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[ 394 ]



Som tyme this world was so stedfast and stable
That mannes word was obligacioun,
And now hit is so fals and deceivable,
That word and deed, as in conclusioun,
Ben no-thing lyk, for turned up so doun       5
Is al this world for mede and wilfulnesse,
That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.

What maketh this world to be so variable
But lust that folk have in dissensioun?
Among us now a man is holde unable,       10
But-if he can, by som collusioun,
Don his neighbour wrong or oppressioun.
What causeth this, but wilful wrecchednesse,
That al is lost, for lak of stedfastnesse?

Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable;       15
Vertu hath now no dominacioun,
Pitee exyled, no man is merciable.
Through covetyse is blent discrecioun;
The world hath mad a permutacioun
[ 395 ]Fro right to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelnesse,       20
That al is lost, for lak of stedfastnesse.

Lenvoy to King Richard.

O prince, desyre to be honourable,
Cherish thy folk and hate extorcioun!
Suffre no thing, that may be reprevable
To thyn estat, don in thy regioun.       25
Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun,
Dred God, do law, love trouthe and worthinesse,
And wed thy folk agein to stedfastnesse.       28


The MSS are: Harl. (Harl. 7333); T. (Trin. Coll. R. 3. 20); Ct. (Cotton, Cleop. D. 7); F. (Fairfax 16); Add. (Addit. 22139); Bann. (Bannatyne); and others. Th. = Thynne (1532). I follow Ct. chiefly. The title Balade is in F.

1. Ct. Sumtyme. Ct. F. the; Harl. T. Add. this. Ct. worlde. 2. Ct. worde. 3. Ct. nowe it; false; deseiuable. 4. Ct. worde; dede. 5. Harl. T. Beon; Add. Ar; Ct. Is; F. Ys. Ct. lyke. 6. Ct. all; worlde. 8. Ct. worlde; veriable. 9. Ct. folke; discension. 10. The MSS. have For among vs now, or For nowe a dayes; but Bann. omits For, which is not wanted. 11. Bann. Harl. T. Th. collusion; Ct. F. Add. conclusioun (but see l. 4). 12. Ct. Do; neyghburgh. 15. Ct. putte. 17. Ct. Pite. 18. Ct. Thorugh. 19. Ct. worlde. T. F. Add. Th. a; Bann. ane; Ct. om.

20. Ct. trought; F. trouthe. Title. T. Lenvoye to Kyng Richard; F. Harl. Th. Lenvoy. 22. Ct. honurable. 23. Ct. Cherice thi. 25. Ct. thine estaat doen; thi. 26. Ct. Shewe; swerde. 27. Ct. Drede; truthe. 28. Ct. thi; ayen. Ct. Th. add Explicit.