Here Mercy Pledyth for the Sowle
`Syre Prouost', quod she, `I
haue wel herde and sene how that Reason, Trouthe and
Iustyce haue spoken in this mater, and haue ententyfly herkened to theyr wordes, wherfore I requyre yow that I also wel may
haue wilful audyence for the poure partye. For yf I
dyde not my deuoyre & myn
offyce, sothly my name that am clepeth,
as ye wele knowe wele, Misericord, I bere it but in
'Good skyle it is that Iustyce and Trouthe att al tymes be seruyd. And sothely Reason wylle that I with my swetnesse modefye and amende the rygoure of ryghtwysnesse. Ye knowe wel, Syre Iuge, that by the weye that men mote nedes passe, ther nys no pylgrym that goth so redyly but that oftymes he mote foruoyen. And somtyme he muste passe by foule weyes. Neuertheles somme more and somme lesse fayleth in this wyse, and eueryche knoweth wel that here is now present, there was neuer yet no pylgrym so holy ne parfyte, that he ne had oftymes erryd and fayled in his weye, excepte the Souerayne Lord that ones bycome a trauaylour and a pylgrym to teche men the weye. For er the tyme that he hadde done this, there was neuer pylgrym that acheuyd parfytely the ende of his iourne. I excepte also the Souerayne Lady his owne blessid Moder, to whom was neuer erthly creature able to be resembled. [23r] But this iourney was only done by my purueaunce, at whiche tyme it is not her vnknowen.
`Dame Iustyce, that now is here present, withsaid me ful sore and let me ful long of my purpoos. Nought for thy at the laste we felle to accord. And soo hope I at this tyme, that we shal also here in your presence of thynge that I shal seye ayenst hir rigour, whiche is somwhat ouerstraite bent vpon this mater.
`Sith it soo is that this Blessid Lord Ihesu Crist somtyme soo ferforth remittid his rigour, descendinge downe to the Erthe out of his heuenly trone to helpe wesshe and releue his peple, whiche the wretchyd horrible owle of Helle had drawen out of their nest, hit semyth me that good reason wylle that tho, whiche ben subgettes to this Souerayne Lord, owen for to drawen hym after his example. Yow selue thenne, that sytteth here as iuge in this present assyse, oweth, as me semeth, holde and sewe the maner and the guyse of this Noble Lorde, namely in youre iugementes. Also ye owe for to helpe and defende fro this cursyd owle pryncipally al tho that bere skryp and burdon, and haue kept it manfully to theyr weyes ende.
`Now apperceyue I wel that it standeth thus, that this present pylgrym hath done his deuoyr duely at al tymes in kepynge his scrip and his burdone. And also be it that he hath at some tyme erryd and mysgone, and ben empechyd in his forseyde iourney, as it is knowen in this Court, yet hath he douteles done some maner of penaunce & withdrawen hym often fro euyl for loue of his Creatour. And at somme tyme the ensamples of other seyntes - though it soo be that he ne hath nought done as they dyde - that whylome were feruent in the loue of Crist by vertue of his Passyon and of his Blessed Blood, that at thylk tyme was yet newe shed, al smokyng hoote, for ryght as fyre warmeth and eschaufeth tho that stonde nyhe wel more than other that stonde after, ryght soo thylke hooly men that were nye that tyme hadde more encheson, and more Heuenly receyued by vertu of this Precyous Bloode, than these that now ben come so long tyme therafter, al be it that the vertu of his Passion nouther passyth ne dispendyth. For why though this pylgrym haue nought gouerned so hym, ne wonder I nought. This seye I not in purpoos to excuse him, for wel I wote as muche is he byhalden to his Lord as tho that shedde for him al theyr herte blood, and dyde for his sake, wherfor I seye to my purpoos that this forsayd pylgrym oweth nought to be furclosyd fro the Grete Grace whiche oure Lord Ihesu dyde to synful men, [23v] what tyme that he suffred dethe for their redempcyon, whiche Grace withouten ony fayle shal endure for euer.
`My Souerayne Lady also, whiche that bere hym in hyr Blessyd Body and norysshed with her mylke, ne may nought ne wylle not suffre it yf soo is that it come to hyr knowyng. For why she is for synners specyal aduocate syth tyme that she receyued the salutacion of Gabryel Archangel, that seid to her "Heyl Mary, ful of Grace"22;, she hath receyued of that salutacion, that she ther by conceyued Goddes Sone of Heuene, wherby she gat that power to do what she wold in chaungyng his rygour in to pyte and swetnesse to that ende that synners, whiche by rigour of Iustyce shold be dampnyd, mowe be taken hooly in to the Lordys Grace, wherfor, Syre Prouost, ye owe not by suche rygour punysshe this pylgrym, and namely in peyne withoute ende.'