The Tale of Melibeus

“No more of this, for Goddes dignitee!”
Quoth then our Hoste, “for thou makest me
So wery of thy very foolishnesse,
That, al-so wisly God my soule blesse,
Myn eeres aken for thy sorry speche.
Now may the devel such a ryme fetch.
This may wel be rym dogerel,” quoth he.
“Why so?” quoth I, “why wilt thou staye me
More of my tale than another man,
Since that it is the beste rym I can?”
“By God!” quoth he, “thou shalt cease utterly
Thy sorry rymyng is not worth a flye;
Thou dost nought else but spendist al our tyme.
Sir, at one word, thou shalt no longer ryme.
Let see if thou canst tellen ought in gest,
Or telle in prose som what atte lest,
In which ther be som merthe or else doctrine.”

“Gladly,” quoth I, “by Goddes swete pain,
I wol you telle a litel thing in prose,
That oughte plese yow, as I suppose,
Or else ye certes be too daungerous.
It is a moral tale vertuous,
Al be it told som tyme in sondry wise
Of sondry folk, as I shal you devyse.
As thus, ye wot that every evaungelist,
That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Crist,
Ne saith nat alle thing as his felawes doth;
But nonetheless their sentence is al soth,
And alle accorden as in their sentence,
Al be ther in their tellyng difference.
For some of them say more, and some say lesse,
When thay his piteous passioun expresse;—
I mene of Mark, Mathew, Luk and Johan;—
But douteles their sentence is al one.
Therfore, lordynges alle, I you biseche,
If you think that I varye as in my speche,
As thus, though that I telle some what more
Of proverbes, than ye al have herd bifore
Comprehended in this litel tretys here,
To enforcen with theffect of my matere,
And though I not the same wordes say
As ye have herd, yet to you alle I pray,
Blameth me nought; for, in my ful sentence,
Shul ye no wher fynde any difference
From al the sentence of this tretys lite,
After the which this litil tale I write.
And therfor herken what I shal you say,
And let me tellen al my tale, I pray.”

A yong man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bygat upon his wif, that called was Prudens, a doughter which that called was Sophie. Upon a day byfel, that for his desport he is went into the feldes him to play. His wif and his doughter eek hath he laft in-with his hous, of which the dores were fast shut. Thre of his olde foos have it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous, and by the wyndowes be entred, and beetyn his wyf, and woundid his doughter with fyve mortal woundes, in fyve sondry places, that is to sayn, in her feet, in her hondes, in her eeres, in her nose, and in her mouth; and lafte her for deed, and went away.

When Melibeus retourned was into his hous, and saw al this meschief, he, lik a man mad, rendyng his clothes, gan wepe and crie. Prudens his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste, bisought him of his wepyng to stynte. But not forthi he gan to crie ever lenger the more.

This noble wyf Prudence remembred hir upon the sentens of Ovide, in his book that cleped is the Remedy of Love, wher as he seith: He is a fool that destourbeth the moder to wepe in the deth of hir childe, til she have i-wept hir fille, as for a certeyn tyme; and than shal man doon his diligence as with amyable wordes hire to recomforte and pray hir of hir wepyng to stinte. For which resoun this noble wif Prudens suffred hir housbonde for to wepe and crie, as for a certeyn space; and whan she saw hir tyme, she sayd him in this wise: “Allas! my lord,” quoth she, “why make ye youre self for to be like a fool? Forsothe it apperteyneth not to a wys man, to make such sorwe. Your doughter, with the grace of God, shal cured be and escape. And al were it so that she right now were deed, ye ne oughte nought as for hir deth youre silf destroye. Senec saith, The wise man shal not take too gret discomfort for the deth of his children, but certes he shulde suffren it in pacience, as wel as he abydeth the deth of his owne persone.”

This Melibeus answerde anon and sayde: “What man,” quoth he, “shuld of his wepynge stynte, that hath so gret a cause for to wepe? Jhesu Crist, oure Lord, him self wepte for the deth of Lazarus his frend.” Prudens answerde: “Certes, wel I wot, attemperel wepyng is no thing forbidden to him that sorwful is, amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted him to wepe. The apostel Poule unto the Romayns writeth, A man shal rejoyce with them that maken joye, and wepe with such folk as wepen. But though attemperel wepyng be graunted, outrageous wepynge certes is forbidden. Mesure of wepynge shulde be conserved, after the lore of Crist that techeth us Senec; Whan that thi frend is deed, quoth he, let nought thin eyen too moyste be of teres, nor too moche drye; although the teeres come to thine eyen, let them rot falle. And whan thou hast for-gon thy frend, do diligence to gete another frende; and this is more wisedom than to wepe for thy frend, which that thou hast lost, for therein is no remedy. And

  By PanEris using Melati.

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