The Legges of this Ymage

Capitulo xxxvi

`The legges of this ymage shold be made of yren. The legges owen for to suffren peyne & besynesse to susteyne alle the body. They ben as it were pylers berynge al the byrthyn of the edefyce. The knees ben the capitals, and the feete the bases that beren euerydele, by the whiche thynges thou myghte skylfully see and vnderstande that good knyghtes and good squyers, burgeyses and marchaunts, they ben the capitalles and knees of this ymage, by gouernaunce of the whiche the reaume is mayntened in honoure and prosperyte. The legges bynethen ben the good peple, bolde and defensable in armes, and [84r] also good archers & balysterers, whiche is the stuffe and strengthe of the reame, to saue them fro assautes of theyr enemyes.

`These mowe wel be cleped pylers of yren, for in yren and steele lyeth pryncipally the defence of euery reame or countre. The honour and worshyp of this maner of peple oweth not to ben acounted of richesse of worldly catel, of fresshe array of clothynge, of syluer harneys, ne wantonesse of his owne persone. But the honour of suche peple is clene forbed harneys, nayles to bea borste, sheldes to beb sheuered, speres to >bec broken, helme and palet to bed beten and forbruysed, and many markes of woundes on his owne persone.

`This is wel more apperteynent to worshyp of a worthy knyght or squyer than is a thycke chosen garnement, a traylyng gowne of twelue yerdes wyde, solempnly dagged with huge bagge sleues, for sith suche maner array come first a place, worshyp is aleyde, and neuer shal retourne till that suche lewdnesse be left, as worship be acounted as was in old tyme, as is before said, in manfulnes of dedes.

`For soothly, suche manere of peple ben no legges of yren, but rather they mowe be cleped legges of cloutes, as childeren maken popetis for to pleyen with whyle they ben yongee. And sikerly it is a fowle inconuenyent to a reame, and a sory goouernaunce, when the peple of the land shall be cherisshed to wantonnesse and nicete of suche childes lustes, tylle that they ben so tendre that they mowe nought sustene nother cold ne hete, honger ne thurst, ne they ben nothynge worthy tille the bely be ful; and thenne they moote slepe.

`And in defaute of suche fooles men muste sende in to straunge landes for soudiours to kepen the countre, for they shall neuer put them self in perille for the land so wel as they that ben naturell born and norysshed vpon the same erth. For they ben but staues and potences, taken for to sustene the body by cause of feble legges. And in such potentes is ful litil trist at the tyme of nede, for they comen thyder only for to robbe, wasten, and destroyen the goodes, and no thyng for loue of the contref.

`Therfor these yren legges shold be cherysshed in that wyse, that they myght ben able myghtely to bere and sustene the byrthen of the body. The lesse they conne lyue by, and the more they conne suffren of hard, preyse them the better and hald the more worthy.