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'And what schall be the ende': an edition of the final chapter of 'Jacob's Well.' (Middle English sermon series)

Jacob's Well(1) is a late Middle English sermon series closely related to the Somme le Roi/Speculum Vitae group of Latin, French and English manuals of Christian doctrine. Highly wrought, its ninety-five chapters take the form of an elaborate and carefully constructed allegory, distinguishing it from all other texts in this group. The well of the title is compared to the human person - body and soul, heart and mind in quest of purification and spiritual perfection through the sacrament of Penance. The well-cleaner's tools, skeet, skavel and shovel, are interpreted to mean contrition, confession and satisfaction, and the whole range of the Church's official teaching for lay people, from the Seven Deadly Sins to the Ten Commandments, with much more besides, is made to fit into the allegorical scheme.(2) This very extensive work obviously, required careful planning in terms of content and style, and it is not surprising to find the author reminding us (and no doubt himself) early on of the need to keep the end in sight: |Lokyth in pe beginning of every werk pat e do, hox, it schal be perfourmyd, & what schall be pe ende!' (4/14-15).

|What schall be pe ende' is the justification for this first edition of the final sermon, chapter xcv of Jacob's Well. For, as anyone familiar with the work will know and regret, Brandeis's edition of 1900 gives only the first fifty chapters, actually less than half of the full text. It may be noted here that the |Part I' referred to on the title-page of the Early English Text Society edition is merely a practical division for publishing purposes and, though it ends with a convenient number of chapters, it bears hardly any relation to the internal organization of the series. |Part II' is not in any organic way separate or different from the earlier chapters; it simply happens to remain unpublished.(3) The full text may therefore be studied only by consulting the unique manuscript, Salisbury, Cathedral Library, MS 103, or the microfilm of it (available from the University of Southampton Library).

Chapter xcv will be of particular interest to all who do not have ready access to the full text, for, as its Latin title indicates, it is a recapitulation of the entire work. One is therefore granted a bird's-eye view of all that has gone before. Not, it will be readily admitted, that there are any major surprises, since the author has clearly outlined the main themes in chapter i, where he states his allegorical scheme and his intention to preach day by day for ninety-five days.(4) The Latin table of contents (pp. xiv xvi) also gives a good idea of what is to come, at least in terms of chapter headings, though certainly, not in terms of the allegory, since the headings refer only to the doctrinal points treated. The opening chapter, in fact, is exceptional in that its heading hints at the allegory: Qualiter de puteo concupiscencie fit fons Jacob. The English title, which is editorial (not in the manuscript), is based on the translation of this heading: |How the pit of lust becomes Jacob's Well'. The editorial title may be considered fully justified, as will be seen from the fact that the author himself uses this expression in English near the end of the series, just after quoting once again John iv.II, the source of the well image: |pis welle is pe welle of Jacob, pat is of hym pat doth penaunce' (see chapter xcv, f. [2i6.sup.r] below).(5)

Although the final chapter recalls and recapitulates all the themes announced in the first, it is not simply a repetition of the introductory sermon. In fact, it is almost exactly twice as long, because where the author had merely announced the bare bones of his scheme at the beginning of the series, at the end this is fleshed out and many details are given. It will thus be found useful to consult chapter i again before comparing it with chapter xcv. As would be expected from such a careful stylist, there is a circular movement in these two complementary sermons: the ending comes full circle and back round to the beginning. The two chapters' final paragraphs are very close in theme, style and vocabulary, in places word for word - as, indeed, the final sentence shows:

panne, of oure bokett of desyre e schul drynke here watyr of grace, and in

oure end e swete wyne of joye!(5/12-13)

pat pe bokett of oure desyr mowe be fylled here wyth watyr of grace, and in

oure ende wyth wyne of ioye.(f. [217.sup.r])

The main points developed in chapter xcv, making it so much longer than chapter i, may be classified under the headings of expansions, additions and the exemplum. It is probably simpler to list the expansions and additions (marked +) together in chronological order, thus making them easier to locate in the text. They are as follows: the naming of the five wits; the naming of the Deadly Sins, with examples of the principal vices associated with them; the further development of the five wits, with examples of how they may be abused, turning on the notion of |spare thy [wit]'; the naming of the six spades needed to clean out the sand and gravel; the listing of the seven virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; (+) the addition of a paragraph on the four virtues needed to make the well foursquare (this is not mentioned at all in chapter i); the articles of faith with the image of the shield from Ephesians vi.16; (+) the addition of the Apocalyptic images of the golden stars and candlesticks (not mentioned either in chapter i); (+) the addition of the brief allegorical interpretation of the well of Jacob as the |man of penance' and the Samaritan Woman as man's soul (not explicit in chapter i, though implied by the heading); the listing of the Ten Commandments and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; (+) the allegorical allusion to Jacob's Ladder (again, not explicit in chapter i, though the ladder of charity itself is mentioned); (+) and, finally, the quotation from John of Abbeville, which introduces (+) the exemplum.

The exemplum in chapter xcv, here given the editorial title of |The Fishmonger's Stolen Baskets', is obviously a major addition in relation to the first chapter of Jacob's Well. From a purely technical viewpoint it helps to expand the concluding sermon, since it is almost five times as long as the brief exemplum in chapter i, |King Alexander's Precious Stone'. The latter is a memento mori - |thynke of deth!' (5/4) - and fits in well with the overall penitential theme, since, as the Somme le Roi points out, 'no man kunne lyue wel but he haue lerned to dve'.(6) From a moral viewpoint, however, many will find the exemplum in the concluding chapter more refreshing, and certainly more amusing, stressing as it does the importance of truth, charity and mercy, sadly lacking in all classes of society, high and low. Although somewhat cynical, it is humorous, poking a certain malicious fun at rich and poor alike, who have either never heard of truth, charity and mercy, or turn up their noses at the odour. There is an oxymoron here, since the virtues are likened to the overpowering smell of rotten fish, whereas in reality it is mankind that is putrefied by sin - a somewhat telling comment on this parish priest's deep-seated pessimism about human nature, no doubt after long years of hearing confessions.

The personal aspect of the conclusion - the preacher's last word, as it were, on the need for repentance - is underlined by the fact that the source of this exemplum is unknown. The author has not simply borrowed an anecdote from the Alphabetum Narrationum, the source of the vast majority of his stories.(7) It is not found in that collection; nor is it listed by Tubach among other known collections of moralized tales.(8) Although it is introduced bv a reference to onc of John of Abbeville's sermons on the Psalms(9) (a work much quoted in |Jacob's Well, and a source of inspiration to the writer),(10) the exemplum itself does not come from Abbeville, an austere moralist who avoids storytelling. Its tone and its position at the end of chapter xcv bear the stamp, if not of personal composition by the author, at least of a calculated stylistic conclusion.

The sole witness, Salisbury, MS 103, dating from c. 1440 and written in a Suffolk dialect, is plainly a copy of a lost exemplar, leading Brandeis to place the composition of the work in the preceding generation (early fifteenth century).(11) The text of the manuscript, clear and legible, needs only a few modifications - and still fewer corrections - to render it accessible to all. The present edition of chapter xcv is not, however, diplomatic, for a transcription of the abbreviations used bv the Middle English copyist would not assist the modern reader. In conformity, therefore, with the practice adopted by Brandeis in his edition of Part I, the manuscript abbreviations have been expanded in italics; the only abbreviation to remain is ampersand, here printed as |&'. As for punctuation, the policy of most recent editors of Middle English texts has been followed: that is to say, the copyist's punctuation, which includes not only stops but also single and double horizontal bars and other such signs, has becn made to conform to modern grammatical usage. Most of the capital letters are the copyist's and are reproduced as in the manuscript; a certain number have been added by the present editor, notably in referring to the persons of the Holy Trinity. The underlined words, whether English or Latin, appear as such in the original. Paragraph division, not used in the manuscript, has, however, been added to lighten the text and to highlight the main points. Folio divisions are also given. Where I have judged it necessary to propose an addition or correction, this is placed in square brackets [ ], while excisions are indicated by [-]; in both cases, a footnote explains the reason for the change.


[f. [214.sup.v]] Capitulum []

Recapitulacio totius operis

In rehersyng schortly all pe proces pat I haue seyd & schewyd ou pis hool tweyne monythys & more, ffyrst I told ou pat our body was a pytt of lustys wyth corrupte watyr of pe grete curs, and full of wose of pe seuen dedlv synnes.

Panne I taw te ow wyth pe scope of penaunce to castyn out pe corrupte watyr of pe grete curs, and panne stoppyn pe v. watyrgatys, pat is, our v. wyttes: our sy t, our heryng, our swelwyng, our smellyng, and our felyng fro lustys, pat pe wattyr ofcurs come no t ronnyng in a en to our pytt.

And panne I taw te ow how e schuldyn, wyth pe skete of contrycyoun, and wyth pe skauel of confessioun, and wyth pe schouele of satysfaccyoun, castyn out of our pyt out of our conscyence pe wose of pe 7 dedly synnes, whiche seuen I schal reherse schortely now a en.

Pryde is a lykyng heynesse of mannys herte, of offyse or of hey astate, or of nobleye pat a man bath of kynde or of grace, or for pat he hopyth to haue more pan [-](a) an oper. Specys of pride arn pise: bost & vauntyng, vnbuxumnes, dyspy t, ypocrysie & vnschamefulness.

Enuye is sorwe & forthynkyng [f. [215.sup.r]] of pi ney bourys goode, & ioye of pi ney bourys euyll. Spyces of enuye arn hate in herte, fals iugement & demyng of operis dedys in turnyng to euyl here good menyng, and bakbytyng in spekyng euyl behynde and glad to heryn euyl; for yf pere were non herere, pere schulde be no bacbytere.

Wretthe is a wycked steryng of swellyng in herte, wherof pe wyl is euyl desyryng to do wreche & harm. Spyces of wretthe arn pise: angyr, chydyng, false othys, foule woordys, slaundre, fy tyng, feloyve & commettyng mannys deth.

Coueytise is a wronge wyllyng or desyryng or ernyng to haue pat pou hast nou t, ne patt pou aw tyst no t to haue: pat is, wrongefully to getyn ony ping patt oure lykyng or oure loue lythe on. Specys of coueytise arn pise: sacrylegis, symonye, gouyll, thefte, raueyn, falsnesse, gyle, wythholdyng of operis godys or of dettys, to qwyke or dede or to holy cherche.

Slauthe is an hertlych angyr or noy to vs of ony gostely goodnes pat we schulde don. Specys of slouthe arn pise: latsumnes, delay to drawyn to ony good dede, & heuynes of herte pat lettyth deuocyoun in herte to God in his seruyse, & ydylschype pat makyth us to latyn ly t of ony gode dedys and makyth vs lv t]yche & sone to letyn of whan ony good dede is begunne. We be born of kynde to trauayle, as a foule of keende is made to fly en. Job .(12) And it a en kynde ynylnesse heldyth vs in ese & is enemye to oure soule, & stepdamme to vertewys, & techere & noryschere of synnes. Glotonye is a myche foul lykyng or loue in tast & in tastyng of mete or of drynke. Pis glotonye is don is 5 manerys. In etyng or drynkyng ouer erlyche or ouer latte, or ouer ofte tymes whanne it nedyth nou t, pis is pe fy[rs]te;(b) ffor pe secunde to loue ouer delycate lyif; ffor pe pridde to etyn or drynkyn to mychyl; for pe forthe to etyn or to drynkyn ouer hastyleche; ffor pe fyfte to commettyn on what manere we mown getyn delycaces, to fulfylle po lustys of oure flesch opirwyse pan we mowe godelych lede oure lyif wyth.

Leccherye is a foul lykyng & a foul lust of pe flesh. Specys of leccherye arn pise: ffornycayoun, pat is sengle wyth sengle, Avowtrye, pat is weddyd folk pat brekyn here wedlok, Inceste, pat is in kynrede, & manye opere specys pere ben in leccherye.

Pis wose of pise 7 dedly synnes I telde ou to castyn hem out of oure pytt of oure conscyens wyth pe skeet of contricyoun, wyth pe scauel of confessioun and wyth pe schouele of satysfaccyoun, for pis wose of synne sleeth pe soule gostly. Perfore fle synne as pou wylt fle pe face of an addere. Ecclesiasticus 22 [21].(13)

I telde ou whanne pe watyr of curs & pe wose of synne were cast oute, [f. [215.sup.v] e muste stoppyn pe 5 watyr gatys of our pytt, pat is of our body, pat is oure 5 bodyly wyttys, pat pe watyr of curs & pe wose of synne entre no t in a en. Spere pe gate of pi sy t fro foul beheldynges, pat pin ey e dely te no t to se carol s, dauncys, wommen in synne. Spere pi mowth, pat it dely te nou t to fele in etyng & drynkyng, ne in ydell woordys, ne in scornys ne in bakbytyng, ne in flateryng ne in bost, ne in cursyng ne in sweryng, n[e](c) in chydyng ne in dyspysyng. Spere pi nase fro smellyng pat it dely te no t to fele in swyche smellyng pat may stere pe to synne. Spere pin handys, pi mowth & pin othere membrys, pat it dely te no t in foul synful towchyng. Pus schette pise 5 watyrgatys of pi pyt fro dely t of synne; schette hem a en pe feend & open hem to God, and panne schal pi soule se God wyth undyrstondyng & here God in wyll & swelwe God in dely te & smelle God in mynde & towche God in consentyng, and so pe feend & curs & synne schul be schett out, & God schal be takyn in to pi pytt of pi conscyens. Pi pytt is fyguryd be pe pytt patt hadde 5 entrees & eche entre lay full of syke folk: Job. .(14) Ry t so pi pytt, pi body, hath v. wyttes, in whiche 5 wyttes myche folk lythe syke in soule; for in pe 5 wyttes myche folk synnyth.

I telde 0o oure pytt was schelde & hadde no kyndely spryng, and perfore I telde ou pat e schuldyn wyth spadyis - pat is pe spade of clennes, pe spade of pees, pe spade of meende, pe spade of pouert in spyrite, pe spade of abstynens, pe spade of chastyte - wyth pise 6 spadys e schuldyn delvyn out of our pytt pe grauel bynethe pe wose, pat is pe circumstauncys of alle 7 deedly synnes, tyl e come to a deep ground of 7 vertuys pat arn contrarye to pe 7 dedly synnes.

Pe vertuys ben peyse: lownes, mercy, obedyens, ry tfulnes, largenes, abstynens & gostly ioye. I bad ou delvyn doun depe in pise vertuys, and pane e schulde fyndyn, in pe ground of pe 7 vertuys, 7 sprynges of grace, pat is pe yftys of pe Holy Gost: pat is pe yfte of dreed, pe yfte of yfte, pe yfte of cunnyng, pe yfte of my t, e yfte of counseyl, pe yfte of vnderstondyng, & pe yfte of wysdam. And whan e han foundyn pise 7 springes of pe watyr of grace, panne I told ou pat oure pytt was doluyn depe ynow to be a good spring welle full of depe watyr of grace.

But pane I teld ou pis welle muste be made fouresqware wyth iiij. vertuys, pat is wyth avysement & temperure & gostly my t & wyth ry tfulnes. Panne I telde ou to leuele pe ground wyth pe leuel of equyte & to haue a lyne, pat is truthe, to ley by lym & ston in yowre welle.

I telde ou to leyn pe curbelys in oure welle, pat is pe artycles of oure feyth, pat ben pise: it ben in 3, in pe godhed of Crist, in pe manhod of Crist, & in holt cherche wyth his sacramentys. It is lyckenys to a scheeld pat hath 3 corners, and pise ben pe corners, Eph. 6 in omnibus sumentes scutum fidei.(15) In pe godhed, beleuyth pat pe trinyte is 3 personys all lyche in my t, wytt & grace, wythoute begynnyng & wythoutyn [f. [216.sup.r]] endyng, pat is Fadyr, Sone & Holy Gost, and pise 3 personys is but oo God, & non oper God is but he to beleuyn on. Pis holy trinyte in 3 personys & oon godhed made heuen erthe & helle and alle creaturys. In pe manhed of Crist, beleuyth pou Goddys Sone was conceyued of pe Holy Gost and took flesch & blood of a mayde, oure fady Marye, and born of here clene mayde wythoute synne, and pat he suffryd peyne for vs and don on pe cros, & deed & beryid, and took soulys oute of helle, & roos fro deth to lyue he stey [-](d) vp to heuene. He schal demyn vs mankynde at pe doom, to ioye or to peyne aftyr we han decervyd, for at pe day of doom we schul ryse in body & soule, fro deth to lyue, and afore Crist schul stonde & answere for oure dedys and be sauyd or dampnyd aftyr we haue deseruyd.

Beleuyth in holy cherche, pat is in pe congregacyoun and in cumpanye of all crystene peple, & in pe 7 sacraments, baptem, confirmacyoun, penaunce, pe sacrament of the awter, pe last anoyntement, ordre, & matrimonye. Belcuyth pat alle pise is helthe & saluacyoun to mannys soule, if charyte be kept, and in chartyte pe sacraments ben receyuyd & kepte, and wyth outyn holy cherch & hys sacraments is non helth to mannys soule.

Pe 7 artycles of pe feyth in pe godhed arn fygured be pe 7 sterrys, and pe 7 artycles of oure feyth in pe manhod of Crist arn fyguryd in pe 7 goldyne candelstyckys in myddys of pe whiche wente pe Sone of pe mayde; pat is to seyne, in which artycles, as 7 sterrys in pe godhod & as 7 goldyn candelstyckys in pe manhod, Goddys Sone is beleuyd both God & man in all cristen feyth.(16) Holy chyrch wyth his 7 sacramentys is fygured be pise woordys [-](e) pat Crist seyth be his prophete: Super lapidem vnum 7 oculi sunt.(17) On oo ston, pat is holy cherche, arn 7 eyne.

Vpon pis curblys of oure feyth I teld ou how e schuldyn /ley/(f) lym & ston in our welle. Pe stonwerk I telde ou was gode werkys. Panne I telld ou oure welle was syker made wyth lym & stone and schulde no t fayle, but dure, for it was depe ynow wyth watyr of grace & of vertuys. Puteus altus est. Joh. 4.(18) pis welle is pe welle of Jacoh,(19) pat is of hym pat doth penaunce, on whiche Crist sytteth & restyth hym and byddeth pe womman, pat is mannys soule, yuyn him drynkyn of pis watyr of vertewys in pis welle. Job. 4.(20)

Panne I telde ow e muste haue a ladder wyth manye stakys youre soule to styen up by out of pis depe welle in oure ende to pe hey hyll of heuene. Pe to sydes of pis laddere is loue to God & loue to pi ney boure. Pe stakys in pis laddere of loue arn pe x comaundments and pe dedys of mercy. Pe X comaundmentys are pise: pou schalt worschype no god but oon, pou schalt no t takyn his name in veyn, pou schalt halwyn pe haly day, pou schalt worschepe fadyr and modyr, pou schalt do no lecherye, pou schalt sle no man, pou schalt no t stele, pou schalt bere no fals [f. [216.sup.v]] wytnesse, pou schalt no t coueytin pi ney bours godys pat han no lyif ne mowe no t meue hemself fro o place to an oper, as hows or lande, pou schalt no t desyre suche thynges of pi ney boure pat han lyif & mowe meven hemself fro oo place to an oper, as is his servant, his mayde, his oxe, his asse.

Pe dedys of mercy arn to haue mercy on pin owyn soule, to leeue pi synne and to haue mercy on pe soulys in purgatorye & helpyn hem, haue mercy on pin euyn cristene, yue pe hungry mete, pe thirsty drynk, pe nakyd clothys, herberwe pe nedefull, vysyte pe seke, releue prysonerys, berve pe dede, yue counseyl to pe nedefull, chastyse and blame pe trespasande, coumforte hem pat arn in heuynesse, fforgeue hem pat trespasyn a ens pe, haue ruthe & compassioun of operis dyssese, teche and enforme swetely pe synnere to amendyn hym of his synful lyif, preye for pyn euyn cristen qwyke & dede, for freend & foo, elde pou praysynges, thankynges & prayers to pi God, and gret oure lady wyth Ave Maria, and pray to pe Fadyr of heuen pi Pater noster. Pise be pe laddere stakys in pi laddere of loue to styen vp by to heuene.

Pis laddere sey Jacob, Genesis 37 [28].(21) standyng on erthe, pat is on erthly man, & pe ouyr ende towchyd heuene, for charyte in erthely man towchyth God in heuene. For God is fastnyd to pe laddere of charyte, and aungelys gon up & doun on pis laddere of loue, pat is to seye, aungellys be pis laddere of loue come doun fro heuene to coumfortyn man, and be pis laddere of loue aungellys gon vp to heuene wyth mannys soule and to presentyn God wyth mannys deuoute prayerys. Tob. 12.(22) In hym pat hath pis laddere of charyte in his welle, mercy & truthe metyn hem to gedere, pat is, pe mercy of God forgeuyng synne and pe truthe of man condempnyng hymself be trewe doom for his synne. And in pis man ry tfulnes & pees kyssen hem to gedere, pat is, ry tfulnes of man repentaunt in sorwe of herte, and pees of God receyuyng man
repentaunt in to hys chylde. hoc Abuyle. Ps. [84:11] misericordia veritas obui
sibi iusticia pax osculato sunt.(23)

[Exemplum: The Fishmonger's Stolen Baskets]

A peddere in a markett hadde o panyerye full of fysch to sellyn and he clepyd oo basket Goddys curs, pe othir basket synne, pe thrydde basket falsnes, pe 4 basket truthe, pe v. basket charyte, pe vi. basket he clepyd mercy. The 3 panyers, truthe, charyte & mercy, he hydde hem bynethyn vnder a stalle, for in hem were most precyous fysch and perfore he kepte hem tyl last for deynteth. Pe opere 3 panyerys, Goddy's curs, synne & falsenesse he sette abouyn on pe stalle. And pere com so manye ry[f. [2I7.sup.r] che men & grete pat pey bowtyn vp all pe fysch in Goddys curs, in synne & in falsnes anon. And whil pe ryche men bowtyn pe fysch in po 3 panyers, his opere thre panyerys, truthe, charyte and mercy, were stolyn awey. Pose folk comyn to a bow t of pat fysch aftyrward in pe 3 panyerys, truthe, charyte & mercy, and pe peddere made myche mone pat it were stolyn awey. Pe ryche men were seruyd & haddyn bowt fysch ynow; pe poore fayledyn & no fysch my te getyn.

Pe peddere ran abowtyn to enqueryn aftyr his 3 pannyerys of fysch. He com into the popys palfys and in to pe paleysis of cardynalys, Erschebysschopys & bysschoppys, & askyd if truthe, charyte & mercy com ow t pere. Alle offserys, grete & smale, seydin pat pere kom non swyche hereinne, neythir truthe ne charyte ne mercy. Pe peddere ran forth in to pe howsholdys of erchedekenys, parsounys, vykerys, & in to seculere collegys & to seculere preestys, and askyd hem aftyr hys thre panyerys, truthe, charyte and mercy. Pey seydin alle pat pey knewe non swvche: amongy.s hem kom neythir truthe, charyte ne mercy.

Pe peddere ran forth in to Abbeyis of alle relygyoun pat haddyn possessioun and askyd if truthe, charyte and mercy kom ow t to hem. Pey seydin pat pei knewe non such. Pe peddere ran in to pe howsys of alle ordrys of frerys and pere askyd if pei herdyn ow t of his panyerys wyth fysch pat hy ten truthe, charyte & mercy. Pe frerys seydyn pat pei haddyn pe savere of hem, but it smellyd so strong on hem pat pey leetyn alle 3 panyers, truthe, charyte & mercy, pacyn forth be here gate; but non of hem thre abode pere ne koom in amonges hem.

Pe peddere ran forth in to pe courtys of empourys & kynges & pryngs, dukys, [-](b) erlys, lordys, barons, kny tes & sqwyerys, & askyd aftyr truthe, charyte & mercy. Pey seydyn alle pere amonges hem com neucre non swych. He ran to ryche & pore and to alle pe comouns and askyd aftyr truthe, charyte & mercy: grete & smale, ryche & pore seydyn alle togydere pat amonges hem com neuer truthe charyte ne mercy. And on pis manere wyse pe fysch in pe panyerys of Goddys curs, of synne & of falsnes was ful bou t of ryche men, but pe fysch in pe panyerys of truthe, charyte and mercy was stolyn awey, pat perof han neythir pore ne ryche, heye ne lowe, grete ne smale.

Ry t so syres, pe stonwerk of gode werkys and pe artycles of cristen feyth, pat clepe I truthe in oure welle; pe laddere I clepe charyte, [f. [217.sup.v]] pe stakys of pis laddere I clepe mercy. Whyl grete ryche men and werdly coueytous lyuerys and fleschly lyuerys byen vp pe fysch, pat han here dely t and here lust in pe panyerys of Goddys curs, of synne & of falsnesse, perwhyle is stolyn awey out of oure welle pe fysch pat is dely t & desyr of truthe, charyte & mercy, at I drede me sore, pow we sekyn pereaftyr in ony astate of holy cherche or of temporalte, eythir in hey or lowe, poore or ryche, grete or smale, it is wol hard to fyndyn hem; ffor pe fysch of truthe, of charyte and of mercy smellyn so stronge vpon vs, pat we mowe no t sufferyn pe sauour perof, but puttyn hem awey fro vs. But if I wyste where pat I my te fynde pis fysch of truthe, charyte & mercy, I wol do gladlyche byggen perof. And be my counseyl enquyreth and aspyeth peraftyr: yf e mowe wyte where it is, byeth perof.

And wyth truthe in gode [-](i) werkys deluyth oure welle depe ynow. Wyth truthe in pe feyth ley th oure curbelys; wyth truthe in pe werkys of pe feyth leyth oure stonwerk. Wyth charyte makyth oure laddere; wyth dedys of charyte makyth oure laddere stakys; wyth charyte turnyth pe wyndas of oure mynde fro synne to vertu, fro pe feend to God. Wyth mercy on oure soule, and wyth pe roop of hope of mercy of oure synne, lyfte vp oure body to penaunce, and oure soule to God wyth pe roop of loue, pat pe bokett of oure desyr mowe be fylled here wvth watyr of grace, and in oure ende wyth wyne of ioye.

Ad quod nos perducat [etc].(24)

Deo gracias.

(a) Unfinished letter crossed out MS. (b) fyrste] fyfte MS. (c) ne] no MS. (d) p crossed out MS. (e) woordys pat] woordys pat pat MS. (f) ley] marginal addition MS. (g) charyte] loue crossed out in favour of charyte MS. (h) [er.sup.o] crossed out in favour of erlys MS. (i) werkyth crossed out in favour of werkys MS.


(1) Partly edited in Jacob's Well, ed. by Arthur Brandeis, Part I, EETS, os, 115 (London, 1900). References are to this edition by page/line. (2) See Leo Carruthers, |Allegory and Bible interpretation: the narrative structure of a Middle English sermon cycle', Journal of Literature and Theology, IV (1990), 1-14. (3) An announcement in Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, LXXVI (1977), 279, gave notice of the preparation of Part II of the text, which is eagerly awaited. (4) On the significance of the number 95 and its probable relation to the Lenten and Easter Cycle, see Leo Carruthers, |The liturgical setting of Jacob's Well', English Language Notes, XXIV (1987), 11-24. (5) See also Jacob's Well, ed. Brandeis, 185/20-3, where the same Gospel scene (John iv) is recalled and interpreted; here the well is called the well of Samaria (= the sinful body), where Christ asks water (= tears of repentance) of the Samaritan Woman = the sinful soul). (6) The Somme le Roi is here quoted from one of its Middle English translations, The Book of Vices and Virtues, ed. by W. Nelson Francis, EETS, os, 217 (London, 1942), p. 68. (7) See Joan Young Gregg, |The exempla of Jacob's Well: a study in the transmission of medieval sermon stories', Traditio, XXXIII (1977), 359-80 (based on the eighty-three stories in Jacob's Well, Part I only, as Gregg had not seen the manuscript; there are in fact a further sixty-four exempla, of the same type and mostly based on the same source, in Part II). (8) Frederic C. Tubach, Index Exemplorum: a Handbook of Medieval Religious Tales, Folklore Fellows Communications, 86:204 (Helsinki, 1969). (9) John of Abbeville is the author of the collection variously known as Sermones in Psalmos, Moralitates in Psalterium or Expositio in Psalmos. The text is printed in C. A. Horoy, Medii Aeui Bibliotheca Patristica, 1:6 (Paris, 1880), where it is falsely attributed to St Antony of Padua. (10) For a study of John of Abbeville's influence, see Leo Carruthers, |Jacob's Well: etudes d'un sermonnaire penitentiel anglais du XVe siecle' (these d'Etat, Universite de Paris-Sorbonne, 1987) (microfiches Lille, ANRT 87.15-05330/89), pp. 81-2, 395-430; and see n. 2 above. (11) See Leo Carruthers, |Where did Jacob's Well come from? The provenance and dialect of MS Salisbury Cathedral 103', English Studies, LXXI (1990), 335-40. (12) Job v.7 |Homo nascitur ad laborem, et avis ad volatum.' (13) Sirac xxi.I: |Quasi a facie colubri fuge peccata.' (14) John v.2-3. (15) Ephesians vi.16. (16) Allusion to Revelation i.12,13,16,20. (17) Zechariah iii.9. (18) John iv.II. (19) The copyist underlines these words in order to recall the biblical origin of the work's theme and title. (20) John iv.6-7. (21) Genesis xxviii.12. (22) Tobit xii.12, 15 (allusion to the angel Raphael). (23) Psalm lxxxiv.11, the source of the |Four Daughters of God' allegory used by many other writers, is the subject of a sermon by John of Abbeville (Abuyle), printed in Horoy, Medii Aeui Bibliotheca Patristica, 1:6, cols. 995-6 (Sermo CLXII). (24) |Ad quod nos perduat' is a traditional homiletic concluding formula, which may be in Latin, as here and in chapter i, or in English (|To whych blysse/ioye ...', etc.), as in many other sermons in Jacob's Well.
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Author:Carruthers, Leo
Publication:Medium Aevum
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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