its central task of sermonizing (“Reading the Bible,” p. 211).

9.1–14.20 Ich cume . . . ow theos tidinges. According to W, the details of the descriptions of Hell are additions by the Middle English adapter, as it is far more detailed than its Latin source. There are two major sources for medieval descriptions of Hell: The Vision of St. Paul (an early Christian apocryphal account of St. Paul’s visions of heaven and hell) and the sixth-century Sunday Letter (see W, p. 53n90). Robertson argues that such detailed description is characteristic of texts written for women and the uneducated (Early English Devotional Prose, pp. 126–94).

14.4 ham to grisle ant to grure. MWB glosses as “to their horror.”

14.6 Ther is remunge . . . the snawi weattres. Compare Matthew 24:51, 25:30, and 22:13.

hechelunge. W notes this as the only occurrence of the word in Middle English (p. 57n109). MED defines hechelynges as the combing or heckling of flax. Following tothes, it is defined as “gnashing or chattering of teeth.” Alone, a hechele is “an instrument for carding flax” (MED hechel(e (n.)) which would not seem to relate clearly to the chattering of teeth! We have based our translation on the typical English translation of Matthew 24:51, upon which the text is based: stridor dentium — “gnashing of teeth.”

14.10 unhope. W notes the rarity of the term unhope. Compare AW: “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” [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] (ed. Hasenfratz, p. 64, lines 72–74). According to MED, unhope (n.) is only otherwise used in the fifteenth-century Complaint Against Hope. The more common term is wanhope (n.), though MED does not record any uses of it before 1325.

14.13 fret of. Compare a similar use of the same verb just a few lines earlier at 14.4: “tadden ant froggen the freoteth ham ut te ehnen ant te nease-gristles.” MED suggests that the verb freten, when followed by of, would mean “to partake of, to eat of” (freten (v.1), senses 1a(b)). We have translated somewhat more liberally as “gnaws at” in order to evoke the earlier image of toads and frogs gnawing. The echo is possibly intentional on the part of the author since the sinners are not only gnawed on by the worms of Hell but become worms of Hell through their continual and corrosive hatred of each other.

14.17 pilche-clut. MED cites this line (pilche (n.), sense g) as meaning “a ragged pilch.” MWB translates as “a scrap of hide” (p. 93), and W as “rags, old cloth” (p. 111). The OED cites two instances of the phrase, one in this line of SW, and the other in Richard Coer de Lyon, line 6806 (A version).

14.18 O Helle, Deathes hus . . . ham neaver wontin. Fearlac’s rhetorically terrifying apostrophe to Hell features concrete details of suffering. Millett connects these lines to the Old English Homilies of Wulfstan, which our text closely parallels: “Ðær is ece bryne grimme gemencged, [and] þær is ece gryre; þær is granung [and] wanung [and] aa singal heof,” demonstrating clearly the passage’s “distinctively ‘native’ techniques of rhythm and alliteration” (“Continuity of English Prose,” p. 103) [There is eternal burning savagely stirred up, and there is eternal terror; there is groaning and howling and forever everlasting grief]. See also Robertson’s discussion of the concretion of the anonymous homilies in connection with the style of these texts (Early English Devotional Prose, pp. 144–80).

‘Wa beo the!’ ant ‘Wa beo the!’ B has identical “and ‘Wa beo the!’,” as does T. This looks like an inadvertent repetition, perhaps done in a base text for all three copies that are no longer extant. However, in none of the manuscripts is the repetition marked for deletion. Also, T initially writes the second “the” as “theo” with the o marked for deletion (as noted by W, p. 17), which suggests care in the composition of the text. Perhaps, as noted above, the mistake was in the exemplar, or perhaps it is not a mistake at all. Fearlac says earlier that the damned souls in Hell spend far more time cursing each other than they do themselves, so perhaps the repetition of “woe be to you!” attests to this tendency. MWB deals with the repetition by adding emphasis on the second “the” though there is no evidence for this in B.

14.19 wel were him yef thet he neaver ibore nere. Compare Matthew 26:24.

15.5 Ich habbe thervore . . . he hit forswolhe. Compare 1 Peter 5:8.

16.2 The apostle seith . . . he flith ananriht. Compare James 4:7.

16.4–5 Ye, nis Godd . . . His deore grace. Compare Ephesians 6:16.

17.2 foryemeth ham. MWB glosses this as a passive instance of foryemen meaning “are negligent” (p. 181); however, we have chosen to translate the phrase as a reflexive, to “neglect themselves” because of the implication that forgetting God is also a process of forgetting or neglecting the self.

18.2 onont hireseolven. See W, p. 49n57, regarding the occurrence of “onont” in the Bodley 34 group. It also occurs at 4.5 of this text. W says it could be related to Old English on-emn (which the MED records as a preposition meaning “besides, etc.”). See MED anentes (prep.), sense 5a: “with respect to, as regards, concerning” and MED anent(es (adv.): “approximately, about.”

18.7 ne beo we neaver swucche. MWB translates as “even if we are not” (p. 97); we have chosen a more literal translation.

22.1 his. Refers back to the “tidinges” earlier in the same sentence.

26.1 leor. See the explanatory note to 5.3 above (leor).

28.1 engles ant to the archangles. The nine orders of angels are: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim, and Seraphim. While the orders of angels are mentioned frequently throughout the Bible, they are organized hierarchically in De Coelesti Hierarchia of Dionysius the Pseudo-Aeropagite, and known later in the Middle Ages through the writings of Gregory the Great (see MWB, p. 157n100/23).

29.1–2 Efter ham Ich iseh . . . . i gasteliche sihthe. Compare Hebrews 11:13. “Gastelich sihthe” means spiritual visions.

29.3 alles cunnes ledenes. According to W, ledenes in Old English meant Latin, but by this date meant any foreign language (p. 71n281). See also BT, Læden (n.), which indicates that even by the tenth century Læden could mean Latin (sense 1) or “any tongue, speech, language” (sense 2). A number of the Bodley 34 texts share a self-consciousness about language; for example, see SM 74.1 and the corresponding explanatory note. Both MWB and Savage and Watson translate this line more generally as “nation.”

30.1–32.4 Ich biheolt te . . . . halhen sittende ihereth. SW omits what Perkins calls the “coenobitic heroes” of its Latin source, De Custodia: the “‘apostolici et doctores’ and ‘monachos’” (quoted in Becker, "Literary Treatment," p. 225). Meanwhile, passages of relevance to female religious readers are expanded, further evidence that SW, if not intended as reading specifically designed for anchoresses, was almost certainly intended first for the female reader (Perkins, “Reading the Bible,” p. 215). See also Eggebroten, “Sawles Warde: A Retelling of De Anima,” and Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose, pp. 126–43.

34.1 The imeane blisse is seovenfald. On the seven joys of the soul, see MWB p. 157n102/21–23.

37.3 Ant beoth . . . nebbe to nebbe. Compare 1 Corinthians 13:12.

37.4 His domes . . . sea dingle. Compare Psalm 35:6: “Thy justice is as the mountains of God, thy judgments are a great deep.” Sea dingle presents difficulties in translation, as dingle is of unknown etymology and this is the only recorded instance of the term in Middle English besides in place names. See MED dingle (n.), “a deep dell or hollow.” According to the OED, a dingle is, in the modern dialect of Yorkshire, “the name of a deep narrow cleft between hills,” i.e., a valley (dingle (n.)). We have chosen to translate sea dingle as “sea trench” since “trench” is the term applied to an underwater valley. While the translation is no doubt modern in terminology, the sense remains that the judgments of God reach as physically low as is geographically possible, which, to the medieval writer and audience, would represent the deepest parts of the sea-floor that are therefore closest to Hell. For a detailed explanation as to the possible etymology of “dingle,” see W, pp. 74–75n320. Of note is W. H. Auden’s use of this line in his poem “Doom is Dark and Deeper than any Sea-Dingle”; see Bloomfield’s article of the same name for the implications of this usage.

39.7 Intra in gaudium. Compare Matthew 25:21.

39.10 Beati qui habitant. Compare Psalm 83:5.

40.1 ase thin ehe-lid tuneth ant openeth. Literally, “as your eyelid closes and opens.” We translate more idiomatically as “in the blink of an eye.” See OED eye-blink, sense C4.

43.1–2 Hwen hit swa is . . . haveth us iyarcket. Compare Romans 8:35–39.

43.2 under His wengen. Refuge under God’s wings is a frequent image in the Psalms. See, for example, Vulgate Psalms 16:8, 35:8, 60:5, etc. See also HM explanatory note 41.6.

44.1 Warpeth ut . . . ure fa. Compare 1 John 4:18. The allegory literalizes John’s assertion that “Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear,” and serves as the climax to, as Perkins states, “a dramatic enactment of . . . scriptural verse . . . from Fearlac’s warnings to Liues Luue’s vision of heaven” (“Reading the Bible,” p. 214).

48.1 Nu is Wil thet husewif al stille. Hassel understands Will’s silence as only a temporary victory in “the ongoing work of vigilance” (Choosing Not to Marry, p. 96). She compares the ending moment of SW to the “tempting but false” moment in SJ 34.1–7 where the demon disguised as an angel tries to persuade Juliana that God does not want to see her suffer any more, and will allow her to marry Eleusius, a moment that seems to promise a happy resolution but in reality only poses mortal danger to those who let down their guard.

50.1 Par seinte charité. This phrase is the second of two entirely French-derived phrases used in SW, in addition to “fol semblant.” See also the explanatory note 3.7. See Skaffari, “Lexical Borrowings,” p. 92, for more discussion of the implications of “code-switching,” i.e., abruptly changing linguistic registers within the text. Skaffari also considers that the entire final note of R, included here, “may not be more than an afterthought” (“Lexical Borrowings,” p. 92).

Johan thet theos boc wrat. This prayer and the brief poem that follows it only appears in R. The John mentioned here is presumably the scribe; his appeal is a conventional envoi that often appears at the end of medieval texts wherein the author or scribe takes his leave and requests readers to pray for his soul.





ABBREVIATIONS: AW: Ancrene Wisse, ed. Hasenfratz; BS: Bennett and Smithers edition (1968); BT: Bosworth and Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 34 [base text]; MWB: Millett and Wogan-Browne edition (1990); R: British Library MS Royal 17 A XXVII; T: British Library MS Cotton Titus D XVIII; W: Wilson edition (1938).

We consulted Wilson’s 1938 diplomatic edition of all three manuscripts of Sawles Warde over the course of producing our text here. We also consulted Bennett and Smithers and Millett and Wogan-Browne, the two most recent editions of the text. While we turned to the Hall and Morris editions on occasion, we have not collated those readings with the readings below.

1.1 Si. MS: capital S, two lines high.

2.2 his. MS: his h.

3.1 Lauerd. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: lauerð.

3.7 hwer. So MS, corrected from hwet.

other. So MWB, R, T. MS: oder, which BS retains.

3.9 iwiten. So MS; the word has been inserted in a different hand and is corrected from what looks like iwelen. BS and MWB emend to felen following R’s reading; in BS’s case, following W’s mis-reading of the inserted word as iþþlen. T: fele.

Wit. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: hit.

3.10 fare. So BS, MWB, R. T: fares. MS omits.

3.11 tresor. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: tre. Apparently the MS scribe finished the line with half of the word then forgot to complete the word at the beginning of the next line.

4.1 Wit. MS: capital Wynn, three lines high.

4.3 suster. So MS, corrected from þuster.

hird. So BS, MWB, T. MS: hirð. R: hinen.

4.5 this. So MWB, R, T. MS: his, which BS retains. It should be noted that MS’s reading does make sense: “For fear of her his (i.e., Wit’s) household . . .” However, we have emended to the R and T reading for greater clarity.

hird. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: hirth.

his1. So MWB, R, T. MS omits, which BS retains.

honden. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: hondon.

5.1 As. MS: capital A, five lines high, largely due to the flourish on the first ascender.

5.3 ant leane. MS: ant feier leane.

5.4 ham. So MWB, R, T. MS omits, which BS retains.

6.3 ha1. So BS, MWB, T. MS, R: he. The T scribe is evidently the first to catch this mistake, as the word is corrected from he.

7.3 enbrevet. MS: enbrevedt.

At the bottom of fol. 73v, a later hand has written Thomas Hauard esquier. See Ker, Facsimile of MS Bodley 34, pp. xiii–xv, for details regarding these additions.

13.1 tellen. MS: the word is inserted above the line.

reodien. MS: a decorative mark follows this word to the end of the line.

14.1 Helle. MS: capital H, three lines high.

wid. So BS, MWB, T. MS and R omit. The Bodley scribe may have omitted the word because of its similarity to the next word, wiðute.

14.3 In the left margin of fol. 74v, MS has Thomas clynton clericus, along with some scribbles. See Ker, Facsimile of MS Bodley 34, pp. xiii–xv, for details regarding these additions.

greot. So MS, BS. MWB, R, T: grot. W suggests MS’s greot is a mistake based on the Old English term greot meaning “grit” (BT greót (n.)) but goes on to suggest a more probable explanation: “the mechanical transcription of original o as eo by the B. scribe” (p. 55n101); however, see Millett, Dance, and Dobson who, commenting on AW 4.1178, suggest that “it is possible that there was some overlap between the senses of grot ‘fragment’ and greot ‘(particle of) sand, gravel’” (AW, vol. 2, p. 181n4.1178). Hence, we have retained MS’s reading.

14.6 hechelunge. So MS. T: hechelinge. See also the corresponding explanatory note.

14.18 rueth. So MS, BS, MWB. R: ruueð. T runeð. The T reading is most likely a mistake. W (p. 61n143) follows Hall in attributing the MS and R readings to a non-extant verb, *ruuen, meaning “to stiffen, to stand up in disorder.” MED, which cites only this line under ruen (v.), suggests the Middle Dutch ruderuwen, “to stand up.”

the3. So MS. T: theo, with the o marked for deletion. See the corresponding explanatory note.

15.1 Nu. MS: a space was left for a two-line capital which was never inserted. The indicator letter is faintly visible in the left margin, though part of it has been cropped.

donne. So MS, corrected from donte.

15.2 ha. So MWB, R, T. MS: he, which BS retains.

15.3 ofdred. So MS, corrected from a dred.

17.4 we1. MS: wei.

17.5 middel. So MWB, R, T. MS: midel, which BS retains. We have emended for sense.

18.1 Rihtwissnesse. MS: space has been left for a capital R, two lines high. A faint R is visible but is severely faded, which is the case for all of the capitals that follow.

18.2 strengthe. So BS, MWB, T. MS: strengde, which W reads as strengðe. R: strencðe.

to ure alre ehnen — ant. So BS, following R. MS: ant ure alre ehnen.

19.1 Wit. MS: there is an otiose downstroke between W and i.

20.1 The. MS: space has been left for a capital T, two lines high.

treowliche. So BS, MWB, R. MS: treowliliche. T: treweliche.

21.1 swithe. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: swide.

24.1 Hercnith. MS: space has been left for a capital H, two lines high.

24.2 Ich. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: ch.

25.1 A. MS: space has been left for a capital A, two lines high.

26.1 Murhthes. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: murhdes.

habbe isehen. MS: habbe him ofte isehen.

mine. So MS, corrected from meine.

26.2 ofte. MS: the scribe wrote ofsee, corrected to oftee, then deleted the word. His second attempt was only slightly more successful: having written ofee, he corrected to ofte.

27.1 wordes. So BS, MWB, based on T’s weoredes. BS also cites De Anima’s “super omnes ordines” as a guide for supplying the missing word (Hugh of St Victor, p. 185ff). MS, R omit.

with. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: wid.

weoleful. MS: wle weoleful.

therayeinis. So BS, MWB, R. MS: þe aʒeines. T: ther toʒeines.

27.2 blitheliche. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: blideliche.

28.1 Thet. MS: space has been left for a capital T, two lines high.

unwerget. MS: corrected from unwerged.

28.2 ha. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: ha ha. The first ha occurs at the end of the line, and the second at the beginning of the next line.

29.1 Efter. MS: space has been left for a capital E, two lines high.

makieth. So BS, MWB, R. MS: makied. T: makeð.

30.1 Ich. MS: space has been left for a capital I, two lines high.

31.1 Efter. MS: space has been left for a capital E, two lines high.

cunfessurs. MS: corrected from cunfessores.

haliliche. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: haliche.

32.1 Ich. MS: space has been left for a capital I, two lines high.

ferreden. MS: fereden; r2 is inserted above the line.

32.2 feierleac. MS: feierlac; e3 is inserted above the line.

32.4 smeal. MS: smel; a is inserted above the line.

33.1 Swithe. MS: space has been left for a capital S, two lines high.

34.1 The. MS: space has been left for a capital T, two lines high.

37.1 Ha. MS: space has been left for a capital H, two lines high.

seovevald. MS: the final letter is d or t, though it is difficult to tell which is the corrected form; we have followed d based on R’s reading of seoueuald and T’s reading of seuefald.

37.2 cnawlechunge. MS: preceded by several partially erased letters, possibly cwa with superscript n.

37.3 seoth. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: sod.

38.1 Ha. MS: space has been left for a capital H, two lines high.

39.1 ff. Beginning on fol. 80r (MS’s final folio), the manuscript becomes increasingly difficult to read due to staining, water damage, and tearing in the manuscript. Ker advises that this damage is due to the fact that MS lacked a cover for quite some time (Facsimile of MS Bodley 34, p. xii). When text is lacking, we have turned to R and T.

39.1 Se. MS: space has been left for a capital S, two lines high.

na speche. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS is unreadable.

39.2 euchan haveth. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: ?uch?? ?aveð.

othres. So BS, MWB, T. MS: odres. R: oðeres.

39.3 haveth. So BS, MWB, T. MS: h?veð. R: haþ.

39.4 othre. So BS, MWB. MS: odre. R: oðer. T: þoðre.

39.6 undervon. So BS, MWB. MS: ????rvon. R, T: underfon. A long tear in the page (fol. 80r) obscures this word and affects 41.2, 42.1, and 42.2 (see notes below).

se unimete. So BS, MWB, T. MS: s?????ete. R: so unimete.

hu is hit thet. So MWB. MS, R, T: þet, which BS retains.

nimeth. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: nime?.

hire3. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: hi??.

39.12 worlde into worlde. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: missing. The bottom corner of the folio is torn off, obliterating this phrase as well as parts of 40.1, and finally ending the text at sunne-gleam the sch (40.1).

40.1 Ha. MS: space has been left for a capital H, two lines high.

lihte . . . sunne. So MWB, R. MS: lih. T: lihte ant ase swifte ase sunne, which BS retains.

scheot . . . thin. So MWB, R. MS: sch. T: scheot fram est into west as tin, which BS retains.

41.1 Sikere. MS: space has been left for a capital S, two lines high.

mei. So BS, MWB. MS: me. R omits. T: mai.

41.2 seh1. So BS, MWB, T. MS, R: neh. Repetition from a previous word.

seh2. So BS, T. R: iseh, which MWB retains. The word is missing from MS because of the tear in the page, although the very top of the h is visible (see textual note 39.6 above). We have emended following T since it seems more likely that there is only room for three letters in the lacuna.

42.1 “Witerliche,” quoth. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: iterl. A space has been left for the capital wynn and never filled in; the rest of the phrase is lost due to the tear (see textual note 39.6 above).

42.2 tu havest. So BS, MWB, R, T. MS: t? ?avest. See textual note 39.6 above.

43.1–2 halden . . . Ich. So BS, MWB, T. MS: hald, with the rest of the phrase lost due to the torn section of page (see textual note 39.12 above). R: halden us þeonne ih.

43.2 thet1 . . . wa. So MWB, R. MS: see textual note 39.12 above. T: þat ne schal ne lif ne deað ne wa, which BS retains, omitting ne2.

nowther. MS ends here. From this point forward we have followed R (which BS and MWB also follow).

tresurers. So MWB, R: tresures. BS: etresurers. T: tresorers.

47.1 quoth Meath. So BS, M, T. R omits.

49.1 his1. So BS, MWB, T. R omits.

that his. So T. BS, R omit. MWB emends to thet his.

drahe. So MWB, T. R: teach, which reading BS retains.

the2. BS omits. R: þerfore þe. W (p. 80n394) cites Hall in supposing that therfore is a mistaken anticipation of þe fowre.

49.2 ant te . . . ant te. R: ant e . . . ant e. We have emended to the more typical forms for sense.

50.1–59.1 Par seinte charité . . . sawle yelden. AMEN. These lines only appear in R; wrat in 50.1 refers to the scribe’s act of copying.






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I the Feaderes ant i the Sunes and i the Hali Gastes nome, her bigineth
Sawles Warde.

(1) Si sciret paterfamilias qua hora fur venturus esset, vigilaret utique et non sineret
perfodi domum suam

(1) Ure Lauerd i the Godspel teacheth us thurh a bisne hu we ahen wearliche to
biwiten us seolven with the unwiht of Helle ant with his wrenches. (2) “Yef thes lauerd
wiste,” he seith, “hwenne ant hwuch time the theof walde cume to his hus, he walde
wakien; ne nalde he nawt tholien the theof forte breoken hire.”

(1) This hus the ure Lauerd speketh of is seolf the mon. (2) Inwith, the monnes
wit i this hus is the huse lauerd, ant te fulitohe wif mei beon wil ihaten, thet, ga the
hus efter hire, ha diht hit al to wundre bute Wit ase lauerd chasti hire the betere ant
bineome hire muchel of thet ha walde. (3) Ant tah walde al hire hird folhin hire
overal yef Wit ne forbude ham, for alle hit beoth untohene ant rechelese hinen bute
yef he ham rihte. (4) Ant hwucche beoth theos hinen? (5) Summe beoth withuten
ant summe withinnen. (6) Theo withuten beoth the monnes fif wittes, sihthe ant
herunge, smechunge ant smeallunge, ant euch limes felunge.
(7) Theos beoth hinen under Wit as under huse lauerd, ant hwer se he is yemeles
nis hare nan the ne feareth ofte untoheliche ant gulteth ilome, other i fol
semblant other in uvel dede. (8) Inwith, beoth his hinen in se moni mislich thonc
to cwemen wel the husewif ayein Godes wille, ant swerieth somet readliche thet
efter hire hit schal | gan. (9) Thah we hit ne here nawt, we mahen iwiten hare
nurhth ant hare untohe bere, athet Wit cume forth ant ba with eie ant with luve
tuhte ham the betere. (10) Ne bith neaver his hus, for theos hinen, wel iwist for
hwon thet he slepe other ohwider fare from hame, thet is, hwen mon foryet his
wit ant let ham iwurthen. (11) Ah ne bihoveth hit nawt thet tis hus beo irobbet, for
ther is inne the tresor thet Godd yef Himseolf fore — thet is, monnes sawle. (12)
Forte breoke this hus efter this tresor, thet Godd bohte mid His death ant lette
lif o Rode, is moni theof abuten ba bi dei ant bi niht, unseheliche gasttes with alle
unwreaste theawes. (13) Ant ayein euch god theaw the biwiteth i this hus, Godes
deore castel, under Wittes wissunge thet is huse lauerd, is eaver hire untheaw forte
sechen inyong abute the wahes to amurthrin hire thrinne. (14) Thet heaved throf
is the Feont the meistreth ham alle. (15) Ayeines him ant his keis, the husebonde
(thet is, Wit) warneth his hus thus: ure Lauerd haveth ileanet him frovre of His
dehtren, thet beoth to understonden the fowr heaved theawes. (16) The earste is
Warschipe icleopet, ant te other is ihaten Gasteliche Strengthe, ant te thridde is
Meath, Rihtwisnesse the feorthe.

(1) Wit the husbonde, Godes cunestable, cleopeth War|schipe forth ant
makith hire durewart, the warliche loki hwam ha leote in ant ut, ant of feor
bihalde alle the cuminde: hwuch beo wurthe inyong to habben other beon
bisteken thrute. (2) Strengthe stont nest hire thet, yef ei wule in Warschipes
unthonkes warni Strengthe fore, thet is hire suster, ant heo hit ut warpe. (3) The
thridde suster, thet is Meath, hire he maketh meistre over his willesfule hird (thet
we ear of speken), thet ha leare ham mete, thet me “meosure” hat, the middel of
twa uveles, for thet is theaw in euch stude ant tuht forte halden, ant hateth ham
alle thet nan of ham ayein hire nohwer with unmeath ne ga over mete. (4) The
feorthe suster, Rihtwisnesse, sit on hest as deme ant beateth theo the agulteth ant
cruneth theo the wel doth, ant demeth euchan his dom efter his rihte. (5) For dret
of hire, nimeth this hird — euch efter thet he is — his warde to witene: the ehnen
hare, the muth his, the earen hare, the honden hare, ant euch alswa of the othre
wit thet onont him ne schal nan untheaw cumen in.

(1) As this is ido thus ant is al stille thrinne, Warschipe, thet áá is waker, is
offearet lest sum fortruste him ant feole o slepe ant foryeme his warde. (2) Ant sent
ham in a sonde thet ha wel cnaweth, of feorren icumen, forte offearen theo the
beoth | overhardi, ant theo the yemelese beoth halden ham wakere. (3) He is
undervon in ant swithe bihalden of ham alle, for lonc he is ant leane, ant his leor
deathlich ant blac ant elheowet, ant euch her thuncheth thet stont in his heaved up.
(4) Warschipe hat him tellen bivoren ham hwet he beo ant hweonene he comme ant
hwet he ther seche.

(1) “Ne mei Ich,” he seith, “nohwer speoken bute Ich habbe god lust. (2)
Lustnith me thenne: Fearlac Ich hatte, ant am Deathes sonde ant Deathes
munegunge, ant am icumen bivore hire to warnin ow of hire cume.” (3) Warschipe,
thet best con bisetten hire wordes ant ec hire werkes, speketh for ham alle ant
freineth hweonene ha cume ant hwuch hird ha leade.

(1) Fearlac hire ontswereth, “Ich nat nawt the time, for ha ne seide hit me nawt.
(2) Ah eaver lokith hwenne, for hire wune is to cumen bi stale, ferliche ant unmund-
lunge hwen me least weneth. (3) Of hire hird thet tu easkest, Ich the ondswerie: ha
lihteth hwer se ha eaver kimeth with a thusent deoflen; ant euchan bereth a gret boc
al of sunnen iwriten with swarte smeale leattres, ant an unrude raketehe gledread
of fure forte binden ant to drahen into inwarde Helle hwuch se he mei preovin
thurh his boc, thet is on euch sunne enbre|vet thet he with wil other with word
other with werc wrahtte in al his lifsithe — bute thet he haveth ibet earthon with
soth schrift ant with deadbote.”

(1) Ant Warschipe hire easketh, “Hweonene cumest tu, Fearlac, Deathes mune-

(1) “Ich cume,” he seith, “of Helle.”

(1) “Of Helle?” ha seith, Warschipe. “Ant havest tu isehen Helle?”

(1) “Ye,” seith Fearlac, “witerliche, ofte ant ilome.”

(1) “Nu,” seith thenne Warschipe, “for thi trowthe, treoweliche tele us hwuch
is Helle ant hwet tu havest isehen thrin.”

(1) “Ant Ich,” he seith, Fearlac, “o mi trowthe, blitheliche nawt tah efter thet hit
is — for thet ne mei na tunge tellen — ah efter thet Ich mei ant con, thertowart Ich
chulle reodien.

(1) “Helle is wid withute met ant deop withute grunde, ful of brune unevenlich,
for ne mei nan eorthlich fur evenin thertowart; ful of stench untholelich, for ne
mahte in eorthe na cwic thing hit tholien; ful of sorhe untalelich, for ne mei na
muth, for wrecchedom ne for wa, rikenin hit ne tellen. (2) So thicke is thrinne the
theosternesse thet me hire mei grapin, for thet fur ne yeveth na liht ah blent ham
the ehnen the ther beoth with a smorthrinde smoke, smeche forcuthest. (3) Ant tah
i thet ilke swarte theosternesse swarte thinges ha iseoth, as deoflen thet ham
meallith ant derveth áá ant dreccheth with alles cunnes pinen, ant iteilede draken,
grisliche ase deoflen, the forswolheth ham ihal ant speoweth ham | eft ut bivoren
ant bihinden, otherhwile torendeth ham ant tocheoweth ham euch greot, ant heo
eft iwurtheth hal to a swuch bale bute bote as ha ear weren. (4) Ant ful wel ha iseoth
(ham to grisle ant to grure, ant to echen hare pine) the lathe Helle-wurmes, tadden
ant froggen the freoteth ham ut te ehnen ant te nease-gristles. (5) Ant sniketh in ant
ut neddren ant eauroskes — nawt ilich theose her ah hundret sithe grisluker — et
muth ant et earen, ed ehnen ant ed neavele ant ed te breoste-holke as meathen i
forrotet flesch, eaveryete thickest. (6) Ther is remunge i the brune ant tothes
hechelunge i the snawi weattres. (7) Ferliche ha flutteth from the heate into the
chele, ne neaver nuten ha of theos twa hwether ham thuncheth wurse, for either is
untholelich. (8) Ant i this ferliche mong the leatere thurh the earre derveth the
mare. (9) Thet fur ham forbearneth al to colen calde; thet pich ham forwalleth athet
ha beon formealte ant eft acwikieth anan to drehen al thet ilke (ant muche deale
wurse) áá withuten ende. (10) Ant tis ilke unhope is ham meast pine, thet nan
naveth neaver mare hope of nan acoverunge, ah aren sikere of euch uvel to
thurhleasten i wa, from world into worlde, áá on echnesse. (11) Euch athrusmeth
other, ant euch is othres pine, ant euchan heateth other — ant himseolven — as |
the blake deovel. (12) Ant eaver se ha i this world luveden ham mare, se ha ther
heatieth ham swithere. (13) Ant either curseth other, ant fret of the othres earen ant
te nease alswa. (14) Ich habbe bigunne to tellen of thing thet Ich ne mahte nawt
bringe to eni ende, thah Ich hefde a thusent tungen of stele ant talde athet ha weren
alle forwerede. (15) Ah thencheth nu herthurh hwuch the measte pine beo. (16) For
the leaste pine is se heard thet, hefde a mon islein ba mi feader ant mi moder ant
al the ende of mi cun, ant ido me seolven al the scheome ant te hearm thet cwic mon
mahte tholien, ant Ich isehe thes mon i the ilke leaste pine thet Ich iseh in Helle,
Ich walde (yef hit mahte beon) tholien a thusent deathes to arudden him ut throf,
swa is the sihthe grislich ant reowthful to bihalden. (17) For thah neaver nere nan
other pine bute to iseon eaver the unseli gastes ant hare grisliche schape — biseon
on hare grimfule ant grurefule nebbes, ant heren hare rarunge ant hu
ha with hokeres edwiteth ant upbreideth euchan his sunnen — this schenthlac ant
te grure of ham were unimete pine, ant hure tholien ant abeoren hare unirude
duntes with mealles istelet, ant with hare eawles gledreade hare dustlunges as thah
hit were a pilche-clut euchan towart other i misliche pinen! (18) O Helle, Deathes hus
— wununge of wanunge, of grure ant of granunge, heatel | ham ant heard, wan of
alle wontreathes, buri of bale ant bold of eavereuch bitternesse, thu lathest lont of
alle, thu dorc stude ifullet of alle dreorinesses — Ich cwakie of grisle ant of grure,
ant euch ban scheketh me ant euch her me rueth up of thi munegunge, for nis ther
na stevene bituhhe the fordemde bute ‘Wumme!’ ant ‘Wa is me!’ ant ‘Wa beo the!’
ant ‘Wa beo the!’ ‘Wa!’ ha yeieth ant wa ha habbeth, ne of al thet eaver wa is ne schal
ham neaver wontin. (19) The swuch wununge ofearneth for ei hwilinde blisse her
o thisse worlde, wel were him yef thet he neaver ibore nere. (20) Bi this ye mahen
sumdel witen hwuch is Helle, for iwis, Ich habbe thrin isehen a thusent sithe wurse,
ant from theonne kimeth Death with a thusent deoflen hiderwart, as Ich seide, ant
Ich com thus,” quoth Fearlac, “for te warnin ow fore ant tellen ow theos tidinges.”

(1) “Nu Lauerd Godd,” quoth Warschipe, “wardi us ant werie, ant rihte us ant
reade hwet us beo to donne, ant we beon the warre ant wakere to witen us on euch
half under Godes wengen. (2) Yef we wel werieth ant witeth ure hus ant Godes
deore tresor thet He haveth bitaht us, cume Death hwen ha wule! (3) Ne thurve
we nowther beon ofdred for hire ne for Helle, for ure death bith deore
Godd ant ingong into Heovene. (4) Of theos fikelinde world ne of hire false blisse
ne neome we neaver yeme, for al thet is on eorthe nis bute as a schadewe, for al
wurtheth | to noht bute thet deore tresor, Godes deorewurthe feh thet is us bitaht
to witene. (5) Ich habbe thervore sar care, for Ich iseo,” seith Warschipe, “hu the
Unwhiht with his ferd ase liun iburst geath abuten ure hus, sechinde yeornliche hu
he hit forswolhe. (6) Ant tis Ich mei,” seith Warschipe, “warnin ow of his lath ant for
his wrenches, ah Ich ne mei nawt ageines his strengthe.”

(1) “Do nu,” quoth Strengthe, “Warschipe, suster, thet te limpet to the ant
warne us of his wiheles, for of al his strengthe ne drede we nawiht, for nis his
strengthe noht wurth bute hwer se he ifindeth etheliche ant wake, unwarnede of
treowe bileave. (2) The apostle seith, ‘Etstont then feont ant he flith ananriht.’ (3)
Schulde we thenne fleon him? (4) Ye, nis Godd ure scheld? (5) Ant alle beoth ure
wepnen of His deore grace, ant Godd is on ure half ant stont bi us i fehte. (6) Yef
he schute towart me with weole ant wunne of the world, with este of flesches lustes,
of thulliche nesche wepnen Ich mahte carien summes weis, ah ne mei me na thing
heardes offearen, ne nowcin ne na wone falsi min heorte ne wursi mi bileave towart
Him thet yeveth me alle mine strengthen.”

(1) “For ba me ah,” quoth Meath, “ant for heart of nowcin ant for wone of
wunne, dreden ant carien. (2) For moni for to muchel heard of wa thet he dreheth
forget ure Lauerd, ant ma thah for nesche ant for flesches licunge for|yemeth ham
ofte. (3) Bituhhen heard ant nesche, bituhhe wa of this world ant to muche wunne,
bituhhe muchel ant lutel, is in euch worldlich thing the middel wei guldene. (4) Yef
we hire haldeth, thenne ga we sikerliche, ne therf us nowther for Death ne for
deovel dreden. (5) Hwet se beo of heardes, ne drede Ich nawiht nesches, for ne mei
na wunne ne na flesches licunge ne licomlich este bringe me over the middel of
mesure ant of mete.”

(1) Rihtwissnesse speketh nu: “Mi suster,” ha seith, “Warschipe, the haveth wit
ant schad bituhhe god ant uvel, ant wat hwet is in euch thing to cheosen ant to
schunien, readeth us ant leareth for te yeme lutel alle fallinde thing ant witen
warliche theo the schulen áá lesten. (2) Ant seith as ha soth, seith thet thurh
unweotenesse ne mei ha nawt sunegin, ant tah nis nawt siker of the unwihtes
strengthe, as theo the halt hire wac — thah ha beo muche wurth to ure alre ehnen
— ant demeth hire unmihti onont hireseolven to etstonden with his turnes, ant deth
ase the wise. (3) Mi suster Strengthe is swithe bald ant seith thet nawiht heardes ne
mei hire offearen; ah thah ha ne trust nawt on hire ahne wepnen ah deth o Godes
grace, ant thet Ich demi riht ant wisdom to donne. (4) Mi thridde suster, Meath,
speketh of the middel sti bituhhe riht ant luft thet lut cunnen halden, | ant seith i
nesche ha is bald, ant heard mei hire offearen; ant forthi ne yelpeth ha of
na sikernesse, ant deth as the wise. (5) Mi meoster is to do riht forte demen, ant Ich
deme meseolf thet Ich thurh me ne do hit nawt, for al thet god is of Godd thet we
her habbeth. (6) Nu is riht thenne thet we demen us seolf eaver unmihtie to werien
ant to witen us other ei god to halden withute Godes helpe. (7) The rihtwise
Godd wule thet we demen us seolf etheliche ant lahe (ne beo we neaver swucche),
for thenne demeth He us muche wurth ant gode ant halt for His dehtren. (8) For
thah mi forme suster war beo of euch uvel, ant min other strong beo toyeines euch
nowcin, ant mi thridde meathful in alles cunnes estes, ant Ich do riht ant deme,
bute we, with al this, milde beon ant meoke ant halden us wake, Godd mei mid
rihte fordemen us of al this thurh ure prude. (9) Ant forthi is riht dom thet we, al
ure god, thonkin Him ane.”

(1) Wit, the husebonde, Godes cunestable, hereth alle hare sahen ant thonketh
God yeorne with swithe glead heorte of se riche lane as beoth theos sustren, His
fowr dehtren thet He haveth ileanet him on helpe forte wite wel ant werien his
castel ant Godes deorewurthe feh thet is biloke thrinne.

(1) The willesfule husewif halt hire al stille, ant al thet hird thet ha wes iwunet
to dreaien efter hire turneth | ham treowliche to Wit hare lauerd, ant to theos fowr

(1) Umben ane stunde speketh eft Warschipe ant seith, “Ich iseo a sonde
cumen, swithe gledd icheret, feier ant freolich ant leofliche aturnet.”

(1) “Let him in,” seith Wit. “Yef Godd wule, he bringeth us gleade tidinges, ant
thet us were muche neod, for Fearlac, Deathes sonde, haveth with his offearet us
swithe mid alle.” (2) Warschipe let him in ant he gret Wit, then lauerd, ant al thet hird
seothen with lahhinde chere. (3) Ant ha yeldeth him his gretunge ant beoth alle ilihtet
ant igleadet, ham thuncheth, of his onsihthe, for al thet hus schineth ant schimmeth
of his leome. (4) He easketh ham yef ham biluveth to heren him ane hwile.

(1) “Ye,” quoth ha (Rihtwisnesse), “wel us biluveth hit, ant wel is riht thet we the
litheliche lustnin.”

(1) “Hercnith nu thenne,” he seith, “ant yeornliche understondeth. (2) Ich am
Murthes sonde ant munegunge of eche lif, ant Lives Luve ihaten, ant cume riht
from Heovene thet Ich habbe isehen nu ant ofte ear, the blisse thet na monnes
tunge ne mei of tellen. (3) The iblescede Godd iseh ow offruhte ant sumdel drupnin
of thet Fearlac talde of Death ant of Helle, ant sende me to gleadien ow, nawt forthi
thet hit ne beo al soth, thet he seide (ant thet schulen alle uvele fondin ant ifinden)
ah ye with the fulst of Godd ne thurve na thing dreden, for He sit on | heh thet is
ow on helpe, ant is alwealdent thet haveth ow to witene.”

(1) “A!” seith Warschipe, “welcume, Lives Luve! (2) Ant for the luve of Godd
seolf, yef thu eaver sehe Him, tele us sumhwet of Him ant of His eche blisse.”

(1) “Ye, i seoth,” quoth Lives Luve, Murhthes sonde, “Ich habbe isehen Him
ofte; nawt tah alswa as He is, for ayein the brihtnesse ant te liht of His leor, the
sunne-gleam is dosc ant thuncheth a schadewe, ant forthi ne mahte Ich nawt
ayein the leome of His wlite lokin ne bihalden, bute thurh a schene schawere
bituhhe me ant Him thet schilde mine ehnen. (2) Swa Ich habbe ofte isehen the
Hali Thrumnesse — Feader ant Sune ant Hali Gast, threo an untodealet — ah
lutle hwile Ich mahte tholie the leome. (3) Ah summes weis Ich mahte bihalden
ure Lauerd Jesu Crist, Godes Sune, thet bohte us o Rode, hu He sit blisful on His
Feader riht half thet is alwealdent. (4) Rixleth i thet eche lif bute linnunge, se
unimete feier thet te engles ne beoth neaver ful on Him to bihalden. (5) Ant yet
ich iseh etscene the studen of His wunden, ant hu He schaweth ham His Feader to
cuthen hu He luvede us ant hu He wes buhsum to Him the sende Him swa to alesen
us; ant bisecheth Him áá for moncunnes heale.

(1) “Efter Him, Ich iseh on heh over alle heovenliche wordes the eadi meiden
His moder, Marie inempnet, sitten in | a trone se swithe briht with gimmes istirret,
ant hire wlite se weoleful thet euch eorthlich liht is theoster therayeines. (2) Thear
Ich iseh as ha bit hire deorewurthe Sune se yeornliche ant se inwardliche for theo
thet hire servith, ant He hire getteth blitheliche al thet ha bisecheth.

(1) “Thet liht tha Ich ne mahte lengre tholien, Ich biseh to the engles ant to the
archangles ant to the othre the beoth buven ham, iblescede gastes the beoth áá bi-
vore Godd ant servith Him eaver ant singeth áá unwerget. (2) Nihe wordes ther
beoth, ah hu ha beoth iordret ant sunderliche isette, the an buve the othre, ant
euchanes meoster, were long to tellen. (3) Se muche murhthe Ich hefde on hare
onsihthe thet ne mahte Ich longe hwile elleshwider lokin.

(1) “Efter ham Ich iseh towart te patriarches ant te prophetes, the makieth
swuch murhthe thet ha aren nuthe i thet ilke lont of blisse thet ha hefden of feor
igret ear on eorthe. (2) Ant seoth nu al thet isothet thet ha hefden longe ear
icwiddet of ure Lauerd, as He hefde ischawed ham i gastelich sihthe. (3) Ich iseh the
apostles, poure ant lah on eorthe, ifullet ant bigoten al of unimete blisse sitten i
trones, ant al under hare vet thet heh is i the worlde, yarowe forte demen i the dei
of dome kinges ant keiseres ant alle cunreadnes of alles cunnes ledenes.

(1) | “Ich biheolt te martyrs ant hare unimete murhthe, the tholeden her pinen
ant death for ure Lauerd, ant lihtliche talden to alles cunnes neowcins ant
eorthliche tintreohen ageines the blisse thet Godd in hare heorte schawede ham to

(1) “Efter ham Ich biheolt the cunfessurs hird the liveden i god lif ant haliliche
deiden, the schineth as doth steorren i the eche blissen, ant seoth Godd in His wlite
thet haveth alle teares iwipet of hare ehnen.

(1) “Ich iseh thet schene ant thet brihte ferreden of the eadi meidnes ilikest
towart engles, ant feolahlukest with ham blissin ant gleadien, the libbinde i flesche
overgath flesches lahe ant overcumeth cunde, the leadeth heovenlich lif in eorthe
as ha wunieth. (2) Hare murhthe ant hare blisse, the feierleac of hare wlite, the
swetnesse of hare song — ne mei na tunge tellen. (3) Alle ha singeth the ther beoth,
ah hare song ne mahe nane buten heo singen. (4) Se swote smeal ham folheth
hwider se ha wendeth thet me mahte libben áá bi the swotnesse. (5) Hwam se heo
bisecheth fore is sikerliche iborhen, for agein hare bisocnen Godd Himseolf ariseth,
thet alle the othre halhen sittende ihereth.”

(1) “Swithe wel,” quoth Warschipe, “liketh us thet tu seist. (2) Ah nu thu havest
se wel iseid of euch a setnesse of the seli sunderlepes, sumhwet sei us nu hwuch
blisse is to alle iliche meane.” (3) Ant Lives Luve hire ondswereth:

(1) | “The imeane blisse is seovenfald: lengthe of lif, wit, ant luve; ant of the
luve a gleadunge withute met murie; loftsong ant lihtschipe; ant sikernesse is the

(1) “Thah Ich this,” seith Warschipe, “sumdel understonde, thu most unwreo
this witerluker ant openin to theos othre.”

(1) “Ant hit schal beon,” seith Lives Luve, “Warschipe, as thu wilnest.”

(1) “Ha livieth áá in a wlite thet is brihtre seovevald ant schenre then the sunne,
ant eaver in a strengthe to don (buten euch swinc) al thet ha wulleth, ant eaver mare
in a steal in al thet eaver god is withute wonunge, withuten euch thing thet mahe
hearmin other eilin, in al thet eaver is softe other swote. (2) Ant hare lif is Godes
sihthe ant Godes cnawlechunge, as ure Lauerd seide: ‘Thet is,’ quoth He, ‘eche lif,
to seon ant cnawen soth Godd ant Him thet He sende — Jesu Crist ure Lauerd —
to ure alesnesse.’ (3) Ant beoth forthi ilich Him i the ilke wlite thet He is, for ha
seoth him as He is nebbe to nebbe. (4) Ha beoth se wise thet ha witen alle Godes
reades, His runes ant His domes, the derne beoth ant deopre then eni sea dingle.
(5) Ha seoth i Godd alle thing, ant witen of al thet is ant wes ant eaver schal
iwurthen: hwet hit beo, hwi, ant hwerto, ant hwerof hit bigunne.

(1) “Ha luvieth God withute met for thet ha understondeth hu He haveth bi
ham idon thurh His muchele godlec, ant hwet ha ahen His deorewurthe milce to
yelden. (2) Ant euchan luveth other ase muchel as himseolven.

(1) “Se gleade ha beoth of Godd thet al is hare blisse se muchel | thet ne mei
hit munne, na muth ne spealie na speche. (2) Forthi thet euchan luveth other as
himseolven, euchan haveth of othres god ase muche murhthe as of his ahne. (3) Bi
this ye mahen seon ant witen thet euchan haveth sunderlepes ase feole gleadschipes
as ha beoth monie alle, ant euch of the ilke gleadschipes is to eavereuch
an ase muche gleadunge as his ahne sunderliche. (4) Yet over al this, hwen euchan
luveth Godd mare then himseolven ant then alle the othre, mare he gleadeth of Godd
withuten ei etlunge then of his ahne gleadunge ant of alle the othres. (5) Neometh nu
thenne yeme! (6) Yef neaver anes heorte ne mei in hire undervon hire ahne
gleadunge sunderliche — se unimete muchel is the anlepi blisse — hu is hit thet ha
nimeth in hire thus monie ant thus muchele? (7) Forthi seide ure Lauerd to theo the
Him hefden icwemet: Intra in gaudium, et cetera. (8) ‘Ga,’ quoth He, ‘into thi Lauerdes
blisse.’ (9) Thu most al gan thrin, ant al beon bigotten thrin, for in the ne mei hit
nanes weis neomen in. (10) Herof ha herieth Godd ant singeth áá, unwerget, eaver
iliche lusti in His loft-songes as hit iwriten is: Beati qui habitant, et cetera. (11) ‘Eadi
beoth theo, Lauerd, the i Thin hus wunieth. (12) Ha schulen herien The from worlde
into worlde.’

(1)“Ha beoth alle as lihte ant as swifte as the sunne-gleam the scheot from est
into west ase thin | ehe-lid tuneth ant openeth, for hwer se eaver the gast wule the
bodi is ananriht withute lettunge. (2) For ne mei ham na thing ageines etstonden,
for euch an is almihti to don al thet he wule; ye, makie to cwakien Heovene ba ant
eorthe with His an finger.

(1) “Sikere ha beoth of al this: of thulli lif, of thulli wit, of thulli luve ant glead-
unge throf, ant of thulli blisse, thet hit ne mei neaver mare lutlin ne wursin ne
neome nan ende. (2) This lutle Ich habbe iseid of thet Ich iseh in Heovene, ah
nower neh ne seh Ich al, ne thet yet thet Ich seh ne con Ich half tellen.”

(1) “Witerliche,” quoth Warschipe. (2) “Wel we understondeth thet tu havest ibeo
thear ant soth havest iseid trof efter thi sihthe. (3) Ant wel is him thet is war ant
bisith him hu he mahe beast halden his hus — thet Godes tresor is in — ayeines
Godes unwine, the weorreth thertowart áá with untheawes; for thet schal bringen
him thider as he schal al this thet tu havest ispeken of an hundret sithe mare, of
blisse buten euch bale folhin ant ifinden.”

(1) Quoth Strengthe: “Hwen hit swa is, hwet mei tweamen us from Godd ant
halden us theonne? (2) Ich am siker ine Godd thet ne schal lif ne deth — ne wa ne
wunne nowther — | todealen us ant His luve thet al this haveth us iyarcket, yef we
as treowe tresurers witeth wel His tresor thet is bitaht us to halden, as we schulen
ful wel under His wengen.”

(1) “Warpeth ut,” quoth Warschipe, “Farlac, ure fa! Nis nawt riht thet an hus
halde theos tweien; for ther as Murthes sonde is, ant soth Luve of eche Lif, Farlac
is fleme.”

(1) “Nu, ut!” quoth Strenthe. “Farlac, ne schaltu na lengere leven in ure ende.”

(1) “Nu,” quoth he, “Ich seide for god al thet Ich seide, ant thah hit muri nere,
nes na lessere mi tale then wes Murhthes sondes, ne unbihefre to ow, thah hit ne
beo so licwurthe ne icweme.”

(1) “Either of ow,” quoth Meath, “haveth his stunde to speokene, ne nis incker
nothres tale to schunien in his time. (2) Thu warnest of wa; he telleth of wunne;
muche neod is thet me ow ba yeornliche hercni. (3) Flute nu, Farlac, thah hwil Lives
Luve is herinne, ant thole with efne heorte the dom of Rihtwisnesse, for thu schal
ful blitheliche beon underfon in as ofte as Lives Luve stutteth for to spekene.”

(1) Nu is Wil thet husewif al stille — thet er wes so willesful — al ituht efter
Wittes wissunge, thet is husebonde. (2) Ant al thet hird halt him stille, thet wes
iwunet to beon fulitohen ant don efter Wil, hare lefdi, ant nawt efter Wit.(3)
Lustneth nu his lare ant fondeth, eavereuch an, efter thet him limpeth to thurh
theos twa sonden thet ha iherd habbeth, ant thet fowr sustren lerden thruppe: for
euch untheawes inyong his warde te witene ant te warden treowliche.

(1) | Thus ah mon te thenchen ofte ant ilome ant with thulliche thohtes
awecchen his heorte, the i slep of yemeles forget hire sawle heale, efter theos twa
sonden: from Helle sihthe biseon to the blisse of Heovene; to habben farlac of thet
an, luve toward thet other, ant leaden him ant his hinen (thet beoth his limen alle)
nawt efter that his Wil, the untohe lefdi, ant his lust leareth ah efter thet Wit wul,
thet is husebonde; tuhten ant teachen thet Wit ga ever biuore ant drahe Wil efter
him to al thet he dihteth ant demeth to donne, ant with the fowr sustren, the fowr
heved theawes, Warschipe ant Strencthe in Godd, ant Meth ant Rihtwisnesse, witen
Godes treosor — thet is, his ahne sawle — i the hus of the bodi from the theof of
Helle. (2) Thulli thoht maketh mon te fleon alle untheawes ant ontent his heorte
toward the blisse of Heovene, thet ure Lauerd yeve us thurh His hali milce, thet
with the Feder ant te Sune ant te Hali Gast rixleth in threohad áá buten ende. (3)

(1) Par seinte charité, biddeth a Pater Noster for Johan thet theos boc wrat.

            (1) Hwa se this writ haveth ired
            (1) Ant Crist him haveth swa isped,
            (1) Ich bidde par seinte charité
            (1) Thet ye bidden ofte for me:
            (1) Áá Pater Noster ant Ave Marie,
            (1) Thet Ich mote thet lif her drehen,
            (1) Ant ure Lauerd wel icwemen
            (1) I mi yuhethe ant in min elde,
            (1) Thet Ich mote Jhesu Crist mi sawle yelden. AMEN.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, here
begins “The Soul’s Guardianship.”

(1) If the head of the household knew at what hour the thief was about to come, he
would certainly remain awake and would not leave his house alone to be broken into.

(1) Our Lord in the Gospel teaches us through a parable how we ought warily
guard ourselves against the fiend of Hell and against his wiles. (2) “If the lord
knew these things,” he says, “when and at what time the thief would come to his
house, he would stay awake; and he would not suffer the thief to break into it.”

(1) This house which our Lord speaks of is humanity itself. (2) Inside, the
person’s wit in this house is the lord of the household, and the unruly wife
can be called Will, who, should that household follow her will, she brings it
all to ruin unless Wit as lord restrains her better and takes away from her
much of what she desires. (3) And yet still all her household would follow her
in everything if Wit did not forbid them, because are all unruly and reckless
servants unless he corrects them. (4) And who are these servants? (5) Some
are outside and some inside. (6) Those outside are the person’s five senses,
sight and hearing, tasting and smelling, and feeling in every member.
(7) These are servants under Wit as under the household lord, and wherever he
is negligent there is not anyone who does not often act rudely and sin frequently,
either in wicked behavior or in evil deed. (8) Inside, his servants are in so many
various thoughts busy to please well the housewife against God’s will, and they
swear unanimously that it will go after her desire. (9) Although we hear it not, we
can perceive their noise and their unruly uproar, until Wit comes forth and both
with fear and with love teaches them the better. (10) Because of those servants his
house is never well guarded if he should sleep or fare anywhere from home; that
is, when man forgets his wit and lets them be. (11) But this house must not be
robbed, for inside there is the treasure for which God gave Himself — that is,
man’s soul. (12) There is many a thief nearby both by day and by night to break
into this house after this treasure, which God bought with his death and gave up
life on the Cross — unseen spirits with wicked vices. (13) And against every good
virtue who guards in this house — God’s dear castle — under the guidance of Wit
who is the household lord, there is always its vice seeking entrance around the
walls in order to murder her inside. (14) The head of them is the Fiend who rules
them all. (15) Against him and his henchmen, the husband (that is, Wit) protects
his house thus: our Lord has lent him the comfort of His daughters, who are to
be understood as the four cardinal virtues. (16) The first is called Vigilance, and
the other is called Spiritual Strength, and the third is Moderation, Righteousness
the fourth.

(1) Wit the husband, God’s constable, calls Vigilance forth and makes her door-
keeper, who carefully watches whom she lets in and out, and from afar beholds all
who are coming: which are worthy to have entrance or to be shut outside. (2)
Strength stands next to her so that if anything will go against Vigilance’s will she
first warns Strength, who is her sister, and she casts it out. (3) The third sister, which
is Moderation, he makes her master over his willful household (which we spoke of
before), so that she teaches them moderation, which some call “measure,” the
middle between two evils, for that is a virtue in each place and the right course to
hold, and she bids them all that none of them should in no way go against her with
excess nor with too much moderation. (4) The fourth sister, Righteousness, sits in
the highest place as a judge and beats those who sin and crowns those who do well,
and gives each one his sentence after his right. (5) For dread of her this household
undertakes — each according to what he is — to keep his guard: the eyes theirs, the
mouth his, the ears theirs, the hands theirs, and also each of the other wits so that
through him no vice shall come in.

(1) When this has been done thus and all is still therein, Vigilance, who
is always watchful, is fearful lest someone trust too much and fall asleep and
neglect his watch. (2) And she sends into them a messenger whom they know
well, come from afar, in order to frighten those who are overbold, and to
keep more watchful those who are careless. (3) He is received inside and
greatly beheld by them all, for he is lank and lean, and his face death-like and
pale and of an unearthly hue, and every hair on his head seems to stand up.
(4) Vigilance orders him to tell in their presence what he is and where he comes
from and what he seeks there.

(1) “I may not,” he says, “speak anywhere unless I have full attention. (2) Listen
to me then: Fear I am called, and I am Death’s messenger and remembrance of
Death, and I have come before her to warn you of her coming.” (3) Vigilance, who
can best fashion her words and also her deeds, speaks for them all and asks where
she comes from and what host she leads.

(1) Fear answers her, “I do not know the time, for she has not told it to me. (2)
But always look thence, for her custom is to come by stealth, suddenly and
unexpectedly when one least expects. (3) Of her host which you ask about, I will
answer you: she alights wheresoever she comes with a thousand devils; and each one
bears a great book all of sins written with small dark letters, and a cruel chain red-
hot from fire in order to bind and drag into innermost Hell whoever he may prove
through his book, in which every sin is inscribed, which he wrought in all his
lifetime with will or with word or with deed — except what he has atoned for before
then with true shrift and with repentance.”

(1) And Vigilance asks, “From where do you come, Fear, remembrance of

(1) “I come,” he says, “from Hell.”

(1) “From Hell?” she, Vigilance, says, “And have you seen Hell?”

(1) “Yes,” says Fear, “certainly, and very often.”

(1) “Now,” says Vigilance then, “by your faith, truly tell us what Hell is and what
you have seen therein.”

(1) “And I,” he says, Fear, “upon my faith gladly, though not according to what
it is — for that no tongue may tell — but I will strive to do what I am able.

(1) “Hell is wide without measure and deep without bottom, full of an
incomparable fire — for no earthly fire may compare with it — full of unbearable
stench — for no living thing on earth can tolerate it — full of indescribable sorrow
— for no mouth may, for wretchedness or for woe, describe it or tell it. (2) So thick
is the darkness therein that one could grasp it, for that fire gives no light but blinds
the eyes of them who are there with a smothering smoke, a smell most loathsome.
(3) And even so in that same black darkness they perceive black things, such as
devils that beat them and afflict them always and harass them with all kinds of
tortures, and dragons with tails, grisly as devils, which swallow them whole and spew
them out after before and behind, or tear them up and chew them up every piece,
and they afterward become whole as they were before for such a suffering without
remedy. (4) And full well they see (a horror and a terror for them, and to increase
their pain) the loathsome Hell-worms, toads and frogs which gnaw out the eyes and
the nose-gristles. (5) And in and out creep snakes and water-frogs — not like those
here but a hundred times more hideous — through the mouth and through the
ears, through the eyes and through the navel and through the breast-hollow, like
maggots in rotten flesh, thickest as ever. (6) There is wailing in the fire and
the chattering of teeth in the icy waters. (7) Quickly they flit from the heat into the
cold, and they never know of those two which seems worse to them, for either is
intolerable. (8) And in this terrible mix the latter afflicts them more because of the
former. (9) That fire burns them up all to cold coals; that pitch boils them up until
they are completely melted and again resurrects them at once to suffer all the same
(and a great deal worse) forever without end. (10) And this same despair is the
greatest pain to them, that they will not ever more have hope of any recovery but
are certain of every evil to last in woe, from world into world, forever into eternity.
(11) Each suffocates the other, and each is the other’s suffering, and each one hates
the other — and himself — like the black devil. (12) And always the more
they loved someone in this world, the more they hate them there. (13) And each
one curses the other, and gnaws at the other’s ears and the nose also. (14) I have
begun to tell of the things that I could not bring to any end, although I had a
thousand tongues of steel and spoke until they were all worn out. (15) But consider
now through this what the greatest pain may be. (16) For the least pain is so
hard that, had a man slain both my father and my mother and all the remainder of
my kin, and done to myself all the shame and the harm that a living man might
suffer, and I saw this man in the same least pain that I saw in Hell, I would (if it
might be) suffer a thousand deaths to deliver him out of there, the sight is so
terrible and pitiful to behold. (17) For though there were never any other pain
except to see the unholy spirits and their grisly shapes, to look upon their fierce
and terrible faces, and to hear their roaring, and how with insults they blame and
upbraid everyone for his sins, this shame and terror for them would be an
incomparable pain, and especially to suffer and endure their cruel blows with clubs
of steel, and with their red-hot awls flinging each one toward the other — as though
they were a leather-scrap! — into various pains. (18) Oh Hell, Death’s house —
dwelling-place of wailing, of great fright, and of groaning; cruel and hateful home,
abode of afflictions, city of sorrow and hall of every bitterness, you most loathsome
land of all, you dark place full of all drearinesses — I quake from horror and from
terror, and every bone shakes me and each single hair stands up at your
remembrance, for there is there no voice among the damned but “Alas!” and “Woe
is me!” and “Woe be to you!” and “Woe be to you!” and “Woe!” they cry and woe
they have, nor will they ever lack anything that is woe. (19) He who earns such a
dwelling for any transitory bliss here in this world, it would have been better for him
had he never been born. (20) By this you may know something about what Hell is
like, for certainly I have seen in there a thousand times worse, and from thence
comes Death with a thousand devils towards here, as I said, and thus I have come,”
said Fear, “in order to warn you beforehand and tell you these tidings.”

(1) “Now may Lord God,” says Vigilance, “guard us and defend us, and direct
us and advise what there is for us to do, and may we be the more wary and watchful
to guard ourselves on every side under God’s wings. (2) If we well defend and guard
our house well and God’s dear treasure which he has entrusted to us, come
Death when she will! (3) We do not need to be afraid either of her or of Hell,
for our death will be dear to God and our entry into Heaven. (4) May we never take
heed of this false world and of her false bliss, for all that is on earth is nothing but
a shadow, for all turns to nothing except for that dear treasure, God’s precious
property which is given to us to guard. (5) Therefore I have great worry, for I see,”
says Vigilance, “how the Fiend with his army like an enraged lion goes about our
house, seeking eagerly how he may swallow it up. (6) And I can do this,” says
Vigilance, “warn you of his hatred because of his tricks, but I can do nothing against
his strength.”

(1) “Do now,” says Strength, “Vigilance, sister, that which belongs to you and
warns us of his wiles, for all of his strength we do not fear in any way, for his
strength is not worthy except where he finds one easy and weak, unprotected by
true belief. (2) The apostle says, ‘Withstand the fiend and he flees immediately.’
(3) Should we then flee him? (4) Yea, is not God our shield? (5) And all of our
weapons are from His dear grace, and God is on our side and stands by us in the
fight. (6) If he shoots towards me with wealth and the pleasure of the world, with
the luxury of the flesh’s lust, I might be somehow afraid of such soft weapons, but
nothing hard may frighten me, and neither suffering nor want may falsify my
heart nor weaken my belief towards Him who gives me all my strength.”

(1) “For both,” says Moderation, “the hardness of suffering and for the lack
of joy, one ought to dread and to be anxious. (2) For many forget our
Lord because they suffer too much bitter adversity, and even more because
of softness and for flesh’s pleasure neglect themselves often. (3) Between
hardness and softness, between the woe of this world and too much pleasure,
between much and little, there is in every thing the golden middle way. (4) If we
keep to it then we go securely, and we need not fear either Death or the Devil. (5)
What there may be of suffering, I do not dread any softness, for no joy nor flesh’s
pleasure nor fleshly luxury may bring me away from the middle of measure and of

(1) Righteousness speaks now: “My sister,” she says, “Vigilance, who has wit and
discrimination between good and evil, and knows what is to be chosen and to be
shunned in each instance, advises us and teaches us to heed little every transitory
thing and to guard warily those which will last always. (2) And as one who speaks
the truth she says that although she may not sin through ignorance, she is not
confident concerning the Fiend’s strength, as she considers herself weak —
although she is worth much in the eyes of all us — and she judges herself
powerless on her part to stand firm against his tricks, and she does as the wise do.
(3) My sister Strength is very brave and says that no hardship may frighten her;
but nevertheless she does not trust at all in her own weapons but does trust in
God’s grace, and that I consider right and wise to do. (4) My third sister,
Moderation, speaks of the middle path between right and left which few can hold,
and she says in softness she is brave, and hardship may frighten her; and
therefore she does not boast of any certainty, and she does as the wise do. (5) My
role is to do right in order to judge, and I judge that I do not do it at all through
myself, because all the good which we have here is from God. (6) Now it is right
then that we judge ourselves always powerless to defend and to guard
ourselves or to hold to any goodness without God’s help. (7) The righteous God
wishes that we judge ourselves worthless and low (may we never be so), for then He
judges us greatly worthy and good and considers us his daughters. (8) For although
my first sister is aware of every evil, and my other is strong against every adversity,
and my third moderate in all kinds of pleasures, and I do rightly and judge, unless
we with all of this are mild and meek and consider ourselves weak, God may rightly
condemn us for all this because of our pride. (9) And therefore, it is a correct
judgment that we, for all our good, should thank Him alone.”

(1) Wit, the husband, God’s constable, hears all their words and thanks God
earnestly with a very glad heart for so rich a loan as these sisters are, His four
daughters that He has loaned him as help to guard and defend his castle well and
God’s precious property that is enclosed inside.

(1) The willful housewife keeps entirely silent, and all that household that she was
accustomed to draw after her turn truly to Wit their lord, and to those four sisters.

(1) After a while Vigilance speaks again and says, “I see a messenger come, very
glad in appearance, fair and handsome and beautifully dressed.”

(1) “Let him in,” says Wit. “If God wishes, he brings us glad tidings, and that
we need very much, for Fear, Death’s messenger, has with his tidings frightened us
greatly indeed.” (2) Vigilance lets him in and he greets Wit, the lord, and all that
household afterwards with a laughing expression. (3) And they return his greeting
and are all lightened and gladdened, it seems to them, because of his appearance,
for all that house shines and shimmers from his gleam. (4) He asks them if it
pleases them to listen to him for a while.

(1) “Yes,” said she (Righteousness), “it pleases us well, and it is right well that
we listen meekly to you.”

(1) “Listen now then,” he says, “and earnestly understand. (2) I am Mirth’s
messenger and the remembrance of eternal life and am called Love of Life, and come
straight from Heaven which I have seen now and often before, the bliss of which no
man’s tongue may tell of. (3) The blessed God sees you frightened and somewhat
downcast from what Fear told of Death and of Hell, and sent me to gladden you,
not because it is not all true, what he said (and, all the evil ones will discover that and
find out); but you need fear nothing with the help of God, for He sits on high who
is a help to you and is the Almighty who has you to guard.”

(1) “Ah!” says Vigilance, “welcome, Love of Life! (2) And for the love of God
Himself, if you ever saw Him, tell us something of Him and of His eternal bliss.”

(1) “Yes, in truth,” says Love of Life, Mirth’s messenger, “I have often seen
Him; though not just as He is, for against the brightness and the light of His face,
the sun-gleam is dark and seems a shadow, and therefore I cannot look toward or
behold the light of His face, except through a shining mirror between me and
Him that shields my eyes. (2) Also I have often seen the Holy Trinity — Father
and Son and Holy Ghost, three in one undivided — but I could endure the light
only a little while. (3) But in some way I could behold our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, who redeemed us on the Cross, how He sits blissfully on the right
side of His Father who is almighty. (4) He rules in that eternal life without end,
so immeasurably fair that the angels are never tired of looking upon Him. (5) And
yet I saw clearly the places of His wounds, and how He shows them to His Father
to make known how He loved us and how He was obedient to Him who sent Him
thus to save us; and He beseeches Him always for mankind’s salvation.

(1) “After Him, I saw on high over all the heavenly hosts the blessed maiden
His mother, named Mary, sitting on a throne so very bright starred with gems, and
her face so joyful that every earthly light is dark in comparison. (2) There I watched
as she prays to her precious Son so eagerly and so earnestly for those who serve her,
and He grants her blissfully all that she requests.

(1) “When I could no longer endure that light, I looked to the angels and to the
archangels and to the others that are above them, the blessed spirits who are always
before God and serve Him always and sing forever unwearied. (2) Nine hosts there
are, but how they are ordered and separately set out, the one above the other, and
each one’s occupation, would be long to tell. (3) I had so much joy in their sight that
I might not, for a long while, look elsewhere.

(1) “After them I looked towards the patriarchs and the prophets, who make
such mirth that they are now in that same land of bliss that they had from far away
prayed for before on earth. (2) And they see now verified that which they had long
before prophesied about our Lord, as he had showed them in spiritual sight. (3) I
saw the apostles, poor and lowly on earth, entirely filled and drenched with
immeasurable bliss sitting in thrones, and everything that is great in this world
under their feet, ready to judge on the day of doom kings and emperors and all
tribes of all kinds of languages.

(1) “I beheld the martyrs and their immeasurable mirth, who suffered here
pains and death for our Lord, and considered all kinds of sufferings and earthly
torments light compared with the bliss to come which God showed them in their

(1) “After them I beheld the host of confessors who lived a good life and died
blessedly, who shine as do the stars in eternal bliss, and see God in His beauty who
has wiped all tears from their eyes.

(1) “I saw that shining and that bright company of blessed maidens most like
angels, and most suited to be blissful and rejoice with them, who living in the flesh,
surpass the flesh’s law and overcome nature, who lead a heavenly life on earth while
they live there. (2) Their mirth and their bliss, the beauty of their faces, the sweet-
ness of their song — no tongue may tell. (3) All of them sing who are there, but their
song none but they may sing. (4) So sweet a smell follows them wherever they go
that one might live forever from the sweetness. (5) Whomever they pray for is defini-
tely saved, for because of their requests God himself rises, who, seated, hears all the
other saints.”

(1) “Very much,” said Vigilance, “do we like what you say. (2) But now you have
said so well of every order of the holy ones separately, tell us now what bliss is for
all alike in common.” (3) And Love of Life answers her:

(1) “The communal bliss is seven-fold: length of life, wit, and love; and from
that love a gladness joyful without moderation; a song of praise and lightness; and
security is the seventh.”

(1) “Though I,” says Vigilance, “somewhat understand this, you must reveal this
more plainly and explain it to these others.”

(1) “And it will be,” says Love of Life, “Vigilance, as you wish.”

(1) “They live forever in a splendor that is brighter sevenfold and more beautiful
than the sun, and always in strength (without any effort) to do all that they wish, and
forevermore in a state of all that is ever good without ceasing, without anything that
might harm or annoy, in all that is ever soft and sweet. (2) And their life is the sight
of God and the knowledge of God, as our Lord said: ‘That is,’ said He, ‘eternal life,
to see and to know true God and Him whom He sent — Jesus Christ our Lord — for
our deliverance.’ (3) And therefore they are like Him in the same splendor that He
is in, for they see Him as He is face to face. (4) They are so wise that they understand
all God’s plans, His secret counsels and His judgments, which are secret and deeper
than any sea trench. (5) They see in God all things and know of all that is and was and
ever will be: what it is, why, and wherefore, and from where it began.

(1) “They love God without measure since they understand what He has done for
them through His great goodness, and what they ought to give back for His
precious mercy. (2) And each one loves the other as much as himself.

(1) “They are so glad in God that all their bliss is so great that it may not be
remembered, nor may any mouth or speech describe it. (2) Since each one loves the
other as himself, each one has of the other’s good fortune as much mirth as of his
own. (3) By this you may see and know that each one has separately as many
gladnesses as they all are many, and each of the same gladnesses is to every one
as much gladness as his own separately. (4) Yet over all this, when each one loves
God more than himself and than all the others, the more he rejoices in God without
any estimation more than from his own gladness and that of all the others. (5) Now
then, take heed! (6) If never once may a heart receive in itself its own gladness
separately — so immeasurably great is the single bliss — how is it that they take in
itself so many and so much? (7) Because our Lord said to those who had pleased
Him: Enter into rejoicing, etc. (8) ‘Go,’ said He, ‘into your Lord’s bliss.’ (9) You must
all go into it, and be completely suffused by it, for it cannot in any way enter into
you. (10) Because of this they praise God and sing forever unwearied, ever alike
happy in His praise-songs as it is written: Blessed are those who live, etc. (11) ‘Blessed
are those, Lord, who dwell in Your house. (12) They will praise You from world into

(1) “They are all as light and as swift as the sun-beam which shoots from east
into west in the blink of an eye as your eyelid closes and opens, for wheresoever the
spirit wishes to go the body is at once without delay. (2) For nothing may stand
against them, for each one is almighty to do what he wishes; yea, he makes both
heaven and earth quake with His one finger.

(1) “They are certain of all this: of such life, of such wit, of such love and
gladness thereof, and of such bliss, that it may never more diminish nor worsen nor
come to any end. (2) This little I have said of what I saw in Heaven, but I saw
nowhere near all, nor can I tell half of that which I saw.”

(1) “Certainly,” says Vigilance. (2) “Well do we understand that you have been
there and have told the truth of that according to your sight. (3) And it is well for
him who is wary and looks to how he may best protect his house — which God’s
treasure is in — against God’s enemy, who makes war upon it always with vices; for
that will bring him to where he will seek and find all this of which you spoke and
a hundred times more, of bliss without any hardship.”

(1) Says Strength: “When it is so, what may separate us from God and keep us
from there? (2) I am certain in God that neither will life nor death — nor woe or joy
either — will divide us from His love which has prepared all this for us, if we as true
treasurers guard well His treasure that is given to us to keep, as we will full well under
His wings.”

(1) “Cast out,” says Vigilance, “Fear, our foe! It is not right that a house should
hold these two; for where Mirth’s messenger is, and true Love of eternal Life, Fear
is an outlaw.”

(1) “Now, out!” says Strength. “Fear, you will no longer remain in our quarter.”

(1) “Now,” says he, “I said for good all that I said, and though it was not
cheerful, my tale was no less important than was that of Mirth’s messenger, nor less
profitable to you, though it is not so agreeable or pleasant.”

(1) “Each of you,” says Moderation, “has his turn to speak and neither of your
tales should be shunned during its turn. (2) You warn of woe; he tells of joy; there is
much need for one to listen to you both earnestly. (3) Depart now, Fear, while Love
of Life is here, and endure with an even heart the judgment of Righteousness, for you
will very happily be received in as often as Love of Life ceases to speak.”

(1) Now Will that housewife is entirely silent — who before was so willful — fully
guided according to the instruction of Wit, who is husband. (2) And all that
company holds itself still, that was accustomed to be foolish and follow Will, their
lady, and not after Wit. (3) They listen now to his lore and concern themselves,
every one, about what pertains to them because of these two messengers whom they
have heard, and what the four sisters taught previously: to keep his watch and
defend truly against every vice’s entrance.

(1) Thus one ought to think often and frequently of these two messengers, and
with such thoughts awaken one’s heart, which in the sleep of negligence forgets its
soul’s salvation: from the sight of Hell to look up to the bliss of Heaven, to have
fear of that one, love toward that other, and to lead himself and his servants (which
are all his limbs) not according to what his Will, the unruly lady, and his desire
teaches, but according to what Wit who is husband wishes, to discipline and teach
that Wit goes always before and draws Will after him in all that he orders and judges
necessary to be done, and with the four sisters, the four chief virtues, Vigilance and
Strength in God, and Moderation and Righteousness, to guard from the thief of
Hell God’s treasure — that is, his own soul — in the house of the body. (2) Such a
thought makes one flee all vices and inflames one’s heart toward the bliss of
Heaven, which our Lord gave us through His holy mercy, who with the Father and
the Son and the Holy Ghost rules in the Trinity forever without end. (3) Amen.

(1) For holy charity, pray an Our Father for John who copied this book.

            (1) Whoever has read this writing
            (1) And Christ has so him profited,
            (1) I pray for holy charity
            (1) That you pray often for me:
            (1) Our Father and Hail Mary always,
            (1) That I might lead my life here,
            (1) And please our Lord well
            (1) In my youth and in my old age,
            (1) That I may yield my soul to Christ. AMEN.

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