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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 28-30:
How to examine advice according to Cicero and others
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Tale of Melibee
Paragraph 31-36
Prudence tells how to select advisers

§ 31        This Melibeus, whanne he hadde herd the doctrine of his wyf dame Prudence, answerde in this wyse: "Dame," quod he, "as yet into this tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me as in general, how I shal governe me in the chesynge and in the withholdynge of my conseillours. but now wolde I fayn that ye wolde condescende in especial, and telle me how liketh yow, or what semeth yow, by oure conseillours that we han chosen in oure present nede." § 31        This Melibeus, when he had heard the doctrine of his wife dame Prudence, answered in this way: "Dame," said he, "as yet until this time you have well and fittingly taught me as in general how I should govern myself in the choice and in the retention of my advisors. But now would I eagerly desire that you would get down to particulars and tell me how you like it, or what it seems to you, concerning our advisors that we have chosen in our present need."
§ 32        "My lord," quod she, "I biseke yow in al humblesse that ye wol nat wilfully replie agayn my resouns, ne distempre youre herte, thogh I speke thyng that yow displese. For God woot that, as in myn entente, I speke it for youre beste, for youre honour, and for youre profite eke. And soothly, I hope that youre benyngnytee wol taken it in pacience. Trusteth me wel," quod she, "that youre conseil as in this caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly, be called a conseillyng, but a mocioun or a moevyng of folye, in which conseil ye han erred in many a sondry wise. § 32        "My lord," said she, "I beseech you in all humility that you will not willfully reply against my arguments, nor upset your heart, though I speak something that may displease you. For God knows that, in my intent, I speak it for your best, for your honor, and for your benefit also. And truly, I hope that your benignity will take it in patience. Trust me well," said she, "that your advice in this case should not, to speak properly, be called an advising, but a motion or a moving of folly, in which advice you have erred in many different ways.
§ 33        First and forward, ye han erred in th' assemblynge of youre conseillours. For ye sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to youre conseil, and after ye myghte han shewed it to mo folk, if it hadde been nede. But certes, ye han sodeynly cleped to youre conseil a greet multitude of peple, ful chargeant and ful anoyous for to heere. Also ye han erred, for theras ye sholden oonly have cleped to youre conseil youre trewe frendes olde and wise. Ye han ycleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false flatereres, and enemys reconsiled, and folk that doon yow reverence withouten love. And eek also ye have erred, for ye han broght with yow to youre conseil ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse, the whiche thre thinges been contrariouse to every conseil honest and profitable; the whiche thre thinges ye han nat anientissed or destroyed hem, neither in youreself, ne in youre conseillours, as yow oghte. Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to youre conseillours youre talent and youre affeccioun to make werre anon, and for to do vengeance. They han espied by youre wordes to what thyng ye been enclyned; and therfore han they rather conseilled yow to youre talent that to youre profit. Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow suffiseth to han been conseilled by thise conseillours oonly, and with litel avys, whereas in so greet and so heigh a nede it hadde been necessarie mo conseillours and moore deliberacion to parfourne youre emprise. Ye han erred also, for ye ne han nat examyned youre conseil in the forseyde manere, ne in due manere, as the caas requireth. Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no division bitwixe youre conseillours; this is to seyn, bitwixen youre trewe freendes and youre feyned conseillours; ne ye han nat knowe the wil of youre trewe freendes olde and wise; but ye han cast alle hire wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned youre herte to the moore part and to the gretter nombre, and there been ye condescended. And sith ye woot wel that men shal alwey fynde a gretter nombre of fooles than of wise men, and therfore the conseils that been at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, there as men take moore reward to the nombre than to the sapience of persones, ye se wel that in swiche conseillynges fooles han the maistrie." § 33        First of all, you have erred in the assembling of your advisors. For you should first have called a few people to your council, and after you might have showed it to more people, if it had been necessary. But certainly, you have suddenly called to your council a great multitude of people, very burdensome and very annoying to hear. Also you have erred, for whereas you should only have called to your council your true friends old and wise, you have called foreign people, young people, false flatterers, and enemies reconciled, and people who do you reverence without love. And also you have erred, for you have brought with you to your council anger, greed, and haste, the which three things are contrary to every council honourable and beneficial; the which three things you have not annihilated or destroyed them, neither in yourself, nor in your advisors, as you ought. You have erred also, for you have shown to your advisors your desire and your inclination to make war immediately and to do vengeance. They have espied by your words to what thing you are inclined; and therefore have they advised you rather to your inclination than to your advantage. You have erred also, for it seems that to you it suffices to have been advised by these counselors only, and with little consultation, whereas in so great and so urgent a situation it had been necessary to have more advisors and more deliberation to perform your cause. You have erred also, for you have not examined your advice in the foresaid manner, nor in suitable manner, as the case requires. You have erred also, for you have made no division between your advisors, that is to say, between your true friends and your feigned advisors, and you have not known the will of your true friends old and wise, but you have cast all their words in an hodgepodge, and inclined your heart to the larger part and to the greater number, and to that you are yielded. And since you know well that men shall always find a greater number of fools than of wise men, and therefore the counsels that are at gatherings and multitudes of people, where men pay more attention to the number than to the wisdom of persons, you see well that in such councils fools have the mastery."
§ 34        Melibeus answerde agayn, and seyde, "I graunte wel that I have erred; but there as thou hast toold me heerbiforn that he nys nat to blame that chaungeth his conseillours in certein caas and for certeine juste causes, I am al redy to chaunge my conseillours right as thow wolt devyse. The proverbe seith that 'for to do synne is mannyssh, but certes for to persevere longe in synne is werk of the devel.'" § 34        Melibeus answered again, and said, "I grant well that I have erred; but whereas you have told me before now that he is not to blame who changes his advisors in certain cases and for certain just causes, I am all ready to change my advisors just as you will devise. The proverb says that `to do sin is human, but certainly to persevere long in sin is work of the devil.'"
§ 35        To this sentence answered anon dame Prudence, and seyde: "examineth," quod she, "youre conseil, and lat us see the whiche of hem han spoken most resonably and taught yow best conseil. And for as muche as that the examynacion is necessarie, lat us bigynne at the surgiens and at the phisiciens, that first speeken in this matiere. I sey yow that the surgiens and phisiciens han seyd yow in youre conseil discreetly, as hem oughte; and in hir speche seyden ful wisely that to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to every wight honour and profit, and no wight for to anoye; and after hir craft to doon greet diligence unto the cure of hem which that they han in hir governaunce. And, sire, right as they han answered wisely and discreetly, right so rede I that they been heighly and sovereynly gerdoned for hir noble speche; and eek for they sholde do the moore ententif bisynesse in the curacion of youre doghter deere. For al be it so that they been youre freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren that they serve yow for noght, but ye oghte the rather gerdone hem and shewe hem youre largesse. And as touchynge the proposicioun which that the phisiciens encreesceden in this caas, this is to seyn. That in maladies that oon contrarie is warisshed by another contrarie, I wolde fayn knowe hou ye understonde thilke text, and what is youre sentence." § 35        To this saying dame Prudence answered immediately, and said, "Examine," said she, "your counsel, and let us see the which of them have spoken most reasonably and taught you best advice. And forasmuch as the examination is necessary, let us begin at the surgeons and at the physicians, who first spoke in this matter. I tell you that the surgeons and physicians have spoken to you in counselling you discretely, as they ought, and in their speech said very wisely that to their office it pertains to do to every person honour and profit, and no person to harm, and in accordance with their craft to do great diligence unto the care of those that they have in their governance. And, sir, just as they have answered wisely and discretely, just so I deduce that they are highly and chiefly rewarded for their noble speech, and also for they should do the more diligent effort in the care of your dear daughter. For although it be so that they are your friends, therefore shall you not allow that they serve you for naught, but you ought the rather to reward them and show them your generosity. And as touching the theory that the physicians developed in this case, that is to say, that in maladies that one contrary is cured by another contrary, I would be eager to know how you understand that text, and what is your interpretation."
§ 36        "Certes," quod Melibeus, "I understonde it in this wise: that right as they han doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I doon hem another. For right as they han venged hem on me and doon me wrong, right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon hem wrong; and thanne have I cured oon contrarie by another." § 36        "Certainly," said Melibeus, "I understand it in this way: that just as they have done me a contrary, right so should I do them another. For just as they have avenged themselves on me and done me wrong, just so shall I avenge myself upon them and do them wrong; and then have I cured one contrary by another."

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From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 37-45:
About the value of fortification and good friends