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|§ 46 Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that God suffred men to do yow this vileynye, certes, I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse. For th' apostle seith that 'the sciences and the juggementz of oure Lord God almyghty been ful depe; ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly. 'Nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve that God, which that is ful of justice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste cause resonable.||§ 46 Now, sir, if men would ask me why God allowed men to do you this villainy, certainly, I can not answer well, with any certainty. For the apostle says that `the sciences and the judgments of our Lord God almighty are very deep; there can no man comprehend nor study them sufficiently.' Nonetheless, by certain assumptions and conjectures, I hold and believe that God, who is full of justice and of righteousness, has allowed this to happen by just reasonable cause.|
|§ 47 Thy name is Melibee, this is to seyn, 'a man that drynketh hony.' Thou hast ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel richesses, and delices and honours of this world, that thou art dronken, and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour. Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte, ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith, under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule and Salomon seith, 'if thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth; for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe' and be nedy and povre. And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and hath turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of misericorde; and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punysshed in the manere that thow hast ytrespassed. Thou hast doon synne agayn oure lord Crist; for certes, the three enemys of mankynde, - that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world, - thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body, and hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns hire assautes and hire temptaciouns, so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places; this is to seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into thyn herte by thy fyve wittes. And in the same manere oure lord Crist hath woold and suffred that thy three enemys been entred into thyn house by the wyndowes, and han ywounded thy doghter in the forseyde manere."||§ 47 Your name is Melibee; this is to say, `a man that drinks honey.' You have drunk so much honey of sweet temporal riches, and pleasures and honours of this world that you are drunk and have forgotten Jesus Christ your creator. You have not done to him such honour and reverence as you ought, nor you have not well paid attention to the words of Ovid, who says, `Under the honey of the goods of the body is hid the venom that kills the soul.' And Solomon says, `If you have found honey, eat of it what suffices, for if you eat of it to excess, you shall vomit' and be needy and poor. And perhaps Christ has you in disdain, and has turned away from you his face and his ears of mercy, and also he has allowed that you have been punished in the manner that thou hast trespassed. You have done sin again our Lord Christ, for certainly, the three enemies of mankind, that is to say, the flesh, the fiend, and the world, you have allowed them enter into your heart willfully by the windows of thy body, and have not defended yourself sufficiently against their assaults and their temptations, so that they have wounded your soul in five places; this is to say, the deadly sins that are entered into thine heart by thy five senses. And in the same manner our Lord Christ has willed and allowed that your three enemies are entered into your house by the windows and have wounded your daughter in the aforesaid manner."|
|§ 48 "Certes," quod Melibee, "I se wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys, shewynge me the perils and the yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance. But whoso wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte sewe of vengeance-takynge, a man wolde nevere take vengeance, and that were harm; for by the vengeance-takynge been the wikked men dissevered fro the goode men, and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos, whan they seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of the trespassours.||§ 48 "Certainly," said Melibee, "I see well that you strengthen yourself much by words to overcome me in such a manner that I shall not avenge me on my enemies, showing me the dangers and the evils that might fall because of this vengeance. But if anyone would consider in all vengeances the dangers and evils that might follow from vengeance-taking, a man would never take vengeance, and that would be a harm; for by the vengeance-taking are the wicked men distinguished from the good men, and they that have will to do wickedness restrain their wicked purpose, when they see the punishing and chastising of the trespassers."|
|§ 49 (Et a ce respont dame Prudence, "Certes," dist elle, "je t' ottroye que de vengence vient molt de maulx et de biens; mais vengence n'appartient pas a un chascun fors seulement aux juges et a ceulx qui ont la juridicion sur les malfaitteurs.) And yet seye I moore, that right as singuler persone synneth in takynge vengeance of another man, right so synneth the juge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han disserved. For Senec seith thus: 'that maister,' he seith, 'is good that proveth shrewes.' And as Cassidore seith, 'a man dredeth to do outrages whan he woot and knoweth that it despleseth to the juges and the sovereyns.' And another seith, 'the juge that dredeth to do right, maketh men shrewes.' And Seint Paul the apostle seith in his epistle, whan he writeth unto the romayns, that 'the juges beren nat the spere withouten cause, but they beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers, and for to defende the goode men.' If ye wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge that hath the jurisdiccion upon hem, and he shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth."||§ 49 (French: And so this dame Prudence answered, "Certainly," she said, "I grant you that from vengeance come many evils and many goods; but taking vengeance does not appertain to an individual person but solely to judges and to those who have jurisdiction to evil-doers.) And yet say I more, that just as a private person sins in taking vengeance on another man, just so sins the judge if he do no vengeance on them that have deserved it. For Seneca says thus: `That master,' he says, `is good who reproves scoundrels.' And as Cassiodorus says, `A man fears to do outrages when he knows and is aware that it displeases the judges and the rulers.' And another says, `The judge that fears to do justice makes men scoundrels.' And Saint Paul the Apostle says in his Epistle, when he writes unto the Romans, that `the judges do not bear the spear without cause, but they bear it to punish the scoundrels and evildoers and to defend the good men.' If you will then take vengeance on your enemies, you shall turn to or bring your case to the judge that has the jurisdiction upon them, and he shall punish them as the law asks and requires."|
|§ 50 "A!" quod Melibee, "this vengeance liketh me no thyng. I bithenke me now and take heede how fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede, and hath holpen me to passe many a stroong paas. Now wol I assayen hire, trowynge, with goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge."||§ 50 "A," said Melibee, "this vengeance pleases me not at all. I consider now and take heed how Fortune has nourished me from my childhood and has helped me to pass many difficult situations. Now will I test her, believing that, with God's help, she shall help me to avenge my shame."|
From The Tale of Melibee, paragraph 51-57:
To avenge or not to avenge, that's the question