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Disguising at London


ABBREVIATIONS: BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; MP: Minor Poems of John Lydgate, ed. MacCracken; TB: Lydgate, Troy Book.

Shirley describes the Disguising at London as being made “for the gret estates of this lande, thanne being at London,” which has led to the supposition that Lydgate wrote it for a gathering of Parliament, possibly the one that opened at Westminster on October 13, 1427 (see Schirmer, John Lydgate, p. 186). Parliament also met at Westminster from September 22, 1429, to February 23, 1430, although Pearsall aptly comments that a disguising for that session would probably have mentioned the coronation of Henry VI on November 6, 1429 (Bio-Bibliography, p. 47n65). The disguising need not, however, have been associated with this or any other Parliament (see A. Lancashire, London Civic Theatre, pp. 122–23n33), and the reference to Henry V (at lines 267–76) coupled with no mention of Henry VI may argue for an earlier date. Whatever the precise date or occasion, the text makes clear that the disguising was designed for household performance (lines 335 and 337) during the long Christmas season (line 280) that ran from October through early January; the hope expressed in line 334 that the virtues bestowed by the disguising will last “al this yeer” may possibly allow us to locate the performance more precisely on the last day of December or sometime in early January.

The disguising opens with the appearance of Dame Fortune, whose dangerous mutability sets the stage for the introduction of four protectors — Dames Prudence, Righteousness, Fortitude, and Temperance — who promise to defend any who serve them. The disguising’s 342 lines of rhyming couplets consist of lengthy descriptions of each of the Virtues; it ends with a song by the Four Virtues and the banishing of Fortune. A central concern of the disguising is good governance, which is seen as a remedy for Fortune’s dangerous instability; the gift-giving associated with mumming here takes the abstract form of gifts of virtue, which will reside “in this housholde” (line 335) for the year. As Benson notes, although the disguising was apparently intended for a national, not a municipal, occasion its values “are practical and bourgeois”: the tone is optimistic, emphasizing “the sort of pragmatic, decent, and well-regulated communal behavior advocated by medieval London citizens” (“Civic Lydgate,” p. 160). Nolan argues that the disguising aims “to develop a notion of virtue fit for the public realm of politics, a secularized (though hardly secular) code of behavior particularly suited to the governing classes” (John Lydgate, p. 143).

There are several clues to performance in this “script-like” text (Kipling, “Poet as Deviser,” pp. 97–98). Entrances are marked by brief stage directions, the narrator interacts with the audience and the actors (by drawing attention to the arrival of each new character, banishing Fortune, and commanding the Four Virtues to sing), and the text specifies some props (Prudence’s mirror, Righteousness’ balance, Fortitude’s sword). The lack of dialogue suggests that a presenter probably read the text aloud, as Fortune and the Four Virtues made their appearances. Although there is no indication of any actions they might have performed, Twycross and Carpenter think the Virtues may have presented the “gift” of their attributes to the presiding dignitaries (Masks and Masking, p. 158n39). The final lines of the disguising command the four protectors to sing “Some nuwe songe aboute the fuyre” (lines 338–40), which hints that the disguising ended with music.

The Disguising at London survives in Trinity R.3.20 (1450–75), pp. 55–65, as well as in Stow’s copy of it, now Additional MS 29729. Trinity R.3.20 is the base text for this edition (MP, 2:682–91), collated with Additional 29729.

running titles: A desguysing made by Lydgate / of the foure cardynale virtues / the foure / cardynale vertues / the foure / cardinale virtues / the foure cardinale / virtues / of the foure cardinale / virtues. Not noted in MP.

headnote Kipling argues that Shirley’s use of devyse here refers to a device (or plan) covering the entire performance that other artisans — costumers, actors, prop makers — used to shape their own contributions (“Poet as Deviser,” p. 98). The stage direction in the last sentence (Loo, firste komethe in Dame Fortune) and elsewhere may be Shirley’s additions rather than part of Lydgate’s text, but the text itself indicates the entries of the various characters too (e.g., Loo here this lady that yee may see, line 1).

1–13 Lydgate’s lines closely follow the Roman de la Rose (which is explicitly mentioned in line 9), in which Fortune’s dwelling is described as being on a rock in the sea, where the weather is changeable; Lydgate’s description of the “instability” of her house, which is ugly on one side and beautiful on the other (lines 40–51), echoes her own nature. Lydgate’s fullest examination of the theme of Fortune is in his Fall of Princes.

20–35 Compare BD, lines 287 ff., where the birds make heavenly melody, some high, some low, while Zephyrus and Flora temper the air.

48 Ay in poynt to falle adoun. Compare BD, line 13.

64 Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.), king of Macedonia, was well known in the Middle Ages from both romances and histories (see Cary, Medieval Alexander). His story also appears in Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale (CT VII[B2]2631–70) and in several places in Gower’s Confessio Amantis.

67–70 Marginalia: Sesar a bakars seon. [Caesar was a baker’s son.] Julius Caesar (c. 100–44 B.C.) became emperor of Rome before being slain at the Capitol. Following the Chessbook of Jacob de Cessolis, Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes, lines 3513–21, identifies Julius Caesar as a baker’s son. Caesar also appears in Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale (CT VII[B2]2671–2726).

73 Maugrey the Senaat and al theyre might. Nolan (John Lydgate, p. 138) notes that Lydgate adds this line, which is not found in Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale.

96 According to the legend first mentioned by Plato in the Republic (2.359a–2.360d), Gyges of Lydia was a shepherd, who stole a golden ring from a corpse he found in a cave. Using the power of invisibility given him by the ring, Gyges seduced the queen and murdered the king of Lydia.

102 Croesus, Gyges’ descendant, was the last king of Lydia, reigning c. 560–546 B.C. The story of Croesus’ dream is found in the Roman de la Rose, lines 6489–6630, and is the concluding story of Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale (CT VII[B2]2727–60), which Lydgate follows in detail, except that in Chaucer, the king’s daughter is called “Phanye.” Lydgate changes her name to Leryopee, which comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book 3 line 342, where “Liriope” is the name of Narcissus’ mother. Nolan speculates that Lydgate may have made the change to stress the theme of prophecy (John Lydgate, p. 177n48).

108 Marginalia: Ecclesiaticus xxvi cap. [Chapter 26 of Ecclesiasticus deals with good and bad women.]
Juvo is Juno. The name is spelled this way in Harley 2251, fol. 249b, as well.

109 Jupiter (or Jove) was chief of the Roman gods.

111 Phoebus Apollo, the classical god and mythological figure, who was associated with the sun, thus his drying power.

115 Leryopee. See note to line 102.

123–27 For Lydgate’s view of tragedy and comedy, see TB, 2.850 ff.; also see Nolan (John Lydgate, pp. 124–31).

138 hir double face. Fortune was often described as having two faces; see Patch, Goddess Fortuna, pp. 42–43.

140 ff. Prudence was traditionally depicted with three eyes for viewing past, present, and future; see TB, 2.2308, and Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, 5.743–45. She is also the central protagonist of the Tale of Melibee. Lydgate cites Seneca as his source, but the idea of the cardinal virtues derives from Cicero’s De Inventione and Macrobius’ Somnium Scipionis, and appeared in the work of many medieval authors (see Tuve, Allegorical Imagery, pp. 57–88). The king’s bedroom at Westminster contained a painting of the virtues battling the vices and the rebuilt London Guildhall, 1411–30, included statues of Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, and Discipline (see Binski, Painted Chamber, pp. 41–43, and Barron, Medieval Guildhall of London, p. 27 and plates 9a, 9b, and 10). When Henry VII entered Bristol in 1486, he was greeted by Prudence and Justice (Parry, “On the Continuity of English Civic Pageantry,” pp. 226–27). Watts notes that the four cardinal virtues were urged on the late medieval king and took precedence over the “theological” virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, since they were seen as more socially useful (Henry VI, p. 23).

165 Latin marginalia: i. providencia [providence]

173 ff. The scales of balance of Righteousness signify her unbiased deliberativeness that can’t be bought; she had neither hand (so as not to receive gifts) nor eyes (so as to treat all equally).

193 ff. For a similar exemplum of an incorruptible judge, see St. Erkenwald.

222 ff. See Tuve (pp. 57–60) for the identification of Fortitude with the quality of magnificence, as in Skelton’s Magnyfycence. Edwards (TB, p. 428) notes that as Aristotle explains in the Nicomachean Ethics (4.2), “magnificence is a moral virtue akin to generosity but differing from generosity by being on a larger scale and directed toward public display.” She carries a sword to maintain the common good.

247 Presumably a reference to Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404–323 B.C.), the best known of the cynic philosophers.

248 I.e., the Greek philosophers Plato (c. 427–348 B.C.) and Socrates (c. 469–399 B.C.).

249 I.e., Scipio Africanus (c. 236–183 B.C.). This line seems to suggest that Scipio was from Carthage, when in fact he was a Roman who defeated the Carthaginians in battle during the Punic Wars. Compare Henry VI’s Triumphal Entry, line 520, where Lydgate correctly identifies Scipio as the conqueror of Carthage.

251 Latin marginalia: i. republica. [Republic]. Middleton (“Idea of Public Poetry,” p. 96) notes that “common profit” is the usual Middle English translation of res publica; see Nolan (John Lydgate, p. 146) for the emphasis on common profit in this disguising.

255 In Greek mythology, Hector is the Trojan prince who valiantly fought for Troy before being killed by Achilles.

264 The Nine Worthies comprised three groups of chivalric heroes: Hector, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great (Gentiles); Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabeus (Jews); and Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon (Christians). In the “Envoy” to TB, Lydgate praises Henry V as equal to the Nine Worthies (line 4).

267 ff. The reference to Henry V (king of England from 1413–22) in the past tense provides an earliest possible date for the disguising. Nolan argues that mention of Henry V introduces a note of historical contingency and instability as did Chaucer’s use of four modern examples in the Monk’s Tale (John Lydgate, pp. 151–53).

279 to more and lasse. Suggests a socially mixed audience for the disguising.

280 this Cristmasse. Suggests the disguising was performed during the holiday season, which stretched from October to early January.

283 ff. Lydgate’s longest discussion of Temperance comes in Mesure Is Tresour, which argues for the value of temperance or moderation — the “roote of al good policye” (line 9) — for all social classes.

315–27 Twycross and Carpenter (Masks and Masking, p. 158n39) think this is the moment in the performance when the virtues might have presented their attributes to the dignitaries at what they take to have been a feast.

334 abyde here al this yeer. Perhaps suggests a performance date of December 31 or shortly thereafter; Wickham (Early English Stages, 3:50) thinks the Disguising at London was prepared for January 1, given its concern with Dame Fortune.

335 In this housholde. Suggests indoor performance.

338 yee all foure. I.e., the Four Virtues.

340 nuwe songe aboute the fuyre. For the use of music in medieval performances, see Rastall, Music in Early English Religious Drama.


ABBREVIATIONS: A: Additional 29729 (Stow’s copy of R.3.20); M: MacCracken’s 1934 edition;T: Trinity R.3.20, copy text for all of the disguisings and mummings except Bishopswood, and for Bycorne and Chychevache, the Procession of Corpus Christi, and Of the Sodein Fall of Princes.

11 pleyne. A reads pleynly.

30 fordoothe. A reads for dereth.

86 manny. M’s emendation; T and A read mannys.

102 eeke of. A reads of all.

115 was. Omitted in T and A; added by M.

118 his pruyde. T and A read: hir pruyde.

169 at. Omitted in T and A; added by M.

170 hir. M’s emendation; T and A read his.

178 al kyns meede. A reads all hines nede.

183 yore agoone. A reads thor agone.

190 bothen. A reads boden.

261 chaumpyounes. M’s emendation; T and A read chaumpyouns.

266 I. M’s emendation; T and A read In.

278 not. A reads it.
  [Lo here filowethe (follows) the devyse (device) of a desguysing (disguising) to fore (before) the gret estates of this lande, thane being at London, made by Lidegate Daun Johan, the Munk of Bury, of Dame Fortune, Dame Prudence, Dame Rightwysnesse (Righteousness), and Dame Fortitudo. Beholdethe, for it is moral, plesaunt, and notable. Loo, first komethe (comes) in Dame Fortune.(see note)



































Loo here this lady that yee may see,
Lady of mutabilytee,
Which that called is Fortune,
For seelde in oon she doothe contune.
For as shee hathe a double face,
Right so every houre and space
She chaungethe hir condycyouns,
Ay ful of transmutacyouns.
Lyche as the Romans of the Roose
Descryvethe hir, withouten glose,
And tellethe pleyne, howe that she
Hathe hir dwelling in the see,
Joyning to a bareyne roche.
And on that oon syde doothe aproche
A lytel mountaygne lyke an yle;
Upon which lande some whyle
Ther growen fresshe floures nuwe,
Wonder lusty of theyre huwe,
Dyvers trees, with fruyte elade.
And briddes, with theyre notes glaade,
That singen and maken melodye;
In theyre hevenly hermonye
Somme sing on hye, and some lowe.
And Zepherus theer doothe eeke blowe
With his smoothe, attempree ayre.
He makethe the weder clere and fayre
And the sesoun ful of grace.
But sodeynly, in lytel space,
Upon this place mooste ryal
Ther comethe a wawe and fordoothe al.
First the fresshe floures glade
On theyre stalkes he dothe faade.
To theyre beautee he doothe wrong;
And thanne farweel the briddes song.
Braunche and boughe of every tree
She robbethe hem of hir beautee,
Leef and blossomes downe they falle.
And in that place she hathe an halle,
Departed and wonder desguysee.
Frome that oon syde, yee may see,
Ceryously wrought, for the noones,
Of golde, of sylver, and of stoones,
Whos richesse may not be tolde.
But that other syde of that hoolde
Is ebylt in ougly wyse,
And ruynous, for to devyse;
Daubed of clay is that doungeoun,
Ay in poynt to falle adoun.
That oon fayre by apparence,
And that oother in existence
Shaken with wyndes, rayne and hayle.
And sodeynly ther doothe assayle
A raage floode that mancyoun,
And overflowethe it up and doun.
Her is no reskous, ner obstacle
Of this ladyes habytacle.
And as hir hous is ay unstable,
Right so hirself is deceyvable:
In oo poynt she is never elyche;
This day she makethe a man al ryche
And thorughe hir mutabilytee
Castethe him tomorowe in povertee.
The proddest she can gyve a fal:
She made Alexaundre wynnen al,
That noman him withstonde dare,
And caste him doune, er he was ware.
So did sheo Sesar Julius:
She made him first victorius,
Thaughe to do weel sheo beo ful loothe;
Of a bakers sonne, in soothe,
She made him a mighty emperrour,
And hool of Roome was governour,
Maugrey the Senaat and al theyre might;
But whanne the sonne shoone mooste bright
Of his tryumphe, fer and neer,
And he was corouned with laurier,
Unwarly thorughe hir mortal lawe
With bodekyns he was eslawe
At the Capitoyle in Consistorye,
Loo, after al his gret victorye.
See, howe this lady can appalle
The noblesse of theos prynces alle.
She hathe two tonnys in hir celler;
That oon is ful of pyment cler,
Confeit with sugre and spyces swoote
And manny delytable roote.
But this is yit the worst of alle:
That other tonne is ful of galle;
Whoo taastethe oon, ther is noon oother,
He moste taaste eeke of that tother.
Whos sodeyne chaunges beon not soft,
For nowe sheo can reyse oon aloft,
Frome lowghe estate til hye degree.
In olde storyes yee may see
Estates chaunge, whoo takethe keepe.
For oon Gyges, that kepte sheepe,
Sheo made, by vertu of a ring,
For to be made a worthy kyng;
And by fals mourdre, I dare expresse,
He came to al his worthynesse —
Moost odyous of alle thinges.
And Cresus, ricchest eeke of kynges,
Was so surquydous in his pryde,
That he wende, upon noo syde
Noon eorthely thing might him pertourbe,
Nor his ryal estate distourbe.
Til on a night a dreme he mette,
Howe Juvo in the ayre him sette
And Jubiter, he understondes,
Gaf him water unto his handes,
And Phebus heelde him the towayle.
But of this dreme the devynayle
His doughter gane to specefye,
And fer toforne to prophesye,
Whiche called was Leryopee.
Sheo sayde, he shoulde anhanged bee;
This was hir exposicyoun.
Loo, howe his pruyde was brought adoune.
And alle theos chaunges, yif they beo sought,
This fals lady hathe hem wrought,
Avaled with theyre sodeyne showres
The worthynesse of conquerroures.
Reede of poetes the comedyes;
And in dyvers tragedyes
Yee shal by lamentacyouns
Fynden theyre destruccyouns —
A thousande moo than I can telle — ,
Into mescheef howe they felle
Downe frome hir wheel, on see and lande.
Therfore, hir malys to withstande,
Hir pompe, hir surquydye, hir pryde.
Yif she wol a whyle abyde,
Foure ladyes shall come heer anoon,
Which shal hir power overgoone,
And the malys eeke oppresse
Of this blynde, fals goddesse,
Yif sheo beo hardy in this place
Oonys for to shewe hir double face.

[Nowe komethe here the first lady of the foure, Dame Prudence.

Loo, heer this lady in youre presence
Of poetis called is Dame Prudence,
The which with hir mirrour bright,
By the pourveyaunce of hir forsight
And hir myrrour, called provydence,
Is strong to make resistence
In hir forsight, as it is right,
Ageyns Fortune and al hir might.
For Senec seythe who that can see,
That Prudence hathe eyeghen three,
Specyally in hir lookynges
To considre three maner thinges,
Alweyes by goode avysement:
Thinges passed and eeke present,
And thinges after that shal falle.
And she mot looke first of alle,
And doon hir inwarde besy peyne,
Thinges present for to ordeyne
Avysely on every syde,
And future thinges for to provyde,
The thinges passed in substaunce
For to have in remembraunce.
And who thus doothe, I say that hee
Verrayly hathe yeghen three
Comitted unto his difence,
The truwe myrrour of provydence.
Thane this lady is his guyde,
Him to defende on every syde
Ageyns Fortune goode and perverse
And al hir power for to reverse.
For fraunchysed and at liberté,
Frome hir power to goo free,
Stonde alle folkes, in sentence
Wheeche beon governed by Prudence.
(see note)

seldom does she remain the same

as the Romance of the Rose
without lying

barren rock


laden with fruit
birds; (see note)



wave; (t-note)


Multicolored; decked out

In this order; for the occasion


Always about to; (see note)

violent; mansion

rescue; nor defense

In short; constant

conquer; (see note)

before he was aware
(see note)

she is very reluctant

of all Rome
Despite; (see note)

crowned with laurel
Without warning

spiced wine; pure
Made; sweet
delightful; (t-note)

no other choice

raise someone up

takes heed
(see note)

attained all his honors

(see note); (t-note)
he had a dream
(see note)
(see note)

towel; (see note)

(his daughter) was called Liriope; (see note); (t-note)

pride; (t-note)

(i.e., Fortune)
Read; (see note)

as expressions of sorrow


her (i.e., Fortune’s) wheel

If she dare
For once; (see note)

(see note)

By means of

Seneca says
Expressly; vision

with due consideration

take great pains


in general

Truly; eyes

(see note)

free; (t-note)
in fact

  [Nowe shewethe hir (shows herself) heer the secounde lady, Dame Rigwysnesse (Righteousness)










Seothe here this lady, Rightwysnesse.
Of alle vertues she is pryncesse,
For by the scales of hir balaunces
Sheo sette hem alle in governaunces.
She puttethe asyde, it is no dreede,
Frenship, favour and al kyns meede.
Love and drede she settethe at nought,
For rightful doome may not beo bought.
And Rightwysnesse, who can espye,
Hathe neyther hande ner yeghe.
She loste hir hande ful yore agoone,
For she resceyvethe gyftes noone,
Nother of freonde, neyther of foo.
And she hathe lost hir sight alsoo,
For of right sheo doothe provyde,
Nought for to looke on neyther syde,
To hyeghe estate, ner lowe degree,
But doothe to bothen al equytee,
And makethe noon excepcyoun
To neyther part, but of raysoun.
And for the pourpos of this mater
Of a juge yee shal heere,
Which never his lyf of entent
Ther passed no jugement
By his lippes of falsnesse;
Of whome the story doothe expresse,
After his deethe, by acountes cleer,
More thane three hundrethe yeer,
His body, as is made mencyoun,
Was tourned unto corrupcyoun,
The story tellethe, it is no dreed;
But lyche a roos, swoote and reed,
Mouthe and lippes werne yfounde,
Nought corrupte, but hoole and sounde.
For trouth is, that he did expresse
In alle hees doomes of rihtwysnesse.
For this lady with theos balaunce
Was with him of acqweyntaunce,
Which him made in his ententys
To gyf alle rightwyse jugementis.
Wherfore this lady, which yee heer see
With hir balaunces of equytee,
Hathe the scaalis honged soo,
That she hathe no thing to doo
Never with Fortunes doublenesse.
For ever in oon stant Rightwysnesse,
Nowher moeving too ne froo
In no thing that she hathe to doo.
See; (see note)


kinfolk’s profit; (t-note)




high; nor
what is fair; (t-note)

except for a reason
for the sake of this account; (see note)


there is no question
sweet and red

Because of the truth that he spoke

Was well known to him
you see here

Has hung the scales in such a way

  [Loo, heer komethe in nowe the thridde lady, called Fortitudo.












Takethe heede, this fayre lady, loo,
Ycalled is Fortitudo,
Whame philosophres by theyre sentence
Ar wonte to cleepe Magnyfysence.
And Fortitudo sothely sheo hight,
Ageyns alle vyces for to fight,
Confermed as by surtee
Ageynst all adversytee.
In signe wherof sheo berethe a swerde,
That sheo of nothing is aferd.
For comune profit also she,
Of verray magnanymyté,
Thinges gret doothe underfonge,
Taking enpryses, wheeche beon stronge.
And moost sheo doothe hir power preove
A communaltee for to releeve,
Namely upon a grounde of trouthe;
Thanne in hir ther is no slouthe
For to maynteyne the goode comune.
And alle th’assautes of fortune,
Of verray stidfastnesse of thought
Alle hir chaunges she sette at nought.
For this vertu magnyfycence
Thorough hir mighty excellence
She armed theos philosophres oolde,
Of wordely thing that they noughte tolde:
Recorde upon Dyogenes,
On Plato, and on Socrates.
She made Cypion of Cartage
To underfongen in his aage
For comune proufyte thinges gret;
And for no dreed list not leet,
Ageynst Roome, that mighty toune,
For to defende his regyoun.
Sheo made Hector for his cytee
To spare for noon adversytee,
But, as a mighty chaumpyoun,
In the defence of Troyes toun
To dye withouten feer or dreed.
And thus this lady, who takethe heed,
Makithe hir chaumpyounes strong,
Parayllous thinges to underfong,
Til that they theyre pourpos fyne.
Recorde of the worthy nyen,
Of other eeke that weere but late,
I meene prynces of latter date.
Herry the fyft, I dare sey soo,
He might beo tolde for oon of thoo;
Empryses wheeche that were bygonne
He left not til they weere wonne.
And I suppose, and yowe list see,
That thees ladyes alle three
Wer of his counseyle doutelesse,
Force, Prudence and Rightwysnesse.
Of theos three he tooke his roote,
To putte Fortune under foote.
And sith this lady, in vertu strong,
Soustenethe trouthe, and doothe not wrong.
Late hir nowe, to more and lasse,
Be welcome to yowe this Cristmasse.

(see note)
Whom; custom
truly she is called

by a pledge

As a sign

deeds; mighty

a nation

the assaults
Because of
(her, i.e., Fortune’s)

Remember; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
in his old age
(see note)
And did not allow him to surrender out of fear

(see note)


achieve their purpose
Remember; (see note)
who lived more recently
Henry V; (see note)
counted as


Let; to people of every rank; (see note)
(see note)

  [And theos edoone, komethe inne the feorthe lady, cleped Dame Feyre and Wyse Attemperaunce.













This feorthe lady that yee seon heer,
Humble, debonayre and sadde of cheer,
Ycalled is Attemperaunce;
To sette al thing in governaunce
And for hir sustres to provyde,
Vyces alle shal circumsyde,
And setten hem in stabulnesse.
With hir Cousin Soburnesse
She shal frome vyces hem restreyne
And in vertu holde hir reyne,
And therinne gyf hem libertee,
Eschuwing alle dishonestee;
And hem enfourmen by Prudence,
For to have pacyence,
Lownesse and humylytee,
And pruyde specyally to flee.
Contynence frome gloutonye,
Eschuwe deshoneste compaignye,
Fleen the dees and the taverne,
And in soburnesse hem gouverne;
With hert al that ever they can,
In vertu loven every man;
Sey the best ay of entent:
Whoo that seythe weel, doothe not repent.
Detraccion and gloutouny,
Voyde hem frome thy companye
And al rancoure sette asuyde.
Be not to hasty, but ever abyde,
Specyally to doone vengeaunce;
In aboode is no repentaunce.
And in vertu whoo is thus sette,
Thanne beo theos sustres weel ymette;
And soothely, if it beo discerned,
Who by theos foure is thus governed —
Thus I mene: that by Prudence
He have the myrrour of provydence.
For to consider thinges alle,
Naamely parylles, or they falle —
And who that have by governaunce
Of Rightwysnesse the ballaunce,
And strongly holde in his difence
The swerd of hir Magnyfycence:
Yee beon assured frome al meschaunce,
Namely whanne that Attemperaunce
Hir sustre governethe al three.
Frome Fortune yee may thane go free,
Boothe alwey in hert and thought.
Whyle yee beo soo, ne dreed hir nought,
But avoydethe hir acqweyntaunce
For hir double varyaunce,
And fleothe oute of hire companye
And alle that beon of hir allye.
And yee foure susters, gladde of cheer,
Shoule abyde here al this yeer
In this housholde at libertee;
And joye and al prosparytee
With yowe to housholde yee shoule bring.
And yee all foure shal nowe sing
With al youre hoole hert entiere
Some nuwe songe aboute the fuyre,
Suche oon as you lykethe best;
Lat Fortune go pley hir wher hir list.

fourth; you see here
courteous; sober of look
(see note)

restrain them
give them


Flee; dice


Banish them
too; hesitate

In delay

(see note)




treacherous changeableness


(see note)
(see note)

(see note)
whole heart
new; fire; (see note)
Such a one; like
Let; she wishes


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