Wretchyd Sowles Ben Defourmyd Thorugh Dedely
Howe shall I saye yowe
how this carful companye
sodeynly was defourmed, that it was a grysely
syghte to beholde vppon theym. Somme of them were
horned as boolys, somme of
them tothyd as boores. Somme theyr eyen semyd
hangynge vppon theyr chekes. Somme hadden longe
hoked clawes, lyke as they hadde ben lyons. Somme
hadde greete bolned
belyes. And somme theyr rygges
euery dele forrotyd,
soo that theyr bowels hengyn oute, drawynge
after them vppon the bare erthe. Somme had feete
al forgnawen and
bounden as they were al forbroken. A wonder
hydous sight it was to byholde. Ful fewe there
were or none, that his toes or the more parte
were maymed or rotyd of.
And whanne I sawe this horryble syghte, my herte tremblyd for drede, and I beganne ful pytously to beholde myn Aungel to aske hym of al this thynge. Thenne sayd he to me in this manere wyse:
`A wondre huge Grace haste thou founden in oure Lord Ihesu Cryste whanne he delyuerd the froo this vnthryfty companye that dampned is and soo hydously defourmed be cause of theyr synnes. These that ben horned ben prowde men and desdeynous, that settyn att nought al other men [36r] and holdyth al other vnwyse but only them seluen. And now for theyr fyers condycions of prowde auauncynge they ben caste a bak in to endeles dampnacion.
`These other whoos eyen hangen doune vpon theyr chekes, that ben suche caytyfs that by enuyous lokyng & byholdyng on other mennes prosperite euer had theyr ioye of other mennes meschyef and peyne of theyr welthes, wherfore theyr eyen be fallen oute of theyr hedes. What tyme that thou somtyme or this mettist with Enuye, that loked asquynt, she enformed the plenerly of al her fowle condicion.
`Thou haste not yet foryeten these other that ben tothyd lyke to hydous bores. They haue be mansleers and morderers in wylle or in dede, wretchyd folke and irous, ful of venym, of rancour, and of hate, neyhe to whoos company no man maye endure by cause of their teeth; soo bytterly they byten.
`These that hauen their nayles hoked and catchyng, they be coueytous men that euer ben besy by many dyuerse wyse by falshede, sleyth, & by extorcion to gaderen to them seluen other mennes goodes, wherof enfourmed the Couetyse when that thou mettist with her.
`These with the grete bolned belyes ben tho that of nought elles taken hede but only that theyr wombes were farsed ful of dyuerse delycacyes tyl that they myght noo more.
`These that haue theyr backes forrotyd31, they ben lecherous folys that had al delite in theyr flesshely lykynge.
`These other with the broken fete and legges, they ben slouthful men and neclygent aboute theyr owne gouernance.
`Now byholde and see with goode auysement vpon these folkes that thus ben defourmed. And loke were thou were fayre and semely, what tyme thou were in suche array, what tyme that thou passydest in thy pilgremage.'
`What seye ye' quod I thenne, `I was neuer, as I trowe, of suche facyon dysfygured in this wyse so foule.'
Quod myn Aungel: `What is hit that thou seyst? What is hit, thenne, that thou beryst so trussed in thy fardel? Caste a doune faste, for hit shal be uvnbounden, and thou shalt wel wyte that I haue nought lyed of nought that I haue sayd.'
Anone he vntrussed my fardel, and soone was I taught that sooth was that he seyde. For therynne sawe I greete hornes, longe hoked nayles and despytous sharpe teethe, and ynoughe of suche other fylthe [36v] that shame is to rehercen, with whiche harnoys, had I ben arrayed as these other were, I hade ben as fowle, and perauenture fouler than ony of them alle that I had sene byfore.
`A', quod I to myn owne dere Aungel, `mercy, lete me bynde ayene this vnthryfty fardel , for I haue spoken folyly by cause that I knewe nought my self. Grete foly it is, and huge disauauntage that al these pilgrims that passen by the world in thylk dedely lif ne wylle not byholde and euery daye besene their owne self in a good myrrour, soo that he myght voyden the fowle spottys and wonderful deformytees whiche he shold apperceyuen in his owne persone.'
`Ful sothe it is', quod he, `That thou hast seyd me now. And wel I am remembryd when ther come some tyme to the a marchaunt with a myrrour, whiche when thou haddest beholden and sawest thyne owne fylthe, anone withouten more thou caste it ageyn in the panere.'
`I haue it wel in mynd', quod I. `And now I hold my self a wretche and a caytyf, that I so soone forsoke it.'
`Now here after', quod he, `foryete it nomore, but thynke how moche thou art holden to thy Lord God, that of his grete Grace hath thus lete bynde thy fylthe, and hyd it in thy fardel that they maye be brente nought vpon thy persone, as these other wretches whiche thou hast sene before the dampned in to Helle.'