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[ 237 ]

VII. A MORAL BALADE.

BY HENRY SCOGAN, SQUYER.

Here foloweth next a Moral Balade, to my lord the Prince, to my lord of Clarence, to my lord of Bedford, and to my lord of Gloucestre, by Henry Scogan; at a souper of feorthe merchande in the Vyntre in London, at the hous of Lowys Johan.

My noble sones, and eek my lordes dere,
I, your fader called, unworthily,
Sende un-to you this litel tretys here
Writen with myn owne hand full rudëly;
Although it be that I not reverently       5
Have writen to your estats, yet I you praye,
Myn unconning taketh benignëly
For goddes sake, and herken what I seye.

I complayn sore, whan I remembre me
The sodeyn age that is upon me falle;       10
More I complayn my mispent juventè
The whiche is impossible ayein to calle.
[ 238 ]But certainly, the most complaynte of alle
Is for to thinke, that I have been so nyce
That I ne wolde no virtue to me calle       15
In al my youthe, but vyces ay cheryce.

Of whiche I aske mercy of thee, lord,
That art almighty god in majestè,
Beseking thee, to make so even accord
Betwix thee and my soule, that vanitè       20
Of worldly lust, ne blynd prosperitè
Have no lordship over my flesshe so frele.
Thou lord of reste and parfit unitè,
Put fro me vyce, and keep my soules hele.

And yeve me might, whyl I have lyf and space,       25
Me to conforme fully to thy plesaunce;
Shewe upon me th'abundaunce of thy grace,
In gode werkes graunt me perséveraunce.
Of al my youthe forget the ignoraunce;
Yeve me good wil, to serve thee ay to queme;       30
Set al my lyf after thyn ordinaunce,
And able me to mercy, or thou deme!

My lordes dere, why I this complaint wryte
To you, alle whom I love entierly,
Is for to warne you, as I can endyte,       35
That tyme y-lost in youthe folily
Greveth a wight goostly and bodily,
I mene hem that to lust and vyce entende.
Wherfore, I pray you, lordes, specially,
Your youthe in vertue shapeth to dispende.       40

Planteth the rote of youthe in suche a wyse
That in vertue your growing be alway;
[ 239 ]Loke ay, goodnesse be in your exercyse,
That shal you mighty make, at eche assay,
The feend for to withstonde at eche affray.       45
Passeth wysly this perilous pilgrimage,
Thinke on this word, and werke it every day;
That shal you yeve a parfit floured age.

Taketh also hede, how that these noble clerkes
Write in hir bokes of gret sapience,       50
Saying, that fayth is deed withouten werkes;
So is estat withoute intelligence
Of vertue; and therfore, with diligence,
Shapeth of vertue so to plante the rote,
That ye therof have ful experience,       55
To worship of your lyfe and soules bote.

Taketh also hede, that lordship ne estat,
Withoute vertue, may not longe endure;
Thinketh eek how vyce and vertue at debat
Have been, and shal, whyles the world may dure;       60
And ay the vicious, by aventure,
Is overthrowe; and thinketh evermore
That god is lord of vertue and figure
Of al goodnesse; and therfore folowe his lore.

My mayster Chaucer, god his soulë have!       65
That in his langage was so curious,
He sayde, the fader whiche is deed and grave,
Biquath nothing his vertue with his hous
Unto his sone; therfore laborious
Ought ye to be, beseching god, of grace,       70
To yeve you might for to be vertuous,
Through which ye might have part of his fayr place.
[ 240 ]
Here may ye see that vertuous noblesse
Cometh not to you by way of auncestrye,
But it cometh thorugh leefful besinesse       75
Of honest lyfe, and not by slogardrye.
Wherfore in youthe I rede you edefye
The hous of vertue in so wys manere
That in your age it may you kepe and gye
Fro the tempest of worldly wawes here.       80

Thinketh how, betwixë vertue and estat
There is a parfit blessed mariage;
Vertue is cause of pees, vyce of debat
In mannes soule; for which, with ful corage,
Cherissheth vertue, vyces to outrage:       85
Dryveth hem away; let hem have no wonning
In your soules; leseth not the heritage
Which god hath yeve to vertuous living.

Taketh hede also, how men of povre degree
Through vertue have be set in greet honour,       90
And ever have lived in greet prosperitee
Through cherisshing of vertuous labour.
Thinketh also, how many a governour
Called to estat, hath oft be set ful lowe
Through misusing of right, and for errour,       95
Therfore I counsaile you, vertue to knowe.

Thus 'by your eldres may ye nothing clayme,'
As that my mayster Chaucer sayth expresse,
'But temporel thing, that man may hurte and mayme';
Than is god stocke of vertuous noblesse;       100
And sith that he is lord of blessednesse,
And made us alle, and for us alle deyde,
[ 241 ]Folowe his vertue with ful besinesse,
And of this thing herke how my mayster seyde:—

The firste stok, fader of gentilesse,       105
What man that claymeth gentil for to be
Must folowe his trace, and alle his wittes dresse
Vertu to sewe, and vyces for to flee.
For unto vertu longeth dignitee,
And noght the revers, saufly dar I deme,       110
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.

This firste stok was ful of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, sobre, pitous, and free,
Clene of his goste, and loved besinesse
Ageinst the vyce of slouthe, in honestee;       115
And, but his heir love vertu, as dide he,
He is noght gentil, though he riche seme,
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.

Vyce may wel be heir to old richesse;
But ther may no man, as men may wel see,       120
Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse;
That is appropred unto no degree,
But to the firste fader in magestee
That maketh him his heir, that can him queme,
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.       125

Lo here, this noble poete of Bretayne
How hyely he, in vertuous sentence,
The losse in youthe of vertue can complayne;
Wherfore I pray you, dooth your diligence,
For your estats and goddes reverence,       130
T'enprintë vertue fully in your mynde,
That, whan ye come in your juges presence,
Ye be not set as vertules behynde.

Ye lordes have a maner now-a-dayes,
Though oon shewe you a vertuous matere,       135
[ 242 ]Your fervent youthe is of so false alayes
That of that art ye have no joy to here.
But, as a ship that is withouten stere
Dryveth up and doun, withouten governaunce,
Wening that calm wol lastë, yeer by yere,       140
Right so fare ye, for very ignoraunce.

For very shamë, knowe ye nat, by réson
That, after an ebbe, ther cometh a flood ful rage?
In the same wyse, whan youth passeth his séson,
Cometh croked and unweldy palled age;       145
Sone after comen kalends of dotage;
And if your youth no vertue have provyded,
Al men wol saye, fy on your vassalage!
Thus hath your slouth fro worship you devyded.

Boëce the clerk, as men may rede and see,       150
Saith, in his Boke of Consolacioun,
What man desyreth †have of vyne or tree
Plentee of fruit, in the ryping sesoun,
Must ay eschewe to doon oppressioun
Unto the rote, whyle it is yong and grene;       155
Ye may wel see, by this conclusioun,
That youthë vertulees doth mochel tene.

Seeth, there-ayenst, how vertuous noblesse
Roted in youthe, with good perséveraunce,
[ 243 ]Dryveth away al vyce and wrecchednesse,       160
As slogardrye, ryote and distaunce!
Seeth eek how vertue causeth suffisaunce,
And suffisaunce exyleth coveityse!
And who hath vertue hath al abundaunce
Of wele, as fer as reson can devyse.       165

Taketh hede of Tullius Hostilius,
That cam fro povertee to hy degree;
Through vertue redeth eek of Julius
The conquerour, how povre a man was he;
Yet, through his vertue and humanitee,       170
Of many a countree had he governaunce.
Thus vertue bringeth unto greet degree
Eche wight that list to do him entendaunce.

Rede, here-ayenst, of Nero vertulees;
Taketh hede also of proude Balthasar;       175
They hated vertue, equitee, and pees.
Loke how Antiochus fil fro his char,
That he his skin and bones al to-tar!
Loke what meschauncë they had for hir vyces!
Who-so that wol not by these signes be war,       180
I dar wel say, infortunat or nyce is.

I can no more; but here-by may ye see
How vertue causeth parfit sikernesse,
And vyces doon exyle prosperitee;
The best is, ech to chesen, as I gesse.       185
[ 244 ]Doth as you list, I me excuse expresse;
I wolde be sory, if that ye mischese.
God you conferme in vertuous noblesse,
So that through negligence ye nothing lese!

Explicit.


From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1542); collated with A. (Ashmole 59), and Cx. (Caxton); readings also given from H. (Harl. 2251).

Title; from A. (which has folowethe nexst); Cx. has Here next foloweth a tretyse, whiche John Skogan sente vnto the lordes and gentilmen of the kynges hows, exortyng them to lose no tyme in theyr yougthe, but to vse vertues; Th. has Scogan vnto the lordes and gentylmen of the kynges house.

1. Th. A. sonnes. 2. Th. A. vnworthely. 3. Th. lytel treatyse; A. balade folowing. 4. Th. with; A. H. of. 5. Th. H. Although; Cx. And though; A. Yitte howe. 6. Th. A. estates. A. yet; H. Th. Cx. om. 8. Cx. herkne (better). 9. Th. me sore; A. H. om. me. 10. A. H. falle; Th. fal. 11. Th. But more; A. H. Cx. om. But. Th. iuuentute. 12. Th. ayen for; A. ageine. A. H. calle; Th. cal.

13. Th. H. certainly; A. comvnely. Th. A. moste. A. H. alle; Th. al. 14. A. H. for; Th. om. A. beon; Th. be. 15. A. H. no; Th. om. A. vertue; Th. vertues. A. calle; Th. cal. 16. A. ay; Th. aye. 17. A. thee; Th. the. Th. lorde. 18. Th. H. god; A. lorde. 20. Th. Betwyxe; A. Bytwene. 21. A. H. Of; Th. Cx. om. Th. blynde. 22. A. so freel; Th. H. to frele. 23. Th. lorde; perfyte. 24. A. H. Cx. soules; Th. soule. 25. Th. whyle; lyfe. 26. A. H. confourme; Th. confyrme (!). 27. A. H. vpon; Th. to. 28. Th. And in; A. H. om. And. 30. A. thee; Th. the. 31. Th. lyfe. A. H. thy governaunce. 34. A. alle whome; Cx. whom that; Th. whom. Th. moste entyrely; Cx. A. entierly. 36. A. eloste; Th. loste; H. Cx. lost. 37. A. H. goostely and bodely; Th. Cx. bodily and gostly. 38. Th. meane. 39. A. I prey you lordes; Th. lordes I pray you. A. tendrely. 41. Cx. transposes 41-80 and 81-125. A. Plantethe; Th. Cx. Plante.

43. A. ay; Th. alway. 45. Cx. The frende (!) for to withstonde; A. For to withstonde the feonde; Th. The fende to withstande. 46. Th. peryllous; H. perilous. 47. H. Th. Cx. werke; A. vse. 48. Th. parfyte. 50. Th. Writen; A. Wrote. Th. her. Th. great; H. grete; A. noble. 52. So A.; Th. And right so is estate with negligence. 57. A. Then kepe also that. 58. Cx. A. Withoute; Th. Without. 59. Cx. vice; A. H. Th. vices. 60. A. whiles; Th. while. Th. worlde. 61. A. H. ay; Th. Cx. euer. 63. Th. lorde of al; H. A. lord of. 67. Th. sayd that the; A. saide that the; H. Cx. om. that. Th. father; A. H. fader. 68. H. A. Beqwath; Th. Byqueth. Th. house. 69. So A. Cx.; Th. children and therefore laborouse. 70. H. Th. Ought; A. Aught; Cx. Owe. Th. om. to. Th. besekyng; A. beseching. 72. Th. haue; A. H. gete. Th. parte. A. feyre; Th. H. om.

74. A. Comþe. 75. A. thorugh; Cx. thurgh; Th. by. A. leofful; Th. leful; H. leeful. 77. Th. you ye; A. H. om. ye. 78. Th. house. A. soo wyse; Th. H. suche a. 79. Th. om. it. 80. H. A. worldly; Th. worldes. 81. Th. howe betwyxe; A. howe bytwene. 82. Th. parfyte. 84. H. A. for whiche with full; Th. the whiche be ful of. 85. Th. than vertue; A. om. than. 86. A. Cx. om. 1st hem. 87. A. leese; H. lesith. 89. Th. howe. A. poure; Th. poore. 90, 91. Th. great. 92. Th. H. Through; A. By. 94. Th. H. Called; A. Calde. A. offt; H. Th. Cx. om. 95. A. for; Th. H. Cx. of. 96. Th. And therfore; rest om. And. 97. A. By auncetrye thus; Th. H. Thus by your auncestres; Cx. Thus by your eldres. 99. Th. men (for man). 100. Cx. Than god is. 101. Th. sythe; lorde. Th. blyssednesse; A. blessednesse. 102. A. That (for And). A. H. alle; Th. al (1). Cx. alle; Th. al (2). For us alle A. has mankynde that.

103. So A.; Th. H. Foloweth hym in vertue. 105-125. Chaucer's poem of Gentilesse is here quoted; see vol. i. p. 392. 127. A. Howe hyely he; Th. Howe lightly. 128. A. lesse (!); Th. losse. A. H. in; Th. on. 129. A. Wherfore; Th. And therefore. A. doothe; Th. with (!). 130. A. estates; Th. profyte. 131. A. Tenprynte; Th. Tempereth (!). A. H. vertue fully; Th. fully vertue. 132. Cx. in; A. H. in-to; Th. to. 133. A. H. sette as vertulesse; Th. vertulesse than. 134. H. Cx. Ye; A. For yee; Th. Many. Th. A. nowe. 135. Cx. H. you; Th. hem. A. Thaughe one of you here of a gode matere.

136. Cx. H. Your feruent; Th. Her feruent; A. Your vnsure. 137. Th. arte. Cx. H. ye; Th. they. A. That of suche artes you liste not to. 138. Cx. A. withouten; Th. without a. 139. A. withouten; Th. without. 140. Th. calme. A. wol laste you; Th. wolde last. Th. yere by yere. 141. Cx. A. H. ye; Th. they. 142. Cx. A. H. ye; Th. they. 143. A. Cx. om. ful. 144. A. Right euen so whane. 145. A. Comthe. 146. A. Soone; Th. And sone. Th. comen the; Cx. come; A. comthe. 147. Th. if that; Cx. A. H. om. that. Cx. A. your; Th. her. A. H. no vertue haue; Cx. no vertue hath; Th. haue no vertue. 148. Th. fye. Cx. A. your; Th. her. 149. A. H. your; Th. her. Cx. H. you; Th. hem. A. has Thus hathe youre youthe and slouthe you al misgyded. 152. Cx. A. H. to haue; Th. om. (read haue). 153. A. Plenty of; Cx. Plentyuous; Th. Plentous. Th. fruite. A. H. Cx. the; Th. om. A. H. Cx. riping; Th. reapyng. 154. A. H. Cx. ay; Th. euer. A. doon; Th. do. 156. A. H. Cx. Yee may; Th. Thus may ye. A. H. wele see; Cx. see; Th. se wel. A. H. this; Th. that. A. Cx. conclusioun; Th. inclusyon (!). 157. A. youthe; Th. youth. A. Th. vertulesse. Th. moche; Cx. ofte muche; A. ay michil (read mochel). 158. Th. Nowe seeth; A. H. Cx. om. Nowe. Th. howe; A. that. 159. A. youthe; Th. youth.

160. A. Cx. vyce; H. vice; Th. vyces. 161. A. Al (for As). A. al ryote; H. Cx. Th. om. al. 162. Th. eke howe. 163. So A. Cx.; H. om.; Th. has Seeth eke howe vertue voydeth al vyce (!). 164. Th. H. Cx. whoso; A. om. so. 165. Th. ferre; A. far. Th. reason. 167. A. came frome pouertee; Th. fro pouert came. Th. hygh; A. hye. 168. Th. eke. 169. Th. howe poore. 170. A. H. Cx. humanite; Th. his humylite. 171. Th. om. a. 172. A. unto gret; Cx. to hye; Th. a man to great. 173. A. Cx. list; Th. H. lust. Th. entendaunce; rest attendaunce. 174. Th. nowe of; A. H. Cx. om. nowe. 177. Th. And loke; rest om. And. Th. howe; chare. 178. Th. tare. 179. A. meschaunces. 180. Th. H. Cx. om. that. Th. ware. 181. A. Th. infortunate. A. H. Cx. or; Th. and. 182. Th. no more nowe say; Cx. no more say; H. no more; A. more (!). Th. herby; se. 183. A. Th. Howe. A. Th. perfyte. 184. A. done exyle; Th. H. exylen al; Cx. exyles al. 185. Th. eche man to; Cx. man to; A. dethe to (dethe is put for eche). A. cheesen; Th. chose.

186. Th. A. Dothe. 187. A. Cx. wil (for wolde). Th. right sorie; A. H. Cx. om. right. 188. A. you conferme; Th. confyrme you. 189. A. no thing; Cx. H. nothing; Th. not it. Colophon. Cx. Thus endeth the traytye wiche John Skogan sent to the lordes and estates of the kynges hous.