here foloweth of the appel tree

capitulo secundo

'Now take hede & here, for first wyll I telle the of this appel tree, er than I telle ought of this fayr appel, & I shal telle [58v] the fro whens it come and how it ymped.

`What tyme that Adam hadde eten of the appell, to grete harme of hym self & alle his yssue after hym, the pepyns of that appel he plantid withynne his owne hert, wherfore his trees or braunches spryngynge of the pepyns were bycomen wylde and vnfructuous, in to the tyme that vpon this braunche was ymped a graf that was taken fro a free appel tree and a fructuous.

`Soothly, the appel whiche that Adam ete was of a ful good tree, and the fruyt it self full good fayre and swete, al be it that hit was of hym mystaken and eten oute of tyme. But for as moche as Adam was nought soo well disposyd to etyng of this appel, as it had ben nedeful for inconuenyence of the season in which he receyued it, the pepyns myght nought kyndely, as they shold, renewen in to a good appeltree, wherof hit befelle that in these pepyns was bredde a worme, and closid withynne Adams herte the vnthryfty vyce of disobedyence, whiche worme soo had forfaren these pepyns and corrumped them withynne, that they myght nought kyndely sprynge to a fayre appel tree, but to fowle buskes and wylde that myght nought fructyfyen no holsome ne lusty fruyte, but bytter and vnsauoury, whiche fruyte the Mayster Gardyner ne wold nought putte amonge his other store among his other fruyte, but he caste it to the swyne of Helle in to the tyme that it lyked to the Hyghe Lord to ympen a good graf, as is byfore said, whiche that was to hym ful dere and precious, and taken fro that ryal and worshypful roote Iesse.

`Nought withstandynge that this rote was wylde, lyke that other, yet spronge therof this roote soo noble a braunchea, that was ordeyned and predestynate by the blessynge of the Good Lord for to receyuen exempcion of this forsayd wyldenesse after that hit were graffed vppon the stokke, vppon the whiche hit sholde be ympyd.

`This stok was that noble and trewe and vertuous wyf Seynt Anne, vppon whiche ful couenably was ympyd that noble forsaid braunche oure Blessid Lady, whiche that we clepen the Souerayne Solace, and the welle of saluacion of the kynd of man, whiche that God des­poilled and made very clene, and naked of al maner vyce and corrupcion whiche that come by nature of this roote, fully halewed and preserued fro all maner tatches of Synne Orygenal and other, so that when that this graffe had taken kynde and moysture of this forsaid stock on whiche hit was [59r] ympyd, it bycome a ful swete and couenable appeltree, for to beren good free fruyte, agreable and holsome to the etyng of ony wel disposid creature. An appel eyther fruyte of more noble valewe or more worthy prys ne was there neuer none than this gentyll appel tree brought forth after a fewe yeres.

`Sothely this was the very tree in vnderstandynge, wherof wrote Danyell
48 the prophete, whiche that Nabugodonosor sawe in his slepe, standyng in myddes of the Erthe, soo that fro euery parte of the world euery creature that nede hadde, myght, yf hym lyst, behold it to his hertes solace and comforte, soo ferforth that excusen hym self ne may none at al, that he ne maye ful lyghtely fynden this tree, yf that hym lyst for to loken to ward.

`Ful many trees there ben, that nowhere ben knowen but only in the countre where that they growen. But this tree the Good Lord hath sette, as seyth Ezechyel
49, in myddes of his people, al londes abouten hit, soo that who soo hath ony thyng to done, he maye ful well and easyly fynde it; he faileth not therof, wherof seith Seynt Bernard50 her owne subtil clerke: in hyr as in a myroure that standeth in the myddes euery creature may setten his syght in what place or parte that he be ynne, in Heuen or in Erthe, al thylke that haue be or shalle ben herafter, yf that hym lyketh to geten here Grace and hyr benyuolence.

`This tree also is the wondre stronge and myghty,
aretchyng in to Heuen, soo that she suffyseth to sustene and to bere al tho, that wyllen resten and lene them seluen to hyr. And fynally, she wylle, and also she may, senden Grace fro Heuen ful redyly, as often as it nedeth. She hath hyr reward and beholdynge aboute by all the Erth, soo that she knoweth and seeth euery mannes herte of tho that here biseketh, whether that it be of hole entent or elles. She knoweth what they ben, and how they demenen the dayes of theyr lyues, and what weyes they wenden, be it ryght or other.

`Here wordes ben leues of ful huge beaute, and all that she seeth, hit is full of amyable, ful swete, and ful lusty, enlumyned all with Souerayn Charyte. And wondre wele she maye kepen and byshadowen vnder hyr fayr braunches al tho that ben wery of theyr laboure. Vnder this tree dwellen al beestes, for why al that lyuen bestyally, encombred with synnes, vnder hyr shadowe they ben fauoured and spared and longe tyme
forboreb, to that ende that they maye take better auysement for to amenden theym seluen withouten fowle rebukynge or hastenesse of vengeaunce.

`In here lusty bowes and here [59v] fayre braunches, that is, in hyr plentyous benefetys, the birdes of Heuene ben alwey conue­rsauntc. That ben spyrituel men, that ben contemplatyf and hauen sette theyr hertes in heyghte and drawen them oute of this moddy Erthe.

`This tree is so fructuous, that al folk ben refresshed and fulfylled euery day and euery houre. Noo tyme ne fayleth them therof, but yf it be long vppon theyr owne slouthe. This fruyte is the appel, with whiche men must pleyen them to auoyden theyr heuynesse.

`This tree that bare this appel, she bare neuer no moo, ne neuer shalle herafter. And now is she discharged therof, and shalle no more beren it. But it must be restored to the tree that Adam despoylled, in stede of the appel that he ete, wherof we haue spoken and more mote herafter. And ryght it is that thou knowe clerely how that this drye tree was restablysshed, and how the forsaid appel was restored, withoute whiche restitucion Adam, ne none of his lynage, ne myght nought be quyte of the surfet of thylk noyous appell, whiche he thus hadde spoylled fro this tree, and eten it ageyne the wylle of the Souerayne Gardyner.