" Cesseth!' seide the Kyng, " I suffre yow no lenger.
Ye shul saughtne, forsothe, and serve me bothe.
Kis hire,' quod the Kyng, "Conscience, I hote!'
" Nay, by Crist!' quod Conscience, " congeye me rather!
But Reson rede me therto, rather wol I deye.'
"And I comaunde thee,' quod the Kyng to Conseience thanne,
"Rape thee to ryde, and Reson that thow fecche.
Comaunde hym that he come my counseil to here,
For he shal rule my reaume and rede me the beste
Mede and of mo othere, what man shal hire wedde,
And acounte with thee, Conscience, so me Crist helpe,
How thow lernest the peple, the lered and the lewed!'
"I am fayn of that foreward,' seide the freke thanne,
And ryt right to Reson and rouneth in his ere,
And seide hym as the Kyng seide, and sithen took his leve.
"I shal arraye me to ryde,' quod Reson,-reste thee a while,'
And called Caton his knave, curteis of speche,
And also Tomme Trewe-tonge-tel-me-no-tales
" Set my sadel upon Suffre-til-I-se-my-tyme,
And lat warroke hym wel with witty-wordes gerthes.
Hange on hym the hevy brydel to holde his heed lowe,
For he wol make ""wehee'' twies er he be there.'
Thanne Conscience on his capul caireth forth faste,
And Reson with hym ryt, rownynge togideres
Whiche maistries Mede maketh on this erthe.
Oon Waryn Wisdom and Witty his fere
Folwed hem faste, for thei hadde to doone
In th'Eseheker and in the Chauncerye, to ben descharged of thynges,
And riden faste for Reson sholde rede hem the beste
For to save hem for silver from shame and from harmes.
A[c] Conscience knew hem wel, thei loved coveitise,
And bad Reson ryde faste and recche of hir neither
"Ther are wiles in hire wordes, and with Mede thei dweneth -
Ther as wrathe and wranglynge is, ther wynne thei silver;
Ac there is love and leautee, thei wol noght come there
Contricio et infelicitas in viis eorum &c.
Thei ne gyveth noght of God one goose wynge
Non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum &c.
For thei wolde do moore for a dozeyne chiknes
Than for the love of Oure Lorde or alle hise leeve seintes!
Forthi, Reson, lat hem ride, tho riche by hemselve -
For Conscience knoweth hem noght, ne Crist, as I trowe.'
And thanne Reson rood faste the righte heighe gate,
As Conscience hym kenned, til thei come to the Kynge.
Curteisly the Kyng thanne com ayeins Reson,
And bitwene hymsel and his sone sette hym on benche,
And wordeden wel wisely a gret while togideres.
And thame com Pees into parliment and putte up a bill-
How Wrong ayeins his wille hadde his wif taken,
And how he ravysshede Rose, Reignaldes loove,
And Margrete of hir maydenhede maugree hire chekes.
" Bothe my gees and my grys hise gadelynges feccheth;
I dar noght for fere of hem fighte ne chide.
He borwed of me bayard and broughte hym hom nevere
Ne no ferthyng therfore, for nought I koude plede.
He maynteneth hise men to murthere myne hewen,
Forstalleth my feires and fighteth in my chepyng,
And breketh up my berne dores and bereth awey my whete,
And taketh me but a taille for ten quarters otes.
And yet he beteth me therto and lyth by my mayde;
I am noght hardy for hym unnethe to loke!'
The Kyng knew he seide sooth. for Conscience hym tolde
That Wrong was a wikked luft and wroghte muche sorwe.
Wrong was afered thanne, and Wisdom he soughte
To maken pees with hise pens, and profred hym manye,
And seide, "Hadde I love of my lord the Kyng, litel wolde I recche
Theigh Pees and his power pleyned hym evere!'
Tho wan Wisdom and Sire Waryn the Witty,
For that Wrong hadde ywroght so wikked a dede,
And warnede Wrong tho with swich a wis tale -
"Whoso wereheth by wille, writhe maketh ofte.
I seye it by myself - thow shalt it wel fynde
But if Mede it make, thi meschief is uppe;
For bothe thi lif and thi lond lyth in his grace.'
Thanne wowede Wrong Wisdom ful yerne
To maken his pees with his pens, handy dandy payed.
Wisdom and Wit thanne wenten togidres,
And token Mede myd hem mercy to wynne.
Pees putte forth his heed and his panne blody
"Withouten gilt, God woot, gat I this seathe.'
Conseicnce and the commune knowen wel the sothe,
Ac Wisdom and Wit were aboute faste
To overcomen the Kyng with catel, if thei myghte.
The Kyng swor by Crist and by his crowne bothe
That Wrong for hise werkes sholde wo tholie,
And combundede a eonstable to casten hym in irens,
"And lete hym noght this seven yer seen his feet ones.
"God woot,' quod Wisdom, "that were noght the beste!
And he amendes mowe make, Iat Maynprise hym have
And be borgh for his bale, and buggen hym boote,
And so amenden that is mysdo, and everemoore the bettre.'
Wit acorded therwith, and seide the same,
"Bettre is that boote bale adoun brynge
Than bale be ybet, and boote nevere the bettre!'
Thanne gan Mede to meken hire, and mercy bisoughte,
And profrede Pees a present al of pure golde.
"Have this, man, of me,' quod she, "to amenden thi scathe,
For I wol wage for Wrong, he wol do so na moore.'
Pitously Pees thanne preyde to the Kynge
To have mercy on that man that mysdide hym so ofte.
"For he hath waged me wel, as Wisdom hym taughte,
And I forgyve hym that gilt with a good wille.
So that the Kyng assente, I kan seye no bettre,
For Mede hath maad myne amendes - I may na moore axe.'
"Nay', quod the Kyng tho, "so me Crist helpe!
Wrong wendeth noghtawey er I wite more.
Lope he so lightly, laughen he wolde,
And eft the boldere be to bete myne hewen.
But Reson have ruthe on hym, he shal reste in my stokkes
As longe as [I] lyve, but lowenesse hym borwe.'
Somme radde Reson tho to have ruthe on that shrewe,
And for to counseille the Kyng and Conscience after
That Mede moste be maynpernour, Reson thei bisoughte.
" Reed me noght,' quod Reson, "no ruthe to have
Til lordes and ladies loven alle truthe
And haten alle harlotrie, to heren or to mouthen it;
Til Pernelles purfill be put in hire hucche
And childrene cherissynge be chastised with yerdes,
And harlottes holynesse be holden for an hyne;
Til clerkene coveitise be to clothe the povere and fede,
And religiouse romeris Recordare in hir cloistres
As Seynt Beneyt hem bad, Bernard and Fraunceis;
And til prechours prechynge be preved on hemselve;
Til the Kynges counseil be the commune profit;
Til bisshopes bayardes ben beggeris chaumbres,
Hire haukes and hire houndes help to povere religious;
And til Seint James be sought there I shal assigne -
That no man go to Galis but if he go for evere;
And alle Rome renneres for robberes of biyonde
Bere no silver over see that signe of kyng sheweth -
Neither grave ne ungrave, gold neither silver -
Upon forfeture of that fee, who fynt hym at Dovere,
But if it be marchaunt or his man, or messager with lettres,
Provysour or preest, or penaunt for hise synnes.
"And yet,' quod Reson, "by the Rode! I shal no ruthe have
Whiff Mede hath the maistrie in this moot-halle.
Ac I may shewe ensamples as I se outher.
I seye it by myself,' quod he, "and it so were
That I were kyng with coroune to kepen a reaume,
Sholde nevere Wrong in this world that I wite myghte
Ben unpunysshed in my power, for peril of my soule,
Ne gete my grace thorugh giftes, so me God save!
Ne for no mede have mercy, but mekenesse it made;
For ""Nullum molum the man mette with inpunitum
And bad Nullum bonum be irremuneratum.''
Lat thi confessour, sire Kyng, construe this [E]ngl[ys]sed,
And if ye werchen it in werk, I wedde myne eris
That Lawe shal ben a laborer and lede afeld donge
And Love shal lede thi lond as the leef liketh.'
Clerkes that were confessours coupled hem togideres
Al to construe this clause, and for the Kynges profit,
Ac noght for confort of the cornmune, ne for the Kynges soule,
For I seigh Mede in the moot-halle on men of lawe wynke,
And thei laughynge lope to hire and lefte Reson manye.
Waryn Wisdom wynked upon Mede
And seide, " Madame, I am youre man, what so my mouth jangle;
I falle in floryns,' quod that freke, "and faile speche ofte.'
Alle rightfulle recorded that Reson truthe tolde.
[Kynde] Wit acorded therwith and comendede hise wordes,
And the mooste peple in the halle and manye of the grete,
And leten Mekenesse a maister and Mede a mansed sherewe.
Love leet of hire light, and Leaute yet lasse,
And seide it so heighc that all the halle it herde
"Whoso wilneth hire to wyve, For welthe of hire goodes -
But he be knowe for a cokewold, kut of my nose!'
Mede mornede tho, and made hevy chere,
For the mooste commune of that court called hire an hore.
Ac a sisour and a somonour sued hire faste,
And a sherreves clerk bisherewed al the route
" For ofte have I,' quod he, 'holpen yow at the barre,
And yet yeve ye me nevere the worth of a risshe!'
The Kyng callede Conseience and afterward Reson,
And recordede that Reson hadde rightfully shewed ;
And modiliche upon Mede with myght the Kyng loked,
And gan wexe wroth with Lawe, for Mede almoost hadde shent it,
And seide,-Thorugh youre lawe, as I leve, I lese manye chetes;
Mede overmaistreth Lawe and muche truthe letteth.
Ac Reson shal rekene with yow, if I regne any while, -
And deme yow, bi this day, as ye han deserved.
Mede shal noght maynprise yow, by the Marie of hevene!
I wole have leaute in lawe, and lete be al youre jangling,
And as moost folk witnesseth wel, Wrong shal be demed.'
Quod Conscience to the Kyng, 'But the commune wole assente,-
It is ful hard, by myn heed, herto to brynge it,
[And] alle youre lige leodes to lede thus evene.'
"By Hym that raughte on the Rood!' quod Reson to the Kynge,
But if I rule thus youre reaume, rende out my guttes -
If ye bidden buxomnesse be of myn assent.'
"And I assente,' seith the Kyng, " by Seinte Marie my lady,
Be my Counseil comen of clerkes and of erles.
Ac redily, Reson, thow shalt noght ride hennes;
For as longe as I lyve, lete thee I nelle.'
'I am al redy.' quod Reson, "to reste with yow evere;
So Conscience be of oure counceil, I kepe no bettre.'
"And I graunte,' quod the Kyng, "Goddes forbode he faile!
Als longe as oure lyf lasteth, lyve we togideres!'