Previous Previous:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 28:
About superfluity of clothing
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.

From The Canterbury Tales:
The Parson's Tale
Paragraph 29-30
Where Pride does come from

§ 29       Now myghte men axe wherof that pride sourdeth and spryngeth, and I seye, somtyme it spryngeth of the goodes of nature, and somtyme of the goodes of fortune, and somtyme of the goodes of grace. Certes, the goodes of nature stonden outher in goodes of body or in goodes of soule. Certes, goodes of body been heele of body, strengthe, delivernesse, beautee, gentrice, franchise. Goodes of nature of the soule been good wit, sharp understondynge, subtil engyn, vertu natureel, good memorie. Goodes of fortune been richesse, hyghe degrees of lordshipes, preisynges of the peple. Goodes of grace been science, power to suffre spiritueel travaille, benignitee, vertuous contemplacioun, withstondynge of temptacioun, and semblable thynges. Of whiche forseyde goodes, certes it is a ful greet folye a man to priden hym in any of hem alle. Now as for to speken of goodes of nature, God woot that somtyme we han hem in nature as muche to oure damage as to oure profit. As for to speken of heele of body, certes it passeth ful lightly, and eek it is ful ofte enchesoun of the siknesse of oure soule. For, God woot, the flessh is a ful greet enemy to the soule; and therfore, the moore that the body is hool, the moore be we in peril to falle. Eke for to pride hym in his strengthe of body, it is an heigh folye. For certes, the flessh coveiteth agayn the spirit; and ay the moore strong that the flessh is, the sorier may the soule be. And over al this, strengthe of body and worldly hardynesse causeth ful ofte many a man to peril and meschaunce. Eek for to pride hym of his gentrie is ful greet folie; for ofte tyme the gentrie of the body binymeth the gentrie of the soule; and eek we ben alle of o fader and of o mooder; and alle we been of o nature, roten and corrupt, bothe riche and povre. For sothe, o manere gentrie is for to preise, that apparailleth mannes corage with vertues and moralitees, and maketh hym Cristes child. For truste wel that over what man that synne hath maistrie, he is a verray cherl to synne. § 29        Now might men ask whereof Pride arises and springs, and I say, sometimes it springs of the goods of nature, and sometimes of the goods of fortune, and sometimes of the goods of grace. Certainly, the goods of nature stand either in goods of body or in goods of soul. Certainly, goods of body are health of body, strength, agility, beauty, gentle birth, freedom. Goods of nature of the soul are good wit, sharp understanding, subtle ingenuity, power over the senses, good memory. Goods of fortune are riches, high degrees of lordships, praise of the people. Goods of grace are knowledge, power to suffer spiritual travail, benignity, virtuous contemplation, withstanding of temptation, and similar things. Of which aforesaid goods, certainly it is a very great folly a man to pride him in any of them all. Now to speak of goods of nature, God knows that sometimes we have them in nature as much to our damage as to our profit. As for to speak of health of body, certainly it passes very lightly, and also it is very often the cause of the sickness of our soul. For, God knows, the flesh is a very great enemy to the soul, and therefore, the more that the body is whole, the more are we in peril to fall. Also to pride oneself in his strength of body, it is an high folly. For certainly, the flesh covets against the spirit, and ever the more strong that the flesh is, the sorrier may the soul be. And over all this, strength of body and worldly hardiness causes very often many a man to be in peril and mischance. Also to pride oneself of his gentle birth is very great folly; for oftentimes the gentility of the body takes away the gentility of the soul; and also we are all of one father and of one mother; and we are all of one nature, rotten and corrupt, both rich and poor. For truly, one sort of gentility is to be praised, that provides man's determination with virtues and moralities, and makes himself Christ's child. For trust well that over whatever man that sin has mastery, he is a true slave to sin.
§ 30        Now been ther generale signes of gentillesse, as eschewynge of vice and ribaudye and servage of synne, in word, in werk, and contenaunce; and usynge vertu, curteisye, and clennesse, and to be liberal, that is to seyn, large by mesure; for thilke that passeth mesure is folie and synne. Another is to remembre hym of bountee, that he of oother folk hath receyved. Another is to be benigne to his goode subetis; wherfore seith Senek, "ther is no thing moore covenable to a man of heigh estaat than debonairetee and pitee. And therfore thise flyes that men clepen bees, whan they maken hir kyng, they chesen oon that hath no prikke wherwith he may stynge." Another is, a man to have a noble herte and a diligent, to attayne to heighe vertuouse thynges. Now certes, a man to pride hym in the goodes of grace is eek an outrageous folie; for thilke yifte of grace that sholde have turned hym to goodnesse and to medicine, turneth hym to venym and to confusioun, as seith Seint Gregorie. Certes also, whoso prideth hym in the goodes of fortune, he is a ful greet fool; for somtyme is a man a greet lord by the morwe, that is a caytyf and a wrecche er it be nyght; and somtyme the richesse of a man is cause of his deth; somtyme the delices of a man ben cause of the grevous maladye thurgh which he dyeth. Certes, the commendacioun of the peple is somtyme ful fals and ful brotel for to triste; this day they preyse, tomorwe they blame. God woot, desir to have commendacioun eek of the peple hath caused deeth to many a bisy man. § 30        Now are there general signs of gentility, as avoidance of vice and ribaldry and bondage to sin, in word, in deed, and manner, and using virtue, courtesy, and cleanness, and to be liberal that is to say, reasonably generous, for that which passes moderation is folly and sin. Another is to remind himself of good things that he of other folk has received. Another is to be gracious to one's good subjects; wherefore says Seneca, "There is no thing more suitable to a man of high estate than graciousness and pity. And therefore these flies that men call bees, when they make their king, they choose one that has no stinger with which he can sting." Another is, a man to have a noble heart and a diligent to attain to high virtuous things. Now certainly, for a man to pride himself in the goods of grace is also an outrageous folly, for this gift of grace that should have turned him to goodness and to medicine, turns him to venom and to ruin, as says Saint Gregory. Certainly also, whosoever prides himself in the goods of fortune, he is a very great fool; for sometimes is a man a great lord by the morrow, that is a captive and a wretched one ere it be night; and sometimes the riches of a man is cause of his death; sometimes the pleasures of a man are cause of the grievous malady through which he dies. Certainly, the commendation of the people is sometimes very false and very brittle to trust; this day they praise, tomorrow they blame. God knows, desire to have commendation also of the people has caused death to many a busy man.

Next Next:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 31:
The remedy against the sin of Pride