Previous Previous:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 34-37:
About Anger (Wrath)
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.

From The Canterbury Tales:
The Parson's Tale
Paragraph 38
The offspring of Anger

§ 38       Of Ire comen thise stynkynge engendrures: First, hate, that is oold wratthe; discord, thurgh which a man forsaketh his olde freend that he hath loved ful longe; and thanne cometh werre, and every manere of wrong that man dooth to his neighebor, in body or in catel. Of this cursed synne of Ire cometh eek manslaughtre. And understonde wel that homycide, that is manslaughtre, is in diverse wise. Som manere of homycide is spiritueel, and som is bodily. Spiritueel manslaughtre is in sixe thynges. First by hate, as seith Seint John: "he that hateth his brother is an homycide." Homycide is eek by bakbitynge, of whiche bakbiteres seith Salomon that "they han two swerdes with whiche they sleen hire neighebores. For soothly, as wikke is to bynyme his good name as his lyf. Homycide is eek in yevynge of wikked conseil by fraude; as for to yeven conseil to areysen wrongful custumes and taillages. Of whiche seith Salomon: "leon rorynge and bere hongry been like to the crueel lordshipes" in witholdynge or abreggynge of the shepe (or the hyre), or of the wages of sevauntz, or elles in usure, or in withdrawynge of the almesse of povre folk. For which the wise man seith, fedeth hym that almoost dyeth for honger; for soothly, but if thow feede hym, thou sleest hym; and alle thise been deedly synnes. Bodily manslaughtre is, whan thow sleest him with thy tonge in oother manere; as whan thou comandest to sleen a man, or elles yevest hym conseil to sleen a man. Manslaughtre in dede is in foure maneres. That oon is by lawe, right as a justice dampneth hym that is coupable to the deeth. But lat the justice be war that he do it rightfully, and that he do it nat for delit to spille blood, but for kepynge of rightwisnesse. Another homycide is that is doon for necessitee, as whan o man sleeth another is his defendaunt, and that he ne may noon ootherwise escape from his owene deeth. But certeinly if he may escape withouten slaughtre of his adversarie, and sleeth hym, he dooth synne and he shal bere penance as for deedly synne. Eek if a man, by caas or aventure, shete an arwe, or caste a stoon, with which he sleeth a man, he is homycide. Eek if a womman by necligence overlyeth hire child in hir slepyng, it is homycide and deedly synne. Eek whan man destourbeth concepcioun of a child, and maketh a womman outher bareyne by drynkynge venenouse herbes thurgh which she may nat conceyve, or sleeth a child by drynkes wilfully, or elles putteth certeine material thynges in hire secree places to slee the child, or elles dooth unkyndely synne, by which man or womman shedeth hire nature in manere or in place ther as a child may nat be conceived, or elles if a woman have conceyved, and hurt hirself and sleeth the child, yet is it homycide. What seye we eek of wommen that mordren hir children for drede of worldly shame? Certes, an horrible homicide. Homycide is eek if a man approcheth to a womman by desir of lecherie, thurgh which the child is perissed, or elles smyteth a womman wityngly, thurgh which she leseth hir child. Alle thise been homycides and horrible deedly synnes. Yet comen ther of Ire manye mo synnes, as wel in word as in thoght and in dede; as he that arretteth upon God, or blameth God of thyng of which he is hymself gilty, or despiseth God and alle his halwes, as doon thise cursede hasardours in diverse contrees. This cursed synne doon they, whan they feelen in hir herte ful wikkedly of God and of his halwes. Also whan they treten unreverently the sacrement of the auter, thilke synne is so greet that unnethe may it been releessed, but that the mercy of God passeth alle his werkes; it is so greet, and he so benigne. Thanne comth of Ire attry angre. Whan a man is sharply amonested in his shrifte to forleten his synne, thanne wole he be angry, and answeren hokerly and angrily, and deffenden or excusen his synne by unstedefastnesse of his flessh; or elles he dide it for to holde compaignye with his felawes; or elles, he seith, the feend enticed hym; or elles he dide it for his youthe; or elles his compleccioun is so corageous that he may nat forbere; or elles it is his destinee, as he seith, unto a certein age; or eles, he seith, it cometh hym of gentillesse of his auncestres; and semblable thynges. Alle thise manere of folk so wrappen hem in hir synnes that they ne wol nat delivere hemself. For soothly, no wight that excuseth hym wilfully of his synne may nat been delivered of his synne, til that he mekely biknoweth his synne. After this, thanne cometh sweryng, that is expres agayn the comandement of God; and this bifalleth ofte of anger and of Ire. God seith: "thow shalt nat take the name of thy lord God in veyn or in ydel." Also oure lord Jhesu Crist weith, by the word of Seint Mathew, "ne wol ye nat swere in alle manere; neither by hevene, for it is Goddes trone; ne by erthe, for it is the bench of his feet; ne by Jerusalem, for it is the citee of a greet kyng; ne by thyn heed, for thou mayst nat make an heer whit ne blak. But seyeth by youre word 'ye, ye,' and 'nay, nay'; and what that is moore, it is of yvel," - thus seith crist. For Cristes sake, ne swereth nat so synfully in dismembrynge of Crist by soule, herte, bones, and body. For certes, it semeth that ye thynke that the cursede jewes ne dismembred nat ynough the preciouse persone of Crist, but ye dismembre hym moore. And if so be that the lawe compelle yow to swere, thanne rule yow after the lawe of God in youre sweriyng, as seith Jeremye, quarto capitulo: "thou shalt kepe three condicions: thou shalt swere "in trouthe, in doom, and in rightwisnesse." This is to seyn, thou shalt swere sooth; for every lesynge is agayns Crist. For Crist is verray trouthe. And thynk wel this, that "every greet swerere nat compedded lawefully to swere, the wounde shal nat departe from his hous" whil he useth swich unleveful swerying. Thou shalt sweren eek in doom, whan thou art constreyned by thy domesman to witnessen the trouthe. Eek thow shalt nat swere for envye, ne for favour, ne for meede, but for rightwisnesse, for declaracioun of it, to the worshipe of God and helpyng of thyne evene-cristene. And therefore every man that taketh goodes name in ydel, or falsly swereth with his mouth, or elles taketh on hym the name of Crist, to be called a cristen man, and lyveth agayns cristed lyvynge and his techynge, alle they taken Goddes name in ydel. Looke eek what Seint Peter seith, actuum, quarto, non est aliud nomen sub celo, etc., "ther nys noon oother name," seith Seint Peter, "under hevene yeven to men, in which they mowe be saved"; that is to seyn, but the name of Jhesu Crist. Take kep eek how precious is the name of Crist, as seith Seint Paul, ad philipenses, secundo, in nomine Jhesu, etc., "that in the name of Jhesu every knee of hevenely creatures, or erthely, or of helle sholde bowe," for it is so heigh and so worshipful that the cursede feend in helle sholde tremblen to heeren it ynempned. Thanne semeth it that men that sweren so horribly by his blessed name, that they despise it moore booldely that dide the cursede jewes, or elles the devel, that trembleth whan he heereth his name. § 38        Of Anger come these stinking offspring: First, hate, that is old anger; discord, through which a man forsakes his old friend that he has loved very long; and then comes war and every manner of wrong that man does to his neighbour, in body or in possessions. Of this cursed sin of Anger comes also manslaughter. And understand well that homicide, that is manslaughter, is in a variety of ways. Some sort of homicide is spiritual, and some is bodily. Spiritual manslaughter is in six things. First by hate, as says Saint John: "He that hates his brother is an homicide." Homicide is also by backbiting, of which backbiters says Solomon that "they have two swords with which they slay their neighbours." For truly, it is as wicked to take away his good name as his life. Homicide is also in giving of wicked counsel by fraud, as for to give counsel to impose wrongful rents and taxes. Of which says Solomon, "Lion roaring and hungry bear are similar to the cruel lordships" in reduction or abridging of the payment (or the hire), or of the wages of servants, or else in usury, or in withdrawing of the alms of poor people. For which the wise man says, "Feed him that almost dies for hunger"; for truly, unless thou feed him, thou slayest him; and all these are deadly sins. Bodily manslaughter is, when thou slayest him with thy tongue in other manner, as when thou commandest to slay a man or else givest him counsel to slay a man. Manslaughter in deed is in four manners. That one is by law, just as a justice damns him that is culpable to the death. But let the justice beware that he do it righteously, and that he do it not for delight to spill blood but for keeping of righteousness. Another homicide is what is done for necessity, as when one man slays another in self-defense and that he can not otherwise escape from his own death. But certainly if he can escape without slaughter of his adversary, and slays him, he does sin and he shall bear penance as for deadly sin. Also if a man, by accident or chance, shoot an arrow, or cast a stone with which he slays a man, he is a homicide. Also if a woman by negligence lies upon her child in her sleeping, it is homicide and deadly sin. Also when man disturbs conception of a child, and makes a woman either barren by drinking venomous herbs through which she can not conceive, or slays a child by drinks willfully, or else puts certain material things in her secret places to slay the child, or else does unnatural sin, by which man or woman sheds their nature in manner or in place where a child can not be conceived (commits sodomy), or else if a woman have conceived, and hurts herself and slays the child, yet is it homicide. What say we also of women that murder their children for fear of worldly shame? Certainly, an horrible homicide. Homicide is also if a man approaches to a woman by desire of lechery, through which the child is killed, or else smites a woman wittingly, through which she loses their child. All these are homicides and horrible deadly sins. Yet come there of Anger many more sins, as well in word as in thought and in deed; as he that blames God, or blames God for a thing of which he is himself guilty, or despises God and all his saints, as do these cursed gamblers in various countries. This cursed sin do they, when they feel in their heart very wickedly about God and his saints. Also when they treat irreverently the sacrament of the altar, this sin is so great that hardly may it be forgiven, but that the mercy of God passes all his works; it is so great, and he so gracious. Then comes of Anger poisonous anger. When a man is sharply admonished in his confession to abandon his sin, then will he be angry, and answer disdainfully and angrily, and defend or excuse his sin by the instability of his flesh; or else he did it in order to hold company with his fellows; or else, he says, the fiend enticed him; or else he did it because of his youth; or else his temperament is so ardent that he can not abstain; or else it is his destiny, as he says, unto a certain age; or else, he says, it comes to him of gentility of his ancestors; and similar things. All these sort of people so wrap them in their sins that they nor will not save themselves. For truly, no person who excuses him obstinately of his sin can be saved from his sin until he meekly acknowledges his sin. After this, then comes swearing, that is expressly against the commandment of God; and this happens often of wrath and of Anger. God says, "Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in vain or in idleness." Also our Lord Jesus Christ says, by the word of Saint Matthew, "Nor will you not swear in any manner; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by earth, for it is the bench of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of a great king; nor by thy head, for thou canst not make a hair white nor black. But says by your word 'yea, yea',and 'nay, nay'; and what is more, it is of evil", thus says Christ. For Christ's sake, swear not so sinfully in dismembering of Christ by soul, heart, bones, and body. For certainly, it seems that you think that the cursed Jews dismembered not enough the precious person of Christ, but you dismember him more. And if it so be that the law compels you to swear, then rule yourself according to the law of God in your swearing, as says Jeremiah, quarto capitulo [in the fourth chapter]: Thou shalt keep three conditions: thou shalt swear "in truth, in a case at law, and in righteousness." This is to say, thou shalt swear truth, for every lie is against Christ; for Christ is true truth. And think well this: that "every great swearer, not compelled lawfully to swear, the wound shall not depart from his house" while he uses such unlawful swearing. Thou shalt swear also in case at law, when thou art constrained by thy judge to witness the truth. Also thou shalt not swear for envy, nor for favour, nor for reward, but for righteousness, for declaration of it, to the worship of God and helping of thy fellow Christian. And therefore every man that takes God's name in vain, or falsely swears with his mouth, or else takes on him the name of Christ, to be called a Christian man and lives against Christ's living and his teaching, all those take God's name in vain. Look also what Saint Peter says, Actuum quarto, Non est aliud nomen sub celo, etc., (Acts, chapter four): "There is no other name" says Saint Peter, "under heaven given to men, in which they can be saved"]; that is to say, but the name of Jesus Christ. Take note also how precious is the name of Christ, as says Saint Paul, ad Philipenses secundo, In nomine Jhesu. etc. (Epistle to the Philippians, second chapter): "That in the name of Jesus every knee of heavenly creatures, or earthly, or of hell should bow," for it is so high and so worshipful that the cursed fiend in hell should tremble to hear it named. Then seems it that men that swear so horribly by his blessed name, that they despise it more boldly than did the cursed Jews or else the devil, that trembles when he hears his name.

Next Next:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 39-41:
About swearing