helpith him to swynke;
Sche kepith his good, and wastith never a del;
And al that her housbond list, sche
likith it wel;
Sche saith nought oones nay, whan he saith ye;
Do this, saith he; al redy, sir, saith sche.
O blisful ordre, o wedlok precious!
Thou art so mery, and eek so vertuous,
And so comendid, and approved
That every man that holt him worth a leek,
Upon his bare knees ought al his lyf
Thanken his God,
that him hath sent a wif,
Or praye to God oon him for to sende
To be with him unto his lyves ende.
than his lyf is set in sikernesse;
He may not be deceyved, as I gesse,
So that he worche after his wyfes
Than may be boldely bere up his heed,
Thay ben so trewe, and also so wyse,
For whiche, if thou wolt
do as the wyse,
Do alway so, as womman wol the rede.
Lo how that Jacob, as the clerkes rede,
counseil of his moder Rebecke,
Band the kydes skyn aboute his nekke;
For which his fader benesoun
Lo Judith, as the story telle can,
By wys counseil sche Goddes poepel kepte,
And slough him
Oliphernus whil he slepte.
Lo Abygaille, by good counseil how sche
Sayvd hir housbond Nabal, whan that he
Schold han ben slayn.
And loke, Hester also
By good counseil delivered out of wo
The poeple of God, and made him Mardoche
Assuere enhaunsed for to be.
Ther nys no thing in gre superlatif
(As saith Senec) above an humble wyf.
thy wyves tonge, as Catoun byt,
She schal comaunde, and thou schalt suffre it,
And yit sche wil obeye of
A wif is keper of thin housbondrye:
Wel may the sike man wayle and wepe,
Ther as ther is no wyf the
house to kepe.
I warne the, if wisly thou wilt wirche,
Love wel thy wyf, as Crist loveth his chirche;
lovest thiself, thou lovest thy wyf.
No man hatith his fleissch, but in his lif
He fostrith it, and therfore warne
Cherissh thy wyf, or thou schalt never the.
Housbond and wif, what so men jape or pleye,
folk holden the righte weye;
Thay ben so knyt, ther may noon harm bytyde,
And nameliche upon the wyves
For which this January, of which I tolde,
Considered hath inwith his dayes olde
The lusty lif, the vertuous
That is in mariage honey-swete.
And for his frendes on a day he sente
To tellen hem theffect of his entente.
With face sad, he hath hem
this tale told;
He sayde, Frendes, I am hoor and old,
And almost (God woot) at my pittes brinke,
soule som-what most I thynke.
I have my body folily dispendid,
Blessed be God that it schal be amendid;
I wil be certeyn a weddid man,
And that anoon in al the hast I can,
Unto som mayde, fair and tender
I pray yow helpith for my mariage
Al sodeynly, for I wil not abyde;
And I wil fonde tespien on my
To whom I may be weddid hastily.
But for als moche as ye ben mo than I,
Ye schul rather such a
Than I, and wher me lust best to allien.
But oo thing warne I yow, my frendes deere,
noon old wyf have in no manere;
Sche schal not passe sixtene yer certayn.
Old fleisch and young fleisch,
that wold I have
Bet is, quod he, a pyk than a pikerel,
And bet than olde boef is the tendre vel
wil no womman twenty yer of age,
It nys but bene-straw and gret forage.
And eek these olde wydewes
(God it woot)
Thay can so moche craft of Wades boot,
So moche broken harm whan that hem list,
with hem schuld I never lyven in rest.
For sondry scolis maken subtil clerkes;
Womman of many a scole
half a clerk is.
But certeyn, a yong thing may men gye,
Right as men may warm wax with hondes plye.
I say yow plenerly in a clause,
I wil noon old wyf han right for that cause.
For if so were I hadde so meschaunce,
I in hir ne couthe have no plesaunce,
Then schuld I lede my lyf in advoutrie,
And go streight to the devel
whan I dye.
Ne children schuld I noon upon hir geten;
Yet were me lever houndes hadde me eten,
that myn heritage schulde falle
In straunge hond; and thus I telle yow alle.
I doute not, I wot the cause
Men scholde wedde; and forthermor woot I,
Ther spekith many man of mariage,
That wot nomore of
it than wot my page
For whiche causes man schulde take a wyf.
If he ne may not chast be by his lif,
him a wif with gret devocioun,
Bycause of lawful procreacioun
Of children, to thonour of God above,
not oonly for paramour and for love;
And for thay schulde leccherye eschiewe,
And yeld our dettes whan
that it is due;
Or for that ilk man schulde helpen other
In meschief, as a suster schal to the brother,
lyve in chastité ful hevenly.
But, sires, by your leve, that am not I,
For God be thanked, I dar make avaunt,
fele my lemys stark and suffisaunt
To doon al that a man bilongeth unto;
I wot my selve best what I may