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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 8-18:
A gathering of people advising Melibeus on how to respond to the assault
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Tale of Melibee
Paragraph 19-21
Melibeus and Prudence argue on the value of a woman's advice

§ 19        Whan Melibeus hadde herd that the gretteste partie of his conseil weren accorded that he sholde maken werre, anoon he consented to hir conseillyng, and fully affermed hire sentence. Thanne dame Prudence, whan that she saugh how that hir housbonde shoop hym for to wreken hym on his foes, and to bigynne werre, she in ful humble wise, whan she saugh hir tyme, seide to hym thise wordes: "My lord," quod she, "I yow biseche as hertely as I dar and kan, ne haste yow nat to faste, and for alle gerdons, as yeveth me audience. For Piers Alfonce seith, 'Whoso that dooth to thee oother good or harm, haste thee nat to quiten it; for in this wise thy freend wole abyde, and thyn anemy shal the lenger lyve in drede.' The proverbe seith, 'He hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde, and in wikked haste is no profit.'" § 19        When Melibeus had heard that the greatest part of his advisors were agreed that he should make war, immediately he consented to their advice and fully affirmed their opinion. Then dame Prudence, when she saw how her husband prepared himself to avenge himself on his foes and to begin war, she in very humble manner, when she saw her time, said to him these words: "My lord," said she, "I beseech you, as heartily as I dare and can, do not hasten yourself too fast and, as you hope to prosper, give me a hearing. For Petrus Alphonsus says, `Whoever does to you either good or harm, hasten thee not to requite it, for in this manner your friend will abide and your enemy shall the longer live in fear.' The proverb says, `He hastens well that wisely can abide,' and `in wicked haste is no benefit.'"
§ 20        This Melibee answerde unto his wyf Prudence: "I purpose nat," quod he, "to werke by thy conseil, for many causes and resouns. For certes, every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool; this is to seyn, if I, for thy conseillyng, wolde chaungen thynges that been ordeyned and affermed by so manye wyse. Secoundely, I seye that alle wommen been wikke, and noon good of hem alle. For 'of a thousand men,' seith Salomon, 'I foond o good man, but certes, of alle wommen, good womman foond I nevere.' And also, certes, if I governed me by thy conseil, it sholde seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me the maistrie; and God forbede that it so weere! For Jhesus Syrak seith 'that if the wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir housbonde.' And Salomon seith: 'Nevere in thy lyf to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend, ne yeve no power over thyself; for bettre it were that thy children aske of thy persone thynges that hem nedeth, than thou see thyself in the handes of thy children.' And also if I wolde werke by thy conseillyng, certes, my conseil moste som tyme be secree, til it were tyme that it moste be knowe, and this ne may noght be. (Car il est escript, la genglerie des femmes ne puet riens celler fors ce qu' elle ne scet. Apres, le philosophre dit, en mauvais conseil les femmes vainquent les hommes: et par ces raisons je ne dois point user de ton conseil.)" § 20        This Melibee answered unto his wife Prudence: "I do not intend," said he, "to work according to your advice, for many causes and reasons. For certainly, every person would hold me then a fool; this is to say, if I, by your advice, would change things that are ordained and affirmed by so many wise men. Secondly, I say that all women are wicked, and not one good of them all. For `of a thousand men,' says Solomon, `I found one good man, but certainly, of all women, a good woman found I never.' And also, certainly, if I governed myself according to your advice, it should seem that I had given to you the mastery over me, and God forbid that it were so! For Jesus son of Sirach says that `if the wife have mastery, she is contrary to her husband.' And Solomon says: `Never in your life to your wife, nor to your child, nor to your friend give any power over thyself, for it would be better that your children ask of thy person things that they need than that you see yourself in the hands of your children.' And also if I would work according to your advice, certainly, my counsel must sometimes be secret, until it were time that it must be known, and this may not be. (French: For it is written that the chattering of women can hide nothing except what she doe not know. Moreover, the philosopher says in evil counsel women conquer men; and for those reasons I must not use any of your advice.)"
§ 21        Whanne dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde liked for to seye, thanne axed she of hym licence for to speke, and seyde in this wise: "My lord," quod she, "as to youre firste resoun, certes it may lightly been answered. For I seye that it is no folie to chaunge conseil whan the thyng is chaunged, or elles whan the thyng semeth ootherweyes than it was biforn. And mooreover, I seye that though ye han sworn and bihight to perfourne youre emprise, and nathelees ye weyve to perfourne thilke same emprise by juste cause, men sholde nat seyn therfore that ye were a liere ne forsworn. For the book seith that 'the wise man maketh no lesyng whan he turneth his corage to the bettre.' And al be it so that youre emprise be establissed and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk, yet that ye nat accomplice thilke ordinaunce, but yow like. For the trouthe of thynges and the profit been rather founden in fewe folk that been wise and ful of resoun, than by greet multitude of folk ther every man crieth and clatereth what that hym liketh. Soothly swich multitude is nat hones. And as to the seconde resoun, where as ye seyn that alle wommen been wikke; save youre grace, certes ye despisen alle wommen in this wyse, and 'he that al despiseth, al displeseth,' as seith the book. And Senec seith that 'whose wole have sapience shal no man dispreyse, but he shal gladly techen the science that he kan withouten presumpcion or pride, and swiche thynges as he noght ne kan, he shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem, and enquere of lasse folk than hymself.' and, sire That ther hath been many a good womman, may lightly be preved. For certes, sire, oure Lord Jhesu Crist wolde nevere have descended to be born of a womman, if alle wommen hadden been wikke. And after that, for the grete bountee that is in wommen, oure lord Jhesu Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve, appeered rather to a womman than to his apostles. And though that Salomon seith that he ne foond nevere womman good, it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen ben wikke. For though that he ne foond no good womman, certes, many another man hath founden many a womman ful good and trewe. Or elles, per aventure, the entente of Salomon was this, that, as in sovereyn bounte, he foond no womman; this is to seyn, that ther is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save God allone, as he hymself recordeth in hys Evaungelie. For ther nys no creature so good that hym ne wanteth somwhat of the perfeccioun of God, that is his makere. Youre thridde reson is this: ye seyn that if ye governe yow by my conseil, it sholde seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and the lordshipe over youre persone. Sire, save youre grace, it is nat so. For if it so were that no man sholde be conseilled but oonly of hem that hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone, men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte. For soothly thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet hath he free choys wheither he wole werke by that conseil or noon. And as to youre fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that the janglerie of wommen kan hyde thynges that they wot noght, as who seith that a womman kan nat hyde that she woot; sire, thise wordes been understonde of wommen that been jangleresses and wikked; of whiche wommen men seyn that thre thynges dryven a man out of his hous, that is to seyn, smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyves, and of swiche wommen seith Salomon that 'it were bettre dwelle in desert than with a woman that is riotous.' And sire, by youre leve, that am nat I; for ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my grete pacience, and eek how wel that I kan hyde and hele thynges that men oghte secreely to hyde. And soothly, as to youre fifthe resoun, where as ye seyn that in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men, God woot, thilke resoun stant heere in no stede. For understoond now, ye asken conseil to do wikkednesse; and if ye wole werken wikkednesse, and youre wif restreyneth thilke wikked purpos, and overcometh yow by reson and by good conseil, certes youre wyf oghte rather to be preised than yblamed. Thus sholde ye understonde the philosophre that seith, in wikked conseil wommen venquisshen hir housbondes.' Ther as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns, I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples that many a womman hath ben ful good, and yet been, and hir conseils ful hoolsome and profitable. Eek som men han seyd that the conseillynge of wommen is outher to deere, or elles to litel of pris. But al be it so that ful many a womman is badde, and hir conseil vile and noght worth, yet han men founde ful many a good womman, and ful discret and wis in conseillynge. Loo, Jacob, by good conseil of his mooder Rebekka, wan the benysoun of Ysaak his fader, and the lordshipe over alle his bretheren. Judith, by hire good conseil, delivered the citee of Bethulie, in which she dwelled, out of the handes of Olofernus, that hadde it biseged and wolde have al destroyed it. Abygail delivered nabal hir housbonde fro David the kyng, that wolde have slayn hym, and apaysed the ire of the kyng by hir wit and by hir good conseillyng. Hester, by hir good conseil, enhaunced greetly the peple of God in the regne of Assuerus the kyng. And the same bountee in good conseillyng of many a good womman may men telle. And mooreover, whan oure lord hadde creat Adam, oure forme fader, he seyde in this wise: it is nat good to been a man alloone; make we to hym an helpe semblable to hymself. May ye se that if that wommen were nat goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable, oure lord God of hevene wolde nevere han wroght hem, ne called hem help of man, but rather confusioun of man. And ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers, 'What is bettre than gold? Jaspre. What is bettre than jaspre? Wisedoom. And what is better than wisedoom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? Nothyng.' And, sire, by manye of othre resons may ye seen that manye wommen been goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable. And therfore, sire, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal restoore yow youre doghter hool and sound. And eek I wol do to yow so muche that ye shul have honour in this cause." § 21         When dame Prudence, very modestly and with great patience, had heard all that her husband was pleased to say, then she asked of him permission to speak, and said in this manner: "My lord," said she, "as to your first reason, certainly it may easily be answered. For I say that it is no folly to change one's plans when the situation is changed, or else when the matter seems other than it was before. And moreover, I say that though you have sworn and promised to accomplish your undertaking, and nevertheless you abandon performing that same undertaking for a good reason, men should not say therefore that you are a liar nor forsworn. For the book says that `the wise man tells no lie when he turns his inclination to the better. And although it be so that your undertaking is established and decided upon by a great multitude of folk, yet you need not carry out that plan unless you want to. For the truth of things and the benefit are rather found in few folk that are wise and full of reason than by a great multitude of folk where every man cries and babbles what he pleases. Truly such a multitude is not honorable. And as to the second reason, where you say that all women are wicked; with all due respect to you, certainly you despise all women in this manner, and `he who despises all, displeases all,' as says the book. And Seneca says that `whosoever will have wisdom shall no man disparage, but he shall gladly teach the knowledge that he knows without presumption or pride; and such things of which he knows nothing, he should not be ashamed to learn them, and ask for advice from lesser people than himself.' And, sir, that there has been many a good woman may easily be proven. For certainly, sir, our Lord Jesus Christ would never have condescended to be born of a woman, if all women had been wicked. And after that, for the great goodness that is in women, our Lord Jesus Christ, when he was risen from death to life, appeared to a woman rather than to his Apostles. And though Solomon says that he never found a good woman, it follows not therefore that all women are wicked. For though he found no good woman, certainly, many another man has found many a woman very good and true. Or else, possibly, the intent of Solomon was this: that, in supreme goodness, he found no woman, this is to say, that there is no creature who has supreme goodness except God alone, as he himself records in his Gospels. For there is no creature so good that he does not lack something of the perfection of God, who is his maker. Your third reason is this: you say that if you govern yourself by my advice, it should seem that you had given me the mastery and the lordship over your person. Sir, with all due respect to you, it is not so. For if it were true that no man should be advised but only of them that had lordship and mastery of his person, men would not be advised so often. For truly that man who asks advice about a plan, yet has free choice whether he will follow by that advice or non. And as to your fourth reason, where you say that the gossip of women can hide things that they know not, as who says that a woman can not hide what she knows; sir, these words are understood of women that are gossips and wicked; of which women men say that three things drive a man out of his house, that is to say, smoke, dropping of rain, and wicked wives; and of such women says Solomon that `it were better dwell in desert than with a woman that is dissolute.' And sir, by your leave, that am not I, for you have very often tested my great silence and my great patience, and also how well that I can hide and conceal things that men ought secretly to hide. And truly, as to your fifth reason, where you say that in wicked advice women vanquish men, God knows, that reason has no value here. For understand now, you ask advice to do wickedness; and if you will do wickedness, and your wife restrains that wicked purpose, and overcomes you by reason and by good advice, certainly your wife ought rather to be praised than blamed. Thus should you understand the philosopher that says, `In wicked advice women vanquish their husbands.' And whereas you blame all women and their reasons, I shall show you by many examples that many a woman has been very good, and yet are, and their advice very wholesome and beneficial. Also some men have said that the counsel of women is either too expensive or else too little of price. But although it be so that very many a woman is bad and her advice vile and not worthy, yet have men found very many a good woman, and very discrete and wise in giving counsel. Lo, Jacob by the good advice of his mother Rebecca won the blessing of Isaac his fader and the lordship over all his brethren. Judith by her good advice delivered the city of Bethulia, in which she dwelled, out of the hands of Holofernus, who had besieged it and would have entirely destroyed it. Abigail delivered Nabal her husband from David the king, who would have slain him, and appeased the anger of the king by her wit and by her good advice. Hester by her good counsel advanced greatly the people of God in the reign of Assuerus the king. And the same goodness in good advising of many a good woman may men tell. And moreover, when our Lord had created Adam, our forefather, he said in this manner: `It is not good to be a man alone; let us make for him a helpmate similar to himself.' Here may you see that if women were not good, and their advice good and beneficial, our Lord God of heaven would never have made them, nor called them help of man, but rather confusion of man. And there said once a clerk in two verses, `What is better than gold? Jasper. What is better than jasper? Wisdom. And what is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.' And, sir, by many other reasons may you see that many women are good, and their advice good and beneficial. And therefore, sir, if you will trust to my advice, I shall restore you your daughter healthy and sound. And also I will do for you so much that you shall have honour in this matter."

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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 22-26:
Melibeus subjects himself to Prudence's advice and she tells about bad advice