Of Two Wonderful
Images, One Armed,
and Another Naked, Whiche the Sowle Sawe
Capitulo Visesimo Nono
Many suche thynges
tolde me this wyse Lady, whiche I haue now no
tymea to rehercen. Soo
thenne wente we forthe, myn angel & I, and at the
last I saw before me a wonder machynament and a
meruaylous. Two ymages huge of
fourme were set in hyhe place. That one ymage was
lyke to a lusty knyght syttynge vppon horsback,
showynge first by manere of his contenaunce, and
semyd al redy for to wage bataylle.
That other ymage was wonderfull, as I shal shewe
And nought ne wyst I what hit wold mene, but as I asked of myn aungel, neuertheles I me remembrid of the statua which Nabugodonosor78 somtyme sawe in his sweuenynge, and soo was this resembled therto by the text of the Scripture. [76r] This ymage was huge of quantite and grysly to behold, and had the hede of fyn gold, the armes and the breste of clene pured syluer, the wombe and the thyes of bras, the legges al of yren and of erthe. Thenne ganne I to behold toward myn aungel in purpoos to asken hym what this sygnyfyed.
`Full wel', quodb he, `hast thou long tyme passid seen them and redde in the book of Danyel78, how that Nabugodonosor somtyme lay thenkynge in his bedde how that his royamme and his peple myght be gouerned, treted, and demened, soo that it myght be to his own hertes reste and worshyp to withouten. Soo was hit shewed hym in his slepe of the Lordes Grace by interpretacion of the prophete Danyel to knowe how that it stood for the tyme present, and it shold standen after his dayes, how that his reame shold be wasted and destroyed, what ende it shold take, and in whoos handes it shold bycome.
`The facione and the fourme of this forsaid ymage hast thou sene thy self in this present statua, and by the declaracion of the hooly prophete this statua or this ymage signyfyed the same kynge Nabugodonosor, whiche had an heede of gold, to that ende that alle kynges and emperours, and al that hauen estate of gouernaunce, therof sholden taken theyr ensamples to vsen good gouernement.
`Take good heede now what I shalle seye to the. As I haue lerned and herd seyen byfore, this word statua, whiche that we transumen into Englysshe, that is to mene "an image". Hit cometh of this Latyn word statuo, that is to seyn, as for to ordeyne setten or stablysshe a thynge to be nought remeuyd oute of his place, but for to standen stedfastly alweye permanable. And therof ordynaunces of pryuate lawes in reames and in comynaltees ben cleped statutes, for they sholde be stabelly kepte and obserued, euer withouten chaungynge.
`Hit was somtyme ordeyened and establysshed to that ende that a kyng shold ben in remembraunce to alle tho that were his lyeges, that ther sholde be made an image also nyhe resemblynge to the kyng of the countre as ony crafty man couthe cast or countrefeten, that for as moche as the kyng myght nought in alle places be present, ne his persone myght come to the syght of comyn peple, they shold bihold that image, by whiche syght they sholden be adred for to disobeyen or rebellen ageynst the lawes.
`And this ymage shold representen the kynges estate to euery mans herte as though he said to hym in this maner wyse: suche is your kyng; this is his land. Beware, for he wylle be wroken of his enemyes [76v] and tho that disobeyen hym. And trewely, ful sothe it is that the moste parte of kynges and gouernours that haue ben in oure dayes ben lyke to the dede ymages, as to ony comforte or help of the people and trewe mayntenaunce of the iust lawes. They faren right as done weryels of ymages made of clothe stopped with strawe, that holdith in his hand a bowe bent to fere awey the foules oute of the corne. But soothly they sheten neuer shotte, ne they done none execucion vpon extorcioners, ne tyrauntes that falsely oppressyn his peple, ne nought els he rewardeth, but only that his persone be mayntened myghtely in honour and worshyp, and who that ought seith or doth that therto repugneth, he nys but Dethes mete.
`But the wyse kyng Salamon in his book Ecclesiasticus79 writeth and saith ryght thus: "The gouernaunce of the wyse man is euer ferme and stable; suche as is the iuge, such ben his iugementes. Suche as is the kyng eyther lord of the cyte, suche is the peple. An vnwyse kyng or gouernour lesith his people, but by the wytte of a suffysauntc souerayne the peple is saued and defended." Wherfore I seye: the werkes of a gouernoure ben properly his statua or his ymage, fourmed and depynted to his lykenesse by maner of his gouernaunce, whiche must nedes be open to al his peple, be it one or other. Ne he ne shalle nought ben of power, be he neuer so myghty, for to werne the peple iugen his ymage pryuely amonges them, and for to descryuen to the vttermest, be it good or badde.
`Of this statua or ymage it is, that men of hyhe power ben cleped men of estate, for they standen alwey open to the people by maner of theyr gouernaunce that they vsen - better or werse. And euery persone of estate shold ryghtwysly bere that name of estate by stablenes of his gouernaunce.
`And yf he be nought stable, but varyaunt and flyttyng fro veray stedfastnes, thenne bereth he the name of estate after statua that is an ydole or an ymage that nothyng auaileth. Of suche a persone or gouernour speketh the prophete Ysaye in repreuyng his vnthriftynesse, and seyth: O pastor et ydolum domus Israel 80: O thou wretchyd herd and fals feder of the hows Israel, that arte clothed with gold and sette in huge arraye. Alle folke the alouteth and obeyeth, and thou arte veyne, and voyde of al maner of vertue, ryght as an ymage that nought hath of manlyhede, but only of lykenesse by maner of shap withouten.
`Wherfore suche persones of estate shold bere theyr name of stabylnesse, & al that they seyde or dyde shold be of suche delyberacion [77r] that it myght be taken for autoryte of lawe, right as a statute ordeyned and sette to rewle the people. And yf so be that a kynges wordes and werkes be of suche sadnes and lawes keped stably withouten ony cauyllacions or fals fauoure of persones or couetyse of propre lucre, thenne is thilk estate trewely deryued of this Latyn word sto, that is to seyne: stand & stably abide euer in one by very constaunce of his free courage. And thenne is this statua able to be honoured & dred of the peple
`In this maner of stabilite stood neuer Nabugodonosor, ne neuer had his ymage suche honour ne worship, but yf it were of iapers and flaterers.
`But, shortely for to speke, by the stablenes of the statutes of a kynge or prynce wel kepte & mayntened to gouernaunce of the peple, the gouernour is knowen and in contynuel remembraunce many dayes after, and leueth as it were behynd hym a statua or an ymage ofd his allowable and sadde condicions, wherfore euery kynge and gouernoure hath grete mater and cause that their statua be soo wel portreyed by their good maners and sadnes of gouernancee, that it maye be loued and honoured of the peple. For no doute he standeth in soo open place, that euery man full ofte casteth to hym his eye beholdyng thereupon, preisinge it or blamyng in his herte, after that hym semeth he duely hath deserued.'
`The emperour Constantynf somtyme said in this wise as touchyng this mater: "In the more heyhe place of estate that we ben set amonges other men, the more clerely be we sene and apperceiued of euery mans eye, wherfore all thyng that we seyen or done shold ben att al tymes good and commendable, that noo repreef were founden therin."
`This Constantyn, by his maner of seyng, sith he hath soo hye estate as emperour and cheef of the world in temporel gouernaunce, he wold establisshe soo hym seluen and his lawes, that no man fynde in hym noo manere of defaute, but that euery wight preised and blessid bothe hym and his lawes. For why euery good kynge is preised by the exampler figure or statua of his good condicion, and knowen therby, right as a man is knowen by his visage.
`And therfor, this haue I said, and yet seye, that a kyng or prynce that hath a reaume to rewle and to gouerne, he maye no better shewe hym self to his peple, ne putt hym self in knowlege, than by his good and vertuous gouernement, by the whiche he shall be honoured and worshiped, either els by his euyll gouernement be blamed and dispreised. If he be a tyraunt, he shalle ben hated and despised. If he be lachesse of [77v] his lawes, men wyll scorne hym as a dede ymage that of nought ne seruyth.