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|§ 22 Whan Melibee hadde herd the wordes of his wyf Prudence, he seyde thus: "I se wel that the word of Salomon is sooth. He seith that 'wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce been honycombes, for they yeven swetnesse to the soule and hoolsomnesse to the body.' And, wyf, by cause of thy sweete wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved thy grete sapience and thy grete trouthe, I wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thyng."||§ 22 When Melibee had heard the words of his wife Prudence, he said thus: "I see well that the word of Solomon is truth. He says that `words that are spoken discretely and properly are honeycombs, for they give sweetness to the soul and healthfulness to the body.' And, wife, because of your sweet words, and also because I have tested and proven your great wisdom and your great truth, I will govern myself by your advice in all respect."|
|§ 23 "Now, sire," quod dame Prudence, "and syn ye vouche sauf to been governed by my conseil, I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe yourself in chesynge of youre conseillours. Ye shul first in alle youre werkes mekely biseken to the heighe God that he wol be youre conseillour; and shapeth yow to swich entente that he yeve yow conseil and confort, as taughte Thobie his sone: 'At alle tymes thou shalt blesse god, and praye hym to dresse thy weyes, and looke that alle thy conseils been in hym for everemoore. Jame eek seith: if any of yow have nede of sapience, axe it of god. and afterward thanne shul ye taken conseil in youreself, and examyne wel youre thoghtes of swich thyng as yow thynketh that is bes for youre profit. And thanne shul ye dryve fro youre herte thre thynges that been contrariouse to good conseil; that is to seyn, ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse.||§ 23 "Now, sir," said dame Prudence, "and since you consent to be governed by my advice, I will inform you how you shall govern yourself in the choice of your advisors. You shall first in all your works meekly beseech the high God that he will be your advisor; and prepare yourself with the aim that he give you advice and comfort, as Tobias taught his son: `At all times thou shalt bless God, and pray him to prepare thy ways, and look that all thy counsels are in him for evermore.' Saint James also says: `If any of you have need of wisdom, ask it of God.' And afterward then shall you take advice in yourself, and examine well your thoughts of such thing as it seems to you best for your advantage. And then shall you drive from your heart three things that are contrary to good advice; that is to say, anger, greed, and haste.|
|§ 24 First, he that axeth conseil of hymself, certes he moste been withouten ire, for manye causes. The firste is this: he that hath greet ire and wratthe in hymself, he weneth alwey that he may do thyng that he may nat do. And secoundely, he that is irous and wrooth, he ne may nat wel deme; and he that may nat wel deme, may nat wel conseille. The thridde is this, that he that is irous and wrooth, as seith Senec, ne may nat speke but blameful thynges, and with his viciouse wordes he stireth oother folk to angre and to ire. And eek, sire, ye moste dryve coveitise out of youre herte. For the apostle seith that coveitise is roote of alle harmes. And trust wel that a coveitous man ne kan noght deme ne thynke, but oonly to fulfille the ende of his coveitise; and certes, that ne may nevere been accompliced; For evere the moore habundaunce that he hath of richesse, the moore he desireth. And, sire, ye moste also dryve out of youre herte hastifnesse; for certes, ye ne may nat deeme for the beste by a sodeyn thought that falleth in youre herte, but ye moste avyse yow on it ful ofte. For, as ye herde her biforn, the commune proverbe is this, that he that soone deemeth, soone repenteth. sire, ye ne be nat alwey in lyk disposicioun; for certes, somthyng that somtyme semeth to yow that it is good for to do, another tyme it semeth to yow the contrarie.||§ 24 First, he who asks advice of himself, certainly he must be without anger, for many reasons. The first is this: he who has great anger and wrath in himself, he supposes always that he can do a thing that he can not do. And secondly, he who is angry and wrathful, he can not judge well; and he who can not judge well, can not advise well. The third is this, that he that is angry and wrathful, as says Seneca, can not speak anything but blameworthy things, and with his vicious words he stirs other people to anger and to ire. And also, sir, you must drive greed out of your heart. For the Apostle says that greed is root of all harms. And trust well that a greedy man can neither judge nor think anything, except only to fulfill the object of his greed; and certainly, that can never be accomplished, for always the more abundance that he has of riches, the more he desires. And, sir, you must also drive out of your heart haste; for certainly, you can not judge for the best by a sudden thought that falls in your heart, but you must reflect upon it very often. For, as you heard before this, the common proverb is this, that `he who soon judges, soon repents.' Sir, you are not always in the same frame of mind; for certainly, something that sometimes seems to you that it is good to do, another time it seems to you the contrary.|
|§ 25 Whan ye han taken conseil in youreself, and han deemed by good deliberacion swich thyng as yow semeth bes, thanne rede I yow that ye kepe it secree. Biwrey nat youre conseil to no persone, but if so be that ye wenen sikerly that thurgh youre biwreyyng youre condicioun shal be to yow the moore profitable. for Jhesus Syrak seith, 'neither to thy foo, ne to thy frend, discovere nat thy secree ne thy folie; for they wol yeve yow audience and lookynge and supportacioun in thy presence, and scorne thee in thyn absence.' Another clerk seith that scarsly shaltou fynden any persone that may kepe conseil secrely. The book seith, 'whil that thou kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest it in thy prisoun; and whan thou biwreyest thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his snare.' And therfore yow is bettre to hyde youre conseil in youre herte than praye him to whom ye han biwreyed youre conseil that he wole kepen it cloos and stille. For Seneca seith: 'if so be that thou ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde, how darstou prayen any oother wight thy conseil secrely to kepe?' But nathelees, if thou wene sikerly that the biwreiyng of thy conseil to a persone wol make thy condicion to stonden in the bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen hym thy conseil in this wise. First thou shalt make no semblant wheither thee were levere pees or werre, or this or that, ne shewe hym nat thy wille and thyn entente. For trust wel that comunli thise conseillours been flatereres, namely the conseillours of grete Lordes; for they enforcen hem alwey rather to speken plesante wordes, enclynynge to the lordes lust, than wordes that been trewe or profitable. And therfore men seyn that the riche man hath seeld good conseil, but if he have it of hymself.||§ 25 When you have pondered the matter and have judged by good deliberation such thing as seems best to you, then I advise you that you keep it secret. Reveal your plans to no person, but if it so be that you believe truly through your revealing your condition shall be to you the more advantageous. For Jesus son of Sirach says, `Neither to thy foe nor to thy friend discover not thy secret nor thy folly, for they will give you audience and attention and support in thy presence and scorn thee in thine absence.' Another clerk says that `scarcely shalt thou find any person that can keep plans secretly.' The book says, `While thou keepest thy plan in thine heart, thou keepest it in thy prison, and when thou reveal thy plans to any person, he holds thee in his snare.' And therefore for you it is better to hide your plans in your heart than pray him to whom you have revealed your plans that he will keep it close and still. For Seneca says: `If it so be that thou can not hide thine own plans, how dare thou pray any other person to keep thy advice secretly?' But nevertheless, if thou believe truly that the revealing of thy plans to a person will make thy condition stand in the better condition, then shalt thou tell him thy plans in this manner. First thou shalt make no outward sign whether thou would prefer peace or war, or this or that, nor show him not thy will and thine intent. For trust well that commonly these advisors are flatterers, namely the advisors of great lords, for they force themselves always rather to speak pleasant words, inclining to the lord's desire, than words that are true or beneficial. And therefore men say that the rich man has seldom good advice, unless he have it of himself.|
|§ 26 And after that thou shalt considere thy freendes and thyne enemys. And as touchynge thy freendes, thou shalt considere which of hem been moost feithful and moost wise and eldest and most approved in conseillyng; and of hem shalt thou aske thy conseil, as the caas requireth. I seye that first ye shul clepe to youre conseil youre freendes that been trewe. For Salomon seith that 'right as the herte of a man deliteth in savour that is soote, right so the conseil of certes gold ne silver ben nat so muche worth as the goode wyl of a trewe freend.' And eek he seith that 'a trewe freend is a strong deffense; who so that it fyndeth, certes he fyndeth a greet tresour.' Thanne shul ye eek considere if that youre trewe freendes been discrete and wise. For the book seith, 'axe alwey thy conseil of hem that been wise.' And by this same resoun shul ye clepen to youre conseil of youre freendes that been of age, swiche as han seyn and been expert in manye thynges and been approved in conseillynges. For the book seith 'that in olde men is the sapience, and in longe tyme the prudence.' And Tullius seith 'that grete thynges ne been nat ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but by good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by science; the whiche thre thynges ne been nat fieble by age, but certes they enforcen and encreescen day by day.' And thanne shul ye kepe this for a general reule: first shul ye clepen to youre conseil a fewe of youre freendes that been especiale; for Salomon seith, 'manye freendes have thou, but among a thousand chese thee oon to be thy conseillour.' For al be it so that thou first ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe, thou mayst afterward telle it to mo folk if it be nede. But looke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke thre condiciouns that I have seyd bifore, that is to seyn, that they be trewe, wise, and of oold experience. And werke nat alwey in every nede by oon counseillour allone; for somtyme bihooveth it to been conseilled by manye. For Salomon seith, 'salvacion of thynges is where as ther been manye conseillours.'||§ 26 And after that you shall consider your friends and your enemies. And as concerning your friends, you shall consider which of them are most faithful and most wise and eldest and most proven in giving advice; and of them shall you ask thy advice, as the case requires. I say that first you shall call to your council your friends that are true. For Solomon says that `just as the heart of a man delights in taste that is sweet, just so the advice of true friends gives sweetness to the soul.' He says also, `Nothing can be compared to a true friend, for certainly gold nor silver are not worth so much as the good will of a true friend.' And also he says that `a true friend is a strong defense; whoever finds it, certainly he finds a great treasure.' Then shall you also consider whether your true friends are discrete and wise. For the book says, `Ask always thy advice of those who are wise.' And by this same reason shall you call to your council some of your friends that are of suitably advanced age, such as have seen and are expert in many things and are proven in giving advice. For the book says that `in old men is the wisdom, and in long time the prudence' And Cicero says that `great things are not always accomplished by strength, nor by agility of body, but by good advice, by a person's power to persuade, and by knowledge; the which three things are not enfeebled by age, but certainly they gain strength and increase day by day.' And then shall you keep this for a general rule: First you shall call to your council a few of your friends who are particularly esteemed; for Solomon says, `Many friends have you, but among a thousand chose yourself one to be your advisor.' For although it be so that you first tell your advice only to a few, you may afterward tell it to more people if it be needed. But look always that your advisors have those three conditions that I have said before, that is to say, that they are true, wise, and of old experience. And work not always in every need by one advisor alone; for sometimes it is necessary to be advised by many. For Solomon says, `Salvation of things is where there are many advisors.'|
From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 27-27:
Prudence tells about bad advice