2. HERMES: FOOTNOTES6 stered, steered.
8 connynge of sterres, astronomy.
9 establed, established; covenably, appropriately.
10 her, their.
11 iles, islands; hem, them.
16 metis, meats.
21 floures, flowers.
28 beth, be; oon, one.
34 outhir, either.
38 here, their.
39 doute, be afraid of/respect.
47 weel, well; to, too.
49 longinge, belonging.
53 sewe, follow.
56 herken, hearken, heed, listen to.
57 cordes, cords; noye, annoy.
58 cautelis, deceitfulness.
63 Bethe, be.
64 or, ere (before).
67 ministrours, ministers.
69 Yelde, Yield.
71 lever, rather.
73 abiden, remain.
74 tecche, touch.
76 matier, matter.
82 beleve, belief; to besy, too busy.
84 betyn, beaten; dreede, dread.
88 thenke, think.
89 dothe it anone, do it anon (soon); rescowed, rescued (taken back).
92 or, ere (before).
94 areise, raise (fulfill).
95 perellis, perils.
100 meetis, meats (foods).
104 welewillers, well-wishers; departe, share, distribute.
106 heele the seeke, heal the sick.
107 herberowe, harbor (give shelter to).
108 wrongis, afflictions.
112 preveth, prove.
115 nowt, naught; herre, higher.
117 egall, equal.
119 bridell, bridle.
120 attemprely, temperately.
121 connynge, intelligence.
123 Verry, True.
125 leveth, leaves behind.
127 Ho that, Whosoever.
131 nothre, neither.
133 connynge, practical advice; covenable, appropriate.
142 weele, weal (success).
144 covetise, covetousness.
148 othir, or; outhir, either; menys, means (intends).
150 brenneth, burns.
152 dede, deed.
161 sewen, pursue; prouffite, profit.
166 sechith, seeks.
167 peerle, pearl; see, sea.
169 parfite, perfect (ideal).
171 aourned, adorned.
172 tother, other.
175 dispreiseth, dispraises (denounces).
176 etith, eats.
181 maryed, married.
182 bere, bear.
183 jangeller, a jester.
184 ferre, far; nygh, near.
185 wol, will.
189 leyser, leisure.
192 empechith, impeaches.
198 dongehilles, dunghills.
200 peas, peace.
203 troveth, trusts.
206 apperteigneth, appertains.
207 petevous, merciful.
210 annoye, annoyance.
211 fraunchise, generosity.
214 holpen, helped.
215 enemyté, enmity.
216 Stablisshe, Establish.
219 peraventure, perhaps.
221 vengeable, vengeful.
222 rennyng rever, running river; aventure, jeopardy.
227 fredame, freedom.
231 mysbeleve, unbelief.
232 gadre, gather.
234 encres, increase.
238 werr, war.
238-39 dispourveied, unprepared.
240 enfourmed, informed.
241 araied, arrayed.
242 wacche, watch; espies, lookouts.
246 secretaire, secretary.
248 to, too.
250 haste, has; preved, proved.
251 mowe, may.
254 entremete, associate.
255 doste, do.
256 execusioun, excuses.
258 alquemie, alchemy.
262 wele, weal (benefit).
263 science, intelligence.
265 greettir, greater.
268 wol, will.
269 of, off; afore, before, in front of.
270 of, off.
272 brente, burned.
276 owt, ought.
277 punycioun, punishment.
278 her, their.
279 to1, too.
281 rightwos, righteous.
282 holsom, wholesome.
291 saulf, save (except for).
294 merveille, marvel.
296 leyser, leisure; erringe, erring.
297 bothum, bottom; drouned himself, drowned itself.
298 fyaunce, promise.
298-99 diffiaunce, deceit.
302 ferre, far.
2. HERMES: EXPLANATORY NOTESABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).
These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.
1-2 Hermes was borne in Egipte, and is as moche to seye in Greke as Mercury, and in Ebrew as Ennoch. The conflation of Hermes, here meaning both the Greco-Roman deity and the Egyptian philosopher Hermes Trismegistus, with Enoch goes back at least as far as the fifth century AD, when the Byzantine historian Zosimus used their names interchangeably (see Pearson, "Enoch in Egypt," p. 220). The path by which these three figures - an Egyptian philosopher named Hermes, the mythological messenger of the gods known to the Romans (not, as is said here, to the Greeks) as Mercury, and the biblical descendant of Adam from Genesis 5:18-24 (where Enoch's death is not reported, only that he "walked with God") - came to be considered references to the same individual is a complex one that begins perhaps as early as the fifth century BC, when the Greek historian Herodotus (b. 484 BC) regularly translates references to the Egyptian Thoth - the scribe of the gods, inventor of the art of writing, and reportedly himself the author of the Book of the Dead - with the name Hermes (e.g., Herodotus 2.67, where the city of Thoth is termed "Hermes polis"; compare also 2.138). This correspondence inevitably led to confusion between this Egyptian Hermes and the Greek Hermes (i.e., Roman Mercury), so one of Thoth's epithets, "very great," was attached to Egyptian Hermes' name: thus Hermes Trismegistus ("Hermes the very great-great" or "Hermes the thrice-greatest"). In medieval tradition, Hermes Trismegistus was believed to have been a powerful wizard and alchemist, as well as the author of the so-called Hermetic writings, a collection of metaphysical treatises (dating no earlier than the first century AD) that integrate Greek and Near Eastern philosophical ideals. Since Thoth was said to be the inventor of writing, and the accumulated legends about Hermes Trismegistus included some talk about how he did not die but instead went straight to paradise, this Egyptian Hermes figure was in turn eventually associated with Enoch (on whose place in paradise and connection with the invention of writing see, e.g., Cursor Mundi, lines 1467-72). In the Dicts-tradition this confusion goes back at least as far as the Spanish version, Bocados de Oro (ed. Knust, p. 88). Thus, despite the epithet of Trismegistus given to the one, the Egyptian Hermes and Greek Hermes became deeply entangled in the minds of later writers - so much so that biblical Enoch could be, as here, further associated with Roman Mercury via the intermediary equation of each with the name Hermes.
8 connynge of sterres. Hermes is here credited with establishing the science of astronomy, but see the notes to Pythagoras, line 1, and The Last Philosophers, line 103, for two genuine pioneers in this field.
15 commaunded that men shulde ete flesshe of porke. We would expect the phrase to be "shulde not ete," since consuming pork would have violated the dietary restrictions of both Islam (the culture in which Dicts and Sayings was originally composed) and Judaism (the early lines of the Hermes section read like a catalog of Jewish practices, most likely because of the association of Hermes with Enoch). This "not" may have been removed accidentally or deliberately by later Christian translators.
24 ff. Bühler advises readers to compare Hermes' proverbs to those found in Dunbar's Hermes the Philosopher (Dicts and Sayings p. 324). This poem (Poems of William Dunbar, ed. Small, pp. 108-09) includes a number of maxims that would not be out of place in Dicts and Sayings (e.g., "Follow on petie, fle truble and debait" [line 17]), but overall Dunbar offers advice that is far more amiable (e.g., the refrain: "Without glaidness availis no tresure") than what we find in this section of Dicts and Sayings. In early editions of Dunbar the poem is called Hermes the Philosopher because its opening couplet ("Be mirry and glaid, honest and vertewous, / Ffor that suffisis to anger the invyous," ed. Small, p. 108) is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Modern editors, however, do not consider this couplet to be part of the poem, and therefore the poem now has lost its association with Hermes. In his edition of Dunbar's works, Conlee entitles the poem Without Gladness No Treasure Avails, after the refrain. See also the note to line 180, below.
27-28 lete no man do to his felawe othirwise thanne he wolde that shulde be done to him. The first of many proverbial expressions derived from the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), most famously expressed in Matthew 7:12: "All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets." Compare lines 212-14. See Whiting D274.
63-65 Bethe all oone withinne and withoute, and or that ye speke, loke that ye speke in suche wise that youre language be nat contrary to the wille of your herte. For other manifestations of this maxim, see Whiting W631.
66 Make you lowely and obbeye youre lawes and youre princes. See the explanatory note for Zedechye, lines 5-7.
177-78 Men maye knowe the foole by his wordis and the wiseman by his dedis. For other manifestations of this maxim, see Whiting W578.
180 Beth gladde and mery, and that sufficeth to angre the envious man. This statement is attributed to Hermes in William Baldwin's Treatise of Morall Philosophy, and for a time was believed to be the opening couplet of a Dunbar poem. See the note to lines 24 ff., above.
223 Kinge Amon. Ammon, or Amon-Ra, was the supreme god in classical Egyptian mythology. In the Hermetic tradition he appears as a legendary king who receives Hermes' teachings on good kingship.
258 the grete alquemie. Alchemy is a running theme throughout the Hermes section, and with good reason, since Hermes Trismegistus was seen as the father of alchemy. The "alchemy" referred to here is farming - not the simple planting practices of ancient peoples, but the practical science of agriculture that began to develop in the Middle Ages. Understanding agriculture as a kind of "alchemy" continued into early modern times with the rise of farmers' almanacs.
262 ff. a commowne wele. Hermes moves from the"alchemy" of farming to another kind of practical lore: the organization of society. The philosopher argues that when each man works according to his "discrecioun, condicioun, and science [intelligence]," it is beneficial to himself and to society as a whole.
267 ff. to punnysshe the evell doers. Hermes gives a precise punishment that symbolically fits each crime: the traitor is decapitated, the thief has a hand cut off, the sodomite is burned alive, etc. In all cases there is the powerful spectacle of public punishment, so that the people may learn from these examples and then "reste in excercise of trouthe" (line 275).
275 ff. visite the prisoners oones in a moneth and delyver hem that owt to be deliverd. Hermes advocates evenhanded justice; those who deserve punishment must be punished thoroughly, but those who have paid the penalty should be eligible for "parole." Moreover, it is the king's responsibility to seek out the counsel of wise men (a penal review board, so to speak) to assist him in making fair judgments about each case. Returning to the theme of alchemy (see the note to line 258), we might consider Hermes' advice in this passage to be a kind of "alchemy of justice."
291 alle thingis perisshen saulf goode dedis. Hermes stresses the practical value of good deeds (see especially lines 283 ff.). Compare to the morality play Everyman, where the allegorical character "Good Deeds" is the only one whom Everyman can bring with him to the grave.
295-96 Putte nat an evel doer to execucioun to hastily, but that he have some leyser to repente him. Hermes argues that the purpose of punishment is not only retributive, but also rehabilitative, in that a criminal should have the opportunity to reform his ways. This "alchemy of reform" (see the note to line 258), however, applies also to the state: if the government acts with care and prudence, it can be sure that it is dispensing justice and not simply vengeance.
299-300 Whanne that a kinge maye nat refreyne his voluntary wille and his coveytises, howe maye he reprove his servauntis? The king must be an example to all, for if the head of the body politic goes astray, so too will the limbs. The Hermes section of Dicts and Sayings is in the tradition of medieval texts that offer advice to princes, and in such a narrative one of the most important virtues that a leader must cultivate is restraint in his words and deeds (the French word mesure is often used in chivalric tales). A king who is ruled by excessive willfulness finds himself in danger of losing his realm. See also the note to Diogenes, line 17.
302-03 Thanne it is conveniente to a kinge firste to be maistir over himself and aftirwarde in due ordre over alle othir. Hermes begins to conclude his section by emphasizing that self-understanding is the key to good kingship.
304 a kinge ought nat to be fulle of suspessioun. The philosopher's final point is crucial: just as good kingship and self-understanding are intimately linked, both are also readily destroyed by suspicion.
2. HERMES: TEXTUAL NOTES5 B follows G in printing Roman numerals, but I have spelled out all Roman numerals as words. The scribe's manner of writing some of the longer Roman numerals, however, occasionally makes it unclear which number he means to represent, so some of my interpretations of his numerals are conjectural.
36 Truste. B: Trust.
182 swymme. So G. B follows, though mistakenly treating this as a necessary emendation for MS swymne.
221 a vengeable lorde. B emends a to no, but given that the basic meaning of vengeable is"vengeful," I would argue that the reading in G is more likely.
Hermes was borne in Egipte, and is as moche to seye in Greke as Mercury, and
in Ebrew as Ennoch that was the sone of Jareth, the sone of Mathalabel, the sone
of Quinart, the sone of Enoy, sone of Seth, sone of Adam; and was befor the grete
flood, aftir the which was anothir floode that drowned all the cuntré of Egipte. And
the seid Hermes wente in alle the cuntrees eighty and two yeris, with seventy-two
persones of divers languages, which alwaies exhorted and stered the people to ob-
beye God. And bilded an hundred and eight townes, whiche he replenysshed with
sciencis and was the firste that fonde the connynge of sterres. And to the people of
every clymat establed the lawe and partede covenably to their oppynyons, to the
which Hermes the kingis that were in that tyme obeied and alle her lande also and
alle that dwelled in iles, and constreyned hem to kepe the lawe of God, to seye
trouth, and dispise the werlde. And commaunded to sey praiers, and praiers for to
be made, and to faste every moneth [fol. 3r] upon the Satirday. And distroyed the enem-
yes of the feith. And gafe money to the poure people of God, that is to knowe, to
feble and impotent peple. And commaunded that men shulde ete flesshe of porke
and of geet and suche othir lyke metis, and commaunded hem expressely that thei
shulde kepe hem from dronkennesse. And stablisshed many feestis at certeyne
tymes. And ordeigned also certeyne sacrifices at the entree of the signes of the
sunne, and other sacrefices at the firste sight of the moone, and in the conjunc-
tioun of the planetis that entre in theire mansions, and in their exaltaciouns and
of the sight of hem; and offred sacreficis of alle thingis, that is to seye: of floures,
of rooses, of greynes, of whete, of barly, of fruytes, of grapes, and buverages. And
the same Hermes seith that it is not ynough to thanke God oonly for the goodes
that He geveth us. And seith: "O man, yf thu knewest God wele, thu shuldest never
falle in the weyes that shulde leede thee to evyll." And seith: "Make nat youre
clamours to God as ignorauntes full of corupte wille. And loke ye be nat inobe-
diente to God, ne trespasours of the lawe. And lete no man do to his felawe othir-
wise thanne he wolde that shulde be done to him, but beth of oon accorde, and
every man love other, and use fastinge and prayers in pure and clene wille, and
constreyn youre wille to do goode werkis, lowely and withoute pride, in such maner
that youre werkis maye make goode fruytes. And drawe ye awey fro the companye
of evell folkis as theves and such as use fornycacions." And seith: "Bewar that ye be
nat forsworne and that alle tymes trouth maye be founden in youre mouth. And
beware that ye swere nat but outhir yee or naye. And loke that ye enforce you nat
to make hem swere that ye knowe bene accustumed to lye, leste that ye be par-
tyners of theire perjurye. Truste ye in God that knoweth alle secretis, and He shal
juge you in right at the grete daye of jugemente that shal geve His graces and
rewardes to the goode people and shal punysshe the evell people for here evell
dedis." And seith: "Be ye in certeyne that to doute oure Lorde is the gretteste wis-
dame, and the gretteste dilectacioun that oon shulde have is in Hym from whens
alle goodes comen, by the which the gatis of oure undirstandinge and wisdame
bene opened. And God that loveth His servauntis hath geven hem discrecioun and
hath geven hem prophetis and ministres fulfilled with the Holy Gooste, by the
which hath He shewed hem the secretis of the lawe and the trouth of wisdame, to
that entent [fol. 3v] that thei shulde eschewe the evell deedis and applie hemself to the
goode dedis." And seith: "Use wisdame and sewe the lawe. Be mercifull and arraye
you with goode techingis. Thenke weel on youre thingis, and haste you nat to moch
in hem, and specially in punysshing of evell doers." And seith: "Yf any of you use
any maners longinge to synne, be nat ashamed to withdrawe you and for to res-
ceive punysshemente therfore in schewinge good exsample to othir. And yf so be
that he be nat punysshed in this worlde, he shal be punysshed at the grete Daye of
Doome and shal be turmented with more gretter peyne and withoute pité." And
seith: "Correcte youreselfe and sewe the wise men and lerne of hem goode vertues.
And lete youre desire be for to gete you good renowne. And employe nat youre
undirstandinge in malice and subtilté." And seith: "Kepe you fro hem that governe
hemself by malice withoute trouth, and that oonly herken it withoute puttinge in
dede." And seith: "Loke ye holde nat the cordes to noye the people and seke nat
their hurtis by cautelis, for thei can nat be so hidde but that it shal be knowe in the
ende." And seith: "Sette togedir the love of feith with the love of wisdame and
constreyne youreself thereto; and yf ye do it, alle your tyme shall be in wyn-
nynge, and of this noble vertue shal come to you more profite thanne to assemble
golde, sylver, or other tresours that be nat durable, for it shal be to you a tresour
in anothir werlde that ever shal endure and never have ende." And seith: "Bethe
all oone withinne and withoute; and or that ye speke, loke that ye speke in suche
wise that youre language be nat contrary to the wille of your herte." And seith:
"Make you lowely and obbeye youre lawes and youre princes, and honoureth your
grettest ministrours. Love God and trouth, and geve true counseile to that ende
that ye maye more surely with youre goode penitence be in the weye of salvacioun."
And seith: "Yelde your thankinges to God in tyme of tribulacioun and of pros-
perité, in tyme of poverté, and of riches." And seith: "Ye shal nat eete but of your
dedis, and kepe you that ye eete nat unjustely, and that ye be lever to have poverté
in doynge goode dedis thanne ricches in synne, for ricchesses losen and goode
dedis abiden. And kepe yourself from moche laughing and from mokking of
othir." And seithe: "Yf ye perceyve anothir in any tecche of lewednesse, yet mocke
him nat dishonestly, but loke that ye thenke that God hath made us alle of oon
matier, and he that mocketh is nat sure, but in lyke wise it might befalle to him.
Wherfore ye shulde thanke God that He hath kepte you from such mischefis in
tyme passed and in tyme presente, and beseche Him of His mercy [fol. 4r] that He wolde
kepe you in tyme that is to come." And seith: "Whanne the enemyes of the feithe
disputen with you with harde and sharpe wordis, answer ye hem agen with swet-
nesse and humilité, and beseche God that He wolde redresse His creatures to good
beleve and to everlastinge salvacioun." And seith: "Be nat to besy of language in
counseile. And holde your tungis tyed before youre enemyes, as he that sekith the
rodde to be betyn." And seith: "Ye maye nat be juste withoute that ye dreede God,
by the which ye resceive the Holy Goost that shal open you the gatis of Paradise by
the which youre soulles shull joyefully entre in with othir that have deserved the
everlastinge lyfe." And seith: "Eschewe the company of evel folke, from enemyes,
from dronken men, and ignorauntis. Ande whanne ye thenke on any good deede,
dothe it anone leste it be lette or rescowed by any wille of the contrary." And seith:
"Loke thu have none envye yf thu see any good thinge come to him that hath an
evel hert, for he shal nat be stable and his ende shal be evell." And seith: "Make
children to be taught in their childehode or thei knowe any gret evell, and so in
hem thu shalt nat synne." And seith: "Honoureth and praieth God with good wille,
and adresse alle youre desires to God and thanne He shal areise hem and helpe
you where that ever ye be, and shal delyver you from alle perellis and shal make
meke alle your enemyes undir youre goode praiers." And seith: "Whanne ye wole
faste, make clene youre soullis of alle filth and that youre fastinge come with a pure
herte and evell thoughtis to be put oute therof, for God takith hem for foulle and
evell. And lyke as ye do abstinence of meetis, in lyke wise shulde ye absteyne you
from synnes, for it sufficeth nat to God that a man dothe abstinence of meetis and
applieth himself to do evell deedis." And seith: "In youre fastinge, visite the hous
of oure Lorde and beth in youre praiers withoute grete pompe, but in swetnesse
and in lowelynesse. And whanne ye shul be gladde in youre houses and make youre
feestis to youre welewillers, have remembraunce upon Goddis people and departe
with hem of youre goodis." And seithe: "Comforte the people that bene in an-
guysshe and in hevynesse and comforte prisoners, and heele the seeke, clothe the
naked, feede hem that have hungir, geve hem drynke that bene thristy, herberowe
the pilgrymes, make satisfaccioun to youre creditours, and suffre youre wrongis
paciently." And seith: "Loke that ye nat discomforte hem that bene in affliccion,
but helpe hem with swete and pleasaunte wordis. And yf it be suche that have done
you harme, forgeve it hem lowely and lete it suffice you the peyne that thei suffre."
And seith: "Enforce you for to gete you frendis, and firste preveth hem or that ye
put to grete truste [fol. 4v] in hem leste ye shal have harme and repente you." And seith:
"Ho that God higheth or lifteth up in this worlde shulde take that arisinge for
nowt, and nat to take himself therfore more herre thanne oon of his fellawes. For
God hath made the poure and the riche alle of oon creacioun, to the regard of the
whiche alle bene egall." And seith: "Bewar that in youre hate ther go no lewed
worde oute of youre mouthe, for it is thinge that is dishonesté and shal engendre
peyne." And seith: "Ho that refreyneth his angre and settith a bridell on his tunge
and speketh attemprely and kepith his tunge clene, he surmounteth alle othir."
And seith that it is nat conveniente for him that wolde have connynge that he
shulde seke it by merites ne for money, but oonly by dilectacioun, for it is more
precious thanne alle othir thingis. And seith: "Verry wisdame is gefte of fortune,
true jugemente of discipline, and sleynge of alle evellis." And seith: "That kinge
is noble and good that, in his realme, leveth the evel lawe for the goode." And
seith: "To be liberall in tyme of poverté and necessité is commendable, paciente
to forgeve whanne a man maye avenge his wrongis." And seith: "Ho that honour-
eth wise men and loveth trouthe and doth goode dedis and enforceth himself to
lerne connynge and goode maners shal fynde that maye please him in this worlde
and in the othir." And seith: "He is unhappy in this worlde and in the other that
hath nothre wisdame ne doctrine." And seith: "Ho that will nat teche that he know-
ith in connynge and maners, he shal be partener in ignoraunce with the evell peo-
ple. And ho that denyeth to teche connynge to him that it is covenable to, he ought
to be depryved of his benefetis in this worlde; and of the seyenge naye to, he is
wors thanne the ignoraunt which is of evel wille." And seith that liberalité is more
worthe in connynge thanne in ricches, for the renowne of the wise abideth and the
ricches loseth. And seith: "Man shulde nat offende ne hate him that hath done him
any offence, but shulde do him good for evel, for the werkis of the wiseman bene
knowen in thre maners. That is to seye: to make of his enemye his frende, and he
that knoweth nat to make him knowe, and of the evell to make him good." And
seith: "He maye be taken for good whanne othir men resceyven of his goodnesse,
and he that loveth as moche the weele of othir as of himself." And seith that grete
connynge maye litil availle in a covetouse man, but smal connynge profiteth in him
that withdrawith his corage from covetise." And seithe that deth is lyke the strooke
of an arrowe, and the lyfe is lyke as the arrowe is sette for to come." And seith that
pitee is more grete to have mercy upon foolis thanne uppon wisemen. And seith:
"Ho that holdeth hym [fol. 5r] nat suffised with that that he hath, deserveth to have no
more." Ande seith that a reportour othir a contrever of talis, outhir he menys evel
to him that he tellith the tale, or ellis he is fals to him of whome he reporteth. And
seithe that derisioun and mockerye putten awey feere, lyke as the fyre brenneth
and distroieth the woode. And seith that the envious man is frende to a man in his
presence and enemye in his absence, and is a frende in worde and enemye in dede.
And seith that an envyous man is nat good but to dispreisinge of othir men. And
seith: "He is right sure that is withoute blame, and he is ful evell ensured that is in
grete blame." And seith: "Beth ware how ye obbey to covetise, for covetise wole nat
obbeye to you." And seith: "Ho that asketh counsel of othir begynneth to profite
himself." And somme asked him a question -- what it was that moste troubleth and
hurteth a man. He aunswered and seid: "Envye and wrath." And thanne was asked
him a question -- whi the wisemen helde hem more at the gatis of riche men
thanne the riche men helde hem at the gatis of the wisemen, and he aunswered
and seide that the wisemen sewen the prouffite of connynge. And seith: "Ho that
hath witte and discrecion and shewith it nat in dede, he is as a tree withoute
fruyte." And seith: "Ho that is wise knoweth ignoraunce, and he that is ignoraunte
knowith it nat, and he that knoweth nat himself, with moche peyne he shulde
knowe othir." And seithe that there be two maner of people: that oon is that
sechith and can nat fynde, and that othir that fyndeth and profiteth nat. And seithe
that wisdame is as the peerle that is founde in the bottom of the see, which a man
maye nat have but by hem that can dyve downe to the bottom of the see and fynde
it. And seith: "He maye nat be of parfite connynge but he be chaste in himself."
And seithe that dissiplyne is the ornament of witte, by the which discrecioun shulde
be aourned as moche as a man might." And seith: "It is nat honest to chastice oon
man in presence of anothir, and chastice the tother aparte." And seith: "Whanne
a man excuseth himself of his blame ofte, it makith him recorde errour." And
seith: "The ignoraunt is but litel natwithstandinge that he be olde, and the wise is
grete though so be that he be yonge." And seith: "The worlde dispreiseth every
daye him that he was wonte for to worship, and the erthe etith him, the whiche he
was wonte for to geve mete to." And seith: "Men maye knowe the foole by his wordis
and the wiseman by his dedis." And seith that fewe folke have envye to a man
whanne he is deed, but he seith that many folke wole lye upon him. Ande [fol. 5v] seith:
"Beth gladde and mery, and that sufficeth to angre the envious man." And thei
asked him whi he wolde nat be maryed, and he answered: "Ho wole swymme in the
see and maye nat, how wolde he swymme and bere oon in his necke?" And seith:
"Kepe thee fro the company of a jangeller that ressemblith suche a thinge that
shyneth whanne a man is ferre from it and whanne it is nygh it is right nowt." And
seith: "Ho that taketh upon him for to do evel to anothir for thee, in lyke wise wol
he do for anothir agenste thee." And seith: "Ho that preisith thee in any vertue
that is nat founde in thee, he maye wel noye thee and make that thu shalt nat
undirstande the vice that is in thee." And seith: "Wrath troubleth resoun as moche
as it troubleth a man to do goode werkis, and the evell dedis at leyser." And seith:
"Ho that laboureth in that that maye nat profite, he leveth for that the labour that
shulde profite him." And seith: "The shame that men suffre for the condicions of
evel folke troubleth and empechith the concupiscence of them." And seith: "Whanne
thi frende hath erred agenste thee, yet departe thee nat from his love as longe as thu
mayste fynde any maner that it myght be redressed." And seith: "Good and true is
he that forgetith lightly that thinge whiche that his frend hath trespassed inne."
And seithe: "It is bettir thu chastice thiself thanne be chasticed by othir." And seith:
"The goodis that bene of ignorauntis bene lyke the herbes that growen upon
dongehilles." And seith that evell fellashippes bene lyke as a tree sette on fyre,
where oon bough settith afyre anothir. And seith: "The aunswere of somme thingis
is a man for to holde his peas." And seith: "The noblest thinge in this worlde is
man, and the moste noble thinge that is in man is reason, by the whiche he undir-
stondeth justice and departeth himself fro synne." And seith: "The foole knowith
nat himself lightly." And seith: "An ignoraunt troveth lightly that oon thinge is
anothir, and he that is doutefol makith many doutes or he maye undirstande it."
And seith that it is right comendable bothe in heven and in erthe to have a true
tunge. And seith: "It apperteigneth nat to kinges ne princes to geve lordship and
might but to people that bene petevous, and for that thei shulde love him as the
fadir loveth the children." And seith that the endeof a resonable soulle is for to
knowe trouthe, and the ende of sensualité is lyf, and the ende of corupte lyfe is
peas. And seith: "It ought suffise to be venged of his annoye whanne the adversary
partie askith forgevenesse." And somme asked him what was fraunchise, and he
aunswered: "Delyveringe of silver." And seide: "Geve to hem that bene unknowen
for the love of hem that bene [fol. 6r] knowen; and forgeve to hem that have bene agenste
thee, for hem that have holpen thee." And seith that the lyffe of this worlde is so
shorte that no man ought conceive in his herte any enemyté to anothir. And seith:
"Stablisshe thine angre with thi pacience and thyne ignoraunce with thi providence
and wisdame." And seith that it is a good token in a childe to be good whanne that
he is shamefaste, for he shewith himself that he shal have good tyme. And seith:
"It is good to do wel whanne thu arte in good prosperité, for peraventure thu shalt
have no power whanne thu arte in adversité." And seith: "Ho that dwellith in a
provynce that hath a vengeable lorde, no rightwis justice, ne good leeche, nor
plentevous market, ne no rennyng rever, he putteth in grete aventure him and his
goodis." And the seid Hermes charged Kinge Amon, seyeng: "The first thinge that
I commaund thee is to drede God and obbeye him." And seith that alle men that
have lordship over the people shulde have thre thingis in her mynde: firste, of the
people that bene his subjectis; the secunde, though so be that thei be undir his
lordship yet shulde he to his power kepe hem in fredame and nat in bondage; the
thridde is that lordship maye nat longe endure. And seide: "O Amon, it behoveth
thee to kepe thi soulle in pure trouth by wille and worde. And thou shuldest nat be
sloughthfull to distroie the evell belevers and to constreyne hem to obbeye God.
And coveite nat to treete with hem that bene of mysbeleve for no good by the
which thu maiste make hem to disobbeye God. And loke thu gadre no ricchesses
but yf thei be truly goten. And knowe it wel that the people wolde alweies obbeye
to good rule; and the realme maye nat fare wel but yf the people encres, for
whanne the people bene loste and gone, the prince shal regne oonly over himself.
And therfore considre oonly to thi soulle; and make the store of that, that may be
helpinge therto in anothir worlde. And yf it fortune so to the that thu shalt go to the
werr in thyne owen persone, loke thu bewar that thyne enemyes take thee nat dis-
pourveied. And whanne thu shalt shewe thee to bataille, loke firste that thi people
bene wele enfourmed and comforted and alle thi fighting men that thei be wele
araied and at alle tymes redy. And beware that thyn enemyes overcome thee not
sodeinly, but encrece thi wacche and thyne espies, to that entente that thu shalt
knowe the governaunce of thyn enemyes. And loke ye bewar that youre enemyes
deceyve you not. And yf so be that thu commaunde thi people to do anythinge,
loke thu serche secretly whedir thei do it lyke as thu haste commaunded hem. And
yf thu so do, thei wole drede thee more. And yf thu commaunde thi secretaire to
make a lettre, loke thu seale it nat unto the tyme that thu haste [fol. 6v] sene it, for many
oon have been deceyved therby. And bewar that thu be nat to familier with alle that
thu knowest and shewe nat alle the governaunce of thi people, but to them oonly
that thu haste wel preved, and that thu knowest and undirstandeth hem for true
men. And loke thu governe thee so wisely that thi knightis and thi people mowe
be rejoissed of thi companye, and that thei maye have a joie and allowe thee in thi
good governaunce, and that thei maye joie and delite in thi good rule. And loke
thi sleep be suche as maye be sufficient to thyne hert, and entremetethee not but of
true thingis, and alle thingis that thu doste maye be founded upon trouth withoute
skornyng. And loke thu tary nat longe upon suche execusioun that thu muste nedis
do. And loke thu be debonair and gracious to forgeve. Susteyne and love hem also
that laboure in the grete alquemie. That is to seye: the labourers of the erth, suche
as sowen the seedis and planten fruytes and alle other labourers by the whiche is
proufite unto the people and knighthode multiplied, and the houses full of
ricchesses, and the realmes susteyned by the whiche alle suche thingis is necessarie
to be wel saved and kepte. And it is a commowne wele to worship every man aftir
his discrecioun, condicioun, and science, to that entente that the people maye
knowe the goode and to do good to hem that sechen connynge, for this cause that
thei shulde have greettir wille to lerne, and that thei wil entende to their studie,
and that alle the provynce that thei be inne maye be the bettir for hem. And also
that ye make diligence to punnysshe the evell doers as soone as ye goodly maye.
And ho that wol do myscheve in thi realme or in thi lordship, anone make smyte
of his hede openly afore the people, to that entente that the people maye take
example: to the theef, kutte of his hande; the robbours of highweyes, lete hem be
hanged to that entente that the weyes maye be more sure; the sodomytes, lete hem
be brente; and the men that bene taken in fornycacioun, lete hem be punysshed
aftir the state of ther personys, and the wyfes that bene founden in like wise aftir
the same fourme. Also, kepe thee fro the talis of lyers, but punysshe hem openly;
and lete thyne herte reste in excercise of trouthe. Also visite the prisoners oones
in a moneth and delyver hem that owt to be deliverd, and do hem good. And tary
nat longe for to punysshe suche as have deserved punycioun; and make kepe wele
the tothir unto the tyme that thu knowe the trouth of her werkis. And kepe thee
wele that thu use nat to moche for to do aftir thyn owen counsell oonly, but be
counselled by men of good discrecioun and age, whiche bene experte in many
thingis. And whanne [fol. 7r] thu fyndest a treue man and a rightwos, take thi counsel of
him; and othirwise reporte thee to the moste holsom counsel, and God wil helpe
thee." And seith: "He is a noble man that useth goode dedis, and thes dedis bene
justice, chastité, and to geve frely withoute askinge." And seith: "It longeth to every
man for to seche connynge, and to fortifie it in himself withoute doutinge of aven-
tures that bene for to come, and kepe himself that he be nat lifte up in pride,
nothir by ricchesse, nor by lordship. And loke his will, his seyengis, and his dedis
maye be founde true, and thanne shal God love him and his successours." And seith
that no man maye escape at the Daie of Doome, but by thre maner thingis, that is
to seye: for his discrecion, for his chastité, or for his goode dedis. And seith that
alle thingis perisshen saulf goode dedis, and all thingis maye be hidde but nature.
And seith that alle thingis maye be better redressed thanne evell maners, and alle
thingis maye bene acheved but the commaundemente of God. And seith: "It is no
merveille though he be good that loveth no covetyse, but it were grete merveille
to see a covetouse man good." And seith: "Putte nat an evel doer to execucioun to
hastily, but that he have some leyser to repente him." And seith that the erringe
of wisemen is like the bothum of a shippe that is nat drouned himself, and maketh
othir for to be drouned." And seith that fyaunce is a maner of bondage, and diffi-
aunce is libertee. Ande seith: "Whanne that a kinge maye nat refreyne his volun-
tary wille and his coveytises, howe maye he reprove his servauntis? And whanne he
maye nat repreve his owen servauntis, how maye he redresse his owen people, and
namely them that bene ferre fro him? Thanne it is conveniente to a kinge firste to
be maistir over himself and aftirwarde in due ordre over alle othir." And seith that
a kinge ought nat to be fulle of suspessioun, for suspessioun makith the people to
withdrawe hem fro him, and also he shulde nat have no suspessious man in his
housholde, and specially suche as bene accusours, contryvers, and reportours of
talis behinde a man. For yf the kinge suffre suche paciently in his hous, with grete
peyne shal he have any sufficient servaunt or true counsellour."
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