Here He Seeth Doctryne Lyckyng a Sowle

Capitulo Visesimo Quarto

Whyle that we wente bothe talkynge thus to geders, within a lytel whyle I sawe a lady syttynge in a chair, hauyng oute her tonge and lyckynge a pylgrym that come passynge by hyr, which pylgrym was wonder fowle defourmed and euyl facioned, as it semeth me.

Than spak I to myn angel and seyde: `I merueyled nought soo moche', quod I, `of no thyng that I sawe now a grete whyle, as I doo now of this nyce syght, wherfore I beseke yow telle me what it meneth.'

`Hast thou nought herd speke', quod he, `how beres ben brought forthe al fowle and transformyd? And after that, by lyckynge of the fader and the moder they ben brought in to theyr kyndely shap, soo as thou hast sene them? Ryght so fareth it of euery erthely pylgrym that passeth here by this worldly wey: vnparfyte is he born, defourmed with the fyrst synne of Adam, withouten vertu or connynge or ony discression. Soo is he borne dede, in a maner, withouten lyf, wherof seyth the apostel Seint Powle that our Lord had shewed hym self to hym as to an abortyue
67, defourmed in fylthe.

`Now thenne I sey the for certeyn, what pilgrym that euer hit be, that wylle he be wel fourmed and shapen parfitely, hym nedyth that the tonge of Doctryne & of techyng be occupyed vppon hym, and that he habandounea hym self to the yonder lady what tyme she wylle lycken; that is to seye: teche hym and enfourme.

`And what pilgrym that thus dothe, soothly doth ful wel, by cause that he considereth his owne defourmyte and his imperfecti­on. He enclyneth hym self to the tonge of Doctryne, for soo is she cleped, this lady that thou seest.

`This is the maystresse of mannes informacion to prynten and impressynge connynge and vertu in mannes sowle or herte, [70v] and also for to auoyden cursid vyce, whiche that destroyeth the myght and the rygour of the sowle. The payment to this lady & reward of hir laboure is none other thyng but besy entendement to that that she techeth, for at the begynnynge, as seyth the philosofre, euery sowle is lyke to a newe polysshed table, in whiche noo thyng is depeynted, able to receyue ymages and impressions ful dyuerse and discordauntb, but sothly the ymage that first is impressid, is most likely to abiden and hard to auoiden.

`And yf thou haddest somtyme entended to this scole duely as thou sholdest, thou haddest nought at this tyme now ben here in this presente peyne - at the lest nought suffred soo moche, ne soo long time. For thenne sholdest thou better haue knowen more lustly and goodly to haue gouerned and mayntened thy seluen than thou hast done.

`And hast thou nought in mynde how well and how goodly Grace Dieu had taught the in tyme that is passid? But she fond the soo dulle and soo lothe to hir wordes, that she had also lefe leuen as to preche the ony more, for cause that hir besinesse; auailed nought at al. But thou hast rather ben the wors than ony thyng amendid. And that I be trowed of this that I haue said, we shalle take the right weye to the yonder lady that thou seest, of whiche we ben in speche. And thou shalt here thy self what she wylle seye to the.'