Reson Pledeth ageyne the Sely Sowle

Capitulo xxvº

Thenne biganne Reson for to speke,  whome I had as yett not herde speke bifore. `There is none', quod she, `That maye ayene seye that Iustice hath purposid. Ful wel hadde Grace Dieu shewed the right weye to this pilgrim. Ful clerely hath she told hym bifore that his owne flesshe was his owne enemy, and he wold deceiue him but he kepte hym selue. She taught him ful pleynly how that he shold saue and defend him self in eschewing of the places and snares of his enemye. As touchyng [22r] the world and al his vanyte, I sey in this wyse: That yf he had wel and thryftely kepte his fyue wyttes, closyng them and byndyng with double and treble boundes and crossyd his spyrit with good deuoute prayer as he that sawe hym selue in his daungera , he myght ful wel haue auoyed his grete meschyef and perylous dysese. I can nought see by no thyng that here is seyd att this tyme, that he ne hath deseruyd the deth. Now Trouthe', quod she', `Seyth what you semyth in this mater.'

Thenne ansuerid Trouthe, and sayd in this wise: `Al that ye haue said, it is ful trewe and rightwys, for sothly excusacion maye hym none auaile. For why if he had his mysdede shewde to his Lady Dame Penytaunce and tolde hir of his estate, soo that she hadde bathyd hym, bowkid hym, and strongly wesshen hym, than myght hym nought haue failed of skilful excusacion. And so shold he haue founden fauour in this iugement.

`But sothe it is, though it so be that he hath at somtyme presentid hym self to that Lady, he hath ful litel tyme abiden in hir bathe, withoute teris of his eye or hertely contricion. And litel sauour had he had therinne. But feined contenaunce ne failed nought, lest he were repreuyd and markyd of the peple.

`He hath also done his enioynte withouten ony peyne or enforcyng of sorowful hert, withoute withdrawynge fro his euyl custommes in purpoos at the doyng of his penaunce for to retorne to his rather foly.

`And suche penaunce that torneth and retorneth may wel be resembled to the whele of a mylle that lyghtly torneth alwey to ther that he bygan. For thy on hym is falle the sentence of the Sauter: In circuitu impii ambulant
21; the wycked goth alwey in compas, retornyng fro synne to penaunce & eft fro theyr penaunce to synne agayne. And suche manere of penaunce is nought but scornyng of penaunce, ne hath but wrong his name, wherfor this pylgrym hath deseruyd his deth by ryghtwys iugement'