Of the Wombe of this Moral Ymage

Capitulo xxxiiii

`Ferthermore now apperteyneth to speken of the wombea of this ymage, whiche oweth to dispense to all the membres norysshement by the receytes whiche he vnderfongeth, and for to make distribucions by dyuerse maner wyse for to kepe and saue the body in hele and strengthe, and mayntene the lyf.

`Now is it soo, that the gouernement of a reame was first founden and establysshed by the comunes generally for all and for eueriche in speciall, so that it shold be admynystred and executed by suche as were of grettest bounte and of moost redy wyt, that couthe taken hede of alle, as wel of tho that ben bynethen as tho that ben aboue, makynge suche distribucions, so that eueriche haue that hym oweth. And no defaute be founden in theyr parte, soo that the members languysshe nought, ne falle nought at meschyef, for lacke of theyr gouernaunce.

`As for this office ben ordeyned and establysshed in euery countre specially certeyne offycers - yere by yere chaunged, for the more sykerness - whiche that we clepen shirreues, whiche that hauen the pryncipalte for the tyme in gouernaunce of theyr owne countre. And they shalle ben suche as ben enheryted and enhabyted in the same countre.

`To these it belongeth for to loke that vytaylers done duely theyr deuoyre, that marchauntes be wel gouerned, that labourers be at resonable wages, that tylthers be not oppressid ne let theyr occupacion, withouten whiche the reame may nought enduren, that other dyuerse craftis at resonable prys doo that to them bylongeth. And [83r] though ther be other offycers in this land ordeyned in special for suche occupacions, yet by reson of good gouernaunce the shyrreue sholde haue the pryncipall ouersight for to see and knowe that eueriche doo his deuoyre, for at the yeres ende he rekeneth for alle.

`This wombe muste ben of bras, whiche that is a myghty metal, & stronge and wonder hyhe sownynge. But it draweth soone ruste, yf it be not clensid. Of bras in olde tyme men made alle theyr money, and soo they done in somme place yet to this day, wherfor the money of bras tooke his name and was cleped es, that is, bras.

`So shold suche offycers ben stronge and myghty for to done execucion of lawe vpon forfetours, and for to oppressen brybours and extorcioners, soo that the poure peple be nought ouer led with tyrannye. They shold be hyhe sownynge for to speke for the peple, so that they be nought mysfaren ne ouercharged with ouer sore seruyce, ne by vnesy lordes.

`And soothe it is that these offycers bilongeth for to punysshe mysdoers by taxyng of money more than by bodely peynes. And of suche multacions and of al other reuenues that to the kynge bylongen in his countre, he muste yeue rekkenynge before the kynges offycers, soo that the ende of his offyce is accountes of money, wherfor skylfully he may be cleped a wombe of bras. But hit nedeth that suche an offycer be oftymes chaunged, for els wylle they ruste and drawen corrupcion by couetyse, and soo ful vntrewely shalle they doo theyr deuoyre.