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TALE XCVII.

OF FORETHOUGHT.

A certain king was desirous of ascertaining the best mode of governing himself and his empire. He, therefore, called to him one more excellent in wisdom than the rest, and required of him to impart some rule by which he might attain his wishes. "Willingly, my lord," replied he; and immediately upon a wall he depicted the king, crowned, sitting on a throne and habited in a purple robe. His left hand supported a globe, while his right held a sceptre: above his head was a light burning. On the left was the queen crowned also, and clad in golden vesture. The other side was occupied by counsellors seated in chairs, and before them an open book. In front of these was an armed knight on horseback; having a helmet on his head, and a lance in his right hand. The shield covered him on the left and a sword hung by his side[1]. His body was cased in mail having clasps[2] upon the breast. Iron greaves protected his legs; spurs were upon his heels, and iron gauntlets on his hands. His horse, practised in war, was gorgeously trapped. Beneath the king were his deputies; one, as an equestrian knight, in cloak and cap of vary-coloured skins, bearing an extended rod in his right hand. Certain people stood before the deputies in the form following. One man carried a spade in his right hand, and with his left, directed the motions of a herd. In his girdle hung a sickle, with which corn is cut, and vines and other trees pruned. To the right of the king a carpenter was painted before a knight; one hand bore a mallet, and the other a plane; in his girdle was a trowel. Also before the people stood a man having a pair of shears in one hand, and in the other a huge sword; with a note-book and a bottle of ink in his girdle: a pen stuck in his right ear. Moreover, in the same part of the painting was a man bearing a balance and weights in his right hand, and an ell-wand in his left; a purse containing various kinds of money hung at his girdle.

Before the queen were physicians and colourmen under this form. A man was placed in a master's chair with a book in his right hand, and an urn and box in his left. An instrument for probing sores and wounds, was in his girdle. Near him stood another, with his right hand elevated to invite the passengers to his inn. His left was full of exceedingly fair bread; and above, stood a vessel full of wine: his girdle held a bunch of keys. Also on the left side, before a knight, was a man with large keys in his right hand, and an ell-wand in his left; at his girdle was a purse filled with pennies. Before the king, also, was a man with rugged and disorderly hair; in his right hand was a little money, and three dice were in his left; his girdle held a box full of letters. When the king had attentively considered this picture he found it replete with wisdom.


APPLICATION.

My beloved, the king is any good Christian, or rather prelate; and he is clothed in purple to figure the beauty of virtue. The globe and sceptre are symbols of power. The burning light signifies a threat. The queen is charity. The counsellors or judges are prelates and preachers, and the books before them the Sacred Writings. The armed knight is a good Christian armed with virtues. The other knight rides the horse of Justice, wearing the cloak of Mercy, and the cap of Faith. The extended rod is an equal distribution of right—et sic de cæteris.

 

 
  1. "Ensem in dextera," says the original; but he could not hold both lance and sword in the same hand at once.
  2. "Fibulas in pectore,"—meaning knobs perhaps.