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Who that the vices wolde escheue,
He mot by reson thanne fue
The vertues. For by thilke way
He may the vices done away.
For they to-gider may nought d
For as the water of the welle
Of fire abateth the malice,
Right so vertu fordoth the vice.
Ayein envie is charite,
Whiche is the moder of pite,
That maketh a mannes herte tender,
That it may no malice engender
In him, that is inclined therto.
For his corage is tempred so,
That though he might him self releve,
Yet wolde he nought another greve,
But rather for to do plesaunce
He bereth him selven the grevaunce,
So fain he wolde another ese.
Wherof, my sone, for thin ese
Now herken a tale, whiche I rede,
And understonde it well I rede.
Hic ponit confessor Among the bokes of latin
exemplum de virtute
charitatis contra invi- I finde it writ of Constantin,
diam et narrat den
Constantino Elene fi- The worthy emperour of Rome,
lio, qui cum imperii Such infortunes to him come,
obtinuerat, a morbo Whan he was in his lusty age,
lepre infectus, medici
pro fanitate recupe- The lepre caught in his visage
randa ipsum in fan-
guine puerorum maf- And so forth over all aboute,
propofuerant,fed cum That he ne mighte riden oute.
» left he bothe shield and spere,
s he that might him nought bestere,
ind helde him in his chamber close.
'hrough all the world the fame arose.
The grete clerkes ben assent
ind com at his commaundement
To tret upon this lordes hele.
jo longe they to-gider dele,
Chat they upon this medicine
Appointen hem and determine,
That in the maner as it stood
They wolde him bath in childes blood
Withinne seven winter age.
For as they sain, that shulde assuage
The leper and all the violence,
Which that they knewe of accidence
And nought by way of kinde is falle.
And therto they accorden alle
As for finall conclusion
And tolden her opinion
To themperour. And he anone
His counseil toke, and therupon
With letters and with seales out
They send in every londe about
The yonge children for to seche,
Whose blood, they said, shulde be leche
For themperours maladie.
There was inough to wepe and crie
Among the moders, whan they herde,
How wofully this cause ferde.
innumera multitudo matrum cum filiis huiufmodimedicine causa in circuitu palacii affuisset imperatorque eorum gemitus et clamores percepisset, charitate motus ingemiscens fic ait: Overe eft ipse dominus, qui se facit fervum pietatis. Et his dictis itatum suum cunctipotentis medele committens, sui ipsius morbum pocius quam infancium mortem benignius elegit,unde ipfe, qui antea paganus et leprosus extiterat, ex unda baptifmatis renatus utriufque materie tam corporis quam anime divino miraculo consecutus eft falutem.
But netheles they moten bowe,
And thus women there come inowe,
With children soukend on the tete
Tho was there many teres lete.
But were hem liefe or were hem loth,
The women and the children both
Into the paleis forth be brought
With many a sory hertes thought
Of hem, whiche of her body bore
The children hadde, and so forlore
Within a while shulden fe.
The moders wepe in her degre
And many of hem a swoune falle,
The yonge babies crieden alle.
This noise arose, this lorde it herde
And loked out, and how it ferde
He sigh, and as who faith abraide
Out of his Nepe and thus he faide :
O thou divine purveaunce,
Which every man in the balaunce
Of kinde haft formed to be liche,
The pouer is bore as is the riche
And dieth in the same wise,
Upon the fole, upon the wise
Siknesse and hele enter comune,
May none escheue that fortune,
Which kinde in her lawe hath sette.
Her strengthe and beaute ben besette
To every man aliche free,
That the preferreth no degree
As in the disposicion
Of bodely complexion.
and eke of soule resonable
The pouer childe is bore as able
To vertue as the kinges sone.
For every man his owne wone
After the lust of his assay
The vice or vertue chese may.
Thus stonden alle men fraunchised,
But in estate they ben devised,
To some worship and richesse,
To some pouerte and distresse.
One lordeth and an other serveth,
But yet as every man deserveth
The world yeveth nought his yeftes here.
But certes he hath great matere
To ben of good condicion,
Whiche hath in his subjection
The men, that ben of his semblaunce.
And eke he toke his remembraunce,
How he that made lawe of kinde
Wolde every man to lawe binde
And bad a man, suche as he wolde,
Toward him self right such he sholde
Toward an other done also.
And thus this worthy lord as tho
Set in balaunce his owne estate
And with him self stood in debate
And thoughte, howe it was nought good
To se so mochel mannes blood
Be spilt by cause of him alone.
He sigh also the grete mone Of that the moders were unglad And of the wo the children made, Wherof that all his herte tendreth And such pite within engendreth, That him was lever for to chese His owne body for to lese, Than se so great a mordre wrought Upon the blood, which gilteth nought. Thus for the pite, whiche he toke, All other leches he forsoke And put him out of aventure Alonly into goddes cure And faith: who that woll maister be He mot be servaunt to pite. So ferforth he was overcome With charite, that he hath nome His counseil and his officers, And badde unto his tresorers, That they his trefour all about Departe among the pouer route Of women and of children both, Wherof they might hem fede and cloth And saufly tornen home ayein Withoute loss of any grein. Through charite thus he dispendeth His good, wherof that he amendeth The pouer people and countrevaileth The harm, that he hem so travaileth.