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God will suffer well thy sloth, if thyself liketh,
For he gave thee two years' gifts, to teme well thyself,
And that is wit and free-will, to every wight a portion,
To fiying fowlës, to fishes, and to beasts,
And man hath most thereof, and most is to blame
But if he work well therewith, as Dowell him teacheth.'
'I have no kind knowing,' quoth I,'to conceive all your wordės
And if I may live and look, I shall go learnë better ;
I beken1 the Christ, that on the crossë died;'
And I said, 'The samë save you from mischance,
And give you grace on this ground good me to worth.'
And thus I went wide where, walking mine one
By a wide wilderness, and by a woodë's side,
Bliss of the birdës brought me on sleep,
And under a lind? on a land, leaned I a stound 3
To lyth the layës, those lovely fowlës made,
Mirth of their mouthës made me there to sleep.
The marvellousest metelles mettës me then
That ever dreamed wight, in world as I went.
A much man as me thought, and like to myself,
Came and called me, by my kindë6 namë.
•What art thou,' quod I then, thou that my namë knowest ?'
"That thou wottest well,' quod he, and no wight better.'
• Wot I what thou art?' Thought said he then,
I have sued? thee this seven years, see ye me no rather ?'
'Art thou Thought ? quoth I then, 'thou couldest me wyssh
Where that Dowell dwelleth, and do me that to know.'
Dowell, and Dobetter, and Dobest the third,' quod he,
• Are three fair virtues, and be not far to find,
Whoso is true of his tongue, and of his two handës,
And through his labour or his lod, his livelod winneth,
And is trusty of his tayling,' taketh but his own,
And is no drunkelow ne dedigious, Dowell him followeth ;
Dobet doth right thus, and he doth much more,
He is as low as a lamb, and lovëly of speech
And helpeth all men, after that them needeth;
The baggës and the bigirdles, he hath to-broke them all,
That the earl avarous heldë and his heirës,
And thus to mammons many he hath made him friends,
And is run to religion, and hath rend'red 10 the Bible
And preached to the people Saint Paulë's wordës,
Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes.
And suffereth the unwise with you for to live,
And with glad will doth he good, for so God you hoteth.2
Dobest is above both, and beareth a bishop's cross
Is hooked on that one end to halye? men from hell ;
A pike is on the potents to pull down the wicked
That waiten any wickedness, Dowell to tene;4
And Dowell and Dobet amongst them have ordained
To crown one to be king, to rule them boeth,
That if Dowell and Dobet are against Dobest,
Then shall the king come, and cast them in irons,
And but if Dobest bid for them, they be there for ever.
Thus Dowell and Dobet, and Dobestë the third,
Crowned one to be king, to keepen them all,
And to rule the realmë by their three wittës,
And none otherwise but as they three assented.
I thanked Thought then, that he me thus taught,
And yet favoureth me not thy suging, I covet to learn
How Dowell, Dobest, and Dobetter do among the people.
'But Wit can wish thee,' quoth Thought, where they three dwell,
Else wot I none that can tell that now is alive.'
Thought and I thus, three dayës we yeden
Disputing upon Dowell, dayë after other.
And ere we were 'ware, with Wit 'gan we meet.
He was long and leanë, like to none other,
Was no pride on his apparel, nor poverty neither ;
Sad of his semblance, and of soft cheer;
I durst not move no matter, to make him to laugh,
But as I bade Thought then be mean between,
And put forth some purpose to prevent his wits,
What was Dowell from Dobet, and Dobest from them both?
Then Thought in that timë said these wordës;
· Whether Dowell, Dobet, and Dobest be in land,
Here is well would wit, if Wit could teach him,
And whether he be man or woman, this man fain would espy,
And work as they three would, this is his intent.'
Here Dowell dwelleth,' quod Wit, not a day hence,
In a castle that kind? made, of four kinds things;
Of earth and air is it made, mingled together
With wind and with water, witterlys enjoined;
Kindë hath closed therein, craftily withal,
A lernan' that he loveth, like to himself,
Anima she hight, and Envy her hateth,
A proud pricker of France, princeps hujus mundi,
Aud would win her away with wiles and he might;
And Kind knoweth this well, and keepeth her the better.
And doth her with Sir Dowell is duke of these marches ;
Dobet is her damosel, Sir Dowell's daughter,
To serve this lady lelly, both late and rathe.?
Dobest is above both, a bishop's pere ;
That he bids must be done ; he ruleth them all.
Anima, that lady, is led by his learning,
And the constable of the castle, that keepeth all the watch,
Is a wise knight withal, Sir Inwit he hight,
And hath five fair sonnës by his first wife,
Sir Seewell and Saywell, and Hearwell-the-end,
Sir Workwell-with-thy-hand, a wight man of strength,
And Sir Godfray Gowell, great lordës forsooth.
These five be set to save this lady Anima,
Till Kind come or send, to save her for ever.'
"What kind thing is Kind,' quod I, canst thou me tell ?' -
Kind,' quod Wit, is a creator of all kinds things,
Father and former of all that ever was maked,
And that is the great God that 'ginning had never,
Lord of life and of light, of bliss and of pain,
Angels and all thing are at his will,
And man is him most like, of mark and of shape,
For through the word that he spake, wexen forth beasts,
And made Adam, likest to himself one,
And Eve of his ribbë bone, without any mean,
For he was singular himself, and said Faciamus,
As who say more must hereto, than my wordë one,
My might must helpë now with my speech,
Even as a lord should make letters, and he lacked parchment,
Though he could write never so well, if he had no pen,
The letters, for all his lordship, I 'lieve were never ymarked ;
And so it seemeth by him, as the Bible telleth,
There he saidë, Dixit et facta sunt.
He must work with his word, and his wit shew;
And in this manner was man made, by might of God Almighty,
With his word and his workmanship, and with life to last,
And thus God gave him a ghost of the Godhead of heaven,
And of his great grace granted him bliss,
And that is life that aye shall last, to all our lineage after ;
And that is the castle that Kindë made, Caro it hight,
And is as much to meanë as man with a soul,
And that he wrought with work and with word both;
Through might of the majesty, man was ymaked.
Inwit and Allwits closed been therein.
For love of the lady Anima, that life is nempned."
Over all in man's body, she walketh and wand'reth,
And in the heart is her home, and her most rest,
And Inwit is in the head, and to the heartë looketh,
What Anima is lief or loth, he leadeth her at his will.
Then had Wit a wife, was hotë Dame Study,
That leve was of lere, and of liche boeth.
She was wonderly wrought, Wit me so teached,
And all staring, Dame Study sternëly said ;
*Well art thou wise,' quoth she to Wit, “any wisdoms to tell
To flatterers or to foolës, that frantic be of wits ;'
And blamed him and banned him, and bade him be still,
With such wisë wordës, to wysh any sots,
And said, 'Noli mittere, man, margaritæ, pearls,
Amongë hoggës, that havë hawes at will.
They do but drivel thereon, draff were them lever,3
Than all precious pearls that in paradise waxeth.*
I say it, by such,' quod she, 'that shew it by their works,
That them were lever5 land and lordship on earth,
Or riches or rentës, and rest at their will,
Than all the sooth sawës that Solomon said ever.
Wisdom and wit now is not worth a kerse,
But if it be carded with covetise, as clothers kemb their wool;
Whoso can contrive deceits, and conspire wrongs,
And lead forth a lovëday, to let with truth,
He that such craftës can is oft cleped to counsel,
They lead lords with lesings, and belieth truth.
Job the gentle in his gests greatly witnesseth
That wicked men wielden the wealth of this world;
The Psalter sayeth the same, by such as do evil;
Ecce ipsi peccatores abundantes in seculo obtinuerunt divitias.
Lo, saith holy lecture, which lords be these shrewës ?
Thilkë that God giveth most, least good they dealeth,
And most unkind be to that comen, that most chattel wieldeth.s
Quæ perfecisti destruxerunt, justus autem, &c.
Harlots for their harlotry may have of their goodës,
And japers and juggelers, and janglers of jestës,
And he that hath holy writ aye in his mouth,
And can tell of Tobie, and of the twelve apostles,
Or preach of the penance that Pilate falsely wrought
To Jesu the gentle, that Jewës to-draw:
Little is he loved that such a lesson sheweth;
Or daunten or draw forth, I do it on God himself,
But they that feign they foolës, and with fayting · liveth,
Against the lawë of our Lord, and lien on themself,
Spitten and spewen, and speak foulë wordës,
Drinken and drivellen, and do men for to gape,
Liken men, and lie on them, and lendeth them no giftës,
They can? no more minstrelsy nor music men to glad,
Than Mundie, the miller, of multa fecit Deus.
Ne were their vile harlotry, have God my truth,
Shouldë never king nor knight, nor canon of Paul's
Give them to their yearë's gift, nor gift of a groat,
And mirth and minstrelsy amongst men is nought;
Lechery, losenchery,' and losels' talës,
Gluttony and great oaths, this mirth they loveth,
And if they carpent of Christ, these clerkės and these lewed,
And they meet in their mirth, when minstrels be still,
When telleth they of the Trinity a talë or twain,
And bringeth forth a blade reason, and take Bernard to witness,
And put forth a presumption to prove the sooth,
Thus they drivel at their dais5 the Deity to scorn,
And gnawen God to their gorge when their guts fallen;
And the careful? may cry, and carpen at the gate,
Both a-hunger'd and a-thirst, and for chillo quake,
Is none to pymen' them near, his noye 10 to amend,
But hunten him as a hound, and hoten" him go hence.
Little loveth he that Lord that lent him all that bliss,
That thus parteth with the poor; a parcel when hinn needeth
Ne were mercy in mean men, more than in rich;
Mendynauntes meatless 12 might go to bed.
God is much in the gorge of these greatë masters,
And amongës mean men, his mercy and his workës,
And so sayeth the Psalter, I have seen it oft.
Clerks and other kinnes meu carpen of God fast,
And have him much in the mouth, and meanë men in heart;
Friars and faitours 13 have founden such questions
To please with the proud men, sith the pestilence time,
And preachen at St Paulë's, for pure envy of clerks,
That folk is not firmed in the faith, nor free of their goods,
Nor sorry for their sinnës, so is pride waxen,