Thus yrobed in russet I romed aboute
Al a somer seson for to seke Dowel,
And frayned ful ofte of folk that I mette
If any wight wiste wher Dowel was at inne,
And what man he myghte be of many man I asked.
Was nevere wight as I wente that me wisse kouthe
Where this leode lenged, lasse ne moore -
Til it bifel on a Friday two freres I mette,
Maistres of the Menours, men of grete witte.
I hailsed hem hendely, as I hadde ylerned,
And preide hem, pur churite, er thei passed ferther,
If they knewe any contree or costes [aboute]
Where that Dowel dwelieth - "Dooth me to witene;
For [ye] be men of this moolde that moost wide walken,
And knowen contrees and courtes and many kynnes places -
Bothe princes paleises and povere mennes cotes,
And Dowel and Do-yvele, wher thei dwelle bothe.'
"[Marie!]', quod the Menours, " [amonges us he dwelleth],
And evere hath, as I hope, and evere shal herafter.'
"Contra!' quod I as a clerc, and comsed to disputen,
And seide, "Soothly, Sepcies in die cadit iustus.
Sevene sithes, seith the Book, synneth the rightfulle,
And whoso synneth,' I seide, " [certes] dooth yvele, as me thynketh,
And Dowel and Do-yvele mowe noght dwelle togideres.
Ergo he nys noght alwey at hoom amonges yow freres
He is outhemhile elliswhere to wisse the peple.'
" I shal seye thee, my sone,' seide the frere thanne,
"How seven sithes the sadde man synneth on the day.
By a forbisne,' quod the frere, "I shal thee faire shewe.
"Lat brynge a man in a boot amydde a brode watre
The wynd and the water and the [waggyng of the boot]
Maketh the man many tyme to falle and to stonde.
For stonde he never so stif, he stumbleth if he meve -
Ac yet is he saaf and sound, and so hym bihoveth;
For if he ne arise the rather and raughte to the steere,
The wynd wolde with the water the boot overthrowe,
And thanne were his lif lost thorugh lachesse of hymselve.
" Right thus it fareth,' quod the frere, " by folk here on erthe.
The water is Iikned to the world, that wanyeth and wexeth;
The goodes of this grounde arn lik the grete wawes
That as wyndes and wedres walweth aboute;
The boot is likned to oure body that brotel is of kynde,
That thorugh the fend and the flessh and the frele worlde
Synneth the sadde man [seven sithes a day].
"Ac dedly synne doth he noght, for Dowel hym kepeth,
And that is charite the champion, chief help ayein synne;
For he strengtheth man to stonde, and steereth mannes soule
That, though thi body bowe as boot dooth in the watre,
Ay is thi soule saaf but thow thiselve wole
Folwe thi flessh and the fend after-
Do a deedly synne and drenche so thiselve.
God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe, if thiself liketh;
For he yaf thee to yeresyyve to yeme wel thiselve -
And that is wit and free will, to every wight a porcion,
To fleynge foweles, to fisshes and to beestes;
Ac man hath moost therof, and moost is to blame
But if he werche wel therwith, as Dowel hym techeth.'
I have no kynde knowyng,' quod I, "to conceyve alle thi wordes,
Ac if I may lyve and loke, I shal go lerne bettre.'
"I bikenne thee Crist,' quod he, that on the cros deyde.'
And I seide,-The same save yow fro myschaunce,
And yyve yow grace on this grounde goode men to worthe!'
And thus I wente widewher, walkyng myn one,
By a wilde wildernesse, and by a wodes side;
Blisse of the briddes abide me made,
And under a lynde upon a launde lened I a stounde
To lythe the layes tho lovely foweles made.
Murthe of hire mouthes made me ther to slepe;
The merveillouseste metels mette me thanne
That ever dremed [dr]ight in [doute], as I wene.
A muche man, as me thoughte, lik to myselve,
Cam and called me by my kynde name.
" What art thow?' quod I tho, " that thow my name knowest?'
"That thow woost wel,' quod he, "and no wight bettre.'
"Woot I,' [quod I, "who art thow?'] "Thought,' seide he thanne.
"I have sued thee this seven yeer; seye thow me no rather?'
"Art thow Thought?' quod I, "thoo thow koudest me wisse
Where that Dowel dwelleth, and do me to knowe.'
"Dowel,' quod he, "and Dobet and Dobest the thridde
Arn thre faire vertues, and ben noght fer to fynde.
Whoso is trewe of his tunge and of his two handes,
And thorugh his labour or thorugh his land his liflode wynneth,
And is trusty of his tailende, taketh but his owene,
And is noght dronkelewe ne dedeynous - Dowel hym folweth.
"Dobet dooth right thus, ac he dooth muche moore;
He is as lowe as a lomb and lovelich of speche,
And helpeth alle men after that hem nedeth.
The bagges and the bigirdles, he hath tobroke hem alle
That the Erl Avarous heeld, and hise heires;
And with Mammonaes moneie he hath maad hym frendes,
And is ronne into Religion, and hath rendred the Bible,
And precheth to the peple Seint Poules wordes -
Libenter suffertis insipientes cum sitis ipsi sapientes.
[Ye wise], suffreth the unwise with yow to libbe,
And with glad wille dooth hem good, for so God yow hoteth.
"Dobest is above bothe and bereth a bisshopes cro[c]e,
is hoked on that oon ende to halie men fro helle.
A pik is on that potente, to pulte adown the wikked
That waiten any wikkednesse Dowel to tene.
And Dowel and Dobet amonges hem ordeyned
To crowne oon to be kyng to [kepen] hem bothe,
That if Dowel or Dobet dide ayein Dobest,
Thanne shal the kyng come and casten hem in irens,
And but if Dobest bede for hem, thei to be ther for evere.
Thus Dowel and Dobet and Dobest the thridde
Crowned oon to be kyng to kepen hem alle
And rule the reme by [rede of hire] wittes,
And ootherwise [ne ellis noght], but as thei thre assented.'
I thonked Thoght tho that he me [so] taughte.
"Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying, so me Crist helpe!
For more kynde knowynge I coveite to lerne -
How Dowel, Dobet and Dobest doon among the peple.'
"But Wit konne wisse thee.' quod Thoght, " where tho thre dwelle;
Ellis [n]oot I noon that kan, that now is alyve.'
Thoght and I thus thre daies we yeden
Disputyng upon Dowel day after oother -
And er we war were, with Wit gonne we mete.
He was long and lene, lik to noon oother;
Was no pride on his apparaille, ne poverte neither;
Sad of his semblaunt and of [a] softe [speche].
I dorste meve no matere to maken hym to jangle
But as I bad Thoght thoo be mene bitwene
And pute forth som purpos to preven hise wittes,
What was Dowel fro Dobet, and Dobest from hem bothe.
Thanne Thoght in that tyme seide thise wordes
" Wher Dowel and Dobet and Dobest ben in londe
Here is Wil wolde wite if Wit koude teche;
And wheither he be man or no manthis man wolde as
And werchen as thei thre wolde - this is his entente.'