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Geoffrey Chaucer

 

excerpt from The Canterbury Tales:
The Parson's Tale

original text from the Librarius Website

Modern English version from the Litrix Reading Room

 

Sequitur de Ira

 

32       After Envye wol I discryven the synne Ire. For soothly, whoso hath envye upon his neighebor, anon he wole comunly fynde hym a matere of wratthe, in word or in dede, agayns hym to whom he hath envye. And as wel comth Ire of Pride, as of Envye; for soothly, he that is proud or envyous is lightly wrooth.

 

33       This synne of ire, after the discryvyng of Seint Augustyn, is wikked wil to been avenged by word, or by dede. Ire, after the philosophre, is the fervent blood of man yquyked in his herte, thurgh which he wole harm to hym that he hateth. For certes, the herte of man, by eschawfynge and moevynge of his blood, wexeth so trouble that he is out of alle juggement of resoun. But ye shal understonde that Ire is in two maneres; that oon of hem is good, and that oother is wikked. The goode Ire is by jalousie of goodnesse, thurgh which a man is wrooth with wikkednesse and agayns wikkednesse; and therfore seith a wys man that Ire is bet than pley. This Ire is with debonairetee, and it is wrooth withouten bitternesse; nat wrooth agayns the man, but wrooth with the mysdede of the man, as seith the prophete David, "irascimini et nolite peccare." Now understondeth that wikked Ire is in two maneres; that is to seyn, sodeyn Ire or hastif Ire, withouten avisement and consentynge of resoun. The menyng and the sens of this is, that the resoun of a man ne consente nat to thilke sodeyn Ire; and thanne is it venial. Another Ire is ful wikked, that comth of felonie of herte avysed and cast biforn, with wikked wil to do vengeance, and therto his resoun consenteth; and soothly this is deedly synne. This Ire is so displesant to God that it troubleth his hous, and chaceth the hooly goost out of mannes soule, and wasteth and destroyeth the liknesse of God, - that is to seyn, the vertu that is in mannes soule, - and put in hym the liknesse of the devel, and bynymeth the man fro God, that is his rightful lord.

 

 

34       This Ire is a ful greet plesaunce to the devel; for it is the develes fourneys, that is eschawfed with the fir of helle. For certes, right so as fir is moore mighty to destroyen erthely thynges than any oother element, right so Ire is myghty to destroyen alle spiritueel thynges. Looke how that fir of smale gleedes, that been almost dede under asshen, wollen quike agayn whan they been touched with brymstoon; right so Ire wol everemo quyken agayn, whan it is touched by the pride that is covered in mannes herte. For certes, fir ne may nat comen out of no thyng, but if it were first in the same thyng natureely, as fir is drawen out of flyntes with steel. And right so as pride is ofte tyme matere of Ire, right so is rancour norice and kepere of Ire. Ther is a maner tree, as seith seint Ysidre, that whan men maken fir of thilke tree, and covere the coles of with asshen, soothly the fir of it wol lasten a yeer or moore. And right so fareth it rancour; whan it is ones conceyved in the hertes of som men, certein, it wol lasten peraventure from oon estre day unto another estre day, and moore. But certes, thilke man is ful fer fro the mercy of God al thilke while.

 

35       In this forseyde develes fourneys ther forgen three shrewes: pride, that ay bloweth and encreesseth the fir by chidynge and wikked wordes; thanne stant envye, the holdeth the hoote iren upon the herte of man with a peire of longe toonges of long rancour; and thanne stant the synne of contumelie, or strif and cheeste, and batereth and forgeth by vileyns reprevynges. Certes, this cursed synne annoyeth bothe to the man hymself and eek to his neighebor. For soothly, almoost al the harm that any man dooth to his neighebor comth of wratthe. For certes, outrageous wratthe dooth al that evere the devel hym comaundeth; for he ne spareth neigher Crist ne his sweete mooder. And in his outrageous anger and Ire, allas! allas! ful many oon at that tyme feeleth in his herte ful wikkedly, bothe of Crist and eek of alle his halwes. Is nat this a cursed vice? Yis, certes. Allas! it bynymeth from man his wit and his resoun, and al his debonaire lif espiritueel that sholde kepen his soule. Certes, it bynymeth eek goddes due lordshipe, and that is mannes soule, and the love of his neighebores. It stryveth eek alday agayn trouthe. It reveth hym the quiete of his herte, and subverteth his soule.

 

36       Of Ire comen thise stynkynge engendrures: First, hate, that is oold wratthe; discord, thurgh which a man forsaketh his olde freend that he hath loved ful longe; and thanne cometh werre, and every manere of wrong that man dooth to his neighebor, in body or in catel. Of this cursed synne of Ire cometh eek manslaughtre. And understonde wel that homycide, that is manslaughtre, is in diverse wise. Som manere of homycide is spiritueel, and som is bodily. Spiritueel manslaughtre is in sixe thynges. First by hate, as seith Seint John: "he that hateth his brother is an homycide." Homycide is eek by babkbitynge, of whiche bakbiteres seith Salomon that "they han two swerdes with whiche they sleen hire neighebores. For soothly, as wikke is to bynyme his good name as his lyf. Homycide is eek in yevynge of wikked conseil by fraude; as for to yeven conseil to areysen wrongful custumes and taillages. Of whiche seith Salomon: "leon rorynge and bere hongry been like to the crueel lordshipes" in witholdynge or abreggynge of the shepe (or the hyre), or of the wages of sevauntz, or elles in usure, or in withdrawynge of the almesse of povre folk. For which the wise man seith, fedeth hym that almoost dyeth for honger; for soothly, but if thow feede hym, thou sleest hym; and alle thise been deedly synnes. Bodily manslaughtre is, whan thow sleest him with thy tonge in oother manere; as whan thou comandest to sleen a man, or elles yevest hym conseil to sleen a man. Manslaughtre in dede is in foure maneres. That oon is by lawe, right as a justice dampneth hym that is coupable to the deeth. But lat the justice be war that he do it rightfully, and that he do it nat for delit to spille blood, but for kepynge of rightwisnesse. Another homycide is that is doon for necessitee, as whan o man sleeth another is his defendaunt, and that he ne may noon ootherwise escape from his owene deeth. But certeinly if he may escape withouten slaughtre of his adversarie, and sleeth hym, he dooth synne and he shal bere penance as for deedly synne. Eek if a man, by caas or aventure, shete an arwe, or caste a stoon, with which he sleeth a man, he is homycide. Eek if a womman by necligence overlyeth hire child in hir slepyng, it is homycide and deedly synne. Eek whan man destourbeth concepcioun of a child, and maketh a womman outher bareyne by drynkynge venenouse herbes thurgh which she may nat conceyve, or sleeth a child by drynkes wilfully, or elles putteth certeine material thynges in hire secree places to slee the child, or elles dooth unkyndely synne, by which man or womman shedeth hire nature in manere or in place ther as a child may nat be conceived, or elles if a woman have conceyved, and hurt hirself and sleeth the child, yet is it homycide. What seye we eek of wommen that mordren hir children for drede of worldly shame? Certes, an horrible homicide. Homycide is eek if a man approcheth to a womman by desir of lecherie, thurgh which the child is perissed, or elles smyteth a womman wityngly, thurgh which she leseth hir child. Alle thise been homycides and horrible deedly synnes. Yet comen ther of Ire manye mo synnes, as wel in word as in thoght and in dede; as he that arretteth upon God, or blameth God of thyng of which he is hymself gilty, or despiseth God and alle his halwes, as doon thise cursede hasardours in diverse contrees. This cursed synne doon they, whan they feelen in hir herte ful wikkedly of God and of his halwes. Also whan they treten unreverently the sacrement of the auter, thilke synne is so greet that unnethe may it been releessed, but that the mercy of God passeth alle his werkes; it is so greet, and he so benigne. Thanne comth of Ire attry angre. Whan a man is sharply amonested in his shrifte to forleten his synne, thanne wole he be angry, and answeren hokerly and angrily, and deffenden or excusen his synne by unstedefastnesse of his flessh; or elles he dide it for to holde compaignye with his felawes; or elles, he seith, the feend enticed hym; or elles he dide it for his youthe; or elles his compleccioun is so corageous that he may nat forbere; or elles it is his destinee, as he seith, unto a certein age; or eles, he seith, it cometh hym of gentillesse of his auncestres; and semblable thynges. Alle thise manere of folk so wrappen hem in hir synnes that they ne wol nat delivere hemself. For soothly, no wight that excuseth hym wilfully of his synne may nat been delivered of his synne, til that he mekely biknoweth his synne. After this, thanne cometh sweryng, that is expres agayn the comandement of God; and this bifalleth ofte of anger and of Ire. God seith: "thow shalt nat take the name of thy lord God in veyn or in ydel." Also oure lord Jhesu Crist weith, by the word of Seint Mathew, "ne wol ye nat swere in alle manere; neither by hevene, for it is Goddes trone; ne by erthe, for it is the bench of his feet; ne by Jerusalem, for it is the citee of a greet kyng; ne by thyn heed, for thou mayst nat make an heer whit ne blak. But seyeth by youre word 'ye, ye,' and 'nay, nay'; and what that is moore, it is of yvel," - thus seith crist. For Cristes sake, ne swereth nat so synfully in dismembrynge of Crist by soule, herte, bones, and body. For certes, it semeth that ye thynke that the cursede jewes ne dismembred nat ynough the preciouse persone of Crist, but ye dismembre hym moore. And if so be that the lawe compelle yow to swere, thanne rule yow after the lawe of God in youre sweriyng, as seith Jeremye, quarto capitulo: "thou shalt kepe three condicions: thou shalt swere "in trouthe, in doom, and in rightwisnesse." This is to seyn, thou shalt swere sooth; for every lesynge is agayns Crist. For Crist is verray trouthe. And thynk wel this, that "every greet swerere nat compedded lawefully to swere, the wounde shal nat departe from his hous" whil he useth swich unleveful swerying. Thou shalt sweren eek in doom, whan thou art constreyned by thy domesman to witnessen the trouthe. Eek thow shalt nat swere for envye, ne for favour, ne for meede, but for rightwisnesse, for declaracioun of it, to the worshipe of God and helpyng of thyne evene-cristene. And therefore every man that taketh goodes name in ydel, or falsly swereth with his mouth, or elles taketh on hym the name of Crist, to be called a cristen man, and lyveth agayns cristed lyvynge and his techynge, alle they taken Goddes name in ydel. Looke eek what Seint Peter seith, actuum, quarto, non est aliud nomen sub celo, etc., "ther nys noon oother name," seith Seint Peter, "under hevene yeven to men, in which they mowe be saved"; that is to seyn, but the name of Jhesu Crist. Take kep eek how precious is the name of Crist, as seith Seint Paul, ad philipenses, secundo, in nomine Jhesu, etc., "that in the name of Jhesu every knee of hevenely creatures, or erthely, or of helle sholde bowe," for it is so heigh and so worshipful that the cursede feend in helle sholde tremblen to heeren it ynempned. Thanne semeth it that men that sweren so horribly by his blessed name, that they despise it moore booldely that dide the cursede jewes, or elles the devel, that trembleth whan he heereth his name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

37       Now certes, sith that sweryng, but if it be lawefully doon, is so heighly deffended, muche worse is forsweryng falsly, and yet nedelees.

 

38       What seye we eek of hem that deliten hem in sweryng, and holden it a gentrie or a manly dede to swere grete others? And what of hem that of verray usage ne cesse nat to swere grete othes, al be the cause nat worth a straw? Certes, this is horrible synne. Swerynge sodeynly withoute avysement is eek a synne. But lat us go now to thilke horrible sweryng of adjuracioun and conjuracioun, as doon thise false enchauntours or nigromanciens in bacyns ful of water, or in a bright swerd, in a cercle, or in a fir, or in a shulderboon of a sheep. I kan nat seye but that they doon cursedly and dampnably agayns Crist and al the feith of hooly chirche.

 

 

What seye we of hem that bileeven on divynailes, as by flight or by noyse of briddes, or of beestes, or by sort, by nigromancie, by dremes, by chirkynge of dores, or crakkynge of houses, by gnawynge of rattes, and swich manere wrecchednesse? Certes, al this thyng is deffended by God and by hooly chirche. For which they been acursed, til they come to amendement, that on swich filthe setten hire bileeve. Charmes for woundes or maladie of men or of beestes, if they taken any effect, it may be peraventure that God suffreth it, for folk sholden yeve the moore feith and reverence to his name.

 

 

 

Now wol I speken of lesynges, which generally is fals signyficaunce of word, in entente to deceyven his evene-cristene. Som lesynge is of which ther comth noon avantage to no wight; and som lesynge turneth to the ese and profit of o man, and to disese and damage of another man. Another lesynge is for to saven his lyf of his catel. Another lesynge comth of delit for to lye, in which delit they wol forge a long tale, and peynten it with alle circumstaunces, where al the ground of the tale is fals. Som lesynge comth, for he wole sustene his word; and som lesynge comth of reccheleesnesse withouten avisement; and semblable thynges.

 

 

 

39       Lat us now touche the vice of flaterynge, which ne comth nat gladly but for drede or for coveitise. Flaterye is generally wrongful preisynge. Flatereres been the develes norices, that norissen his children with milk losengerie. For sothe, Salomon seith that "flaterie is wors than detraccioun." For somtyme detraccion maketh an hauteyn man be the moore humble, for he dredeth detraccion; but certes flaterye, that maketh a man to enhauncen his herte and his contenance. Flatereres been the develes enchauntours; for they make a man to wene of hymself be lyk that he nys nat lyk. They been lyk to Judas that bitraysen a man to sellen hym to his enemy, that is to the devel. Flatereres been the develes chapelleyns, that syngen evere placebo. I rekene flaterie in the vices of Ire; for ofte tyme, if o man be wrooth with another, thanne wole he flatere som wight to sustene hym in his querele.

 

 

40       Speke we now of swich cursynge as comth of irous herte. Malisoun generally may be seyd every maner power of harm. Swich cursynge bireveth man fro the regne of God, as seith Seint Paul. And ofte tyme swiche cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest. And over alle thyng men oghten eschewe to cursen hir children, and yeven to the devel hire engendrure, as ferforth as in hem is. Certes, it is greet peril and greet synne.

 

41       Lat us thanne speken of chidynge and reproche, whiche been ful grete woundes in mannes herte, for they unsowen the semes of freendshipe in mannes herte. For certes, unnethes may a man pleynly been accorded with hym that hath hym openly revyled and repreved and disclaundred. This is a ful grisly synne, as Crist seith in the gospel. And taak kep now, that he that repreveth his neighebor, outher he repreveth hym by som harm of peyne that he hath on his body, as "mesel", "croked harlot", or by som synne that he dooth. Now if he repreve hym by harm of peyne, thanne turneth the repreve to Jhesu Crist, for peyne is sent by the rightwys sonde of God, and by his suffrance, be it meselrie, or maheym, or maladie. And if he repreve hym uncharitably of synne, as "thou holour," "thou dronkelewe harlot," and so forth, thanne aperteneth that to the rejoysynge of the devel, that evere hath joyde that men doon synne. And certes, chidynge may nat come but out of a vileyns herte. For after the habundance of the herte speketh the mouth ful ofte. And ye shul understonde that looke, by the wey, whan any man shal chastise another, that he be war from chidynge or reprevynge. For trewely, but he be war, he may ful lightly quyken the fir of angre and of wratthe, which that he sholde quenche, and peraventure sleeth hym, which that he myghte chastise with benignitee. For as seith Salomon, "the amyable tonge is the tree of lyf," - that is to seyn, of lyf espiritueel; and soothly, a deslavee tonge sleeth spirites of hym that repreveth and eek of hym that is repreved. Loo, what seith Seint Augustyn: "ther is nothyng so lyk the develes child as he that ofte chideth." Seint Paul seith eek, "the servant of God bihoveth nat to chide." And how that chidynge be a vileyns thyng bitwixe alle manere folk, yet is it certes moost uncovenable bitwixe a man and his wyf; for there is nevere reste. And wherfore seith Salomon, "an hous that is uncovered and droppynge, and a chidynge wyf, been lyke." A man that is in a droppynge hous in manye places, though he eschewe the droppynge in a place, it droppeth on hym in another place. So fareth it by a chydynge wyf; but she chide hym in o place, she wol chide hym in another. And therfore, bettre is a morsel of breed with joye than an hous ful of delices with chidynge, seith Salomon. Seint Paul seith: "o ye wommen, be ye subgetes to youre housbondes as bihoveth in God, and ye men loveth youre wyves." Add colossenses, tertio.

 

42       Afterward speke we of scornynge, which is a wikked synne, and namely whan he scorneth a man for his goode werkes. For certes, swiche scorneres faren lyk the foule tode, that may nat endure to smelle the soote savour of the vyne whanne it florissheth. Thise scorneres been partyng felawes with the devel; for they han joye whan the devel wynneth, and sorwe whan he leseth. They been adversaries of Jhesu Crist, for they haten that he loveth, that is to seyn, salvacioun of soule.

 

43       Speke we now of wikked conseil; for he that wikked conseil yeveth is a traytour. For he deceyveth hym that trusteth in hym, ut Achitofel ad Absolonem. But nathelees, yet is his wikked conseil first agayn hymself for, as seith the wise man, "every fals lyvynge hath this propertee in hymself, that he that wole anoye another man, he anoyeth first hymself." And men shul understonde that man shal nat taker his conseil of fals folk, ne of angry folk, or grevous folk, ne of folk that lovern specially to muchel hir owene profit, ne to muche worldly folk, namely in conseilynge of soules.

 

44       Now comth the synne of hem that sowen and maken discord amounges folk, which is a synne that Crist hateth outrely. And no wonder is; for he deyde for to make concord. And moore shame do they to Crist, than dide they that hym crucifiede; for God loveth bettre that freendshipe be amonges folk, than he dide his owene body, the which that he yaf for unitee. Therfore been they likned to the devel, that evere is aboute to maken discord.

 

45       Now comth the synne of double tonge; swiche as speken faire byforn folk, and wikkedly bihynde; or elles they maken semblant as though they speeke of good entencioun, or elles in game and pley, and yet they speke of wikked entente.

 

46       Now comth biwreying of conseil, thurgh which a man is defamed; certes, unnethe may be restoore the damage. Now comth manace, that is an open folye; for he that ofte manaceth, he threteth moore than he may perfourne ful ofte tyme.

 

47       Now cometh ydel wordes, that is withouten profit of hym that speketh tho wordes, and eek of hym that herkneth tho wordes. Or elles ydel wordes been tho that been nedelees, or withouten entente of natureel profit. And al be it that ydel wordes been somtyme venial synne, yet sholde men douten hem, for we shul yeve rekenynge of hem bifore God.

 

48       Now comth janglynge, that may nat been withoute synne. And, as seith Salomon, "it is a sygne a apert folye." And therfore a philosophre seyde, whan men axed hym how that men sholde plese the peple, and he answerde "do manye goode werkes, and spek fewe jangles."

 

49       After this comth the synne of japeres, that been the develes apes; for they maken folk to laughe at hire japerie as folk doon at the gawdes of an ape. Swiche japes deffendeth Seint Paul. Looke how that vertuouse wordes and hooly conforten hem that travaillen in the service of Crist, right so conforten the vileyns wordes and knakkes of japeris hem that travaillen in the service of the devel. Thise been the synnes that comen of the tonge that comen of Ire and of othere synnes mo.

 

Sequitur remedium contra peccatum Ire

 

50       The remedie agayns Ire is a vertu that men clepen mansuetude, that is debonairetee; and eek another vertu, that men callen pacience or suffrance.

 

51       Debonairetee withdraweth and refreyneth the stirynges and the moevynges of mannes corage in his herte, in swich manere that they ne skippe nat out by angre ne by Ire. Suffrance suffreth swetely alle the anoyaunces and the wronges that men doon to man outward. Seint Jerome seith thus of debonairetee, that "it dooth noon harm to no wight ne seith; ne for noon harm that men doon or seyn, he ne eschawfeth nat agayns his resoun." This vertu somtyme comth of nature; for, as seith the philosophre, a man is a quyk thyng, by nature debonaire and tretable to goodnesse; but whan debonairetee is enformed of grace, thanne is it the moore worth.

 

52       Pacience, that is another remedie agayns Ire, is a vertu that suffreth swetely every mannes goodnesse, and is nat wrooth for noon harm that is doon to hym. The philosophre seith that pacience is thilke vertu that suffreth debonairely alle the outrages of adversitee and every wikked word. This vertu maketh a man lyk to god, and maketh hym Goddes owene deere child, as seith grist. This vertu disconfiteth thyn enemy. And therfore seith the wise man, "if thow wolt venquysse thyn enemy, lerne to suffre." And thou shalt understonde that man suffreth foure manere of grevances in outward thynges, agayns the whiche foure he moot have foure manere of paciences.

 

53       The firste grevance is of wikkede wordes. Thilke suffrede Jhesu Crist withouten grucchyng, ful paciently, whan the jewes despised and repreved hym ful ofte. Suffre thou therfore paciently; for the wise man seith, "if thou stryve with a fool, though the fool be wrooth or though he laughe, algate thou shalt have no reste." That oother grevance outward is to have damage of thy catel. Ther agayns suffred Crist ful paciently, whan he was despoyled of al that he hadde in this lyf, and that nas but his clothes. The thridde grevance is a man to have harm in his body. That suffred crist ful paciently in al his passioun. The fourthe grevance is in outrageous labour in werkes. Wherfore I seye that folk that maken hir servantz to travaillen to grevously, or out of tyme, as on haly dayes, soothly they do greet synne. Heer-agayns suffred Crist ful paciently and taughte us pacience, whan he baar upon his blissed shulder the croys upon which he sholde suffren despitous deeth. Heere man men lerne to be pacient; for certes noght oonly Cristen men been pacient, for love of Jhesu Crist, and for gerdoun of the blisful lyf that is perdurable, but certes, the olde payens that nevere were Cristene, commendeden and useden the vertu of pacience.

 

 

54       A philosophre upon a tyme, that wolde have beten his disciple for his grete trespas, for which he was greetly amoeved, broghte a yerde to scoure with the child; and whan this child saugh the yerde, he seyde to his maister, "what thenke ye do?" "I wol bete thee," quod the maister, "for thy correccioun." "For sothe," quod the child, "ye oghten first correcte youreself, that han lost al youre pacience for the gilt of a child." For sothe," quod the maister al wepynge, "thow seyst sooth. Have thow the yerde, my deere sone, and correcte me for myn impacience." Of pacience comth obedience, thurgh which a man is obedient to Crist and to alle hem to whiche he oghte to been obedient in Crist. And understond wel that obedience is perfit, whan that a man dooth gladly and hastily, with good herte entierly, al that he sholde do. Obedience generally is to perfourne the doctrine of God and of his sovereyns, to whiche hym oghte to ben obeisaunt in alle rightwisnesse.

 

 

After envy will I describe the sin of anger. For truly, whoso has envy of his neighbour will generally find himself showing anger, in word or in deed, against him whom he envies. And anger comes as well from pride as from envy; for certainly, he that is proud or envious is easily angered.

 

This sin of anger, according to Saint Augustine, is a wicked determination to be avenged by word or by deed. Anger, according to the philosopher, is the hot blood of man quickened in his heart, because of which he wishes to harm him whom he hates. For truly, the heart of man, by the heating and stirring of his blood, grows so disturbed that he is put out of all ability to judge reasonably. But you shall understand that anger manifests itself in two manners; one of them is good, the other bad. The good anger is caused by zeal for goodness, whereof a man is enraged by wickedness and against wickedness; and thereupon a wise man says that "Anger is better than play." This anger is gentle and without bitterness; not felt against the man, but against the misdeed of the man, as the Prophet David says: Irascimini et nolite peccare. Now understand, that wicked anger is manifested in two manners, that is to say, sudden or hasty anger, without the advice and counsel of reason. The meaning and the sense of this is, that the reason of man consents not to this sudden anger, and so it is venial. Another anger is full wicked, which comes of sullenness of heart, with malice aforethought and with wicked determination to take vengeance, and to which reason assents; and this, truly, is mortal sin. This form of anger is so displeasing to God that it troubles His house and drives the Holy Ghost out of man's soul, and wastes and destroys the likeness of God, that is to say, the virtue that is in man's soul; and it puts within him the likeness of the Devil, and takes the man away from God, his rightful Lord.

 

This form of anger is a great joy to the Devil; for it is the Devil's furnace, heated with the fire of Hell. For certainly, just as fire is the mightiest of earth engines of destruction, just so ire is mightiest to destroy things spiritual. Observe how a fire of smouldering coals, almost extinct under the ashes, will quicken again when touched by brimstone; just so will anger quicken again when it is touched by the pride that lies hidden in man's heart. For certainly fire cannot come from nothing, but must first be naturally dormant within a thing, as it is drawn out of flints with steel. And just as pride is often the matter of which anger is made, just so is rancour the nurse and keeper of anger. There is a kind of tree, as Saint Isidore says, which, when men make a fire of the wood of it, and then cover over the coals with ashes, truly the embers will live and last a year or more. And just so fares it with rancour; when it is once conceived in the hearts of some men, certainly it will last, perchance, from one Easter-day to another Easter-day, and longer. But truly, such men are very far from the mercy of God all that while.

 

In this aforesaid Devil's furnace there are forged three evils: pride that ever fans and increases the fire by chiding and wicked words. Then stands up envy and holds the hot iron upon the heart of man with a pair of long tongs of abiding rancour. And then stands up the sin of contumely, or strife and wrangling, and strikes and hammers with villainous reproaches. Certainly, this cursed sin injures both the man who does it and his neighbour. For truly, almost all the harm that any man does to his neighbour comes from wrath. For certainly, outrageous wrath does all that the Devil orders; for it spares neither Christ nor His Sweet Mother. And in his outrageous anger and ire, alas! full many a one at that time feels in his heart right wickedly, both as to Christ and as to His saints. Is not this a cursed vice? Yes, certainly. Alas! It takes from man his wit and his reason and all the kindly spiritual life that should guard his soul. Certainly, it takes away also God's due authority, and that is man's soul and the love of his neighbour. It strives always against truth, also. It bereaves him of the peace of his heart and subverts his soul.

 

 

From anger come these stinking engenderings: first hate, which is old wrath; discord, by which a man forsakes his old friend whom he has long loved. And then come strife and every kind of wrong that man does to his neighbour, in body or in goods. Of this cursed sin of anger comes manslaughter also. And understand well that homicide, manslaughter, that is, is of different kinds. Some kinds of homicide are spiritual, and some are bodily. Spiritual manslaughter lies in six things. First, hate; and as Saint John says: "He that hateth his brother committeth homicide." Homicide is also accomplished by backbiting; and of backbiters Solomon says that "They have two swords wherewith they slay their neighbours." For truly, it is as wicked to take away a man's good name as his life. Homicide consists also in the giving of wicked counsel deceitfully, as in counselling one to levy wrongful duties and taxes. And Solomon says that cruel masters are like roaring lions and hungry bears, in withholding or diminishing the wages (or the hire) of servants; or else in usury; or in withholding alms from poor folk. As to which the wise man says: "Feed him who is dying of hunger." For indeed, unless you feed him, you slay him; and all these are mortal sins. Bodily homicide is when you slay a man with your tongue is some manner; as when you give command to slay a man, or else counsel him to the slaying of another. Homicide, in deed is in four manners. One is by law; as when a judge condemns a culpable man to death. But let the judge take care that he do it rightfully, and that he do it not for delight in the spilling out of blood, but only for the doing of justice. Another kind of homicide is that which is done by necessity, as when one man slays another in his own defence, and when he may not otherwise escape his own death. But certainly, if he may escape without killing his adversary, and yet slays him, he commits sin, and he shall bear the punishment for mortal sin. Also, if a man by force of circumstances, or by chance, shoot an arrow or cast a stone with which he kill a man, he commits homicide. Also, if a woman negligently overlie her child in her sleep, it is homicide and mortal sin. Also, when a man interferes with the conception of a child, and makes a woman barren by the drinking of poisonous drugs, whereby she cannot conceive, or slays an unborn child deliberately, by drugs or by the introduction of certain substances into her secret parts with intent to slay the child; or does any unnatural sin whereby man or woman spill his or her fluid in such manner or in such place as a child cannot be conceived; or if a woman, having conceived, so hurt herself that she slays her child, it is homicide. What do we say of women that murder their children for dread of worldly shame? Certainly, such a one is called a horrible homicide. Homicide it is, also, if a man approach a woman by desire of lechery, through the accomplishing of which her child is killed in the womb, or strike a woman knowingly in such manner that she is caused to miscarry and lose her child. All these constitute homicide and are horrible mortal sins. Besides' there come from anger many more sins, as well of word as of thought and of deed; as that of accusing God of, or blaming God for, a thing of which a man is himself guilty; or despising God and all His saints, as do wicked gamblers in divers countries. They do this cursed sin when they feel in their heart a great wickedness toward God and His saints. Also, they do it when they treat irreverently the sacraments of the altar, and then the sin is so great that scarcely may it be forgiven, save that the mercy of God passes all His works; it is so great and He is so benign. Then comes of anger, venomous anger; when a man is sharply admonished after confession to forgo his sin, then will he be angry and will answer scornfully and angrily, and will defend or excuse his sin as the result of the weakness of his flesh; or else he did it to keep the good will of his fellows, or else, he'll say, the Fiend enticed him; or else he did it because of his youth, or else his temperament is so mettled that he could not forbear; or else it was his destiny, as he says, until a certain age; or else, he says, it comes to him out of the breeding of his ancestors; and suchlike things. All this kind of folk so wrap themselves in their sins that they will not deliver themselves. For truly, no man that excuses himself for his sin may be shriven of it until he meekly acknowledges it. After this, then comes swearing, which is expressly against the commandment of God; and this comes often of anger and ire. God says: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Also, Our Lord Jesus Christ says, through Saint Matthew: "Nolite iurare omnino: neither by Heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black: but let your communication be, yea, yea, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil." For Christ's sake, swear not so sinfully, thus dismembering Christ by soul, heart, bones, and body. For indeed it seems that you think that the cursed Jews did not dismember enough the precious body of Christ, since you dismember Him even more. And if it be that the law compel you to swear, then be governed by the rule of the law in your swearing, as Jeremiah says, quarto capitulo: "Iurabis, in veritate, in iudicio et in iusticia: thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness." That is to say, you shall swear truth, for every lie is against Christ. For Christ is utter truth. And think well on this, that every great swearer, not by law compelled to swear, the plague will not depart from his house while he continues to indulge in such forbidden swearing. You shall swear for the sake of justice also, when you are constrained by your judge to bear witness to the truth. Also, you shall swear not for envy, nor for favour, nor for reward, but for righteousness; for the declaring of it to the honour of God and the helping of your fellow Christian. And therefore, every man that takes God's name in vain, or falsely swears by word of mouth, or takes upon him the name of Christ that he may be called a Christian man, and who lives not in accordance with Christ's example of living and with His teaching, all they take God's name in vain. Behold, too, what Saint Peter says, Actuum, quarto capitulo: "Non est aliud nomen sub celo, etc. There is none other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." That is to say, save the name of Jesus Christ. Take heed also how in the precious name of Christ, as Saint Paul says ad Philipensess secundo: "In nomine Iesu, etc. In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." For it is so high and so worshipful that the cursed Fiend in Hell must tremble to hear it named.  Then it appears that men who swear so horribly by His blessed name despise Him more boldly than all the cursed Jews, or even than the Devil, who trembles when he hears His name.

 

Now, certainly, since swearing, unless it be lawfully done, is so strictly forbidden, much worse is false swearing, and it is needless.

 

What shall we say of those that delight in swearing and hold it for an act of the gentry, or a manly thing, to swear great oaths? And what of those that, of very habit, cease not to swear great oaths, though the reason therefor be not worth a straw? Certainly this is a horrible sin. Swearing suddenly and thoughtlessly is also a sin. But let us pass now to that horrible swearing of adjuration and conjuration, as do these false enchanters or necromancers in basins full of water, or in a bright sword, in a circle, or in a fire, or in a shoulder-bone of a sheep. I can say nothing, save that they do wickedly and damnably against Christ and all the faith of Holy Church.

 

What shall we say of those that believe in divinations, as by the flying or the crying of birds, or of beasts, or by chance, by geomancy, by dreams, by creaking of doors, by cracking of houses, by gnawing of rats; and such kinds of wickedness? Certainly, all these things are forbidden by God and by all Holy Church. For which they are accursed, until they repent and mend their ways, who set their beliefs in such filth. Charms against wounds or maladies in men or in beasts, if they have any effect, it may be, peradventure, that God permits it that folk shall have the more faith in Him and the more reverence unto His name.

 

Now will I speak of lying, which generally is the using of words in false signification with intent to deceive one's fellow Christian. Some lying there is whereof there comes no advantage to anyone; and some lying is done for the ease and profit of one man, and to the uneasiness and damage of another man. Another kind of lying is done to save one's life or chattels. Another kind of lying is born of mere delight in lying, for which delight they will fabricate a long tale and adorn it with all circumstances, where all the groundwork of the tale is false. Some lying is done because one would maintain his previous word; and some lying is done out of recklessness, without forethought; and for similar reasons.

 

Let us now touch upon the vice of flattering, which comes not gladly from the heart, but for fear or for covetousness. Flattery is generally unearned praise. Flatterers are the Devil's nurses, who nurse his children with the milk of adulation. Forsooth, as Solomon says, "Flattery is worse than detraction." For sometimes detraction causes a haughty man to be more humble, for he fears detraction; but certainly flattery- that causes a man to exalt his heart and his bearing. Flatterers are the Devil's enchanters, for they cause a man to think of himself that he is like what he is not like. They are like Judas who betrayed God; for these flatterers betray a man in order to sell him out to his enemy, that is, to the Devil. Flatterers are the Devil's chaplains, that continually sing Placebo. I reckon flattery among the vices of anger; for oftentimes, if one man be enraged at another, then will he flatter some other to gain an ally in his quarrel.

 

Let us speak now of such cursing as comes from an angry heart. Execration generally may be said to embrace every kind of evil. Such cursing deprives a man of the Kingdom of God, as says Saint Paul. And oftentimes such cursing returns again upon the head of him that curses, like a bird that returns again to its own nest. And above all things men ought to eschew the cursing of their children, and the giving to the Devil of their progeny, so far as they may; certainly it is a great danger and a great sin.

Let us now speak of chiding and reproaching, which are great evils in man's heart; for they rip up the seams of friendship in man's heart. For truly, a man can hardly be reconciled with him that has openly reviled and slandered him. This is a terrible sin, as Christ says in the gospel. And note now that he who reproaches his neighbour, either he reproaches him for some painful evil that he has in his body, as with "leper" or "hunchbacked scoundrel," or by some sin that he does. Now, if he reproach him for a painful evil, then the reproach is turned upon Jesus Christ; for pain is sent, as the righteous giving of God, and by His permission, be it of leprosy or malady or bodily imperfection. And if he reproach him uncharitably for sin, as with "you whoremonger," "you drunken scoundrel," and so forth, then that appertains to the rejoicing of the Devil, who is ever rejoiced when men sin. And truly, chiding may not come, save out of a sinful heart. For according to the abundance of what is in the heart the mouth speaks. And you shall understand that when any man would correct another, let him beware of chiding or reproaching. For truly, save he beware, he may easily quicken the fire of anger and wrath, which he should quench, and perhaps will slay him whom he might have corrected gently. For, as Solomon says, "the amiable tongue is the tree of life," which is to say, of the spiritual life; and in sooth, a foul tongue drains the vital forces of him that reproaches, and also of him that is reproached. Behold what Saint Augustine says: "There is nothing so like the Devil's child as he that chideth." Saint Paul says, too: "The servant of the Lord must not strive." And though bickering be a sinful thing as between all kinds of folk, certainly it is most unsuitable between a man and his wife; for there is never rest there. Thereupon Solomon says: "A continual dropping in a very rainy day, and a contentious woman, are alike." A man who is in a house, the roof whereof leaks in many places, though he avoid the dripping in one place, it finds him in another; and so fares he who has a chiding wife. If she cannot scold him in one place, she will scold him in another. And therefore, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith," says Solomon. Saint Paul says: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." Ad Colossensess, tertio.

 

After that, let us speak of scorn, which is a wicked sin; especially when one scorns a man for his good works. For truly, such scorners are like the foul toad, which cannot bear to smell the sweet odour of the vine when it blossoms. These scorners are fellowpartakers with the Devil; for they rejoice when the Devil wins and sorrow when he loses. They are adversaries of Jesus Christ; for they hate what He loves, that is to say, the salvation of souls.

 

 

Now will we speak of wicked counsel; for he that gives wicked counsel is a traitor. For he deceives him that trusts in him, ut Achitofel ad Absolonem. Nevertheless, his wicked counsel first harms himself. For, as the wise man says, every false person living has within himself this peculiarity, that he who would harm another harms first himself. And men should understand that they should take counsel not of false folk, nor of angry folk, nor of vexatious folk nor of folk that love too much their own advantage, nor of too worldly folk, especially in the counselling of souls.

 

Now comes the sin of those that sow discord amongst folk, which is a sin that Christ utterly hates; and no wonder. For He died to establish concord on earth. And more shame do they do to Christ than did those that crucified Him; for God loves better that friendliness be among men than He loved His own body, the which He gave for the sake of unity. Therefore they are like the Devil, who ever goes about to make discord.

 

Now comes the sin of the double-tongued; such as speak fairly before folk, and wickedly behind; or they make a semblance of speaking with good intention, or in jest and play, and yet they speak with evil intention.

 

Now comes betraying of confidence, whereby a man is defamed: truly, the damage so done may scarcely be repaired.  Now comes menacing, which is an open folly; for he that often menaces, he often threatens more than he can perform.

 

Now come idle words, which sin is without profit to him that speaks and also to him that listens. Or else idle words are those that are needless, or without an aim toward any profit. And although idle words are at times but a venial sin, yet men should distrust them; for we shall have to account for them before God.

 

 

Now comes chattering, which cannot occur without sin. And, as Solomon says, "It is a sin of manifest folly." And therefore a philosopher said, when men asked him how to please the people: "Do many good deeds and chatter but little."

 

 

After this comes the sin of jesters, who are the Devil's apes. For they make folk laugh at their buffoonery, as they do at the pranks of an ape. Such clownings were forbidden by Saint Paul. Behold how virtuous and holy words give comfort to those that labour in the service of Christ; just so the sinful words and tricks of jesters and jokers comfort those that travail in the service of the Devil. These are the sins that come by way of the tongue, and from anger and many other sins.

 

 

 

The remedy for anger is a virtue which men call mansuetude, which is gentleness; and even another virtue which men call patience or tolerance.

 

Gentleness withholds and restrains the stirrings and the urgings of man's impetuosity in his heart in such manner that it leaps not out in anger or in ire. Tolerance suffers sweetly all the annoyances and wrongs that men do to men bodily. Saint Jerome says thus of gentleness, that "it does harm to no one, nor says harm; nor for any harm that men do or say does it chafe against reason." This virtue is sometimes naturally implanted; for, as says the philosopher: "A man is a living thing, by nature gentle and tractable to goodness; but when gentleness is informed of grace, then is it worth the more."

 

 

Patience, which is another remedy against anger, is a virtue that suffers sweetly man's goodness, and is not wroth for harm done to it. The philosopher says that "patience is that virtue which suffers meekly all the outrages of adversity and every wicked word." This virtue makes a man god-like and makes him God's own dear child, as Christ says. This virtue discomfits one's enemy. And thereupon the wise man says: "If thou wilt vanquish thy enemy, learn to endure." And you shall understand that man suffers four kinds of grievances from outward things, against the which he must have four kinds of patience.

 

 

The first grievance is of wicked words; this suffered Jesus Christ without grumbling, and patiently, when the Jews many times reproached Him and showed how they despised Him. Suffer patiently, therefore, for the wise man says: "If thou strive with a fool, though the fool be wroth or though he laugh, nevertheless thou shalt have no rest." Another outward grievance is to suffer damage in one's chattels. In that Christ endured patiently when He was despoiled of all that He had in the world, that being His clothing.   The third grievance is for a man to suffer injury in his body. That, Christ endured full patiently throughout all His passion. The fourth grievance is in extravagant labour. Wherefore I say that folk who make their servants labour too grievously, or out of the proper time, as on holidays, truly they do great sin. Thereof endured Christ full patiently, and taught us patience when He bore upon His blessed shoulder the cross whereon He was to suffer a pitiless death. Hereof may men learn to be patient; for certainly, not only Christian men should be patient for love of Jesus Christ, and for the reward of the blessed life everlasting, but even the old pagans, who never were Christians, commended and practised the virtue of patience.

 

Upon a time a philosopher would have beaten a disciple for his great misdoing, at which the philosopher had been much annoyed; and he brought a rod wherewith to scourge the youth; and when the youth saw the rod he said to his master: "What do you intend to do?" "I will beat you," said the master, "for your correction." "Forsooth," said the youth, "you ought first to correct yourself who have lost all your patience at the offence of a child." "Forsooth," said the master, weeping, "you say truth; take the rod yourself, my dear son, and correct me for my impatience." From patience comes obedience, whereby a man becomes obedient to Christ and to all to whom he owes obedience in Christ. And understand well that obedience is perfect when a man does gladly and speedily, with entire good heart, all that he should do. Obedience, generally, is to put into practice the doctrine of God and of man's masters, to whom he ought to be humble in all righteousness.