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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 27-27:
Prudence tells about bad advice
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Tale of Melibee
Paragraph 28-30
How to examine advice according to Cicero and others

§ 28        Now, sire, sith I have shewed yow of which folk ye shul take youre conseil, and of which folk ye shul folwe the conseil, now wol I teche yow how ye shal examyne youre conseil, after the doctrine of Tullius. In the examynynge thanne of youre conseillour ye shul considere manye thynges. Alderfirst thou shalt considere that in thilke thyng that thou purposest, and upon what thyng thou wolt have conseil, that verray trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn, telle trewely thy tale. For he that seith fals may nat wel be conseilled in that cas of which he lieth. And after this thou shalt considere the thynges that acorden to that thou purposest for to do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde therto; and eek if thy myght may atteine therto; and if the moore part and the bettre part of thy conseillours acorde therto, or noon. Thanne shaltou considere what thyng shal folwe of that conseillyng, as hate, pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage, and manye othere thynges. And in alle thise thynges thou shalt chese the beste, and weyve alle othere thynges. Thanne shaltow considere of what roote is engendred the matiere of thy conseil, and what fruyt it may conceyve and engendre. Thou shalt eek considere alle thise causes, fro whennes they been sprongen. And whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd, and which partie is the bettre and moore profitable, and han approved it by manye wise folk and olde, thanne shaltou considere if thou mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good ende. For certes, resoun wol nat that any man sholde bigynne a thyng, but if he myghte parfourne it as hym oghte; ne no wight sholde take upon hym so hevy a charge that he myghte nat bere it. For the proverbe seith, 'he that to muche embraceth, distreyneth litel.' And Catoun seith, 'assay to do swich thyng as thou hast power to doon, lest that the charge oppresse thee so soore that thee bihoveth to weyve thyng that thou hast bigonne.' And if so be that thou be in doute wheither thou mayst parfourne a thing or noon, chese rather to suffre than bigynne. And Piers Alphonce seith, 'if thou hast myght to doon a thyng of which thou most repente, it is bettre nay than ye. This is to seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge stille than for to speke. Thanne may ye understonde by strenger resons that if thou hast power to parfourne a werk of which thou shalt repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre than bigynne. Wel seyn they that defenden every wight to assaye a thyng of which he is in doute wheither he may parfourne it or noon. And after, whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd biforn, and knowen wel that ye may parfourne youre emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at and ende. § 28        Now, sir, since I have showed you of which people you shall take your advice and of which people you shall follow the advice, now will I teach you how you shall examine your advice, according to the doctrine of Cicero. In the examining then of your advisor you shall consider many things. First of all you shall consider that in that thing that you intend, and upon which thing you will have advice, that real truth be said and preserved; this is to say, tell truly thy tale. For he that speaks falsely may not well be advised in that case of which he lies. And after this you shall consider the things that agree with that you intend for to act as your advisors advise, if reason accord thereto, and also if your might can attain thereto, and if the larger part and the better part of your advisors accord thereto, or not. Then shall you consider what thing shall follow from that advice, as hate, peace, war, grace, profit, or damage, and many other things. And in all these things you shall choose the best and abandon all other things. Then shall you consider of what root is engendered the matter of thy advice and what fruit it may conceive and engender. You shall also consider all these causes, from whence they are sprung. And when you have examined your advice, as I have said, and (decided) which part is the better and more beneficial, and have tested it by many wise and old people, then shall you consider if you can perform it and make of it a good end. For certainly reason will not desire that any man should begin a thing unless he might perform it as he ought to; nor no person should take upon him so heavy a charge that he might not bear it. For the proverb says, `He who too much embraces, keeps little.' And Cato says, `Try to do such thing as thou hast power to do, lest that the charge oppress thee so sorely that thou art compelled to abandon an undertaking that thou hast begun.' And if it so be that you are in doubt about whether you can perform a thing or not, choose rather to suffer than begin. And Petrus Alphonsus says, `If you have might to do a thing of which thou must repent, it is better "nay" than "yea."' This is to say, that for thee it is better hold your tongue still than to speak. Then may you understand by stronger reasons that if you have power to perform a work of which thou shalt repent, then is it better that you suffer than begin. Well say they who forbid every person to attempt a thing of which he is in doubt whether he can perform it or not. And after, when you have examined your advice, as I have said before, and know well that you can perform your enterprise, prosecute it then diligently until it be at an end.
§ 29        Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow whanne and wherfore that ye may chaunge youre conseillours withouten youre repreve. Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and his conseil if the cause cesseth, or whan a newe caas bitydeth. For the lawe seith that 'upon thynges that newely bityden bihoveth newe conseil. And Senec seith, 'if thy conseil is comen to the eeris of thyn enemy, chaunge thy conseil.' Thou mayst also chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou fynde that by errour, or by oother cause, harm or damage may bityde. Also if thy conseil be dishonest, or ellis cometh of dishonest cause, chaunge thy conseil. For the lawes seyn that 'alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no value'; and eek if so be that it be inpossible, or may nat goodly be parfourned or kept. § 29        Now is it reasonable and time that I show you when and wherefore that you may change your plans without earning dishonor. Truly, a man may change his purpose and his plans if the cause ceases, or when a new case befalls. For the law says that `things that newly befall require new plans.' And Seneca says, `If your plan is come to the ears of your enemy, change your plan.' You may also change your plan if it so be that you find that by error, or by other cause, harm or damage may befall. Also if thy plan be unjust, or else comes of dishonest cause, change your plan. For the laws say that `all promises that are dishonest are of no value'; and also if it so be that it is impossible, or can not goodly be performed or kept.
§ 30        And take this for a general reule, that every conseil that is affermed so strongly that it may nat be chaunged for no condicioun that may bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked." § 30        And take this for a general rule, that every plan that is affirmed so strongly that it may not be changed for any condition that may befall, I say that that plan is wicked."

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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 31-36:
Prudence tells how to select advisers