History of Literature

Sebastian Brant

"Ship of Fools"

Illustrations by  Albrecht Dürer





Of folys without prouysyon.

He is a fole forsoth and worse
That to his saddyll wolde lepe on hye
Before or he haue gyrt his horse
For downe he comys with an euyll thee
But as great a fole forsoth is he
And to be lawghed to derysyon.
That ought begynneth without prouysyon

Of other folys yet is a moche nomber

Whom I wolde gladly brynge to intellygence

To auoyde their blyndnes which sore doth incomber

Theyr mynde and herte for lackynge of science

Suche ar vnware and gyuen to neglygence

Mad and mysmyndyd pryuate of wysdome

Makynge no prouysyon for the tyme to come.

If any mysfortune aduersyte or wo

As often hapnyth, to suche a fole doth fall

Than sayth he I thought it wolde nat haue be so

But than ouer late is it agayne to call

It is nat ynough thou fole to say I shall

For this one daye prouyde me by wysdome

A wyse man seyth peryll longe before it come

He is vnwyse and of prouysyon pore

That nought can se before he haue damage

Whan the stede is stolyn to shyt the stable dore

Comys small pleasoure profyte or vauntage

But he that can suche folysshenes asswage

Begynnynge by counsayll, and fore prouydence

Is sure to escape all inconuenyence

Whan Adam tastyd the appyll in Paradyse.

To hym prohybyte by dyuyne commaundement

If he had noted the ende of his interpryse

To Eue he wolde nat haue ben obedyent

Thus he endured right bytter punysshement

For his blynde erroure and improuydence

That all his lynage rue sore for his offence.

Hymselfe dryuyn out from Paradyce all bare

With Eue, into this vale of wretchydnes

To get theyr lyuynge with laboure payne and care

And also if Jonathas by errour and blyndnes

Had nat receyued the gyftis of falsnes

Unto hym gyuen of Tryphon by abusyon

He sholde haue escapyd great confusyon

If that he before had notyd craftely

His ennemyes gyftis of frawde full and of treason

He myght haue sauyd hymselfe from ieoperdy

And all his people by prouydence and reason

Where as he blynde was as at that season

And to a cyte broughte in by a trayne

Where he was murdred and all his people slayne

Julius Cesar the chefe of conquerours

Was euer warre and prudent of counsayle

But whan he had obteyned great honours

And drewe to rest as wery of Batayle

Than his vnwarnes causyd hym to wayle

For if he had red with good aduysement

The letter whiche to the counselhous was sent

He had nat gyuen his owne iugement

As he dyd by his foly and neglygence

For whiche he murdred was incontynent

Without respect had vnto his excellence

Alas se here what inconuenyence

Came to this Emperour hye and excellent

For nat beyng wyse dyscrete and prouydent

If Nichanor before had noted well

The ende of his dedes he had nat be slayne

By Judas and the children of Israell

His hande and tunge cut of to his great payne

And than his hede, as the bybyll sheweth playne

Thus may all knowe that wyll therto entende

Wherto they come that caryth nat the ende

But he that begynneth by counsayll and wysdome

Alway procedynge with good prouysyon

Notynge what is past and what is for to come

Suche folowys godly scripture and monycion

In happy wayes without transgressyon

Of goddes lawes, and his commaundement

And often tymes comys to his intent.

Thus it appereth playne and euydent

That wyse prouysyon, prose and good counsayle

Are moche laudable, and also excellent

And to mankynde great profyte and auayle.

Where as those folys haue often cause to wayle

For theyr mysfortune, in sorowe vexed sore

Whiche ought begyn nat prouydyd before

The Enuoy of Alexander Barclay.

O man remember thou canste nat abyde

Styll in this lyfe therfore moste specially

For thy last ende thou oughtest to prouyde.

For that prouysion forsoth is most godly

And than next after thy mynde thou ought aply

To fle offence, and bewayle thyne olde synne

And in all workes and besynes worldly

What may be the ende marke well or thou begynne


Of disordred loue and veneryous.

Here drawe we folys mad togyther bounde
Whom Uenus caught hath in hyr net a snare
Whose blynde hertes this forour doth confounde
Theyr lyfe consumynge in sorowe shame and care
Many one she blyndeth alas fewe can beware
Of hyr dartes hedyd with shame and vylany
But he that is wondyd can skant ynde remedy

O cruel Uenus forsoth who doth insue

Thy flaterynge gylys and proude commaundement

And hastyth nat the dartis to eschewe

Of blynde Cupido but folowys his intent

Suche folys endure moche sorowe and turment

Wastynge theyr goodes dishonestynge their name

As past fere of god and sekynge after shame

Howe many yllys, what inconuenyence

Howe great vengeaunce, and howe bytter punysshement

Hath god oft takyn for this synne and offence

Howe many Cytees hye and excellent

Hath Uenus lost, destroyed, and alto brent

What lordes and howe many a great estate

Hath loue lost, murdred, or els brought in debate

The noble Troyans murdred ar and slayne

Theyr cyte brent, decayde is theyr kyngdome

Theyr kynge pryant by pyrrus dede and slayne

And all this by Parys vnhappy loue is come

Whiche voyde of grace and blynde without wysdome

To fyll his lust, from Grece rubbyd Helayne,

But this one pleasour was grounde of moche payne

Also Marcus a Prynce of the Romayns

Called Antonius by another name

After that he had ouercome the persyans

To Rome retournyd with tryumphe lawde and fame

And there (whiche after was to his great shame)

With cleopatra in loue was take so in blyndnes

That he promysyd to make hir empresse

So this blynde louer to fyll his interpryse

Caused his men two hondred shyppes ordayne

And toke the see wenynge in suche fourme and wyse

His lewde desyre: to perfourme and obteyne

But shortly after was he ouercome and slayne

Of Cesar: and whan he this purpose vnderstode

He bathed his Corse within his lemmans blode

For two serpentis that venemus were and fell

Were set to the brestis of fayre Cleopatray

So this cruell purpose had punysshement cruell

For theyr intendynge theyr countrey to betray

And worthy they were, what man can it denay

Thus it apereth playne by euydence

That of false loue cometh great inconuenyence

For he that loueth is voyde of all reason

Wandrynge in the worlde without lawe or mesure

In thought and fere sore vexed eche season

And greuous dolours in loue he must endure

No creature hym selfe may well assure

From loues soft dartis: I say none on the grounde

But mad and folysshe bydes he whiche hath the wounde

Aye rennynge as franatyke no reason in his mynde

He hath no constaunce nor ease within his herte

His iyen ar blynde, his wyll alwaye inclyned

To louys preceptes yet can nat he departe

The Net is stronge, the fole caught can nat starte

The darte is sharpe, who euer is in the chayne

Can nat his sorowe in vysage hyde nor fayne

Rede howe Phedra hir loue fixed so feruent

On ypolitus in prohybyte auowtry.

That whan he wolde nat vnto hir consent

To hir husbonde she accused hym falsly

As if he wolde hir tane by force to vylany

Ipolitus was murdred for this accusement

But Phedra for wo hanged hyrself incontynent

The lewde loue of Phasyphe abhomynable

As poetis sayth) brought hir to hir confusyon

Nero the cruell Tyrant detestable.

His naturall mother knewe by abusyon

Uenus and Cupido with their collusyon.

Enflamyd Messalina in suche wyse

That euery nyght hir selfe she wolde disgyse

And secretly go to the brothelhous

For to fulfyll hir hote concupyssence

What shall I wryte the dedes vicious

Of Julia or, hir cruell offence.

What shall I wryte the inconuenyence

Whiche came by Danythys cursed auowtry

Syth that the bybyll it shewyth openly

What shall I wryte the greuous forfayture

Of Sodom and Gomor syns the Bybyll doth tell

Of their synnes agaynst god and nature

For whiche they sanke alyue downe into hell.

Thus it aperith what punysshement cruell.

Our lorde hath taken both in the olde lawe and newe

For this synne: whiche sholde vs moue it to eschewe

Alexander Barklay To the Folys.

Ye folys inflamyd with loue inordynate.

Note these examples, drawe from this vyce your mynde

Remember that there is none so great estate

But that false loue hym causeth to be blynde

Our folysshe wymen may nat be left behynde

For many of them so folowys in this way

That they sell theyr soules and bodyes to go gay

The graceles galantes, and the aprentyce pore

Though they nought haue, themselfe they set nought by

Without they be acquaynted with some hore

Of westmynster or some other place of rybawdry

Than fall they to murder theft and robery.

For were nat proude clothynge, and also flesshely lust

All the feters and gyues of Englonde shulde rust.

Therfore folys awake, and be no longer blynde

Consyder that shame, seknes, and pouertye

Of loue procedeth: and drawe from it your mynde

Suffre not your soules damned and lost to be

By vayne lust and carnall sensualyte

For thoughe the small pleasure do make the fayne

The ende oft is worldly wo and myserye

Or amonge the fendes eternall payne


Of them yt synne trustynge vpon the mercy of god.

Who that styll synneth without contricion
Trustynge goddes mercy and benygnyte
Bycause he sparyth our transgressyon
And he that thynketh iustice and equyte
Is nat in god as well as is petye
Suche is forsoth without discressyon
Syns he thus synneth upon presumpcion

The wynde is up our Nauy is aflote

A bande of Folys a borde is come yet more

Theyr cursed maners and mad I shall nowe note

Whose herte for synne is neyther contryte ne sore

Nat mornynge (as they ought to do) therfore

Without fere styll lyuynge in theyr vyciousnes

No thynge inclyned to godly holynes

They thynke no thynge on goddes rightwysnes

But grounde them all, on his mercy and pyte

For that he redyer is vnto forgeuenesse

Unto all people, than them punysshed to se

Trouth it is that the great enormyte

Of the worlde hathe nat aye worthy punysshement

Nor he nat damnyd that doth his synne repent

Put case he gyuyth nat aye lyke iugement

On mannys mysdede, nor yet mundayne offence

And though he be gode meke and pacyent

Nor shortly punyssheth our inconuenyence

Put case also he gyue nat aduertence

To all mundayne fawtes synne and fragylyte

Yet none sholde synne in hope of his mercy

But these folys assembled in a companye

Sayth eche to other that oft it is laufull

To perseuerant synners lyuynge in iniquyte

Yo trust in god syns he is mercyfull

What nedeth vs our wyttis for to dull

Labourynge our synne and foly to refrayne

Syns synne is a thynge naturall and humayne

Than sayth another forsoth thou sayst playne

And also our fore Faders and progenitours

Before our dayes offendyd haue certayne.

As well as we, in many blynde errours

But syns they haue escapyd all paynes and dolours

Of hell; and nowe in heuyn ar certayne

What nede haue we to fere infernall payne.

Than comys in an other with his dotysshe brayne

By god sayth he I knowe it without fable

That heuyn was made neyther for gose nor crane

Nor yet for other bestes vnresonable

Than of the Scripture doth he Chat and bable

Alleggynge our forefaders whiche haue mysdone

Saynge that no synne is newe in our season

A myserable men destytute of reason.

That thus on hope do synne vnhappely

Remember the synne of our forefaders done

Haue neuer ben left vnpunysshed fynally

And that somtyme, full sharpe and bytterly

For euer more all synne hath had a fall

With sorowe here, or els wo infernall

The synne of Sodom foule and nat natural

The Pryde of rome, whiche was so excellent

The offence of Dauyd Prophete and kynge royal

The furour of Pharao fyers and violent

Haue nat escaped the rightwyse punysshment

Of God aboue, the celestial and highe Justice

Which fyrst, or last punyssheth euery vyce.

Remember Richarde lately kynge of price

In Englonde raynynge vnrightwisely a whyle.

Howe he ambycion, and gyleful Couetyse

With innocent blode his handes dyd defyle

But howbeit that fortune on hym dyd smyle

Two yere or thre: yet god sende hym punysshment

By his true seruant the rede Rose redolent.

Therfore remember that god omnypotent

Oft suffreth synners in theyr iniquyte

Grauntynge them space and tyme of amendement

And nat to procede in their enormyte

But those synners that byde in one degre

And in this lyfe their synne wyll nat refrayne

God after punyssheth with infernall payne

As I haue sayde (therfore) I say agayne

Though god be of infynyte pety and mercy

His fauour and grace passynge all synne mundayne

Yet iustice is with hym eternally.

Wherfore I aduyse the to note intentifly

Though pyte wolde spare, iustyce wyll nat so

But the here rewarde, els with infernal we.

Alexander Barklay to the Folys.

Syghe synners, syghe, for your mysgouernance.

Lament, mourne, and sorowe for your enormyte.

Away with these Clowdes of mysty ignorance

Syn nat in hope of goddys hyghe petye

And remember howe ye daily punysshed be

With dyuers dyseases both vncouthe and cruel

And all for your synne, but suche as escapeth fre

And styl lyue in syn, may fere the peynes of helle


Of the folisshe begynnynge of great bildynges without sufficient prouision.

Come nere folys and rede your ignorance
And great losse procedynge of your owne foly
Whiche without gode and discrete purueaunce
Any great werke wyll bylde or edefye.
All suche ar folys what man wyll it deny
For he that wyll bylde before he count his cost
Shall seldome well ende, so that is made is lost.

Who euer begynneth any worke or dede

Of byldynge or of other thynge chargeable

And to his costes before taketh no hede

Nor tyme nat countyth to his worke agreable

Suche is a fole and well worthy a babyll

For he that is wyse wyll no thynge assay

Without he knowe howe he well ende it may.

The wyse man counteth his cost before alway

Or he begyn, and nought wyll take in honde

Wherto his myght or power myght denay

His costes confourmynge to the stynt of his londe

Where as the fole that nought doth vnderstonde

Begynneth a byldynge without aduysement

But or halfe be done his money clene is spent.

Many haue begon with purpose dilygent

To bylde great houses and pleasaunt mansyons

Them thynkynge to finysshe after theyr intent

But nede disceyuyd hath theyr opynyons

Their purpose nat worth a cowpyll of onyons

But whan they se that they it ende nat can

They curse the tyme that euer they it began

Of Nabugodosor that worthy man.

What shall I wryte or the story to the tell

Syth that the Bybyll to the expresse it can

In the fourth chapter of the prophete Danyell

Was he nat punysshed in paynes cruell

For his great pryde and his presumpcion

Whiche he toke it in the byldynge of Babylon

His golde and treasoure he spendyd hole theron

Enioynge hym in his Cyte excellent

Right so Nemroth by his inuencion

The towre of Babylon began for this intent

To saue hym, if the worlde agayne were drent

But the hye god consyderynge his blynde rage

His purpose let by confusyon of langage

His towre vnperfyte to his losse and domage

His people punysshed, hymselfe specyally

Thus it apereth what great disauauntage

On theyr hede falleth that byldeth in foly

Thus he is folysshe that wolde edefy

Any great worke without ryches in excesse

For great byldynges requyreth great rychesse

But many folys ar in suche a blyndnesse

That hereon nought they set their mynde ne thought

Wherfore to them oft commyth great distresse

And to great pouerty often ar they brought

Laughed to scorne, their purpose cometh to nought

And truely I fynde in bokes wryten playne

That our olde faders haue neuer set theyr brayne

On great byldynge, ne yet of them ben fayne:

It longeth to a lorde a Prynce or a Kynge

That lacke no treasoure theyr werkes to mayntayne

To set theyr myndes on excellent buyldynge

Therfore who so euer wyll meddle with this thynge

Or any other, before let hym be wyse

That his myght and ryches therto may suffyse.

Lyst all men do mocke and scorne his interpryse

For if he ought begyn without prouysyon

And haue nat wherby his byldynge may up ryse

All that is lost that is made and begon

And better it is sothly in myn intencion

Nought to begyn, and spare laboure and payne

Than to begyn and than, leue of agayne

Who euer he be that so doth certayne

He shall haue mockis mengled with his damage

Therfore let suche folys sharpe theyr brayne

And better intende to theyr owne auauntage

Consyderynge that processe of tyme and age

Theyr curyous byldynges shall at the lest confounde

And Roufe and wallys make egall with the grounde.

Barklay to the Folys.

Ye folys blyndyd with curyosyte

Whiche on great byldynge set so sore your mynde

Remember ye nat that doutles ye shall dye

And your gay byldynges and howses leue behynde

Thynke ye your conforte alway in them to fynde

Or whan ye dye, them hens with you to haue

Nay nay the laste hous gyuen to mankynde

Is the course grounde and walles of his graue.


Of glotons and dronkardes.

That gloton or dronkarde, vyle in goddes sight
Shall hardly escape the weyght of pouertye.
Whiche drynketh and deuoureth both day and nyght
Therin onely settynge all his felycyte
His lothsome lust and his bestyalyte
Shall brynge vnto destruccion fynally
His soule, his godes and his wretchyd body.

Within our nauy he nedes shall haue a place.

Whiche without mesure on lothsome glotony

Setteth his pleasure and singuler solace

His stomacke ouerchargynge, vyle and vngodely

And to none other thynge his mynde doth he aply

Saue depest to drynke, suche force nat of theyr soules

But labore in rynsynge pecis cuppis and bowles

The madnes of dronkennes is so immoderate

That greuous sores it ingendreth and sykenes

It causeth often great foly and debate

With soden deth and carefull heuynes

In thynges no difference putteth dronkennes.

It febleth the ioyntis and the body within

Wastynge the brayne makynge the wyt full thyn

It engendreth in the hede infirmyte

Blyndynge the herte wyt and discression

The mynde it demynyssheth, coloure and beaute.

Causynge all myschef, shame and abusyon

It maketh men mad, and in conclusyon

Causeth them lyue without lawe or measure

Suynge after syn defylynge theyr nature

The people that are acloyed with this synne.

On no thynge els theyr myndes wyll aply:

Saue to the wyne and ale stakes to renne

And there as bestes to stryue and drynke auy

Than ar they outher gyuyn to rybawdry

Or els to brawle and fight at euery worde

Thus dronkennes is the chefe cause of discorde

But namely dronkennes and wretchyd glotony

By their excesse and superfluyte

Engendreth the rote of cursed Lechery

With murder, thefte and great enormyte

So bryngeth it many to great aduersyte

And with his furour the worlde so doth it blynde

That many it bryngeth to a shamfull ende

This vyce (alas) good maners doth confounde

And maketh man ouer besy of langage

And hym that in all ryches doth abounde

It ofte in pryson bryngeth and in bondage

It causeth man to his great sorowe and domage

Disclose his secrete and his preuey counsayle

Whiche causeth hym after sore to mourne and wayle

Nought is more lothsome, more vycyous nor vyle

Than he that is subdued to this vyce

His lyfe shortynge his body he doth defyle

Bereuynge his soule the ioy of Paradyse

Howe many Cytees and lordes of great pryce

Hath ben destroyed by dronken glotony

And by his felawe, false loue, or lechery.

The sone of Thomyr had nat ben ouercome

Nor slayne by Cyrus for all his worthynes.

If he hym selfe had gydyd by wysdome

And the vyce auoydyd of blynde dronkennes

The great Alexander taken with this madnes

With his swerde, whan he was dronken slewe

Suche of his frendes as were to hym most trewe

I rede also howe this conquerour myghty

Upon a season played at the Chesse

With one of his knyghtes which wan ynally

Of hym great golde treasoure and rychesse

And hym ouercame, but in a furyousnes

And lade with wyne, this conquerour vp brayde

And to his knyght in wrath these wordes sayde

I haue subdued by strength and by wysdome

All the hole worlde, whiche obeyeth to me

And howe hast thou alone me thus ouercome

And anone commaundyd his knyght hanged to be

Than sayde the knyght by right and equyte

I may apele. syns ye ar thus cruell

Quod Alexander to whome wylt thou apell

Knowest thou any that is gretter than I

Thou shalt be hanged thou spekest treason playne

The knyght sayd sauynge your honour certaynly

I am no traytoure, apele I woll certayne

From dronken Alexander tyll he be sober agayne

His lorde than herynge his desyre sounde to reason

Differryd the iustyce as for that tyme and season

And than after whan this furour was gone

His knyght he pardoned repentynge his blyndenes.

And well consydered that he shulde haue mysdone

If he to deth had hym done in that madnesse

Thus it apereth what great unhappynes

And blyndnes cometh to many a creature

By wyne or ale taken without measure.

Se here the inconuenyence manyfolde

Comynge of dronkennes as I wrytyn fynde.

Some ar so starynge mad that none can them holde

Rorynge and cryeng as men out of their mynde

Some fyghtynge some chydynge, some to other kynde

Nought lyuynge to them selfe: and some dotynge Johnn

Beynge dronke thynketh hym as wyse as Salomon

Some sowe dronke, swaloynge mete without mesure

Some mawdelayne dronke, mournynge lowdly and hye

Some beynge dronke no lenger can endure

Without they gyue them to bawdy rybawdry

Some swereth armys nayles herte and body.

Terynge our lord worse, than the Jowes hym arayed

Some nought can speke, but harkenyth what is sayd.

Some spende all that they haue and more at wast

With reuell and reuell dasshe fyll the cup Joohnn

Some their thryft lesyth with dyce at one cast

Some slepe as slogardes tyll their thryft be gone

Some shewe theyr owne counsell for kepe can they none

Some are Ape dronke full of lawghter and of toyes

Some mery dronke syngynge with wynches and boyes

Some spue, some stacker some vtterly ar lame

Lyeng on the grounde without power to ryse

Some bost them of bawdry ferynge of no shame

Some dumme, and some speketh. ix. wordes at thryse

Some charge theyr bely with wyne in suche wyse

That theyr legges skant can bere vp the body

Here is a sort to drowne a hole nauy.

Barklaye to the Folys.

Alas mad folys howe longe wyll ye procede

In this beestly lyuynge agayst humayne nature

Cease of your Foly: gyue aduertence and hede

That in eche thynge ought to be had measure

Wyne ne ale hurteth no maner creature

But sharpeth the wyt if it be take in kynde

But if it be nat, than I the ensure

It dulleth the brayne, blyndynge the wyt and mynde

Rede all bokes and thou shalt neuer fynde

That dronkennes and wysdome may togyther be

For where is dronkennes, there madnes is by kynde

Gydynge the hauer to all enormyte

And where as is madnes thou shalt neuer se

Reason ne wysdome take theyr abydynge

In one instant, wherfore lerne this of me

That dronkennes is mortell enmy to cunnynge.


Of ryches vnprofytable.

Yet fynde I folys of another sorte
Whiche gather and kepe excessyfe ryches
With it denyeng their neyghboures to conforte
Whiche for nede lyueth in payne and wretchydnes
Suche one by fortune may fall into distres
And in lyke wyse after come to mysery
And begge of other, whiche shall to hym deny.

It is great foly, and a desyre in vayne

To loue and worshyp ryches to feruently

And so great laboure to take in care and payne

Fals treasoure to encrease and multyply

But yet no wonder is it sertaynly

Syth he that is ryche hath gretter reuerence

Than he that hath sadnes wysdom and scyence

The ryche mannes rewardes stande in best degre

But godly maners we haue set clene asyde

Fewe loueth vertue, but fewer pouertye.

Fals couetyse his braunches spreddeth wyde

Ouer all the worlde, that pety can nat byde

Among vs wretches banysshed is kyndnes

Thus lyeth the pore in wo and wretchydnes

Without conforte and without auctoryte

But he only is nowe reputed wyse

Whiche hath ryches in great store and plente.

Suche shall be made a sergeant or Justyce

And in the Court reputed of moste pryse

He shall be callyd to counseyll in the lawe

Though that his brayne be skarsly worth a strawe

He shall be Mayre baylyfe or constable

And he onely promotyd to honoure

His maners onely reputed ar laudable

His dedys praysyd as grettest of valoure

Men laboure and seke to fall in his fauoure

He shall haue loue, echone to hym shall sue

For his ryches, but nought for his vertue

Se what rewardes ar gyuen to ryches

Without regarde had to mannys condycyon

A strawe for cunnynge wysdome and holynes

Of ryches is the first and chefe questyon

What rentes what londes howe great possessyon

What stuffe of housholde what store of grotz and pens

And after his gode his wordes hath credence.

His wordes ar trouth men gyue to them credence

Thoughe they be falsly fayned and sotell

But to the pore none wyll gyue aduertence

Though that his wordes be true as the gospell

Ye let hym swere by heuyn and by hell

By god and his sayntes and all that god made

Yet nought they beleue that of hym is sayde

They say that the pore men doth god dispyse

Thouhe they nought swere but trouth and veryte

And that god punyssheth them in suche wyse

For so dispysynge of his hye maiestye

Kepynge them for their synnes in pouerte

And theyr ryche exaltyth by his power and grace

To suche ryches, worldly pleasour and solace

The ryche ar rewarded with gyftis of dyuerse sorte

With Capons and Conyes delycious of sent

But the pore caytyf abydeth without confort

Though he moste nede haue: none doth hym present

The fat pygge is baast, the lene cony is brent

He that nought hathe, shall so alway byde pore

But he that ouer moche hath, yet shall haue more

The wolfe etis the shepe, the great fysshe the small

The hare with the houndes vexed ar and frayde

He that hath halfe nedes wyll haue all

The ryche mannes pleasour can nat be denayde

Be the pore wroth, or be he well apayde

Fere causeth hym sende vnto the ryches hous

His mete from his owne mouth, if it be delycious

And yet is this ryche caytyf nat content

Though he haue all yet wolde he haue more.

And though this gode can neuer of hym be spent

With nought he departyth to hym that is pore

Though he with nede harde vexed were and sore.

O cursyd hunger o mad mynde and delyte.

To laboure for that whiche neuer shall do profyte

Say couetous caytyfe what doth it the auayle

For to haue all and yet, nat to be content

Thou takest nat this sore laboure and trauayle

To thy pleasoure but to thy great turment

But loke therof what foloweth consequent

Whan thou art dede and past this wretchyd lyfe

Thou leuyst behynde brawlynge debate and stryfe

To many one ryches is moche necessary

Whiche can it order right as it ought to be

But vnto other is it vtterly contrary

Whiche therwith disdayneth to socoure pouerte.

Nor them relefe in theyr aduersyte

Suche shall our lorde sore punysshe fynally

And his petycion rightwysly deny

Barklay to the Folys.

Ye great estatis and men of dignyte

To whome god in this lyfe hath sent ryches

Haue ye compassion, on paynfull pouertye

And them conforte in theyr carefull wretchydnes

God hym loueth and shall rewarde doutles

Whiche to the nedy for hym is charitable

With heuenly ioy, whiche treasour is endeles

So shall thy riches to the be profytable.


Of hym that togyder wyll serue two maysters.

A fole he is and voyde of reason
Whiche with one hounde tendyth to take
Two harys in one instant and season
Rightso is he that wolde vndertake
Hym to two lordes a seruaunt to make
For whether, that he be lefe or lothe
The one he shall displease, or els bothe.

A fole also he is withouten doute

And in his porpose sothly blyndyd sore

Whiche doth entende labour or go aboute

To serue god, and also his wretchyd store

Of worldly ryches: for as I sayde before

He that togyder wyll two maysters serue

Shall one displease and nat his loue deserue

For he that with one hownde wol take also

Two harys togyther in one instant

For the moste parte doth the both two forgo

And if he one haue: harde it is and skant

And that blynde fole mad and ignorant

That draweth thre boltis atons in one bowe

At one marke shall shote to hye or to lowe

Or els to wyde, and shortly for to say

With one or none of them he strykis the marke:

And he that taketh vpon hym nyght or day

Laboures dyuers to chargeable of warke.

Or dyuerse offycis: suche wander in the darke

For it is harde to do well as he ought

To hym that on dyuerse thynges hath his thought

With great thoughtes he troubleth sore his brayne

His mynde vnstable, his wyt alway wandrynge:

Nowe here nowe there his body labours in payne

And in no place of stedfast abydynge.

Nowe workynge now musynge now renynge now rydynge

Now on see nowe on londe, than to se agayne

Somtyme to Fraunce, and nowe to Flaunders or Spayne

Thus is it paynfull and no thynge profytable

On many labours a man to set his mynde

For nouther his wyt nor body can be stable

Whiche wyll his body to dyuers chargis bynde

Whyle one goth forwarde the other bydes behynde

Therfore I the counseyll for thyne owne behoue

Let go this worlde and serue thy lorde aboue

He that his mynde settyth god truly to serue

And his sayntes: this worlde settynge at nought

Shall for rewarde euerlastynge ioy deserue

But in this worlde, he that settyth his thought

All men to please, and in fauour to be brought

Must lout and lurke, flater, lawde, and lye:

And cloke a knauys counseyll, though it fals be

If any do hym wronge or iniury

He must it suffer and pacyently endure

A dowble tunge with wordes lyke hony

And of his offycis if he wyll be sure

He must be sober and colde of his langage

More to a knaue, than to one of hye lynage

Oft must he stoupe his bonet in his honde

His maysters backe he must oft shrape and clawe

His breste anoyntynge, his mynde to vnderstonde

But be it gode or bad therafter must he drawe

Without he can Jest he is nat worth a strawe.

But in the meane tyme beware that he none checke

For than layth malyce a mylstone in his necke

He that in court wyll loue and fauour haue

A fole must hym fayne, if he were none afore

And be as felowe to euery boy and knaue

And to please his lorde he must styll laboure sore

His manyfolde charge maketh hym coueyt more

That he had leuer serue a man in myserye

Than serue his maker in tranquylyte

But yet whan he hath done his dylygence

His lorde to serue as I before haue sayde

For one small faute or neglygent offence

Suche a displeasoure agaynst hym may be layde

That out is he cast bare and vnpuruayde.

Whether he be gentyll, yeman grome or page

Thus worldly seruyce is no sure herytage

Wherfore I may proue by these examples playne

That it is better more godly and plesant

To leue this mondayne casualte and payne

And to thy maker one god to be seruaunt

Whiche whyle thou lyuest shall nat let the want

That thou desyrest iustly, for thy syruyce

And than after gyue the, the ioyes of Paradyse.

Barklay to the Folys.

Alas man aryse out of Idolatry.

Worshyp nat thy ryches nor thy vayne treasoure

Ne this wretchyd worlde full of mysery.

But lawde thy maker and thy sauyour

With fere, mekenes, fayth, glory, and honoure

Let thy treasoure onely in his seruyce be

And here be content with symple behauoure

Hauynge in this lorde trust and felycyte


Of to moche spekynge or bablynge.

He that his tunge can temper and refrayne
And asswage the foly of hasty langage
Shall kepe his mynde from trowble, sadnes and payne
And fynde therby great ease and auauntage
Where as a hasty speker falleth in great domage
Peryll and losse, in lyke wyse as the pye
Betrays hir byrdes by hir chatrynge and crye.

Ye blaberynge folys superflue of langage

Come to our shyp our ankers ar in wayde

By right and lawe ye may chalange a stage

To you of Barklay it shall nat be denayde

Howe be it the charge Pynson hathe on me layde

With many folys our Nauy not to charge.

Yet ye of dewty shall haue a sympyll barge

Of this sorte thousandes ar withouten fayle

That haue delyte in wordes voyde and vayne

On men nat fawty somtyme vsynge to rayle

On folysshe wordes settynge theyr herte and brayne

They often touche to theyr owne shame and payne

Suche thynges to whiche none wyll theyr mynde aply

(Saue suche folys) to theyr shame and enuy

Say besy fole art thou nat well worthy

To haue enuy, and that echone sholde the hate

Whan by thy wordes soundynge to great foly

Thou sore labrest to engender debate

Some renneth fast thynkynge to come to late

To gyue his counsell whan he seeth men in doute

And lyghtly his folysshe bolt shall be shot out

Is it nat better for one his tunge to kepe

Where as he myght (perchaunce) with honestee

Than wordes to speke whiche make hym after wepe

For great losse folowynge wo and aduersyte

A worde ones spokyn reuoked can nat be

Therfore thy fynger lay before thy lypes

For a wyse mannys tunge, without aduysement trypes

He that wyll answere of his owne folysshe brayne

Before that any requyreth his counsayle

Shewith hym selfe and his hasty foly playne

Wherby men knowe his wordes of none auayle

Some haue delyted in mad blaborynge and frayle

Whiche after haue suffred bytter punysshement

For their wordes, spoken without aduysement

Say what precedeth of this mad outrage

But great mysfortune, wo and vnhappynesse

But for all theyr chattynge and plenty of langage

Whan to the preste they come them to confesse

To shewe theyr lewde lyfe theyr synne and wretchydnes

Whan they sholde speke, and to this poynt ar come

Theyr tunges ar loste and there they syt as domme

Many haue ben whiche sholde haue be counted wyse

Sad and discrete, and right well sene in scyence

But all they haue defyled with this one vyse

Of moche spekynge: o cursyd synne and offence

Pyte it is that so great inconuenience

So great shame, contempt rebuke and vylany

Sholde by one small member came to the hole body

Let suche take example by the chatrynge pye.

Whiche doth hyr nest and byrdes also betraye

By hyr grete chatterynge, clamoure dyn and crye

Ryght so these folys theyr owne foly bewraye.

But touchynge wymen of them I wyll nought say

They can nat speke, but ar as coy and styll

As the horle wynde or clapper or a mylle

But that man or woman or any creature

That lytell speketh or els kepeth sylence

Ar euer of them selfe moste stedfast and sure

Without enuy, hatred or malyuolence.

Where as to suche comys moche inconuenyence

Sorowe vpon sorowe, malyce and dysdayne

Whiche wyll no tyme, his speche nor tunge refrayne

Fayre speche is pleasaunt if it be moderate

And spoken in season, conuenyente and dewe

To kepe scylence, to pore man or estate

Is a great grace, and synguler vertue

Langage is lawdable whan it is god and true

A wyse man or he speke wyll be wyse and ware

What (to whome) why (howe) whan and whare

Barklaye to the Folys.

Ye bablynge brybours, endeuer you to amende

Mytygat by mesure, your prowde hasty langage

Kepe well your tunges so, shall ye kepe your frende

For hasty speche ingendreth great damage

Whan a worde is nat sayd, the byrde is in the cage

Also the hous is surest whan the dorys be barryde

So whan thy worde is spokyn and out at large

Thou arte nat mayster, but he that hath it harde

If thou take hede and set therto thy brayne

In this world thou shalt fynde thynges thre

Whiche ones past, can nat be callyd agayne.

The firste is (tyme lost) by mannes symplycyte

The seconde (youth) reuoked can nat be

The thyrde (a worde spoken) it gooth out in the wynde

And yet is the fourth, that is (virginyte)

My forgetfull mynde, had lefte it nere behynde


Of them that correct other and yet them selfe do nought and synne worse than they whom they so correct.

He lacketh reason and vnderstandynge to
Whiche to a towne or Cyte knoweth the way
And shewyth other howe they may thether go
Hym selfe wandrynge aboute from day to day
In myre and fen, though his iourney thether lay
So he is mad whiche to other doth preche and tell
The wave to heuyn, and hym selfe goth to hell.

Nowe to our Nauy, a sorte maketh asaute

Of folys blynde, mad Jugys and Iniust

Whiche lyghtly noteth another mannes faute.

Chastynge that synne, whiche theyr owne mynde doth rust

By longe abydynge, and increas of carnall lust

They cloke their owne vyce synne and enormyte

Other blamynge and chastynge with moche cruelte

They mocke and mowe at anothers small offence

And redy ar a faute in them to fynde

But of theyr owne foly and inconuenyence

They se no thynge, for fully ar they blynde

Nat notynge the vyce rotyd in theyr owne mynde

Theyr greuous woundes and secrete malady

For theyr owne yll they seke no remedy

The hande whiche men vnto a Crosse do nayle

Shewyth the waye ofte to a man wandrynge

Whiche by the same his right way can nat fayle

But yet the hande is there styll abydynge

So do these folys lewde of theyr owne lyuynge

To other men shewe mean and way to wynne

Eternall ioy themselfe bydynge in synne

He sertaynly may well be callyd a sote

Moche vnauysed and his owne ennemy

Whiche in a nothers iye can spye a lytell mote

And in his owne can nat fele nor espye

A moche stycke, so is he certaynly.

Whiche noteth anothers small faute or offence

To his owne great synnes gyuynge none aduertence

Many them selfe fayne as chaste as was saynt Johnn

And many other fayne them meke and innocent

Some other as iust, and wyse as Salomon

As holy as Poule, as Job als pacyent

As sad as senecke, and as obedyent

As Abraham, and as martyn vertuous

But yet is theyr lyfe full lewde and vycious

Some lokyth with an aungels countenaunce

Wyse sad and sober lyke an heremyte

Thus hydynge theyr synne and theyr mysgouernaunce.

Under suche clokys lyke a fals ypocryte

Let suche folys rede what Cicero doth wryte

Whiche sayth that none sholde blame any creature

For his faut, without his owne lyuynge be sure

Without all spot of synne faut or offence

For in lyke fourme as a phesycyan.

By his practyse and cunnynge or scyence

The sekenes curyth of a nother man

But his owne yll nor dyseas he nat can

Relefe nor hele so doth he that doth blame

Anothers synne: he styll lyuynge in the same

Many ar whiche other can counseyll craftely

And shewe the peryll that may come by theyr synne

But them selfe they counseyll nat: ne remedy.

Nor take no waye whereby they heuyn may wynne

But lye in that vyce that they rotyd ar in

Leuynge the way that gydyth to ioy and rest

Their owne sensualyte ensuynge as a beest

Wherfore ye prestis that haue the charge and cure.

To teche and enfourme the rude comonte.

In goddys lawes groundyd in scripture

And blame all synnes sparynge no degre

Whyle ye rebuke thus theyr enormyte

Lyue so that none may cause haue you to blame

And if ye do nat: it is to your great shame

For without doute it is great vylany

A man to speke agaynst any offence

Wherin he well knowyth hym owne selfe gylty

Within his mynde and secrete conscience

Agaynst hymselfe suche one gyueth sentence

Howe god ryght iuge, by rightwyse iugement

Shulde hym rewarde with worthy punysshement

The enuoy of Barklay to the Folys.

Ye clerkes that on your shulders here the shelde

Unto you graunted by the vnyuersyte.

Howe dare ye auenture to fyght in cristes felde

Agaynst synne, without ye clere and gyltles be

Consyder the Cocke and in hym shall ye se:

A great example, for with his wynges thryse

He betyth hym selfe to wake his owne bodye

Before he crowe, to cause other wake or ryse.


Of hym that fyndeth ought of another mannys it nat restorynge to the owner.

He that ought fyndyth outher by day or nyght
Usynge it as his owne, as thynge gottyn iustly
And thynketh that he so may do by lawe and right
Suche is disceyuyd, and thynketh wrongfully
For why the deuyll our goostly ennemy
Doth hym so counseyll and in his erys blowe
Disceyuynge in his bondes, as he doth many mo

The feruour of ryches and disordred loue

Whiche many haue, doth me bynde and constrayne.

Within my shyp them sharply to reproue

That pen nor hande, themselfe wyll not refrayne

Of couetyse nowe I wyll nat speke agayne

But of them that kepeth by force and by myght

That thynge wherto they haue nat come, by ryght

Some fyndeth treasours other mennys good

And in theyr owne vse suche good they occupy.

Whiche of theyr myndes ar so blynde and wode.

And so reted in theyr errour and foly

That oft they say (say) ye and dare byde by

That some saynt whome they worshypped haue

Haue sende, them the same theyr honestee to saue

They haue no force nor care, nor they none haue wyll

To whome the ryches so loste dyde apertayne

That fortune hath gyuen they holde fast and kepe styll

Neuer hauynge mynde it to restore agayne

Suche folys fere no thynge euerlastynge payne

Nor note nat, that without true restytucion

It small auayleth to haue made confessyon.

Here me fole with thy immoderate mynde

Here me and do thy herte therto aply

If thou by fortune any ryches fynde

Callynge it thyne: thou lyest therin falsly

If thou haue wyt thou canst nat well deny

But that gode nat gyuen, nor gottyn by laboure

Can nat be rightwyse: thus mende thy blynde erroure

If thou ought fynde that longeth nat to the

Than is it anothers, the case is clere and playne

Wherfor thou ought of lawe and of dewte

Unto the owner it soone to yelde agayne

But if he be dede, to whome it dyd attayne

Thou ought nat yet to kepe it nere the more.

But to his sectours or heyres it restore

Put case that they also be past and dede

Yet ought thou nat to keep it styll with the.

The lawe commaundyth, and also it is mede.

To gyue it to suche as haue necessyte.

With it releuynge theyr paynfull pouertee

And so shalt thou discharge thy conseyence.

Helpynge the pore, and auoyde great offence

But he that others godes tourneth to his owne vse

Spendynge and wastynge that thynge that neuer was his

Suche certaynly his reason doth abuse

And by this meane greuously doth amysse

Wherby he lesyth eternall ioy and blysse

His soule drownynge depe within hell flodes

For his myspendynge of other mennys goodes

But to be shorte, and brefe in my sentence

And sothe to saye playne as the mater is

Forsoth I se nat right great difference

Bytwene a thefe, and these folys couetys

Both wrongly kepeth that thynge that is nat his

Thynkynge that god doth nat therto aduerte

Whiche notyth thy dedys, thy mynde thought and herte

Wherfore if thou haue a rightwyse conscyence

Thou wylt nought kepe whiche longeth nat to the

The lawe so commaundeth in payne of great offence

For of gode that thou kepest agaynst equyte

Thou shalt make accompt after that thou shalt dye

To thy great payne in hell for euer more

If thou no restytucion make before.

Here myght I touche executours in this cryme.

Blamynge theyr dedys dysceyte and couetyse

If it were nat for wastynge of my tyme

For mende they wyll nat them in any wyse

Nor leue no poyntes of theyr disceytfull gyse

Let them take parte of that whiche I here note

And be partynge foles in this present bote.

The Enuoy of Barklay the translator to the Folys.

Ye false executours whome all the worlde repreuys

And ye that fynde mennes goodes or treasoures

I call you as bad as robbers or theuys

For ye by your falshode and manyfolde errours

Kepe falsly that thynge whiche is none of yours

And wast here the goodes of hym that is past

The soule lyeth in payne, ye take your pleasours.

With his ryches, damnynge your owne soule at the last


Of the sermon or erudicion of wysdome bothe to wyse men and folys.

He that delyteth in godly sapience
And it to obtayne puttyth his besynes
Aboue all folys shall haue preemynence
And in this worlde haue honour and rychesse
Or a worthy crowne in heuyns blessydnesse
Or els bothe welthe here, and after ioy and blysse
Where as a fole of bothe the two shall mysse

Wysdome with voyce replete with grauyte

Callyth to all people, and sayth o thou mankynde

Howe longe wylt thou lyue in this enormyte

Alas howe longe shalt thou thy wyt haue blynde

Here my preceptis and rote them in thy mynde

Nowe is full tyme and season to clere thy syght:

Harkyn to my wordes, grounde of goodnes and ryght

Lerne mortall men, stodyenge day and nyght

To knowe me wysdome, chefe rote of chastyte

My holy doctryne thy herte shall clere and lyght

My tunge shall shewe the ryght and equyte

Chase out thy foly, cause of aduersyte.

And seke me wysdome whiche shall endewe thy mynde

With helth and welth wherby thou lyfe shalt fynde

Aryse I say agayne to the mankynde

And seke me wysdome that am well of goodnes

Let nat this worlde thy conscyence farther blynde

Nor to synne subdue for loue of false rychesse

Blynde nat thy herte with mondayne wretchednes

I am worth golde and worth all good mundayne:

And to mankynde counselloure souerayne

No maner Jowell is to me lyke certayne

Ne so profytable to mortall creature

I passe all ryches and cause a man refrayne

His mynde from synne, and of his ende be sure

There is no treasoure nor precious stone so pure

Carbuncle Ruby ne adamond in londe nor see

Nor other lapydary comparable to me:

And shortly to speke wysdome is more laudable

Than all the worlde or other thynge mundayne

There is no treasoure: to wysdome comparable

But it alone is a vertue moste souerayne

Hauynge nought lyke in valoure nor worth certayne

No fole is so ryche, nor hye of dignyte

But that a wyse man pore is more worthy than he

Wysdome preserueth men in auctoryte

Prynces promotynge by counseyll prouydent

By it pore men somtyme, and of lowe degre

Hath had the hole worlde to them obedyent

It gydeth Cytees and countrees excellent

And gouerneth the counseyll of prynce lorde and kynge

Strengthynge the body the herte enlumynynge

It gydyth lordes and from bondage doth brynge

Them whome foly hath brought in to captyuyte

Hir gyftys to mankynde frely offrynge

Gydynge hir discyples from all aduersyte

Wysdome stondynge vpon a stage on hye

Cryeth to mankynde with lowde voyce in this wyse

I trouth exalte: and vycious men dispyse

Lerne of me wysdome cast out your couetyse

For by my myght craft and wyse prouysicion

Kynges vnto their dygnyte dothe ryse

Theyr septers gydynge by my monycion

I gaue them lawes to gyde eche regyon

In welthe defendynge and in prosperyte

Them and theyr royalmes whyle they gyde them by me

All maner nacyons that doth to me inclyne

I gyde and gouerne by lawe and equyte

In me is right, godly wyt and doctryne

What blynde foly, and howe great aduersyte

Do they auoyde that gyde them selfe by me

And he that me louyth with worshyp and honour

Shall knowe my loue my grace and my fauour

He that me folowyth shall auoyde all dolour

I shall hym folowe promotynge in suche case

That none shall be before hym in valour

I godly ryches in my power inbrace

Whiche man by me may esely purchase

And he that wyll his way by me addresse

I shall rewarde with heuenly ioy endles

The father of heuen of infynyte goodnesse.

Me comprehendyth within his deytee

Of hym my firste begynnynge is doutles.

And heuen and erth he create hath by me

And euery creature bothe on londe and se

The heuen imperyall all planetis and firmameut

God neuer thynge made without my true assent

Therfore mankynde set thy mynde and intent

To me wysdome to be subiect and seruaunt

To my preceptis be thou obedyent

And heuenly ioy thou shalt nat lacke nor want

For doutles they ar mad and ignoraunt

And folys blyndyd who so euer they be

That wyll nat gladly be seruauntes vnto me

The envoy of Barklay to the Folys.

Aryse folys of myndes darke and blynde.

Receyue the gyftes of godly sapyence

Here hir perceptis and plant them in your mynde

And rote out the gaffys of your olde offence.

Call to your myndes what inconuenyence

Howe sodayne fallys, what sorowe and turment

Hath come to many a myghty lorde and prynce

For nat folowynge of hir commaundement.




Of bostynge or hauynge confydence in fortune.

He is a fole whiche settyth confydence
On frayle fortune vncertayne and mutable
His mynde exaltynge in pryde and insolence
Because that she somtyme is fauorable
As if she wolde so be perdurable
Suche folys oft whan they thynke them most sure
All sodaynly great mysfortune endure

Amonge our folys he ought to haue a place

And so he shall for it is resonable

Whiche thynketh hymselfe greatly in fortunes grace

Bostynge that she to hym is fauorable

As if hyr maner were nat to be mutable

In this vayne hope suche theyr lyfe doth lede

Tyll at the laste theyr hous borne oure theyr hede

He shakyth boost and oft doth hym auaunte

Of fortunes fauoure and his prosperyte

Whiche suffreth hym nought of his wyll to wante

So that he knoweth nought of aduersyte

Nor mysfortune nor what thynge is pouertee.

O lawles fole, o man blyndyd of mynde

Say what suretye in fortune canst thou fynde

To what ende or vnto what conclusyon

Shall fortune frayle vnrightwyse and vnsure

Lede the blynde fole by hyr abusyon.

Howe darest thou the in hir blyndnes assure.

Syns she vnstable is and can nat longe endure

Hir gyftis changith, she is blynde and sodayne

Thoughe she firste lawghe hir ende is vncertayne.

Thou shakest boste ofte of hir foly in vayne

For he is most happy whiche can auoyde hir snare

If she exalte some one vnto welth mundayne

She bryngeth another to payne sorowe and care

Whyle one is ladyd to the others backe is bare

Whyle she a begger maketh in good abounde

A lorde or state she throweth to the grounde

But nat withstandynge hir mutabylyte.

Thou bostest thy gode and to moche abundaunce

Thou bostest thy welth and thy prosperyte

Thy good auenturs, and plentyfull pleasaunce

Alas blynde fole amende thy ygnoraunce

And in thy welthe to this saynge intende

That fortune euer hath an incertayne ende

Fals fortune infect of countenaunce and of face

By hir iyen clowdy and varyable vysage

Hath many for a whyle taken to hir grace

Whiche after by hir whele vnstable and volage

Hath brought them to wo mysfortune and damage

She ruleth pore and riche without difference

Lewdnes exaltynge and damnynge innocence

Thus is that man voyde, of all intellygence

Whom fortune fedyth, with chaunche fortunable

If he therin haue ouer large confydence

And thynke that sure that euer is mutable

That fole is sonne, to the fende abhomynable

That foloweth ryches, and fortune that is blynde

His sauyour lefte, and clene out of mynde

Whan the foule fende, father of vnhappynes

Pore man purposyth by falshode to begyle

He sendeth hym welth worldly, and fals ryches

And causeth fortune, awhyle on hym to smyle

Whiche with hir blyndenes doth mankynde so defyle

That whyle they trust in hir fauour to sore.

They damme theyr soules in hell for euermore

By large examples thou eche day mayste se

The chaunge of fortune and the ende vncertayne

Wherfore to boste the of hyr commodyte

It is great foly and also thynge in vayne

From this lewdnes thy mynde therfore refrayne

And be content with fortune moderate

Nor boste the nat of thy welth or estate

This day thou art ryche and despysest the pore

Yet so may it fall, that for thy lewde lyuynge

To morowe thou beggest thy brede from dore to dore

Therfore remembre that blynde fortune wandrynge

Hath nat in hyr handes power, nor gydynge

The rewardes of welth, nor of felycyte

But god them gydeth by his great maieste

And all thynge chaungeth as is to hym plesaunt

His dedes to wysdome alwaye agreable

Wherfore blynde fole be nat so ignoraunt

To prayse fortune whiche is so varyable

And of rewardes vnsure and chaungeable

But thoughe she smyle trust nat to hir intent

For amonge swete herbes ofte lurkyth the serpent

Barklay to the Folys.

Ye folys that haue in fortune confydence:

And boste you of welth and of prosperyte

Leue of your foly, and note by euydence:

Hir cours vnsure: and hir mutabylyte

None in this lyfe can byde in one degre

But somtyme hye, than after pore and lowe.

Nowe nought set by, nowe in auctoryte

Nowe full nowe voyde as waters ebbe and flowe

I am remembred that I haue often sene

Great worldly ryches ende in pouertye

And many one that hath in fauour ben:

And hye promotyd in welth and dignyte.

Hath sodaynly fallyn into calamyte

Thus is it foly to trust in fortunes grace

For whyle the Se floweth and is at Burdews hye

It as fast ebbeth at some other place


Of the ouer great and chargeable curyosyte of men.

Unto mo folys here ordayne I a barge
Whiche medlyth with euery mannys besynes
And nat intendeth to their owne losse and charge
Great payne and wo suche folys oft oppresse
And let them lerne with pacyent mekenes
To suffer sorowe for why they shall none lacke
Syns they alone, the hole worlde take on theyr backe

He that wyll coueyt to bere more than he may

And take on his sholders more than he can sustayne

Suche is a fole, his dedys wyll not deny

And with his owne wyll gooth to peryll and payne.

He is vnwyse whiche is ioyous and fayne

To offer his necke to bere that without fere

Whiche were ynoughe for dyuers men to bere

That man that taketh vpon his backe alone

The heuy weght of the large fyrmament

Or any burdeyne whiche maketh hym to grone

Whiche to sustayne his strength is ympotent

No meruayle is if he fall incontynent

And than whan he lowe on the grounde doth lye

He oft repentyth his purpose and foly

We haue in storyes many examples great

Shewynge the lewde ende of this curyosyte.

I rede of Alexander that dyd often sweate

In great peryls to augment his dignyte

He was nat content with europe and asye

Nor all the grounde under the fyrmament

At the last ende, cowde nat his mynde content

As if all the erth were nat suffycyent

For his small body by curyouse couetyse

But at the last he must holde hym content

With a small cheste, and graue nat of great pryce.

Thus deth vs shewyth what thynge sholde vs suffyce

And what is the ende of our curyosyte.

For dethe is lyke to hye and lowde degre

What shall a kynge at his last endynge haue

Of all his realme and infynyte treasoure

Saue onely his towmbe, and the grounde of his graue

But thoughe it be of great pryce and voloure

As is conuenyent to his hye honoure.

Yet lytell conforte to his soule shall it gyue

But cause of bostynge to them that after lyue

Thus whan man vnto his last ende is come

He nought with hym bereth of his dignytees

Wherfore cynicus a man of great wysdome

Lorde grettest of Grece in londes and Cytees

Hathe lefte great example vnto all degrees

For his great ryches his herte dyd neuer blynde

But worldly pompe set clene out of his mynde

He forced of no castels nor excellent byldynge

Dispysynge charges and besynes worldly

But gaue his mynde to vertue and cunnynge

And namely to the scyence of astronomy

Consyderynge that great rest of mynde and of body

With hym abydeth whiche with bolde herte is fayne

To folowe vertue, and leue charges mundayne

He that so doth no weght doth vndertake

Vpon his backe of so great a grauyte

That his small strength must it agayne forsake.

Where he that attempteth grettest thynges, and hye:

Great weyght of charges and moche dignite

Must lerne to suffer payne thought and vexacion

By his great charges of perturbacion.

What auayle is it the worlde to obtayne

In one mannys power, and all other to excell

To suffer trouble, and vayne charges sustayne

And at the last his pore soule gooth to hell

There toren and tourmented in paynes cruell

It were moche better to kepe a quyet mynde

And after our deth eternall rest to fynde

He that taketh thought for euery besynes:

And caryth for that whiche doth nat apertayne

Nor longe to his charge, he is full of blyndnes

And no houre shall rest, but styll in thought and payne

Care for thy owne charges, theron set thy brayne

For he a fole is that caryth or doth intende

For another mannys charge whiche he can nat amende

Therfore lyue in rest after thy degre.

Nor on suche thynges do nat thy mynde aply

Whiche ar no thynge apertaynynge vnto the

If thou so do thou shalt fynde rest therby

Auoyde thou the charge of worldly mysery

For godes take no thought great care ne trauayle.

Whiche after deth shall do the none auayle

Barklay to the Folys.

Fole clere thy iyen and of thy selfe beware

Care moste for thy owne besynes and charge

For other mennes take no great thought nor care

If thou thy conscience mayst therof discharge

A curyous man that of his tunge is large

Talkynge or carynge of other, his place is best

Hye in the fore top of our folysshe barge

For in that place is small quyet or rest


Of them that ar alway borowynge.

A man that is besy both euyn and morowe
With rauysshynge clawys and insaciable
Of his frendes and neyghbours to begge and to borow
To the deuourynge wolfe is most lyke or semblable
Suche in our shyp shall nat want a babyll
For he that styll borowes shall skant hym quyte or redde
And as a wretche the asse shall hym ouer tredde

That fole that hym selfe a dettour doth make

To dyuerse men, and is borowynge alway

Right ponderous charges on hym doth take

Borowynge of one another therwith to pay

Thoughe he be glad to haue longe terme and day

To hym assygned to make his payment

It nought auayleth, for soone the tyme is spent

But in the meane tyme deuourynge vsurye

Spoylyth makynge pore many a borewer

Where they two borewed they promys to pay thre

Their day of payment lenger to defarre.

Thus doth oft borowynge many thousandes marre

Yet some get malyce for that gode that they len

And where they lent twenty gladly taketh ten.

I wyll nat say but that it is mede certayne

To lene frely to one that is in nede

And wyll be glade it to content agayne.

But he that lenyth to haue rewarde or mede

Or more than he lent, may of hell payne haue drede

And he that so boroweth gayne can haue none

Therby in this lyfe, but hell whan he is gone

Therfore in this satyre suche wyll I repreue

And none that borowe nor lene on amyte

The vsurers: fals cristen men in theyr byleue

Folowe the waren way of theyr iniquyte

Prohybyte by lawe iustyce and equyte

Theyr vnclene hertes, and mynde, vnhappely

On lucre settynge, comynge by vsury

They hepe theyr synne in quantyte horryble

Labowrynge that lewde burthen gretter to make

And that sore weght tedyose and terryble

With a great rope vpon theyr shulders take

The weyght vp taken all theyr hole ioyntes quake

Thus these caytyfs with this rope and burthyn heuy

Them selfe hange damnynge theyr soule eternally

A wretchyd man, alas make clere thy reason

Remember thoughe god the suffer thus longe tyme

He graunteth that space to amende the in season.

And nat dayly to encreas thy synne and cryme

Somtyme he punyssheth with infernall abhyme

Shortly for synne, somtyme thoughe one mysdo

He suffreth longe: but yet truste nat therto

The longer vnpunysshed, the sorer is the payne

And if thou wylt nat gyue to me credence

Of sodome and Gomor the Bybyll sheweth playne

Howe God rightwysely ponysshed theyr offence

And also Solym, towne of great excellence

For vyciousnes god ponysshed bytterly

Whiche sholde vs cause for to lyue rightwysely.

The rightwyse god also dyd sore chastyce

Tthe Nilicolyans and them vtterly destroy

For theyr contynuynge in theyr syn and vyce

And theyr lynage longe kepte from welth and ioy

In great trouble whiche dyd theyr hertis noy:

Howe be it that they were good and innocent

For theyr fathers faute they suffred punysshement

But to our purpose to retourne agayne.

He that ought boroweth whiche he can nat pay

Of a wolfe rauysshynge foloweth the trayne

But though he all swolowe yet can he by no way

Deuoure the tyme nor the prefyxed day

Wherfore if he than disceyue his credytour

He oft hym chastyth with iustyce and rygour

Ryght in lyke wyse our lorde omnipotent

In this worlde to lyue grauntyth vs tyme and space

Nat styll to synne, but vnto this intent

To leue our vyce, and folowe the way of grace

But if we styll contynue in one case

And haue done no good to pay hym at our day

In hell pryson he iustly shall vs lay

Barklay to the Folys.

Thou fole mysmyndyd to large of sconscyence

To the I speke that art a lewde dettour

Borowe thou no thynge, noble grote ne pens.

More than thou mayst agayne pay thy credytour

Right so endeuer the to pay thy sauyour

His right and dewty, with a glad wyll and fayne

That is true seruyce, with glory and honour

Than shalt thou surely escape infernall payne.


Of inprofytable and vayne prayers vowes and peticyons.

That man whose herte vnhappy synne doth blynde
And prayth gasynge into the fyrmament
Or he that setteth nat his herte and mynde
Upon his wordes, theyr sentence or intent
And he that desyreth thynge nat conuenyent
Suche folys shall nat theyr peticion obtayne
For without the herte the tonge laboureth in vayne

Here we repreue (reperue) ye and reuyle.

A sorte of folys lewde of condicions

Whose herte and tunge theyr soules doth defyle

By theyr blynde prayers and yll peticions

Suche folowe no techynge nor gode monysyons

For often many of them with tunge doth pray

Theyr mynde, abstract nat knowynge what they say

Man oft desyreth with great affeccion

That thynge of god, whiche thynge if god wolde graunt.

Sholde be at last vnto thyer destruccyon

Examples hereof thou canst nat lacke nor want

The great Medas somtyme kynge tryumphant.

Of Phrygye By his owne folysshe desyre

With paynfull hunger, his lyfe breth dyd expyre

This kynge Mydas of whom I haue you tolde

Of god desyred with prayer dylygent.

That all that he touchyd tourne myght vnto golde

His prayer was harde, he obteynyd his intent

But nat to his welth, but mortall punysshement

For whan he brede or drynke tast or touche sholde

Incontynent was it tourned in to golde

Thus was his prayer to his owne damage

For at the laste he dyed in wo and payne

For no golde coude his sore hunger asswage

Nor his desyre coude he nat call agayne.

Thus his peticion desyred was in vayne:

And where he wenyd great welth to get therby

He dyed in shame hunger and mysery.

Some dayly pray with marueylous besynes

Cryeng and syghynge to god omnypotent

For to haue plenty of welth ioy and ryches

And to be made ryche myghty and excellent.

O cursyd lyuers, o blynde men of intent

On suche desyres they set theyr mynde and thought

Whiche thousandes vnto shamefull ende hath brought

What profyted the myghty edefyces:

Of Lycynus, or lyuelode of excesse:

What profyteth the money gotten in vyces

Of riche Crassus, or cresus, great ryches

They all ar dede by theyr vnhappynes

And that lewdely, nat by deth naturall

Theyr blynde desyres chefe rote and cause of all

Another whiche is in youthes prosperyte

For strength and myght often to god doth pray

Some of theyr lyfe to haue prolyxyte

Desyreth god, and here to byde alway

In riches welth, ioy and solempne aray

But yet they in glotony take suche custome

That they slea them selfe longe or theyr day be come

Alas mad fole why prayest thou for age

Syns it so greuous is and ymportable

Unstable and full of dolour and damage

Odyous to youth and intollerable

Say folysshe man whiche art of mynde vnstable

Is it nat great foly to any creature

To pray for that thynge, whiche he can nat endure

Peleus, and Nestor and many other mo

As Itackes and laertes, sore haue complayned

For to longe age, euer full of payne and wo

Wherwith theyr bodyes sore haue ben constrayned

And with great sorowes and dyuers often payned:

And to conclude brefly in one sentence

Oft to age falleth moche inconuenyence

Yet ar mo folys whiche ought repreued be

And they ar suche whiche styll on god doth call

For great rowmes, offyces and great dignyte

No thynge intendynge to theyr greuous fall

For this is dayly sene, and euer shall

That he that coueytys hye to clym aloft

If he hap to fall, his fall can nat be soft

Some other pray for bewty and fayrnes

And that to a cursyd purpose and intent

Wherby they lese the heuenly blyssydnes:

Theyr soule subduynge to infernall turment

O ye mad folys of myndes ympotent

Pray your Pater noster with deuoute herte and mynde

For therin is all that is nedefull to mankynde

Our sauyour criste whyle he was on this grounde

Amonge vs synners in this vale of mysery

Taught his disciples this prayer whiche doth sounde

Nere to this sentence, nor greatly doth nat vary

(Our father wiche art in heuen) eternally

Thy name be halowyd (graunt that to thy kyngdome)

All we thy seruauntis worthely may come

In heuen and erth thy wyll be done alway

And of thy great grace and thy benygnyte

Our dayly brede graunt vnto vs this day

Forgyuynge our synnes and our iniquyte:

As we forgyue them that to vs detters be

And to auoyde temptacion thy grace vnto vs len

And vs delyuer from euery yll amen.

Whan thou hast clensyd thy mynde from syn before

And sayd this prayer to thy maker deuoutly

Thou nedyst nat of hym to desyre more

Yet mayst thou pray and desyre rightwysly

For helthe of soule within thy hole body

For stedfast fayth and yll name to eschewe.

And chastely to lyue (by his help) in vertue

Thus sholde thou pray thou wretche both day and nyght

With herte and mynde vnto thy creatoure:

And nought by foly to asshe agaynst right

To hurte or losse to thy frende or neyghboure

Nor to thy fo by yll wyll or rygoure

But if god to thy prayers alway sholde enclyne

Oft sholde come great sorowe to the and to all thyne

The enuoy of Barklay to the Folys.

Man clere thy mynde or thou begyn to pray

Els though thy prayer be iust it is but vayne

And kepe togyther thy hurte and tonge alway

Or els doutles thou lesest all thy payne

From lewde peticions thy mynde thou ought refrayne

If thou desyre yll to thy fo by malyce

At thy peticion god shall haue dysdayne

For though thou be wrothe god is nat in lyke wyse


Of vnprofytable stody.

He that vayne stody doth haunt or exercyse
And lesyth his tyme, of fruyte voyde and barayne
Resortynge to ryot whiche cunnynge doth dispyse
And that of doctryne (in maner) hath disdayne
Suche shall in age of his madnes complayne
And seynge that he lesyth his tyme thus in foly
Let hym come to our folysshe company.

Nowe in this Nauy many them selfe present

Of this our roylame and from beyond the see

Whiche in theyr stody or lewde and neglygent

Lesynge theyr tyme at the vnyuersyte

Yet count they them selfe of great auctoryte

With theyr proude hodes on theyr neckes hangynge

They haue the lawde: but other haue the cunnynge

They thynke that they haue all scyence perfytely

Within theyr hertes bostynge them of the same

Though they therto theyr mynde dyd neuer aply

Without the thynge, they ioy them of the name

But suche mad folys to theyr great losse and shame

Whyle they sholde norysshe theyr myndes with science

They seke theyr pleasour, gyuen to neglygence

They wander in euery inconuenyence

From strete to strete, from tauerne to tauerne

But namely youth, foloweth all offence

No thynge intendynge the profyte to dyscerne

Nor fruyte of cunnynge wherby they myght gouerne

Them selfe by reason, but suche thynges they ensue

Wherby they neyther get good maners nor vertne

But he that intendeth to come to the science

And godly wysdome of our elders: certayne.

He must sore stody, for without dilygence

And besy laboure no man can it obtayne

None ought to cesse: though it firste be a payne.

In good perseueraunce getteth great ryches

Where no good cometh by sleuthfull ydelnes.

But moste I marueyll of other folys blynde

Whiche in dyuers scyencis ar fast laborynge

Both daye and nyght with all theyr herte and mynde

But of gramer knowe they lytyll or no thynge

Whiche is the grounde of all lyberall cunnynge

Yet many ar besy in Logyke and in lawe

Whan all theyr gramer is skarsly worth a strawe

If he haue onys red the olde dotrinall

With his diffuse and vnparfyte breuyte

He thynketh to haue sene the poyntis of grammer all.

And yet of one errour he maketh two or thre

Precyan or sulpice disdayneth he to se

Thus many whiche say that they theyr grammer can

Ar als great folys as whan they firste began

One with his speche rounde tournynge lyke a whyle

Of logyke the knottis doth lows and vndo

In hande with his sylogysimes, and yet doth he fele

No thynge what it menyth, nor what longeth therto

Nowe sortes currit: Nowe is in hande plato

Another comyth in with bocardo and pheryson

And out goeth agayne a fole in conclusyon

There is nought else but Est and non est

Blaberynge and chydynge, as it were beawlys wyse

They argue nought els but to proue man a beest

Homo est Asinus is cause of moche stryfe

Thus passe forth these folys the dayes of theyr lyfe

In two syllabis, not gyuynge aduertence

To other cunnynge doctryne, nor scyence.

I wyll nat say but that it is expedyent

The to knowe of Logyke the chrafte and connynge

For by argument it maketh euydent

Moche obscurenes, somtyme enlumynynge

The mynde: and sharpynge the wyt in many a thynge

But oft yet by it a thynge playne bryght and pure

Is made diffuse, vnknowen harde and obscure

It is ynoughe therof to knowe the grounde

And nat therin to wast all thy lyfe holly

Styll grutchynge lyke vnto the frogges sounde

Or lyke the chaterynge of the folysshe pye

If one afferme the other wyll deny

Sophestry nor Logyke with their art talcatyfe

Shewe nat the way vnto the boke of lyfe

With suche folyes tender youth is defylyd

And all theyr dayes on them they set delyte

But godly doctryne is from theyr myndes exylyd

Whiche sholde the body and soule also profyte

They take no layser, pleasur nor respyte

To other scyences, pleasaunt and profytable

But without ende in one thynge chat and bable

One rennyth to almayne another vnto fraunce

To parys padway Lumbardy or spayne

Another to Bonony, Rome or orleance

To cayne, to Tolows, Athenys or Colayne

And at the last retournyth home agayne

More ignorant, blynder and gretter folys

Than they were whan they firste went to the scolys

One bostynge the name of a lawer or deuyne

His proude hode hye vpon his stately necke:

Thus muste a gode clerke vnto a foule enclyne

Lowt with the body and with obedyence becke

And thoughe it tourne to theyr rebuke and checke

Yet nowe a dayes ouer many suche there be.

Whiche in stede of cunnynge vseth audacyte

The hode must answere for the follysshe student

Theyr tyme hath ben lost frutles and barayne.

Theyr frendes godes on suche folyes ar spent

To their damage thought hunger and payne:

Thus to conclude: me thynke it is but vayne

The frendes to labour the dayes of theyr lyue

To spare for suche scolers whiche shall neuer thryue

The great foly, the pryde, and the enormyte

Of our studentis, and theyr obstynate errour

Causeth me to wryte two sentences or thre

More than I fynde wrytyn in myne actoure

The tyme hath ben whan I was conductoure

Of moche foly, whiche nowe my mynde doth greue

Wherfor of this shyp syns I am gouernoure.

I dare be bolde myne owne vyce to repreue

Howe be it I knowe my wordes shall suche greue

As them selfe knoweth fawty and culpable

But if they be wroth: take they me by the sleue

For they shall bere the hode and I wyll the bable:

But firste ye studentis that ar of mynde vnstable

Ye wasters and getters by nyght in felde or towne

Within my Nauy wolde I set you to a cable

If I not fered lyst ye your selfe wolde drowne

Also I fere lyst my shyp sholde synke for syn

If that Cupido and Uenus seruytours

On the vnsure se my shyp entred within

Or all the folys promotyd to honours

I none receyue can of hye progenytours

My shyp is nat dressyd for them conuenyent

And to I fere lyst theyr cruell rygours:

Sholde rayse to my shyp some tempest or tourment

Thenuoy of Barklay to the Folys.

Fy studentis clens your myndes of this cryme

Gyue ones your hertis to parfyte dylygence

Howe longe in Idelnes, wyll ye lese your tyme

In pryde and ryot, with all other offence

Alas what profyte get ye by neglygence

But spende your goodes in all iniquyte

And where your frendes thynke, ye labour for scyence:

Ye lese your tyme bryngynge them to pouertee

Leue of suche stody as is vnprofytable

Without fruyte outher godly discyplyne

And gyue your myndes to scyences lawdable

Where ye may your herte set and inclyne:

To Arystotyls or Platoys doctryne

And nat alway on logyke or Sophestry

I wyll nat say but it is a thynge dyuyne

And moche worth to knowe Phylosophy


Of them that folysshly speke agaynst the workes of god.

Here note we fowlys whiche can nat be content
With goddes worke, and ordynaunce dyuyne
Thynkynge theyr owne wyll moche more expedyent
Nat wyllynge theyr myndes to his wyll to enclyne
But suche folys often sholde come to ruyne
And wo with sorowe and losse sholde they fynde
If god sholde conforme his workes to theyr mynde

He is a fole and laboreth in vayne:

Whiche with small brondes of fyre flamynge bryght

Entendyth with laboure besynes and payne

Of the shynynge sonne for to encrease the lyght

Suche one assayeth a thynge passynge his myght

And is a fole to set thought or delyte

To mende that thynge whiche god hath made perfyte

But yet is he a moche gretter fole truely

Whiche wyll correct that thynge whiche god hath done

And doth nat his herte his wyll and mynde aply

To goddes workes and deuyne prouysyon

Of all other maddest is his condycion

And more frantyfe forsoth I may hym call

Than they that ar vext with furyes infernall:

(Thou fole) the myght of god omnipotent

In vertue and wysdome so largely doth extende

His maiesty, and power is so excellent

His glorious godhede his workes doth defende

So that no mortall man can them amende

Wenest thou mad fole that thou amende cannest ought

That he hath done: whiche made all thynge of nought

He that hath made the heuen and firmament

The londe, the se, and euery other thynge

Is so discrete, so wyse, and prouydent

Before his presence parfytely seynge

All thynge to come that neuer hath had beynge

His workes and dedys ar so perfyte and ryght

That none can increas nor yet decreas his myght

He doth all thynge dispose moderate and dispence

Knowynge our mynde, and what is to vs most mete

All thynge is open and playne in his presence

Our inwarde thought must he nedes knowe and wete

And euery fortune is playne before his fete

He hath all thynge by lawe and order drest

And doth no thynge but it is for the best

Therfore whether he gyue thunder snowe or rayne

Wynde or wether, tempest or tourment

Frost lyghtnynge, fayre wether, outher storme sodayne

Mystes or clowdes, yet man sholde be content

And nat with worde nouther inwarde intent

Agaynst god grutche, but euery day and houre

Magnyfye the dedys of god his creatoure

It were moche better thou fole that thou were dome

Than to cast lewde wordes agaynst thy lorde in vayne

Thou fole he worketh no thynge but by wysedome

And yet art thou nat content but dost complayne

Thou sekest vengeaunce (for thy synne) and payne

In hell for euer, thynkynge thy selfe so wyse

To teche thy god, and his warke to dispyse

It is nat lawfull for any, hye nor lowe

To be so bolde so blynde or so cruell

Grutchynge wordes agaynst his god to throwe

Thughe to theyr plaseour a thynge nat fortune well

Take example by the children of Israell

Whiche oft for this synne suffred great payne and wo

Slayne and distroyed, so haue ben many mo

Many a lewde body without wysdome or rede

Grutche in theyr myndes, and openly do blame

Almyghy god, whan theyr children ar dede

Where rather they ought to enioye of the same

For it myght fortune that great rebuke and shame

Myght to theyr frendes haue come by theyr synne and cryme

Soone after: if they had nat dyed at that tyme

Wherfore this one clause is my conclusyon

That god our maker is wyse and prouydent

Blame nat his workes by thyne abusyon

For all that he doth is for the best intent

But if that god sholde alwaye assent

To our desyres and euer perfourme our wyll

Our owne requestis sholde tourne vs to great yll

Alexander barklay to the Folys.

O ye mad myndes that no thynge vnderstonde

O man presumptuous and vnobedyent

Howe darest thou be so bolde to take on honde

To repreue the workes of god omnipotent

Wylt thou hym teche, as more wyse and prouydent

Than he is (whiche made all thynge of nought)

Leue of this thy foly, and holde thy selfe content

For thou art a fole to set theron thy thought


Of them that gyue jugement on other.

Who that reputyth hym selfe iust and fawtles
Of maners gode, and of lyuynge commendable.
And iugeth other (parchaunce that ar gyltles)
To be of a condicion reprouable
Hymselfe nat notynge, thoughe that he were culpable
He is a fole, and onys shall haue a fall
Syns he wyll other iuge, hym selfe yet worst of all.

Many fallyth in great peryll and damage

And greuous deth by the vyce of folysshnes

Perseuerantly bydynge in theyr outrage

Theyr soule infect with synne and viciousnes

And though that deth hym alway to them addres

Yet hope they in longe lyfe and prosperyte

And neuer asswageth theyr blynde iniquyte

The tyme passeth as water in a ryuere

No mortall man can it reuoke agayne

Dethe with his dartis vnwarely doth apere

It is the ende of euery man certayne

The last of all ferys and ende of worldly payne

But thoughe we knowe that we all must haue an ende

We slepe in synne disdaynynge vs to amende

Some thynke them gode, iust and excellent

Myghty stronge and worthy of preemynence:

Charitable, chast, constant and innocent

Nat doutynge deth nor other inconuenyence

But yet ar they wrappyd sore in synne and offence

And in a vayne hope, contynue in suche wyse

That all the worlde (saue them selfe) they dispyse

They take on them the workes of god omnipotent

To iuge the secrete of mannys mynde and thought

And where no sygne is sene playne and euydent

They iuge a man saynge, his lyfe is nought

And if deth one hath vnto his last ende brought

(As mad) they mende nat theyr mysgouernaunce

Nat thynkynge that they ensue must the same daunce

Suche folys fayne causes and often tymes say:

That he that is dede vsed ryot and moche foly

Whiche causyd hym to dye before his day

And that he was feble, or full of malancoly

Ouer sad, or prowde, disceytfull and pope holy

Uiciously lyuynge in couetyse and gyle

Wherfore god suffred hym lyue the shorter whyle

Lo these blynde folys saciat with vyce

Jugeth hym that perchaunce dyd nat amys

Whyle he here lyuyd, and is in paradyce

Rewardyd for his workes in endles ioy and blys

Where as this lewde Juger, here in this worlde is

Styll lyuynge in synne, suffrynge great payne and wo

And though he thynke hym gode shall neuer come therto

He that in synne here lyeth fettered fast

And iugeth the deth of his frende or neyboure

Whiche from this lyfe is departed and past.

Let hym beware, for onys come shall the houre

That he must fele dethis dolorouse rygoure.

And after that endure infernall punysshement

For iugynge and mysdemynge of people innocent

The terme and day, of deth is moche vnsure

The deth is sure, the houre is vncertayne

Deth is generall to euery creature

Theder we must all, be it pleasour or payne

Wherfore wysdome wyll that we shulde refrayne

From folysshe demynge and nons deth discus

After deth god wot howe it shall be with vs

Alas full often a iust man gode and true

Of mynde innocent sad sober and sympyll

Passynge his tyme in goodnes and vertue

Is of these folys thought and demyd for yll

And he that is nought, frowarde of dede and wyll

Of these folys blynde frantyke and wode.

Without all reason is iugyd to be goode

Wherfore I proue that a blynde fole thou art

To iuge or deme a mannys thought or intent

For onely god knoweth our mynde and hart

Wherto we gree and to what thynge we assent

But who that is rightwyse iust, and innocent

And louyth god with honour and with reuerence

Than, may he boldely iuge anothers offence

Alexander barklay to the Folys.

Amende you folys: do way these folysshe wayes

Take ye no charge: nat mete for your degre.

And note these wordes: whiche criste our sauyour sayes

Juge nat another, and thou shalt nat iugyd be

It longeth onely to the hye dyuynyte

To iuge our mynde: for he is true iustyce

All thynge discernynge by right and equyte

No man sholde deme, whyle hym selfe is in vyce


Of pluralitees that is to say of them whiche charge them selfe with many benefycis.

That myller is a fole and here shall haue a barge
And as a mad man shall fast therin be bounde
Whiche his Asse wyll with so many sackes charge
That the pore beste for payne fallys to the grounde
Many in the chirche lyke hym may be founde.
Whiche so many benefycis labour to procure
That their small myght can nat the charge endure.

Amonge our folys delytynge them in vyces

Is yet another sorte of the speritualte

Whiche them ouerchargeth with dyuers benefyces

And namely suche that lowest ar in degre

Of byrth and cunnynge, of this condycion be

Defylynge goddes rentis and the chirches goode

Them selfe ouer ladynge, as men frantyke and wode

The weght is so great they can it nat endure

Theyr myght is small, theyr cunnynge is moche lesse

Thus this great charge wherof they haue the cure

To infernall Fenn doth this pore Asse oppresse

And to an Asse moste lyke he is doutles

Whiche takynge on his backe sackes nyne or tenne.

Destroyeth hymselfe them leuynge in the fenne

But though one prebende were to hym suffycient

Or one benefyce his lyuynge myght suffyse

Yet this blynde fole is nat therwith content

But labowreth for mo, and alway doth deuyse

Fals meanes to come therto by couetyse

He gapeth with his wyde throte insaciable

And neuer can content his wyll abhomynable

So for the loue of the peny and ryches.

He taketh this charge to lyue in welth and eas.

Howe be it that sole that hath suche besynes

And dyueres charges fyndeth great disseas

Neyther shall he god, nor yet the worlde pleas

And shall with his burthyns his mynde so vex and comber

That halfe his cures, can he nat count nor nomber

These carefull caytyfs, that ar of this same sort

With cures ar ouerchargyd so that of theyr mynde.

Rest haue they none, solace, pleasour nor conforte

Howe be it they thynke therby great welth to fynde

They gape yet euer, theyr maners lyke the wynde

Theyr lyfe without all terme or sertaynte

If they haue two lyuynges, yet loke they to haue thre

The folys whose hertis vnto this vyce ar bounde

Upon theyr sholders bereth aboute a sacke.

Insaciable without botome, outher grounde:

They thynke them nat lade though all be on theyr backe.

The more that they haue (the more they thynke they lacke)

What deuyll can stop theyr throte so large and wyde

Yet many all waste aboute Ryot and pryde

But yet is this moche more abhomynable

That asses vntaught without wysdome or scyence

Haue theyr proude myndes moste vnsaciable

Nat commynge to worshyp by vertue nor prudence

Yet counte they them worthy of this excellence

Courters become prestis nought knowynge but the dyce

They preste not for god, but for a benefyce

The clerke of the kechyn is a prest become

In full trust to come to promosyon hye

No thynge by vertue cunnynge nor wysdome

But by couetyse, practyse and flatery

The Stepyll and the chirche by this meane stand awry

For some become rather prestis for couetyse.

Than for the loue of god or his seruyce.

Alas oft goddes goodes and cristis herytage

Of suche folys is wastyd and spent in vayne

In great folyes mundaynes and outrage

Where it decreed, and ordeyned is certayne.

That prestis sholde helpe pore people that lyue in payne

And with suche goodes kepe hospytalyte

Whiche pryde ryot and Uenus suffreth nat to be

Thus is the grettest parte of the spiritualte

Pore preste, persone, vicayr, relygyon and prelate

With couetyse acloyde outher prodigalyte

And folys promotyd causyth good clerkis haue hate

Say lordes and bysshops with other of estate

What mouyth you so gladly, suche to promote

Whiche haue no cunnynge their wyt skant worth a grote

Wyll ye alway the folysshe asse ouercharge

With suche burthyns wherwith it can nat fare

And suffer other to walke and ren at large

And where they best myght bere theyr backes ar left bare

And that is worst of all, suche folys can nat be ware

But whan they ar promotyd after theyr owne entent.


Yet theyr insaciable mynde can neuer be content.

Some make exchanges and permutacions

Some take to ferme, and some let out agayne

Other folys for hope make resignacions

And some for one god scosyth gladly twayne

Some lyueth longe in hunger and in payne

And in the somer day skarsly drynketh twyse

Sparynge monay therwith to by a benefyce

Some for no wages in court doth attende

With lorde or knyght, and all for this polecy

To get of his lorde a benefyce at the ende

And in the meane tyme ensueth rybawdry

And somtyme laboureth by chraft of symony.

He playeth a fals cast, nat cessynge to coniure

Tyll of some benefyce he at the last be sure

Than if this lorde haue in hym fauoure, he hath hope

To haue another benefyce of gretter dignyte

And so maketh a fals suggestyon to the pope

For a Tot quot outher els a pluralyte

Than shall he nat be pleased with .ii. nouther thre

But dyuers wyll he haue ay choppynge and changynge

So oft a fole all and a gode clerke no thynge

These of nought force so that they may haue gayne

And golde ynough to spende on rybawdry and pryde

They haue the profyte, another hath the payne

The cure of the soulys of them is set asyde

And no meruayle, for howe sholde they abyde.

To teche their parysshynges vertue wysdome or grace

Syns no man can be atonys in euery place

Alas these folys our mayster criste betray

Of mannes soule wherof they haue the cure

And settynge in their stede syr Johnn of garnesey

They thynketh them selfe dischargyd quyte and sure

These folys note nat that euery creature.

Whiche here of soulys doth cure or charge take

At domys day a compt for them shall make

But if I sholde touche all the enormytees

The immoderat couetyse and desyre of dignyte

That nowe is vsed amonge all the degrees

Of benefycyd men ouer all the spiritualte

I fere displeasour, and also I often se

That trouth is blamed, and nat ay best to tell

But he that in this lyfe wyll alway besy be

To get dyuers prebendes shall haue the last in hell

Thenuoy of Barklay to the Folys.

What meane ye gyders of Christis herytage

Shall ye neuer leue this your deuowrynge mynde

Shall ye no tyme your couytyse asswage

Whiche in goddes seruyce your hartis sore doth blynde

Let this fals traytour no place amonge you fynde

Graunt hym no rowne in churche nor in quere.

For this is sure ye shall all leue behynde

We haue no Cyte, nor place abydynge here



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