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Full text of "The fire of love : or, Melody of love, and The mending of life; or, Rule of living"

THE FIRE OF LOVE AND 
THE MENDING OF LIFE 



* rnr 








KICHARi Kol.l.K 

CoI-J ON MS. KAUSHNA, I .. VI. IT. II. I" 



THE *IRE OF LOVE OR 
MELODY OF LOVE AND 
THE MENDING OF LIFE 
OR RULE OF LIVING 

TRANSLATED BY RICHARD MISYN FROM 

THE INCENDIUM AMORIS AND THE 

DE EMENDATIONE VITAE OF RICHARD 

ROLLE, HERMIT OF HAMPOLE 

EDITED AND DONE INTO MODERN ENGLISH 
BY FRANCES M. M. COMPER. WITH AN 
INTRODUCTION BY EVELYN UNDERHILL 



WITH A FRONTISPIECE IN COLOUR 



i 




METHUEN & CO. LTD. 
36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 
LONDON 

Second Edition 



First Published . . April 2nd 1914 
Second Edition . . 1920 



CONTENTS 



PACK 

INTRODUCTION : THE MYSTICISM OF RICHARD ROLLE, 

BY EVELYN UNDERBILL . . vii 

. xxvii 

M 

THE " MIRACULA " . . . xlv 
THE FIRE OF LOVE ... .1 

THE MENDING OF LIFE .... 193 

NOTES ... . 243 

BIBLIOGRAPHY ..... 269 

GLOSSARY .... . 275 



INTRODUCTION 

THE MYSTICISM OF RICHARD ROLLE 
BY EVELYN UNDERHILL 

THE four great English mystics of the fourteenth century 
Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich 
and the anonymous author of c The Cloud of Unknow 
ing though in doctrine as in time they are closely related 
to one another, yet exhibit in their surviving works strongly 
marked and deeply interesting diversities of temperament. 1 
Rolle, the romantic and impassioned hermit ; his great 
successor, that nameless contemplative, acute psychologist, 
and humorous critic of manners, who wrote c The Cloud of 
Unknowing and its companion works ; Hilton, the gentle 
and spiritual Canon of Throgmorton ; and Julian, the 
exquisitely human yet profoundly meditative anchoress, whose 
Revelations of Divine Love are perhaps the finest flower 
of English religious literature these form a singularly 
picturesque group in the history of European mysticism. 
Richard Rolle of Hampole, the first of them in time, 

1 Richard Rolle was probably born about 1290 and died 
in 1349: The Cloud of Unknowing* was written in the 
second half of the fourteenth century : Walter Hilton died 
about 1396 : Julian of Norwich was born in 1343, and was 

still living in 1413. 

vii 



viii INTRODUCTION 

and often called with justice The father of Englis 
Mysticism, is in some aspects the most interesting an 
individual of the four. Possessed of great literary powei 
and the author of numerous poems and prose treatises, h; 
strong influence may be felt in all the mystical and asceti 
writers who succeeded him ; and some knowledge of hi 
works is essential to a proper understanding of the current 
of religious thought in this country during the two centurie 
which preceded the Reformation. Sometimes known as th 
English Bonaventura, he might have been named with fa 
greater exactitude the c English Francis : for his life an 
temperament though we dare not claim for him the un 
matched gaiety, sweetness, and spiritual beauty of his Italiai 
predecessor yet present many parallels with those of th 
little poor man of Assisi. Both Francesco Bernadone an< 
Richard Rolle were born romantics. Each represents th 
revolt of the unsatisfied heart and intuitive mind of the natura 
mystic from the comfortable, the prudent, and the common 
place : its tendency to seek in the spiritual world the ultimat 
beauty and the ultimate love. Both saw in poverty, simplicity 
self-stripping, the only real freedom ; in carnal use am 
wont the only real servitude. Moreover, both were natura 
artists, who found in music and poetry the fittest means o 
expression for their impassioned and all-dominating love o 
God. Francis held that the servants of the Lord wen 
nothing else than His minstrels. He taught his friars t( 
imitate the humility and gladness of that holy little bird 
the lark ; and when sweet melody of spirit boiled up withir 
him would sing troubadour-like in French to the Lore 
Jesus Christ. For Rolle, too, the glad and eager life o 
birds was a school of Christian virtue. At the beginning 



INTRODUCTION ix 

of his conversion, he took as his model the nightingale, 
which to song and melody all night is given, that she may 
please him to whom she is joined. For him the life of 
contemplation was essentially a musical state, and song, 
rightly understood, embraced every aspect of the soul s com 
munion with Reality. Sudden outbursts of lyrical speech and 
direct appeals to musical imagery abound in his writings, 
as in those of no other mystic ; and perhaps constitute their 
outstanding literary characteristic. 

Further, both these impassioned minnesingers of the 
Holy Ghost made the transition from the comfortable life 
of normal men to the ardours and deprivations of the mystic 
way at the same age, and with the same startling and dramatic 
thoroughness. They share the same horror of property 
and possessions, the I, the me, the mine/ In each, personal 
religion finds its focus in an intense and beautiful devotion 
to the Name of Jesus. Francis was drunken with the love 
and compassion of Christ. The mind of Jesu was to 
Rolle c as melody of music at a feast. For each, love, joy, and 
humility govern the attitude of the self to God. Each, too, 
adopted substantially the same career : that of a roving lay- 
missionary, going, as Rolle tells us in The Fire of Love, 
from place to place, dependent upon charity for food and 
lodging, and trying in the teeth of all obstacles to win other 
men to a clearer view of Divine Reality, a life surrendered 
to the will of God. Each knew the support of a woman s 
friendship and sympathy. What St. Clare was to St. 
Francis, that Margaret Kirkby the recluse of Anderby was 
to Rolle. Seeking only spiritual things, both these mystics 
have yet left their mark upon the history of literature. Rolle 
was a prolific writer in Latin and Middle English, in prose 






x INTRODUCTION 

and in verse, and his vernacular works occupy an important 
place in the evolution of English as a literary tongue : whilst the 
Canticles of St. Francis are amongst the earliest of Italian poems. 
True, Francis had the gayer, sunnier and more social 
nature. Once the first, essential act of renunciation was 
accomplished, he quickly gathered about him a group 
of disciples and lived in their company by choice. Rolle, 
temperamentally more intense and ascetic, loved solitude ; 
and only in the lonely hermitage c from worldly business in 
mind and body departed, does he seem to have achieved 
that detachment and singleness of mind through which he 
entered into the fullness of his spiritual heritage. To him 
Divine Love was l as it were a shameful lover, that his leman 
before men embraces not : but l in the wilderness more 
clearly they meet, where true lovers accord, and merry 
solace of lovely touching is, unable to be told. Yet the 
enormous influence which he exercised upon the religious 
life of the fourteenth century, the definitely missionary char 
acter of many of his writings, is a sufficient answer to those 
who would condemn him on these grounds as a Selfish recluse. 
Francis upon La Verna, Rolle in his hermit s cell, were caught 
up to the ultimate encounter of love : but each felt that 
such heavenly communion was no end in itself, that it entailed 
obligations towards the race. For both, contemplation and 
action, love and work, went ever hand in hand. c Love, 
says Rolle, cannot be lazy : and his life is there to endorse 
the truth of those golden words. True conte:nplatives, he says 
again and we cannot doubt that he here describes the ideal at 
which he aimed are like the topaz in which two colours 
are, one c pure as gold and c t other clear as heaven when it 
is bright. To gold they are like for passing heat of charity, 



INTRODUCTION xi 

and to heaven for clearness of heavenly conversation : exhibit 
ing, in fact, that balanced character of active love to man and 
fruitive love of God the double movement of the perfect soul 
which is the peculiar hall-mark of true Christian mysticism. 
As with St. Francis, so with Rolle, the craving for reality, 
the passionate longing for < fullness of life, did not at first turn 
to the religious channel. The life of chivalry, the troubadour- 
spirit, first attracted Francis ; the life of intellect first attracted 
Rolle. Already noticed as a boy of unusual ability, he had 
been sent to Oxford by the help of the Archdeacon of Durham. 
But the achievement of manhood found him unsatisfied. He 
was already conscious of some instinct within him which 
demanded as its objective a deeper Reality : of a spiritual 
vocation which theological study alone could never fulfil. At 
the crucial age of eighteen, when the genius for God so often 
asserts itself, St. Francis definitely abjured all that he had 
seemed to love, and embraced Poverty with a dramatic 
thoroughness ; abandoning home, family, prospects, and strip 
ping off his very clothes in the public square of Assisi. At the 
same age Richard Rolle, sacrificing his scholastic career and 
the high literary merit of his writings shows us what that career 
might have been suddenly returned from Oxford to the 
North, his soul c lifted from low things, his mind set on fire 
with love for the austere and solitary life of contemplation. 
There, with that impulse towards concrete heroic sacrifice, 
decisive symbolic action, which so often appears in the child 
hood and youth of the mystical saints, he begged from his 
sister two gowns, one white, one grey, together with his 
father s old rain-hood ; retired into the forest ; and with these 
manufactured as best he might a hermit s dress in which to 
c flee from the world. His family thought him mad : the 



xii INTRODUCTION 

inevitable conclusion of the domestic mind in all ages, when 
confronted with the violent other-worldliness of the emerging 
mystical consciousness. But Rolle knew already that he obeyed 
a primal necessity of his nature : that singular living, solitude, 
some escape from the torrent of use and wont, was imperative 
for him if he were to fulfil his destiny and order his disordered 
loves. No marvel if I fled that that me confused . . . well 
I knew of Whom I took. The way in which he realized this 
need may seem to us, like the self-stripping of St. Francis, 
crude and naive : yet as an index of character, an augury of 
future greatness, it must surely take precedence of that milder 
and more prudent change of heart which involves no bodily 
discomforts. There is in both these stories the same engaging 
mixture of singleminded response to an interior vocation, 
boyish romanticism, and personal courage. Francis and 
Richard ran away to God, as other lads have run away 
to sea : sure that their only happiness lay in total self-giving 
to the one great adventure of life. 

It was primarily the life of solitude which Rolle needed and 
sought, that his latent powers might have room to grow. Great 
liking I had in wilderness to sit, that I far from noise sweetlier 
might sing, and with quickness of heart likingest praising I 
might feel ; the which doubtless of His gift I have taken, 
Whom above all thing wonderfully I have loved. Yet the 
first result of his quest of loneliness was the discovery of a 
friend. Going one evening to a church probably that of 
Topcliffe near Thirsk and sitting down in the seat of Lady 
Dalton, he was recognized by her sons, who had been his 
fellow-students at Oxford : with the immediate result that 
their father, Sir John Dalton, impressed by his saintly enthu 
siasm, gave him a hermit s cell and dress, and provided for his 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

daily needs, in order that he might devote himself without 
hindrance to the contemplative life. 

* Rolle has described in The Fire of Love which is, with 
the possible exception of the Melum, the most autobiographical 
of his writings something at least of the interior stages through 
which he now passed, in the course of the purification and 
enlightenment of his soul. On of_t]ie_jriost--ui)jective of 
the mystics, he is intensely interested in his own spiritual 
adventures ; and a strong personal element may be detected 
even in ETs most didactic works. As with all who deliberately 
gfv~e"tfremselves to the spiritual life, his first period of growth 
was predominantly ascetic. With his fellow-mystics he under 
went the trials and disciplines of the purgative way : and 
for this, complete separation from the world was essential. 
The process truly if I will show, solitary life behoves me 
preach. The essence of this purification, as he describes it in 
the Mending of Life, lies not so much in the endurance 
of bodily austerities as to the use of which he always showed a 
wise moderation as in Contrition of thought, and pulling 
out of desires that belong not to loving or worship of God : 
self-simplification in fact. The object of such a process is 
always the same : the purging of the will, and unification of 
the whole life about the higher centres of humility and love ; the 
cutting out, as St. Catherine of Siena has it, of the root of self- 
love with the knife of self-hatred. In the old old language of 
Christian mysticism, Rolle speaks of the action of Divine Love 
as a refiner s fire, fiery making our souls, and purging them 
from all degrees of sin, making them light and burning. We 
gather from various references in the Incendium that the trials 
of this purgation included in his own case not only interior 
contrition for past sin and bodily penance. It also involved 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

the contempt, if not the actual persecution of other men, and 
the inimical attitude with wordys of bakbyttingis of old 
friends, who viewed his eccentric conduct with a natural and 
prudent disgust : a form of suffering, intensely painful to his 
sensitive nature, which he recognizes as specially valuable in its 
power of killing self-esteem, and encouraging the mystical type 
of character, governed by true mortification and total depen 
dence on God. * This have I known, that the more men have 
tried with words of back-biting against me, so mucklethe more 
in ghostly profit I have grown. . . . After the tempest, God 
sheds in brightness of holy desires. 

The period of pain and struggle the difficult remaking of 
character lasted from his conversion for about two years and 
eight months. It was brought to an end, as with so many of 
the greater mystics, by an abrupt shifting of consciousness to 
levels of peace and joy : a sudden and overwhelming revelation 
of Spiritual Reality c the opening of the heavenly door, that 
Thy face showed. Rolle then passed to that affirmative state 
of high illumination and adoring love which he extols in the 
Fire : the state which includes the three degrees, .or 
spiritual moods of Calor^ Dulcor^ Canor c Heat, Sweetness 
and Song. At the end of a year, the door biding open, he 
experienced the first of these special graces : the c Heat of Love 
Everlasting, or Fire which gave its name to the Incendium 
Amorh. I sat forsooth in a chapel and whilst with sweetness 
of prayer or meditation muckle I was delighted, suddenly in me 
I felt a merry heat and unknown. 

Now, when we ask ourselves what Rolle really meant by 
this image of < heat or fire, we stand at the beginning 
of a long quest. This is one of those phrases, half metaphors, 
yet metaphors so apt that we might also call them descriptions 



INTRODUCTION xv 

of experience, which are natural to mystical literature. 
Immemorially old, yet eternally fresh, they appear again 
and again ; nor need we always attribute such reappearances 
to conscious borrowing. The * fire ^f love is a term which 
goes back at least to, the fourth century of our era ; it is used 
by St. Macarius of Egypt to describe "the" action of the Divine 
Energy upon the soul which it is lending, to ^perfection. Its 
literary origins are of course scriptural the fusion of the 
Johannine * God is love with the fire imagery of the Hebrew 
prophets. * Behold ! the Lord will come with fire ! His 
word was in my heart as a burning fire. t He is lilc 
refiner s fire. 



. 



But, examining the passages in which Rolle speaks of that 



c Heat which the c Fire of Love induced in his purified 
and heavenward-turning heart, we see that this phrase is not 
for him merely a poetic metaphor : that it denotes a sensual 
as well as a spiritual experience. Those interior states or. ^ 
moods to which, by the natural method of comparison that 
governs all descriptive speech, the self gives such sense-names 
as these of * Heat, Sweetness, and Song, react in many 
mystics upon the bodily state. Psycho-sensorial parallelisms 
are set up. The well-known phenomenon of stigmatization, 
occurring in certain hypersensitive temperaments as the result 
of deep meditation upon the Passion of Christ, is perhaps 
the best clue by which we can come to understand how 
such a term as the fire of love has attained a double 
Significance for mystical psychology. It is first a poetic 
metaphor of singular aptness ; describing a spiritual state 
which is, as Rolle says himself in c The Form of Perfect 
Living, So burning and gladdening, that he or she who 
is in this degree can as well feel the fire of love burning in 

, . J 



\ 

\ 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

their soul as thou canst feel thy finger burn if thou puttest 
it in the fire. Secondly, it represents, or may represent in 
certain temperaments, an induced sense-automatism, which 
may vary from the slightest of suggestions to an intense 
hallucination : as the equivalent automatic process which 
issues in visions or * voices may vary from that sense of 
a presence or consciousness of a message received, which 
is the purest form in which our surface consciousness objec- 
tivizes communion with God, to the vivid picture seen, the 
voice clearly heard, by many visionaries and auditives. 

"he first state* of burning love to which Rolle attained 
his purification was at an end, does seem to have 
produced in him such a psycho-physical hallucination. He 
makes it plain in the prologue of the Incendium that he felt, in 
I , a physical sense, the spiritual fire, truly, not imaginingly ; as 
St. Teresa to take a well-known historical example felt the 
transverberation of the seraph s spear which pierced her heart. 
This form of automatism, though not perhaps very common, 
is well known in the history of religious experience; and 
many ascetic writers discuss it. Thus in that classic of spiritual 
common sense, The Cloud of Unknowing, we find amongst 
the many delusions which may beset young presumptuous 
contemplatives, Many quaint heats and burnings in their 
bodily breasts which may sometimes indeed be the work 
of good angels (i.e., the physical reflection of true spiritual 
ardour) yet should ever be had suspect, as possible devices 
of the devil. Again, Walter Hilton includes in his list of 
mystical automatisms, and views with the same suspicion, 
sensible heat, as it were fire, glowing and warming the 
breast. In the seventeenth century Augustine Baker, in 
his authoritative work on the prayer of contemplation 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

mentions warmth about the heart as one of the * sensible 
graces, or physical sensations of religious origin, known to 
those who aspire to union with God. In our own day, the 
Carmelite nun Sceur The~rese de I Enfant-J&us describes 
an experience in which she felt herself suddenly pierced 
by a dart of fire/ I cannot, she says, explain this transport, 
nor can any comparison express the intensity of this flame. 
It seemed to me that an invisible force immersed me com 
pletely in fire. Allowing for the strong probability that the 
form of Soeur Therese s transport was influenced by her 
knowledge of the life of her great namesake, we have no 
grounds for doubting the honesty of her report ; the fact that 
she felt in a literal sense, though in a way hard for less ardent 
temperaments to understand, the burning of the divine fire. 
Her simple account glossing, as it were, the declarations of 
the historian and the psychologist surely gives us a hint as 
to the way in which we ought to read the statements of 
other mystics, concerning their knowledge of the fire of love. 
Rolle s second stage, to which he gives the name of 
sweetness, is easier of comprehension than the first. It repre 
sents the natural movement of consciousness from passion to 
peace, from initiation to possession, as the contemplative learns 
to live and move in this new atmosphere of Reality : the 
exquisite joy which characterizes one phase of the soul s com 
munion with God. He calls it a heavenly savour ; a sweet 
mystery ; a marvellous honey. With great labour it is got; 
but with joy untold it is possessed. jit is of such sweetness 
that the author of The Cloud of unknowing that stern 
critic of all those so-called mystical experiences which come 
in by the windows of the wits writes in terms which almost 
seem to be inspired by a personal experience. 

A I 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

c Sometimes He will enflame the body of devout servants of 
His here in this life : not once or twice, but peradventure right 
oft and as Him liketh, with full wonderful sweetness and 
comforts. Of the which, some be not coming from without 
into the body by the windows of our wits, but from within ; 
rising and springing of abundance of ghostly gladness, and of 
t.ue devotion in the spirit. Such a comfort and such a sweet 
ness shall not be had suspect : and shortly to say, I trow that 
be that feeleth it may not have it suspect. 

That intimate and joyful apprehension of the supersensuous 
which Rolle calls sweetness is not rigidly separated either 
from the burning ardour which preceded it, or the * third 
state of exultant harmony, of adoring con templuiiuil prayer 
pouring itself forth in wild yet measured loveliness which he 
calls song ; and which is the most characteristic form of his 
communion with the Divine Love. All three, in fact, as we 
see in the beautiful eighth chapter of The Form of Perfect 
Living, are fluctuating expressions of the Third Degree ot 
Love, highest and most wondrous to win. They co-exist in 
the soul which has attained to it : now one and now the other 
taking command. * The soul that is in the third degree is all 
burning fire, and like the nightingale that loves song and 
melody, and fails for great love : so that the soul is only com 
forted in praising and loving God. . . and this manner of song 
have none unless they be in the third degree of love : to the 
which degree it is impossible to come, but in a great multitude 
of love. 

This true lover, he says again in the Incendium^ * has sweet 
ness, heat and ghostly song, of which before I have oft touched, 
and by this he serves God, and Him loving without parting to 
Him draws. . . Sometime certain more he feels of heat and 



INTRODUCTION xix 

sweetness, and with difficulty he sings, sometime truly with 
great sweetness and busyness he is ravished, when heat is felt 
the less ; oft also into ghostly song with great mirth he flees 
and passes, and also he knows the heat and sweetness of love 
with him are. Nevertheless heat is never without sweetness, 
although sometime it be without ghostly song. 

Rolle s own first experience of this state of song, like the 
oncoming of the Fire, seems to have had a marked c psycho- 
sensorial character. His passion of love and praise translated 
itself into the Song of Angels ; and the celestial melody was 
first heard by him with the outward as well as with the inward 
ear. In the night before supper, as I mine Salves I sung, 
as it were the noise of readers or rather singers about me I 
beheld. Whilst also praying to heaven with all desire I took 
heed, on what manner I wot not suddenly in me noise of song 
I felt; and likingest heavenly melody I took, with me dwelling 
in mind. 

We gather from the writings of other mystics of the 
mediaeval period that such an experience was a well understood 
accompaniment of the contemplative life. Like the burning 
of the fire it was one amongst those * sensible comforts 
or, as we should now say, automatisms which were never 
accepted at their face value as certain marks of divine favour, 
but were studied and analysed with the robust common sense 
that characterizes true spirituality. Walter Hilton, in a tract 
on the Song of Angels which is certainly inspired by, and 
was long attributed to Rolle himself, says of it : When the 
soul is lifted and ravished out of the sensuality, and out of mind 
of any earthly things, then in great fervour of love and light 
(if our Lord vouchsafe) the soul may hear and feel heavenly 
sound, made by the presence of angels in loving of God. . . . 



xx INTRODUCTION 

Methinketh that there may no soul feel verily angel s song 
nor heavenly sound, but he be in perfect charity ; though all 
that are in perfect charity have not felt it, but only that soul 
that is so purified in the fire of love that all earthly savour is 
brent out of it, and all mean letting between the soul and the 
cleanness of angels is broken and put away from it. Then 
soothly may he sing a new song, and soothly he may hear a 
blest heavenly sound, and angel s song without deceit or 
feigning. 

Such Song where it really represents the soul s conscious 
ness of supernal harmonies, and is not merely the hallucination 
of one who * by indiscreet travailing turneth the brains in his 
head so that for feebleness of the brain, him thinketh that 
he heareth wonderful sounds and songs does for the tem 
perament which inclines to translate its intuitions into music, 
that which the experience of vision does for those whose 
apprehensions of reality more easily crystallize into a pictorial 
form. One seems to see, another seems to hear, that Perfect 
Beauty which is the source and inspiration of all our fragmentary 
arts. For Rolle, by nature a poet and a musician, the language 
of music possessed a special attraction and appropriateness : 
and not only its language but its practice too. Like Francis 
of Assisi, Catherine of Genoa, Teresa, Rose of Lima, and 
many other saints, he was driven to lyrical and musical ex 
pression by his own rapture of love and joy. Oh Good Jesu ! 
my heart Thou hast bound in thought of Thy Name, and now 
I cannot but sing it. 

All mystics are potential poets. Rolle was an actual poet 
too. Hence by the Canor, which was the third form by which 
his rapture of love was expressed, we must understand not 
only the Celestial Melody in which he participated in 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

ecstatic moments, not only those exultant moods of great 
plenty of inward joy when the spiritual song swelled to his 
mouth and he sang his prayers ( with a ghostly symphony, 
as St. Catherine of Genoa sang all day for joy : but also 
the genuine poetic inspiration to which his writings give 
ample testimony. All these are varying expressions of one 
life and one love : for the great mystic, living in contact with 
Eternity, is seldom careful to note the exact boundary which 
marks off c inward from * outward or earth from heaven. 
To Rolle, contemplation was the song of the soul : song was 
contemplation expressed. Some, he observes in The Mend 
ing of Life/ think that contemplation is the knowledge of 
deep mysteries : others that it is the state of total concentra 
tion on spiritual things : others again that it is an elevation of 
mind which makes the self dead to all fleshly desires. All 
these no doubt are true in their measure : but to me it seems 
that contemplation is joyful song of God s love. It is love 
and joy with great voice out-breaking as the ascending 
spirit stretches towards the Only Fair. [Rblle s mysticism is 
fundamentally of the outgoing type. He seldom uses the 
language of introversion, or speaks of God as found within 
the heart ; but pictures \. the soul s quest of Reality as a 
journey, a flight from self, an encounter c in the wilderness ^ 
with Love."") Love truly suffers not a loving soul to bide in 
itself, but ravishes it out to the lover, that the soul is more 
there where it loves, than where the body is that lives and feels 
it. When the Conor seizes him, his spirit seems to rush forth 
on the wings of its own music, that music that to me is come 
by burning love, in which I sing before Jesu : for indeed his 
c song, whether silent melody or articulate, is love in action ; 
the glad and humble passion of adoration taking poetic form. 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

We see then at last that Heat, Sweetness, and Song are 
each and all names for, and psycho-physical expressions of, 
one thing that many-coloured, many-graded miracle of Love 
which is the substance of all mysticism, and alone has power 
to catch man into the divine atmosphere, initiate him into the 
friendship of God. \ O dear Charity . . . Thou enterest 
boldly the bedchamber of the King Everlasting : thou only 
art not ashamed Christ to take. He it is that thou hast 
sought and loved. Christ is thine : hold Him, for He 
may not but take thee, to whom thou only desirest to 
obey. 

Here we find, fused together, the highest flights of mystical 
passion for the Ineffable God, and the intense devotion to the 
Person of Christ : the special quality which marked all that 
was best in English religion of the mediaeval period. In such 
passages and his works abound in them Rolle sets the 
pattern to which all the great English mystics who followed 
him conformed. Were we asked, indeed, to state their 
peculiar characteristic, I think that we must find it here : in 
the combination of loftiest transcendentalism with the loving 
and intiaiate worship of the Holy Name. Thus it is that 
they solve the eternal mystic paradox of an unconditioned yet 
a personal God. c The Scale of Perfection, The Cloud of 
Unknowing, The Revelations of Divine Love, all turn on 
this point : and those who discount their strongly Christian 
and personal quality, gravely misunderstand the nature of the 
vision by which their writers were inspired. 

Of the two works of Richard Rolle which Miss Comper 
here presents in a modernized form, l The Fire of Love 
represents his subjective manner * The Mending of Life an 
attempt towards the orderly presentation of his ascetic 



INTRODUCTION J4j xxiii 



doctrine. /The whole system of his teaching, in so far as 
a system was possible to so poetic and inspired a tempera 
ment, aims at the induction of other men to that state in 
which they can fulfil the supreme vocation of humanity : take 
part in * angels song, the music of adoration which all 
created spirits sing to God. *} He knows that the c ghostly 
song of highest contemplation is a special gift, a grace shed 
into the soul, and does not hesitate to proclaim his own 
peculiar possession of it : yet he is sure that the heavenly 
melodies may be evoked, in a certain measure, in all who are 
surrendered to divine love. The method by which he would 
educate the soul to the point at which it can participate in the 
life of Reality, is that method of asceticism profound con 
trition, mortification and prayer which he has followed 
himself: here conforming to the doctrine of the three great 
masters of the spiritual life whose writings had influenced him 
most, St. Bernard, Richard of St. Victor, and St. Bonaventura. 
Though he often seems in his more didactic works to echo 
the teaching of these doctors, and in some passages repeats 
their very words as for instance in his description of the 
Three Degrees of Love, and in his doctrine of Ecstasy yet 
all that he says has been actualized by him in his own 
personal experience. His most * dogmatic utterances burn 
with passion : he uses the maps of his great predecessors 
because he has tested them and found them true. It is 
commonly said that the Incendium Amorls that most per 
sonal and unconventional of works is an imitation ot St. 
Bonaventura s Stimulus Amorls. Apart from the fact that the 
Stimulus Amorls is no longer accepted as an authentic work of 
St. Bonaventura, but was probably composed by James of 
Milan, the two books as any may see who take the trouble 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

to compare them have hardly a character in common. True, 
both are largely concerned with the Love of God ; but so 
are all the works of Christian mysticism. The subjective 
element which occupies so large a place in the Incendium is 
\vholly absent from the Stimulus. There we find no auto- 
oiography, rather an orderly didactic treatise, miles asunder 
from the Yorkshire hermit s fervid rhapsodies. The Incen 
dium is not an artificial composition, but a work of original 
genius. It is the rhapsody and confession of a God-intoxi 
cated poet, who longed to tell his love, yet knew that all his 
powers of expression could not communicate one little point 
of the vision and the ecstasy to which he had been raised : 
Would God of that melody a man I might find author, 
the which though not in word, yet in writing my joy he 
should sing. 

Passionate feeling taking artistic form : this perhaps is the 
ruling character of all Rolle s mystical writings. He has 
been accused of laying undue emphasis upon emotional experi 
ence. Yet a stern system of ethics as we may see from his 
life as well as from his works underlies this exultant partici 
pation in the music of the spheres. Though some may be 
repelled by his love of that solitude in which heart speaks to 
heart, or amused by his quaint praise of the virtues of sitting 
the attitude which he found most conducive to contempla 
tion surely none can fail to be impressed by the heroic 
self-denials, the devoted missionary labours, which ran side by 
side with this intense interior life. His love was essentially 
dynamic ; it invaded and transmuted all departments of his 
nature, and impelled him as well to acts of service as to songs 
of joy. j He was no spiritual egotist, no mere seeker for 
transcendental satisfaction : but one of those for whom the 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

\ 

divine goodness and beauty are coupled together in insoluble 

union, even as * the souls of the lover and the loved/ 

NOTE. My quotations from The Fire of Love and * The 
Mending of Life are made direct from Richard Misyn s fifteenth- 
century English translation, as printed by the Early English Text 
Society : save only for modernization of the spelling. They may 
not therefore agree in all particulars with Miss Comper s version. 
I have used Miss Geraldine Hodgson s edition of The Form of 
Perfect Living (1910) ; my own of The Cloud of Unknowing 
(1912), and the text of The Song of Angels which is printed 
from Pepwell by Mr. Edmund Gardner in The Cell of Self- 
knowledge (New Mediaeval Library, 1910). 



ABBREVIATIONS 

A. MS. Add. 37790 Brit. Mus. 

Bg. La Bigne s Maxima Bibliotheca Patrum, 

C. Corpus Christi Coll. MS. 236 Oxfd. 

D. Douce MS. 322 Bod. 
E.E.T.S. Early English Text Society. 
L. MS. Dd. 5.64 Camb. 
M.E. Middle English. 
O.E.D. Oxford English Dictionary. 
Sp. Speculum Spiritualium. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

@F mysticism, as of all the greatest things in life^the 
characteristic notes are sincerity and simplicity. / Its 
nature and birth are better felt by the heart than uttered 
by the tongue. Therefore the increasing interest in mysticism, 
evidenced by the multiplication of books, essays, criticism, and 
correspondence on the subject, is rather to be dreaded than 
welcomed by the mystic. For mysticism like love is shj 
as the wild bird, j Criticism destroys iFfcIiscussion frightens 
it away. I Doubtless it can live in the heart of every man ; 
only that heart must be pure, and free from anxiety and 
worldly love ; since to the ^Christian mysticism is nothing else 
than that love which is the sole definition of God that man 
can comprehend. J 

He that has found the secret of this love, which possesses 
alike the world of nature and of man, has found the secret of 
the mystic. For it is not a respecter of persons, nor reserved 
for the few. The old woman sitting over her peat fire, the 
shepherd upon the lonely hills, the workman breaking stones 
by the roadside, even the * great divine lapped in infinite 
questions or the anchoress in her cell ; all indeed who are 
more busy to know God than many things, have glimpses 
of this secret. And it was for those who would rather know 
God s love than know about it that this book was written so 
long ago. 

For six centuries the dust of oblivion has hidden Richard 



xxviii EDITOR S PREFACE 

Rolle from our knowledge. True, his name was known as the 
author of a long Northern poem called the Prick of Conscience, 
but it has lately been proved that, whatever else he may have 
written, this most certainly he did not write. 1 Of him 
and of the other English mystics of his time, we knew 
but little. As we may have stood by and watched a 
statue, modelled by some sculptor dead these many hundred 
years, being slowly and carefully unearthed in a villa garden 
near Rome, so now we look on with interest as scholars, 
mostly of other nations than our own, are laboriously 
restoring to us the mystical writings of these Englishmen, long 
ago dead, and now for the most part nameless. 

Yet Richard Rolle, the first of these great mystics, had 
revealed himself to us in his writings. Race counts for much 
in character, and in reading his books we can never forget 
that he comes of the sturdy stock of Yorkshiremen. Honest, 
somewhat blunt and plainspoken, especially in regard to 
women, and full of^pQmmnn sense, it is the more remarkable 
that he should in so many ways recall to us the sweet singer 
of Assisi. And yet, as Miss Underbill has shown us, he joins 
hands across the century with the poet of love and poverty 
who preached to the birds under the ilex-tree at the Carceri ; 
while from another point of view he has kinship with the monk 
of Windesheim, the words of whose Ecclesiastical Music are 
constantly recalled to our minds by this other Melody of Love. 
As we read it we find that the problems which confronted 
Richard in his hermit s cell at Hampole are the same as con 
front the thoughtful man to-day. He is distressed by the 
friendlessness, rather than the poverty,_oTjEhT puui , tho-b>ppres- 
sion and worldliness of the rich ; the wrong and selfish 
acquisition of la ntt";" the utter destructiveness of sin ; the 

1 See The Authorship of the Prick of Conscience, by H. E. Allen, 
Radcliffe College Monographs, No. 15 (Ginn & Co., 1910). 



EDITOR S PREFACE xxix 

hypocrisy and backbiting of those who t fill the kirks. Then, 
as mow. men desired to escape from the transient to the 
eternal ;} from the overwhelming power of the material to the 
spiritual"; from the turmoil and confusion of strange ideas and 
social upheaval and crying injustice, to the rest and peace 
to be found in humility and brotherly love.J As in the old 
emblem of the two crossed pieces of wood bearing the wayfarer 
safely over the stormy sea, the love of God laid athwart the 
love of man bears the soul safely over the waves of this 
life. 

And this love is the sum and substance of Rolle s mysticism. 
We find in his writings few_definitions or classifications, which 
are so frequent in many mystical works ; for it was as impos 
sible for him as for Saint Francis who in his life was the 
greatest exponent of mysticism that the world has ever seen 
to lay down rules regarding love. The love of child and 
parent, of yourig lnarr^Trdntnaid, with all the deeds of heroism 
and sacrifice which such love has engendered, are but as pale 
symbols of the love which has given birth to the ancient 
literature of mysticism. This love is as a fire or a raging 
flame. < It verily inflames the mind, says Richard ; * Love 
sets my heart on fire, sings Francis. 

To most this love comes only as the reward of long search 
and striving. It is a quest on which a man may start out in 
company, but he must end alone with God : and in propor 
tion as we attain to it we find the solution of many problems, 
the secret of life, and the key to the mysteries of the 
Kingdom. 

METHOD AND AIM OF THIS MODERNIZATION 

This book is not meant for_the scholar. For him Rolle s 
own versions are" accessible in numerous MSS. ; and Misyn s 
Middle English translation has been printed by the Early 



xxx EDITOR S PREFACE 

English Text Society. 1 But there are many who find in 
Misyn s curious spellings and constructions a serious obstacle 
to the sense, and it is for such that this edition has been 
prepared. My aim has been to make Rolle s meaning clear 
to the modern reader with as little alteration of Misyn s text 
as possible. I have modernized the spelling, have simplified 
long and involved constructions, and have tried to elucidate 
the meaning by careful punctuation. But I have dealt very 
sparingly with the vocabulary, keeping as many of the old 
words as seemed likely to be understood, and especially those 
which still linger in Scottish dialect, as being a reminder to 
the reader of the Northern origin of the book. Where the 
text appears to be corrupt and emendation has been necessary, 
I have used for this purpose, for The Fire of Love the Cam 
bridge MS. Dd. 5.64 (which I call L), and for The Mending 
of Life the printed editions ; comparing them with the MSS. 
referred to in the notes at the end of this book, where I have 
given the Latin and Middle English originals. A short 
passage 2 has been omitted, as unsuited for modern readers ; 
and, on the other hand, where obvious omissions occur in 
Misyn s text, they have been supplied from the MSS. men 
tioned. When I have altered an obsolete word I give such, 
the first time it occurs, in a foot-note. Any words of difficult 
meaning will be found in the Glossary, and I have in this case 
also added a foot-note on their first occurrence in the text. 
Other points I have gone more fully into under the section 
Treatment of Words. 

It has been, and very probably may again be contended, that 
a better result would have been obtained by translating straight 
from the original. This would in many ways have been 
easier, but the insuperable objection to such a course lies in 

1 E.E.T.S., orig. series, 106, 1896. 
a In The Fire of Love, Bk. I, chap. xiv. 



EDITOR S PREFACE xxxi 

the fact that the Latin MSS. of these works of Rolle have not 
yet been collated ; and no satisfactory translation can be made 
until we have discovered which is Rolle s autograph. More 
over there is a certain charm in this early translation of Misyn s 
which no modern one, however excellent, could reproduce. 
Rolle died in 1349, but the Office for his canonization was 
not prepared until 1381, and still later the Miracula were 
collected. His memory must have remained fresh in men s 
minds ; indeed this is borne out by the fact that so many 
extant copies of his works date from the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. The influence of his spirit was still a 
living one ; and this translation has embodied and preserved 
for us the simple faith and enthusiastic love of the generation 
for which it was written. Read and meditated upon by 
English men and women of long ago although it has been 
lost to sight nearly five hundred years it deals with a 
theme that is ever fresh. It will be an interesting experi 
ment to see whether it can yet appeal to us whether a 
genuine English book of piety can hold its own with those 
of other nations. 

In my modernization I am aware that I have laid myselr 
open to criticism in many directions. I have not striven after 
consistency, but have tried solely to retain as far as possible 
the simplicity and charm of the original translation. Misyn 
has been called a slavish translator ; certainly he has not 
avoided the faults of his master. Repetitions, especially of 
words and phrases, are even more constant in this version than 
in the original, while some of the forms and spellings he employs 
make the modernizer s task by no means an easy one. Dr. 
Horstman, in his interesting preface to the collection of the 
English writings of Richard Rolle, after laying stress upon 
his originality and lyric gift, thus sums up his defects : " His 
defects lie on the side of method and discrimination ; he is 



xxxii EDITOR S PREFACE 

weak in argumentation, in developing and arranging his ideas. 

Jiis sense of beauty is natural_rather than acquired, and his 

4, mind is too restless to perfect his writings properly. His form 

is not sufficiently refined, and full of irregularities ; his taste 

not unquestionable ; his style frequently difficult, rambling, 

l^full of veiled allusions much depends on the punctuation to 

make it intelligible ; his Latin incorrect and not at all classic 

t ^^ But all this cannot detract from his great qualities as a 

Jf/ x writer, thejHJginality and depth of his thought, the truth and 

tenderness of his feeling, the vigour and eloquenoPoF his 

prose, the grace and beauty of his verse ; and everywhere we 

detect the marks of a great personality^ personality at once 

l powerful, tender and strange, the like^of which was perhaps 

never seen again." 1 

This criticism is perhaps^ a little severe for a part of 
Rolle s charm lies in his restlessness of thought. His mind 
moved rapidly, and he loved to play with a word. His 
writings are full of antitheses and balance and rhythm in 
this respect anticipating Lily 2 which Misyn s translation well 
reproduces. If to us his repetitions appear wearisome and 
monotonous, we must at least remember that they were written 
not to be read as a continuous whole, but aloud, in chapter 
or refectory ; for one copy had probably to do service for the 
community. 

I have therefore aimed at reproducing Misyn s translation 
with all its irregularities, only endeavouring to make his 
meaning clear. My method of doing so will be more fully 
explained in the following section. 

1 Yorkshire Writers. Ed. by C. Horstman (Swan Sonnenschein 
& Co., 1895), vol. ii. p. xxxv. 

2 The Prose Style of Richard Rolle, by J. P. Schneider (Baltimore, 
1906), p. 62, seq. 



EDITOR S PREFACE xxxiii 

SOURCES 

The Fire of Love and The Mending of Life were first 
printed by the Early English Text Society, in 1896 from 
the Corpus Christi College MS. 236, at Oxford. At that 
time it was the only MS. known of Misyn s translation, but 
four years ago, at Lord Amherst s sale, the British Museum 
bought an English MS. of the fifteenth century, known as 
Add. MS. 37790, containing several very important mystical 
treatises, 1 and among them these two translations by Misyn. 
This I have collated with the Corpus MS. (which I call C), 
and have noted any important differences in the text as they 
occur. They are very few and are mostly confined to spelling ; 
the Amherst MS. showing the influence of a Southern scribe. 2 
From the doubling of vowels and consonants in such words as 
bee, wee, off, nott, ffor, etc., and the writing of th for )?, 
one would infer that the Amherst is probably of rather later 
date than the Corpus MS. In this latter The Fire of Love 
precedes The Mending of Life, although the explicits give 
1434 as the date of the translation of The Mending of Life^ 
and 1435 for The Fire of Love ; but in the Amherst MS. 
they are given in their correct chronological order. I have, 
however, kept to the order of the Corpus MS., since 
The Fire of Love is by far the longer and more important of 
the two works. 

The editor of the Corpus MS. for the Early English Text 
Society draws attention to the fact that the explicit to the second 
book of The Fire of Love contains the statement that it was 

1 Two of these have lately been printed : viz., a shorter version 
of the Revelations vouchsafed to Lady Julian of Norwich, under 
the title Comfortable Words for Christ s Lovers, ed. by Rev. D. 
Harford (Allenson), and extracts from The Mirror of Simple Souls, 
ed. by Evelyn Underbill. Porch Series, I. No. 8. (J. M. Watkins.) 
a e.g., A. ought, schalle, whilk, folowe, gif 
C. ojht, sail, qwilk, felo, if, 

A2 



xxxiv EDITOR S PREFACE 

translated by Richard Misyn, with the addition of these words, 
per dictum fratrem Rlcardum Misyn scriptum et correctum?^ 
This was by some too easily considered a proof that we have 
here Misyn s autograph ; but judging from the wrong chrono 
logical order Mr. Harvey concludes that this is not the case. 
It is therefore worth noting that the explicit in the Amherst 
MS. is word for word the same as in the Corpus MS., which 
fact, added to the probability of its later date, makes it unlikely 
that here either we have Misyn s autograph. It is more 
probable that both were copies of the autograph the Corpus 
being the work of a more Northern scribe than the Amherst 
and that neither copyist exercised sufficient discretion to omit 
Misyn s personal note. 

At present the question of the Rolle canon is most con 
fused and uncertain. Scholars 2 are working at it, and it is 
to be hoped the autograph of both Rolle and Misyn will 
soon be discovered. In the meantime the only possible 
course open to me was to choose the best available Latin 
MS. with which to compare Misyn s translation whenever 
difficulties arose. For the Incendium I have taken a Cambridge 
MS. (Dd. 5.64, referred to as L). For the De Emenda- 
tione it has been less simple, because several printed versions 
exist of this work, all differing considerably. Misyn some 
times seems to follow one and sometimes another, show 
ing clearly that he is translating from neither of these 
versions ; and in the MSS. to which I have had access the 

* E.E.T.S., p. x. 

2 Notably Miss H. E. Allen, who is preparing for publication a 
descriptive catalogue of Rolle s writings, based on an examination of 
all the accessible manuscripts. This work will include a discussion 
of the Rolle canon. Also a Latin version of the Incendium Amoris 
will shortly be published by the Manchester University Press, 
edited by Miss Deanesly, of Newnham College. 



EDITOR S PREFACE xxxv 

variants are as numerous. For this reason I have been very 
chary of suggesting any emendations in my version of this 
work. Obvious omissions I have supplied from another 
early translation in the Bodleian (Douce MS. 322, which 
I call D). It seems to be of much the same date as Misyn s, 
if anything rather later. It is not Northern, and is on the 
whole a freer translation and has more attempt after style ; 
whereas Misyn s rendering is rather bald, being often very 
little more than a gloss on the Latin. I have, however, fol 
lowed Misyn, since we owe to him the longer and more 
important work of Rolle which this volume contains. 1 

I owe some apology to the reader for the notes, which may 
seem too numerous for a popular edition ; but the difficulties 
and obscurities in the text have called for emendations and 
explanations which have necessitated rather full notes. 
I have been careful to place these at the end, so that they 
who use this book as it was intended by the author to be used 
need not be distracted by them. 

The portrait of Rolle in the frontispiece is taken from a 
Cotton MS. (Faust. B. VI. 2.) in the British Museum of a 
Northern poem called the Desert of Religion. The author 
ship of this poem is unknown, although it has usually been 
ascribed to Walter Hilton. It describes the trees which 
grow in the wilderness, or desert, of religion. These sym 
bolical trees are drawn on the first side of each page ; the 
reverse side is divided into two columns, the one containing 
the poem itself, while on the other some saint of the desert is 
depicted. 

On the first side of the page containing this picture of 
Richard the Hermit there is a rude drawing of a tree, with 

1 The Rev. D. Harford has edited an early fifteenth-century 
version of The Mending of Life, taken from a Cambridge MS., which 
has just been published by Allenson. 



xxxvi EDITOR S PREFACE 

six leaves on either side, representing the twelve abuses that 
grow among religious. They are as follows : 

A prelate negligent : A discipil inobediente. 

A gongman idill : Ane aide mane obstinate. 

A mownke cowrtioure : A mounke pletoure. 

Ane habite preciouse : Mete daintinouse. 

New tithandes in clostere : Strivynge in ]?e chapitour. 

Dissolucioun in ]?e qwere : Irreverence aboute ]?e auter. 

In the picture the hermit is represented seated on the grass 
in a white habit, with the sacred monogram in gold on his 
breast, and holding a book in his left hand. On either side 
is a stiffly drawn tree. Above, resting on clouds, are three 
angels bearing a scroll with the words : Sanctus, sanctus y sanctus ; 
Dominus Deus Sabaoth; plenl sunt cell et terra gloria tua. 
Round the picture the following verse is written : 

A solitari here : hermite life i lede, 

For ihesu loue so dere : all flescli lufe i flede ; 

]?at gastli comforthe clere : J?at in my breste brede, 

Might me a thowsande jeere : in heuenly strengthe haue stedd 

There is no evidence that this picture is a genuine portrait. 
It recalls some early portraits of Saint Francis. The hair 
is light in colour, and cut evenly round the head, and the 
beard divided into two small points. The saint s face is not 
emaciated, but of a clear complexion with a touch of red upon 
the cheeks. Both the other manuscripts of The Desert of 
Religion 1 contain pictures of Richard Hermit, but since none 
are known to be authentic, I have chosen this which seems 
the most interesting. 

1 Stowe MS. 39 ; ana A id. MS. 37049 ; both in the Brit. Mus. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 



XXXVll 



TREATMENT OF WORDS 

Personally I should have preferred to retain all the words 
which Misyn employs, in the hope that some would find their 
way back into our too much latinized English ; but I feared 
to outweary the patience of the reader. The following is 
a list of those which I have altered in the text, with their 
nearest modern equivalents. 



addling 

aseth 

bolnes 

chinche 

fagiar, faged 

fiiting 

forthink 

foyd 

groching 

groundly 

inhiry 

lat 

large 

leman 

loving, lufing 

menged, melled 



undirlowt 

unneth 

sam 

scrithe 

sparples 

tityst 

wode, wodeness 

well 



to earning 

satisfaction 

puffs up 

miser 

flatterer, flattered 

reproof 

repent 

pledge 

grumbling 

from the root 

inward or inner 

behave 

generous 

beloved 

praise 

mingled 

abhor 

overcome 

scarcely 

together 

glide 

scatter 

soonest 

mad, madness 

to wither 



xxxviii EDITOR S PREFACE 

I have kept words which are of common occurrence in the 
Bible and Prayer Book, and those still in use in Scotland. 
There are, however, some words which remain in modern 
English but which have altered or restricted their meaning. 
Such are very apt to mislead the modern reader. I have, 
therefore, treated them freely, retaining them when in a 
modern sense or when their meaning is quite apparent, but 
changing them if the meaning is at all ambiguous. I append 
here a full list of these, to avoid the multiplication of foot 
notes. 

Misyn often uses * withouten for without, for the sake 
of rhythm, and in this I have followed him ; nor have I 
taken upon myself to suppress his constant repetition of truly, 
forsooth, doubtless, certain, sickerly. Sometimes these 
translate the Latin vero, valde^ certe, etc., but more often than 
not stand for an ordinary conjunction, such as enim, namque, 
autem. O.E.D. against a word in the foot-note signifies that 
the actual word or phrase found in Misyn is quoted in the 
Oxford English Dictionary. 

Where the meaning is obscure I have altered : 

against to towards 

avoid make void 

barely utterly 

beholding contemplating, or considering 

busily continually 

charge care, consider 

cherish allure 

deadly, deadliness mortal, mortality 

drawn to cleave (L. adhaercre) 

emonge in the meantime 

herefore hence 

honily honeyed, honey-sweet 

ill evil 

kind nature, essence 



EDITOR S PREFACE 



XXXIX 



lasts to 

liking 

lovely 

longs 

lust 

manner 

mind 

namely 

plainly 

rots, unable to rot 

softly 

soundly 

stands 

swells 

show 

taken 

taught 

thinking 

use 

wanting 

wherefore 

withhold 

worship 

wretchedness 



perseveres 

delight, pleasure 

lovable 

languishes 

pleasure 

measure 

memory 

especially 

entirely, altogether (L. penttus) 

corrupts, incorruptible 

little by little, slowly 

with sweet sound, songful 

continues 

inflates 

declare 

received 

imbued 

meditating, or meditation 

enjoy, exercise 

lacking 

whence 

hold to, retain 

honour 

wickedness 



Biographical 

(i) RICHARD ROLLE 

It is interesting to remember that B. Richard H. of 
Hampole was among the names included in the prospectus 
which Newman drew up for The Lives of the English 
Saints. He tells us in a note to the Apologia, 1 that " He has 
included in the series a few eminent or holy persons, who, 
though not in the Sacred Catalogue, are recommended to our 
1 Apologia, Note D., p. 334 (Longmans, 1883). 



xl EDITOR S PREFACE 

religious memory by their fame, learning, or the benefits they 
have conferred on posterity." Unfortunately Rolle shared 
the fate of the hundred and eighty-three whose lives were 
never written. 

Various short biographies of Richard Rolle have appeared 
recently appended to editions of his works, the most complete 
of which are those of Dr. Horstman and the Rev. H. R. 
Bramley. These are drawn from the Legenda or Lections, 
given in the special Office, which the nuns of Hampole pre 
pared in the hope of his canonization. This did not take place 
because of the unsettled state of the Church, due to the rise 
of Lollardry, although, from the note prefixed to it, the Office 
seems to have been used privately. The Miracula were 
included in it, and were arranged to be read as Lections during 
the octave of the Feast. 

Since the Legenda are the source of our knowledge of 
Rolle s life, and are largely drawn from his own writings, and 
more especially from the Incendmm Amoris, it has seemed 
well to give them in full. I have translated them from the 
collation of the three MSS. published by the Surtees Society. 
They form the nine lections, to be read at Matins on 
the Feast Day of the saint. 

The nuns, to whom Richard ministered and with whom he 
died, belonged to a well-known Cistercian House at Harnpole. 2 
Nothing now remains of the convent, but the Rev. R. H. 
Benson gives the following interesting description of the 
place. " Hampole is still a tiny hamlet, about seven miles 
distant from Doncaster. There has never been a parish church 
there, and in Richard s time the spiritual needs of the people 

1 The three MSS. collated are the Lincoln MS.; Bod. MS. 
e. mus. 193 ; and Cotton MS. Tiberius A. xv. in the Brit. Mus., 
see York Brev. vol. ii., Appendix v (1882), and cf. vol. i. p, x. 

2 See The Victoria History, Yorkshire, vol. iii. 163. 



EDITOR S PREFACE xli 

would no doubt be met by the convent chapel. Of the nun 
nery there are now no certain traces, except where a few 
mounds in the meadows by the stream below the hamlet mark 
its foundations, and beyond a few of its stones built into the 
school-house. The few grey stone houses nestle together on 
the steep slope in a shallow nook in the hill, round an open 
space where the old village spring still runs. There is no 
trace of Richard s cell ; but, in spite of the railway line in the 
valley, the place has a curious detached air, lying, as it does, 
a complete and self-contained whole, below the Doncaster 
road, fringed and shadowed by trees, and bordered with low- 
lying meadows rich, in early summer, with daisies and butter 
cups, and dotted with numerous may-trees ; the farthest 
horizon from the hamlet is not more than a mile or two 
away." * 

(ii) RICHARD MISYN 

The only fact we are certain of in regard to Richard Misyn 
is that he was the translator of the two treatises of Rolle which 
this volume contains. In the explicit to Book n of The Fire 
of Love we are told that he was then Prior of Lincoln and 
belonged to the Order of the Carmelites, per fratrem 
Ricardum Misyn, sacre theologie bachalaureum, tune Priorem 
Lyncolniensem^ ordinis carmelitarum ; but in the previous 
explicit to Book i he is mentioned only as a hermit belonging 
to the order, per fratrem Ricardum Misyn heremitam & ordinis 
carmelitarum Ac sacre theologie bachalaureum? 

Rolle had died eighty-six years before, in 1349, but two ot 
his miracles are dated and are as late as 1381 and 1383, so 
there is little reason to doubt that his name was very familiar 
to this other Richard, who also styled himself a hermit, and 
who, as far as we can gather, was of the same county. 

1 A Book of the Love of Jesus, p. 226 (Pitman, 1905). 



xlii EDITOR S PREFACE 

There are scanty records of a Richard Mysyn, a Car 
melite and Suffragan, who is thought to be identical with 
Bishop Mes m or Musln of Dromore ; for at that time to have 
a see in Ireland did not necessarily mean to reside there. 
This * Prater Ric. Mysyn, Suffragenus, ordinis Fratrum Car- 
melitariumj is put first in the Register of the Corpus 
Christi Guild of York, 1 under the date 1461-1462, and was 
admitted to the Guild by Dom. J. Burton, Rector of the 
Church of S. Martin in the Miclcelgate, York. Bishop 
Musuns name also occurs in the legend round the famous cup 
preserved in the vestry of York Minster, and known as the 
Scrope Indulgence Cup. This inscription runs : ^Recharde 
arche beschope Scrope grantes on to all tho that drinkis of 
this cope xl u dayis to pardun. Robert Gubsun. Beschope 
Musin grantes in same forme afore saide xl u dayis to 
pardun. Robert Strensall. 2 

In the Carmelite records preserved in a manuscript in the 
British Museum, 3 the death is noted of a Richard Mesin, 
Bishop of Dromore, under the year 1462, who was buried 
with the other Fathers of the order in their monastery at 
York, i.e.y in the same year as Richard Mysyn was admitted a 
member of the Corpus Christi Guild. But at present it must 
remain a matter merely of conjecture if these references relate 
to the Richard Misyn to whom we owe our translation. 

It now only remains for me to thank all those who have 
helped me by their kind advice and interest. I should like 
here to record my especial gratitude to Miss Evelyn Underbill, 
who read a part of my MS., and to whose kindly aid and sug 
gestions I am much indebted ; to Father Cuthbert, O.S.F.C., 
who helped me over many difficulties in the Latin text ; to 

1 Guild of Corpus Christi Tork, Surtees Soc., 1871, vol. i. p. 62. 

2 The names Gubsun and Strensall are thought to refer to office 
bearers of the Guild. 3 Harl. MS. 3838. 



EDITOR S PREFACE xliii 

Father Congreve, S.S.J.E., for his unfailing sympathy and help ; 
and to Miss Corrie Prior who read the proofs with me. I 
also owe a very especial debt of gratitude to Professor H. J. C. 
Grierson, not only for his kindness in overlooking my preface, 
but also because anything I may have learnt of the beauty and 
inspiration of literature is due to his teaching. And there are 
many others I am not allowed to name, but for whose assistance 
I am none the less grateful. 

By a curious coincidence I find that I am writing the 
last words of my preface on the eve of the day set apart in 
the English Martyrology for the commemoration of Blessed 
Richard, Confessour and Eremite. May we not take it for 
a sign that he is still present with us in spirit, and as desirous 
of helping us to-day by his spirituall bookes and treatises, 
and may we not add by his prayers, as when he ministered 
to the nuns at Hampole, or repaired to his cell < to sing 
psalms and hymns in honour of God ? 

F. M. M. C. 

ALL HALLOW E EN, 

19*3- 

NOTE. Under November 1st (after an account of S. Boniface) : 
" The same day in the Monastery of Hampole neere Doncaster in 
Yorkshire the Commemoration of Blessed Richard Confessour & 
Ermite, whose singular spirit of piety & devotion, is left written, 
and manifest to the world by his owne workes yet extant. He was 
first a Doctor, and then leauing the world became an Eremite, and 
led a solitary life neere to the forsaid Monastery of Hampole : to 
which place he was wont often to repayre, to sing psalmes and 
hymnes in honour of God, as himselfe testifieth in his works. And 
after many spirituall bookes and treatises by him wrytten, full of 
great sanctity of life and venerable old age, he finally rested in our 
Lord, about the yeare of Christ, one thousand three hundred fourty 
and nyne : and was buryed at Hampole" From The English 
Martyrologe, p. 301. By a Catholicke Priest. 1608. 



A TRANSLATION OF THE LEGENDA IN THE OFFICE 
PREPARED FOR THE BLESSED HERMIT RICHARD 1 

The office of Saint Richard, hermit, after he shall be canonized by 
the Church, because in the meantime it is not allowed to sing 
the canonical hours for him in public, nor to solemni ze his feast. 
Nevertheless, having evidence of the extreme sanctity of his 
life, we may venerate him and in our private devotions seek his 
intercessions, and commend ourselves to his prayers. 

Lection I. 

The saint of God, the hermit Richard, was born in the village 
of Thornton, near Pickering, in the diocese of York, and in due 
time, by the efforts of his parents, he was sent to be educated. 
When he was of adult age Master Thomas Neville, at one time Arch 
deacon of Durham, honourably maintained him in the University 
of Oxford, where he made great progress in study. He desired 
rather to be more fully and perfectly instructed in the theological 
doctrine of Holy Scripture than in physics or the study of secular 
knowledge. At length, in his nineteenth year, considering that the 
time of mortal life is uncertain and its end greatly to be dreaded 
(especially by those who either give themselves to fleshly lusts 
or only labour that they may acquire riches, and who, for these 
things, devote themselves to guile and deceit, yet they deceive 
themselves most of all), by God s inspiration he took thought 
betimes for himself, being mindful of his latter end, lest he should 
be caught in the snares of sinners. 

Hence, after he had returned from Oxford to his father s house, 

From The York Breviary, vol. ii, Appendix v. Pub. by Surtees Soc. (1882). 

xlv 



xlvi LEGENDA 

he said one day to his sister, who loved him with tender affection : 
1 My beloved sister, thou hast two tunics which I greatly covet, 
one white and the other grey. Therefore I ask thee if thou wilt 
kindly give them to me, and bring them me to-morrow to the 
wood near by, together with my father s rain-hood. She agreed 
willingly, and the next day, according to her promise, carried them 
to the said wood, being quite ignorant of what was in her brother s 
mind. And when he had received them he straightway cut off the 
sleeves from the grey tunic and the buttons from the white, and 
as best he could he fitted the sleeves to the white tunic, so that 
they might in some manner be suited to his purpose. Then he 
took off his own clothes with which he was clad and put on his 
sister s white tunic next his skin, but the grey, with the sleeves cut 
out, he put on over it, and put his arms through the holes which 
had been cut ; and he covered his head with the rain-hood afore 
said, so that thus in some measure, as far as was then in his power, 
he might present a certain likeness to a hermit. 1 But when his 
sister saw this she was astounded and cried : My brother is 
mad ! My brother is mad ! Whereupon he drove her from 
him with threats, and fled himself at once without delay, lest he 
should be seized by his friends and acquaintances. 

Lection II. 

After having thus put on the habit of a hermit and left his 
parents, he went to a certain church on the vigil of the Assumption 
of the most Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, and therein he set 
himself to pray, in the place where the wife of a certain worthy 
squire, named John de Dalton, was wont to pray. And when she 
entered the church to hear vespers, the servants of the squire s 
house wished to remove him from their lady s place. But she 
from humility would not permit them, lest he should be disturbed 
in his devotions. But when vespers were over, the sons of the 
said squire, who were scholars and had studied in the University 
of Oxford, noticed him as he rose from prayer, and said that he 
was the son of William Rolle, whom they had known at Oxford. 

1 Confusam similitudinem heremlte. 



LEGENDA xlvii 

Then, on the day of the aforesaid feast of the Assumption he 
again entered the same church ; and without bidding from any one, 
he put on a surplice and sang matins and the office of mass with 
the others. And when the gospel had been read in the mass, 
having first besought the blessing of the priest, he went into the 
preacher s pulpit and gave the people a sermon of wonderful 
edification, insomuch that the multitude which heard it was so 
moved by his preaching that they could not refrain from tears ; 
and they all said that they had never before heard a sermon of such 
virtue and power. And small wonder, since he was a special 
instrument of the Holy Spirit, and spoke with the very breath of 
Him whose it is, as sai h the apostle to the Romans, to divide to 
every man severally as He will, 1 and to make intercession for us 
with groanings which cannot be uttered. 2 



Lection III. 

Therefore, after mass, the aforesaid squire invited him to dinner, 
but when he entered his manor he betook himself to a certain 
mean and old room ; for he would not enter the hall, but sought 
rather to fulfil the teaching of the gospel, which says, When thou 
art invited to a wedding, sit down in the lowest room ; that when 
he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up 
higher, 3 and this too was fulfilled in him. For when the squire 
had sought for him diligently, and at last found him in the aforesaid 
room, he set him above his own sons at the^table. But he kept 
such perfect silence at dinner that not a word proceeded from his 
mouth. And when he had eaten enough he rose, before the table 
was removed, and prepared to depart. But the squire who had 
invited him said that this was not customary, and so prevailed 
upon him to sit down again. When the meal was over he again 
wished to depart, but the squire, seeking to have some private talk 
with him, detained him until all who were in the room had gone, 
when he asked him if he were the son of William Rolle. Then he 
rather unwillingly and with reluctance answered : Perchance I 

1 i Cor. xii. ii. 2 Rom. viii. 26. 3 Luke xiv. 10. 



xlviii LEGENDA 

am ; since he feared that if he were recognized the plan on 

which his mind was set would be hindered. For this squire loved 

his father as a friend with warm affection. But Richard newly 

made a hermit without his father s knowledge and against his 

wish had taken this estate upon him because he loved God more 
than his earthly father. 



Lection IV. 

And when the aforesaid squire had examined him in private, 
and convinced himself by perfect evidence of the sanctity of his 
purpose, he, at his own expense, clad him according to his wish, 
with clothing suitable for a hermit ; and kept him for a long time 
in his own house, giving him a place for his solitary abode and 
providing him with food and all the necessaries of life. Then he 
began with all diligence, by day and night, to seek how to perfect 
his life, and to take every opportunity he could to advance in 
contemplative life and to be fervent in divine love. And to what 
excellent perfection he at length attained in this art of fervent 
love for God he himself records, not for boastfulness nor to seek 
vainglory, but rather after the example of the glorious and humble 
apostle Paul, who, narrating his rapture to the third heaven, 
where he heard secrets which are not lawful for a man to utter, 
also avows the greatness of the revelations made to him by God, 
and openly exalts his own labours above the labours of all the 
other apostles. 1 All which things he wrote in his epistles for the 
profit and edification of others, and left them for others to read. 
So too this holy hermit, Richard, in chapter one of his first book 
of The Fire of Love, tells to what high and sweet delights he 
attained by contemplation, so that others may obtain hope ot 
advancing likewise in acts of contemplation and of love for God, 
if only watchfully, constantly, and perseveringly they persist in 
those works which are ordained for the attainment of this most 
desirable state of perfection, and hate and cut off as poison all 
impediments to contemplation. 

1 2 Cor. xii. 4-8 ; i Cor. xv. 10. 



LEGENDA xlix 

Lection V. 

For in the aforesaid book he thus speaks : I marvelled more 
than I can say when I first felt my heart grow warm and 
burn, truly, not in imagination but as it were with sensible 
fire. I was indeed amazed at that flame which burst forth 
within me ; and at this unwonted comfort because of my in 
experience of this abundance I have often felt 1 my breast to see 
if perchance this heat was due to some outward cause. But when 
I knew that this fire of love had blazed forth only from within, 
and was not of the flesh but a gift of my Maker, I was full of joy 
and dissolved in a desire for yet greater love ; and chiefly because 
of the inflowing of this most sweet delight and internal sweetness 
which, with this spiritual burning, bedewed my mind to the core. 
For I had not thought before that such sweet heat and comfort 
might come to pass in this exile. 2 

See then by these words how far he had advanced in attaining 
the most sweet love of God ; but, because there are many steps 
preparatory to the kindling of this love as, for example, those 
things which diminish and remove the loves opposed to it there 
fore this saint wore down the lusts of the flesh ; to the love of 
which many are borne off by a mad and bestial impulse. He 
spurned the world too with its riches, being content with only the 
bare necessaries of life, that he might more freely enjoy the delights 
of true love. For these reasons, therefore, he mortified his flesh 
with many fasts, with frequent vigils, and repeated sobs and sighings, 
quitting all soft bedding, and having a hard bench for a bed, and 
for a house a small cell ; fixing his mind always on heaven, and 
desiring to depart and be with Christ, 3 his most sweet Beloved. 

Lection VI. 

Yet wonderful and beyond measure useful was the work of this 
saintly man in holy exhortations, whereby he converted many 
to God, and in his sweet writings, both treatises and little books 
composed for the edification of his neighbours, which all sound 
like sweetest music in the hearts of the devout. And amongst 

1 Palpavi = lit. stroked. 2 Vide p. n. 3 Phil. i. 23. 

A 3 



LEGENDA 

other things it seems worthy of great wonder that once when he 
was seated , his cell (one day, after dinner) the lady of tLhous 
came to h,m, and many other persons with her, and found hi 
wrmng very qu.ckly. And they besought him to leave off writing 

and speak a word of edifira*; ^ .1 .. , - , writing 



occupations were discrepant one from another/and the spok en 
words dl ff d utter]y jn mean . ng from those wh;ch th h e e S P k " 

The samt also was sometimes so absorbed in spirit while he prayed 



replaced it on him he did not notice it. 
Lection VII. 

But the more laboriously and effectively this blessed hermit 
R.chard, studied to acquire perfect holiness of life, so much Te 
more cunningly the devil-the enemy of the 









honourable love-not a little. And when I looked on her a"d wa" 
marvelhng why she had come to me in solitude and a nigh 
suddenly, w,thout delay or speech, she placed herself beside me! 



** 



LEGENDA li 

When I felt this, fearing lest she should entice me to evil, I said 
I would arise and, with the sign of the cross, invoke the blessing 
of the Holy Trinity upon us. But she held me so strongly that I 
could neither speak nor move my hand. Whereupon I perceived 
that not a woman, but the devil in the form of a woman, was 
tempting me. So I turned me to God, and when I had said in 
my mind : " O Jesu, how precious is Thy blood ! " and made the sign 
of the cross on my breast with my finger, which had now begun in 
some measure to be capable of movement, behold, suddenly all dis 
appeared, and I gave thanks to God who had delivered me. From 
that time therefore I sought to love Jesus, and the more I advanced 
in His love the sweeter and more pleasant did the Name of Jesus 
savour to me ; and even to this day It has not left me. Therefore 
blessed be the Name of Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. 

Lection VIII. 

Also this holy hermit, Richard, out of the abundance of his 
charity used to show himself very friendly to recluses and to those 
who were in need of spiritual consolation, and who suffered dis 
quiet and vexation in soul or body through the malignant work 
of evil spirits. God granted him singular grace in helping those 
who were troubled in that way. And thus it once happened 
that when a certain lady was drawing nigh to death in whose 
manor Richard had a cell (but a long way off from the family), where 
he was wont to live alone, and give himself to contemplation a 
great multitude of horrible demons came to the room where the 
lady lay. It was little wonder, therefore, that when she saw them 
visibly she fell into great fear and trembling. Her attendants 
sprinkled holy water in the room and made devout prayers ; never 
theless, the demons departed not, but still continued to vex her 
greatly. At length, by the wise and discreet advice of her friends, 
the blessed Richard was called to the room, so that, if possible, he 
might bring the said lady the aid of comfort and peace. And when 
he had come to her consolation, and had admonished her holily, 
and had urged her to place all her hope in the superabundant 
mercy of God and in His overflowing grace, he then set himself to 



Hi 



LEGENDA 



pray God with . fervent heart that He would take from her the 

fearsome s,gh t of the demons. And the Lord heard him instan 

and at the prayer of His beloved Richard was pleased to put J 

hat ternble troop to flight. Yet as they fled they left behind 

hem astoundmg traces of their passage ; for all the bystanders saw 

hat , the rush-strewn floor of the room where tlJdemons had 

passed the rushes seemed to be burned and reduced to black ashes, 

" 



of oxen the 



But when the d had , ost ^ ^ 

hem P fi-\ Y t0 Mke VCngeanCe " K 1-ri, who had put 
dtmrb d h S AcC rdin ^ the ^ * fh w ith to his cell and 

n ed f h- S m !" ^ thC time the ^ made ^ P -e 
.fitted for hrs contemplat,on. But the saint of God being 

stedfast , h,s faith fled repeatedly for refuge to the sa c u ry 
f prayer, and b h,s entreaties once more prevailed with the Lori 

And> M ^ COmfOTt f the 



th If h u Ve an tat a - q 

th,s hfe she would be a joint-heir in the kingdom of heaven 

After this the samt of God, Richard, betook himself to other 
parts, doubtless through the providence of God so that dwelling 

5 



at m ht n a " *> 

so that he might escape .mped.ment to contemplation, as we read 

fath ,1 * im , f "" ^^ that man ^ f the holy 

fathe s m the desert used to do. For frequent change of place doel 
not always come from inconstancy ; as is the accusation of certain 
who are gl ven to qu.ck and perverse judgment of their neighbours 
but whose crooked interpretations and habits of detraction ough 
not to make a .enable person neglect those things which he has 
found by experience to be good aad conducive to virtue. For 
e canon and decrees of the Church many causes sometimes 

n t w n Wh Ch Ch / nge f P ace ? be de 5 of-hich the 
.s when pressure of persecution makes a place dangerous- 
secondly, when some local difficulties exist .1 and thirdly, wh he 
saints are harassed by the society of evil men. 



LEGENDA Hii 

When, therefore, this holy man, for urgent and most practical 
reasons had betaken himself to dwell in Richmondshire, it befell 
that the Lady Margaret, who had once been a recluse at Anderby 
in the diocese of York, on the very day of the Lord s Supper * was 
so overcome by a grave attack of illness that for thirteen days 
continuously she was utterly deprived! of the power of speech. 
Moreover, it caused her such pains and prickings in her body that 
she could not rest in any position. Now a certain goodman of 
that town, knowing that the holy hermit Richard loved her with a 
perfect affection of charity since he was wont to instruct her in 
the art of loving God, and to direct her, by his holy teaching, how 
to order her life quickly hastened on horseback to the hermit, 
who was then living twelve miles from the dwelling of the recluse, 
and besought him to come to her with all speed and bring her 
consolation in her great need. And when he came to the recluse 
he found her unable to speak and troubled with very grievous 
pains. And as he sat by the window of her dwelling and they 
were eating together, it befell at the end of the meal that the 
recluse desired to sleep ; and so, oppressed by sleep, she drooped 
her head at the window where Richard, the saint of God, reclined ; 
and after she had slept thus for a short time, leaning slightly upon 
Richard, suddenly a violent convulsion seized her in her sleep 
with fearful vehemence, so that it seemed as if she wished to break 
the window of her house. And being still in this most terrible 
convulsion, she awoke from sleep, and the power of speech being 
granted her, with great devotion she burst forth with these words : 
1 Gloria tibi Domine? and blessed Richard finished the verse which 
she had begun, saying : Qui natus es de Virgine? with the rest 
which follows in the compline hymn. Then he said to her : 
Now thy speech is restored to thee, use it as a woman whose 
speech is for good/ 

A little while after, when she was again eating at the aforesaid 
window, in exactly the same way as before, after dinner she fell 
asleep, and leaning upon the saint aforesaid, the same convulsions 
returned, and she became, as it were, mad, and was shaken by 
extraordinary and violent movements. But when the holy Richard 
1 Ipsa die Cene Domini /.<?,, Thursday in Holy Week. 



liv LEGENDA 

was trying to hold her with his hands, lest she should rend herself 
or strive in any way to injure the house, she suddenly slipped from 
them, and in her fall was shaken out of sleep and thoroughly 
wakened. Then Richard said to her : * Truly I thought that 
even if thou hadst been the devil I should still have held thee ; 
nevertheless, I give thee this word of comfort, that as long as I 
shall remain in this mortal life thou shalt never again suffer the 
torment of this illness. 

None the less, when the courses of several years had passed, 
the same illness except that she had her tongue free for speech 
returned to her. Therefore the recluse sent for the goodman 
aforesaid, and asked him to hasten quickly on horseback to the 
house of the nuns at Hampole which place was far distant from 
her own dwelling where the said Richard at that time led a 
solitary life, and to sec what had befallen him. For she doubted 
not that he had passed from this world, because she knew that 
he was faithful to his promise ; and he had promised her that 
as long as he lived in the flesh she should never again suffer such 
torment. So the said man came to Hampole, and he learnt that 
the saint was dead to this world ; and after diligently inquiring 
the hour of his passing, he found that the aforesaid illness had 
returned to the recluse shortly after the hour of Richard s de 
parture. But afterwards the recluse betook herself to Hampole 
where the holy body of the said hermit was given burial ; and never 
afterwards was she afflicted with the suffering of this horrible illness. 

Lection IX. 

But yet, lest it should lie hidden from men especially from 
those who by devout and diligent study are instant towards the 
attainment of the perfect life how and by what means that blessed 
zealot of God, the hermit Richard, reached the stage of perfect 
love and charity, as far as is allowed in mortal life, so that all 
other love became mean and worthless for him and begat a 
dreadful horror : be it jcnown, therefore, that he himself, in 
his first book concerning the Fire of Love, chapter thirteen, 1 
* Chap. xv. of this edition, pp. 70-72, 



LEGENDA Iv 

speaks thus : * In process of time, he says, l great increase of 
spiritual joys was given me. For there passed three years all 
but three or four months from the beginning of the change 
of my life and mind to the opening of the heavenly door, so that, 
with unveiled face, 1 through the eyes of the heart, 2 the soul might 
contemplate the heavenly beings, and see by what way to seek 
her Beloved and pant after Him. Then, the door remaining open, 
nearly a year passed before the heat of eternal love was verily 
felt in my heart. I was sitting, forsooth, in a certain chapel, and, 
while I was finding great delight in the sweetness of prayer or 
meditation, suddenly I felt within me an unwonted and pleasant 
heat. And though at first I wavered, doubting for a long time 
whence it might be, I became convinced that it was not from 
the creature but from the Creator, because I found it grow more 
warm and pleasant. But when half a year, three months and some 
weeks had passed by during which that warmth of surpassing 
sweetness continued with me there was borne in on my per 
ception a heavenly spiritual sound, which pertains to the song 
of everlasting praise and the sweetness of the invisible melody. In 
visible I call it because it can be neither known nor heard except 
by him to whom it is vouchsafed ; and he must first be purified 
and separated from the world. For while I was sitting in the 
same chapel, and chanting psalms at night before supper, as I 
could, I heard as it were the tinkling music of stringed instruments, 
or rather of singers, over my head. And while my whole heart 
and all my desires were engrossed in prayer and heavenly things, 
suddenly, I know not how, I felt within a symphony of song, 
and I overheard a most delightful heavenly harmony, which 
remained in my mind. For straightway, while I meditated, my 
thought was turned into melody of song, and for meditation I, 
as it were, sang songs. And that music voiced itself even in my 
prayers and psalmody ; and by reason of the interior sweetness 
which was outpoured upon me, I was impelled to sing what before 
I had only said. Not publicly, forsooth, for I did it only before 
God the Creator. Those who saw me knew it not, lest if they had 
known they might have honoured me above measure ; and thus, 
1 Cf. z Cor. iii. :8 (R.V.). 2 Eph. i. 18 (R.V.). 



Ivi LEGENDA 

I might have lost part of that most fair flower, and might have 
fallen into desolation. 

1 Meanwhile wonder seized me that I had been chosen for such 
great joy while I was in exile, because God had then given me gifts 
which I knew not to ask, nor thought that even the most holy could 
receive such in this life. Therefore I trow that these are not given 
for merit, but freely, to whomsoever Christ will. Nevertheless I 
think no man shall receive them, unless he especially love the Name 
of Jesus and honour it so greatly that he never lets It from his mind 
except in sleep. He to whom it is given to do this may, I think, 
attain that also. 

1 Whence, from the beginning of my conversion even to the highest 
degree of the love of Christ to which, by the gift of God, I was able 
to reach and in which state I proclaimed the praise of God with 
joyous songs I remained for four years and about three months. 
For this state, when once the previous states are conformed to it, 
remains unto the end ; nay, it will be more perfect after death, 
because here the joy of love and charity begins and in the heavenly 
kingdom shall receive its glorious consummation. 

The following prayers are from the Mass for the Saint. 

Secret. 

O Lord, we beseech thee that these our oblations may, through 
the holy intercession of the blessed hermit, Richard, be accepted 
by Thee; that by their virtue we may be protected from all dangers, 
and may be strengthened in the love of Thy Name ever more and 
more. Through our Lord. 

Postcommunion. 

We beseech Thee, Almighty God, that by the prayers of the 
blessed hermit, Richard, we, Thy servants, refreshed by the sacrifice 
of the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesu Christ, may ever receive 
that most precious food to our salvation ; and so be inwardly 
nourished by the most sweet charity and peace which that sacrifice 
represents. Through the same our Lord, 



LEGENDA Ivii 

HERE BEGIN THE MIRACLES OF THE BLESSED HERMIT RICHARD. 
To BE READ DURING THE OCTAVE OF HIS FEAST. 

(The following extracts are from the Sunday Lessons.} 

Lection I. 

But after the passing of this saint, Richard, so dearly beloved 
by God, God did not desist from showing forth to men his sanctity 
and glory by wonderful miracles. For example, in a town near to 
the dwelling of the nuns of Hampole there was a certain house 
holder called Roger, who on the night of the Feast of the Assump 
tion of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and on the two following 
nights, in his dreams saw the blessed hermit Richard come to him, 
and he conversed with him about many things. Afterwards, for six 
nights together, he appeared to him when he was wide awake, 
and taught him plainly about many secret things, and inflamed him 
with the love of God and with a spirit of holy devotion. Therefore 
he made up his mind that he would at once honour the saint with 
grateful acts of reverence ; and he believed that he could please him 
especially by bringing stones, with his own labour and that of his 
beasts, to build his tomb in the church of the nuns of Hampole, 
where now his body is buried. 

Lection II. 

One day, therefore, while he was occupied with the aforesaid 
work of piety, and had got ready twelve oxen for drawing, it 
happened that when he had reached the gate of the churchyard at 
Hampole carrying great stones, his poor beasts by an unhappy 
accident turned aside from the path, and the cart collided with the 
side-post of the gate and cast the said stones with great force upon 
Roger himself. Yet he was in no wise hurt by this, nor felt any 
shaking or pain of body ; and though his foot was very tightly 
jammed by the stones, he was able to get it out without injury to 
foot or leg. And, indeed, that this miracle should not be forgotten, 
one of these stones was set up at the gate of the churchyard, so that 
those coming that way might see it ; and another is placed on the 
tomb of the saint. 



Iviii 



LEGENDA 



Thus, as long as he lived, this saintly man was wholly on fire with 
divine love, seeking nothing except that he might please Jesus Christ, 
his most sweet Beloved ; and any who would offer him faithful 
service, and by devout prayers make him his mediator and inter 
cessor with the same Jesus Christ, has a most powerful argument 
from this history. And if he be not in himself an obstacle, he will 
obtain his wholesome purpose. 



Lection IV. 

A certain woman called Joan being vexed with demons lost the 
use of speech, and her bodily strength was so reduced and exhausted 
that every one that saw her thought she must die. But one day the 
blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, appeared to her in most 
beautiful white garments, drawing near to her and leading the 
blessed hermit Richard by the hand. And he, seeing the demons 
cruelly vexing the woman, placed himself between them and her 
and made them depart. Then the blessed Richard put a ring on 
the woman s finger as a token of the miracle and his saving help. 
When he had done this, at once the woman ceased to feel the 
vexation of the demons ; and recovered the use of her speech and 
was healed of all her infirmities. 



A table is here appended of all the miracles ; since it would take up 
too much space to give them in full. 



To be 

read on : 


Name. 


Place. 


Date. 

(Where given.) 


Nature of Miracle and 
Conditions. 


Sunday 
Lect. i., ii. 


Roger. 


Hampole. 


Vigil of the 
Assumption. 


Preserved from accident 
while engaged in building 
the saint s tomb. 


Lect. iii. 


John. 




F. of the 
Epiphany, 
1381. 


Wounded by an enemy, John 
is raised from apparent death 
by prayer and the placing of 
money on his body, as an 
offering to the saint. 



MIRACULA 



lix 



To be 

read on : 


Name. 


Place. 


Date. 

(Where given. 


Nature of Miracle and 
Conditions. 


3- 


Lect. iv. 


Joan. 


_ 


_ 


Demoniac : cured by inter 












vention of B.V.M. and the 












saint, who places a ring on 












her finger. 


4- 


Lect. v. 


Woman. 


Wrang- 





Saint appears to a paralysed 








broke,near 




woman and restores her, 








Hampole. 




bidding her tell her neigh 












bours. 


5- 


Lect. vi. 


Thomas 


Morehow, 


__ 


Bedridden : hearing in the 






Bell. 


near 




night a voice bidding him to 








Doncaster. 




send a candle of ij Ibs. to be 












burnt before the image of the 












B.V.M. at Hampole, Thomas 












does so by his wife and 












family ; and being alone in 












the house the saint appears 












to him and, asking where the 












pain is, touches the spot and 












heals him. 


6. 


Lect. vii. 


Son of 


Leicester. 


F. of the 


Boy drowned by falling into 






Isabella 




Assumption, 


a well. A passing pilgrim 






(aged 4). 




1383- 


tells them to visit the 












hermit s tomb at Hampole. 












They do so, and pay a de 












narius * at the tomb and the 












child is restored to life. 


7- 


Lect. viii. 


Hugh 


Fishlake, 


Cured on the 


Falls into a well : is revived 






(aged 3). 


near 


F. of S.John 


by his mother s vow to offer 








Thome. 


Baptist. 


a candle of the length of her 












dead son at the saint s tomb. 


8. 


Lect. ix. 


William 





Pilgrimage 


Bitten by snake and thought 






son of 




made on the 


to be dead : but restored by a 






Ralph 




third feria of 


vow to make a pilgrimage to 






(aged 10). 




Whitsun 


the saint s tomb. This miracle 










week. 


is confirmed on oath. 


9- 


Feria 2. 


John son 





F. of SS. 


Crippled in arms and legs : 




Lect. i. 


of Wm. 




Philip and 


restored by promise of yearly 






Spynke 




James. 


pilgrimage to the saint s 






(aged 8). 






tomb. 



1 Plieabant igitur amid pueri, frout moris 
sancti sepulchrum, 



denarium offerendum pro ipso 



Ix 



MIRACULA 



To be 
read on : 


Name. 


Place. 


Date. 

(Where given.) 


Nature of Miracle and 
Conditions. 


10. 


Lect. i. 


Isabella. 








Deaf for seven years : cured 
by praying at the saint s 
tomb. 


ii. 


Lect. ii. 


Beatrice. 


York. 


F. of the 

Holy Trinity. 


Dumb for six days : cured by 
praying at the tomb. 


12. 


Lect. iii. 


Julia. 


York. 


Vigil of S. 
John the 
Baptist. 


Demoniac, and dumb for 
twelve clays : falls asleep at 
the saint s tomb, and Richard 
and the B.V.M. appear in a 
vision and tell her to ask the 












priest to whom she will con 
fess her sins, and she will be 












healed in mind and body. 
She narrates that the bright 
ness of the vision nearly 
blinded her. 


!3- 


Feria J. 
Lect. i. 


John. 


Sutton, 
near 
Doncaster. 





Deaf for ten years: cured by 
praying at the saint s tomb. 


14. 


H 


Woman. 


York. 





Also deaf : cured at the 
saint s tomb. 


15. 





Alice. 





Easter. 


Dumb from S. Katherine s 
Day to Easter : cured by 
praying at the saint s tomb. 


16. 


Lect. ii. 


John. 





Easter. 


Insane : led to the tomb by 
his friends and there cured. 


17- 





Agnes. 


York. 





Insane for three months. 
Her friends offer a wax 












candle, measured to her 
height, 1 at the saint s tomb, 
and she is immediately re 
stored to her senses. 


iS. 


Lect. iii. 


Isabella. 








Blind of one eye for twenty 
years : makes a pilgrimage 
to the tomb and is cured. 



1 Compare St. Thomas of Canterbury ; his death and miracles. They measured 
the boy for a candle to S. Thomas (495). They measured a baby s head for a 
candle (527), etc. Measure me for S. Thomas (778), etc. By Edwin Abbott 
(Black, 1898), 



MIRACULA 



Ixi 



To be 

read on : 


Name. 


Place. 


Date. 

(Where given.) 


Nature of Miracle and 
Conditions. 


19. 


Lect. iii. 


Agnes. 


Auston, 





Deaf for three years : restored 








near 




at the tomb. 








Worksop. 






20. 


Feria 4. 


Robert. 





F. of S. Mary 


Totally blind for three years : 




Lect. i. 






Magdalene. 


hears a voice bidding him go 












to the hermit s tomb and, 












obeying, is cured. 


21. 


Lect. ii. 


Boy of 5. 








Choked by an apple for three 












days and thought to be dead : 












revived by a denarius placed 












on his head as an offering to 












the saint. 


22. 


Lect. iii. 


Boy of 4. 








Bad ulcer in the child s mouth 












prevented his feeding. By 












wise counsel a denarius is 












laid upon his head, and the 












ulcer vanishes and the child 












can suck. 


3- 


Feria j. 


Joan. 


Sprot- 


F. of S. Peter 


Fell into a mill-pool : res 




Lect. i. 




borough, 


in chains. 


cued after an hour, and re 








near 




vived by prayer and being 








Doncaster. 




* measured for a candle. 


24. 


Lect. ii. 


Woman. 


Durham. 





Deaf for two years : makes a 












pilgrimage to the saint s 












tomb and is cured on the 












spot. 


25. 





John. 





Purification 


Deaf for a long time : is 










of B.V.M. 


cured by the merits and 












prayers of the saint. 


26. 


Lect. iii. 


Woman. 


__ 


__ 


Her child is still-born and 












she is thought to be dead : 












restored by being * measured 












for a candle to the saint. 



MIRACULA 



To be 

read on : 


Name. 


Place. 


Date. 

(Where given.) 


Nature of Miracle and 
Conditions. 


27. 


Lect. iii. 


Isabella 


Near the 


. 


The child falls asleep upon 






(four- 


nunnery of 




a heap of straw and is 






year-old 


Hampole. 




smothered by it. When 






daughter 






found is thought to be dead, 






of John). 






but restored to life on being 












* measured for a candle. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE OR MELODY OF 
LOVE, AS TRANSLATED BY RICHARD 
MISYN IN 1435 A.D. FROM THE 
INCENDIUM AMORIS BY RICHARD 
ROLLE OF HAMPOLE: AND NOW 
DONE INTO MODERN ENGLISH 



TABLE OF CHAPTERS 



PAGE 



PROLOGUE OF RICHARD MISYN , 9 

PROLOGUE OF RICHARD ROLLE n 



BOOK I 

CHAPTER 

I. Of man s turning to God ; and what helps and what 

lets his turning . . . . 15 

II. That no man may suddenly come to high devotion, 

nor be wet with the sweetness of contemplation . 19 

III. That ilk man chosen of God has his state ordained . 22 

IV. The difference betwixt God s lovers and the world s : 

and their meeds . . . . . 25 

V. Wherefore it is better to take entent to the love of 

God than to knowledge or disputation . .28 

VI. Concerning heretics : and faith in the Trinity . 32 

VII. That in the Godhead we ought not to say three Gods 
or three Essences, as we say three Persons : and 
that ilk man shall be called great or small after the 
quantity of his love . . . . -35 

VIII. That the perfect lover of God had liever run into 
great pain than by sin once grieve God : and why 
God torments the righteous Ly the wicked . . 39 

3 






THE FIRE OF LOVE 

CHAPTER 

IX. That God is to be loved and worshipped in dis-eases : 

and also of the mirth and meekness of the good . 42 

X. That God s lover forsakes the world, idleness and 
irksomeness: and of hypocrites and covetous 

. 48 

XI. That lovers of God shall deem with Him : and of the 
love of knowledge gotten by labour, and of God : 
and that a true lover errs not, nor is beguiled 
neither with fasting nor abstinence, counsel nor 
presumption . . m _ 

XII. That no man shall deem another, but give God 
praise : and of eight affections of the love of God : 
and that women s company be eschewed . .56 

XIII. That solitary or hermit s life passes common and 

mixed life. And how it comes to Fire of 
Love : and of sweetness of song . . ,-Q 

XIV. Of the praise of solitary life and of the first lovers 

thereof: and that love of God stands in Heat, 
Song, and Sweetness : and that rest is needful : 
and that such are saved from japes l and are not set 
in prelacy . . . . - 

XV. How and in what time I came to solitary life : 
and of the song of love : and of changing of 
P lace *, 69 

XVI. The prayer of the poor, and the loving and desiring 

to die : and of the praising of God s charity . 74 

XVII. How perfect love is gotten by cleanness and love 
and of imperfect love and fairness. And of three 
mights of God s love : and of the rich and poor : 
and of alms .... 

1 deceit*. 



TABLE OF CHAPTERS 5 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XVIII. Of the praise and might of charity : and of forsaking 
the world : and of the way of penance to be 
taken . . . . . .83 

XIX. Of fairness of mind ; vanity of the world ; love of 
God ; and union with our neighbour : and 
whether perfect love can be lost and gotten in 
this way . . . . .86 

XX. Of the profit and worthiness of prayer and 

meditation . . . . -9 

XXI. That contemplative life is worthier and meedfuller 

than active. And of both prelacy and preaching. 93 

XXII. The burning of love purges vices and sins : and 

of the tokens of true friendship . . 97 

XXIII. That perfect love mingles nothing with God : and 

why. And that it is needful to love : and of 
the blindness of fleshly love . . 99 

XXIV. Of the stink of lechery and the peril of touching : 

and of the cursedness of covetousness : and of 
ungodly gladness . . . .102 

XXV. Of perfect love : and what must be had for ghostly 

joy: and of love and correction . .106 

XXVI. Of the sighings, desire, and meekness of a perfect 
lover : and of the difference between worldly 
love and godly : and also of meditation . 109 

XXVII. Of true meekness and adversity : and of the 
example of the saints : and of the manner of 
ghostly profiting : and of thinking on Christ s 
passion . . . . .1*4 

XXVIII. That a true lover despises worldly things and 
desires heavenly : and of the hating of pride, 
and halsing 1 of meekness . . .118 

1 embracing. 



6 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

CHAPTKR PAGB 

XXIX. The teaching of the boisterous and untaught, 
desiring to love : and of the eschewing of 
women . . . . . -123 

XXX. Of God s privy doom : and that they that fall 
again be not deemed by us : and of great skills J 
against purchasours , . . .129 



BOOK II 

I. Why the perfect contemplatives take no heed to out 
ward song, and of their error that reprove them : 
and how to profit in contemplation . .132 

II. The teaching of contemplative life in praying, medi 
tating, fasting, and waking : and of the proud 
contemplative : and of true and very ghostly song . 136 

III. That ghostly song accords not with bodily: and the 

cause and the error of gainsayers. And of know 
ledge inshed or inspired ; and how it differs 
from knowledge gotten by labour . .140 

IV. Of the excellence of ghostly song : and that it neither 

can be said nor written, nor receives any fellow 
ship : and of the charity of spiritual singers : and 
the pride of them that have gotten knowledge . 144 

V. The meditation of the lover in his love : and the 
forsaking of fellowship : and how in order it 
comes to the flame of love . . . 149 

VI. Of divers gifts of God s chosen : and how saints come 
to love in praying, meditating, loving, suffering 
adversity, and hating vice. And that love comes 
from God and that His love is necessary. And 

1 reasons. 



TABLE OF CHAPTERS 7 

CHAPTER PAG 

that true lovers fall not by temptations of the flesh, 
as other imperfect ones : nor are hurt by the 
dregs of sin although they last . . . 153 

VII. That a true lover only loves his Beloved : and of double 
ravishings, that is -to say out of the body, and out 
of the lifting of the mind into God ; and of the 
worthiness thereof . . . .160 

VIII. The desire of a lover after God is shown : and the 
cursed love of this world is declared by many 
examples : and that the memory of God abides 
not in lovers of the world . . .165 

IX. Of divers friendships of good and ill, and if they 
can be loosed : of the scarceness of friendship 
of men and women : and of true friendship, and 
how the chosen joy in it in this life : and of the 
folly of some that abstain too mickle, or are 
naked : and of fleshly friendship : and the array 
of men and women . . . .170 

X. That God s love is to be mingled with ilk time and 
deed nor fail not for weal or woe, and of the 
worthiness [and the gaining] thereof : and of tears 
turned to song . . . . .178 

XI. That perfect love binds to God without loosing and 
makes man mindful of his God ; but love of the 
world falls to nought. And of the nature of true 
love, stable and ay-lasting, sweet, soft, and profitable : 
and of false love ; venomous, foul, and unclean . 183 

XII. Of the felicity and sweetness of God s love : and of 
the nightingale s song : and prayer for perse 
verance of true ghostly song that worldly lovers 
have not . . . .189 



PROLOGUE OF RICHARD MISYN 

FOR the honour of our Lord Jesu Christ, at the asking 
of thy desire, Sister Margaret, coveting 1 to make satis 
faction, 2 and for increase also of ghostly comfort, to thee 
and more, that understand not curiosity 3 of Latin, I, among 
lettered men simplest and in living unthriftiest, have taken this 
work to translate from Latin into English for the edification 
of many souls. And since it is so that all good pleasure and 
ghostly life of man s soul stands in perfect love, therefore this 
holy man, Richard Hampole, has named his book Incendium 
Amorh) that is to say The Fire of Love/ The which book 
I think to change neither in sentence 4 nor substance, but truly 
to write it in good exposition after mine understanding. 

Therefore I pray all readers hereof, if your discretion find 
aught thankworthy, to God give the praise thereof and to this 
holy man ; and if any thing be mis-said, to my ignorance 
ascribe 5 it. Nevertheless I make protestation to reform, with 
intent to write or say nothing against the faith or determination 
of holy kirk, God being witness. 

Furthermore, sister, have in mind the mortality of this life, 
and always in thy hand some holy lesson 6 keep. For if 
thou keepest holiness thou shalt not love fleshly sins ; and 
holiness, wherein it stands, I said before, in perfect love. 

But perfect love, what may that be ? Certain, when thy 
God, as thou oughtest, for Himself thou lovest ; thy friend in 

1 i.e., desiring. 2 C. a-sethc. 3 skill. 

4 meaning. s C. wyet. 6 C. lesun, i.e.j reading. 



io PROLOGUE OF RICHARD MISYN 

God ; and thine enemy thou lovest for God. For neither God 
without thy neighbour, nor thy neighbour without God, is 
truly loved. Perfect love therefore stands in love of God 
and of thy neighbour ; and love of God in keeping of His 
commandments. 

Keep, therefore, His commandments, and when thou enterest 
thy prayers or contemplation, all worldly things altogether 
forsake ; forget the care of all outward things, and to God only 
take heed. If thou find any doubts call to thee sad 1 counsel, 
for dread thou errest ; especially in such things as touch the 
twelve articles of thy faith ; also of the Holy Trinity, and 
divers others as in this holy book following is wisely written 
to our learning. 

1 serious or wise. 



PROLOGUE OF RICHARD ROLLE 

MORE have I marvelled than I showed when, forsooth, I 
first felt my heart wax warm, truly, and not in imagina 
tion, but as if it were burned with sensible fire. I was 
forsooth amazed as the burning in my soul burst up, and of 
an unwont solace ; ofttimes, because of my ignorance of such 
healthful abundance, I have groped 1 my breast seeking whether 
this burning were from any bodily cause outwardly. But 
when I knew that it was only kindled inwardly from a ghostly 
cause, and that this burning was nought of fleshly love or 
concupiscence, in this I conceived it was the gift of my Maker. 
Gladly therefore I am molten into the desire of greater love ; 
and especially for the inflowing of this most sweet delight 
and ghostly sweetness ; the which, with that ghostly flame, 
has pithily 2 comforted my mind. 

First truly before this comfortable heat, and sweetest in all 
devotion, was shed in me, I plainly trowed such heat could 
happen to no man in this exile : for truly so it enflames the 
soul as if the element of fire were burning there. Neverthe 
less, as some say, there are some, burning in the love of Christ, 
because they see them despising this world, and with busyness 
given only to the service of God. But as it were if thy finger 
were put into fire it should be clad with sensible burning, so, 
as beforesaid, the soul set afire with love, truly feels most 
very 3 heat ; but sometimes more and more intense, and some 
times less, as the frailty of the flesh suffers. 

who is there in mortal body that all this life may suffer 

1 searched, 2 to the core = L. medullitus. 3 real, 



12 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

this great heat in its high degree, P or may bear for long its 
continual existence ? Truly it behoves him fail for sweetness 
and greatness of desire after so high an outward love ; and no 
marvel though many, passing out of this world, full greedily 
would catch 1 it and yearn after it with full hot desire ; so 
that unto this honey-sweet flame with wonderful gifts of mind 
he might yield his soul, and so be taken, and forthwith 2 enter 
the companies of them that sing praises to their Creator 
withouten end. 

But some things happen contrary to charity ; for filth of 
the flesh creeps up tempting restful minds ; bodily need also 
and the frail affections of man, imprinted with the anguish 
of this wretched exile, sometimes lessen 2 this heat, and the 
flame which under a figure I called fire, because it burns and 
lightens, they hinder and heavy. 3 And yet truly they take 
not fully away that which may not be taken away, for it has 
umbelapped 4 all my heart. But this most happy heat, some 
times absent on account of such things, appears again ; and I, 
as it were abiding grievously cold, think myself desolate until 
the time it come again, whiles I have not, as I was wont, that 
feeling of ghostly fire which applies itself gladly to all parts of 
the body and soul, and in the which they know themselves secure. 

And, moreover, sleep gainstands me as an enemy ; for no 
time heavies me to lose save that in which, constrained, I yield 
to sleeping. 5 Waking truly I am busy to warm my soul, 
thirled 6 as it were with cold, the which, when settled 7 in 
devotion, I know well is set on fire, and with full great desire is 
lifted above all earthly things. 

Truly affluence of this everlasting love comes not to me in 
idleness, nor might I feel this ghostly heat while I was weary 

1 L. amplecteretur. 2 C. lese. 

3 i.e., grieve. 4 enwrapped. 

5 See note i. at end. 6 pierced. 

7 L. defecata = free from dregs. Possibly Misyn uses settled 
as we might of wine which has stood long enough to let the dregs 
sink to the bottom. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 13 

oodily for travel, 1 or truly unmannerly 2 occupied with worldly 
mirth, or else given without measure to disputation ; but I have 
felt myself truly in such things wax cold, until, putting 
a-back all things in which I might outwardly be occupied, 
I have striven to be only in the sight of my Saviour and to 
dwell in full inward burning. 

Wherefore I offer this book to be seen : not to philosophers 
nor wise men of this world, nor to great divines lapped in 
infinite questions, but unto the boisterous 3 and untaught, 
more busy to learn to love God than to know many things ; 
for truly not disputing but working is to be known and loved. 
For I trow these things here contained may not be understood 
of these questionaries ; in all science most high in wisdom but 
in the love of God most low, 

Therefore to them I have not written, except, all things 
forgetting and putting a-back that are longing 4 to this world, 
they love to be given only to the desires of our Maker. 
First truly they must flee all earthly dignity, and hate all pride 
of knowledge and vainglory, and at the last, conforming 
themselves to highest poverty, meditating and praying, they 
be constantly given to the love of God. 

Thus no marvel the fire within of unwrought chanty 
shall appear to them ; and dressing 5 their hearts to receive the 
heat with which all darkness is consumed, it will lift them 
up into that most lovely and merry burning, so that they 
shall pass temporal things and hold for themselves the seat 
of endless rest. The more knowledge they have, truly the 
more they are able to love rightly, 6 if they be glad to be 
despised of others, and gladly despise themselves. 

And since I here stir all manner of folk to love, and am busy 
to show the hottest and supernatural desire of love, this book 
shall bear the name : * Burning of Love. 

1 /.*., by the journey. L. pre itinere. 2 immoderately. 

3 ignorant or simple. 4 />., belonging. 5 directing. 

6 See note ii. at end. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 



BOOK I 

CHAPTER I 

OF MAN S TURNING TO GOD; AND WHAT 
HELPS AND WHAT LETS HIS TURNING 

BE it known to all manner of people in this wretched 
dwelling-place of exile abiding, that no man may be 
imbued 1 with love of endless life, nor be anointed with 
heavenly sweetness, unless he truly be turned to God. It 
behoves truly he be turned to Him, and from all earthly things 
be altogether turned in mind, before he may be expert in the 
sweetness of God s love, even in little things. Soothly by 
ordinate love is this turning done ; so that he loves that that is 
worthy to be loved, and loves not that that is not worthy 
to be loved ; and that he burn more in love of those things 
that are most worthy, and less in them that are less worthy. 

Most is God for to be loved : mickle are heavenly things 
for to be loved : little, or nought but for need, are earthly things 
to be loved. Withouten doubt thus every man is turned to 
Christ whiles nought is desired by him but only Christ. 

Truly turning from these goods that in this world deceive 
their lovers and defend them nought, stands in want 2 of fleshly 
desire, and hatred of all wickedness ; so that they savour not 
earthly things, nor desire to hold to worldly things beyond 

1 C. taght. a i.e., lack of. 

13 



16 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

their strait need. For they truly that heap riches and know 
not for whom they gather, having their solace in them, are not 
worthy to be sometimes gladdened in the mirth of heavenly 
love ; although they seem by devotion, not holy but simulated, 
to feel in their dis-eases : something of that felicity which is 
to come. For truly for their foul presumption they have 
fallen from that sweetness with which God s lovers are softened 
and made sweet because they have unmannerly loved 
worldly money. 2 All love truly that ends not in God is 
sinful and makes the havers evil. Wherefore, loving worldly 
excellence, they are set on fire with sinful love, and they are 
further from heavenly heat than is the space betwixt the 
highest heaven and the lowest place of the earth. 

They sicker are made like to that love because they are 
conformed to wanton concupiscence ; and holding to old 
manners of wickedness, they love the vanity of this life before 
holy love. Wherefore they change the joy of incorruptible 
clearness to wantoned beauty that shall not last. This soothly 
would they not do unless they were blinded with the fire of 
froward love, the which wastes 3 the burgeoning of virtue and 
nourishes the plants of all vice. Forsooth many are not set 
on womanly beauty nor like lechery, wherefore they trust 
themselves saved, as it were with sickerness 4 ; and because of 
chastity only, which they bear outwardly, they ween they surpass 
all others as saints. But wickedly they thus suppose and all 
in vain, when covetousness, the root of sins, is not drawn out. 
And truly, as it is written, nothing is worse than to love money. 5 
For whiles the love of temporal things occupies the heart of 
any man, it altogether suffers him to have no devotion. 
Truly the love of God and of this world may never be to 
gether in one soul, but whichever love is stronger puts out the 
other that thus it may openly be known who is this world s 

1 anxieties or distresses. 2 note iii. 3 i.e., waste away. 

4 security. 5 ff> i Tim. vi. 10. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 17 

lover and who Christ s follower. [For the heat of love breaks 
out in works which are seen.] 1 Certainly as Christ s lovers 
behave themselves towards the world and the flesh, so lovers of 
the world behave themselves towards God and their own souls. 

They truly that are chosen, eat and drink but ever with 
all their mind to God they take entent, and in all earthly things 
not lust, but need they only seek. Of earthly things they 
speak with anguish and nought but passingly, nor in them 
making tarrying ; and then in mind they are yet with God ; 
and the remainder of time they yield to God s service 2 ; not 
standing in idleness nor running to plays nor wonders 3 that 
is the token of the rejected 4 but rather behaving themselves 
honestly, they irk not either to speak or do or think those 
things that long to God. 

The rejected truly alway behave themselves idly towards 
God ; they hear God s word with hardness, they pray without 
affection, they think of God without sweetness. They enter 
the kirk and fill the walls ; they knock their breast and yield 
sighs, but plainly but feigned, for why they come to the eyes 
of men, not to the ears of God. For when they are in kirk 
in body, in mind they are distracted to worldly goods, which 
they have or else desire to have, wherefore their heart is far 
from God. They eat and drink not to their need but to their 
lust, for but in lecherous food find they savour or sweetness. 
They give moreover bread to the poor, clothing peradventure 
to the cold ; but whiles their alms is done in deadly sin, or for 
vainglory, or sickerly 5 of things untruly gotten, no marvel if 
they please not our Gainbuyer, 6 but unto vengeance provoke 
our Judge. 

1 All words added in square brackets are taken from the L. MS. ; 
and see note iv. 

2 * .<?., ceremonial services = L. obsequiis. 3 /.., spectacles. 

4 C. reproued = L. reprobi, but whenever used, as here, in contrast 
to the * chosen it has been rendered rejected. 

5 truly. 6 Redeemer. 



i8 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Wherefore, as the chosen, whiles they take heed to the 
world or the flesh, alway have their mind busily to God ; so 
the rejected, whiles they seem to do God service are busy 
with the world, and to those things that pertain to the world 
and the flesh they are greatly ravished in busyness of heart. 
And as the chosen displease God nought when they relieve 
their need, so the rejected please not God in the good deeds 
they are seen to do ; for their full few good deeds are mingled 
with many ill deeds. 

The fiend has many also which we trow be good. He has 
forsooth alms-givers, the chaste, and meek that is to say 
sinners calling themselves so clad with hair and punished by 
penance. Truly under weening of health ofttimes deadly 
wounds are hid. 

The fiend has also not a few hasty to work and busy to 
preach ; but doubtless all those want to him that are warmed 
in charity [and who are always eager to love God] 1 and slow 
to all vanity. The wicked truly are alway greedy after vile 
delectations, and as dead unto ghostly exercises ; or else cast 
down with full great feebleness : whose love is ever inordinate ; 
for they love temporal goods more than eternal, and their 
bodies more than their souls. 

1 note v. 



CHAPTER II 

THAT NO MAN MAY SUDDENLY COME TO 
HIGH DEVOTION, NOR BE WET 1 WITH THE 
SWEETNESS OF CONTEMPLATION 

TRULY it is shown to lovers that, in the first years of 
their turning, no man may attain to high devotion, nor 
be fully moistened 1 with sweetness of contemplation. 
Scarcely 2 truly and seldom, and as it were in the twinkling of 
an eye, are they granted to feel somewhat of heavenly things ; 
and profiting 3 little by little at the last they are made strong 
in spirit. Then afterward they have received sadness 4 of 
manners, and so far as this present changeableness suffers, 
have attained to stability of mind ; for with great travails is 
some perfection gotten, that they may feel some joy in 
godly love. 

Nevertheless it is not seen that all, though they be great 
in virtue, anon feel verily the actual warmth of uncreate or 
un-wrought charity, nor melting in the unmeasured flame of 
love, may sing within themselves the song of God s praise. 
This mystery from many truly is hidden, and to a most 
special few it is shown ; for the higher this degree is, the 
fewer finders has it in this world. 

No marvel that we seldom find any saint, nor one so perfect 

1 Misyn always translates debnare and webrlare as to wet 
or moisten ; cf. p. 152, note 5. C. unneth. 

3 i.e., advancing. C. softly profetand = L. paulatim proficiens. 

4 gravity. 

19 



20 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

in this life and rapt with so high love, that in contemplation 
he might be lift up to sweetness of melody ; that is to say, 
that he might receive into himself the heavenly sound shed 
into him, and as it were with melody he should yield it again in 
praise to God, making many notes in ghostly praising ; and 
that he might feel in himself the heat of God s love. And 
nevertheless it is marvellous that any contemplative man should 
be trowed otherwise ; for the psalmist, transformed into the 
person of contemplative man, says : Transibo in domum Del 
in voce exultatwnis et confessionisj 1 that is to say : C I shall go 
into God s house in the voice of gladness and shrift ; which 
praise is the sound of him that feasts, 2 that is to say, of him 
that is glad with heavenly sweetness. 

The perfect, forsooth, that are taken up into this surpassing 
plenty of endless friendship, and imbued with sweetness that 
shall not waste, 3 live anew in the clear chalice of full sweet 
charity ; and in the holy counsel of mirth they draw into their 
souls happy heat, by the which greatly gladdened, they have 
greater comfort of ghostly lectuary 4 than may be trowed. 
This refreshment is the height of endless heritage in them 
who truly love, and to whom, in this exile forsooth, dis-eases 
happen and in the meanwhile it shall not appear unprofitable 
to them that they be punished for some years, the which shall 
be lift up to sit, without parting, in heavenly seats. Of all 
flesh also are they chosen to be most dear in the sight of our 
Maker, and to be clearly 5 crowned. As the seraphim in high 
heaven truly are they burnt, who sit in solitude of body, yet 
their minds walk among the angels to Christ their Beloved, 6 
whom they have desired : the which also most sweetly have 
sung this prayer of endless love, in Jesu joying. 7 

1 Ps. xli. 5 (xlii. 4), and see note vi. 2 C. etis. 

3 L. indelibili. * That which melts in the mouth, and see note vii. 

s L. preclarissime. 6 C. leman. 

7 This phrase constantly recurs = L. in Jhesu iubilantes. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 21 

1 O honey-sweet heat, than all delight sweeter, than all 
riches more delectable. 

O my God ! O my Love ! into me glide ; 2 with Thy 
charity thirled ; with Thy beauty wounded : 

Slide down and comfort me, heavy ; give medicine to 
me, wretched ; show Thyself to Thy lover. 

Behold in Thee is all my desire, and all my heart 
seeks. 

After Thee my heart desires ; after Thee my flesh 
thirsts. 

And Thou openest not to me but turnest Thy Face. 

Thou sparrest 8 Thy door, and hidest Thyself; and at 
the pains of the innocent Thou laughest. 

In the meantime nevertheless Thou ravishest Thy lovers 
from all earthly things ; above all desire of worldly things 
Thou takest them, and makest them takers of Thy love and 
full great workers in loving. Wherefore in ghostly song, of 
burning up-bursting, to Thee they offer praises, and with 
sweetness they feel the dart of love. 

Hail therefore O lovely Everlasting Love, that raisest us from 
these low things and presentest us with so frequent ravishings to 
the sight of God s Majesty. Come into me, my Beloved ! 
All that I had I gave for Thee, and that I should have, for 
Thee I have forsaken, that Thou in my soul mightest have a 
mansion for to comfort it. Never forsake Thou him that 
Thou feelest so sweetly glow 4 with desire for Thee ; so that 
with most burning desire I desire, to be ever within Thy 
halsing. 5 So grant me grace to love Thee, and in Thee to 
rest, that in Thy kingdom I may be worthy for to see Thee 
withouten end. 

1 note viii. 

2 C. scrith = L. illaberc. This word, which often occurs, I 
have translated as glide or slide. 3 /.^ (J boltest. 

4 note ix. s embrace. 



CHAPTER III 

THAT ILK 1 MAN CHOSEN OF GOD 
HAS HIS STATE ORDAINED 

ONTEMPLATIVE men that are highly burnt with the 
I love of everlasting life are forsooth highest in this most 
V^lovely burning, and most beloved 2 of the Lover Everlast 
ing ; so that they seldom or never go out to worldly business, 
nor yet receive the dignity of prelacy nor honours ; but rather, 
certainly, withholding themselves within themselves, with joy 
and in song of praise they alway in mind ascend to Christ./ 
Truly in this the kirk follows the hierarchy of angels, in the 
which the highest angels are not sent outward, being evermore 
near to God. They that are high in Christ s love and con 
templation are so busy in the sight of God alone, that they 
take not sovereignty among men ; but it is kept for others, 
that are more occupied with the business of man, and enjoy 
less of inward delight. 

Therefore ilk one chosen has his degree ordained before of 
God ; so that whiles this one is chosen to prelacy, this other 
is busy to take heed to God within, and God within up-lifts 
him thereto, so that he leaves all outward occupations. 
Soothly such are most holy and yet of men are held lowest, 
because they only dwell in mind 3 for they seldom go outward 
to do miracles. 

1 each. 2 C. miryest = L. preamabili. 

3 L. in interioribus mancnt. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 23 

Others truly both submit themselves to God s service and 
discreetly govern their subjects. 

Others also that live in fleshly penance, unseen in the 
sight of men, are ofttiines in their lives granted or shown 
tokens 1 ; or else after their death, although they be full sharply 
punished some-while in purgatory. 

Truly all saints have not done miracles, either in their life 
or after their death ; nor all damned have lacked miracles, 
either in their life or after their death. The doom truly of 
God is privy, lest, by seen tokens of sinners, evil should be made 
worse, and they that are good, despising those things that may 
be had in common by good and ill, should be more quick 2 in the 
love of their Maker. 

Some forsooth have wrought good deeds, but not God s but 
man s honour have they sought ; and this perishes after their 
death, only having what they have desired in this world. 
Truly ofttimes it happens that the meanly 3 good and less 
perfect, have done miracles ; also full many of those high in 
devotion are placed in heavenly seats, and altogether rest 4 
before the Majesty of God, having their meed among the high 
companies of heaven. For the feast of Saint Michael is 
specially honoured, and yet he is not trowed of the highest 
order of angels. 

Some also, turned to God and doing penance, and forsaking 
worldly errands, 5 joy in mind if, after death, their name may 
be honoured among the living ; to the which Christ s true 
servant should take no heed, as peradventure he may lose all 
that he works for. 

Those things truly that are common to good and ill, are 
not to be desired by saints ; but charity and ghostly virtues 
should be fastened without ceasing in their hearts ; the which 

1 L. signa. 2 i.e. t fervent = L. amplius inardescant. 

3 moderately. 4 C. playnly sessys = L. penitus quiescant. 
5 /.*., business. 



24 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

not only keep the soul from filth of sins, but in the doom shall 
raise the body also to endless memory. 

All things that are done here soon cease and flee. There 
truly, either in honour or confusion, they shall last withouten 
end. The active therefore and prelates, eminent in cunning 1 
and virtue, should set contemplative men before themselves, 
and hold them their betters before God ; not trowing them 
selves worthy to be given to contemplation, unless peradventure 
God s grace to that should inspire them. 

1 i.e. t knowledge. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWIXT GOD S LOVERS 
AND THE WORLD S: AND THEIR MEEDS 

THE soul of man feels nothing of the burning of endless 
love the which has not first perfectly forsaken all worldly 
vanity, studying busily to be given to heavenly things, and 
to desire God s love without ceasing, and mannerly to love all 
creatures to be loved. Truly if all things that we love, we 
love for God, rather God in them, than them we love ; and so 
not in them but in God we delight, whom to enjoy withouten 
end we shall be glad. 

The wicked truly love this world, setting therein the lust of 
their delectation ; and those things only that belong to this 
world s joy, withouten ceasing they covet. And how may a 
man do more fondly, 1 more wretchedly, or damnably than 
fully to love, for themselves only, transitory and failing things. 

The Trinite God truly is to be loved for Himself only. 
Put we therefore our mind fully into it, and be we busy to 
bear all our thoughts unto that end, that withouten end we 
may be gladdened by it ; so that ourselves and all things 
that we love, we love for that alone. 

But that sinner lies that says he loves God and yet dreads 
not to serve sin. Ilk man truly that loves God is free, nor 
binds himself to bondage of sin, but steadfastly continues in 
the service of righteousness. Whiles we love earthly things 
or comfort for themselves, withouten doubt we love not God, 

1 foolishly. 
25 



26 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

serving Him not forsooth; but if we be delighted in creatures, 
so that we set our Maker behind, and care not to follow those 
things that are eternal, we shall be deemed as hating God. 
Full froward truly is it to the soul, and the token of damnation 
and of endless death, when a man gives himself wholly unto 
this world ; and in divers desires and errors of the flesh, he 
goes as him lists. Thus no marvel a wretch is destroyed ; and, 
whiles he weens to flow in pleasure, he hies to the ay-lasting 
penance of hell. 

Therefore no man should dare presume, nor raise himself up 
by pride when he is despised to his reproach, or when insults 1 
are cast him ; nor defend himself, nor for ill words give ill 
again ; but all things, praise as well as reproof, bear evenly. 
Truly, doing in this wise, we shall withouten end with Christ 
be glad, if in this life we love Him without ceasing. Whose 
love, rooted in our hearts and made sicker, makes us like unto 
His likeness ; and other joy, that is to say godly, He puts into 
us ; mirthing our minds wholly with burning love. His love 
truly is fire, making our souls fiery and purging them from 
all degrees of sin, making them light and burning : which fire, 
burning in them that are chosen, ever makes them look up 
in mind, and continually to hold to the desire for death. 

Wherefore, whiles we can sin, let us charge ourselves to 
flee this world s prosperity, and to bear adversity gladly. For 
sooth an evil mind while it joys is lost, and while it seeks 
gladness in creatures it, as it were with a flattering venom, kills 
the self ; whose contagion let us be well aware to eschew, 
beholding the ghostly food that is ordained in heaven for 
burning lovers. 

And so, Christ granting, be we comforted by sweet songs 
of charity and be we delighted in so sweet devotion; while 
the wicked sleep in horrible darkness, and full of sins, go 
down to pains. 

1 C. flitynges. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE a; 

Full great marvel it seems that mortal man may be taken 
up into such high love for God that he feels nothing but 
heavenly solace in his most privy substance ; and so as, in the 
noise of an organ, he ascends on high to contemplate high 
desire. 1 That which is done by others to sorrow 2 then 
turns to joy, so that they seem unable to suffer pain in soul ; 
also they can not be troubled with the dread of death, nor in 
any way be moved from restfulness to un-ease. 

Truly he who is stirred with busy love, and is continually 
with Jesu in thought, full soon perceives his own faults, the 
which correcting, henceforward he is ware of them ; and so he 
brings righteousness busily to birth, 3 until he is led to God 
and may sit with heavenly citizens in everlasting seats. 
Therefore he stands clear in conscience and is steadfast in all 
good ways the which is never noyed with worldly heaviness 
nor gladdened with vainglory. 

Truly those obstinate in unclean works know not the love 
of Christ, for they are burned with fleshly likings ; and they 
yield no devotion to God because of the burden of riches by 
the which they are thrust to the earth. They are not, forsooth, 
ordained 4 to have the delights of paradise, but go on in their 
frowardness unto their death ; and therefore, worthily, 5 their 
heaviness shall not be lessened, nor shall the sorrow of their 
damnation be put a-back 6 ; because they wilfully walk in lusts 
and sin, and have frowardly, for false love, lost the love of the 
Endless Lover. Wherefore in perpetual pains they shall plainly 
repent that they have sinned ; and yet they shall never be 
cleansed from sin, but be burned endlessly by continued fires 
withouten any comforter. 

1 note x. a i.e.j to cause sorrow. 

3 C., & so besily he beres rigtwysnes. 4 L. predestinantur. 
5 i.e. t deservedly. 6 i.e., done away = L. delebitur. 



CHAPTER V 

WHEREFORE IT IS BETTER TO TAKE ENTENT 
TO THE LOVE OF GOD THAN TO KNOW 
LEDGE OR DISPUTATION 

IN all things that we work or think be we more taking heed 
to the love of God than to knowledge or disputation. Love 
truly delights the soul and makes conscience sweet, drawing 
it from love of lusty things here beneath, and from desire of 
man s own excellence. Knowledge without charity builds 
not to endless health but puffs up 1 to most wretched 
undoing. 2 

Be our souls therefore strong in the taking of hard labours 
for God ; and be they wise with heavenly, not worldly, savour. 
May they desire to be lightened with endless wisdom, and to 
be inflamed by that fire with which some are stirred to love 
and desire our Maker only, and mightily are made strong to 
the despising of all transitory things. Not counting their 
greatest solace in these things that abide not, for they here 
have no dwelling, but without ceasing they seek the heavenly 
place not made with hands, and cry : Mlh i vivere Christus 
?st, et morl lucrum? Christ to me is life, and great winning 
to die. 

He forsooth truly loves God that consents to no wicked 
likings. Certainly man is far from Christ s love in as mickle 
as he delights himself in worldly things. Wherefore if thou 

1 C. bolnes = L. inflat. 2 L. perdicionem. 3 Phil. i. 21. 

28 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 29 

love God thy work shows that ; for he is never proved to 
love God whiles he is made to consent to wicked desires. 

Therefore to all that are in this exile this I dare show : that 
all they that will not love the Maker of all things shall be cast 
into endless darkness ; and there shall they that would not here 
be lightened with the love of their Gainbuyer feel the burn 
ing withouten end of the fire of hell. They shall be sundered 
from the company of singers, in charity with their Maker ; and 
busily shall they sorrow cast out from the mirth of those 
singing in Jesu, wanting in the clearness and the joy of them 
that shall be crowned. For liever had they tarry a little while 
in worldly softness than suffer penance that their sins might 
be cleansed, and they migrwt come full of piety before the 
Defender of all good. 

Truly, in this vale of weeping, they have been delighted in 
the slippery way and the broad ; where is no place of gladness 
but of labour, wherefore in torments withouten release they 
shall sorrow : when the poor, which were arrayed with virtues, 
shall be born to everlasting peace and be made glad in the 
delight of full truly seeing the Life-giving Godhead. And in 
ghostly heat they have happily flourished, although tfrey have 
taken no solace in the worthy height of this world, nor have 
sown pride among foolish 1 wise men ; but they have borne 
griefs 2 from wicked men, and have excluded temptations from 
the soul that they might be holden in peace at the throne of 
the Trinity. And they have truly voided 3 old unthriftiness 
of venomous life, clearly and most gladly praising ghostly 
beauty ; and plays of softness, which youth accepts and unwise 
worldly men desire, they have deemed worthy reproof, think 
ing with continuance of the song full of charity ascending to 
our Maker. 

For which thing the receivers of the joy of love, conceiving 

1 C. vnholsum = L. sapientes insanos. 2 L. angariam. 

3 emptied out, 



30 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

heat that may not be consumed, join together in song of clear 
chorus 1 ; and in lovely harmony and friendly mirth have they 
set a heavenly shadow against all heat of lechery and filth. 
Wherefore in this burning of sweetest love they are taken up 
to the beholding of their Beloved, and by means of this most 
happy flame they are flourishing in virtue, and freely enjoy 
their Maker : and their mind, changed, now passes into the 
melody that lasts. And from henceforth their thoughts become 
song, and heaviness being cast out, the hall of their soul is 
fulfilled with wonderful music, so that it has entirely lost the 
former pricking and evermore abides whole in high sweetness, 
full marvellously singing in heavenly sweet meditation. 

Furthermore when they go from this hardness and from the 
dis-eases that happen here, then the time comes that they shall 
be taken, and withouten doubt be born withouten sorrow to 
God, and have their seats among the seraphim ; for they are 
altogether set on fire with the most high fire of love, burning 
within their souls. So sweetly and devoutly have they loved 
God that whatsoever they have felt in themselves was ghostly 
heat, heavenly song and godly sweetness. Herefore it is 
truly that they die without heaviness, soothly passing with joy ; 
and are lift up unto so great a degree in endless worship, and 
are crowned in the contemplation of the great plenteousness 
of their Maker, singing with clearest choirs ; the which also 
more burningly desire after that Godhead that rules all things. 2 

And forsooth though now they clearly behold the chere 3 of 
truth, and are moistened with the most delectable sweetness 
of the Godhead, yet no marvel if after a little while they shall 
be made more marvellous : when the bodies of the saints, that 
are at this time holden in earth, shall be raised from their 
graves, and their souls shall be knitted to them in the last 
examination. Then forsooth shall they take principality 

1 C. in songe J?ai ryn of cleare companys ; and see note xi. 
8 note xii. 3 />., countenance. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 31 

among the peoples, and the unrighteous shall they deem to 
be damned ; and they shall show that the meanly good were 
blessed to come to Blissfulness. 1 The general doom thus done, 
soothly they shall be borne into everlasting song, and go up 
with Christ to the height of truth, enjoying the Face of God 
in love withouten end. 

By this it is shown that everlasting sweetness moistens their 
minds, the which binds the bands of true charity, unable 
to be loosed. Wherefore let us seek rather that the love of 
Christ burn within us than that we take heed to unprofitable 
disputation. Whiles truly we take heed to unmannerly seek 
ing, 2 we feel not the sweetness of the eternal savour. 3 Where 
fore many now so mickle savour in the burning of knowledge 
and not of love, that plainly they know not what love is, or 
of what savour ; although the labour of all their study ought to 
spread 4 unto this end, that they might burn in the love of 
God. Alas, for shame ! An old wife is more expert in 
God s love, and less in worldly pleasure, than the great 
divine, whose study is vain. For why, for vanity he studies, 
that he may appear glorious 5 and so be known, and may get 
rents and dignities : the which is worthy to be held a fool, 
and not wise. 

1 L. beatitudinem assequendam. * L. investigacione immoderate. 
3 C. euerlastyng smellynge. 4 L. extendere. 

5 L. gloriosus ; and see note xiii. 



CHAPTER VI 

CONCERNING 1 HERETICS: AND 
FAITH IN THE TRINITY 

THE plenteousness and the whole of holy truth shows itself 
to them that seek it ; and to the children of unity hidden 
mysteries are open. Wherefore, soothly, springs the 
frowardness of heretics but from an untaught and inordinate 
mind, which is blinded by desire of its own excellence ? For 
truly they cease not to resist 2 God within themselves by vain 
desires ; and it is also by their earning 3 that with open 4 
arguments they gainstand the truth outwardly. 

When the Christian religion wills to cut away all that is 
contrary, and fully accord in unity of love, the manner of 
heretics and the proud is to get new opinions, and to make 
known questions, unwont and from the saying of holy kirk ; 
and so those things that true Christian men hold holy they joy 
to scatter 5 with their vanities. 

Whose errors casting away we say : Truly the Son of God, 
even to the Father, and without beginning, is evermore 
to be trowed and understood ; for except the Father had 
begotten Him without beginning, truly the full Godhead 
should not have been in Him. Soothly if God had been at 

1 C. Of J>e caus of. 2 C. rcpreue = L. impugnare. 

3 C. addiliynge = L. ex mcrito suo. 4 C. playne. 

s C. sparpyll, which often occurs, may mean destroy and 
distribute, but here = L, dissiparc. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 33 

sometime the Father when He had no Son, then no marvel 
He was less than afterward, when He had gotten a Son : that 
shall no man of good mind say. 

Therefore God unchangeable 1 begets God unchangeable ; 
and whom He has begotten from eternity He ceases not this 
day also to beget. For neither might the substance of the 
Son be called at any time unbegotten, nor the being of 
the Getter ever be conscious of Himself without any only 
begotten Son of Himself. Truly even as the beginning of 
the Godhead may not be found of reason or wit because it has 
not beginning, so the generation of the Son with the eternal 
Godhead unchangingly abides. 

When truly the marvel and worship of God almighty 
shows itself clearly in infinity, without beginning, to what end 
shall man s folly raise itself in striving to make known to 
the ears of mortal men a sacrament unable to be spoken ? He 
truly knows God perfectly that feels Him incomprehensible 
and unable to be known. Nothing, soothly, is perfectly 
known unless the cause thereof, how and in what wise it is, 
be perfectly known. In this present life we know in part 
and we understand in part ; in the life to come, truly, we 
shall know perfectly and fully, as is lawful or speedful to 
creatures. Forsooth he that desires to know of our Ever 
lasting Maker above that that is profitable, without doubt falls 
fonder from perfect knowledge of Him. 

Thou askest what God is ? I answer shortly to thee : 
such a one and so great is He that none other is or ever may 
; be of like kind or so mickle. If thou wilt know properly 
to speak what God is, I say thou shalt never find an 
answer to this question. I have not known ; angels know 
not ; archangels have not heard. Wherefore how wouldest 
thou know what is unknown and also unteachable ? 3 Truly 

1 L. incommutabilis. 

2 C. vntaght, L. inscibile est et indocibU e, 



34 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

God that is almighty may not teach thec what He Himself 
is. For if thou knew what God is thou shouldest be as 
wise as God is : that neither thou nor any other creature 
may be. 

Stand therefore in thy degree, and desire not high things. 
For if thou desirest to know what God is, thou desirest to be 
God ; the which becomes thee not. Wot thou well God 
alone knows Himself, and may know. Truly it is not of 
God s unpower that He may not teach thee Himself as He is in 
Himself, but for His inestimable J worthiness ; for such a one 
as He is, none other may be. Soothly if He might be truly 
known, then were He not incomprehensible. It is enough 
for thee therefore to know that God is ; and it were against 
thee if thou would know what God is. 

Also it is to be praised to know God perfectly ; that is to say, 
He being unable to be fully conceived : knowing Him to 
love Him ; loving Him to sing in Him ; singing to rest in 
Him, and by inward rest to come to endless rest. Let it 
not move thee that I have said to know God perfectly, and 
I have denied that He may be known : since the prophet in 
the psalm has said : Praetende mhericordiam tuam scientibus tc? 
that is to say : * Thy mercy show to them knowing Thee. 
But thus understand this authority if thou wilt not err : To 
them knowing Thee, that is to say : God is to be loved, to 
be praised, to be worshipped and glorified, the only Maker 
of all things ; above all things ; through all things ; and in all 
things : that is blessed in the world of worlds. Amen. 

1 C. vnhopyd. 3 Ps. xxxv. 11 (xxxvi. 10). 



CHAPTER VII 

THAT IN THE GODHEAD WE OUGHT NOT 
TO SAY THREE GODS OR THREE ESSENCES, 1 
AS WE SAY THREE PERSONS : AND THAT ILK 
MAN SHALL BE CALLED GREAT OR SMALL 
AFTER THE QUANTITY OF HIS LOVE 

IF any, erring, would say in the Trinity are three Essences 1 
because they say three Persons, why should they not also 
say three Gods ; since to God it is all one to be God and 
to be .His Essence ? We say truly, the Father is God ; the 
Son is God ; the Holy Ghost is God ; the Father also is His 
Essence ; the Son is His Essence ; the Holy Ghost is His 
Essence : and yet not three Gods nor three Essences we say ; 
but one God and three Persons to be of one Essence, with 
strong faith we grant. 

One Godhead truly there is, of three Persons, full and 
perfect ; and ilk Person in the self contains the whole God 
head ; evenhood and onehood, forsooth, having after the 
Substance of the Godhead ; not lacking distinction of diversity 
after the property of the Name. 

They are also three Persons and one God ; one Essence ; 
one Substance ; one Godhead : and, though ilk Person 
betokens the Essence, although there be three Persons yet 
three Essences shall not therefore be understood. And as 
our God, the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost we call 

1 C. kyndis, but essence (L. essentia) has been substituted for 
kind throughout the chapter. 2 note xiv. 

35 



36 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

one Essence and not three, so we shall say the High Trinity 
to be three Persons, not one alone. 

The Father is so called, because of Himself He gat a 
Son ; the Son is so called, because of the Father He is gotten ; 
the Holy Ghost, because of both the Holy Father and the 
Holy Son He is inspired. The Father, Life, getting the 
Son, Life, has given to Him His whole Substance : so 
that the Father should be as mickle in His Son as in Hun- 
self [and the Son is not less in the Father than in Himself]. 1 
But the Father has taken His Essence of none ; the Son 
truly of His Father alone has taken in His birth that He is ; 
the Holy Ghost forsooth of the Father and the Son forth- 
passing, and with Them and in Them endlessly being, is no 
more in Himself than in Either : for truly He is even and 
everlasting 2 with Them of whom He is ; since He is of the 
same Substance, of the same Kind, and of the same God 
head 3 ; and the third Person in the Trinity. 

Truly the everlasting Son of the Father is become Man 
in time, born of a maiden, that He might gainbuy 4 man 
from the fiend s power. This is our Lord Jesus Christ: the 
which only be fastened in our minds the which for us only 
was tied on the cross. 

6 Nothing truly is so sweet as to love Christ. And 
therefore ransack we not too mickle those things that we in 
this life may not conceive. Truly in heaven they shall 
be clearer than light, if we give all our hearts to love God. 
For we shall be able to be taught of God ; and we shall joy 
in full marvellous melody, and in high mirth praise our 
Maker, in full sweet easiness without grief and irksorreness, 
and withouten end. 

He forsooth that loves mickle is great, and he that loves 
least is least : for after the greatness of the charity we have 

1 note xv. * L. equalis cnim et co-eternus est. 

s L. eiusdem substancie, eiusdem nature, eiusdemque maiestatis. 
4 i.g., redeem. 5 note xvi. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 37 

in us, shall we be praised before God. So is it not before 
men, but he that has most riches or goods is most considered 
and especially dreaded ; when they ought not so to do, but 
most honour and dread them that they suppose be best in 
knowledge. 

Truly the mighty men of this world can do nothing but 
for their bodies or their goods. Holy men truly have more 
worthiness ; for they shall have power to spar heaven to them 
that dis-ease them and would not therefore do penance : and 
also to open heaven to them that have honoured them in 
God, and maintained them in this exile : whiles they were 
arrayed with charity and have not received vainglory. 
Wherefore they should travail to get, to have, and to 
hold to charity with all their might and all their strength, 
that in the day of temptation they may manfully stand 
against the enemy ; and when they shall be proved they may 
receive the crown of life. Charity truly makes men perfect ; 
and only those loving perfectly are granted to come to the 
height of contemplative life. 

And truly the poor, although they be clad with heaviness 1 
and unclean ness, yet they should not be despised ; for they 
are friends of God and brethren of Christ, if they bear the 
burden of poverty with deeds of praise. Then sickerly the 
persons ye despised without, ye honour within as heavenly 
citizens ; and in so mickle as ye grow to honour them for 
God, in so mickle He privily works in His Godhead ; the 
which, comforting them, says : Beati pauperes quoniam vestrum 
est regnum Dei* that is to say : * Blessed be ye poor, for yours 
is the kingdom of God/ 

For the great tribulation and need that they suffer in this 
life they arc purged of their sins. For whiles the poor man 
is noyed in body with hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness and 
other griefs of this world, he is purged in soul from unclean- 

1 L. squalore. 3 Luke vi. 20. 



3 8 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

ness and worldly filth. And truly in the time to come poor 
men shall feel the sweeter rest of the everlasting, in as mickle 
as in this life they have borne most grievous labours. It shall 
belong to them truly to say : Laetati sumus pro diebus quibus 
nos humiliasti, annis quibus vidimus mala ; that is to say : 
c Gladdened are we for the days in which Thou hast meeked 
us, for the years in which we have seen grief. 

Wherefore halse 2 the burden of poverty with joy, and have 
mind to bear goodly other wretchedness ; that by the 
sufferance of tribulation thou mayest be worthy to come to 
the joy of everlasting peace ! 

1 Ps. Ixxxix. 15 (xc. 15). * embrace. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THAT THE PERFECT LOVER OF GOD HAD 
LIEVER RUN INTO GREAT PAIN THAN BY SIN 
ONCE GRIEVE GOD : AND WHY GOD TOR 
MENTS THE RIGHTEOUS BY THE WICKED 

FROM the great fire of love so great beauty of virtue 
grows in souls that a righteous man would rather choose 
to suffer all pain than once grieve God ; although he 
knew he might rise by penance and afterward please God more 
and be holier. For ilk one perfect understands this : that 
nothing is more dear to God than innocence, nothing more 
pleasing than good will. For truly if we love God rightly we 
would sooner lose great meed in heaven than once sin venially ; 
for most righteous is it to ask no meed of righteousness but the 
friendship of God, that is Himself. Therefore it is better 
ever to suffer tormentry than once, wilfully and knowingly, to 
be led from righteousness to wickedness. 

Wherefore it follows that they who so burningly love Christ 
that they will in no wise sin, not only shall be free from pain, 
but shall joy endlessly with angels. They truly that serve 
wicked deeds, and ween that worldly and fleshly solace is to 
be greatly loved, loving those things they desire, forsooth 
they lose both the joy that they love, and run into the 
wickedness that they eschewed not. 

But it is wont to be asked by some why God Almighty 
chastises the wicked and the righteous together. Thou seest 

39 



40 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

under the flail both corn and chaff at once ; but in the 
winnowing the chaff is cast out and the corn is busily gathered 
to man s use. If all men lived truly, without doubt we should 
dwell in peace and tranquillity, withouten debate and battle ; 
but since among the few good are many evil, many dis-eases 
come that evil may be chastised : and thus evil things happen 
to good men because they are mingled with the evil unto 
their death. The righteous also, because they are ready l to 
sin, so that their readiness be not brought to deed are taught 
to take a light scouring here, that they may escape the bitter 
scouring that is to come. 

Therefore if thou suffer persecution, wretchedness, and 
other dis-eases, thou hast that which accords to the place 
in the which thou dwellest. Is not this the vale of tears and 
tribulations in which thou art ? How wouldest thou therefore 
be glad in prison, and live in all prosperity in thine exile, or go 
thy long pilgrimage withouten dis-eases ? Have mind that 
Christ and His apostles have suffered tormentry, and thou by 
bliss seekest to come to joy ! But thou shalt not. Forsooth 
either, in this life, the fire of God s love shall waste the rust 
of our sins and cleanse our souls to make them able to flee to 
bliss, or else, after this life, the fire of purgatory shall punish 
our souls, if it happen we escape the fire of hell. Or else, if 
the strength of love be not so mickle in us that it can alto 
gether burn us, it behoves us to be cleansed with tribulation, 
sickness and dis-eases. 

This also we have withouten doubt : that no young man can 
be made holy among flatterings, and sweet words of fair women, 
and plenteousness of liking things, unless it be by the untrowed 
greatness of God s grace ; where so many and so great things 
stir many to fall, so that holy men have also ofttimes been 
lost. Wherefore I trow it is a great miracle when man by 
the grace of God and the love of Christ perfectly despises 

1 L. prone. 



1HE FIRE OF LOVE 41 

these cherishings 1 and manfully goes up betwixt these 
enemies to the soul although they seem soft to the flesh 
to the high holiness of heavenly contemplation. And, with- 
outen fail, the holier he is and the more plenteously filled 
within with the solace of God s love, although he be set in 
the fire, he knows not how to burn ; and the foul lusts of an 
unclean life offering themselves, he has perfectly slakened 2 
them. 

It is no marvel [that sometimes], though it be seldom, Christ 
works in some beloved to Him, of whom it is said : 
Expandit nubem In protectionem eorum, et ignem ut luceret els per 
noctem* ; that is to say : He has spread a cloud, the shadow 
of God s grace, for their defence against fleshly desires, and the 
fire of endless love to give them light within in mind, through 
the night of this life, that they be not taken by the unlawful 
ness of vain beauty. Truly Christ s love burns in them with 
so great sweetness, that all fleshly and unlawful liking they 
think of as most foul filth, and therefore they despise it. 

Therefore touch thou not lecherously that which is lawful 
neither to desire nor to have. Have in mind also to withhold 
thy hand, thy tongue, and thy body ; and displease not thy 
conscience concerning women. Truly the stirrings of lechery 
are the array of men and women. Also hot lectuaries, and 
other meats that with their heat too mickle enflame the 
flesh which nourishers of bodies and killers of souls are busy 
to make should be eschewed by the chaste. 

1 attractions = L. allicientia. a quenched = L. extinguit. 

3 Ps. civ. 39 (cv. 39). 



CHAPTER IX 

THAT GOD IS TO BE LOVED AND WORSHIP 
PED IN DIS-EASES : AND ALSO OF THE MIRTH 
AND MEEKNESS OF THE GOOD 

IF temporal honour be destroyed by shame, and worldly be 
ended by villainy, it is known without doubt that reproach 
is better than worship, shame than high degree, and 
heaviness than praise. For by these things a man ofttimes 
slides into vainglory ; by the other always, if a man bear it 
patiently, he in this life shall be taught meekness, and in the 
time to come shall suffer no pain for God will not punish 
the righteous twice and he shall be crowned : for the 
patience of the poor will not perish in the end. 1 

Truly to holiness these things belong : first, to think, speak 
and do in no manner what displeases God ; and then, to think, 
speak, and work what may please God. Do this after thy 
knowledge, so that thou neither fall into slander nor feign 
too mickle holiness. For he is a fool that desires to appear 
holy before men ; and cruel that shows himself evil when 
he is good. 

Some things truly there are that, taken heed unto, in them 
selves are neither good nor evil, for in their pure nature they are 
neither meedful nor unmeedful ; and if such things be done they 
displease not God ; nor if they be left undone please not God. 
For here we may see, smell, touch, and yet earn no meed 

1 C. withoutyn end = L. in fincm, 
42 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 43 

or unmced. All sin truly is done either to God s displeasing, 
or our neighbour s noying, or to our own harm. But many 
things may be found among men that are none of these. 
Truly to be despised, or lost, 1 in the sight of men, makes man 
ascend to the joy of angels. 

O good Jesu here chastise, here cut, here smite, here 
burn ; yea, and whatsoever please Thy goodliness do to me, so 
that in the time to come I have none ill, but may feel Thy 
love here and everlastingly. To be despised by all men in 
confusion and shame for Thee, is sweeter to me than to be 
called brother by an earthly king, and to be honoured among 
all men and of all men. May wretchedness fall on me on ilka 
side in this life, so that Thou God spare me in the other. 
I will to be chastised and corrected here ; and Christ that 
grant to me, if otherwise I may not escape pain to come. 

The proud truly and those full of wrath seem to themselves 
so worthy that they can suffer nothing. Ofttimes at a light 
word and without cause they are moved. Therefore they are 
to be fled more than to be overcome, for they are froward. 
And that they have taken up they alway defend, though it be false 
or untrue ; and neither with authority nor reason will they be 
overcome, that they should not be seen to have said 2 what were 
unaccording. And when they are untaught and that they 
wot well yet they will behave 3 as if they were inspired in 
all things that belong to God, so that they may speak in every 
place without the gainsaying of any man ; and they had liever 
dwell still in error than be openly reproved for it. 

Brethren, leave this proud madness and mad 4 pride, and let 
us greatly meek ourselves whiles we are in this way : for it is 
better, lovely, and good that after our death Christ say to us, 
* Friend, come uppermore, than that He say Carl, go downer- 
more : so truly shall it be of the meek and the proud. 

1 L. confundi. a note xvii. 

3 C. latt. 4 C. wodnes & wodc. 



44 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Wherefore no tribulation, no dis-ease, no wretchedness, no 
shame, no reproach is to dreaded by the righteous man as long 
as he sins not and always profits in contemplative life and the 
love of God. Truly before we may come to that kingly hall, 
in which, filled with sweetness, we shall be glad with the 
angels of God and all His saints, it befalls us here to be reproved 
by flatterers and wrong-sayers ; by fawners 1 and back-biters; 
by praisers and blamers ; so that, when we shall be examined, 
we may be found alway given to Christ s precepts and His 
counsel, in all patience and meekness and charity ; as it is 
written : Tanquam aurum in fornace probavit eos 2 ; that is 
to say : * As gold he has proved them in the furnace/ that has 
fire on ilka side, and has found them worthy to have Himself. 
Thus let us go through adversity and prosperity, through fire 
and water, unto the time we come to the refreshing of the 
heavenly life. 

Have mind also that in all dis-eases and need and poverty 
thou never grumble, 3 nor speak fondly nor frowardly but 
in all things give thanks to God. Thereby truly shalt thou 
be lifted up more joyfully to the kingdom of the saints, 
if in this world thou suffer gladly the things beforesaid. 

my soul, among all things that happen praise thy Lord 
with liking devotion ; praising, feel with sweetness ; and 
singing, taste with honeysweet devotion, saying : Laudabo 
Dominum in vita meaf that is to say *I shall worship my 
Lord in my life, 7 whether I be dis-eased or eased : whether 
I receive honour or shame. As long as I am, I shall sing 
to my God. If I rest, I sing in Jesu ; and if I suffer per 
secution, I forget not the love of God. Truly it is enough 
for me to love my God, and to come to Him ; since I can do 
no other or feel myself disposed to the work of no other 
things but to love Christ. 

1 C. fagiars L. blandientes. a Wisd. iii. 6. 

3 C. groch. 4 Ps. ciii. 33 (civ. 33). 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 45 

And yet I come not to as great love of God as mine 
elder fathers, the which have also done many other profitable 
things ; whereof I am full greatly ashamed in myself, and con 
fused. Therefore, O Lord, make broad my heart that it 
may be more able to perceive Thy love. Truly the more 
able man is to receive, so mickle the more of charity he 
takes and savours, and less he cares for the flesh ; but with 
discretion, so that it be with him after the sentence of the 
wise : Modicum mihi laboravi et invent mihi multam requiem^ \ 
that is to say : c A little have I travailed with myself, and 
I have found great rest to myself. For after a few years 
of this life the righteous have found rest for everlasting. 

The holy lover of God shows himself neither too merry 
nor full heavy in this habitation of exile, but he has cheerful 
ness with ripeness. 2 Forsooth some reprove laughter and 
some praise it. Laughter therefore which is from lightness 
and vanity of mind is to be reproved, but that truly that is 
of gladness of conscience and ghostly mirth is to be praised ; 
the which is only in the righteous, and it is called mirth in 
the love of God. Wherefore if we be glad and merry, the 
wicked call us wanton ; and if we be heavy, hypocrites. 

Seldom, soothly, can any man trow in another good that he 
finds not in himself; and he weens another has the sin into 
which he stumbles. And the deed of the wicked is this : 
that if any follow not their life, they trust 3 that he goes 
wrong and is deceived ; and this is because he has forsaken 
meekness. The degrees also of meekness are : to hold the 
eyes low, not high ; to have a measure in speech, and not 
to pass it ; to hear gladly their betters and those more wise ; 
and to will wisdom should be heard from others, rather than 
from themselves. Not to take the time of speaking too soon. 
Not to go from common life. To set others before thyself; 

x Eccli. li. 35. * L. maturitate. 

3 i.e., hold=L, estimat. 



46 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

to know thy frailties and to deem thyself worse than all 
others. If truly I wished to come among men, I have desired 
that I might sit last in number, and be held least in opinion, 
and so all my joy should be in Christ Jesu ; and thus I should 
take no heed to man s praising or blaming, but with busy devo 
tion I should desire after God. 

Forsooth many that have spoken with me were like to 
scorpions; for they have fawned 1 with their flattering head, and 
with their back-biting tail have smitten ; from whose wicked lips 
and sorrowful 2 tongue God shall deliver my soul, setting it 
in the joy of rest. 

But whence is come so great madness into man s mind 
that none will be blamed, none will be reproved, but all truly 
seek to be praised ; they joy in honour, and laugh in favour. 
They also bear the name of a holier 3 life ; but to me such 
seem either above measure holy, or else mad, although they 
be called wise and taught. For who of good mind is there 
who leaves himself, not taking heed to himself, 4 and gladdens 
himself in the void words of vain men ? Truly if he beholds 
himself busily, and cares to know of what kind he Is in 
thought and deed, he may soon understand 5 himself, and may 
find whether he be worthy of praise or reproof. 

When therefore he sees himself in many things worthy 
of blame and in few things to be praised, he should not take 
with gladness the honour or favour of which he is not worthy ; 
unless he be mad and has erred in mind. Truly, if carefully 
considering 6 himself, he finds he waxes marvellously warm in 
the heat and sweetness of God s love, and rises highly in con 
templative life, and also in this continually stands ; and has 
also in mind that either he has not done great sins, or if 

1 C. fagyd. 2 i.e., full of sorrow. 

3 note xviii. * L. indiscussum, i.e., without examination. 

5 C. fele = deprehendere. 

6 C. woundyrfully behaldand = L. vchementcr considerans. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 47 

he have done any he trows they be cleansed by true penance : 
then truly it behoves him not to sorrow for the honour of men, 
because clearly he was more worthy of the fellowship of 
angels. 

Whosoever is thus disposed should no more joy to sit with 
a king than with a poor man ; for he takes no heed to riches 
and honours from men, but unto the life and meeds of ilka 
man. He holds it not great to shine in gold, nor to be umbe- 
lapped with a great menge, 1 nor to go in purple and be glad 
in the array of bishops 2 : but truly he sets a holy and sweet 
conscience before all pleasures and riches. 

1 />., company. * L. has simply infula. 



CHAPTER X 

THAT GOD S LOVER FORSAKES THE WORLD, 
IDLENESS AND IRKSOMENESS : AND OF 
HYPOCRITES AND COVETOUS MEN 

IT is said in the Canticles : * Love is strong as death and 
love is hard as hell. 1 Death truly kills the quick; hell 
soothly spares not the dead. So, certainly, the love of God 
not only utterly 2 kills the love of this world in the man 
that it perfectly ravishes, but also, being slain to the world 
and quickened to heaven, it stirs him to suffer full mickle 
tribulation and worldly wretchedness for God. 

Wherefore whosoever thou mayest be that hopest that 
thou lovest Christ to this take heed ; for if thou yet behold 
earthly things with delight, and also find thy soul high 3 to 
suffer wrongs or else death, thou showest forsooth that thou 
art not God s true lover. Soothly a true lover neither dresses 
his eyes to the world, nor dreads to suffer all that seems heavy 
or hard to the body for God ; and whatsoever happen to him 
yet he is not let from the thought of Jesu his Beloved. 

Thou also that either art God s lover, or with thy whole 
mind desirest to be, study alway, as mickle as thou canst by 
Christ s grace, not to be noyed by irksomeness, 4 nor to be 
taken with idleness. And if it sometimes happen that sweet 
easiness be not to thec in praying or in good thinking, and 

1 Cant. viii. 6, and see note xix. 
9 C. groundly, i.e., from the roots = L. funditus. 
s L. imperatum. 4 L. tedio. 

48 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 49 

that thou be not made high in mind by the song of holy 
contemplation, and thou canst not sing as thou wast wont ; 
yet cease not to read or pray, or else do some other good 
deed, inward or outward, that thou slide not into idleness or 
sloth. 1 Irksomeness, soothly, has drawn many to idleness ; 
and idleness, to negligence and wickedness. 

Wherefore be thou alway fervent in as mickle as in thee 
is ; and have not thy desire bowed to anything of this world 
that may be had or desired. No man truly is perfectly knit 
to God, whiles he is bound in desire to any worldly creature. 

There are some also that seem outwardly oned to God, 
and within they are given to fiends. These are simulators 
and false men, that challenge 2 the wrath of God. Feigners 
forsooth they are, that despise the world with their words, 
and with their deeds are known to love it too mickle. 
They will be seen speaking of God, and are so mickle taken 
up within with love of money that they also strive some 
times for the weight of two halfpence. The which, opening 
their mouth to desire God, are utterly 3 wanting in charity; 
and whiles they have no heat of faith and charity they show 
themselves most holy in gait, clothing, and speech. These 
also, moreover, boast themselves steadfast in light dis-eases, but 
when they come thereto where they should gainstand, there 
they are soonest 4 broken, and there they fall. And then 
what before was hid is openly shown. Yet when they abound 
in riches and are fed with riches, 5 they say they eat full 
little, and that they have so great thought that all this world 
is but vanity, that, as they say, they can scarcely last for 
feebleness. Deceitful also are they, because they have 
worldly wisdom ; and they beguile by that, so that they are 
not perceived by others lying-in-wait, in as mickle as 
they are aware ; and hiding covetousness under the title of 

1 L. ociositatem vcl accidiam. a i.e., provoke. 

3 C. barly. 4 C. tityst. 5 L. deliciis. 



50 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

ghostly rest, they eschew loss of worldly goods, in despite 1 of 
things everlasting. 

But such, although they lurk 2 for a time, withouten doubt 
it shall appear of what kind they have been long before the end, 
or at least in the end. The which do alms, or any other deed 
they do, in the sight of men ; that it may be seen of all men. 
And such worthily provoke the wrath of God for they desire, 
not to be, but to be seen holy ; and within, where God sees, 
wanting in true chanty, they challenge 3 their own joy not 
God s. 

Full hard it truly is [to have riches, and not to love 
them, and not less difficult is it] to have a winning craft or 
office, and not to be covetous. 4 Wherefore ofttimes are priests 
defamed among the people : that though they be chaste they 
are found covetous, if they be generous 5 they are made lechers. 
And ofttimes it happens that having taken the order of priest 
hood, they fall as mickle deep into sin as the degree which 
they unworthily have taken is high. Truly not a few, set 
on fire with noisome covetousness, under colour of sickness 
or poverty that may come say they gather their goods that 
they may eschew sudden wretchedness. But they are beguiled 
by fiends, for they both lose worldly goods, and run into the 
darkness that they dread, because they heed not God that 
delivers His servants in His sight 6 : and that is worst of all, 
whiles within they are fulfilled with worldly covetousness, 
without they seem to themselves to shine with tokens of 
holiness. 

But he that is our Lord s servant trusts in our Lord ; and 
distributes 7 the goods which he has over his need, to them 
that need. The servant of the world truly studies to keep 
evilly all that he has, because of his covetousness which is 
unable to be fulfilled : so great a niggard 8 is he that he dare 

1 /.*., contempt of. * lie hidden. 3 j,f. 9 demand. 

4 note xx. s C. large. 6 note xxi. 

7 C. sparpyll = L. distribuit. 8 C. chinche. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 51 

wot eat, save foully and scarcely, so that, being sparing, he may 
gather mickle money. And these are they that the psalmist 
shames saying : Inimici ejus terram lingent 1 ; that is to say : 
His enemies shall lick the earth. 

1 Ps. Ixxi. 9 (Ixxii. 9)* 



CHAPTER XI 

THAT LOVERS OF GOD SHALL DEEM WITH 
HIM : * AND OF THE LOVE OF KNOWLEDGE 
GOTTEN BY LABOUR, AND OF GOD : AND THAT 
A TRUE LOVER ERRS NOT, NOR IS BEGUILED 
NEITHER WITH FASTING NOR ABSTINENCE, 
COUNSEL NOR PRESUMPTION 

MAN S soul is the taker of God only ; anything less than 
God cannot fulfill it : wherefore earthly lovers never are 
fulfilled. The rest therefore of Christ s lovers is when 
their hearts are fastened by desire and thought in the love 
of God ; and loving, burning and singing, contemplate Him. 
Sweetest forsooth is the rest which the spirit takes whiles 
sweet godly sound comes down, in which it is delighted, and 
in most sweet and playful songs the mind is ravished to sing 
the delights of everlasting love. Now forsooth the praise of 
God sounds again in the mouth, and of the blest Maiden, 
in whom it joys more than may be trowed. And no marvel 
that this happens, whiles the heart of the singer is utterly burnt 
with heavenly fire and is figured into His likeness, in the which 
is all sweet and merry song, moistening our affections with 
heavenly savour. And therefore he abounds with inward 
delights, and in song and thought joys in the burning of 
love. 

This truly is untrowable to all mortals ; and he that has 
this trows not that anything so sweet and full of sweetness 
can be perceived by man, being yet in a body that will rot, 

1 L. cum ipso indicabunt. 
a* 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 53 

and being grieved with the fetters of mortality. Th haver 
marvels also, but is gladdened, because of the goodness, unable 
to be told, of God, that gives His goods plenteously and 
upbraids not ; of whom he receives all that he feels. 

Forsooth when that great thing wants and truly it is 
called great for verily to mortals it is nearly unknown he 
never trows himself to be in prosperity, but alway languishes 
in love ; whiles he wakes he continually sings, or thinks, 
of love and of his lover : and if he be alone the more sweetly 
he sings. 

Truly from the time that any man has received this, 
never afterwards shall he fully go from it ; but evermore shall 
heat, sweetness, or singing if all these be not near bide. 
But all these truly bide together, unless they be repressed 
by full great sickness of the head, or of the breast, or of the 
side ; or by great hunger or thirst by the which the flesh is 
broken ; or with too mickle cold or heat or with travel, 1 they 
be let. 

Therefore it behoves him that will sing in God s love, and 
in singing will rejoice and burn, to be in (the) wilderness, 
and not to live in too mickle abstinence ; nor to be given in 
any wise to superfluity or waste. Nevertheless it were better 
for him in little things to pass measure unknowingly, whiles 
he^does it with good intent to sustain nature, than if for too 
mickle fasting he began to fail, and for feebleness of body 
he could not sing. But withouten doubt he that is chosen to 
this neither in eating nor in abstinence is overcome by false 
hood of the fiend. Truly the true lover of Christ, and taught 
of Christ, with no less study is ware of too mickle than of too 
little. Withouten comparison truly shall he be worthy of 
more meed, that with songful joy, praying, contemplating, 

1 L. vel itinere impediatur. 

2 i.e., solitude ; when used in this sense the article is omitted 
by Misyn. 



54 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

reading and meditating, and eating well but discreetly; than 
if he, withouten this, should fast evermore, 1 or should eat 
bread alone or herbs, and should continually pray and read. 

Eaten have I and drunken of this that seemed best, not 
because I loved pleasantness, but because nature must be 
sustained in the service of God and in the praise of Jesu 
Christ ; conforming myself in good manners to them with 
whom I dv/elt for Christ ; and that I should not feign holiness 
where none is, nor that men should praise me too mickle 
where I was full little to be praised. From divers, also, I have 
gone, not because they fed me commonly or in hard measure, 
but because we have not accorded in manners, or for some 
other reasonable cause. Nevertheless I dare say, with blessed 
Job : Fools have despised me ; and when I have gone from 
them they have backbitten me 3 ; nevertheless they shall be 
ashamed when they see me that have said that I would not 
abide but where I might be delicately fed. It is better truly 
to see what I may despise, than to desire what I may not see. 

No marvel that fasting is full good to cast down the desires 
of the flesh, and to make tame wild wantonness of mind. Truly 
fleshly desires lie as it were slaked 3 in him who goes to the 
height of contemplation by song and the burning of love. For 
the death of ill affections belongs to him that takes heed to 
contemplation ; whose soul is also turned within into another 
joy and another form. 4 He lives now not to himself, but 
Christ truly lives in him ; wherefore he melts in His love, 
and languishes within himself, and nearly fails for sweetness : 
he scarcely lives for love. 5 His soul is it that says : Nunciate 
dilecto quia amore langueo* : that is to say : Show to my Beloved, 
that I languish for love. I desire to die : I covet to be 
loosed : full greatly I yearn to go. Behold for love I die ! 

* see note xxii. 2 Job xix. 18. 
3 /.*., quenched. 4 note xxiii. 

* C. vnncth he is for lufe L. vix iubiitit pre amorc. 
6 Cant. v. 8, 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 55 

Lord, come down ! Come, my Beloved, lift me from 
heaviness. Behold I love : I sing : I am full hot : I burn 
within myself. Have mercy upon me, wretched; bidding 
me be brought before Thee. 

He that has this joy, and in this life is thus gladdened, is 
inspired of the Holy Ghost : he cannot err, whatever he 
do it is lawful. No mortal man can give him counsel so good 
as that is that he has in himself of God Immortal. If others 
truly would give counsel to him, withouten doubt they shall 
err because they have not known him : and if he would 
give assent to their skills 1 he shall not be suffered of God 
that constrains him to His will, that he pass it not. Where 
fore of such is said : Spiritualis omnia judicat, et a nemine 
judicatur^ ; that is to say : The ghostly man deems all things, 
and is deemed of no man. 

But no man may be of so great presumption that he suppose 
himself to be such a one ; although he has perfectly forsaken all 
the world, and though he has led a solitary life, unable to be 
reproved, and though he has gone up to the contemplation 
of heavenly things. For this grace truly is not granted to all 
contemplatives, but seldom, and to most few : the which, 
taking great rest of body and of mind, are only chosen to the 
work by the strength of God s love. Full hard soothly it is 
to find such a man ; and because they are few, full dear are 
they held, desirable, and beloved before God and man ; and 
angels also joy in their passing from this world, whom angels 
company becomes. 

Many forsooth there are that oft, in great devotion and 
sweetness, offer their prayers to God, and praying and medi 
tating they can feel sweetness of contemplation ; the which 
also run not about but bide in rest. 

1 L. pcrsuasione eorum. 3 I Cor. ii. 15, 



CHAPTER XII 

THAT NO MAN SHALL DEEM ANOTHER, BUT 
GIVE GOD PRAISE : AND OF EIGHT AFFECTIONS 1 
OF THE LOVE OF GOD: AND THAT WOMEN S 
COMPANY BE ESCHEWED 

IF any man live holily and righteously, he also despises not 
the worst sinners. Truly they, being tempted, fall because 
they have no grace of gainstanding, although by their own 
malice they turn themselves from good to ill. No man can work 
well, and love God, and be chaste, except God give it to him. 
Also thou that swellest in pride because thou hast done well, 
for thou hast restrained thyself from fleshly lusts and thou 
hast suffered sharp penance, wherefore thou hast taken praise 
from the mouth of man : have mind that, except the goodliness 
of Christ had overcovered thee, thou shouldest have fallen into 
as many ills, or into worse, than he that is fallen. Truly of 
thyself thou hadst no grace of gainstanding, but of Him, to 
Whom is said : Diltgam te Domine, fortitude* mea? Thee, 
Lord my strength, I shall love. Wherefore, if thou have 
nought but that thou hast received, why pridest thou thyself 
as if thou hadst not received it ? 

I forsooth do thanks to my God ; the which, without my 
merit, has so chastened His child for my good and His 
honour has so made His servant fear, that it seems full sweet 

1 C. ayth desyrs L. octo affectibui. 
" Ps. xvii. z (xviii. i). 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 57 

to me to flee worldly pleasures, that are both few and soon 
slipping ; in so mickle that I might be worthy to escape the 
pains of hell, that are both many and shall never end. And 
yet again He has so taught me, and given me virtuous teaching, 
that I should gladly bear this present penance and tribulation ; 
in so mickle that I might come full lightly to everlasting 
delectation and most full prosperity. For if we will, in this 
life lightly and without great sharpness, we can perfectly 
repent and cleanse ourselves ; as long as we, as mickle as we 
can, destroy vice. 1 If we be not cleansed here, truly in the 
time to come, we shall find that the Apostle is true, saying 
these words : Horrendum est incldere In manus Dei viventis? 
Horrible is it to fall into the hands of the living God. 

Lord God, have mercy on me ! My youth was fond ; my 
childhood vain; my young age 3 unclean. But now Lord Jesu 
my heart is enflamed with Thy holy love and my reins are 
changed ; and my soul also will not now touch for bitterness 
what before was my food : and my affections now are such 
that I hate nothing but sin. Nought dread I but to grieve God: 
I joy not but in God : I sorrow not but for my sin : I love 
nothing but God : nothing I trust but Him : nothing heavies 
me but sin : nothing gladdens me but Christ. 

Nevertheless now, lately, of three worthy women I worthily 
received reproof. . . . 4 Forsooth coming to myself I do praise 
to God, because by their words He taught me good, and has 
shown to me a sweeter way than I knew before ; that Christ s 
grace so mickle working in me, I shall not be found worthy 
reproof in this way before women. 

The fourth woman, to whom I was in part familiar, 5 not 
reproving but as it were despising me, said : * Nought hast 
thou but fair looks and fair words, deeds hast thou none. 

1 L. vicia, but C. reads wytis. * Heb. x. 31. 3 L. adolcsccncia. 
+ Here Rolle recounts three temptations he had of three women, 
which it has seemed best for the purpose of this book to omit, 
s j.f., a merdber of her household = L. cui ad modum familiaris. 



58 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

And therefore I trow it is better to want their speciality 
than to fall into their hands, that know not, either in love nor 
in despite, to keep measure. This truly has happened to me 
because I have sought their health 1 ; not that I have unlawfully 
desired anything of them with whom I have for some while 
taken my bodily sustenance. 

1 L. salutem. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THAT SOLITARY OR HERMIT S LIFE PASSES 
COMMON AND MIXED 1 LIFE. AND HOW IT 
COMES TO FIRE OF LOVE : AND OF SWEETNESS 
OF SONG 

SOME have been and peradventure are yet alive that 
alway set common life before solitary life ; saying we ought 
to run to gatherings if we desire to come to high per 
fection. Against whom there is not mickle to dispute, 
because that life only they bear up with praise, the which they 
either covet to keep, or at the least know full little. Truly 
they praise not solitary life, for they know it not. 

Truly there is a life which no man living in flesh can know, 
but he to whom it is given of God to have ; and soothly no 
man deems truly of this thing, of which he is yet unsicker 
what, and in what manner, it works. Withouten doubt, I wot 
if they knew it more than another they would praise it. 

Others err worse that cease not to reprove and slander 
solitary life, saying : Vae so/i*; that is to say: Woe be to a 
man alone ; not expounding c alone as without God, but 
without a fellow. He truly is alone with whom God is not ; 
for when he falls into death he is taken alive to tormentry, 
and is sparred from the joyful sight of God and of His saints. 

Forsooth he that chooses solitary life for God, and leads it in 
good manner, is not near woe but fair virtue ; and the name 

1 C. Menged, / ./., the mingling of active and contemplative life, 

2 Ecclcs. iv, io. 



60 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

of Jesu shall continually delight his mind ; and the more 
they dread not to take that life without man s solace, the 
more shall it be given them to be gladdened with God s 
comforting. 

Ghostly visitations forsooth ofttimes they receive ; the which, 
set in company, they know not at all. Therefore it is said to 
a beloved soul : Ducam earn in solitudinem, et ibi loquar ad cor 
ejus. 1 That is to say : * I shall lead her into (the) wilderness, 
and there shall I speak unto her heart. 

Some truly are taught by God to desire (the) wilderness for 
Christ, and to hold a single purpose 2 ; the which forthwith, 
that they may more freely and devoutly serve God, forsaking 
the common clothing of the world, despise all transitory 
things, and cast away temporal things ; and excelling in height 
of mind they desire only everlasting joy, and are only given to 
devotion and contemplation, and every effort of their life they 
cease not to give to the love of Christ. 3 Of whom full many, 
although from men they dwell full far, 4 yet they stumble 
not from heavenly desires, because their minds are full far 
from wicked conversation. 4 

The righteous hermits have also a single purpose. They 
live in the charity of God and of their neighbour ; they despise 
worldly praise ; as mickle as they can they flee man s sight ; 
they hold ilk man more worthy than themselves ; they 
continually give their minds to devotion ; they hate idleness ; 
they manly gainstand fleshly lusts ; they savour and burningly 
seek heavenly ; earthly they covet not, but forsake ; in sweet 
ness of prayer they are delighted. Truly some of them feel 
the sweetness of eternal refreshment ; and with chaste heart 
and body, with the undefiled eye of the mind, truly behold 

1 Hos. ii. 14. * L. singulare propositum habent. 

3 C. and to lufc criste All ]?e stody of J?er lyfe ]?ai ccsse not 
to occupi. 

* i.e., far from the wicked life of those other men. Cf. L. quia 
illorum mcntes ab ipsorum conuersacionc longc distant. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 61 

God and the citizens of heaven. Because by the bitter drink 
of penance they have loved great labour, they are now set 
afire with the love of high contemplation, and alone are worthy 
to take heed to God, and to bide 1 the kingdom of Christ. 

Therefore great is the hermit s life if it be greatly done. And 
truly the blessed Maglorius 2 was full of miracles, and from his 
childhood gladdened by the sight of angels. When according to 
the prophecy of his former father, Saint Sampson, he was made 
archbishop, and had long worthily governed God s kirk, being 
warned by the visit of an angel, he left his archbishopric and 
chose a hermit s life. And at the end of his life his passing 
was betokened to him. Saint Cuthbert also went from his 
bishopric to an anchorite s life. 

Therefore if such men have done thus for to have more 
meed, who of good mind will be hardy to set any state in holy 
kirk before solitary life ? Truly in this they occupy them 
selves with no outward things, but only take heed to heavenly 
contemplation ; and that they be continually warm in the love 
of Christ, and set worldly business perfectly behind. 

Wherefore a heavenly noise sounds within them, and full 
sweet melody makes the solitary man merry ; for clatterings 
distract them who are set among many, and but seldom suffer 
them to think or pray. Of which solitary the psalmist speaks 
in the Song of Love, saying : * I will go into the place or 
the marvellous tabernacle, into the house of God. 3 And he 
describes the manner of going, in rejoicing and songs of praise, 
saying : In voce exultationis et confessionis ; that is to say : 
In voice of gladness and shrift. And that loneliness 
withouten noise and bodily song is needful to that that man 
may receive that songful joy, and hold it in joying and singing 
he openly shows in another place : Elongavi, inquit, fuglens ; 
et mansi in so/ttudine.* That is to say : c Fleeing by myself, I 
have withdrawn, and in (the) wilderness I have dwelt. 

1 L. expecUre. a note xxiv. 3 p s . xli. 5 (xlii, 4). 

4 Ps. iv. 8 (Iv. 7). 



62 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

In this life truly he is busy to burn in the fire of the Holy 
Ghost ; and into the joy of love to be taken and, comforted 
by God, to be glad. For the perfect lonely man hugely 1 burns 
in God s love ; and whiles in surpassing of mind he is rapt 
above himself by contemplation, he is lift up joying unto that 
sweet sound and heavenly noise. And .^such a one, forsooth, is 
likened to the seraphim, burning within himself in charity 
without comparison 3 and most steadfast, whose heart is 
figured 3 to godly fire; and in full light and burning he is borne 
up into his love. And forsooth after this life he shall be 
suddenly taken up to the high seats of the heavenly citizens, 
that in the place of Lucifer he may full brightly be. For 
so great is the burning of love and more than can be shown 
to him that has sought only the glory of his Maker, and who, 
going meekly, has not raised himself above sinners. 

1 L. vehementer. 2 L. caritate incomparabili. 

3 i.e, 9 made like to. 



CHAPTER XIV 

OF THE PRAISE OF SOLITARY LIFE AND 
OF THE FIRST LOVERS THEREOF: AND THAT 
LOVE OF GOD STANDS IN HEAT, SONG, AND 
SWEETNESS: AND THAT REST IS NEEDFUL: 
AND THAT SUCH ARE SAVED FROM JAPES, 1 
AND ARE NOT SET IN PRELACY 

SAINT JOB in tormentry was taught by the Holy Ghost 
the commendation of many manner of holy hermits knit 
into one, saying : Quls dimisit onagrum liberum, etc? 
that is to say : c Who left the wild ass free, and loosed her 
bands ? etc. 

First, therefore, he commends the freeness of grace, when he 
says : * who let the wild ass loose ? Second, the putting away 
of fleshly desires ; when he says : * and his bands loosed/ 
Third, solitary conversation, when he adds 3 : to her he gave 
a house in the wilderness. Fourth, the desire of endless bliss, 
when he says : and his tabernacle in the land of saltness, 
for salt truly slakes not, but increases thirst ; and so the 
more they have received anything of the sweetness of ever 
lasting life, the more they desire to have, and the more to 
taste. 

Forsooth John Baptist, after Christ the prince of hermits, 
tarrying in no desire, 4 chose a solitary life ; and others have 

1 deceits = L illusionibus. 2 Job xxxix. 5, 6. 

3 C. he putt to. * L. affectu. 

6s 



64 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

also chosen it, like to a bresse, 1 the which, says Solomon, has 
no leader or commander, and goes forth by companies of gifts 
and virtues. 2 Truly there are bands of nature and of sin, 
which our Lord has loosed in them, and has confirmed the 
bands of charity. 

The house of (the) wilderness may also be said to be the rest 
of a sinner ; for holy hermits are sundered from worldly strifes 
and sins ; and, Christ giving it, they receive the sweetness of 
a clear conscience, and singing the joys of everlasting love, 
they rest, refreshed by the most merry heat : and although 
with sharpness and frowardness they be pricked in body, 
nevertheless they resolutely 3 hold within their soul praise and 
burning. 

There is another ill wilderness of pride : when any man 
either prefers himself before all others, or what he has he 
ascribes to the might of his freewill ; of whom it is said : Vat 
soli* : Woe to the man alone ; if he fall he has no helper up. 
In the beginning truly of a hermit s turning I speak not of 
runners about 5 that are the slander 6 of hermits they are made 
weary with many and divers temptations; but after the tempest 
of ill movings God insheds the brightness of holy desires, that 
if they use themselves manly in weeping, meditating, and 
praying, and seeking only the love of Christ, after a little 
while they shall seem to themselves to live more in delight, 
than in weeping, or straitness of labour. They shall have 
Him whom they loved ; whom they sought ; and whom they 
desired : and then shall they joy and not be heavy. 

What is it truly to joy but to have the good desired ; of it 
to think ; and in it to rest ? No marvel that mirth is sweet 
where true lovers accord, and where the merry solace is of the 
touching of love ; truly unable to be told is the desire of 

1 L. asilus, i.f., gadfly ; in A.V. locust. * Prov. xxx. 27. 

3 C. with-out birsyng*=L. inconcussc. * Eccles. iv. 10. 

5 note xxv. 6 *>., scandal. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 65 

burning lovers, and the sight and speech of each to the other 
is sweet to them, above honey and the honey-comb. 

Jeremy truly commends solitary life saying : c Good it is to 
be a man when he has borne the yoke of God from his young 
age ; he shall sit solitary and be in peace l ; for by the desire and 
contemplation of things everlasting he has raised himself above 
himself. Whence it is written in scripture : Natus non est in 
terra quasi Enoch 2 ; that is to say : None is born on earth as 
Enoch, because forsooth he was taken from the earth. For 
contemplative men are higher than others both in excellence 
of work and heartiness of love. 

Love forsooth dwells in the heart of the solitary if he seek 
nothing from vain lordship. Here he utterly burns and longs 
for light whiles he thus clearly 3 savours things heavenly ; and 
sings with honey-sweetness and without heaviness ; as the 
seraphim to whom he is like in loving mind cries and 
says to his noble Lover : Behold, loving, I burn ; greedily 
desiring. 4 

Thus with fire untrowed and thirling 5 flame the soul 
of a lover is burned. It gladdens all things and heavenlike 
sparkles. Nor happily desiring do I make an end but alway 
going to that I love death to me is sweet and sicker. 

Forsooth the holy solitary, because he suffered to sit in (the) 
wilderness for his Saviour, shall receive a golden seat in heaven, 
and excellence amongst the orders of angels. And because 
for the love of his Lord he was clad with vile clothes, he shall 
do on a kirtle to his heels, everlasting, and wrought with the 
clearness of his Maker. And because, taming his flesh, he 
shamed not to have a pale and lean face, he shall receive a full 
marvellous shining of face ; and shall bear a most fair mantle, 
inwoven with precious stones, for his despised clothes, among 
the mighty of Paradise withouten end. And truly because he 
voided vice, and burgeoning not in jollity of this life, has 

1 Lam. iii. 27-8. * Eccli. xlix. 16 (xlix. 14). 

3 L. sinceriter. 4 note xxvi. s piercing. 

F 



66 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

entirely cast out the species of sin, in the burning of the love 
of God Almighty he has received into himself most sweet 
heavenly sound ; and the sound of singers of songs full of 
charity is worthily inshed sweetly into his mind. There 
fore boldly and without dread he goes out from this exile 
hearing in his end angels songs ; and he that loved most 
burningly, going into the Everlasting Hall, shall full worthily 
be taken up to a degree most joyful, so that with the seraphim 
he may be in a full high seat. 

As I forsooth, seeking in scripture, might find and know, 
the high love of Christ soothly stands in three things : in 
heat; in song; in sweetness. And I am expert in mind that 
these three can not long remain without great rest. For if 
I would contemplate standing, walking, or lying, methought 
I lacked full mickle thereof in myself and me-seemed desolate ; 
wherefore, constrained by need, that I might have and abide 
in high devotion, I chose to sit. The cause of this I know 
well ; for if a man stands or walks for some time, his body 
waxes weary and so the soul is let, and in a manner irks 
for the charge, 1 and he is not in high quiet and, it follows, not 
in perfectness ; for, after the philosopher, 2 the soul is made 
wise sitting or resting. He therefore that as yet is more 
delighted in God standing than sitting, may know that he is 
full far from the height of contemplation. 

Whence truly in these three that are tokens of most 
perfect love, the highest perfection of Christian religion 
without all doubt is found ; and I have now, Jesu granting, 
received these three after the littleness of my capacity. 
Nevertheless I dare not make myself even to the saints that 
have shone in them, for they peradventure have received them 
more perfectly. Yet shall I be busy in virtue that I may 
more burningly love, more sweetly sing, and more plenteously 
feel the sweetness of love. 

1 i.t. t load. L. pre onere. * Probably Aristotle. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 67 

Ye err, brethren, if ye trow that none now are so holy as 
the prophets or apostles have been. 

Soothly, heat I call it when the mind is truly kindled in love 
everlasting ; and the heart in the same manner, not hopingly 
but verily, is felt to burn. For the heart turned into fire gives 
the feeling of burning love. 

Song I call it when in a soul the sweetness of everlasting 
praise is received with plenteous burning, and thought is turned 
into song ; and the mind is changed l into full sweet sound. 

These two are not gotten in idleness, but in high devotion ; 
to the which the third is near, that is to say sweetness un- 
trowed. For heat and song truly cause a marvellous sweet 
ness in the soul ; and also they may be caused by full great 
sweetness. Truly there is not any deceit in this plenteousness, 
but rather it is the most perfect ending of all deeds. Yet 
some ignorant of contemplative life are deceived by the fiend 
of the midday 2 into a false and feigned sweetness, for they trow 
themselves full high when they are low. 

But the soul in which the foresaid three things run together, 
bides altogether unable to be thirled with the arrows of our 
enemy, whiles she is continually thinking of the Lover ; for 
with mind unsmitten she raises herself to heaven and stirs 
herself to love. 

And marvel not if melody be sent to the soul thus ordinate 
in love, and though she continually receives comfortable songs 
from the Beloved ; for she lives not as if under vanity, but as 
it were clad with the heavenly, yea so that she may burn 
withouten end in unwrought heat and never fall. When she 
also loves unceasingly and burningly, and as it was before 
said, feels this most happy heat in her soul, and knows herself 
subtly burnt with the fire of endless love, plainly feeling her 
most beloved in desired sweetness, 3 meditation is turned into 

1 or dwells in, and see note xxvii. cf. Ps. xc. 6. 

3 L. persenciens dilectissimum suum in desiderate dulcore. 



68 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

songs of joy, and nature is renewed and umbelapped in heavenly 
mirth. Wherefore her Maker whom she has desired with all 
her heart, has granted her to pass without dread and heaviness 
from the corruptible body, that without heaviness of death 
she may forsake the world; the which 1 being the friend of 
light and enemy of darkness has loved nothing but life. 

This manner of man forsooth that is taken to so high love, 
ought to be chosen neither to office nor outward 2 prelacy ; nor 
to be called to any secular errand. Truly they are like the 
stone that is called topaz, the which is seldom found, and 
therefore it is held most precious and full dear, in which are 
two colours : one is most pure even as gold, and the other 
clear as heaven when it is bright. And it overcomes all the 
clearness of all stones; and nothing is fairer to behold. But if 
any would polish it, it is made dim, and truly if it be left to 
itself its clearness is withholden. 3 

So holy contemplatives, of whom we spake before, are 
most rare and therefore most dear. They are like to gold 
for surpassing heat of charity, and to heaven for clearness cf 
heavenly conversation ; the which pass the lives of all saints, 
and therefore are clearer and brighter among the precious 
stones, that is to say the chosen, because loving and having 
this lonely life they are clearer than all other men that 
are, or else have been. But truly who will polish such, that 
is to say honour them with dignities, are busy to lessen their 
heat, and in a manner to make their fairness and their clear 
ness dim ; for truly if they get the honour of principality, they 
shall forsooth be made fouler and of less meed. Therefore 
they shall be left to take heed to their studies, that their 
clearness may increase. 

1 refers to the soul. a C. with-out-forth. 3 i.e., retained. 



CHAPTER XV 

HOW AND IN WHAT TIME I CAME TO SOLI 
TARY LIFE : AND OF THE SONG OF LOVE : 
AND OF CHANGING OF PLACE 

WHEN I was prospering 1 unhappily, and to youth of 
wakeful age 2 had now come, the grace of my Maker 
was near, the which restrained the lust for temporal 
shape and turned it into unbodily halsing to be desired ; and 
lifting my soul from low things has borne it to heaven, so 
that I might truly burn in desire for the everlasting mirth, 
more than ever I was gladdened before by any fleshly company, 
or else by worldly softness. 

If I will truly show this process it behoves me preach 
solitary life. The spirit forsooth has set my mind on fire to 
have and to love this, the which henceforth to lead according 
to the measure of my sickness I have taken care. Neverthe 
less I have dwelt among them that have flourished in the 
world, and have taken food from them. Flatterings also, that 
ofttimes might draw worthy fighters from high things to low, 
I have heard. But these out-casting for the sake of one, my 
soul was taken up to the love of my Maker ; and desiring 
to be endlessly delighted with sweetness, I gave my soul 
up so that in devotion she should love Christ. The which 
she has forsooth received of her Beloved so that now loneliness 

1 C. suld florisch = L cum infelicitcr florerem, and see note xxviii. 
a L. vigilantis adolescencic. 

69 



70 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

appears most sweet to her, and all solace in which the error of 
man abounds 1 she counts for nought. 

I was wont forsooth to seek rest, although I went from 
place to place. For it is not ill for hermits to leave cells for 
a reasonable cause, and afterwards, if it accord, to turn again 
to the same. Truly some of the holy Fathers have done 
thus, although they have therefore suffered the murmuring 
of men ; nevertheless not of the good. The evil truly speak 
ill ; and if they had abode right there 2 they would also have 
done that, for it is customary to them. If the covering of 
a privy is put by, nothing but stink flies out ; and ill speaking 
is spoken out of the heart s plenty, in which the venom of 
adders lurks. 3 

This have I known, that the more men have raved 4 against 
me with words of backbiting, so mickle the more I have grown 
in ghostly profit. Forsooth the worst backbiters I have had 
are those which I trusted before as faithful friends. Yet I 
ceased not for their words from those things that were pro 
fitable to my soul ; truly I used more study, and ever I found 
God favourable. I called to mind what is written : Malcdi- 
cent / /// , et tu benedicesf that is to say : * They shall curse 
him, and thou shalt bless. 

And in process of time great profit in ghostly joy was 
given me. Forsooth three years, except three or four months, 
were run from the beginning of the change of my life and 
of my mind, to the opening of the heavenly door ; so that, the 
Face being shown, the eyes of the heart might behold and 
see by what way they might seek my Love, and unto Him con 
tinually desire. The door forsooth yet biding open, nearly 
a year passed until the time in which the heat of everlasting 
love was verily felt in my heart. 

I was sitting forsooth in a chapel, and whiles I was mickle 

1 C. cncressis. 3 note xxix. 

3 cf. Matt. xii. 34 ; Luke vi. 45. 

4 C. ha fonnyd=-L. insanierunt. 5 Ps. cviii, 28 (cix. z8). 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 71 

delighted with sweetness of prayer or meditation, suddenly 
I felt within me a merry and unknown heat. But first I 
wavered, 1 for a long time doubting what it could be. I was 
expert that it was not from a creature but from my Maker, 
because I found it grow hotter and more glad. 

Truly in this unhoped for, sensible, and sweet-smelling heat, 
half a year, three months and some weeks have out run, until 
the inshedding and receiving of this heavenly and ghostly 
sound ; the which belongs to the songs of everlasting praise 
and the sweetness of unseen melody ; because it may not 
be known or heard but of him that receives it, whom it behoves 
to be clean and departed 2 from the earth. 

Whiles truly I sat in this same chapel, and in the night 
before supper, as I could, I sang psalms, 3 I beheld 4 above me 
the noise as it were of readers, or rather singers. Whiles also 
I took heed praying to heaven with my whole desire, suddenly, 
I wot not in what manner, I felt in me the noise of song, 
and received the most liking heavenly melody which dwelt 
with me in my mind. For my thought was forsooth changed 
to continual song of mirth, and I had as it were praises in 
my meditation, 5 and in my prayers and psalm saying 6 I 
uttered 7 the same sound, and henceforth, for plenteousness of 
inward sweetness, I burst out singing what before I said, but 
forsooth privily, because alone before my Maker. I was not 
known by them that saw me as, peradventure, if they had known 
me, they would have honoured me above measure, and so I 
should have lost part of the most fair flower, and should have 
fallen into desolation. 8 

In the meanwhile wonder caught me that I should be taken 
up to so great mirth whiles I was in exile ; and because God 
gave gifts to me that I knew not to ask, nor trowed I that 

1 note xxx. 2 separated. 3 C. saluys = L. psalmos. 

4 note xxxi. 5 L. ct quasi odas habui meditando. 

6 C. saluys sayand L. psalmodia. 7 C. scheuyd L. edidi. 

8 C. forsakynge. 



72 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

any man, not the holiest, could have received any such thing 
in this life. Therefore I trow this is given to none meedfully, 
but freely to whom Christ will ; nevertheless I trow no man 
receives it unless he specially love the Name of Jesu, and in so 
mickle honours It that he never lets It pass from his mind 
except in sleep. I trow that he to whom it is given to do 
that, may fulfil the same. 

Wherefore from the beginning of my changed soul unto 
the high degree of Christ s love, the which, God granting, 
I was able to attain in which degree I might sing God s praises 
with joyful song I was four years and about three months. 
Here forsooth, with the first disposition of love gathered 
into this degree, she bides to the very end 1 ; and also after death 
she shall be more perfect : because here the joy of love or 
burning of charity is begun, and in the heavenly kingdom 
it shall receive its most glorious ending. And forsooth she 
profits not a little, set in these degrees in this life, but she 
ascends not into another degree ; but, as it were confirmed 
in grace, as far as mortal man can, she rests. 

Wherefore without ceasing I desire to give grace and 
praise to God, the which both in dis-eases, heaviness, and perse 
cution gives me solace; and in prosperity and flatterings makes 
me with sickerness await an endless crown. Therefore, in 
Jesu joying, I continually yield praise ; the which has vouch 
safed me, least and wretched, to mingle with sweet ministers, 
from whom songs of melody, yet heavenly, spring forth 
through the Spirit. 

Continually with joy shall I give thanks because He has 
made my soul in clearness of conscience like to singers clearly 
burning in endless love ; and whiles she loves and seethes z 
in burning, the changed mind, resting and being warmed by 
heat, and greatly enlarged 3 by desire and the true beauty 

1 L. Hie nempe cum prioribus ad ipsum dispositiuis status, 
permanet vsque in finem. 

a C. bolnes. 3 C. sprecd. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 73 

of lovely virtue, blossoms 1 without vice or strife in the sight 
of our Maker ; and thus bearing praise within herself, gladdens 
the longer with merry song and refreshes labours. 

Many and great are these marvellous gifts, but among 
the gifts of this way none are such as those which full dearly 
in figure confirm the shapeliness of the unseen life in the 
loving soul ; or which so sweetly comfort the sitter, and being 
comforted, ravish him to the height of contemplation and 
the accord 2 of the angels praise. 

Behold, brethren, I have told you how I came to the burning 
of love, not that ye should praise me, but that ye should 
glorify my God, of whom I received illc good deed that 
I had ; and that ye, thinking that all things under the sun 
are vanity, may be stirred to follow, not to backbite. 

1 C. spryngis. i.e., harmony. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE PRAYER OF THE POOR, AND THE LOV 
ING AND DESIRING TO DIE : AND OF THE 
PRAISING OF GOD S CHARITY 

WHEN the devout poor man is noyed on account of his 
defaults, he can, if he will, pray and say : 
Lord my God, Jesu Christ, have mercy on me and 
vouchsafe to behold the grievous yoke that is put upon my 
body, and therefore tarries not to cast down my soul. My 
flesh truly fails in the griefs of this life ; wherefore also ghostly 
virtue is made weary. For all that I had in this world or of 
this world is ended, and nought is left but that Thou lead my 
soul to another world where my treasure is most precious and 
my substance richest, and unfailingly abides. Wherefore I 
shall live without default ; I shall joy without sorrow ; I shall 
love without irksomeness ; and loving Thee, seeing Thee, 
and joying in Thee, I shall be endlessly fed. Thou truly art 
my Treasure, and all the Desire of my heart; and because of 
Thee I shall perfectly see Thee, for then I shall have Thee. 

And I spake thus to death : 

O Death, where dwellest thou ? Why comest thou so late 
to me, living but yet mortal ? Why halsest thou not him that 
desires thee ? 

Who is enough to think 1 thy sweetness, that art the end of 
sighing, the beginning of desire, the gate of unfailing yearn- 

1 L. excogitare, /./., find out by thinking. 

74 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 75 

ing ? Thou art the end of heaviness, the mark 1 of labours, 
the beginning of fruits, the gate of joys. Behold I grow hot 2 
and desire after thee : if thou come I shall forthwith be safe. 
Ravished, truly, because of love, I cannot fully love what I 
desire after, until I taste the joy that Thou shalt give to me. 
If it behoves me, mortal because forsooth it so befalls to 
pass through thee as all my fathers have gone, I pray thee 
tarry not mickle ; from me abide not long ! Behold, I truly 
languish for love ; I desire to die ; for thee I burn ; and yet 
truly not for thee, but for my Saviour Jesu, whom, after I 
have had thee, I trow to see withouten end. 

O Death, how good is thy doom to needy man, whose soul, 
nevertheless, is made sweet by love ; to the man, forsooth, 
truly loving Christ and contemplating heavenly things, and 
sweetly burned with the fire of the Holy Ghost. After death 
he is taken soothly to songs of angels ; because now being 
purged, and profiting, he dwells in the music of the spirit. 
And in melody full marvellous shall he die, the which when 
alive thought pithily upon that sweet Name ; and with the 
companies meeting him, with heavenly hymns and honour, he 
shall be taken into the hall of the Eternal Emperor, being 
among heavenly dwellers in the seat of the blessed. 

To this has chanty truly brought him, that he should thus 
live in inward delight, and should gladly suffer all that happens, 
and should think on death, not with bitterness but with sweet 
ness. Soothly then he trows himself truly to live, when it is 
given him to pass from this light. 

sweet Charity, thou art plainly the dearest sweetness ; 
that catchest and takest the mind to thy love ; and so clearly thou 
moistenest it that quickly thou makest it despise all passing 
things and vain joys, and only to marvellously yearn 3 after 
thy desires. Thou hast come into me, and behold, all mine 

1 L. meta, i.e., goal, or turning-post. 2 C. I bolne = L. en estuo. 
3 C. to couett. L. et in tuis solomodo desideriis mirabiliter 

anhelare. 



76 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

inward 1 soul is fulfilled by the sweetness of heavenly mirth, 
and plenteous in the fervour 2 of ghostly joy. 

Therefore truly I long after love, the fairest of flowers, and 
I am inwardly burned by the flame of fire. Would God I 
might go from the dwelling of this exile ! 

Thus it warms, man thinks not how, save that he feels solace 
in himself; the heart singing ditties and taken captive with 
the charge of charity. Soothly this that I thus receive is most 
merry, and I nearly die while it is thus made steadfast with 
burning love. Now grant my best Beloved that I may cease; 
for death, that many dread, shall be to me as heavenly music. 
Although I am sitting in (the) wilderness, yet I am now as 
it were set stable in Paradise, and there sweetly is sounding a 
loving song in the delights that my Love has given me. 

1 C. all ]?e inar forpartis. 3 C. boylinge. 



CHAPTER XVII 

HOW PERFECT LOVE IS GOTTEN BY CLEAN 
NESS AND LOVE: AND OF IMPERFECT LOVE 
AND FAIRNESS. AND OF THREE MIGHTS OF 
GOD S LOVE: AND OF THE RICH AND POOR: 
AND OF ALMS 

FROM cleanness of conscience and plenteousness of ghostly 
gladness and inward mirth, rises the song of joy and the 
burning of endless love in a mind loving truly. No 
marvel that loving in this manner, love has been perfectly had, 
! great in desire, with a moving altogether dressed to God, and 
I by no letting removed from His love ; withouten strife of vain 
i thoughts, constantly cleaving to Christ ; in Jesu ever joying ; 
I from Him never distracted ; with ill never moved ; whom 
| dead flies never deceive or cast down from the sweetness of the 
1 ointment. 1 

The world, the flesh, and the devil have none effect upon 
t him, although they prick him ; but he treads them under his 
feet, setting their strength at nought. Withouten seething he 
i boils 2 ; he loves with great desire ; he sings with sweetness; 
i he shines with heat ; he is delighted in God without gain- 
standing ; he contemplates with unbroken up-going. He 
discomfits 3 all things ; he overcomes all things ; of all the 
things that he likes nothing seems to him impossible. Truly 

1 Eccles. x. i. 

3 i.e., he yearns in love without inward conflict = L. ffervet 
sine conflictu. 3 i.e., vanquishes. 



78 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

whiles any man is busy to love Christ with all his strength he 
feels in himself, forsooth, great sweetness of eternal life. 

We are turned truly to Christ if we strive to love Him with 
our whole mind. Certain, so marvellous a Thing is God and 
so liking to see, that I wonder that any man can be so mad and 
go out of the way that he should take no heed to the sight of 
Him in his soul. Truly not he that does great and many 
things is great ; but he that loves God mickle is great, and 
loved of God. 

Philosophers forsooth have travailed mickle, and yet with 
out fruit they have vanished. And many that seemed Christ 
ians have done great things and showed forth marvels, 1 and 
yet they were not worthy to be saved ; for the plenteousness 
of the heavenly crown is not for the doers, but for the lovers 
of God. 

Lord Jesu, I ask Thee, give unto me movement in Thy 
love withouten measure ; desire withouten limit 2 ; longing 
withouten order ; burning without discretion. Truly the 
better the love of Thee is, the greedier it is ; for neither by 
reason is it restrained, nor by dread thronged, 3 nor by doom 
tempted. No man shall ever be more blest than he that for 
greatness of love can die. No creature truly can love too 
mickle. In all other things all that is too mickle turns to vice, 
but the more the strength of love surpasses the more glorious 
it shall be. The lover truly languishes if he has not by him 
the likeness of that he loves. Therefore it is said : Nunciate 
dilecto quia amore langueof that is to say : Show to my love 
that I languish for love. As who should say : Because I see 
not that I love, for love I wax slow also in body. 

Forsooth turned to Christ with all my heart, I am tied first 
by true penance, and so forsaking all things that long to vanity, 
after the taste of ghostly sweetness, I shall be ravished to 
sing in songful and godly praise. Whereof I say : Ego cantabo 

1 L. mira. 3 C. maner. 3 i.e., distressed. * Cant. v. 8. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 79 

iilecto meo 1 ; and in the psalm : In te cantatlo mea semper? 
That is to say; To my love I shall sing ; and in the psalm: 
: In thee is ever my song. No marvel that they therefore 
;hat thus have lived in God s love, and sweetly have burned in 
inward flagrance 3 withouten dread, in death shall pass from 
this light, but truly with joy ; and after death ascend to the 
heavenly kingdoms. 

Therefore it is said of the flame of God s love that it takes 
the mind to wound it. <I am wounded by charity, and I am 
made to languish for my love : whereof it is said, Amore 
langueof for love I languish ; and to moisten it, that it so 
goes out towards the Beloved that it forgets the self and all 
other things besides Christ. Therefore he says : Pone me ut 
signaculum super cor tuum 5 j that is to say : As a token set me 
on Thy heart. 

What is love but the transforming of desire into the thing 
loved ? Or love is great desire for the fair, the good, and 
lovely, with continuance of thought going in to that thing that 
it loves, the which, when it has, then it joys ; for joy is not 
caused save by love. All those loving are truly made like to 
their love, and love makes him that loves like to that that is 
loved. 

Truly neither God nor other creature disdains or forsakes 6 
to be loved, but gladly all things say they would be loved, and 
are gladdened by love. They are not heavy truly in loving 
unless they have loved an unkind thing ; or if they trow they 
can not have that thing they have lovingly sought. This is 
never so in the love of God, but ofttimes this happens in the 

I- love of the world or of women. 
I dare not say that all love is good, for that love that is 
more delighted in creatures than in the Maker of all things, 
and sets the lust of earthly beauty before ghostly fairness, is ill 

1 Isa. v. i. Ps. Ixx. 6 (Ixxi. 6). 

3 C. flayr = L. flagrancia. 4 Cant. v. 7. 

5 Cant. viii. 6. i.e., refuses. 



8o THE FIRE OF LOVE 

and to be hated ; for it turns from eternal love and turns to 
temporal that can not last. Yet peradventure it shall be the 
less punished ; for it desires and joys more to love and be loved 
than to defile or be defiled. The fairer a creature is, the more 
lovable it is in the sight of all. Therefore some were wont 
busily to get health from a shapely form rather than from a 
despised, which has many occasions of bringing to ill. And 
nature teaches the fairer the thing, the more sweetly to be 
loved. Nevertheless ordinate charity says the greater the 
good, the more it is to be loved ; for ilk fleshly beauty is as 
hay, lightly vanishing, but godliness truly bides : and ofttimes 
God chooses the sick and despised of the world, and forsakes the 
strong and fair. Wherefore it is said in the psalm : Tradidit 
in captivitatem virtutem eorum, et pulcritudinem eorum in manus 
inimici * ; that is to say : < Their strength has he given to bond 
age, and their fairness into the hands of their enemies. And 
in another place : Habens fiduciam in pukritudine tua y fornicata 
es 2 ; that is in English : Having trust in thy fairness, thou 
hast done fornication. 

It is of love also to melt the mind ; as it is written : Anima 
mea liquefacta est^ ut dilectus locutus est z ; that is to say : My 
soul was molten as my Love spake. Truly sweet and devout 
love melts the heart in God s sweetness, so that the will of 
man is made one with the will of God in wonderful friendship. 
In which onehood such sweetness of liking heat and song is 
inshed into a loving soul, how great the feeler cannot tell. 

Love forsooth has strength in spreading, in knitting, and 
turning. 4 In spreading 6 truly : for it spreads the beams of 
its goodness not only to friends and neighbours, but also to 
enemies and strangers. In knitting* truly : for it makes lovers 
one in deed and will ; and Christ and every holy soul it makes 

1 Ps. Irxvii. 6 1 (Ixxviii. 61). * Ezek. xvi. 15. 3 Cant. v. 6. 

* C. lufe forsoth has strength in spreding, in knytynge and 
turnynge, *.<?., a diffusive, unitive, and transformative strength. 

* i.e. t diffusion. 6 i.e., uaioa. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 81 

one. He truly that draws to God is one spirit, not in nature 
but in grace, and in onehood of will. Love has also a 
turning 1 strength, for it turns the loving into the loved, and 
ingrafts 2 him. Wherefore the heart that truly receives the 
fire of the Holy Ghost is burned all wholly and turns as it 
were into fire ; and it leads it into that form that is likest 
to God. Else had it not been said : Ego dixi dii estis et flii 
Excehi omnes* ; that is to say : C I have said ye are gods, and 
are all the children of the high God. 

Forsooth some men have so loved each other 4 that they 
nearly trowed there were but one soul in them both. 
Truly the man poor in worldly goods, though he be rich 
in mind, is far from such love. It were marvel truly if 
he that behoves ever to take and seldom or never can give, 
had a friend in the which he might trust in all things. By 
others, therefore, trowed unworthy of true love, he has a stead 
fast friend, Christ ; and of Him he can faithfully 6 ask whatso 
ever he will. Truly where man s help fails, without doubt 
God s is near. 

Nevertheless it were more profitable to the rich if he chose 
a holy poor man to his special friend, with whom he would 
share in common and gladly give him all that he had, yea 
more than the poor wills, and love him affectionately as his 
best and kindest 6 friend. Therefore Christ said unto the rich, 
* Make you friends, meaning, forsooth, the holy poor who are 
God s friends; and gladly God gives to the true lovers of 
Such poor, for their love, the joys of Paradise. Soothly I trow 
that such rich should be well pleased with their friendship ! 
But the verse now is true that saith : Pontus erit siccus cum 
pauper habebit amicum ; * The sea shall be dry when a poor man 
has a friend. 

Some rich soothly I have found giving as they thought 

1 />., transforming. 3 C. and beris in to hym. 

3 Ps. Ixxxi. 6 (Ixxxii. 6). 4 C. to-gidyr so has lufyd. 

s i.e., confidently 6 L. gratissimum. 



82 THE FIRE OF LOVE 






their meat to the holy poor, who would not give clothing or 
other necessaries, trowing it were enough if they gave but 
meat : and so they make themselves [half] friends, or in part ; 
caring no more for the friendship of the good poor than of 
the evil poor. And all things of any price that might be 
given, they save for themselves and their children. And so 
the holy poor are holden no more to them but as they are 
to others of their good-doers, that give them clothes or other 
goods. And yet, what is worse, the poor seem a full great 
burden to the rich. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

OF THE PRAISE AND MIGHT OF CHARITY: 
AND OF FORSAKING THE WORLD: AND OF 
THE WAY OF PENANCE TO BE TAKEN 



HARITY is the queen of virtue ; the fairest star ; the 
I beauty of the soul that does all these things in the soul : that 
\Jis to say, it wounds her ; makes her languish ; moistens, 
melts and makes fair ; it gladdens and enflames ; whose 
ordinate deed is full fair habit. It behoves without doubt that 
all virtue, if it be truly called virtue, be rooted in chanty. 
No virtue can be truly held that has not been set in God s 
love. Soothly he who multiplies virtues and good deeds with 
out God s love, casts as it were precious stones into a bottom 
less privy. Shown it is and known that all deeds that men do 
help not in the end to get health, if they be not done in the 
charity of God and of their neighbour. Wherefore, since it is 
charity only that makes us blessed, we ought to desire rather 
to lose our life than in mind, or mouth, or deed, defile charity. 
In this the strivers with sin joy ; in this the overcomers are 
crowned. 

Truly ilk Christian is imperfect that cleaves with love 
to earthly riches, or is joined to any worldly solace ; for he 
forsakes not all that he has, without which no man can come 
to perfection. 1 When any man truly desires to love God 
perfectly, he studies to do away all things, inward as well 

ff. Luke xiv, 33 

83 



84 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

as outward, that are contrary to God s love and let from His 
love. And that a man may do that truly he has great business, 1 
for he shall suffer great strifes in doing it : afterwards truly he 
shall find sweetest rest in that that he seeks. 

We have heard truly that the way is strait that leads 
to life. This is the way of penance that few find, the which 
therefore is called strait ; for by it, and it be right, the flesh is 
stripped 2 from unlawful solace of the world, and the soul 
is restrained from shrewd 3 pleasure and unclean thoughts, and 
is only dressed to the love of God. But this is seldom found 
in men, for nearly none savour that which belongs to God : 
but they seek earthly joy and in that they are delighted, 
wherefore following their bodily appetite, and despising their 
ghostly, they forsake all the ways that are healthful to their 
soul, and they abhor 4 them as strait, sharp, and unable to 
be borne by their lust. 

Nevertheless every mortal man ought to consider that he 
will never come to the heavenly kingdom by the way of riches 
and fleshly liking and lust, since, forsooth, it is written ot 
Christ : Quod oportuit Christum pati, et it a intrare in gloriam 
iuam 5 ; that is to say : that Christ behoved to suffer and so 
enter His joy. If we be members of our Head, Jesu Christ, 
we shall follow Him ; and if we love Christ, it behoves 
us go as He has gone ; else are we not His members, for 
from the Head we are divided. 

Truly if we be sundered from Him it is greatly to be 
dreaded, for then are we joined to the fiend, and in the last 
doom Christ is to say : C I have not known you. He, truly, 
by a noyous gate and strait way entered to heaven ; how 
should we, that are wretches and sinners, be made rich by 
the poor, and feed our lust with unlawful things and flatteries 
of this world, and all vanity and softness of flesh and desire 

1 L. diligenciam. 3 C. nakkind. 3 j.^ depraved. 

* C. vg. s Luke xxiv. 26. 






THE FIRE OF LOVE 85 

for delight, and nevertheless reign with Christ in the life 
to come ? 

Christ when He was rich for us became poor 1 i and when we 
are poor there is nothing that we so mickle covet as to be or 
seem plenteous. Christ when He was Lord of all is become 
the Servant of all : and we, whiles we are unprofitable and 
unworthy servants, yet would we be lords of all. He, when 
He was great God, is become a meek Man : and we, when we 
are sick and simple men, because of pride we raise ourselves in 
as mickle as if we were gods. He was conversant with men 
that He might raise us to the heavens : and we through 
all our life desire earthly things. 

Therefore it is shown that we love Him not, for we will not 
meek our will to His ; nor busy we to fulfil what ilk day we 
ask, saying : Fiat voluntas tua sicut in coelo et in terra ; Thy 
will be done as in Leaven and in earth. In vain forsooth such 
men trow to receive the heritage with them that are chosen ; 
for they are not partners of Christ s gainbuying, the which, by 
their wicked and unclean works, despise the blood by which 
we are gainbought, and freely yield themselves to the bondage 
of the fiend. 

x 2 Cor. viii. 9. 



CHAPTER XIX 

OF FAIRNESS OF MIND ; VANITY OF THE 
WORLD ; LOVE OF GOD ; AND UNION WITH 
OUR NEIGHBOUR : AND WHETHER PERFECT 
LOVE CAN BE LOST AND GOTTEN IN THIS 
WAY 1 

IF thou be gladdened in fairness know it well, for the 
fairness of thy mind shall make thee beloved of the 
highly Fair if for love of Him only thou keepest it 
undefiled. Soothly the corruptible flesh with all its beauty 
is full feeble and to be despised, because, soon passing, it 
beguiles all its lovers. Therefore the virtue of our life stands 
in this : that vanity being despised and spurned, we cleave 
unpartingly to truth. 

All earthly things which are desired on earth are vain ; 
true soothly are the heavenly and eternal which can not be 
seen. Ilk Christian man in this shows himself truly chosen 
of God, that he sets these earthly things at nought ; his 
desires are altogether spread 2 in God, and he receives thereof 
a privy sound of love that no man umbelapped with worldly 
desires knows, being wretchedly withdrawn from the savour 
of heavenly joy. But no marvel that the shining soul, utterly 
intent 3 to the love of the everlasting and inwardly desiring 
Christ, is wont to have his heart s capacity fulfilled with 
plenteousness of sweetness ; so that in this flesh made merry, 

1 *>., in this life=L, in uia. 2 L. dilatatur. 3 C. barely 

86 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 87 

as it were with angels life, they are gladdened with songful 
mirth. 

Therefore if our love be pure and perfect, whatever our 
heart loves it is God. Truly if we love ourself, and all other 
creatures that are to be loved, only in God and for God, what 
other in us and in them love we but Him ? For when our 
God truly is loved by us with a whole heart and all virtue, 
then, without doubt, our neighbour and all that is to be loved, 
is most rightly loved. If therefore we shed forth our heart 
before God and in the love of God being bound with Him, and 
holden 1 with God, what more is there by which we can 
love any other thing ? 

Truly in the love of God is the love of my neighbour. 
Therefore as he that loves God knows not but to love man, 
so he that truly knows to love Christ is proved to love nothing 
in himself but God. Also all that we are loved by and love 
all to God the Well of love we yield : because He commands 
that all the heart of man be given to Himself. All desires 
also, and all movings of the mind, He desires be fastened in 
Him. He forsooth that truly loves God feels nothing in his 
heart but God, and if he feel none other thing nought 
else has he ; but whatso he has he loves for God, and he 
loves nought but that God wills he should love : wherefore 
nothing but God he loves and so all his love is God. For 
sooth the love of this man is true, for he conforms himself to 
his Maker, the which has wrought all things for Himself; 
and so he loves all things for God. 

Soothly when the love of the everlasting is truly kindled 
in our souls, without doubt all vanity of this world and all 
fleshly love is held but as foulest filth ; and whiles the soul 
is given to continual devotion, she desires nothing but the 
pleasance of the Maker. Marvellously she burns in her 
self with the fire of love, that, slowly profiting and growing 

1 L. ct apud deum dctento. 



88 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

in ghostly good, henceforth she falls not into the slippery way 
and the broad that leads to death, but rather, raised up by a 
heavenly fire, she goes and ascends into contemplative life. 

Truly contemplative life is not perfectly gotten of any 
man in this vale of tears, even a little, unless first his heart 
[is inflamed from its depths with the torches of eternal love 
so that 1 ] he feels it burn with the fire of love, and his con 
science he knows molten with heavenly sweetness. So no 
marvel a man is truly made contemplative whiles both 
tasting sweetness and feeling burning he nearly dies for the 
greatness of love. And therefore he is fastened in the halsing, 
as it were bodily, of endless love ; for contemplating unceasingly 
with all his desire, he busies him to go up to see that 
undescried 2 light. Forsooth such a man knows to grant no 
comfort in his soul but God s, in whose love now languish 
ing to the end of his life he is made to desire, crying 
grievously with the psalmist : Quando veniam et apparebo ante 
faciem Dei ? 3 that is to say : When shall I come and appear 
before the face of my God ? 

This is perfect love. But it may not incongruously be asked 
whether this standing in love, once had, may at any time be 
lost. Truly whiles man can sin he can lose charity ; but 
not to be able to sin belongs not to the state of this way but 
of the country above 4 : wherefore ilk man, howsoever holy he 
be in this life, yet he can sin and mortally ; for the dregs of 
sin are fully slakened in no pilgrim of this life after common 
law. Truly if there were any such the which neither desire 
nor could be tempted, they should belong to the state of 
heaven rather than of this way ; nor were it of meed to them 
not to default, whiles they can not sin. [I wot not] if any 
such be living anywhere in flesh [for, I speak for myselr, 
the flesh] desires against the spirit, and the spirit against 
the flesh 5 ; and after the inward man I am glad in God s 

1 note xxxii. * L. incircumscriptum. 3 p s . xlii. a. 

4 L. non est in statu vie, set patric. * Gal. v. 17. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 89 

law, 1 but I know not yet so mickle love that I could utterly 
ilake all fleshly desire. 

Nevertheless I trow that there is a degree of perfect 
love, the which whosoever attains he shall never afterwards 
lose. For truly it is one thing to be able to lose, and 
mother alway to hold, what he will not leave although he can. 

The perfect truly abstain themselves, as mickle as in them 
is, from ilk thing by which their perfection can be destroyed 
3r else let. Truly with the freeness of their list 2 they 
are fulfilled with the grace of God, with which they are 
busily stirred to love, to speak and do good ; and they are 
withdrawn from ill of heart, mouth, and work. 

When man is therefore perfectly turned to Christ he 
despises all passing things, and he fastens himself immovably 
to the desire only of his Maker, as far as he is let 3 by 
mortality because of the corruption of the flesh. Then no 
marvel, manly using his might, first the heaven as it were 
being opened, with the eye of his understanding he beholds 
the citizens of heaven ; and afterward he feels sweetest heat as 
it were a burning fire. Then he is imbued with marvellous 
sweetness, and henceforth he is joyed by a songly noise. 

This therefore is perfect charity, which no man knows 
but he that receives it ; and he that has received never leaves 
it : sweetly he lives, and sickerly shall he die. 

1 C. lufc ; cf. Rom. vii. 22, and see note xxxiii. 

* i.e., choice = L. arbitrii. 3 i t g. t allowed. 



CHAPTER XX 

OF THE PROFIT AND WORTHINESS OF 
PRAYER AND MEDITATION 

/CONSTANT prayer helps mickle to get and hold to 

this stableness of mind ; for if it be grounded in mind 

v^it undoes the might of fiends. Though God truly 

knows all things, and before we ask anything He knows 

perfectly what we will ask, yet we ought to pray for 

many causes. 

Because Christ gave example to us to pray when He 
nighted 1 alone on the hill in prayer. And because it is the 
commandment of the Apostle, Sine intermissione orate. Oportet 
i*iim or are, et non deficere? Withouten ceasing pray ye. 
Soothly it behoves to pray, and not to fail. 

Also that we may be worthy of grace in this life, and joy 
in time to come : wherefore c Ask and ye shall receive. He 
that asks receives, and to the caller 3 it shall be opened. 4 

Also because the angels offer our prayers to God to help 
their fulfilment. Truly thoughts and desires are bare and 
open only to God ; yet angels know when saints think worthy 
and holy things and are inflamed greatly with the love of 
eternal life, by God s showing and by the experience of their 
outward deeds, because they see them serve God only. 
Wherefore the angel said to Daniel : Vir deslderiorum es. b ( A 
man thou art of desires. 

1 L. pernoctauit. 2 I Thess. v. 17 ; Luke xviii. i. 

3 In A. knocken is written in the margin. 4 Luke xi. 9, 10. 

5 Dan. ix. 23 ; r. n. 

90 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 91 

Also because by the continuance of prayer the soul is burnt 
nth the fire of God s love ; our Lord truly says by His 
rophet : Nonne verba mea quasi ignis, et quasi malleus conterens 
etras? 1 Are not my words as burning fire, and as a 
lallet breaking stones ? The psalm also says : Ignitum 
loquium tuum vehementer 3 ; * thy speech is hugely burned. 

But there are many [now] that forthwith cast out the word 
f God from the mouth and heart, not suffering it there to 
est in them ; and therefore they are not burnt with the 
eat of comfort but bide cold in sloth and negligence, even 
fter innumerable prayers and meditation of scripture, because 
Drsooth they neither pray nor meditate in mind ; whiles 
thers that put back all sloth are within a short while greatly 
urned, and in Christ s love full strong. 

Therefore it follows full well : Et servus tuus dilexit illud ; 
hat is to say : And Thy servant has loved it. Therefore 
ruly is he burned because Thy word, Lord, he loved ; that 
5 to say to ponder, 3 and after it to work. Thee he has 
ought sooner than Thine, [and has received of Thee both 
Thee and Thine. Others serve Thee in order to have 
Thine] 4 and for Thee they care little. Truly they feign they 
vould be under Thy service, to get worldly honour and to 
eem glorious among men ; but whiles they joy to have 
bund a few things, they lose many ; because of Thee and 
Thine, and themselves and theirs. 

It also behoves us to pray that we may be saved ; therefore 
fames warns, saying : Orate pro invicem ut saheminif c Pray for 
/ourselves, that ye be saved. 

Also that we be not made slow, 6 and that we be con 
tinually occupied in good : therefore it is said : Vigilate 
it orate ne intretis in temptationemj that is to say : c Wake ye 

1 Jer. xxiii. 39. * Ps. cxviii. 140 (cxix. 140). 

3 C. to se =3 L. meditari. * note xxxiv. $ Jas. v. 16. 

slothful. 7 Matt. xxvi. 41. 



92 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. Truly w 
ought ever to pray or read or meditate, with other profitabl 
deeds, that our enemy never find us idle. 

But it must be taken heed to with all busyness that w 
wake 1 in prayer, that is to say not be lulled by vain thoughts 
that withdraw the mind and make it forget whither it i 
bound and alway let, if they can, to overcome the effect o 
devotion ; the which the mind of the pray-er would perceiv< 
if he prayed with wakefulness, busyness and desire. 

1 i.e., watch. 

3 C. with handis ]?oghts not be ended = L. inanibus cogita- 
cionibus non sopiamur. 



CHAPTER XXI 

THAT CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE IS WORTHIER 
AND MEEDFULLER THAN ACTIVE. AND OF 
BOTH PRELACY AND PREACHING 

BY some truly it is doubted which life is more meedful and 
better ; contemplative or active. It seems to not a few 
that active is meedfuller because of the many deeds and 
teachings that it uses. But these err unknowingly, for they 
.now not the virtue of contemplative. Yet there are many 
ctive better than some contemplative ; but the best contem- 
ilative are higher than the best active. 

Therefore we say the contemplative life is altogether the 
tetter, the sweeter, the more worthy, and the more meedful as 
o the true meed, 1 that is joy of the un wrought good, because 
the contemplative) more burningly loves God. And more 
jrace is asked if contemplative life be led rightly, than active. 

The reason of more fervent love in contemplative life [than 
n active is because in contemplative] they are in rest of mind 
ind body, and therefore they taste the sweetness of eternal, 
)efore all mortal love. The active truly serve God in labour 
ind outward running about, and tarry but little in inward 
rest, wherefore they can not be delighted save seldom and 
.hortly ; the contemplative soothly love as if they were con- 
:inually within the halsing of their Beloved. 

Forsooth some gainsetting 2 say : active life is more fruitful ; 
:br it does works of mercy, it preaches and works other such 



1 C. als enens verray meed. 2 opposing. 

93 



; 



94 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

deeds ; wherefore it is more meritorious. I say, nay, far sucl 
works belong to accidental reward, that is, joy of the thiri| 
wrought. And so one that shall be taken into the order o 
angels can have some meed that he that shall be in the orde 
of cherubim or seraphim shall not have ; that is to say joy o 
some good deed that he did in this life, the which another 
that without comparison surpasses in God s love did not 
Also ofttimes it happens that some one of less meed is good, 
and preaches ; and another preaches not, that mickle more 
loves. Is not this one better because he preaches ? No ; but 
the one that loves more is higher and better, although he be 
less in preaching he shall have some meed, because he 
preached not, that the greater 1 was not worthy of. 

Therefore it is shown that man is not holier or higher for 
the outward works that he does. Truly God that is the* 
Beholder of the heart rewards the will more than the deed. 
The deeds truly hang on the will, not the will on the deeds. 
For the more burningly that a man loves, in so mickle he 
ascends to a higher reward. 

Truly, in true contemplative men, there is a full sweet heat 
and the plenteousness of God s love abiding, from the which a 
joyful sound is sent into them with untrowed mirth ; and this 
is never found in active men in this life, because they take not 
heed only to heavenly things, so that they might be worthy to 
joy in Jesu. And therefore active life is worthily put behind ; 
and contemplative life, in this present and in the life to come 
is worthily preferred. 

Wherefore in the litter 2 of the true Solomon the pillars 
are of silver and the resting-place of gold. 3 The pillars of 
the chair are the strong upbearers and the good governors of 
holy kirk ; these are of silver, for in conversation they are 
clear and in preaching full of sound. 4 The gold resting-place 

1 C. )?e more. C. meetbuyrd ; note xxxv. 

3 Cant. iii. 9. * L. sonori. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 95 

ire contemplative men ; on the which, being in high rest, 
Christ especially rests His Head, and they forsooth in Him 
ingularly rest. These are of gold, for they are purer and 
learer in honesty of living, and are redder in burning of 
oving and contemplating. 

God forsooth has foreordained His chosen to fulfil divers 
services. It is not given truly to ilk man to execute or fulfil 
ill offices, but ilk man has that that is most according to his 
.itate. Wherefore the Apostle says : Unicuique nostrum data 
?st gracia secundum mensuram donationis Christi 1 ; that is to 
>ay: To ilk one of us is grace given after the measure of 
Christ s gift. 

Some truly do alms of righteously gotten goods ; others to 
their death 2 defend the truth; others clearly and strongly 
preach God s word, and others show their preaching in their 
writing ; others suffer for God great penance and wretchedness 
in this life ; others, by the gift of contemplation, are only 
busy to God 3 and set themselves straitly to love Christ. But 
without doubt, among all estates that are in the kirk, they that 
.are become contemplative joy with a special gift : they are 
now worthy with singing to joy in God s love. 

Truly if any man might get both lives, that is to say 
contemplative and active, and keep and fulfil them, he were 
full great ; that he might fulfil bodily service, and nevertheless 
feel the heavenly sound in himself, and be melted in singing 
into the joy of heavenly love. I wot not if ever any mortal 
man had this. To me it seems impossible that both should be 
together. 

Christ truly in this respect 4 is not to be numbered among 
men, nor His blest Mother among women. For Christ had 
no wandering 5 thoughts, and He was not contemplative in a 
common manner, as saints in this life are contemplative ; truly 

1 Eph. iv. 7. a L. vsque ad mortem. 

3 L. soli deo vacant. * C. party. 

5 C. scrithyng = L. volubiles. 



96 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

He needed not to labour as we need, because, from the 
beginning of His Conceiving, He saw God. 

No marvel by great exercise of ghostly works there comes 
into us a songful joy, and we receive the sweetest sound from 
heaven; and so henceforward we desire to stand 1 in rest, 
that with great sweetness we may joy. Therefore he that 
serves active life well is busy to go up to contemplative life. 

He who truly is raised in the manner aforesaid with the gift 
of heavenly contemplation, comes not down to active ; unless 
peradventure he be compelled to take governance of Christians : 
that I trow has seldom or never happened. 2 But other 
contemplatives can well be chosen for that, because they are 
less imbued with heat of love. Forsooth lesser saints are 
sometimes more able than greater for the office of prelacy, 
because they that could not rest perfectly in inward desires 
shall behave themselves more accordingly about outward 
business. 

1 L. persistere. a note xxxvi. 3 i.e., governance. 



CHAPTER XXII 

THE BURNING OF LOVE PURGES VICES 
AND STNS: AND OF THE TOKENS OF 
TRUE FRIENDSHIP 

THE burning of love truly taken into a soul purges all 
vices; it voids 1 both too mickle and too little, and plants 2 
the beauty of all virtues. It never stands with deadly sin, 
and if it do with venial yet nevertheless the moving and desire 
of love in God can be so burning that they waste all venial 
sins, without also thinking in deed 3 of these same venial sins : 
for whilst the true lover is borne to God with strong and 
fervent desire, all things displease him that withdraw him from 
the sight of God. Truly whiles he is gladdened by songlyjoy, 
his heart may not express what he feels of heavenly things, 
and therefore he languishes for love. 

Perfect men also never bear what may be burned to the life 
to come, for in the heat of Christ s love all their sins are 
wasted. But lest any man ween himself perfect in vain when 
he is not, let him hear when a man has perfection in himself. 

This truly is the life of the Perfect : to cast away all charge 
of worldly errands 4 ; to forsake father and mother and all thy 
goods for Christ ; to despise all passing goods, for endless life ; 
to destroy worldly desires with long labour ; as far as it is 
possible to refrain from lechery and all unlawful movings ; 
; to burn only in the love of our Maker ; after bitter sorrows 
and surpassing busyness in ghostly works, to feel the sweetness 
of heavenly contemplation : and so, I speak of men privileged, 

1 L. euacuat. 2 C. settis. 3 i.e., actually. 4 j mfmt business 

H 97 



98 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

for the joy of God s love, to be taken by contemplation into 
ghostly song or heavenly sound, and to bide sweetly in inward 
rest, all disturbances being put aback, in so mickle that whiles 
it is lawful to the man of God to work nothing outward, he is 
taken within to sing the sweetness of eternal love in songs of 
delight and unmeasured mirth. 1 Thus, no marvel, that he shall 
have sweetness in mind such as the angels have in heaven ; 
although not so mickle. 

Soothly in this wise is man made perfect ; and he shall not 
need to be purged with fire after this life, who, being in the 
flesh, burns burningly with the fire of the Holy Ghost. And 
yet this perfect love makes not a man ay not to sin, but that 
sin lasts not in him but is wasted forthwith by the fire of love. 

Truly such a lover of Jesus Christ says not his prayers 
like other righteous men, for, set in righteous mind, 2 and 
ravished above himself by the love of Christ, he is taken into 
marvellous mirth, and a goodly sound is shed into him, so that 
he as it were sings his prayers with notes ; also offering with 
his mouth melody that, though hidden from human sense, 3 is full 
bright to God and to himself. Strength and ghostly virtue have 
now truly so mickle overcome in him heaviness of the flesh 
that he can be ay glad in Christ ; whose heart, turned into fire 
of love, feels verily heavenly heat, so that he can scarcely with 
life bear the greatness of such burning love. But the goodness 
of God keeps him until the time ordained ; the which gave it 
him that he so mickle might love, and truly say, * I languish 
for love. 

As the Seraphim burned, he burns and loves ; he sings and 
joys, he praises and grows warm ; and the more pleasing he is, 
the hotter he burns in love. He not only dreads not death, 
but he is glad to die with the Apostle : Mihi, inquit, Christm 
vivere vita est, et morl gaudiumf that is o say : * Christ to me 
is life ; and to die great joy ; etc. 

1 note xxxvii. 2 note xxxviii. 

3 C fro man s feling hyd. 4 Phil. i. 21. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

THAT PERFECT LOVE MINGLES NOTHING 
WITH GOD : AND WHY. AND THAT IT IS 
NEEDFUL TO LOVE : AND OF THE BLINDNESS 
OF FLESHLY LOVE 

IF we perfectly forsake the filth of sins and the vices of this 
world, we love nothing but God. In our neighbour what 
love we but God, when we will to love him only for God 
and in God ? How truly should God be all in all if anything 
were in man beside His love ? No man truly has joy unless 
he loves the good. 

The more therefore that a man loves God, no marvel the 
more plenteously he shall joy in Him; because the more busily 
and fervently we desire anything, it being gotten, the more 
heartily we joy. Therefore truly has a man joy because he 
has God ; and God truly is that Joy : the which forsooth none 
of them have that seek anything besides God. For if I desire 
anything for myself, and I set not my God as the end of that 
desire, sicker it is that I have made a traitor of myself, and my 
hidden guilt is openly shown. 

God truly will be loved in this wise : that no man be 
mingled with Him in His love. For if thou dividest thy heart 
and dreadest not to love another thing with Him, without 
doubt know well that thy love is forsaken of God ; the which 
vouchsafes not for to behold a part of love. All the whole 
truly or nought He takes ; for He gainbought the whole. 
For in the sin of Father Adam forsooth thy body and thy 

99 



ioo THE FIRE OF LOVE 

soul were damned ; wherefore God is come down into i\ 
Maiden s body and become man, and has given the price oij 
thy deliverance, that not only He might deliver thy soul from; 
the power of the fiends, but also He might make thy bod) 
with thy soul blessed at the end of the world. Therefore thou 
hast the commandments of eternal life. If thou wilt enter the: 
kingdom, lost, and after reparalled 1 with Christ s Blood, itj 
behoves thee to keep God s commandments. 

And truly as thou desirest after thy death to ascend into 
full and perfect joy, so it behoves thee in this life to have mind, 
to love God with a whole and perfect heart. Else as now 
thou art not given to God s love, so then not perfect joy but; 
endless torment shalt thou have. For truly whiles thou 1 
takest not heed to thy Maker with whole love and mind, thou 
art proved soothly to love some creature of God more than is 
honest or lawful. A soul can not be reasonable without love 
whiles it is in this life : wherefore the love thereof is the foot of 
the soul, by which, after this pilgrimage, it is borne to God or 
the fiend ; that it may be subject to him whose will here it 
served. 

Nothing truly can be loved but for the goodness that it 
has, or else seems that it has, [and which is either in the loved 
or certainly thought to be in that] 2 that is loved. Herefore 
truly it is that lovers of bodily beauty or worldly riches are 
beguiled as it were by witchcraft ; for delight is not 
those things the which we think we feel or see, nor the joy 
that is feigned, nor the good name that we give it. 3 

No man therefore more damnably forgets his soul than he 
that sets his eye on woman for lechery ; truly whilst the sight 
of the eye kindles the soul, anon from the things seen thought 
enters and engenders desire in the heart, and defiles the inward 
beauty. Wherefore suddenly with burning of a noyous fire 

1 i.e., repaired = L. recuperatum. 2 note xxxix. 

3 L. aut fama que captatur. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 101 

it is umbelapped and blinded, that it may not see the sentence 
of the strait 1 Judge. And thus the soul, taken from heavenly 
sight by evil and unclean love, stints 2 not to show tokens of 
her error ; and unless she may bring forth the filth that is con 
ceived, she mistrusts of her prosperity. 

Filth forsooth she conceived, that is to say wicked desire ; 
thereby shall wickedness worthily be brought forth, because 
the soul the sooner slides to slippery lust inasmuch as she takes 
no heed to the great peril in which she errs. The dooms of 
God are withdrawn also from her face. 3 Whiles truly she 
begins to take pleasure in fleshly desires, she sees not into how 
great a pit of wretchedness she casts herself. 

Soothly the doom of God is that he who wilfully despised 
God, casting himself down into deadly sin, shall, God deeming, 
unwillingly be damned after this life. In the time to come 
truly he can not defend himself from the pains of hell, that, set 
in this life, would not, when he could, with all his power for 
sake deadly sins, and wholly hate all wickedness. 

1 i.e. 9 strict. 2 ceases. 

3 L. Auferuntur itaque iudicia dei a facie eius. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

OF THE STINK OF LECHERY AND THE PERIL 
OF TOUCHING : AND OF THE CURSEDNESS OF 
COVETOUSNESS : AND OF UNGODLY GLADNESS 

WHILES a man weds not for pure love of God and 
virtue and chastity, but is busy to live in chastity and 
in array of all virtue, doubtless he gets to himself a 
great name in heaven ; for as he ceases not to love God here, 
so in heaven he shall never cease from His praising. Wedlock 
soothly is good in itself; but when men constrain themselves 
under the band of matrimony for the fulfilling of their lust> 
they turn forsooth good into ill, and whereby they ween to 
profit, thereof they cease not to be worse. Whosoever loves ; 
wedlock for this intent, because by it he trows he may be rich, j 
is, without doubt, busy to loose the bridle of wantonness ; and; 
overflowing in lust and riches, he joys full mickle to have; 
found medicine for his slippery flesh. 

There are forsooth froward men that love their wives 
unmannerly for their beauty; and the sooner their bodily 
strength is broken the more loose are they to fulfil their 
bodily lust. For the more lust they have the sooner they fail, 
and whiles they have prosperity they perish ; and whiles they 
are busy to be fed with lust, they wretchedly lose strength off 
body and mind. 

Nothing soothly is more perilous, fouler and more stinking 
for man than to put 1 his mind on woman s love, and desire her 

1 L. cffundere. 
ioa 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 103 

as blissful rest. No marvel what before he desired with mickle 
anguish as great bliss, after the deed straightway waxes foul. 
Afterward he knows truly that he has --cowardly gone wrong 
in such lust, when he perceives lust so short and dis-eases 
long. For it is shown that he was strongly bound with a foul 
band of feeble vanity. But because he would not turn to 
God with all his heart, he knew not his wretchedness until the 
time he felt it ; and therefore he fell into the pit of bondage, 
because he beheld not the seat of joy. If truly he had felt 
one drop of the sweetness of eternal life, never should fleshly 
fairness that is beguiling and vain grace have appeared so 
sweet to his mind. But alas ! he takes no heed how stinking 
and odious is his wretched lust in the sight of God Almighty, 
and in his conscience he sees not himself beguiled. 

No man certainly can be given to uncleanness of the flesh 
unless he err from the ways of righteousness. Truly whiles the 
fire of earthly love ceases not to inflame man s mind, no 
marvel it wastes in it all the moisture of grace, and making it 
both void and dry, it alway increases its heat ; and from the 
fire of covetousness kindles the fire of lechery. And so the 
thrall soul, marvellously mazed, covets nothing but fleshly 
desires, or to increase riches, and, making his end in them, 
labours alway to get new things ; and he sees not those pains 
that he goes to because he cared 1 not for God s words and His 
commandments. And because he desires only these outward 
joys, and is blinded to the inward and unseen, as it were 
. sightless he goes to the fire. And truly when the unhappy 
soul shall pass from the body, she shall know perfectly in the 
Showing 2 how wretched she was ; the which trowed herself, 
whiles she was in the flesh, not only guiltless, but also happy. 

In ilk thing therefore cleanness of mind more than of body 

is to be cared for ; for certain it is less wicked to touch the 

flesh of woman with bare hands than to be defiled with 

* i./. t took no heed to, i.e. t Judgment, 



104 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

wicked lust in mind. Truly if we touch women and think 
nothing evil in heart it ought not to be called sin, although 
through it temptation of the flesh sometimes arises ; for man 
falls not into evil whiles his mind is steadfast in God. 

Whiles the heart of the toucher is caught by divers desires, 
or is bowed in evil sweetness, and he is (not) straightway 
refrained by the love of God and steadfastness in virtue, know 
without doubt that that man has the sin of uncleanness within 
himself, though he be never so far not only from women but 
also from men. And forsooth if a true man be united with an 
untrue woman, it is full near that his mind be turned to 
untruth. Truly it is the manner of women that when they 
feel themselves loved out of measure by men, they beguile 
men s hearts by cherishing flattery ; and they draw to those 
things that their wicked will stirred up, the which before they 
assayed by open speech. 

Solomon soothly was wise and true to God for a while, but 
afterward, for the too mickle love by which he drew to women, 
he failed most foully in steadfastness and in the commandments 
of God ; the more worthy to be grievously smitten in that he, 
set in great wisdom, suffered himself to be overcome by a fond 
woman. Let no man therefore flatter himself, and no man 
presume to say of himself I am sicker, I do not dread, the world 
can not beguile me ; whilst thou hearestof the wisest man the 
unwittiest deed. 

Covetousness is also ghostly fornication ; for the covetous 
heart, for the love of peace, opens his bosom to the strumpetry 
of the fiend. When God was loved before the love of money, 
as very Spouse, and afterward He is forsaken because of 
unclean love and wicked wooers received, what else is done 
but fornication and idolatry ? Be we therefore busy to keep 
our hearts clean in the sight of God Almighty, and to destroy 
venomous delectations ; and if anything have been done in our 
heart by frailty, let nothing now be shown before God but 
perfectness. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 105 

Sometimes truly we are hated by some men for mickle 
lirth, and sometimes we joy in words and laughter, and 
Ithough this, and more such, may be done with a clean soul 
efore God, nevertheless before men we know well it is taken 
nd expounded ill ; and therefore moderation is to be had ; and 
hat we keep ourselves wisely [nor place ourselves] where we 
row we can do ought that is like evil. 

It is good for the servants of Christ to be near God, because 
i desire for Him they receive the heat of the fire of the Holy 
jhost ; and they sing the sweetness of endless love with 
weetest heavenly sound like to honey. Wherefore melliflui 
icti sunt c<zli : that is to say : * the heavens are made sweet as 
oney, that is to mean : saints that so burningly have loved 
Christ, knowing that He has suffered so mickle for them. 
Vhence truly the minds of the saints are knitted to endless 
3ve, unable to be loosed ; and although ravished as it were 
ly the sweetness of heavenly life, by a melody as it were felt 
efore, are gladdened in that. 



CHAPTER XXV 

OF PERFECT LOVE: AND WHAT MUST BE 
HAD FOR GHOSTLY JOY : AND OF LOVE 
AND CORRECTION 

EXCELLENCE of meed stands in greatness of love ; soi 
that a lover burns with ever burning fire and is fulfilled 
within with heavenly sweetness. He truly that loves 
most shall be set highest in heaven. For this love is in the 
heart, and the more it loves God the more joy it feels in itself. 
They err therefore that but seldom and shortly have the joy 
of love, and that trow they love as mickle as he that is fed, 1 
as it were all day, with the sweetness of love. Some truly 
love with difficulty and some with ease, but the love of God is 
the more blessed in that it be light 2 ; the lighter, the heartier; 
the quicker, the sweeter ; the sweeter, the more. Truly it is* 
greater in resters than in labourers ; therefore they that j 
continually rest and fervently love are higher than they that 
some time take heed to rest, and some time to other occu 
pations. 3 

Nothing truly is better than love, nothing sweeter than 
holy charity. For to be loved and to love is a sweet change ; 
the delight of all man s life, and of angel s, and of God s ; 
and also the meed of all blessedness. If therefore thou 
desirest to be loved, love ; for love gainyields itself. No 

1 L. debriatur. /./., easy. > L. ad ministranda exterior*, 

fl 






THE FIRE OF LOVE 107 



man has ever lost by good love [who keeps in view the 
end of love]. Soothly he that knows not to burn in love 
knows not to be glad . Therefore never is a man more 
blessed than he that is borne without himself by the might 
of love, and by the greatness of God s love receives within 
himself a songful swet^iess of everlasting praising. 

But this happens not anon to every man ; but when a man, 
turned to God, marvellously exercises himself and has cast 
away all desire for worldly vanity ; then God sheds into His 
lovers that unspoken praising. The mind truly disposed to 
cleanness, receives from God the thought of eternal love ; and 
soothly clean thought rises up to ghostly song. Clearness of 
heart, certain, is worthy to have heavenly sound ; and so that 

.God s praising should bide in ghostly joy, the soul is warmed 

iwith God s fire, and is gladdened with full marvellous 

I delight. 

But although a man forsake the world perfectly ; and 
busily take heed to prayer, waking, and fasting ; and have 
cleanness of conscience, so that he desire to die for heavenly 
joy, and to be dissolved and be with Christ ; unless his mind 

i be fully knit unto Christ, and it lasts in desires and thoughts 

iof love the which are certain and endlessly intent 
and which thoughts, wherever he be, sitting or going, he 

; meditates within himself without ceasing, desiring nothing 
but Christ s love ; he else soothly receives not the heavenly 

. sound, nor in ghostly song shall he sing JESU, nor His praise, 
in mind or mouth. 

Pride forsooth destroys many ; when they trow they have 
done aught that others have not, anon they bear themselves 
before others, and they that are better than themselves they 
put behind. But, know it well, he himself knows not love 
that presumes to despise common nature in his brother ; for 
he does wrong to his own condition that knows not his right 
in another. He that honours not the community of nature 

in his neighbour, defiles the law of man s fellowship. 



io8 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

In this many men err from the love of God, nor know they 
how to come to His love because they study not to love their 
brother as they are bound. And soothly they either leave 
the sinner uncorrected, or if they correct or snib 1 the sinner, 
with so great sharpness and fierceness they speak that oft 
they that they snib are made, by their \ _rds, worse than they 
are. Truly with meekness they should speak, that by sweet 
words they might win those that sharp correcting would 
make worse. 

1 rebuke. 






CHAPTER XXVI 

OF THE SIGHINGS, DESIRE, AND MEEKNESS OF 
A PERFECT LOVER : AND OF THE DIFFERENCE 
BETWEEN WORLDLY LOVE AND GODLY : AND 
ALSO OF MEDITATION 

THE voice of the soul languishing with endless love bears 
the likeness of the seeker of His Maker, saying: Osculetur 
me osculo oris sui 1 ; that is to say: the Godhead might 
*lad me with knitting me to His Son. Therefore for love I 
ong ; because whom I love with all my mind I desire to 
;ee in His fairness. In the meanwhile, truly, in the labour 
ind strife of my pilgrimage, I beseech He make me glad with 
iweetness of His love ; and unto the time I can clearly see 
ny Beloved, I shall think of His full sweet Name, holding 
t, joying, in my mind. 

And no marvel that he be glad thereof in this life that has 
ust ever to fulfil the desires of His Maker. Nothing is 
; iierrier than JESU to sing, nothing more delightful than 
[ESU to hear. Hearing it truly mirths the mind ; and song 
ip-lifts it. And truly, whiles I want this, sighing, and heavy 
is it were with hunger and thirst, think myself forsaken. 
Forsooth when I feel the halsing and kissing of my Love, 
vith untold delight as it were I overflow ; whom true lovers, 
or love only of His unmeasured goodness, set before all things. 
Doming therefore into me, He comes inshedding perfect 

1 Cant, i. i (i. 2). 
109 



no THE FIRE OF LOVE 

love. My heart also He refreshes, giving continuance ; x Ht 
warms me, and also makes fat, all lettings to love putting 
away. 

Who then shall say that he must fall into stinking un- 
cleanness of flesh, whom Christ has vouchsafed to fulfil 
with the sweetness of heavenly contemplation. Therefore 
henceforward it is sung : Laetabimur in te, memores uberun>\ 
tuorum super vinum. 2 As who says : We desire to worship 
and joy in Thee ; in Thy gladness we are merry, forsaking the 
lust and riches of worldly vanity, the which so beguile theii 
lovers, that they know not the noy they suffer. And although 
we may not yet see Thy Face, nevertheless so hotly wf 
desire Thee, that though we should live for ever we should 
seek none other love. For the longer we live the hotter wt 
desire Thee, and the more joy we feel in Thy love, anc : 
painfully we hie 3 to Thee ; for to Thy lovers noyous thing*, 
pass, and mirth in ghostliness 4 follows. That soul truly 
good JESU that loves Thee, would rather choose to suffeii 
a horrible death than consent to any sin. 

Nor soothly does he love Christ perfectly that dreads anj| 
but Christ ; whiles all things turn to good to God s lovers 
Perfect love overcomes pain, and also threats, because it feels! 
no dread of any creature; it puts away all pride, and meeklj 
gives stead to ilk thing ; whereof it is said : Recti diligunt tej\ 
that is : c Righteous men love Thee/ The righteous are thci 
meek, loving truly, forgetting nothing, and though they stanci 
in high perfection they behave themselves most meekly ir 
mind and deed. And so ilk true lover may say within 
himself: Ilk man passes me in despising the world, and hate; 
of sin ; in desire for the heavenly kingdom ; in sweetness 
and heat of Christ s love, and brotherly charity : some flourish; 

1 i.e., perseverance. 2 Cant. i. 3 (i. 4). 

3 i.e., hasten, but L. reads : anxiusque ad te suspiramus, 

4 i.e., ghostly things. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE in 

n virtue ; some shine in miracles ; some are raised by the 
^ift of heavenly contemplation ; and some seek the secrets 1 of 
cripture. When I behold the worthy life of so many, 
aethinks I am as right nought, and among all others 
owest. 

Therefore the righteous flee full fast all earthly encum 
brances, only drawing unto everlasting joys ; in desire for all 
j mporal things they greatly fail, and they rise with a high list 2 
fi God s love. And it is worthily said they love God ; for 
;oing in the right way and the plain of shining charity, they 
eek nor savour nothing but Christ. To whose contraries it 
> said by the psalmist : Obscurentur ot,ull :rum ne videant, et 
\orsum eorum semper incurva* ; that is to say : * Their eyes be 
Sim that they see not, and their back bow thou always, so that 
hey only take heed to earthly things ; everlasting putting 
Behind. And therefore God s wrath is shed on them and 
iighteous vengeance, with great fierceness of umbelapping 
orments. The righteous forsooth putting back all feigned- 
kess of heart, mouth, and deed, tent 4 to joy without ceasing 
^i the sight of God ; and they bow themselves not to the 
bve of void vanity, that, in their pilgrimage, they be not dis- 
lurbed from the path of righteousness. 

i He therefore that desires to please Christ will do nothing, 
pr good nor ill, against Christ s will. Full horrible it is to go 
hto the fire of hell ; but more to be hated is it to will to 
lave lust in sin, because of which he may lose Christ for 
ivermore. 

t Forsooth a soul parted from worldly vices, and sundered 
rom venomous sweetness of the flesh ; being given to 
leavenly desires, and as it were ravished, enjoys a marvellous 
tiirth ; because she feels now the gladness of the Beloved s 
Dve, so that she may contemplate more clearly, and desire 
nore likingly. Also at this time the mouth of the Spouse 

1 C. preuctys. a /.*., desire. 

3 Ps. Ixviii. 24 (Ixix. 23). * i.e.. endeavour. 



cv 

1 



ii2 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

and His sweetest kissing she asks, saying with voice : 
* All earthly things are irksome to me : I feel the love of my 
Beloved ; I taste the moisture of His marvellous comfort ; 
busily I yearn after that sweetness so that I fail not, being 
put far from Him by temptation ; Love makes me hardy 
call Him that I love best, that He, comforting me an 
filling me, might kiss me with the kissing of His mouth. 

Truly the more I am lift from earthly thoughts, the me, 
I feel the sweetness desired ; the more fleshly desires aft 
slakened, the truelier everlasting are kindled. I beseech He 
kiss me with the sweetn^:; 01 His refreshing love, straitly 
halsing me by the kissing of His mouth so that I fail not, 
and putting grace in me that I may continually grow in love. 
As children are nourished with their mother s milk, so chosen 
souls, burning in love, are fed with heavenly delight, by the 
which they shall be brought to the sight of the everlasting 
clearness. 

Truly the delights of Christ s love are sweeter than all 
the delights of the world, and of fleshly savour. Forsooth all 
imaginations of fleshly lust and all plenteousness of worldly 
riches is but wretchedness and abomination in comparison 
with the least sweetness that is shed by God into a chosen soul. 
As great difference as is betwixt the sweetness of the highest 
plenty of worldly riches and the greatest need of worldly 
poverty, so infinitely more 1 is it betwixt the sweetness 
of Thy love, my God, and the lust of worldly joy that 
fleshly men desire and go about, and in the which only they 
joy : for nought of Thy love they feel, in whom alone they 
should be glad. 

Ghostly gifts truly dress 2 a devout soul to love burningly ; 
to meditate sweetly ; to contemplate highly ; to pray 
devoutly, and praise worthily ; to desire JESU only, to wash 
the mind from filth of sins ; to slaken fleshly desires ; [and 

1 C. more differcns with-owtin end. 2 i.e., direct. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 113 

o despise all earthly things] and to paint the wounds and 
Christ s cross in mind ; and, with an unwearied desire, with 
esire 1 to sigh for the sight of the most glorious Clearness. 
Such are the precious ointments with which a hallowed 
oul is best anointed and made fair with God s love. 

1 C. dissyringly syght ; but L. anhelando suspirare. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

OF TRUE MEEKNESS AND ADVERSITY : AND 
OF THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS : AND OF 
THE MANNER OF GHOSTLY PROFITING : AND 
OF THINKING ON CHRIST S PASSION 

THE very meek behold not other men s sins, but their 
own ; and not their good deeds, but other men s they 
praise. The rejected truly do the reverse ; for they see 
rather other men s sins than their own, and in comparison 
they count their own sins as little or none ; but their good 
deeds if any happen they praise before all others, whose 
goodness they desire to lessen if they cannot fully destroy it. 

Two things have I been heavy to hear : one was when they 
praised me, wretched, whom I knew only as despised ; another, 
when I saw my neighbour, the which I loved in God and for 
God, reproved or with slander backbitten. Nevertheless thou 
that forsakest the world and art busy to follow Christ ini 
poverty, be busy to know thyself ; for truly if thou forsakest 
the deeds and desires of the world, thou bindest thyself to 5 
suffer worldly dis-eases gladly for Christ, and truly to flee wealth 
strongly. If, forgetting, thou takest no heed to this, thou goest 
beguiled from Christ s love. 

Therefore marvel not though thou be noyed with divers and 
many temptations ; for if thou withstand steadfastly, thou 
shalt be dearer and sweeter before God. Have in mind that 

God provfes His own as gold is proved by fire. They truly 

114 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 115 

:hat inwardly feel the sweetness of Christ s love, gladly halsing 
:ribulation, seek not outward worldly solace. For the sweet- 
icss in mind of those truly loving Christ is so mickle that if 
:he joys of the world were gathered together in one place, they 
vere liever run to (the) wilderness than to once look thereon 
yith the eye. And certain it is no marvel, for all worldly cheer 
eems to it heaviness rather than comfort. 

Soothly the soul that is wont to be visited with the joy of 
Christ s love, can not be fed with vain joy, whose heart is not 
>arted from his Beloved, for he would sooner die than offend 
iis Maker. And that thou mayest have this grace keep thy 
ins in thy mind as an example of penitence and be busy to 
ollow saints lives ; so that thou a sinner, yet turned to God s 
ervice, may rise to hope by sinners raised to heaven, and by 
he ransacking of the lives of righteous men refraiin thyself from 
11 pride. Truly by mind of a holier 1 thing is the holy man s 
lind meeked ; for whose life soever thou findest written or 
r earest told, alway trust it without comparison better than 
hine. 

Such truly are called Christ s lovers that for His name 
cceive sharp adversity from the world, and despise prosperity 
nd vainglory. They are fulfilled 2 with despisings, reproofs, and 
anders, and in their praising they are punished, the which for 
jod live solitary in this world, and dying are taken up to the 
bmpany of angels in heaven. 

Truly I fled into (the) wilderness because I could not accord 
>ith men ; for sickerly they oft let me from joy, and because 

1 did not as they did, they put error and indignation upon me ; 
id therefore I have found sorrow and tribulation, but I have 
/ worshipped 3 the Name of our Lord. 

Therefore that we fail not in temptation let us study to 

2 weary of all earthly comforts, and constantly to keep in 
iind the crown of eternal joy, that being found waking we 

1 note xl. 2 L. saturantur. 3 L. inuocaui. 



n6 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

may receive the bliss behested. 1 In the meantime also use 
we such rule that fleshly desires may be utterly restrained and 
worldly covetousness wisely forsake the heart, so that the 
body may alway stand stable and strong in God s service. 

He truly that for Jesu s love forsakes all things, and leaves 
the having of his will, and abides steadfast and profiting, says 
with joy, C I have found that my soul loves. 2 Christ is truly 
found in the heart when the heat of endless love is felt in it, 
the which covets to be sought without feigning. Christ 
certain alights in a soul with honey sweetness and ghostly 
song, so that he that has this joy may boldly say : I have found 
my Love. Whosoever, truly, whiles he prays, sees his mind 
raised high, yea lift up above this bodily heaven, if he fail not 
but alway more and more desires to savour everlasting things, 
may therefore merrily abide 3 the meekness of Christ ; for 
within a few years he shall feel himself ravished to behold 
glorious things. Wherefore with meek heart, he shall not 
cease advancing in profit 4 unto the time he comes to the 
fellowship of everlasting rest. 

If the eye of thy heart be ravished in prayer to behold 
heavenly things, then full near is it that thy soul, passing 
earthly things, be made perfect in Christ s love. He soothly 
that in praying is not yet raised to behold heavenly things, 
must not cease discreetly to [meditate], pray, and wake, unto 
the time he may perceive higher joys; so that he, lying on the 
earth, be not despised 5 with griefs and dis-eases. 

Egredlmini filiae Syon et videte regem Salomonem in diademate.* 
That is to say : Go forth ye souls renewed, and understand 
Christ truly, put to death for your health. Behold Him, and 
ye shall see His godly head with thorns crowned j His face 



* L. promissam beatitudinem. 3 Cant. iii. 4. 
3 /./?., await. L. christi clemenciam expectet. 

* C. profetand in profett = L. profisisccns in profectum. 

5 L. conculcetur, i.e., trodden under foot. 6 Cant. iii. ^. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 



117 



be-spat ; His full fair eyes wan by pain ; His back scourged ; 
His breast hurt ; His worthy hands thirled ; His sweetest side 
with a spear wounded ; His feet nailed through, and wounds 
set through all His soft flesh ; as it is written : From the sole 
of His foot to the crown of His head there is no health in 
Him. 1 

Go forth, therefore, from your unlawful desires and see what 
Christ has suffered for you ; that your sins be altogether cast 
out, and your hearts be taught the burning of love. 

1 Isa. i. 6. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THAT A TRUE LOVER DESPISES WORLDLY 
THINGS AND DESIRES HEAVENLY: AND OF 
THE HATING OF PRIDE, AND HALSING OF 

MEEKNESS 

BEHOLD, thou wretched little man, how in the liking 
of fleshly lust the cruelty of endless damnation sleeps. 
Therefore thou oughtest to gainstand them that are busy 
to destroy those things that is to say virtues that Christ 
desires. Thy heart, truly, must vaunt 1 all desire for all kinds 
of passing vanity before it can burn with Christ s love. For 
the mind burning with Christ s spirit is fed only with the love 
of endless things, and is gladdened in a joyful song. 

Truly if the sweetness of endless love be now biding in thy 
soul, withouten doubt it destroys all wantonness of fleshly 
wickedness ; and delighting thee in Christ, it suffers thee to 
feel nothing but Christ; for neither thou fallest from Him, nor 
feelest anything sweet but Him. Forsooth the perfect when 
they die are brought anon before God and set in the seats of 
blissful rest, for they see that Christ is God [and enjoy Him]. 2 
They that begin to love Christ, afterward in great joy of love 
and honey-sweet burning shall not cease to sing full lovely 
songs to Jesu Christ. Truly no earthly thing pleases him 
that truly loves Christ, for by the greatness of love all passing 
things seem foul. With the bodily eyes fleshly things are 

empty out = L. carebit. a L. et vacant. 

118 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 119 

seen, but the righteous behold heavenly things with a clean 
and meek heart : the which, enlightened by the flame of 
heavenly sight, feel themselves, loosed from the burden of sin, 
and afterward they cease to sin in will ; whose heart turned into 
fire halses in desire nothing earthly but always is busy to thirl 
high things. 

They that are sickerly ordained to holiness, in the begin 
ning of their turning, for dread of God, forsake sins and 
worldly vanities : and then they set their flesh under strait 
penance, afterward setting Christ s love before all other, and 
feeling a delight in heavenly sweetness in devotion of mind 
they profit mickle. And so they pass from degree to degree 
and flourish with ghostly virtues ; and so, made fair by grace, 
they come at last to the perfection that stands in heart, and 
word, and deed. Christ s love certain makes him that has 
swallowed 1 it as it were dead to receive these outward things : 
he savours what is upward, he seeks that which is above, and 
nought that is on earth. 

No marvel the mind, sighing in desire of the heavenly 
kingdom, grows in love of the Spouse, and joying with gladness 
inshed bares itself from desire of earthly things ; and fulfilled 
with the longing for true love tents with all his mind to see 
God in His fairness. Wherefore lightened with the flame of 
His love, it is busy only in His desire and seeks nothing but 
Him. Whiles a true soul, certain, desires burningly only the 
presence of the spouse, it is perfectly cooled from all wanton 
ness of vainglory. For love therefore it longs, because it sets 
at nought all earthly things whiles it thus hies to endless joys. 

He that delights himself in Christ s love, and desires to have 
His comfort continually, not only covets not the solace of man, 
but also with great desire flees it, as if it were reek 2 that hurts 
his eyes. 

Like as the air is stricken by the sunbeam, and by the 

* L. perfecte absorbuerit, a smoke. 



120 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

shining of his light is altogether shining ; so a devout mind, 
enflamed with the fire of Christ s love and fulfilled with desire 
for the joys of heaven, seems all love, because it is altogether 
turned into another likeness ; the substance abiding although it 
be wonderfully mirthed. For when the mind is kindled by 
the fire of the Holy Ghost, it is bared from all idleness and 
uncleanness, and it is made sweet with the spring of God s 
delight, alway contemplating and never failing ; seeing not 
earthly things until it be glorified with the sight of the Lover. 

Truly it behoves us to eschew all pride and swelling of 
heart, for this it is that has cast sad men 1 into great wretched 
ness. What is more shameful ? What more worthy to be 
punished ? It is great scorn truly, and plain abomination, that 
the foulest worm, the worst sinner, the lowest of men, sets 
about to make himself great on earth, for whom the highest 
King and Lord of Lords has liked so mickle to meek himself. 
If thou wilt clearly behold 2 Christ s meekness, of whatsoever 
degree thou mayest be, how mickle soever the riches or 
virtues thou hast, thou shalt find in this no matter of pride but 
of despising thyself, and a cause of meekness. 

Thou therefore that despisest sinners, behold thyself, for 
thou makest thyself [much] worse than others 3 ; for truly 
God is more displeased with a proud righteous man than a 
meek sinner. When true meekness is set in thy mind, 
whatsoever thou doest well is done to the praise of thy Maker, 
so that despising thy virtue thou seekest His worship ; that 
thou, being given to vanity, lose not thy meed everlasting. 

Think therefore on Jesu with thy heart s desire ; pass thy 
prayer to Him ; be not weary ever to seek Him ; care for 
nothing but Him alone. 

Happy are the rich that have such a possession ; and to have 
this forsake thou the vanities of the world ; and He shall 

1 L. mirabiles viros. 2 L. si vero intime considercs. 

3 L. quia forte omnibus deteriorem facis. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 121 

overcome thine enemy and bring thee to His kingdom. The 
fiend that noys thee shall be overcome ; the flesh that grieves 
thee be made subject ; the world that assays thee for to 
beguile, shall be despised, if thy heart cease not to seek 
Christ s love. 

The man truly sits not idle the which in mind cries to 
Christ although his tongue be still ; for the body never rests 
in fleshly rest whiles the mind stints not to desire heavenly 
things; nor is he idle that is greedy ever to covet things 
everlasting. Truly the thoughts of Christ s lovers are swift 
in going up and harmonious in course 1 ; they will not be 
bound to passing things nor tied by fleshly contagion, 2 but cease 
not to ascend until they have come to the heavens. For whiles 
the body is weary in Christ s service, ofttimes the spirit being 
uplifted is taken up to heavenly refreshment and the con 
templation of God. He truly that prays devoutly has not his 
heart wavering among earthly things but raised to God in 
the heavens. He that desires to have that he prays, busily 
takes heed what he prays, [for whom he prays and to what 
end he prays] and that he loves Him Whom he prays ; lest a 
wretch, asking reward from this life, be beguiled. 

Saints forsooth have so great meekness that they think they 
know nought, and think themselves as those who say they do 
nought ; they call themselves lowest of all and unworthiest, 
yea, like as them that they chastise with reproving. These, 
after God s commandment, rest in the lowest place, whose 
lowly sitting receives no reproof from God, but honour ; not 
unthank nor loss of meed, but great and worthy worship, 3 to 
the which meekness best disposes. 

Truly this meekness gives praise to Christ, noy to the 
fiend, and joy to God s people ; it makes Christ s servant to 
love more burningly, to serve more devoutly, to praise more 

1 C. in cours acordynge. 2 C. filthis = L. contagiis. 

3 L, premium. 



122 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

worthily ; and makes him fuller of charity. The more that 
a man meeks himself the more he raises God s worship on 
high. He that truly perseveres in the love of God and of 
his neighbour, and yet thinks himself unworthier and lower 
than others, by meekness and knowledge of himself overcomes 
enemies, and conquers the love of the High Judge, and shall 
be received into endless joy [by the angels] when he passes 
from this light. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

THE TEACHING OF THE BOISTEROUS AND 
UNTAUGHT, 1 DESIRING TO LOVE: AND OF 
THE ESCHEWING OF WOMEN 

A TRUE soul, the spouse of Jesus Christ, casts out pride, 
for deeply she loves meekness ; she abhors vainglory, for 
desiring only everlasting mirth, she follows Christ ; she 
hates fleshly liking and softness, 2 for feeling before 3 the sweet 
ness of the everlasting honey, she desires alway to feel love for 
the loveliest. Evil wrath she has not, because she is ready to 
suffer all things for Christ s love. She knows not envy of 
others, for shining with true love she joys in ilk man s profit 
and health. 

Truly no man is envious but if he in truth be little and 
weens he be mickle, wherefore he raises slanders against 
others lest they be likened to him ; or if any other among 
the people be called greater, fairer, or stronger, anon he is 
heavy, being touched with the venom of envy. But the soul 
the which is but a little kindled with heavenly contemplation 
can not seek that vainglory of slipping 4 praise. Whereby 
it is plainly shown that men therefore have envy because 
they have not the love of God that is in ilk chosen soul. 
For where any are that love God, they truly desire the 
profit of their fellows as of themselves. 

1 L. rudium et neophitorum. 2 L. carnalem repansacionem. 
3 L. pregustans. 4 /.,?., passing. 

123 



124 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

If thou wilt therefore surpass in God s love thou hatest all 
earthly praising. The despisings of men and their scorns thou 
halsest for Christ, and strongly thou spreadest 1 thy mind to 
get eternal joy. Rather choose with the rejected to feel 
the torment of fire in pain than common 2 in sin with them. 
Certain he lives sicker that loves Christ burningly, and in 
the joy of His love sings lustily. It is more pleasing to him 
to fall into everlasting fire than once to sin deadly. Forsooth 
there are such saints, 3 because they live in cleanness. They 
despise all earthly things, and from heat and ghostly gladness 
joying, they sing what before they said. They burn in the 
love of Christ; they study 4 after heavenly sights ; they are 
ever [busy], as much as in them is, with good works ; they 
overflow with the likings of everlasting life ; and yet to 
themselves they seem most foul, and among others they think 
themselves the last and lowest. 

Therefore thou that art boisterous and untaught be busy 
to stand strongly against thy ghostly enemies, and to suffer no 
ill thought to rest in thy heart ; and set thy wisdom against 
the waitings 5 of the fiends. When an unclean imagination 
or thought, contrary to the purpose of thy mind, withstands 
thee, fail not but fight manly. Cry to Christ without ceasing, 
until thou be clad with God s armour. And if thou desire 
to follow the despisers of the world think not what thou for- 
sakest but what thou despisest ; with what desire thou offerest 
thy will to God ; with how great desire of love thou pre- 
sentest thy prayers ; with how great heat for the sight of 
God thou longest to be joined to Him. If thou perfectly hate 
all sin ; if thou desire nothing that passes ; if thy soul refuses 6 
to be cheered with earthly solace ; if thou savour to behold 
heavenly things and desire most God s Son ; if thou speak 
mannerly and wisely, because he speaks not, except he be made, 

1 enlargcst = L. extende. 2 i.e., share. 3 note xli. 

4 i.e., are eager. s snares. 6 C. lese = L. renuit. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 125 

whose spirit is melted with the honey of God s love and the 
sweetness of the song of Jesu : behold by these, and other 
such, sometimes used, thou shalt come to perfection. 

No marvel God approves such a despiser of the world. 
Truly the soul that is both sweet with the shining of 
conscience, and fair with the charity of endless love, may be 
called Christ s garden ; for she is cleansed from sins, flourishes 
with virtues and joys with the sweetness of high song, like as 
with songs of birds. 

Therefore set we all our mind to please and obey God, to 
serve and love Him, and in ilk good deed we do be we busy 
to come to God. What value is it to covet earthly things or to 
desire fleshly love ? We can have nothing thereby [that 
lasts 1 ] but the Judge s wrath, that is to say everlasting pain. 
Soothly fleshly love stirs temptation and blinds the soul that 
she may not have perfect cleanness ; it hides sins done, and it 
casts her down unwisely 2 to new wickedness ; it enflames to 
all cursed lusts ; it disturbs all rest of the soul, and it lets, so 
that Christ may not be burningly loved ; and wastes all virtue 
gotten before. 

Therefore he that covets to love Christ, let not the eye of 
his mind look to woman s love. Women if they love men are 
fond, because they know not to keep measure in loving ; and 
truly when they are loved they prick full bitterly. They have 
one eye for waitings, and another for true sorrow ; whose love 
distracts the wits, perverts and overturns reason, changes 
wisdom of mind to folly, withdraws the heart from God and 
makes the soul bond to fiends. And forsooth he that 
beholds a woman with fleshly love although it be not with 
the will to fulfil lust keeps not himself undefiled from 
unlawful movings or unclean thoughts, but ofttimes defiles 
himself with stinking filth j and, peradventure, he feels a liking 
for to do worse. 

1 L. durabile. 8 L. incaute. 



126 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Truly the beauty of women beguiles many men, through 
desire whereof the hearts of the righteous also are some time 
overturned, so that they that began in spirit end in the flesh. 
Therefore beware, and in the good beginning of thy conversa 
tion keep no speech with women s fairness lest receiving there 
of the venomous sickness of lust for to proffer and fulfil foulness 
of mind, and being deceived knowingly and cowardly, thou be 
drawn away by the discomfits 2 of thine enemies. Therefore 
flee women wisely and alway keep thy thoughts far from them, 
because, though a woman be good, yet the fiend by pricking 
and moving, and also by their cherishing 3 beauty, thy will can 
be overmickle delighted in them, because of frailty of flesh. 

But if thou wouldst call again 4 Christ s love without ceasing, 
and have Him with dread in thy sight in all places, I trow 
thou shouldest never be beguiled by the false cherishing of a 
woman ; but truly the more that thou seest thou art assayed 
with false flatterings if thou despise them as japes or trifles 5 
as they are no marvel that thou shouldest have [the more] 
joy of God s love. 

Christ truly does marvellously in His lovers, the which, 
with a special and a perfect love He takes to Himself. Truly 
they desire not softness of the flesh or the beauty thereof ; all 
worldly things they forget ; they love not temporal prosperity 
nor dread the world s frowardness. They love full well to be 
by themselves that, without letting, they may fall into the 
gladness that they feel in God s love ; full sweet they think it 
to suffer for Christ, and nothing hard. For he that wills 
worthily to honour the victory of martyrs, let him fulfil the 
devotion of virtue by the following of virtue. Let him hold the 
cause of the martyrs if that he suffer not the pain ; let him 
keep patience, in which he shall have full victory. 



1 i.e., bring forth L. ad proferendam, 2 conquests. 

3 />., alluring. 4 L. rumines. 

* L. lanugrnem ac fabulam * lit. sawdust and nonsense. 






THE FIRE OF LOVE 127 

A soul truly forsaking the folly of ill love enters the way 
of strait life, in the which is felt the earnest 1 of the sweetness 
of heavenly life : which, when she feels so comfortable that 
she overcomes all passing liking, she prays God that He would 
vouchsafe such comfort to give and refresh her ghostly, and 
that He would give the grace of continuance lest she fail, 
being made weary by divers errors. 

If a young man begin to do well let him ever think to 
continue ; let him not sleep nor cease from his good purpose, 
but ay profit in mind, rising from less to more. Forsooth the 
shadow of error being forsaken, and the venomous sweetness of 
a wretched life despised, taking the strait life, he halses now 
the sweetness of full high devotion. And thus, as it were 
by degrees, he ascends to the height and contemplation of God 
by the gifts of the Holy Ghost ; in the which heat of eternal 
love being rested and gladdened, he overflows with heavenly 
delights, as far as is lawful to mortal man. 

Certainly a good soul umbeset 2 with many dis-eases, and 
noyed with the heat of temptation, can not feel the sweet 
ness of God s love as it is in itself ; nevertheless she is expert 
in the joy of love and in stable course draws to her Lover; 
and though the soul may want so wonderful sweetness, yet 
with so great desire she loves Christ that for His love only 
she shall perseveringly stand. 

But how mickle is His most kind help to be praised in 
which every true lover is expert ; that it comforts all the 
sorry ; makes sweet the forsaken ; sets in peace the disturbed, 
and lays waste all distracting 8 noise. The soul departed from 
the sins of the world, and withdrawn from fleshly desire, is 
purged of sin ; and thereby she understands a sweetness of 
[future] mirth coming near to her, in which hope she is 
confirmed, and is sicker to have the kingdom. 4 And in this 

1 C. fbydL. arrha ; ff. Sc. land to \>tfeud. * set round. 

3 C. sparpillan d. 4 L. certa est de regno adepturo. 



i 2 8 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

life she gives to Christ a drink full likingly made of hot love, 
with greetings of ghostly gifts and with flowers of virtues, 
that Christ receives, pleased, who for love drank of the well 
of penance in this life. 

2 cf. Ps. cix. 7 (ex. 7). 



CHAPTER XXX 

OF GOD S PRIVY DOOM : AND THAT THEY THAT 
FALL AGAIN BE NOT DEEMED BY US : AND OF 
GREAT SKILLS 1 AGAINST PURCHASOURS 2 

BUT some are wont to ask how it can be that many that 
have led the hardest life and have utterly forsaken this 
world s joy, afterwards dread not to slide again into sin ; 
and they shall not end in a good end. 

If we will not err let us be in peace from proudly deeming. 
To us it longs not to know God s privy doom : truly after this 
life all things as needs 3 shall be shown. All the ways of our 
Lord s dooms are merry, that is to say true and righteous ; for 
neither He reproves one withouten very right, nor another, 
withouten mercy that is righteous, He chooses unto life. 
Therefore we ought to consider, that the clothing of His clear 
ness is as a groundless pit 4 ; wherefore we ought, whiles we are 
in this way, to dread, and in no wise to presume unwisely ; for 
man wots not whether he be worthy wrath or love, or by what 
end he shall pass from this life. The good ought to dread 
that they fall not into ill ; and the ill may trow that they can rise 
from their malice. Forsooth if they bide in their covetousness 
and their wickedness, in vain they hope themselves sicker of 
mercy, whiles their wickedness is not left ; for sin, before 
it be forsaken, is never 5 forgiven ; nor yet then unless satis- 

1 arguments. *.<?., of land ; see note xlii. 

3 L. expedit. 4 cf. Ps. ciii. 6 (civ. 6). 

s C. euer, but L. nunquam, which the sense demands. 
K I2 9 



1 3 o THE FIRE OF LOVE 

faction be behight and that a sinner shirk 1 not to fulfil it as 
soon as he can. 

But the mighty men and the worldly rich that ever hungrily 
burn in getting possessions [of others], and by their goods and 
riches grow in earthly greatness and worldly power buying 
with little money what, after this passing substance, was of 
great value or have received in the service] of kings or great 
lords great gifts, without meed, that they might have delights 
and lusts with honours : let them hear not me but Saint Job : 
Ducunt inquit in bonis dies suos et in puncto ad infernum descendent* ; 
that is to say : c Their days they led in pleasure, and to hell 
they fall in a point/ 3 

Behold, in a point they lose all that they studied all their life 
to get ; with these worldly wisdom has dwelt that, before God, 
is called folly, and fleshly wit, that is enmity to God, they 
knew. Therefore with mighty torments they shall suffer 
[because knowing God they glorify not God but themselves 4 ] 
and have vanished in their thoughts ; calling themselves wise 
they are now made fools ; and they, that have felt the joy and 
delight of this world, are come to the deepness of stinking hell. 

And yet forsooth among all that are bound with the vice of 
this world, in none, as I suppose, is less trust 5 of salvation than 
of these the people call false purchasours. 6 When theysoothly 
have spent all their strength and youth in getting the possessions 
[of another] by wrong and law ; and afterwards in age they 
rest, sickerly keeping that they with wrong have gotten. But 
because their conscience is feared, wickedness gives witness to 
condemnation only when they cease from cursed getting ; they 
dread not to use other men s goods as if they were their own. 
For if they should restore all, full few should be left for them 
selves. And because they are proud they shame to beg ; or 



1 C feyn = O.Fr.>/Wr, cf. O.E.D. 3 Job xxi. 13. 

3 i.f.j a point of time. * note xliii. s L. spes. 

6 L. tcrre perpctratores, and cf. note xlii. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 131 

they will not fall from their old honour, therefore they say 
they cannot grave 1 or labour. Also, deceived by fiends, they 
choose rather to eschew worldly wretchedness that they may 
suffer the endless pain of hell everlastingly. 

Such forsooth whiles they have lordship in this world oppress 
the small by the power of their tyranny ; forsooth to be raised 
into such melody of this exile is not a matter of dread to others 
but rather joy ; for lest God s chosen should be such they are 
refrained by God, David being witness : Ne timueris cum dives 
factus fuerit homo, etc. 2 When man is made rich dread not, 
nor when joy of his house is multiplied ; for when he dies he 
takes not all, nor his joy goes not with him ; nor the drop of 
water, that is to say of mercy, comes not to the tongue of the 
rich man burning in hell. In his dying he loses all his joy, 
and only sin goes with him to the land of darkness, for the 
which he shall be punished withouten end. 

Explicit liber primus Incendii Amoris Ricardi Hampole 
heremite, translatus a latino in Anglicum, per fratrem 
Ricardum Misyn heremitam^ et ordinis carmditarum, 
Ac sacre theologie bachal,ireum y Anno domin t 
Millesimo ccccxxxv* . 

1 i.e., dig. & * Ps. xlviii. 17 (xlix. 16). 



BOOK II 



CHAPTER I 

WHY THE PERFECT CONTEMPLATIVES TAKE 
NO HEED TO OUTWARD SONG, AND OF THEJR 
ERROR THAT REPROVE THEM : AND HOW TO 
PROFIT IN CONTEMPLATION 

BECAUSE in the kirk of God there are singers ordained 
in their degree, and set to praise God and to stir the 
people to devotion, some have come to me asking why 
I would not sing as other men when they have ofttimes 
seen me in the solemn masses. They weened forsooth I had 
done wrong, for ilk man, they say, is bound to sing bodily 
before his Maker, and yield music with his outward voice. I 
answered not thereof; for they knew not how I gave forth 
melody and a sweet voice to my Maker, but, because they 
could not understand by what way, they weened that no 
man might have ghostly song. 

Truly it is fondness 1 to trow that a man, and especially he 
that is perfectly given to God s service, should not have a 
special gift from His love that many other men have not ; but 
many trow this because in themselves they find none such. 
Therefore I have thought to show some manner of answer, 
and not fully give stead to the reprovers. How longs the life 
of other men to them whose manners, as they wot, in many 

1 /.*., folly. 
132 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 133 

things surpass their life, and are far higher in things that are 
unseen ? Whether it is lawful to God to do what He will ; 
or their sight is wicked and God is good P 1 Nor will they 
bring God s rule under their measure, for are not all men 
God s ? And whom He will, He takes ; and whom He will, 
He forsakes ; [and to whom He will] and when He will, He 
gives what pleases Him, to show the greatness of His Good 
ness ? 

Therefore I trow they grumble and backbite because they 
would that others higher in devotion come down to them, and 
conform themselves in all things to their lowers, for they ween 
they be higher when they are far lower [in merit]. Therefore 
my soul has found boldness to open my music a little that is 
come to me by burning love ; in which I sing before Jesu and 
sound notes of the greatest sweetness. Also the more they 
have stood up against me, because I fled the outward songs that 
are wont in the kirks, and the sweetness of the organ that is 
heard gladly by the people, only abiding among these either 
when the need of hearing mass which elsewhere I could not 
hear or the solemnity of the day asked it on account of the 
backbiting of the people. 2 

Truly I have desired to sit alone that I might take heed to 
Christ alone that had given to me ghostly song, in the which 
I might offer Him praises and prayers. They that reproved 
me trowed not this, and therefore they would have brought 
me to their manner ; but I could not leave the grace of Christ 
and consent to fond men that knew me not within. There 
fore I let them speak, and I did that that was to do after the 
state in the which God had set me. 

For this shall I say, thanking Christ s glory, 3 that hence 
forward I no more [fear] others who be thus fond, nor 

1 Matt. xx. 15. 

a i.e., if the people had not seen him at mass on such dies 
solempnis they would have spoken against him j and see note xliv. 
3 C. joy=L. gloriam. 



134 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

that presume to deem proudly ; for that I have done is not 
from feigning simulation, and being taken by imagination, as 
some say of me ; and many therewith are beguiled that ween 
they have that they never received. But in truth an unseen 
joy has come to me and I have verily waxed warm within me 
with the fire of love ; the which has taken my heart from 
these low things, so that, singing in Jesu, full far have I flown 
from outward melody to full inward. 

Whence I have hated filth, and cast out vanity of words, 
and have not taken meats in superfluity, nor have striven 
unwisely to govern myself 1 ; although it were said of me I was 
given to rich houses, and to be fed well and live in pleasures. 
But by God s working I had set my soul otherwise, so that I 
savoured things heavenly rather than sweetness of meats ; and 
for this cause I have loved a certain wilderness, and I chose 
to live away from men, only speeding the needs of the body, 
and so soothly I received solace of Him that I loved. 

It is not to be trowed that in the beginning of his turning 
a man may run to the height of contemplative life or feel the 
sweetness thereof, when it is well known that contemplation 
is gotten in great time and with great labour, and is not given 
anon to every man, although it be had with all joy when it is 
gotten. Truly it is not in man s power to receive it, nor no 
man s labour [however great] is worthy it ; but of the goodli- 
ness of God it is given to true lovers that have desired to love 
Christ above man s hoping. 

Yet many after penance have fallen from innocence, 
eftsoons 2 gliding into idleness and to the abomination of 
sinners, 3 because they were not burning in charity ; seldom and 
so thinly have they the sweetness of contemplation that they 
are too weak to stand when they are tempted ; or else, being 
weary and loathing ghostly food, they desire worldly comfort 
among sinners. 

1 L. nee indiscrete tcmperare me contendi. a afterwards, 

9 L. et ad abhominaciones egipciorum. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 135 

Truly to despise this world and desire the heavenly king 
dom and desire Christ s love is full good ; and, hating sin, 
to read busily or meditate on holy books. A devout soul 
being used and taught in these has a ready defence against the 
fiend s darts. It is truly to the devil s confusion when we 
spread God s word against all his temptations. Forsooth the 
sufferers, and bearers in patience of the burden and heat of 
temptation, 1 suffer not themselves to be led into the love of 
deceitful sweetness ; and after many tears and busy prayers they 
shall be enflamed with eternal love, arid shall feel heat abiding 
in themselves withouten end, for in their meditation the fire 
shall wax warm. 

1 L. in paciencia pondus dies et estus. 



CHAPTER II 

THE TEACHING OF CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE IN 
PRAYING, MEDITATING, FASTING, AND WAK 
ING : AND OF THE PROUD CONTEMPLATIVE : 
AND OF TRUE AND VERY GHOSTLY SONG 

THEREFORE one chosen and alway desiring love turns 
himself into his love ; for he has neither worldly substance 
nor desires to have, but following Christ by wilful 
poverty lives content and paid by the alms of other men, 
whiles his conscience is clear and made sweet with heavenly 
savour. All his heart shall he shed forth 1 in love of his Maker, 
and he shall labour to be enlightened by daily increase in high 
desires. Every man forsaking this world, if he desire to be 
enflamed with the fire of the Holy Ghost, must busily take 
tent not to wax slow in prayer and meditation. Soothly by 
these, with tears following and Christ favouring, the mind shall 
be marvellously warmed to love ; and being warmed, it shall 
be gladdened ; and being glad, shall be lift into contemplative 
life. 

The soul goes up into this height whiles [soaring by 
excess 2 ] it is taken up above itself, and heaven being open 
to the eye of the mind, it offers privy things to be beheld. 
But first truly it behoves to be exercised busily, and for not 
a few years, in praying and meditating, scarcely taking the 
needs of the body, so that it may be burning in fulfilling these; 

* L. cffundet. a note xlv. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 137 

and, all feigning being cast out, it should not slacken day 
and night to seek and know God s love. 

And thus the Almighty Lover, strengthening His lover to 
love, shall raise him high above all earthly things and vicious 
strifes and vain thoughts, so that the wicked and dying flies 
of sin lose not the sweetness of the ointment of grace [since 
dead, they become as nought 1 ]. And henceforward God s 
love shall be so sweet to him, and shall be also moistened with 
sweetness most liking, and he shall taste marvellous honey, 
that in himself he shall feel nought but the solace of heavenly 
savour shed into him, and token of high holiness. Truly fed 
with this sweetness he desires ever to wake, inasmuch as he 
feels verily the heat of endless love burning his heart, nor 
goes it away, enlightening the mind with sweet mystery. And 
yet some others that men trowed had been holy had this heat 
in imagination only. Wherefore being not in truth but in 
shadow, when they are called to the wedding or the feast 
of Christ s espousals, they are not ashamed unworthily to 
challenge 2 the first place. No marvel that in the righteous 
examination they shall go down with shame, and shall have 
the lower place. Of these truly it is said : Cadent a latere tuo 
mille, et decem milia a dextris tuis* that is to say : From thy 
side a thousand shall fall, and ten thousand from thy right 
hand. 

But would God they knew themselves and that they would 
ransack their conscience ; then should they not be presump 
tuous, nor making comparison with the deeds of their betters 
would they empride themselves. Truly the lover of the 
Godhead, whose inward parts are verily thirled with love of 
the unseen beauty and who joys with all the pith of his soul, 
is gladdened with most merry heat. Because he has continu 
ally given himself to constant devotion for God, when Christ 
wills, he shall receive not of his own meed but of Christ s 

1 ff. Eccles. x. i, a /.>., claim. 3 p s . xc. 7 (xci. 7). 



138 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

goodness a holy sound sent from heaven, and thought and 
meditation shall be changed into song, and the mind shall bide 
in marvellous melody. Soothly it is the sweetness of angels 
that he has received into his soul ; and the same praises, 1 
though it be not in the same words, he shall sing to God. 

Such as is the song of the angels so is the voice of this true 
lover ; though it be not so great or perfect, for frailty of the 
flesh that yet cumbers [the lover]. He that knows this, knows 
also angels song, for both are of one kind here and in heaven. 
Tune pertains to song, not to the ditty that is sung. This 
praising and song is angels meat ; by which also living men 
most hot in love are gladdened, singing in Jesu, now when 
they have received the doom of endless praise that is sung by 
the angels to God. It is written in the psalm : Panem angel- 
orum manducavit homo* that is to say : c Man has eaten angels 
bread. And so nature is renewed and shall pass now into a 
godly joy and happy likeness, so that he shall be happy, sweet, 
godly, and songful, and shall feel in himself lust for everlasting 
love, and with great sweetness shall continually sing. 

Soothly it happens to such a lover what I have not found 
expressed in the writings of the doctors : that is, this song 
shall swell up in his mouth, 3 and he shall sing his prayers with 
a ghostly symphony ; and he shall be slow with his tongue, 
because of the great plenty of inward joy, tarrying in song and 
a singular music, 4 so that that he was wont to say in an hour 
scarcely he may fulfil in half a day. 5 Whilst he receives it 
soothly he shall sit alone, not singing with others nor reading 
psalms. I say not ilk man should do this, but he to whom it is 
given ; and let him fulfil what likes him, for he is led by the 
Holy Ghost, nor for men s words shall he turn from his life. 
In a clear heat certain shall he dwell, and in full sweet 

1 L. et eadem oda. 3 Ps. Ixxvii. 25 (Ixxviii. 25). 

3 C. sal bolne to his mouthe. L. crumpet canor ille vsque ad os. 

4 C. syngulerc sownde, s note xlvi 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 139 

melody shall he be lift up. The person of man shall he not 
accept 1 ; and therefore of some shall he be called a fool or 
churl because he praises God in joyful song. For the praise 
of God shall burst up from his whole heart, and his sweet 
voice shall reach on high 2 ; the which God s Majesty likes to 
hear. 

A fair visage has he whose fairness God 3 desires, and keeps 
in himself the unmade wisdom. Wisdom truly is drawn from 
privy things, and the delight thereof is with the lovers of 
the everlasting ; for she is not found in their souls that live 
[sweetly in earth]. 4 She dwells in him of whom I spake, 
because he melts wholly in Christ s love and all his inward 
members cry to God. This cry is love and song, that a great 
voice raises to God s ears. It is also the desire of good, and the 
affection for virtue. His crying is outside of this world because 
his mind desires nothing but Christ. His soul within is all 
burnt with the fire of love, so that his heart is alight and 
burning, and nothing outward he does but that good may be 
expounded. God he praises in song, but yet in silence : not 
to men s ears but in God s sight he yields praises with a 
marvellous sweetness. 

1 i.e., consider. L. non respiciet personam hominis. 

2 C. cum to heght. 3 L. reads : rex concupiscit. 
* }?at likandly lyfis. L. in terra suaviter viventum. 



CHAPTER III 

THAT GHOSTLY SONG ACCORDS NOT WITH 
BODILY : AND THE CAUSE AND THE ERROR 
OF GAINSAYERS. AND OF KNOWLEDGE IN- 
SHED OR INSPIRED; AND HOW IT DIFFERS 
FROM KNOWLEDGE GOTTEN BY LABOUR 

BUT in this every man raised in holiness may know that he 
has the song of which I spake : if he can not sustain the 
cry of singers unless his inward song be brought to mind, 
and he has glided, so to say, into outward. That among singers 
and readers some are distracted [from their devotion] is not 
from perfection but from unstableness of mind, because other 
men s words break and destroy their prayers ; and this forsooth 
happens not to the perfect. They truly are so stabled that 
by no cry or noise- or any other thing can they be distracted 
from prayer or thought, but only [cut off by such from song], 
For truly this sweet ghostly song [is specially worth because] 
it is given to the most special. 1 It accords not with outward 
song, the which in kirks and elsewhere are used. It discords 
mickle from all that is formed by man s outward voice to be 
heard with bodily ears ; but among angels tunes it has an 
acceptable melody, and by them that have known it, it is 
commended with marvel. 2 

See and understand and be not beguiled, for to you I have 
shown, to the honour of Almighty God and to your profit, 

1 note xlvii. a / ./., admiration. 

140 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 141 

why I fled strangers in the kirks, and for what cause I loved 
not to mingle with them, and desired not to hear organ 
players. Truly they gave me letting from songful sweet 
ness, and gart 1 fail the full clear song. And therefore 
marvel not if I fled that that confused me ; and in that I had 
been to blame, if I had not left what would have put me from 
so sweet song. Forsooth I had erred if I had done otherwise. 
But well I knew of whom I received it. Therefore I have 
alway conformed me to do His will, lest He should take from 
me, being unkind, that He gave to me kindly. 2 I had great 
liking to sit in (the) wilderness that I might sing more sweetly 
far from noise, and with quickness 3 of heart I might feel 
sweetest praise 4 ; the which doubtless I have received of His 
gift whom above all things I have wonderfully loved. 

Truly my heart has not yearned 5 in bodily desire, nor 
have I conceived this comfortable song that I have sung, sing 
ing in Jesu, from a creature. Therefore love has brought me 
thereto, that I should not stand in the plight in which the 
unthrifty 6 are cast down ; but that I should be raised above the 
height of all seen things, and from heaven should be kindled 
and lightened to praise God, whose praising is not comely in 
the sinner s mouth. 

To whom therefore that loves not anything save one shall 
the window, unthirled by all, be opened ; and no marvel 
it were although his nature were changed into nobility of 
worthiness unable to be told, and made clear and free ; which 
noble clearness 7 no man shall know [in eternity] that now 
knows not love, and in Christ feels sweetness. 

Nor doubtless ought I to cease from the best tried devotion 
because of back-biters that have cast evil biting into mine 
innocence ; and I ought to cast all wickedness down, and love 

1 i.e., made. a L. ne ingrato auferret quod gratis largiebatur. 
3 fervour. 4 C. likyngestelouynge = L. suauissimam iubilacionem. 
5 L. efferbuit. 6 L, indigni. 7 L. nobilcm libertatem. 



i 4 2 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

them that stirred me to greater ill ; and thereof grace shall 
have been increased to the lover whiles he has not taken heed 
to words wavering in the wind, but with a perfect heart shall 
spread himself forth to his love, and unwearily pursue his 
purpose. 

Herefore truly the desire for vanity is vanished and truthful 
love is risen in the mind, so that the soul of the lover shall not 
wax cold but shall remain in comfortable heat and the heart 
shall not be bruised J from continual thought of his Beloved. 
Soothly in this steadfastness the excellence of love happens to 
a true lover, so that he shall be raised up to a fiery heaven and 
there shall be stirred to love more than may be spoken, and 
shall be more burned within himself than can be shown, and 
shall halse the degrees 3 of grace. And hereof he has received 
wisdom and sublety, and knows how to speak among the wise 
and boldly say whatever he thinks ; though before he were 
holden or else were a fool and unwise. 

But those taught by knowledge gotten, not inshed, and 
puffed up with folded arguments, 3 in this are disdainful : saying 
where learned he ? who read to him ? 4 For they trow not 
that the lovers of endless love might be taught by their inward 
master to speak better than they taught of men, that have 
studied at all times for vain honours. 

If in the old time the Holy Ghost inspired many, why 
should He not now take His lovers to contemplate the Joy of 
His Godhead ? Some of this time are approved to be even to 
those of former times. I call not this approving men s allow 
ance, for oft they err in their approving, 6 choosing such as God 
despised and despising those God has chosen. But such I 
call allowed whom eternal love has pithily enflamed and the 

1 C. byrsyd, i.e., disturbed. L. quateretur. 

2 i.e., the degrees of the mystical life. 

3 L. inflati argumentacionibus implicitis. 

4 L. a quo doctore audiunt ; and cf. note xiii. 

5 C. )?ai erre in }?er allowyng. L. in approbacionibus suis errant. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 143 

grace of the Holy Ghost inspires to all good ; these are marked 
with the flower of all virtue, and continually sing in the love 
of God. And all that longs to the world s vain joy and the 
false honours of cursed and proud life they tread under the feet 
of their affections. 

No marvel that these are outcasts of men. But in the sight 
of God and the holy angels they are greatly commended ; 
whose hearts are strong to suffer all adversity, nor will they be 
blown about by the wind of vanity. At the last they are 
borne to Christ with high holiness, when they that men chose 
and allowed 1 are cast down in damnation and are drawn in 
torments to be punished with the fiends withouten end. 

1 L. acceptabant. 



CHAPTER IV 

OF THE EXCELLENCE OF GHOSTLY SONG: 
AND THAT IT NEITHER CAN BE SAID NOR 
WRITTEN, NOR RECEIVES ANY FELLOWSHIP : 
AND OF THE CHARITY OF SPIRITUAL SINGERS : 
AND THE PRIDE OF THEM THAT HAVE 
GOTTEN KNOWLEDGE 

TRULY the lover of Almighty God is not raised in mind to 
see into high things 1 withouten skill, 2 and to sing the song 
of love that springs up in the soul, the which is ardently 3 
and openly burnt with the fire of love, and spread out in 
sweet devotion, abiding in songs that yield honey from our 
fairest Mediator. Therefore the singer is led into all mirth, 
and, the well of endless heat breaking forth in mirth, he is 
received into halsing and singular solace, and the lover is 
arrayed with the might of the most lovely passage 4 and 
refreshed in sweet heat. 

He joys, truly glistening 5 whiter than snow and redder than 
a rose ; for he is kindled by God s fire, and going with 
clearness of conscience he is clad in white. Therefore he is 
taken up thereto above all others ; for in his mind melody 
abides and sweet plenty of heat tarries ; so that not only shall 
he offer a marrow 6 offering in himself and pay Christ praise 
in ghostly music, but also he shall stir others to love, so that 

1 note xlviii. 2 i.e., reason. 3 C. fyrely. 

4 note xlix. 5 C. He qwhyet = L. nitidus. 

6 C. marghty=L. medullata. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 145 

they hie to give themselves devoutly and perfectly to God ; 
the which vouchsafes to make glad His lovers, cleaving to Him 
with all their heart, in this exile also. This delight, certain, 
which he has tasted in loving Jesu, passes all wit and feeling. 
Truly I can not tell a little point of this joy, for who can 
tell an untold heat? Who lay bare 1 an infinite sweetness? 
Certain if I would speak of this joy unable to be told, it seems 
to me as if I should teem 2 the sea by drops, and spar it all in a 
little hole of the earth. And no marvel though I, the which 
scarcely tastes one drop of that same excellence, can not open to 
you the unmeasuredness of that eternal sweetness, nor that ye 
that are boisterous in wit and distracted by fleshly thoughts 
can not receive it ; even although ye were full wise of wit and 
given to God s services. 

Nevertheless if ye were alway busy to savour heavenly 
things, and if ye studied to be enflamed with God s love, with- 
outen doubt there should come into you plenteously the liking 
of that love, the which fulfilling all penetrable 3 parts of thy 
mind shall drop a wonderful sweetness into it. Truly the 
fuller ye shall be of charity, the more able ye may suppose 
yourselves to be receivers of that joy. The nearer truly to 
God shall they be endlessly that in this time have the more 
burningly and sweetly loved Him. They, certain, that are 
empty 4 of God s love are fulfilled with worldly filth ; and so 
being drawn to vain tales, they seek the delights in outward 
things that show, forgetting inward goods : whose height is 
hidden from mortal eye, 5 whiles they in mind fall under 
worldly solace, even in their rising they vanish from a glorious 
perpetuity. 6 

Therefore it seems that in the time to come covetousness 
shall be exiled and chanty certainly reign. Contrarily, in this 

1 E.E.T.S. reads makyn for C. nakyn. 

2 empty ; and note 1. 3 C. abil to be }?irlyd. * C. toyrae. 
s C. syn ; A. eyn, which is right = L. mortalibus oculis. 

6 L. in sua siquidem eleuacione a gloriosa perpetuitate euanescunt. 



146 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

life it is wrought by many, forsooth by nearly all, that 
covetousness is brought in yea into the King s hall ; and 
charity, as if it were consenting to treason, is prisoned and 
cast out of the kingdom into exile. But yet it has found a 
dwelling-place in the hearts of God s chosen. It goes from 
the proud and rests in the meek. 

Many wretches are beguiled ; the which feign to themselves 
to love God when they love Him not, trowing that they may 
be occupied with worldly needs and yet truly enjoy the love 
of Jesu Christ with sweetness. And they trow they may run 
about the world, and be contemplative ; the which they that 
fervently love God and have gone into contemplative life 
deemed impossible. But being ignorant 1 and not imbued 
with heavenly wisdom but puffed up with the knowledge 
that they have gotten they suppose wrongly concerning them 
selves; and they know not as yet how to hold God with love. 

Therefore I cry and with desire I say : Sahum me fac Deus, 
quoniam defeat sanctusf that is to say : * Lord make me safe, 
for thy saint is wanting. 3 The true lover fails : the voice of 
singers is at peace ; there appears no heat in true lovers ; ilk 
man goes in his evil way, and the wretchedness he has con 
ceived in heart he ceases not to bring to deed. They waste 
their days in vanity and their years in haste. 4 Alas the fire 
of desire has swallowed up the young man and maiden, the 
suckling 5 also together with the old man. 

O good Jesu, it is full good to me to be drawn to Thee, for 
my soul shall not come into their counsel but sitting all alone 
to Thee shall I sing. The whiles Thou art praised thou 
waxest sweet, so that it is not hard but full sweet to 
continually praise Thee ; not bitter but merrier than to be 
fulfilled with all bodily ami worldly delights. Delectable and 

1 C. Bot]?ai vnkonynge-L. Set ipsi insipidi. * Ps. xi. 2 (xii. i). 

3 cf. A.V., * for the godly man cease th. 

4 C. in hy*L. cum festinacione, and cf. Ps. Ixxviii. 33. 

5 C. sxwkand ; cf. note li. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 147 

desirable it is to be in Thy praise ; for no marvel is it that all 
that is dight with so great love savours full sweet. 

The lover also burning in this unbodily halsing, his wicked 
ness being cleansed, and all his thoughts that go not unto this 
end vanished, and desiring to see his Beloved with his ghostly 
eye, *has raised a cry to his Maker, bursting forth from the 
inner marrow of his affectuous 1 love, as if he would cry 
from afar. He lifts up his inward voice, the which is not found 
but in the lover most burning ; as far as is lawful in this way. 
Here I cease : for, because of the unwit and boisterousness 
of mine understanding, I can not describe this cry, nor yet how 
mickle it is or how merry to think, feel, bear ; though I 
might in my measure. But to you I could not tell it, nor can 
not, for I know not how to overcome my wits 2 except that 
I will say this cry is ghostly song. 3 

Who therefore shall sing to me the ditty of my song and 
the joys of my desire, with burning of love and heat of my 
young age, that from songs of fellowly charity 4 I might 
ransack my substance, and the measure of sweetness in which 
I was holden worthy might be known to me ; if peradventure 
I might find myself exempted from unhappiness. And I 
presume not to say that by myself, because I have not yet 
found that I desire after so that I might rest with sweetness 
in the solace of my fellows. If forsooth I deemed that cry 
or song is alway hid from bodily ears and that dare I well 
say would God that I might find a man author of that 
melody the which, though not in word yet in writing, should 
sing me my joy, and should draw out 5 notes of love in singing 
and joying in spirit, 6 the which, in the Name most worthy, I 

1 *>., desirous ; cf. L. exintimis medullis amoris affectuosi excita- 
tum et erumpentem. 

2 i.e., senses. 3 L. quod clamor iste canor est. 

* L. caritas sodalis. 

5 C. schew owt*L. depromeret ; and cf. note Hi. 

6 L. pneumatizando. 



148 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

shamed not to say before my love. This one truly should be 
lovelier to me than gold ; and all precious things that are to 
be had in this exile are not like to him. Beauty of virtue 
dwells with him and the secrets 1 of love he perfectly ransacks. 
I would love him truly as my heart, nor is there aught that 
I would hide from him ; for he shall show me the ghostly 
song that I desire to understand, and shall clearly unfold 2 the 
melody of my mirth. In which unfolding 3 I shall the more 
joy, or else quicklier 4 sing, because the burning of love shall 
be shown to me, and songful joy shall shine before me; also my 
clamorous 8 thought shall not glide without a praiser, nor shall 
I labour thus in doubt. Now truly the longings of this 
heavisome exile cast me down, and heaviness grieving me 
scarcely suffers me to stand. And when within with unwrought 
heat I wax warm, without I lurk as it were wan 6 and unhappy 
and without light. 

my God, to whom I offer devotion without feigning, wilt 
Thou not think on me in Thy mercy ? A wretch I am j 
therefore I need Thy mercy. And wilt Thou not raise 
into light the longing that binds me, that I may fitly 7 have 
that I desire ; and the labour in which I am heavy because I 
trespassed, Thou shalt change into a honey-sweet 8 mansion, 
so that melody may last where heaviness was ; and that I may 
see my Love in His beauty, whom I desire, and worship Him 
endlessly, held by His touch, for after Him I long. 

1 C. priuetis. 2 C. opyn. L. enodaret, i.e., unknot. 
3 C. opynynge. 4 i.e., more fruitfully . L. uberius. 

s C. My cryingly J?ojtis ; and see note liii. 6 C.browne = L.fuscus. 

7 C. acordyngly. L. oportune. 

8 L. mellicam mansionem. E.E.T.S. reads homly for C. honily. 



CHAPTER V 

THE MEDITATION OF THE LOVER IN HIS 
LOVE : AND THE FORSAKING OF FELLOWSHIP : 
AND HOW IN ORDER IT COMES TO THE 
FLAME OF LOVE 

OJESU, when with rejoicing, I burn in Thee, and busily 
the heat of love comes in so that I should halse 
Thee fully, O most lovely ; but I am borne back, Thou 
sweetest one, from that I love and desire. Moreover griefs 
happen, and the waste wilderness forbars 1 the way, and suffers 
not the habitations of the lovers to be builded in one. But 
would to God Thou hadst shown me a fellow in the way, 
that with his stirrings 2 my heaviness might have been 
gladdened and the bond of sighing unloosed ; if it were not 
forthwith cut in sunder by Thy sweet scythe, so sorely it 
would strain that it might gar the lover go forth from the 
close 3 of the flesh for the greatness of love and be cast down 
before Thy Majesty. 

In the meantime, certain, joying in hymns of praise, sweetly 
should I have rested with my fellow that Thou hadst given 
me, and in good speech, withouten strife, we should have been 
glad. Truly feasting together in the mirth of love we would 
sing 4 lovely songs, until we be led from this outward and 
cumbrous prison and brought into the inward dwelling-place, 
at the same time, 5 receiving [by lot] a seat among the 

1 obstructs. a L. illius exhortacione. 3 j,e, y cloister. 
* C. suld schcwe. 5 C. samne, 

149 



150 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

heavenly citizens that loved Christ in one manner and one 
measure. 

Alas what shall I do ? How long shall I suffer delay ? 
To whom shall I flee that I may happily enjoy that I desire ? 
Needy am I and hungry, noyed and dis-eascd, wounded and 
dis-coloured for the absence of my love; for love hurts 
me, and hope that is put back chastises my soul. Therefore 
the cry of the heart goes up, and amongst the heavenly 
citizens 1 a songly thought runs desiring to be lifted up to the 
ear of the most High. And when it comes there it proffers 
its errand and says : 

O my love ! O my honey ! O my harp ! O my psaltry and 
daily song ! When shalt Thou help my heaviness ? O my 
heart s rose, 2 when shalt Thou come to me and take with 
Thee my spirit ? Truly Thou seest that I am wounded to 
the quick with Thy fair beauty, and the longing relaxes not 
but grows more and more, and the penalties here present cast 
me down, and prick me to go to Thee, of whom only I trow 
I shall see solace and remedy. But who [meanwhile] shall 
sing me the end of my grief and the end of mine un-rest ? And 
who shall show to me the greatness of my joy and the fulfilling 
of my song, that from this I might take comfort and sing with 
gladness, for I should know the end of mine unhappiness 
and that joy 3 were near ? Herefore an excellent song I shall 
sing and my cry and voice shall soften the hardness of 
my Beloved also. If He should chastise He should slake, 4 
but punishing gradually, He shall not ay laugh at the pains 
of the innocent. 

And herefore I can be called happy, and have withouten end 
the merriest draught of love, withouten all uncleanness ; and, all 
griefs being cleansed away, may stand in perfectness of joy and 
holiness, singing worship with a heavenly symphony ; when, 

1 L. et canora cogitacio currit inter chores concinium. 

2 L. quando medeberis merori meo, o radix cordis mei. 

3 L. ilia perfeccio. 4 L. occidat. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 151 

truly, amid these needy dis-eases, the burning of sweet love 
has mirthed my mind within my secret soul 1 as it were with 
music, and the sweet honeyed memory of Jesu ; so that I, 
greatly gladdened in the song the which I received from heaven, 
should not feel the venomous sweetness of unworthy love the 
which those that flourish in beauty of the flesh think full 
sweet nor should this sturdy 2 earthliness hold me. 

O fairest and most lovely in Thy beauty, have mind that 
for Thy sake I dread not worldly, power ; and have mind 
also that I would cleave to Thee. All love that unwisely 
cherishes I have cast out, and I have fled all things that let 
to love Thee, God ; and fleeting fairness that makes men bond 
and sends women to malice, nor has it liked me to enjoy 
plays of youth, 3 that by uncleanness make worthy souls subject 
to bondage of folly. 

Henceforth I ceased not to give Thee my heart, touched by 
desire; and Thou hast withholden it so that it should not flow 
into divers lewdness of concupiscence and lust, and Thou hast 
[put] in me the mind of Thy Name, and hast opened to mine 
eyes the window of contemplation. To Thee at last devoted 
I have run in ghostly song ; but first my heart waxed warm 
with the fire of love, and lovely ditties rose up within me. 

If Thou puttest not these things from Thy sight, the mickle- 
ness of Thy pity should move Thee ; by the which Thou 
sufferest not Thy lovers to be taken too mickle into coldness : 
and I trow Thou wouldest lessen my wretchedness, and Thou 
wouldest not turn Thy face from my longing. 

Sorrow certain and wretchedness stand in the body ; 
longing soothly abides in the soul, until the time Thou givest 
that I have desired with so great heat ; through love of which 
my flesh is made lean and foul among the beauteous of this life. 
And from the inflowing 4 of it my soul has languished to see 
Thee whom she has burningly desired : and that in those seats 

1 C. twix my priuetis. 2 L. turbulenta terrenitas. 

3 L. nee placuit mihi iuueniles exercere iocos. * C. of )?e influens 



152 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

she might be of the secret heaven, and rest with the fellowship 
that she desired ; and after be taken up where, among angel 
singers, she may worshipThee perfectly with love, withouten end. 

Behold, mine inward parts have seethed up 1 and the flame 
of chanty has wasted the gathering 2 of my heart that I have 
hated, and has put by the slippery gladness of worldly friend 
ship ; and also thoughts that were foul and to be held abomin 
able it has drawn out. And so without feigning I have risen 
to mannerly love, that before had slept in divers outrays 3 of 
mine errors and umbelapped with darkness ; there with liking 
I felt the lust of devotion sweetest where I sorrow more to 
have trespassed. My friends I pray you hear that no man 
beguile you ! 

These, and other such words in the sight of our Maker, 
burst up from the fire of love ; and no man that is strange 
to this unmeasured love should dare to use such words 4 the 
which is yet disturbed with temptation to void and unprofitable 
thoughts, and that has not his mind continually with Christ 
without gain-turning, or is stirred affectuously in any manner 
about any creature : so that all the movements of his heart go 
not to God because he feels himself bound to earthly affection. 

Full high is he in charity whose heart has sung these ditties 
of love, and, hid in ghostly feasting, beholds not outward fond 
ness. Forsooth marvellously cheered with eternal desires, he 
raises himself to heaven by contemplation : from whence he 
burns with sweetest love, and is moistened by a draught from 
the heavenly passage 5 ; and is umbeset and truly transformed 
with the heat of the happiness to come, so that he shall eschew 
all temptation and is set in the height 6 of contemplative life. 
And henceforward so continuing in ghostly song in Christ s 
praise he is glorified. 

1 C. vpbolyd = L. efferbuerunt. 

a L. consumpsitcoagulacionemcordismei. 3 excesses ; see gloss. 
* C. slike vvordis teyt = L. tractare. 

s L. *^r,Vr#r amenissimo haustu superni meatus ; yet the O.E.D. 
quotes moist e here as used figuratively = soften. 
6 L, cac i. me .1, />., extreme point. 



CHAPTER VI 

OF DIVERS GIFTS OF GOD S CHOSEN: AND 
HOW SAINTS COME TO LOVE IN PRAYING, 
MEDITATING, LOVING, SUFFERING ADVER 
SITY AND HATING VICE. 1 AND THAT LOVE 
COMES FROM GOD AND THAT HIS LOVE 2 IS 
NECESSARY. AND THAT TRUE LOVERS FALL 
NOT BY TEMPTATIONS OF THE FLESH, AS 
OTHER IMPERFECT ONES: NOR ARE HURT 
BY THE DREGS OF SIN ALTHOUGH THEY 
LAST 

THE chosen truly that are fulfilled with love, and take 
more heed in mind to loving than to aught else, have 
wonderfully shown to us the secrets of lovers the 
which, surpassing in fervour and supernaturally, 3 have received 
the fire of love, and with a wonderful desire have yearned 
after their Beloved Jesu. Divers gifts truly are disposed 4 to 
God s lovers : some are chosen to do ; some to teach ; some 
to love. Nevertheless all the holy covet one thing and run 
to one life, but by divers paths : for everyone chosen goes to 
the kingdom of bliss by that way of virtue in the which he is 
most used. And if that virtue in which he surpasses more 
burningly draws him to the sweetness of God s love, the which 
is supposed stronger in the most rest, truly when he shall 

1 C. vissittand ; and see note liv. * L. memoria. 

3 C. passand qwikly and abowen kynde. * ;.^ () assigned. 

153 



154 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

come to God, he receives for meed that dwelling-place of 
heavenly joy and the seat that Christ has ordained to be had 
withouten end by the most perfect lovers. 

The lover therefore says the glorious ditties of love he has 
made ; and he that is surpassingly chosen to God s love, first 
he cares and desires that his heart never depart from his 
Beloved ; so that the memory of Jesu be to him as melody of 
music at a feast and is sweeter in his mouth than honey 
or the honey-comb. But the longer he exercises himself in 
ghostly study the sweeter to him it is. And then it with 
draws his mind from vain and evil thoughts, and binds it to 
the desires of his Maker, and altogether gathers it into 
Christ and it is stabled in Him, the Well of love. So that he 
loves Him only, and he prays that he may be glad only 
in Him. 

Now sweet affections come into his soul, and wonderful 
meditations favourable only to God, the which being tasted, 
and spread in this mind with intentness, affect 1 her more 
than may be spoken ; they lead with great liking and sweetness 
of spirit to the contemplation of heavenly things, and they 
cleanse from desire of worldly solace. So that God s lover seeks 
nothing in this world but that he may be in (the) wilderness, 
and only takes heed to the likings of his Maker. Afterward 
truly strongly and well used in praying, and given to high 
rest in meditation, killing all wickedness and uncleanness, and 
taking a strait way with discretion, he greatly profits in the 
virtue of everlasting love. And his affection goes up [on 
high], so that the entrance is opened, in the beholding of 
heavenly mysteries, to the eye of his mind. The burning also, 
which before he felt not, begins to kindle his soul, and whiles 
he is profitably occupied in that, now quicklier and now more 
slowly it warms as this corruptible body suffers the [soul] 
that it heavies, and ofttimes with divers heaviness down casts. 

1 C. chiryschis ; and sec note Iv. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 155 

So that the same soul anointed with heavenly sweetness, and 
quickening 1 with heavenly delight, cheers herself mickle to 
pass forth by good desire, and irks to dwell in this mortal 
flesh. Nevertheless she gladly suffers adversity that happens, 
for sweetly she rests in the joy of eternal love. 

And all these things that happen can not destroy that joyful 
song that she had received, made glad in Jesu, nay but the 
fiend s falsehoods fly away ineffectual 2 ; and the beguiling 
vanity of worldly honours goes in despite, nor is fleshly 
softness sought or loved. These things are armed against 
God s chosen so that all they that have their conversation in 
heaven might together fall, unavised, to their overturning. 

But it profits not to overcome them unless the holy Lover 
of God, in Christ s Name, resolute 3 and as it were without 
strife, being glad says: Tu autem susceptor metis es 4 : Lord, 
Thou art my taker, that the malicious prickings of my 
froward enemies make me not unrestful. Gloria mea : my Joy, 
for in Thee is all my joy. Not in my virtue, for it is not sent 
save from Thee. Worthily is all given to Thee, nothing to 
me. Et exaltans caput meum : and my head, that is to say the 
highest part of my soul by the which the netherer, 6 Thee 
favouring, is governed. Lifting her up to ghostly song and 
contemplation Thou sufferest her not to be cast down or 
bound into the low and foul likings of this world. This 
soothly is the head that in the oil of ghostly gladness 
Thou hast made fat, that it should increase 6 in charity and 
be to me a Calix inebriam 7 : that is to say a drink of inward 
sweetness [inebriating] my soul with love of my Maker. 
And sleepy shall I lie, verily turned from love of temporal 
things; and so as it were with sweetness, feeling nothing of 



1 blandiciis supernis respirans. C. cleris. L. animet in desiderio. 

2 C. in deyd, mistaken translation of L. inefficacia. 

3 C. vnbyrsyd = L. inconcusse. * Ps. iii. 4 (iii. 3). 

5 i.e., lower. 6 C. bolne. 7 Ps. xxii. 5 (xxiii. 5). 



1 5 6 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

earthly mirth or heaviness, I shall be led to the everlasting 
cleanness. 

Truly in this sweetness of high love the conscience shines. 
For cleanness lasts there, and the heart waxes likingly 
warm ; and the mind, mirthed with gifts, waxes hot. Nor 
likes she to behold the pleasures of this exile, but she halses the 
bitterness of this world more gladly than the sweetness to 
follow ; for enjoying the delights that fail not, she ceases not to 
cleave to the love of Jesu with such burning desire, that as 
soon and as lightly thou mightest turn the world upside down 
as gaincall 1 her mind from her Saviour. 

All things forsooth she hates that are contrary to God s 
love ; and she burns unweariedly to fulfil those things that she 
sees and knows are pleasing to God. This certain she would 
not leave for any pain or wretchedness, but would hie the 
quicklier to do God s will if she should perceive any hard 
thing she might offer for that cause. Nor truly does she 
think or desire any other thing but to love Christ truly, and to 
do His will in everything 2 without ceasing. 

A mind that has received this burning will, in goodness 
from his Beloved, is made rich with devotion from God. For 
sooth He chose her that she might be such a one that might 
abide Christ s perfect lover ; and be a choice vessel that shall 
be filled with the noblest liquor of the sweetness of heavenly 
life. And His name which is chosen out of thousands shall 
continue in everlasting remembrance, and be ever withheld 
within the self in thought. And then by God s help she shall 
cast out all lettings to love and shall be glad in God. For 
the darts of our enemies shall not avail against such a lover, 
but she shall receive from her love sickerness of conscience, with 
untrowed cleanness of inward sweetness, and every hour shall 
yield up her spirit. For being in ghostly crying, 3 she 
is friendlily 4 cleansed every day by the burning of love, 

1 i.e., call-back. 2 C. in all kyndes. 

3 L. in clamore intimo consistens. * L. amicabiliter. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 157 

so that no filth of spiritual foulness may last. Whiles in 
continual thought she is with God, she casts out all wickedness 
that the malice of our enemy moves to ; and the fire of love 
verily biding in her mind, it cleanses all the contagion of sin 
that is drawn out by an ungotten desire. 1 

Truly the affection set in a great height is so sicker that it 
is alway ware of negligence and casts it away as a deadly 
enemy ; and whiles it lives it leaves not busyness and dread. 
For the better a man is, and the more acceptable to God, 
the more he burns in charity, and the more he is stirred by 
the prickings of love to work more busily and strongly that 
that belongs to his degree and life. And he is alway busy 
that the memory of his sweetest Beloved slide not from his 
thought for a minute, that not only as a clothing but as deed 
he may have and think of Him whom he knows he is bidden 
to love with all his heart. And he greatly dreads lest he be 
drawn into these things that the least grieve Him. He 
certain not only busies him with all his heart to fulfil that as 
he is bidden to love Christ ; but also he is taken with great 
delight, so that he never forgets his Beloved nor bowing to 
temporal liking will part himself from his Love if he might 
withouten pain do that he would. 2 He is truly expert that ghostly 
liking is sweeter than bodily love ; and therefore it were 
marvel if he should slip into so great wrongs 3 ; and if, forsaking 
ghostly cheerfulness, he would make ready to rejoice in this 
feigned and as it were false felicity; or overcome by fleshly 
beauty, would desire that which forsooth ilk holy lover of 
God hates. 

No marvel that fleshly desire has beguiled some; and beauty 
shown to the sight has drawn away some wise and even 
devout men to unlawful halsing, because they were not 
perfectly grounded in charity, nor cleaved they alway to 

1 L. que ex ingenita concupiscencia trahuntur. 
* L. sine pena facerc quod valeret. 
3 L. tauta deliramenta dilaberatur. 



158 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

eternal love; wherefore haled 1 by temptations, when they 
seemed to ascend, before they might come to height have 
fallen down. 

But a true lover of everlastingness doubtless holds himself 
stable among temptations, and in that strife he wins a crown, 
when others, unsteadfast, are slain. And Christ s lovers cease 
not to cut away all obstacles, and they shed forth all their 
heart wholly before their Maker and not as these that have 
not fastened their foot in love, and, cast down from the height 
of their endeavour, 2 wax lean but rather going on without 
change, stand stable in the well-begun, and are nourished and 
brought forth 3 in the sweetness of heavenly savour; that 
they may give light by example of holiness to them that are 
without, and within they may burn sweetly with the fire 
of love. 

Errors also of fleshly desire they shall slay by the desire of 
cleanness ; although no man in this life can fully slaken 
engendered concupiscence, or be so perfect that he may live 
in flesh and never sin. And so neither by this nor that shall 
a perfect man be here perfectly healed, but in heaven where 
the light of joy comforts 4 his wits to behold God ; and 
everlasting peace shall discomfit and cast out griefs and 
heaviness, that now no grief of corruption be, now when 
everlasting bliss confirms the discomfiter. 5 

In the meantime the mind is awakened and desires to be 
kindled by abiding love, and it studies to eschew the liking for 
these seen vanities. Truly the dregs 6 of sin abide unto death, 
but they and the longing of nature perish in death. So that 
every chosen one, abling 7 himself to love, and strengthened 
by high grace against these dregs, and armed with cleanness, 

* L. irapulsi temptamentis. 

* C. fro ]?e heght of J>er meuynge. L. ab ascensu intencionis 
deiecti inarcescunt. 3 L. et educati. 

4 i.e., strengthens s L. consummat triumphantem. 

6 L. fames ptccati ; and cj. note liv. ^ L. se habilitans. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 159 

should exercise himself in glorious battles, and should cast down 
all things that hostile lovers pursue. 1 

Herefore sickerly whiles the fighting one overcomes and is 
not overcome he is lift up to a marvellous mirth in which 
all his inward members joy. For he feels himself inspired by a 
mystery of love, and he ascends on high in honey-sweet heat 
and contemplates with ghostly song the sweet praise shed forth 
to the lovers hastening to death and to nothingness 2 at the 
movings of the fleshly affections. 

Some add hereto : saying that a sweet thing sounds in his 
heart, and ghostly song, wherefore, thirsting, he is ravished 
and gladdened. But they have not expounded it so that I could 
understand how their thought was changed to song and 
melody abides in the mind ; and in what manner of praising 
he sings his prayers. 3 

1 C. ]?at emnyly lufars swis. 

2 C. and to vnbeingis. 

3 L. et qua iubilacione preces modulatur. 



CHAPTER VII 

THAT A TRUE LOVER ONLY LOVES HIS 
BELOVED : AND OF DOUBLE RAVISHINGS, THAT 
IS TO SAY OUT OF THE BODY, AND OUT OF 
THE LIFTING OF THE MIND INTO GOD; AND 
OF THE WORTHINESS THEREOF 

THE heat of a longing spirit shows in himself a pure love 
for the fairness of God. For he seeks nothing but His 
Beloved, and all other desires he entirely l slakens ; and so 
the mind is freely borne into that it sweetly loves, and the bond 
of the lover s will is stably confirmed, whiles nothing happens 
that may let a lover from his purpose, nor that may gar him 
turn again to think of aught else ; so that loving with great 
easiness he may receive his desire, and all tarrying being put 
back, may swiftly run to the halsing of love. 

Among these delights which he tastes burning in so sweet 
love he feels a heavenly secret 2 inshed that no man yet may 
know but he that has received it ; and he bears in himself the 
lectuary that moistens all joyful lovers in Jciu, and makes them 
happy so that they cease not to hie to sit in heavenly seats and 
endlessly to enjoy the love of their Maker. After that truly they 
earn (while) abiding in heavenly sights ; and set on fire inwardly, 
all their innermost soul 3 is gladdened with the playful shining 
of light ; and they feel themselves made glad with merriest love, 
and wonderfully melted in joyful song. 

1 C. clerely. 3 C. heuenly priuyte. L. archanum celitus 

3 C. all }>er inhere partys L. omnia intima sua. 
1 60 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 161 

Therefore their thoughts are made sweet in His service be 
cause studying and meditating on scripture and also writing 
they think on their Love, and they go not from their wonted 
voice of praise. 1 That forsooth shall be considered 2 marvellous, 
when one mind shall fulfil and take heed to two things in one 
time : that is, it offers worship and love to Jesu in singing and 
joying in mind, and together with that, it understands that 
that is in books ; and neither hurts the other. 

But this grace is not given generally and to all, but to a holy 
soul inbued with the holiest, in whom the excellence of love 
shines, and songs of love-longing Christ inspiring commonly 3 
burst up, and being made now as it were a pipe of love, and joy 
ing sounds more goodly than can be said, in the sight of God. 
The which soul knowing the mystery of love, with a great cry 
ascends to his Love. In wit most sharp and wise, and in feeling 
subtle ; not spread in the things of this world, but all gathered 
and set in one God, that he may serve Him in clearness of 
conscience and shining of soul, whom he has purposed to love 
and himself to give to Him. 

The clearer certain the love of a lover is the nearer and 
more present to him God is. And thereby he joys more clearly 
in God, and the more he feels of His sweet goodness, that is 
wont to inshed itself to lovers and to glide into the hearts of 
the meek with mirth beyond comparison. This forsooth 
is pure love : when desire of none other thing is mingled with 
it. Nor has he any inclination to the beauty of the bodily 
creature, but rather the sharpness of his mind being cleansed, is 
altogether stabled into the one desire of everlastingness ; and 
with freeness of spirit he continually beholds heavenly things 
as he that is ravished by the beauty of any whom he beholding 
cannot but love. 

But as it is shown ravishing is understood in two ways. 

1 L. a solito laudis organo non recedunt. a C. supposyd. 

3 L. familiariter. * C. in-to heuyns bisily he behaldis. 



162 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

One manner forsooth is when some man is ravished out of 
fleshly feeling, so that in the time of his ravishing he plainly 
feels nought in the flesh, nor what is done concerning his 
flesh ; and yet he is not dead but quick, for the soul yet gives 
life to the body. And in this manner saints [and the chosen] 
are sometimes ravished to their profit and other men s learning ; 
as Paul was ravished to the third heaven. And in this manner 
also sinners are ravished sometimes in a vision, that they may 
see the joys of the saints and the pains of the damned for their 
own and others correction ; as we read of many. 

Another manner of ravishing there is, that is the lifting of 
the mind into God by contemplation. And this manner of 
ravishing is in all that are perfect lovers of God, and in none 
but in them that love God. And this is well called a ravishing, 
as the other, for it is done with a violence and as it were against 
nature ; and truly it is above nature that of a foul sinner a 
child fulfilled with ghostly joy may be born unto God. This 
manner of ravishing is to be desired and to be loved. Truly 
Christ had ay the contemplation of God, but never the with 
drawing from bodily governance. 1 

Therefore it is diverse to be rapt 2 by love in the feeling 
of the flesh, and to be rapt from bodily feeling to a joyful or 
dreadful sight. That ravishing of love I hold best in which 
a man may earn most meed. To see heavenly things clearly 
belongs not to increase of meed, but to reward. 

They also are called ravished by love that are wholly and 
perfectly given to the desires of their Saviour, and worthily 3 
ascend to the height of contemplation. With wisdom un- 
wrought are they enlightened, and are worthy to feel the heat 
of the undescried light, with whose fairness they are ravished. 

This truly happens to a devout soul when all her thoughts 
are ordered in God s love, and all waverings of mind pass into 

1 L. semper habuit diuinam contemplacioncm set nunquam 
corporalis regirainis subtraccionem. 

3 C. to be tane. L, amore rapi. 3 amore rapi valenter. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 163 

stableness. And now she neither wavers nor hovers, but with 
all desires brought into one and set in full great heat she 
desires after Christ; reaching out and given to Him 1 as if there 
were nothing but these two, that is to say, Christ and the 
loving soul. To Him therefore she is tied with the band of 
love, unable to be loosed, and by surpassing of mind flying 
above the bounds of the body she draws a marvellous moisture 
from heaven. To which she would never have come unless 
she had been ravished by God s grace from inward affections, 
and set in ghostly height ; in which, no marvel, she receives 
healthful gifts of grace. 

Whiles therefore she thinks only of godly and heavenly 
things with a free heart, not compelled, 2 and knowingly, she 
sees also her mind taken above all bodily and visible things, and 
changed into heavenly. Withouten doubt it is near that she 
may verily receive unto herself and feel the heat of love, and 
then be molten into ghostly song and the sweetness thereof. 
That truly shall follow from this ravishing to him that is 
chosen thereto ; therefore this ravishing is great and wonder 
ful. Truly as I suppose it passes all deeds of this life, for 
it is trowed a foretaste of everlasting sweetness. It passes also, 
unless I be beguiled, 3 all other gifts that in this pilgrimage 
God gives to His saints for meed. In this truly they are 
worthy a higher place in heaven who hereby, in this life, 
have loved God more burningly and restfully. 

As to high rest, it is to be desired to seek and hold it. For 
in mickle bodily business, or in unsteadfastness or wavering of 
mind, it is neither gotten nor holden. Therefore when any one 
is lift to this, he lives full of all joy and virtue, and shall die in 
sicker sweetness ; and after this life he shall be full worthy, 
and near to God among the companies of angels. 

1 C. to hym sprede and givyn = L. iili cxtcnta ac intenta ; and 
cf. note Iv. * C. not dryvin agayn - L. irreuerberato. 

3 C. gylles. L. nisi filler. 



1 64 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

In the meantime certain he has sweetness, heat, and ghostly 
song on which I have before oft touched and by these he 
serves God, and loving Him, cleaves to Him without parting. 
But since this corruptible body grieves the soul, and this worldly 
dwelling casts down our mind 1 thinking many things 
therefore he sings not ay with such busyness, 2 nor does the soul 
cry at all times with evenlike ghostly song. Sometimes ; 
certain she feels more of heat and sweetness and she sings with 
difficulty, sometimes truly when heat is felt less she is ravished 
[to song] with great sweetness and busyness. Oft also with 
great mirth she flies and passes into ghostly song, and she knows 
also that the heat and sweetness of love are with her. 

Nevertheless heat is never without sweetness, although some 
times it is without ghostly song, the which also lets bodily 
song, and noise of janglers 3 makes it turn again into thought. 
In (the) wilderness they meet more clearly, for there the Loved 
speaks to the heart of the lover as it were a shameful 4 lover 
that halses not his Beloved before men nor kisses like a friend, 
but in common and as a stranger. 

Heavenly joy comes anon into a devout soul departed, sicker 
in mind and body, from worldly business, and desiring only 
to enjoy Christ s pleasance ; 5 and marvellously mirthing her, 
melody springs out to her, whose token she receives so that 
from henceforward she suffers not gladly any worldly sound. 

This is ghostly music that is unknown to all that are occu 
pied with worldly business, lawful or unlawful. There is no 
man that has known this but he that has studied to take heed 
to God only. 

1 C. owr sensualyte; and see note Ivi. 2 L. facilitate. 

3 i.e., chatterers = L. tumultuancium. * i.e., shamefaced. 

s i.e., courtesy. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DESIRE OF A LOVER AFTER GOD IS 
SHOWN : AND THE CURSED LOVE OF THIS 
WORLD IS DECLARED BY MANY EXAMPLES: 
AND THAT THE MEMORY OF GOD ABIDES 
NOT IN LOVERS OF THE WORLD 

SWEET Jesu I bind Thy love in me with a knot un 
able to be loosed, seeking the treasure that I desire, and 
longing I find, because I cease not to thirst for Thee. 
Therefore my sorrow vanishes as the wind, and my meed is 
ghostly song that no man sees. Mine inward nature is turned 
into sweet song, and I long to die for love. The greatness of 
the gifts delights me with light, and the tarrying of love 
punishes me with joy, whiles they come that receive me, and 
in receiving refresh. 

But those things want that my Beloved shall show to me, 
longing : they wound me, so that I languish, and they heal 
not yet my languor fully, but rather increase it ; for love 
growing, languor is also increased. 

Sic defeat in dolor e vita mea, et anni In gemitibus 1 : l thus fails 
my life in heaviness, and my years in lamenting 2 ; for from 
my love I am put back, and desire of death is withdrawn, 
and the medicine for wretches tarries ; and in my crying I 
arise and say: Heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est z : 
Alas, my labour is lengthened ! It is love that noysme ; love 
that delights me ; it chastises, because it that so mickle is 

1 Ps. xxx. ii (xxxi. 10). 8 C. wamentyng. 3 Ps. cxix. 5 (cxx. 5). 

165 



i66 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

loved is not forthwith given ; it gladdens, for it refreshes with 
hope, and by this heat insheds untrowcd comfort. 

Great longing soothly grows when through the joy of love 
the ditty of ghostly love is in the soul, and great heat gives 
increase to sweet love ; and now nothing is so lawful as to 
think death, life. For the flower in which this thought is 
nourished can not have end, but the joy that continually waxes 
great in the lover, and that is thought a wonder, makes of 
death and melody all one. Truly when I draw nigh to death, 
the fullness of my blessedness, that Almighty God whom I 
love 1 shall give to me, begins in me. Soothly my seat is 
ordained in the place where love cools not, nor may bow 
to slowness. 2 His love certain my heart kindles because I 
can feel His fire, whereby the strength in my soul knows 
no grief whiles I am wholly strengthened in the solace of 
love. 

For love I faint, and I spend all my time in holy sighing ; 
and that shall be no reproach to me before God s angels, for 
whose fellowship I burningly desire, and with whom also in 
strong hope I wait to be perfected. 3 And the praise that 
gladdens a longer shall now relax, 4 and the blissful sight that he 
desired and loved shall be openly shown with joy. 

But woe be ay to them whose days are slipped and passed 
in vanity, and their years with haste are perished withouten 
fruit of charity ; that languish in unclean love and, for the 
fairness of corrupt flesh that is but the covering of filth and 
corruption are led withouten sweetness to death. Upon 
whom also is fallen the fire of wrath and covetousness, and 
they have not seen the sun of everlasting light. These, follow 
ing their vanity, go into exile, having made themselves as vain 
as were those things that they have loved. Therefore when 



1 L. episcopus qucm amo. 2 / ./., torpor. 

3 C. I byid to be endyd. L. consummari firraa spc expecto. 

4 C. sail relces. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 167 

they shall be deemed they shall [see] Christ sharp and intoler 
able to their eyes because in this life they never felt Him sweet 
in their hearts. They truly that here feel Him sweet in 
themselves, doubtless shall see Him well-cheered 1 there. Such 
truly as we now are to Him, such a one shall He then appear 
to us ; to a lover certain lovely and desirable, and to them 
that loved not, hateful and cruel. And yet this change is not 
on His part but on ours. He soothly is ay one and unchange 
able, but every creature shall see Him as he is worthy [to see]. 
God truly shows Himself wilfully 2 to ilk man as He will ; 
and therefore He shall appear pleased to the righteous, and 
wroth to the unrighteous, in one and at the same little part 
of time. 

Truly the love of a reasonable soul so does that be it good 
or be it ill it shall be deemed after that it does. There is 
nothing so speedful to get everlasting joy as the love of Christ: 
nor nothing sooner brings to utter damnation as love of the 
world. Therefore everlasting love should enflame our minds, 
and cursed and hateful love of fleshly affections be put far out. 
May the sweetness of heavenly life moisten us, and it be not 
lawful to us to love the bitter sweetness of this life. For the 
gall of dragons, 3 that is to say most cursed wickedness and 
bitterness of falsehood, is the wine of sinners, because drink 
ing it they are so maddened that they see not what is to 
come to them ; and venom of adders, that is killing shrewd 
ness, 4 is deadly drink to them, and they are unable to be 
healed for their malice is incorrigible. 

Truly this world has delights of wretchedness : riches of 
vanity : wounding flatterings : deadly likings: false pleasure :s 
mad love : hateful darkness : in the beginning midday, and at 
the end night everlasting. It has also unsalted salt ; 

1 i.e., of glad countenance, and cf. Ps. xx. 7 (xxi. 6) and Ixxix. 17 
(Ixxx. 16). * /.<?., voluntarily. 

3 cf. Deut. xxxii. 33, and see note Ivii. 4 wickedness. 

5 C. wode lust = L. felicitatem falsam ; and see note Iviii. 



168 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

savourless savour : foul beauty : horrible friendship : cherishing 
night : bitter honey and killing fruit. It has also a rose of 
stink ; joy of lamentation : melody of heaviness: the praising 
of despite : the true drink 1 of death : the array of abomination : 
the beguiling leader and the prince who casts down. It also 
has the gem of heaviness, and scornful praise : blackness of 
lilies : song of sorrow, and foul beauty : discording friendship 
and snow s blackness 2 : solace forsaken : and a needy kingdom. 
It has a nightingale roaring more than a cow : a sweet voice 
withouten melody : a sheep clad in a fox s skin : and a dove 
madder than any wild 3 beast. 

Flee we therefore bodily and worldly love, whose back has 
a prick although the face flatter ; whose flower is anointed 
with gall, 4 and the pap, though it be privily, bears adders 
whose savour cuts man s soul from God, and bath 5 burns 
with the fire of hell ; whose gold shall turn into mould, 6 
and shall shed forth the incense of fire of brimstone. 

Here is love without meekness, and full liking madness ; 
the which suffers not the soul bound to it to be joined to the 
seats of the saints, or have delight in God s love. To them 
soothly that have their desire bowed to the love of these 
worldly creatures, it is heavy and [seems] a great burden to 
think of God, although the memory of Him be most sweet, 
and waxes marvellously sweet to the thinkers. If they begin 
to think on Him, anon He slides from their mind, and they 
turn to their old thoughts in which they full long have rested. 
They are bound certain with their evil custom, and angels 
food shall not savour to minds so sick and unclean, with [out] 
great and long use of ghostly thought and the casting away of 
fleshly imaginations. They have certain the palate of their 

1 L. nectar. 

2 L. niuem ingredinem, i.e., black by being trodden upon. 

3 C. woder ]?en any wode best. L. plus fera furientem. 

+ L. cuius flos fellitus est et vber vipereum, quamuis lateat gerit. 
5 L. balneum. 6 C. moll. L. cinerem. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 169 

hearts defiled with the fever of wicked love, wherefore they 
can not feel the sweetness of heavenly joy. Even if it happens 
good thoughts come into their minds, they bide not there ; 
but the tokens of God s inspiration being straightway put out 
by the roots of evil, they go from ill to worse ; and they fall 
the more damnably in that they consented not to that good 
with which they were touched. 

Thus they that are chosen and are utterly burned with the 
love of God and cleave to Christ without parting, if at any 
time ill thoughts should pluck their soul or do stress to enter, 
anon looking up to heaven, they cast them out, and slake 
them with the heat of their affection. And no marvel, because 
by good custom they raise themselves, so that they take no 
earthly thing, nor any other thing of venomed sweetness, in 
which they might have delight. Soothly he that lives in 
perfect charity feels no sin nor wicked lust, 1 but rather joys 
in his God ; and neither anger nor uncleanness heavies him. 

1 L. vel iniquum oblectamentum. 



CHAPTER IX 

OF DIVERS FRIENDSHIPS OF GOOD AND ILL, 
AND IF THEY CAN BE LOOSED : OF THE SCARCE 
NESS OF FRIENDSHIP OF MEN AND WOMEN : 
AND OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP, AND HOW THE 
CHOSEN JOY IN IT IN THIS LIFE : AND OF THE 
FOLLY OF SOME 1 THAT ABSTAIN TOO MICKLE, 
OR ARE NAKED : AND OF FLESHLY FRIENDSHIP : 
AND THE ARRAY 3 OF MEN AND WOMEN 

FRIENDSHIP is the knitting of two wills, consenting 
to like things and dissenting to unlike ; and this friend 
ship can be betwix good and betwix evil, but by divers 
affections. 3 It ought mostly to be betwix God and man s 
soul ; the which is bound to conform her will to God s will in 
all things, so that what God wills she wills, and what God wills 
not neither she wills. Thus soothly shall full friendship be 
betwix them. 

But in human affections 4 where true friendship is God 
forbid that the sundering of bodies should make the parting of 
souls, but rather the unloosened knot of cleaving friendship 
shall comfort the heaviness of bodily sundering, so that the 
friend shall think he is with his friend, whiles he sees the 
steadfastness of their will is unloosened. 5 It is true friend- 

note lix. a i.e., adornment = L. ornatu. 

3 C. desyrs. Throughout this chapter I have substituted affec 
tions for desires where the sense required. * C. mennys desyrs. 
L. dum indissolubilium voluntatem constanciam videt. 
170 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 171 

ship certain when a friend behaves him to his friend as to 
himself; when he thinks his friend is himself in another body ; 
and he loves his friend for himself, and not for the profit 
that he trows he may have from him. 

But it is asked, if the one friend err whether shall friend 
ship cease ? Some say friendship is not perfect unless it 
be betwix them that are like in virtue ; but how was that 
perfect that might be broken ? The one erring is not now 
perfect, and so gradually 1 it can go to nought; which is 
against reason [in true friendship] where a man is loved for 
himself and not for profit or liking. 

Soothly it is not necessary for friends that the one be 
changed on account of the changing of the other ; but it is 
impossible that friendship since it is virtue be voided in any 
man without his changing. Wherefore it is not broken on 
account of the error of the one, but and it be true friendship 
it shall be the more busy to call him that erred back again. 
And thus it behoves that friendship by which he wills and gets 
good for his friend as for himself be called love ; and, whiles 
they live, for no error can it be broken. 

Friendship certain is lightly loosed when that wherefore 
they should be loved is not found in the friends ; that is to 
say when the friendship for which now the friends are loved 
is not profitable nor pleasing. And such friendship is feigned, 
for it can not last save whilst pleasure and profit bide. But 
that is the cause wherefore true friendship is not dissolved in 
friends whiles they live. Therefore true friendship is not 
broken whiles they are, 2 but the one can be erring yet both live. 
And therefore though one err yet friendship lasts if it be true, 
because they love each other according to what they are that 
is as they are good 3 and by that it behoves to be understood 
goodness not of manners but of nature. 

1 C. * sothly, and see note Ix. 2 i.e., exist. 

3 C. for )?ame-self ]?a lufe after ]?ame-self as ]?a ar gude. 



1 7 * THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Nature truly gars a man seek him a true friend, for nature 
desires to keep kindness and faith. And it works nothing in 
vain. Wherefore that friendship that is natural shall not be 
loosed nature being lasting unless it be to the great wrong 
of nature that the nature loved gainstands ; and that can 
nature in no wise do unless it be oppressed by corrupt manners. 
Therefore friendship that kindles anything that is not the 
same as that that is loved slakes, and is slakened when the 
things that stirred the love are not had ; so that if by manners 
or riches or fairness friendship be had, with ill manners, sliding 
riches, and wasted fairness friendship vanishes also, and it is 
said of him that had it, there is nothing unhappier than to 
have been happy. 1 

But friendship that nature works in friends is cast out by 
no poverty, nor with any error done away, and with no foul 
ness of body ended, whiles the nature lasts that is the cause 
of this friendship. Such friendship is purely natural and 
therefore it is worthy neither meed nor unmeed, unless it 
frets 2 ought against God s commandments. It has also a 
great delight knit with it, in which it earns neither meed 
nor unthank. True friendship can not be without [mutual] 
liking betwix friends, and their speech is desirable and their 
cheer 3 comfortable. And this friendship if it be informed 
with God s grace and be altogether in God and if it be given 
to Him so then it is called holy friendship and is full meedful. 
[But if on account of this friendship anything be done by 
the friends against God s will, it is perverse and wrong and 
foul friendship, and unclean and unmeedful.] 4 

I wot not soothly by what unhap it now befalls that 
scarcely or seldom is found a true friend. Ilk one seeks his 
own, and no man has a friend of whom he says, he is myself 
in another body. 5 They bow to their own profits and likings 

1 note Ixi. a conflicts or offends, O.E.D. 3 L. affatu. 

4 note Ixii. s L. mihi est ille alius ego. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 173 

and shame not to fulfil guile in their friends. Thereof it is 
deemed that they are not true friends but feigned, because 
they love not men but either they covet their goods or they 
strive 1 after false flatteries and favours. 

Yet, forsooth, friendship betwix men and women may be 
perilous, for fair beauty lightly cherishes 2 a frail soul, and 
temptation seen sets fleshly desire on fire and ofttimes brings in 
the sin of body and soul ; and so the company of women with 
men 3 is wont to happen to the destruction of virtue. And yet 
this friendship is not unlawful but meedful ; if it be had 
with good soul, and if it be loved for God and not for the 
sweetness of the flesh. 

If women truly saw themselves despised by men, they 
would complain of God that made them such as men should 
disdain, and they would peradventure mistrust of health 4 ; 
for they trow themselves forsaken if they receive not the 
counsel or help of men. Reason certain is less quick in 
them, therefore they are lightly beguiled and soon over 
come and therefore they mickle need the counsel of good 
men. They are drawn truly from ill to ill. For mickle 
readier are they to the likings of lust than to the clearness 
of holiness. 

There is also a natural love of man for woman [and woman 
for man] that wants to no man, not even the holy, for it 
was ordained by God first in nature ; by the which being 
together, and according by the stirring of nature they are 
fellowly 5 made glad. This love also has its pleasures ; as in 
speech and honest touching and goodly dwelling together, 6 
by the which man gets no meed unless it be mingled 7 with 
charity ; nor gets he unthanks, unless it be defiled with sin. If 
ill movings arise by which they think of lust, and they go 

1 C. patent. L. intendunt. easily allures. L. faciliter allicit. 

3 L. familiaritas mulierum viris. 

4 L. de salute forsitan desperarent. * sociably. 

6 C. dwellynge sain. 7 C. mellyd. 



174 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

towards it, doubtless they are guilty of death, because they sin 
against God. 

Therefore they foully trespass that say that all our deeds, 
inward or outward, are meedful or unmeedful ; for they would 
or at the least they strive to deny natural deeds and likings 
to be in us ; and thus they are not ashamed to bring in con 
fusion to noble nature. 

Certain, that friendship, and companionship of men and 
women is unlawful and forbidden in which they accord to 
fulfil all their desire of covetous and foul lust ; and putting 
the everlasting behind they seek to flourish in temporal 
solace and bodily love. They also sin grievously, and most, 
that have taken holy orders and go to women as wooers, 
saying that they languish for their love, and nearly faint 1 
with great desire and strife of thought ; and so they lead 
them, light and unstable, to wretchedness in this life, and also 
in the endless. But they shall not be left unpunished, for 
they bear their damnation with them ; of whom it is said 
by the psalmist : Sepulcrum patens est guttur eorum y etc. 2 That 
is to say : Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues 
they have wrought falsely, deem them God. 

God certain wills that women be not despised of men, 
nor be beguiled by vain flattery ; but that they be taught 
truly and charitably in all holiness that longs to body and 
soul. But seldom is he found now that so does ; but rather 
what is to sorrowed for either to get their gifts or their beauty 
they study to inform them. Wherefore ofttimes it happens 
that if they teach them in one thing, in another they destroy 
them ; and they will not, or they dare not, forbid those things, 
although they be evil, that women please to use, so that 
they be not grieved. 

True friendship certain is the sadness 8 of lovers, and 

1 C. Sc nehand sweltis. * Ps. v. xi (v. 9). 

* *.*., constancy. L. amanciuai consolidacio. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 175 

comfort of minds ; relief of grief, and putting out of worldly 
heaviness ; reformation of sinners ; increase of holiness ; 
lessening of slander, 1 and multiplying of good meed. While 
a friend is drawn from ill by his friend by healthful counsel 
and is inflamed to do good when he sees in his friend the 
grace that he desires to have. Holy friendship therefore that 
has medicine for all wretchedness is not to be despised. 
From God it truly is that amid the wretchedness 2 of 
this exile we be comforted with the counsel and help of 
friends, until we come to Him. Where we shall all be taught 
of God, and sit in eternal seats ; and we shall be glad without 
end in Him that we have loved, and in whom and by whom 
we have friends. 

From this friendship I can except no man, be he never so 
holy, but he needs it ; unless there be any such to whom not 
man but angels serve. There are some that joy in God s 
love and are so moistened with His sweetness that they can 
say : Renuit consolari anima mea* : My soul gainsays to be 
comforted with worldly cheer with which worldly lovers 
refresh themselves. Nevertheless it behoves that in these 
things that, according to nature and grace, are needful to their 
body, and in men they be delighted. 4 Who eats or drinks 5 
or takes recreation from heat or cold, withouten liking ? Who 
has a friend, and in his presence and speech and dwelling with 
him and taking part in his good, is not glad ? Sickerly none 
but the mad and they that want reason, for in these things 
and others like is the life of man comforted although it 
be the holiest and joys most quickly 6 in God. 

Therefore My soul gainsays to be comforted, is not to be 
understood of such comfort, but of stinking and unclean and 
unlawful comfort of worldly things. And afterwards he said : 

1 L. diminucio scelerum. * L. inter calamitates. 

s Ps. Ixxvi. 3 (Ixxvii. t). 4 note Ixiii. 

s L. comedit vel dormit. 6 L. uberiui. 



176 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Delectasti me domine infactura tua ; et in opertbus manuum tuarum 
exultabo. 1 Lord in Thy work thou hast gladdened me; and 
in the work of Thy hands I shall be joyful/ Who denies 
that he shall receive comfort that says he is mirthed in God s 
works ? Vir imipiens non cognoscet, tt stultus non mtelliget hcc. 2 
* But the unwise man shall not know this nor a fool understand. 

Some truly have the love of God, 3 but not after knowledge ; 
the which, whiles they study to put by superfluities are also 
unwisely led 4 to cut away their necessities, supposing that 
they can not please God unless they chastise themselves 
by too mickle abstinence and unmeasured nakedness. And 
although paleness of face be the beauty of solitary man, 
nevertheless their service is not rightly ordered ; for if they 
be bidden to chastise their bodies and bring them into the 
service of the spirit, yet ought they not to slay their bodies 
but keep them for the honour of God, to the time He 
sunders the soul from the body to which He has joined it. 
Therefore such are sharp to men and bitter in themselves, 
and they know not the keeping of friendship, nor keep the 
way thereof. 

Forsooth love of kinsmen, if it be unmannered, is called 
fleshly affection, and it is to be broken because it lets from 
God s love : and if it be mannered it is called natural, and 
lets not from God s service ; for in that it is nature it works 
not against the Maker thereof. 

Next 6 the women of our time are worthy of reproof that 
in such marvellous vanity have found new array for head and 
body, and have brought it in, so that they put beholders to 
both dread and wonder. Not only against the sentence of 
the apostle 6 in gold and dressing of the hair, in pride and 

1 Ps. xci. 5 (xcii. 4). 

2 Ps. xci. 7 (xcii. 6) ; both are written in margin in C. and A. 

3 L. zelum dei. 

4 C. unwysely also Tpa. ar brokis. L. ducuntur incaute. 

3 Aftyrward. 6 cf. I Pet. iii. 3. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 177 

wantonness, they go serving, but also against the honesty 1 
of man and nature ordained by God, they set broad horns 
upon their heads, and a horrible greatness of wrought hair 
that grew not there, some of whom study to hide their 
foulness or increase their beauty and with painting of beguiling 
adultery 2 they colour and whiten their faces. Newly carven 
clothing also both men and women use full fondly, not con 
sidering what beseems nature, but what tidings, that are 
newly noised, and vain novelties they can bring by the fiend s 
stirring. 

If any should snib such things yea even full seldom he 
is laughed to scorn ; and they consider more a fond tale than 
their amends. Therefore they go, and are taken and also 
snared by those things these ladies and women that are called 
worthy, that desire to be fair for a time, and everlastingly to 
be foul. For after this joy they, that have not loved Christ 
in this life but the foulest vanity of this world, shall feel hell 
pain, having crowned themselves with roses before they 
withered. 3 But let us pass [now to other things] . 

1 i.e., honour. L. honestatem humanam. 

2 C. avotre. 3 C. welkyd. 



CHAPTER X 

THAT GOD S LOVE IS TO BE MINGLED WITH 
ILK TIME AND DEED NOR FAILS NOT FOR 
WEAL OR WOE, AND OF THE WORTHINESS 
[AND THE GAINING 1 ] THEREOF : AND OF 
TEARS TURNED TO SONG 

LOVE of the Godhead that perfectly thirls a man, and 
truly enflames with fire of the Holy Ghost, takes the 
soul to itself with marvellous gladness and from memory 
[of so great love allows her not to wander for a moment]. 2 
It binds the mind of the lover, so that it may not turn to vain 
things ; and he continually goes after his Love. 

We can forsooth if we be true lovers of our Lord Jesu 
Christ, think upon Him when we walk, and hold fast the 
song of His love whiles we sit in fellowship ; and we may 
have mind of Him at the board and also in tasting of meat and 
drink. At every morsel of meat and draught of drink we 
ought to praise God, and in time of our meat taking and 
the space betwixt morsels to yield Him praising with honey 
sweetness and a mental cry, 3 and to yearn with desire while 
at meat. And if we be in labour of our hands what lets us 
to lift our hearts to heaven and without ceasing to hold the 
thought of endless love ? And so in all time of our life, 
being quick and not slow, nothing but sleep shall put our 
hearts from Him. 

1 L. et de cxccllentia eius et comparacione. 

3 note Ixv. 3 note Ixvi. 

178 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 179 

O what joy and gladness glides into the lover ! O with 
how happy and truly desirable sweetness it fulfils his soul ! 
Love certain is life without end, abiding where it is set [and 
made firm in Christ]. When this love after loving desire l 
is rooted in the heavens, neither prosperity nor adversity 
may change it, as the wisest men have written. Then no 
marvel it shall turn the night to day, darkness to light, 
heaviness to melody, noy to solace, and labour to sweet rest. 

This love truly is not of imagination or feigned, but true 
and perfect, and given to Christ without parting, yielding 
angel s song with melody to Jesu. And forsooth if thou love 
in this manner as I have said, full glorious shalt thou be with 
the best and worthiest in the Kingdom of God near to 
that quickening light. Meantime all the impugnations 2 ot 
the fiend s movings that arise from fleshly friendship and the 
coveting of worldly things thou shalt well overcome in the 
heat of love and virtue of prayer. Thou shalt also overcome 
the likings of fairness ; showing that thou wilt not be defiled 
once on account of all things that can be thought. With 
that also thou shalt be filled with ghostly food, and the 
delight of endless love; so thou shalt know [the sign] 3 in 
sickerness and as it were in very knowledge, that thou art 
the lover of the Everlasting King. 

Nevertheless this happens to no man unless either God 
says it to him, or that [in this life] he feels a great part of 
the meed to come biding in him. But whereto do I speak 
of them with the others, which although they be chosen have 
not yet tasted this holy lectuary ? Sometimes I marvel at 
myself that I have spoken of the excellence of God s lovers, 
as who should say, whoever wills might come to it. And 
yet it is not for ilk runner nor wilier, but of the lover, lifter 
up, and taker of Christ. The smallness of my mind certain 

1 C. qwhen ]?e lufe after lufely desyre. temptations. 

3 i.e., of love ; and see note Ixvii. 



i8o THE FIRE OF LOVE 

knows not how to open that which as a blabberer, I am busy to 
show. Yet I am compelled to say somewhat, although it be un 
able to be spoken, that hearers or readers may study to follow it ; 
finding that all love of the fairest and loveliest worldly thing, 
in comparison to God s love, is sorrow and wretchedness. 

Therefore consider and know well with your understanding 
that our Lord makes His lover marvellous and raises him on 
high and suffers him not to be cast down with unworthy love 
of vain hope, but keeps him stably in Himself for the 
sweetest love. Love truly is continual thought with great 
desire for the fair, the good and lovely : for if the thing I love 
be fair and not good, I show myself unworthy to love it, 
if it be good it is to be loved. Truly love of the creature, 
though it be good and fair, is forbidden to me, so that 
I should offer and keep all my love for the Well of goodness 
and fairness, that He that is my God and my Jesu be my Love. 
He only has fairness and goodness of Himself, and He is 
the same fairhead and goodness. Other things, whatever 
they be, are neither fair nor good but of Him, and the nearer 
to Him the fairer and better they are. Therefore He is most 
worthily loved that in Himself contains all things that are 
worthy to be loved and to be sought of a lover, wherefore He 
withholds nothing on His part save that He might be loved 
most burningly. Truly if I love aught else my conscience 
bites me that I love not right. I dread that that I love 
loves me not again ; and yet if I dread not [on this account 
I should be fearful on account of] death that departs ill 
lovers and wastes all their vanity, 1 

Ofttimes also other noys happen that disturb the gayness 
and sweetness of lovers ; but he that truly loves God with all 
his heart is so much the clearer in his conscience as he knows 
himself the more burning in the love of God. Therefore 
he knows 3 his loveliest Love from whose sweetness death 

1 note Ixviii. a i./., knows by experience =L. experitur. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 181 

departs not, 1 but when he passes from this world then he finds 
his Love perfectly, and to Him most sickerly is joined, so 
that never after shall he be put from Him, but busily he runs 
in merriest halsing and, openly seeing Him that he has loved 
and coveted, shall be glorified without end. 

This love I liken to fire unslakened, the which no power 
of enemies can cast down, no softness of flattery can overcome. 
This love cleanses us from our sins, and burns in unmeasured 
heat the obstacles that might let to love, and in the hottest 
flame of God s love makes us clearer than gold and brighter 
than the sun. This love brings us ghostly medicine ; and I 
suppose 2 there is no thing among all others that can be 
numbered by clerks that may succour us so mickle and 
cleanse us and from all dregs of wickedness clear us, as fervent 
love of the Godhead and continual thought of our Maker. 
Tears are wont to wash us from defaults and heaviness of 
heart puts by damnation, but burning love passes all other things 
more than can be thought, and makes man s soul shine most 
excellently. Therefore before all things that we can do it 
gets the heart of the Everlasting King, and is worthy to be 
contemplated in joyful song. 

I say not greeting 3 is unprofitable, nor sorrow of heart 
uncomely or not to be loved in this exile, and I marvel that 
any so highly ravished in song of love can not greet in his 
devotion or praying or meditation. Rather I say that the 
prayer and meditation of such a lover is turned into song and 
molten into melody of heavenly sweetness, so that he gives the 
sound of angels rather than of man ; anointed by which 
honied heat he is taken not to heaviness but to joy and, his 
tears as it were wiped away, he is mirthed in the spring 
of endless and true joy. 

Our doctors say : the perfect ought to greet, 4 and the 

1 L. non segregat ; i.e., divides not. C. hope. 

3 i.t. 9 weeping. 4 weep. 



182 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

more perfect the more plenteous they should be ot tears 
because of the wretchedness of this life and the delay of the 
heavenly life. To me certain a wonderful longing in God s 
love was near, and noy of bodily greeting has ceased for 
the greatness of inward sweetness. He certain that is not 
burned with endless love needs to be purged with tears. 
Love is enough to chastise him that languishes in everlasting 
love ; there is no wound greater and sweeter than of love. 
If such a one forsooth would weep he is not greatly suffered 
in privy devotion, in that the Holy Ghost up-raising him, he 
is rapt in mind, and with angel s sweetness he sings to God 
his praises and loving thoughts. 

The seat of love is lift on high for into the heavens it runs, 
and on earth also methinks it subtly and craftily makes men, 
sometime lovely, wan 1 and pale. It makes them to wither 2 
that afterward they may wax green, and to fail that they may 
be strong. Therefore he draws near to the rest of endless joy, 
and dreadless himself, mingles with those singing to his 
Maker ; for the more burningly he loves the sweeter he sings 
and the more delicious he feels that that he strongly desired. 
And if the way seem sharp and long to them that love not, 
love nevertheless couples God and man, and with short labour 
fulfils the abiders. 3 

1 C. broyn. C. to well. 

3 L. et breui labore saciat sustinentes. 



CHAPTER XI 

THAT PERFECT LOVE BINDS TO GOD WITH 
OUT LOOSING AND MAKES MAN MINDFUL 
OF HIS GOD ; BUT LOVE OF THE WORLD 
FALLS TO NOUGHT. AND OF THE NATURE 
OF TRUE LOVE, STABLE AND AY-LASTING, 
SWEET, SOFT, AND PROFITABLE: AND OF 
FALSE LOVE ; VENOMOUS, FOUL, AND UNCLEAN 

THIS work 1 is perfect if we depart our minds pithily from 
love of creatures and join them truly to God without 
departing. And in this work the more perfect we be the 
better we are. This deed is above all others, for all that we do 
is referred to this end, so that we be knitted and oned per- 
fectedly to God. And from this onehead many things draw ; 
that is to say, liking beauty of this world, vanity of men and 
women, riches and honours, praise and favour of people. 
Therefore we must exercise ourselves to fulfil this work, 
putting back and forgetting all things that might let us. 

Certain the love to which we ascend in this work is quicker 
than a burning coal, and shall produce 2 its effect in us, for it 
shall make our souls both burning and shining. This is the 
love that can not be beguiled by a creature or scorned in heaven 
nor put from meed. Who could long suffer the flame of this 
fire if it should ay last in one measure ; but ofttimes it is 

1 note Ixix. 3 C. ]?e effect in vs sail do. 

183 



1 84 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

tempered, lest it waste nature that through the body corrupts 
and grieves the soul ; for the corruptible flesh suffers not our 
mind to be continually borne to God. 

Certain the heat of very devotion is sometimes 1 [hindered] 
as by sleep, and the misuse of the body or labour ; and 
yet the burning is not slaked, but it is not felt as it was 
before. It comes again to us truly whiles we turn again 2 to 
God, and makes us mend from sickness of mind and gives 
sweetness. It delivers the body also from many sicknesses, 
and whiles it keeps us in temperance and soberness it raises 
our souls to heavenly desires so that we have no delight in 
low things. 

This is the love that ravishes Christ into our hearts and 
makes our minds sweet, so that within we burst out in songs 
of praise, and as it were in chanting 3 we sing. I suppose 
no delight be like to this, for it moistens with clear sweetness 
and gladdens with holy liking. The soul that receives it is 
purged with blessed fire and in it bides no rust nor filth, but 
it is altogether thirled with heavenly [joy], so that our inward 
nature seems turned into godly joy and song of love. Thus 
forsooth everlasting love gladdens and insheds plenteous delight, 
so that the friends thereof are not compelled to bow to any 
desire for a creature of this world but they may freely melt 
in praise and love of Jesus Christ. 

Learn therefore to love thy Maker if thou desire to live 
when thou passest hence ; so do that thou mayest love God 
[in thy life] if thou wilt live after thy death. Give all thy 
mind to Him that He may keep it from temporal and eternal 
sorrows. Beware that thy heart be not sundered from Him 
though thou be set in adversity or wretchedness ; for so shalt 
thou be worthy to have Him with joy, and to love Him 
withouten end. If thou suffer not the memory of God to 

1 L. intcrpolatur. * C. we turn not , but L. dum nos redimus. 
? L. neupmatizando, i.e., spiritual music. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 185 

slip whether prosperity come or grief; in that certain thou 
showest thyself a true lover. 

good Jesu, that gavest me life, lead me desiring into Thy 
love. Take unto Thee all mine intent so that Thou mayest 
be all my desire, nor nothing beyond Thee shall my heart 
desire. Sorrow certain and all heaviness would pass from me, 
and that I desire come to me, if my soul had received or heard 
the song of Thy praise. Thy love would ever [unwearily] 
bide in us, so that we can perceive it. Take therefore my 
mind into Thy power and make it stable that it come not 
to nought 1 with vain and unprofitable fantasies, nor be scorned 2 
by errors, nor be bowed to earthly felicity or love or praise, 
but my mind being so settled 3 in Thee may in Thy love so 
burn that by no sudden nor avised 4 chance it may be cooled. 

If certain I love any creature of this world that shall in all 
kinds please my list 5 and set my joy and the end of my solace 
in it, when it should come to me I well might have dread of 
the burning and bitter parting. For all felicity that I have 
in such love is but greeting and sorrow in the end, and that 
pain, when it draws near, most bitterly will punish the soul. 
All pleasure also that men have beholden in this exile is 
likened to hay that now flourishes and waxes green, but sud 
denly vanishes as if it had not been. 

No marvel that to them that behold rightly, the joy of 
this world thus seems ; and to them following the solace 
of those bound in sin ; it never abides in one estate but passes 
until it come to nought. 6 Nevertheless all stand in labour and 
grief, and no man can eschew that. The nature certain of 
true love and not feigned is this, that it stands ay stable and 
is changed by no new thing. 

Therefore the life that can find love and truly know it in 

1 C. vanisch not. L. nusquam . . . euanescat. 

3 i.e., mocked =*L. illudatur. 3 L. defecata = free from dregs. 

4 i.e., foreseen event. L. ut nullo evcntu subito vel previso 
refrigescat. 5 i,e., wish, 6 note Ixx, 



1 86 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

mind, shall be turned from sorrow to joy unspoken and is 
conversant in the service of melody. Song certain it shall 
love, and, singing in Jesu, shall be likened to a bird singing to 
the death. And peradventure in dying the solace of charitable 
song shall not want, if it happen to him to die and not 
go swiftly to his love. After his passage forsooth he shall be 
marvellously lifted up into the praise of his Maker, and singing 
shall overflow with delights more than may be trowed, and 
into the song 1 of the seraphim shall forthwith rise, so that in 
praising he shall give light, and continually and endlessly burn. 
There shall be halsing of love, and the sweetness of lovers 
shall be coupled in heart, and the joining of friends shall stand 
for ever. The sweet mouth shall give liking kisses 2 and 
their love shall never cease. 

The presence of my Love begets to me gladness unmeasured 
and sickerness, and with him I have mind of no heaviness ; all 
adversity vanishes and all other desires appear not, but are 
stilled and dispersed ; and He alone, that my mind has alone 
burningly desired, wholly refreshes and in-laps 3 me. Truly 
if thou love Christ with all thy will, thou hatest all filth of 
wickedness, and thou givest thy heart to Him that bought it 
so that He may be thy Lord by grace and not the fiend by 
sin. As Christ has truly and unfeared sought thy soul, and 
would not cease in seeking until the time thou foundest Him, 
so to endless joy thou shalt be led and be near to God in a 
blessed seat. Therefore I counsel Thee to love as I have 
expounded, and take thy place with the angels. 

Beware thou sellest not this joy and honour for foul vanity 
of fleshly lust ; wisely consider that the love of creatures exclude 
thee not from the love of God. Hate thou no wretchedness on 
earth except that that thy pure love can cast over and disturb ; 
for perfect love is strong as death, true love is hard as hell. 4 

1 C. criynge, and note Ixxi. 

3 L. mellifluum os oscula exhibebit delicata. 

3 enfolds, O.E.D, * Cant. viii. 6 ; and cf. note xix. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 187 

Love forsooth is a light burden, not charging but lightening 
the bearer ; the which makes glad the young with the old ; 
in the which the discomfiters of fiends joy, having taken their 
prey ; in which fighters are defended against the flesh and the 
world. Love is ghostly wine moistening the minds of the 
chosen and making them bold and manly, so that they have 
forgotten the venomous likings of the world nor have no care 
thereof but rather great scorn. 

Therefore by holy love no lover can lose but needs win 
mickle if he keep it truly in his heart. Love without pain 
bides in the soul of a lover, as lovers have shown, for love 
makes perfect and pain destroys. Making perfect and destroy 
ing are contrary, therefore the heart, loving perfectly, feels no 
pain nor heaviness, nor is it sorry nor disturbed. Thus soothly 
perfect love and wretched heaviness stand not together. 
Eftsoons 1 that that is done gladly is not done painfully. 
Soothly a lover works wilfully and gladly, therefore he has 
no wretchedness in his work but he is happy ; not constrained, 
not heavy, but ay showing himself glad and merry. 

Love therefore is the sweetest and most profitable thing 
that ever reasonable creature received. Love is most accept 
able and liking to God ; it not only binds the mind with bands of 
sweetness and wisdom and joins to God, but also it constrains 
flesh and blood that man slip not into beguiling sweetness and 
into divers desires of errors. In this love our life should stand 
and wax mighty and strong. A better dwelling-place nor 
sweeter found I never, for it has made me and my love one, 
[and made] one out of two. 

Yet worldly love shall grow and perish as the flower of the 
field in summer, and shall be joying no more but as it were 
one day, so sickerly shall it last a short while, but after that end 
in sorrow. And so doubtless it shall be bitter to fond lovers. 
Their pride and play in false beauty shall be cast into filth, 

1 i.g. t moreover. 



188 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

that shall be with them endlessly when they are downcast into 
torments. These shall not pass ; as did their false felicity and 
the joy they had in shining beauty, which have gone into 
voidness, and all that they enjoyed has swiftly vanished. 

God truly gives fairness to men and women not that they 
should burn together in love despising their Maker as all 
nearly do now but, knowing it as God s gift, they should 
glorify and love Him unceasingly with all their heart, and 
should continually desire that heavenly beauty, in comparison 
to which all worldly beauty is nought. For if a lovely form is 
shown in the servants of this world, what shall be the beauty 
of God s children set in heaven ? Therefore let us love burn- 
ingly, for if we love we shall sing in heavenly mirth to Christ 
with melody, whose love overcomes all things. Therefore 
let us live and also die in love. 



CHAPTER XII 

OF THE FELICITY AND SWEETNESS OF GOD S 
LOVE : AND OF THE NIGHTINGALE S SONG : 
AND PRAYER FOR PERSEVERANCE OF TRUE 
GHOSTLY SONG THAT WORLDLY LOVERS 
HAVE NOT 



WEETER delight I know not than in my heart to sing 
Jesu, whom I love, a song of Thy praise. A better 
more plenteous felicity I know not than to feel in 
mind the sweet heat of love. Of all things I hold it best to 
set Jesu in my heart and desire no other thing. He truly 
has a good beginning of love that has loving tears, with sweet 
longing and desire for things everlasting. 

Truly Christ as it were languishes in our love, whiles He 
to get us hied to the Cross with so great heat ; but it is well said 
in play < love goes before and leads the dawn. It was nought 
but love that put Christ thus low. 

Come my Saviour to comfort my soul ; make me stable in 
Thy love so that I never cease to love Thee. Do away 
sorrow when I must pass, for there is none such a sinner that 
can not joy if he be perfectly turned to Thee. O sweetest 
Jesu have mind ot Thy mercy, so that my life may be light l 
and fulfilled with virtue that I may overcome my strong 
enemy. I pray Thee give me health in this wise that I be 
not lost with the child of damnation. 

1 L. lucens. 
189 



i 9 o THE FIRE OF LOVE 

Truly since my soul was incensed with holy love, I am set 
in longing to see Thy Majesty. Therefore made the bearer 
of poverty I despise earthly dignity and care for no honour ; 
my joy truly is friendship. When I began to love Thy love 
took my heart and suffered me to desire nothing but love. 
And then Thou, God, madest my soul burn in sweet light, 
therefore in Thee and by Thee I can die and feel no heaviness. 
Delectable heat is also in the loving heart, that has devoured 
heavy grief in the fire of burning love. And from hence is 
sweetness given, principally music going betwixt and softening 
the soul, where Thou my God and my Comfort hast ordained 
Thy temple. 

x That joy certain is full delicious after which I yearn, and 
no man may be more covetous in such desire. Wherefore 
my loving soul as it were arraying a spouse for the King 
of the high Empire, says thus : * Love holds my heart 
with unloosened bands, and sets it in such governance and 
binds it so greatly with a marvellous maistry that it is pleased 
to think rather to die than to live/ This flower certain 
can not end for my friend is so burning in love, he sings 2 
the melody and joy of death. 

In the beginning truly of my conversion and singular 
purpose I thought I would be like the little bird that languishes 
for the love of his beloved, but is gladdened in his longing, 
when he that it loves comes [and sings with joy, and in its 
song] also languishes, but in sweetness and heat. It is said 
that the nightingale is given to song and melody all night, 
that she may please him to whom she is joined. How mickle 
more should I sing with greatest sweetness to Christ my Jesu, 
that is Spouse of my soul through all this present life that is 
night in regard to the clearness to come, so that I should 
languish in longing and die for love. But in dying I shall wax 
strong, and in heat I shall be nourished j and I shall joy and 

1 note Ixxii. 2 i.e., harmonious. 



THE FIRE OF LOVE 191 

in joying sing the likings of love with mirth, and hot devo 
tion as it were from a pipe shall issue and my soul shall 
yield angels melody, kindled within, 1 to the most high, and 
offered by the mouth at the altar of God s praise. Thus my 
soul shall alway be greedy to love and never fail with heaviness 
or sloth from the desire she received. 

Soothly holiness of mind, readiness of will, heat of very 
desire and turning to God by continuance of thought, that are 
in holy souls, suffer them not to sin mortally ; and if they sin 
through frailty or ignorance, anon they are raised up to true 
penance by those pricks, nor shall they bide long in sin 
although they cleave to the liking. The venial sin forsooth 
that they do, they waste in the fire of love unless any be cast 
down by such negligence that they ween that that in which 
they trespass be no sin and charity is not enough to put away 
all the pain merited ; or else they have no tribulation where 
with their sin may be purged. Certain in the coming of love 
the lover s heart is burned. Hotter than fire is this marvellous 
heat, the which most sweetly gladdens the mind and tempers 
and shadows from the heat of sins. 

Good Jesu, give me the organ-like and heavenly song of 
angels that in that I may be ravished and Thy worship con 
tinually sing ; that Thou gavest to me unknowing and 
unwise, now to me expert and asking, give again. Cherish 2 
me in the mirth of Thy heavenly love, and alight into my soul 
that in my last end I may be found full of fire. 3 Show me 
sweet cherishing in Thy good will that my defaults may be 
here punished and cleansed in that wise that, in Thy mercy, 
Thou hast known for him cleaving to Thee ; not as in Thy 
wrath Thou cherishest those flourishing in this world, to whom 
Thou givest temporal prosperity and keepest endless pains. 
Worldly lovers soothly may know the words, or the ditties 

1 See note Ixxiii. a i.t., caress. L. blandire. 

3 C. firy. L. ignicoma = lit., fiery-haired. 



192 THE FIRE OF LOVE 

of our song [but not the music of our songs 1 ] ; for they read 
the words, but they can not learn the notes and tone and 
sweetness of the songs. 

O good Jesu Thou has bound my heart in the thought of 
Thy Name, and now I can not but sing it ; therefore have 
mercy upon me, making perfect that Thou hast ordained. 8 
Thy true and busy lover is ravished into ghostly song of mind, 
that it is impossible any such sweetness be of the fiend, or such 
heat from any creature, nor such song from man s wit : in 
which if I abide I shall be safe. 

It behoves truly we be not glad to dc s.*nall sins that will 
to perfectly eschew great sins. He truiy that wilfully and 
knowingly falls into the least, ofttimes shall unavised fall into 
greater. It longs truly to love to desire to fall into great 
wretchedness rather than sin once. It is nought needful to 
him, but scornful, to seek delight, riches, strength, or fairness, 
that in the doom of the everlasting King shall be made a 
knight, with perfect beauty of members and clearness of 
colour ; where in the heavenly hall there shall neither be too 
mickle nor too little, where he shall serve the Emperor in the 
world of worlds. 3 

Explicit liber de Incendio Amoris, Ricardi Hampole 
heremite, translatus in Anglicum instances doming 
Margarete Heslyngton, recluse, per fratrem Ricardum 
Misyn y sacre theologie bachalaureum, tune Priorem 
Lyncolniensem, ordinis carmelitarum. Anno domini 
M. CCCCxxxv* in festo translacionis sancti Martini 
Episcopi, quod est iiij nonas lulij, per dictum fratrem 
Ricardum Misyn scriptum & correctum. 

1 L. non autem cantica nostrorum carminum. 

8 L. quod preparasti. 3 L. in secula seculorum. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE OR RULE 
OF LIVING, AS TRANSLATED BY 
RICHARD MISYN IN 1434 FROM <DE 
EMENDATIONE VITAE BY RICHARD 
ROLLE OF HAMPOLE : AND NOW 
DONE INTO MODERN ENGLISH 



THIS BOOK IS OF THE MENDING OF LIFE, 
OR ELSE OF THE RULE OF LIVING, 
DISTINCT IN XII CHAPTERS : 

THE FIRST : OF CONVERSION OR HOLY TURNING 

THE SECOND : OF THE DESPISING OF THE WORLD 

THE THIRD : OF POVERTY 

THE FOURTH : OF THE SETTING OF MAN S LIFB 

THE FIFTH : OF TRIBULATION 

THE SIXTH : OF PATIENCE 

THE SEVENTH : OF PRAYER 

THE EIGHTH : OF MEDITATION 

THE NINTH : OF READING 

THE TENTH : OF CLEANNESS OF MIND 

THE ELEVENTH : OF THE LOVE OF GOD 

THE TWELFTH : OF THE CONTEMPLATION OF GOD 

Of these, as God will grant, we shall pursue. 



195 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 



CHAPTER I 
FIRST OF CONVERSION 

TARRY thou not to our Lord to be turned, nor put it 
off from day to day 1 ; for ofttimes the cruelty of death 
ravishes the wretched, and bitterness of pains suddenly 
devours them that now irk to be turned. It may not be 
numbered by us how many of the worldly wicked presumption 
has beguiled. 

Truly it is a great sin to trust in God s mercy and not 
cease from sin, trowing God s mercy be so mickle that He will 
not give righteous pain to sinners. * Work ye therefore 
whiles it is day, the night truly comes in which no man may 
work. 2 Light or day he calls this life, in which we ought 
never to cease from good working, knowing that death to us is 
sicker, the hour of death truly unsicker. The night he calls 
death, in the which our members are bound, and wits put by, 
and we may not now work any healthful thing, but shall 
receive joy or tormentry according to our works. In a point 3 
we live, yea less than a point ; for if we would liken all our 
life to the life everlasting, it is nought. 

Therefore how waste we our life in love of vanity, not 
without grievous damnation ; and all day negligent, without 
repenting, we stand idle. Lord, therefore turn us and we 

1 Eccli. v. 8 (v. 7). 2 John ix. 4. 3 j.e. t of time. 

197 



198 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

shall be turned ; heal us and we shall be healed. 1 Many truly 
are not healed, but their wounds rot and fester ; for to-day 
turned to God, to-morrow [are turned] 2 from Him; to-day 
doing penance, to-morrow turning to their ill. [Of such 
it is said :] we have cured Babylon and it is not healed, for 
to Christ it is not truly turned. 3 

What is turning to God but turning from the world and 
from sin ; from the fiend and from the flesh ? What is turn 
ing from God but turning from unchangeable good to change 
able good ; to the liking beauty of creatures ; to the works of 
the fiend ; to lust of the flesh and the world ? Not with going 
of feet are we turned to God, but with the change of our 
desires and manners. 

Turning to God is also done whiles we direct the sharpness 
of our minds to Him, and evermore think of His counsel and 
His commandments, that they may be fulfilled by us ; and 
wherever we be, sitting or standing, the dread of God pass riot 
from our hearts. I speak not of dread that has pain, but that 
that is in charity, 4 with which we give reverence to the 
presence of so great a Majesty, and alway we dread that we 
offend not in any little thing. Soothly, thus disposed, to 
God we are truly turned [because we are turned] from the 
world. 

To be turned from the world is naught else but to put 
aback all lust, and to suffer the bitterness of this world gladly 
for God ; and to forget all idle occupations and worldly 
errands, in so mickle that our soul, wholly turned to God, dies 
pithily 5 to all things loved or sought in the world. Therefore 
being given to heavenly desires they have God evermore before 
their eyes, as if they should unwearily behold Him, as the 
holy prophet bears witness : Providebam Dominum in conspectu meo 

1 Jcr. xvii. 14, and see note Ixxiv. 

3 All words in square bracket! arc added from Douce MS. 322 ; 
and sec note Ixxv. * Jer. li. 9. 

4 cf. i John iv. it. 5 i,*., to the core, 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 199 

semper J- that is to say In my sight I saw our Lord evermore 
before me/ Not only the space of an hour ; as do they that 
set all fair or lovely earthly things before the eyes of their hearts, 
which they behold and in which they delight and desire for love 
to rest. And after the prophet says : Oculi met semper ad Domlnum ; 
quoniam ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos? that is : Mine eyes 
evermore are to our Lord, for he shall deliver my feet from 
the snare. By this is shewed that except our inward eyes to 
Christ unwearily be raised we may not escape the snares of 
temptation. And there are many lettings 3 so that the eyes 
of our heart may not be fixed on God ; of which we put some : 
abundance of riches; flattering of women ; the fairness and 
beauty of youth. This is the threefold rope that scarcely may 
be broken 4 ; and yet it behoves to be broken and despised that 
Christ may be loved. 

Truly he that desires to love Christ truly, not only without 
heaviness but with a joy unmeasured he casts away all things 
that may let him. And in this case he spares neither father 
nor mother, nor himself ; he receives no man s cheer ; he does 
violence to all his letters 5 ; and he breaks through 6 all obstacles. 
Whatever he can do seems little to him so that he may love 
God. He flees from vices as a brainless 7 man and looks not to 
worldly solace, but certainly and wholly directed to God, he 
has nearly forgotten his sensuality. 8 He is gathered all inward 
and all lifted up into Christ, so that when he seems to men as 
if heavy, he is wonderfully glad. 

But there are many that say they will turn to God, but they 
can not yet, they say, for they are holden back by this occupa 
tion or other ; whose cold mind sorrowingly 9 we reprove. For 
withouten doubt and they were touched with the least spark 
of Christ s love, anon with all busyness they would seek which 

1 Ps. xv. 8 (xvi. 8). 2 Ps. xxiv. is(xxv. 15). 

3 hindrances. * Eccles. iv. 12. 5 hinderers. 

6 C. he byrstis to-gidyr. ^ Bg. Sp. quasi ebrius. 

a Bg. Sp, pene exteriorcs sensus amittit. 9 C. heviyngly. 



200 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

way they might come to God s service, and in seeking they 
would not cease until they had found. 

Ofttimes they feign excuses, which the rather accuses them 
more. Riches forsooth withdraws many, and the flattering 
of women beguiles them ; and they that have long done well 
sometimes are drowned, by them, in the worst dykes. For 
fairness is soon loved ; and when it feels itself loved, it is lightly 
cherished ;* and the chosen one is cast down, and after turning 
or conversion, he is made worse than he was before. Then his 
name is blackened, and he that before was worthy, now is 
despised of all men and hated of all. 

I saw a man truly of whom they said that he chastised his 
body with marvellous sharpness for fifteen years, and afterwards 
he lapsed into sin with his servant s wife, nor might he be 
parted from her until his death. In his dying truly they said 
that he cursed the priests that came to him, and refused to 
receive the sacraments. 

Therefore the newly turned ought for to flee the occasion 
of sinning ; and with their will avoid words, deeds, and sights 
stirring to ill. The more unlawml a thing is, the more it is 
to be forsaken. 

The fiend also strongly upbraids against them which he sees 
turned from him and turned to God, and ceases not to kindle 
fleshly and worldly desires. He brings to mind lusts done 
before, and the desolation of the contrite ; and unprofitable 
desires that were slaked before stir themselves. 2 Among these 
it behoves the penitent manfully to use himself, and to take 
ghostly armour to gainstand the devil and all his suggestions ; 
and to slake fleshly desires and ever to desire God s love ; 
and to go not from Him, despising the world : of the which 
now we will speak. 

1 i.e., easily encouraged. 2 note Ixxv. 



CHAPTER II 
OF THE DESPISING OF THE WORLD 

TO despise this world is to pass through this life without 
the love of all temporal and passing things ; to seek 
nothing in this world but God ; for all vainglory and 
solace not to care ; scarcely to take thy necessaries, and if they 
sometimes want, to bear it goodly. This is the despising of 
this world. Have this in mind if thou wilt not be slain 
[through love of it]. Thus is the world despised and not 
loved. 

All soothly that we love, we worship ; it is also foul to 
worship dirt, that is to love earthly things. Therefore these 
rich niggards l bind themselves thrall in most foul filth and 
stink, and joy to be called lords of men, [though they be 
servants of sin]. If a man be lord of men, that is not of 
nature but of fortune. That man is subject to vice is from a 
froward will. Put away therefore thy wicked will, and thou 
shalt be free from the fiend and from sin and made the servant 
of righteousness that teaches thee not to love earthly things. 

Covetousness of the world and the love of God truly are 
contrary, and rest not together in one soul. The place is so 
strait, that one falls out. The more soothly thou castest out 
covetousness the more thou tastest God s love. The more 
covetousness, the less charity. 

O wretched soul, what seekest thou in this world where thou 

1 C. chynchis, 

301 



202 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

seest that all things are deceitful and passing ? They soonest 
beguile thee that most flatter thee. Why busiest thou thyself 
for mortal things ? Why yearnest thou with great desire for 
the things that shall perish ? Seest thou not that they perish 
sooner than they are gotten ? But I wot where thou dwellest, 
where Satan s seat is 1 ; that has blinded thine eyes and by his 
falsehoods has scorned thee : so that thou shouldest desire fleet 
ing things, and love hateful things, and despise abiding things, 
and be drawn to things vanishing. And so thou settest thyself 
on a false ground, 2 and when thou weenest to stand thou fallest 
into the fire. 

The dwellers in temporal plenty are beguiled by five things 
that they love : by riches ; by dignity ; by will 3 ; by power ; and 
by honours. These bind them in sin, and constrain them in 
defaults ; with these lusts they are overcome, and never are 
loosed but by death ; but their loosing is too late when there 
is no more save endless pain. This lets them from despising 
the world ; from God s love ; from knowledge of themselves ; 
from the desire for the heavenly kingdom. No man may be 
saved unless he cease to love the world with all that is therein. 
Cease therefore whiles heat is in the body and the fair age of 
youth yet abides. 

What things shall delight him that disposes himself to love 
Christ? He will despise youth and will keep his strength 
for God ; riches he counts for nought ; he will take heed that 
this fairness is vain, and grace deceitful. 4 Whereto shall I 
run on one by one ? He shall perfectly despise all things 
that in this world pass as a shadow. 5 

lover of the flesh, what findest thou in thy flesh where 
fore thou so delightest in it ? Does the form or shape please 
thee, or hast thou now thy joy in a skin ? Why takest thou 

1 Rev. ii. 13. 3 i.e., foundation. 3 Bg. Sp. per voluptatem. 

4 cf. Prov. xxxi. 30, favour is deceitful and beauty is vain. 

5 cf. Ecclei. vii. i (vi. 12). 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 203 

not heed what is hid under the skin ? Or knowest thou not 
that fleshly fairness is the covering of filth, and the dregs 1 of 
corruption, and oft the cause of damnation ? Therefore be 
it enough for thee, all other things being despised, to love 
God ; to praise God ; with God to be ; in God to joy ; and 
from Him not to part; but to cleave to Him with unslakened 
desire. 

The world itself compels us to despise the world that is so 
full of wretchedness ; in which is abiding malice, destroying 
persecution, swelling 2 wrath, fretting 3 lust, false blaming for 
sin, and bitterness of slander ; where all things are confused 
and withouten order ; where neither righteousness is loved nor 
truth approved ; where faithfulness is unfaithful, and friendship 
cruel, that stands in prosperity and falls in adversity. 

There are yet other things that should move us to the 
despising of the world : the changeableness of time ; short 
ness of this life ; death sicker ; the chance 4 of death unsicker ; 
the stableness of everlastingness and the vanity of things 
present ; the truth of the joys to come. 

Choose what thou wilt. 5 If thou love the world, with it 
thou shalt perish ; if thou love Christ, with Him thou shalt 
reign. 

1 Bg. Sp. femes, i.e., spark ; and cf. note liv. a C. bolnand. 

3 i.e. t consuming ; Bg. Sp. detractio corrodens. 

4 i.e., how it befalls. s Bg. Sp. Elige quod vis. 



CHAPTER III 
OF POVERTY 1 

IF thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast and give 
it to the poor and come and follow Christ. 2 In the 
forsaking of worldly things and in the following of 
Christly things, it is shown there is perfection. Forsooth 
all that have forsaken their goods follow not Christ, for many 
are worse after the forsaking of their goods than they were 
before. Then certain they serve backbiting, and they dread 
not to withdraw the good fame of their neighbours. Then 
they swell with envy ; they gnash with malice ; they set 
themselves before all others ; they praise their state, all others 
they either dispraise or condemn. Trowest thou how that 
the fiend has beguiled such, that neither have the world nor 
God, whom by divers wiles he leads to endless tormentry. 

Thou that understandest that I have said, take thy poverty 
another way. When He says c go and sell He marks the 
changing of thy desire and of thy thought, as thus : he 
that was proud now be lowly ; that was wrathful now be 
meek ; he that was envious now be charitable ; before 
covetous, now generous 3 and discreet. And if he were unclean, 
now let him abstain not only from all ill but from all likeness 
of ill. And if before he exceeded in meat or drink, now by 
fasting let him amend. He soothly that loved the world too 
mickle, now let him gather himself altogether in Christ s 

1 note Ixxvi. 2 Matt. xix. zi. 3 C. large. 

204 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 205 

love ; and fasten all the waverings 1 of his heart in one desire 
for things everlasting. And so no marvel that wilful poverty 
shall be fruitful to him, and the noy that he suffers for God 
be a glorious crown. Eeati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum 
est regnum calorum? That is to say : Blessed be they that 
are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

What is poverty of spirit but meekness of mind, by the 
which a man knows his own infirmity ? Seeing that he 
may not come to perfect stableness but by the grace of God, 
all things that might let him from that grace he forsakes, 
and he sets his desire only in the joy of his Maker. And 
as of one root spring many branches, so of wilful poverty, 
taken in this wise, proceed virtues and marvellousness 
untrowed. Not as some that change their clothes and not 
their souls ; soothly it seems they forsake riches, yet they 
cease not to gather innumerable vices. 

What is worse than a proud poor man ? What more 
cursed than an envious beggar ? If thou truly forsake all 
things for God, see more what thou despisest than what thou 
forsakest. Take heed busily how thou followest Christ in 
manners. Discite y inquit, a me quia mitis sum, et humilis corde. z 
* Learn of me, He says, for I am meek and lowly of heart. 
He says not * learn of me for I am poor. Truly by itself 
poverty is no virtue but rather wretchedness ; nor for itself 
praised, but because it is the instrument of virtue and helps 
to get blessedness, and makes many eschew many occasions 
of sinning. And therefore it is to be praised and desired. It 
lets a man from being honoured, although he be virtuous ; 
but rather it makes him despised and over-led, 4 and cast out 
among lovers of the world. To suffer all which for Christ is 
highly needful. 

Therefore Christ to our example led a poor life in this way, 5 

1 C. sparpilyngis ; Bg. dispersiones cordis ; and Sp. ajfectiones cordis. 

2 Matt. v. 3. 3 Matt. xi. 29. 
4 f.*., oppressed ; Bg. confundi. s i.e., world. 



ao6 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

for He knew that for them that abound in riches and liking 1 
it is hard to enter into heaven. 8 

Therefore so that men should desire poverty more greedily 
He has behested 8 high honour and the power of justice to them 
that forsake all things for Him, saying : Fos qui reliquistis 
omnia et secuti esth me^ sedebitis super sedes duodecim, judicantes 
duodecim tribus Israel^ that is to say : c Ye that have for 
saken all things and followed me, shall sit on twelve seats, 
deeming the twelve tribes of Israel. 

They soothly that have wilful poverty and want in the 
meekness and lowliness that Christ teaches, are more wretched 
than they that have plenty of all riches, nor shall they take the 
apostles place of worthiness in the day of doom ; but they shall 
be clad with the doublet of confusion, that is damnation of 
body and soul. 5 They soothly that shine in meekness and 
lowliness, though they have mickle riches, yet shall they be set 
on the right hand of Christ when He deems. 

Some men soothly say : we can not leave all, we are sick ; 
it behoves us to keep our necessaries that we may live, and 
that is lawful. But they are the less worthy, for they dare not 
suffer anguish, poverty and neediness for God. Yet by the 
grace of God they may come to the height of virtue, and lift 
themselves to the contemplation of heavenly things, if they 
forsake secular occupations and errands, and unwearily rise to 
meditate and pray ; and hold not the goods they have with full 
love, but having them, forsake them. 

Take heed also : to seek more than enough is foul covetous- 
ness ; to keep back necessaries is frailty ; but to forsake all 
things is perfectness. Therefore whiles they see high things 
that they can not reach, they empride not nor presume because 
of the small things that they have, so that they may mannerly 6 
ascend to the ordering of man s life : of which now follows. 

1 f.*., pleasure. a cf. Matt. xix. 23. 3 />., promised. 

* Matt. xix. 28, and cf. note vi. * cf. Ps. cviii. 18 (cix. 15), and 
see note Ixxvii. 6 i.e., in order. 



CHAPTER IV 
OF THE SETTING OF MAN S LIFE 

SO that a man may be righteously dressed l to the worship 
of God and to his own profit and the profit of his neigh 
bour, four things are to be said. 

First : what is it that defiles a man. 2 There are three sins, 
or three kinds ot sin ; that is to say of thought, of mouth and 
of work. A man sins in thought when he thinks aught against 
God. If he occupies his heart not with the praise and loving 
of God, but suffers it [to be abstracted or stirred] with divers 
thoughts, and to go void in the world. In mouth he sins when 
he lies ; when he forswears ; when he curses ; when he back 
bites ; when he defends a wrong ; when he uses fond speech, 
or foul speech ; or brings forth vain things or idle. In deed 
he sins many wise : by lechery ; touching sinfully, or kissing ; 
defiling himself wilfully ; or, without great cause, procuring or 
sustaining occasions by which he trows he might be defiled ; 
in robbing ; stealing ; beguiling ; smiting ; and other such. 

Secondly : which are they that cleanse a man ? And they 
are three, against the three aforesaid, that is to say : Contrition 
of thought and pulling out of desires that belong not to the 
praise or worship of God and love of Him. Confession of mouth, 
that ought to be timely, bare, 3 and whole. Satisfaction o 



1 i.e., directed. 

2 Compare what follows with The Form oj Perfect Living, edited 
by G. E. Hodgson, chap. vi. p. 29. 3 ;>., entire. 

307 



208 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

that has three parts, that is to say : Fasting because he has 
sinned against himself; prayer because he has sinned against 
God ; alms because he has sinned against his neighbour. Yet 
I say not he should do alms of other men s goods, but he should 
restore ; for sin is not forgiven unless that that is withdrawn, 
be restored. 

Third : which things keep cleanness of heart ? And they are 
three : quick 1 thought of God, that there be no time in which 
thou thinkest not of God except in sleep that is common to 
all ; busy keeping of thine outwards wits, that tasting, 
savouring, hearing, and seeing they may wisely be restrained 
under the bridle of governance. [The third is honest occupation, 
as reading of holy writ, speaking of God, writing, or some 
other good deed doing.] 

There are three things also that save 2 cleanness of mouth : 
avisedness of speech ; to eschew mickle speech ; and to hate 
lying. 

Also three things keep cleanness of wording : moderation in 
meat 3 ; fleeing ill compauy ; and oft to mind of death. 

The fourth : which things are they that allure 4 us to 
conform us to God s will I And there are three. First, the 
example of creatures, that is had by consideration ; the good- 
linness of God, 5 that is gotten by meditation and prayer : and 
mirth of the heavenly kingdom, that is felt in a manner by 
contemplation. 

The man of God set to live in this wise shall be as a tree that 
is set by running waters 6 that is the flowing of grace so 
that he shall always be green in virtue and never be dry by sin ; 
and shall give fruit in time ; that is, he shall give good works 
as an example, and good words to the worship of God, and 
these he shall not sell for vainglory. He says in time against 
them that give example of fasting in time of eating, and 

1 i.e., lively. 2 i.e., preserve. 3 C. mesure of mettis. 

4 C. chirysch. s Bg. Sp. Dei familiaritas. 6 cf. Ps. i. 3. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 209 

the reverse way also ; and against covetous men that give 
their fruit when it is rotten ; or else they give not until 
they die. 

Therefore he prays wisely who says : Bonltatem et disciplinam 
et scientiam doce me^ that is to say : goodliness, 2 discipline 
and knowledge teach me. What is discipline but the setting 
of, or correcting, of manners ? First therefore we are taught 
righteousness, and corrected of ill by discipline ; and after that 
we know what we should do, or what we should eschew. At 
the last we savour not fleshly things, but everlasting heavenly 
and godly. 3 

And when a man with all busyness has dressed himself to 
the will of his Maker and grown in virtue, and has passed 
another that peradventure went before, in steadfastness of 
living and desire of Christ, he ought not thereof to joy nor 
give praise to himself, nor trow himself better than others 
although they be low but rather hold himself as the foulest 
and most wretched. He shall deem no man but himself, and 
all others set before himself ; he shall not desire to be called 
holy of men, but worthy to be despised. When he comes 
amongst men, he should procure to be last in number and least 
in opinion ; for the greater thou art the more shouldest thou 
meek thyself in all things [and then thou shalt find grace 
before God to be made high]. 4 For the might of God is great, 
and honoured by the meek ; therefore it is despised by the 
proud, for they seek their own joy not God s worship. 

Truly if thou takest with gladness the favour of the people 
and [the honour of men that is done to thee for thy holiness 
and good] fame in this life, know it well thou hast received thy 
meed. And if thou seemest marvellous in penance and chastity 
whiles thou joyest more in man s joy than in angel s, in the 
time to come nought but tormentry shall be for thee. There- 

1 Ps. cxviiii. 66 (cxix. 66). 2 goodness or kindness, O.E.D. 

3 cf. Col. iii. 2. * cf. Prov. xxv. 6-7, 



210 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

fore thou oughtest perfectly to despise thyself, and entirely to 
forsake all joy of this world, and to think nor do nothing but 
in the sight of God s love, that all thy life, inward and outward, 
may cry the praise of God. 

In meat and drink be thou scarce and wise. Whiles thou 
eatest or drinkest let not the memory of thy God that feeds 
thee pass from thy mind ; but praise, bless, and glorify Him in 
ilka morsel, so that thy heart be more in God s praising than 
in thy meat, that thy soul be not parted from God at any hour. 
Thus doing, before Christ Jesu thou shalt be worthy a crown, 
and the temptations of the fiend, that in meat and drink awaits 
most men and beguiles them, thou shalt eschew. Either 
soothly by unmannerly 1 taking of food they are cast down from 
the height of virtue, or by too mickle abstinence they break 
down that virtue. 

Many truly there are that always fluctuate 3 in eating, so 
that over little or over mickle they always take ; and the 
form of living they never keep whiles they trow that now this, 
now that, be better. The unwise and untaught, which have 
never felt the sweetness of Christ s love, trow that unwise 
abstinence be holiness ; and they trow they can not be 
worthy of great meed anent 3 God unless they be known as 
singular of all men by scarceness and unrighteous abstinence. 

But truly abstinence by itself is not holiness, but if it be 
discreet it helps us to be holy. If it be indiscreet it lets 
holiness, because it destroys discipline, without which virtues 
are turned to vice. If a man would be singular in abstinence 
he ought to eschew the sight of men and their praising, that 
he be not proud for nought and so lose all : for men truly 
ween they be holiest that they see most abstinent, when 
in truth ofttimes they are the worst. 

He certain that has truly tasted the sweetness of endless 

1 immoderately. 

r C. flowe. Bg. Sp. multi enim sunt qui edendo stmytrjluctuant. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 211 

love shall never deem himself to pass any man in abstinence, 
but the lower he supposes himself in abstinence anent himself, 
the more he shall be held marvellous anent men. The best 
thing, and as I suppose pleasing to God, is to conform thyself 
in meat and drink to the time and place and estate of 
them with whom thou art ; so that thou seem not to be wilful 
nor a feigner of religion. 

Know it truly, without doubt, if one or two think well 
of him, yet others will call him an hypocrite or a feigner. 
But there are some covetous of vainglory that in no wise 
will be holden as common men ; for either they eat so 
little that they always draw the speech of men to them, 
or they procure other manner of meats to be seen diverse 
from others : whose madness and obstinacy be far from me. 

Truly it is wholesome counsel that they that fast little 
give preference to them of greater abstinence, and since they 
may not do so great abstinence be sorry in mind. And 
they that are of great abstinence should trow others higher 
in virtue ; whose virtue, in which they surpass, is hidden to 
men, whiles their virtue, that is to say abstinence, is praised 
of many. But unless it be dight with meekness and charity 
before Christ, it is nought. 

Truly the virtue of others is the more in that it is not seen 
of men. Who may know how much love a man has anent 
God, how great compassion anent his neighbour ? And 
doubtless the virtue of charity surpasses without comparison 
all fasting or abstinence, and all other works that may be 
seen ; and oft it happens that he that before men is seen 
least to fast, within, before Christ, is most fervent in love. 

It behoves him truly to be strong that will manfully use 
the love of God. The flesh being enfeebled with great dis 
ease ofttimes a man cannot pray, and then mickle more 
he cannot lift himself to high things with hot desire. I 
would rather therefore that a man failed for the greatness of 
love than for too mickle fasting ; as the spouse said of 



212 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

herself: Nunciate dilecto quia amore langueo 1 ; that is: Show 
thyself to my love, for I long for love. 2 

Be thou therefore steadfast in all thy ways and dress thy 
life after the rule shown to thee, and if thou may not get that 
thou desirest in the beginning mistrust not, but abide ; for 
by long use and time thou shalt come to perfection. 

If thou be a pilgrim and rest by the way, whatever thou 
dost in this life to God ever have an eye. Let not thy 
thought go from Him ; think that time lost in which thou 
thinkest not of God. In the night praise Him and desire 
His love, that sleep may not find thee in any other wise 
occupied than praying or thinking of God. See that thou 
flow not with vain thoughts, nor give thyself to many 
charges, 3 but study to get and hold this steadfastness of mind 
so that thou dread not the wretchedness of this world nor 
desire the goods thereof unmannerly. He that dreads to 
suffer adversity knows not yet how it behoves us to despise 
the world ; and he that joys in earthly things is far from 
everlasting things. 

To the virtue of strength truly belong all adversities and 
prosperities ; and also to despise death for endless life. And 
charity is to desire only heavenly things. A perfect lovel 
forsooth joys to die, and suffers life meekly. To which 
perfection if thou ascend by the gift of Christ, yet shalt thou 
not be without tribulation and temptation : to show which 
our words shall turn. 

1 Cant. v. 8, and cf. note vi. 2 note Ixxviii. 

3 Bg. Sp. ne superfluis curis te subdas. 



CHAPTER V 
OF TRIBULATION 1 

WHEN the fiend sees one man out of thousands per 
fectly turned to God ; following the steps of Christ ; 
despising this present world ; loving and seeking only 
the things unseen ; taking perfect penance ; and purging 
himself from all filth of mind and body : he reparels 2 a 
thousand beguilings of annoyance and a thousand crafts 
of fighting to cast him from the love of God to the love 
of the world, and to fill him again with the filth of sin so 
that at the least with lecherous thoughts he should be made 
hateful to God. He raises against him persecution, tribula 
tion, slander, false blame for sins, and all kinds of hatred ; 
so that pain may slay and break him that prosperity could 
not beguile. 

Now sharpness, now cherishing, he puts before him, and 
he brings to mind images of bodily things ; he gathers 
together fantasies of sin ; he gaincalls old shrewdness and 
delights of past love ; he inflames heart and flesh with 
lecherous fire. He begins with the least but he comes to the 
greatest flame of wickedness. And with as great busyness 
he studies to blow against us all kinds of temptation, tor- 
mentry and tribulation, as he sorrows that we, by the mercy 
of God, have escaped from his cheeks. 3 

1 note Ixxix. 2 contrives or devises, O.E.D. 

3 Bg. Sp. eius faucibus. 



213 



214 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

He gets 1 nothing but that he might depart us from the 
unbodily embrace, sweetest and most chaste, of everlasting 
love ; and eft 2 defile us in the pit of wretchedness. That 
were more wretched for us than I can tell. 

Who can think his madness that from the delicacies of 
kings would come down to swine s meat ? And yet is he 
more mad that forsakes the delicious meat of unwrought 
wisdom and puts himself under the filth of the flesh. Is not 
gluttony and lechery swinish filth, and they that do such, 
feed they not fiends ? 

Therefore how we must do against the tribulation and 
temptations of our enemies, and how to gainstand, shall 
patience teach us ; of which now we will speak. 

1 i.e., seeks. a afterward. 



CHAPTER VI 
OF PATIENCE 

THE children of God disdain to come down to the meat 
of unreasonable beasts, but truly they despise all unlawful 
lusts and worldly solace for the love of Christ. He truly 
that is fed with the bread that comes from heaven, 1 inclines 
not his desire to those things that are moved by the devil. 
When temptations arise or tribulation, ghostly armour is to 
be taken and it is time to go to battle. 

Temptations truly are overcome with steadfastness of faith 
and love ; tribulation truly with patience. What is patience 
but goodly and wilful suffering 2 of adversity ? He there 
fore that is patient murmurs in no grief, but rather at all 
times with the prophet praises God. 3 The more patient a 
man is in his noys the more glorious shall he be in heaven. 
Gladly therefore are tribulations to be suffered in adversity, 
noys and bitterness, pains and sickness and thirst ; for by 
these and such other our sins are cleansed and meeds increased. 
Truly it either behoves us in this life [to be burnt with the fire 
of God s love and of tribulation, or else after this life] with 
the fire of purgatory or hell to be most bitterly crucified and 
punished. Choose therefore ; we shall not escape the one. 
Here truly with little pain, yea with joy, if we cleave to God, 
we may eschew all pain to come. 

1 cf. John vi. S3- 8 . 3 Bg. Sp. libens et voluntaria perpessio. 

3 Ps. xxxiv. 28 (xxxv. 28). 
215 



216 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

Therefore tribulations are sent to us to call us from the 
love of the world, that we be not punished more grievously in 
the other life. With sorrow truly it behoves us to be 
cleansed of that ill we did in lust. If sinners build upon 
our backs, 1 they noy us not, if we suffer it patiently, but 
themselves ; for if they put us to a little pain for us they 
work a crown, but for themselves tormentry. 

The sinful truly are suffered to pass this life withouten 
great tribulations ; for in the time to come no joy is kept for 
them. Therefore holy men love tribulations, for they wot 
by them to win to endless life. Contrarily the rejected 
always murmur in adversity, and flee all that they can ; for 
whiles they are given too mickle to seen things, they are 
deprived of the hope of things everlasting. In outward 
things only they find solace, because they have fully lost the 
savour of heavenly. 

There is no reasonable soul here abiding but either she 
loves creatures, or the Maker of creatures. If she loves 
creatures she loses God and goes, with the good loved, to 
death. Truly such love in the beginning is labour and 
fondness ; in the middle languor arid wretchedness ; and in 
the end hatred and pain. 

He soothly that loves his Maker forsakes omnia quae that 
is in the world, and he thinks it full sweet of Him and 
with Him to speak ; his refreshment is to think on Him. 
He spars 2 his outward wits that death ascend not by the 
windows 3 ; and that he be not unprofitably occupied in vanity. 
And sometimes despisings, reproofs, scorns, and slanders are 
raised against him, and therefore it is needful to take the 
shield of patience and be readier to forget wrongs than to 
know them. He shall pray for their turning that hate him 
and cast him down, and shall care not to please man, but dread 
to offend God. 

1 cf. Ps. cxxix. 3. 2 i.e., bolts. 3 c f. Jer. ix. 21. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 217 

If thou be tempted in the flesh make it subject, that the 
spirit be not overcome. 1 Temptation truly that we consent 
not to is a matter for using 2 virtue. For no man wots whether 
he be weak or strong until the time he be assayed. Likewise 
in peace no man is called patient, but when he is pulled 3 with 
wrong ; then he should see if he have patience. Many seem 
patient when they are not pricked, but when a soft blast 
I say not of wrong but of correction touches them, anon 
their mind turns to bitterness and wrath ; and if they hear 
one word against their will they give again two more ungodly : 
into whose counsel my soul comes not. 

Therefore the darts of our enemy are to be slakened with 
the meekness and sweetness of Christ s love ; nor is stead 4 to 
be given to temptation, although it be grievous. For the 
greater battle the worthier victory and higher crown, as 
says the psalm : Beatus vir qui suffert tentationem^ quoniam 
cum probatus fuerit accipiet coronam vitae^ etc. 5 ; that is to say : 
Blest be the man that suffers temptation, for when he is 
proved a crown of life he shall receive that God behested to 
His lovers. 

Doubt not that thou art in the perfect life if despising be 
to thee as praising, poverty as riches, hunger as meat ; so that 
thou sufferest them with even soul, and if thou fall in nought 
from height of mind. Flee and hate as mickle as thou canst 
the praise of man ; for it is most praiseworthy to be worthy 
of praising, and not to be praised of men. The tongues of 
flatterers beguile many, and also the tongues of backbiters 
destroy many. Despise thou therefore favour, worship, and 
all vainglory ; suffer meekly wraths, hatreds, and detractions ; 
and so by slander and good fame, by tribulations and anger 6 
cease not to make haste to the heavenly kingdoms. 

1 C. vndirlowt. Bg. Sp. ne spiritus succumbat. 

2 i.e. 9 exercising. 3 L. impulsus. 4 },?., place. s Jas. i. 12. 
6 But Bg. and Sp. read et blanditiasj i.e., flattery ; which the 

context seems to require. 



218 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

Ofttimes we fall, so that taught by many chances 1 we 
should stand more strongly. The strong dread not, nor are 
the patient heavy, in adversity, as it is written : Non trlstabit 
justum quicquid ei acciderit? Whatever happens to the 
righteous man it shall not heavy him. Thus disposed, no 
marvel thou shalt overcome all temptation and slake all 
malice ; thou shalt see thy noyers more wretched than thee, 
and with all thy mind thou shalt cleave to Christ. 

1 C. casys. 2 Prov. xii. 21. 



CHAPTER VII 
OF PRAYER 

IF thou be set in temptation or tribulation, to prayer anon 
run. Truly if thou prayest clearly 1 thou shalt have help. 2 
Distractions sometimes come and waverings of heart, and 
thoughts of divers things ravish the heart and suffer it not 
to stand in the praising of God. Then peradventure it were 
good a while to think of holiness, until the mind is more 
stabled, and so thy prayers are fulfilled. 3 

Truly if any have left all worldly occupations for the love of 
God, and always are given to holy prayer and holy medita 
tion, I trow that by God s grace within a short space they 
shall find their heart is stabled to love and pray. They should 
not waver now to this and now to that, but rather abide 
in rest and endless peace. Full miclde it comforts 4 to get 
stableness of heart to be busy in frequent prayers, and 
devoutly to sing psalms. With busy prayers truly we over 
come fiends, and we loosen their waitings and stirrings. 5 
They are enfeebled and as it were without strength, whiles 
we, strong and not overcome, bide in prayer. 

Truly those men that have it in custom with long 
exercise to pray, sometimes find more sweetness and more 
fervent desire of prayer. Therefore whiles that sweetness 

1 Bg. Sp. pure oraueris. a cf. Jas. v. 15. 

3 Bg. Sp. dc divinis . . . meditari ; and see note Ixxx. 

4 /.*., strengthens. s Bg. insidias ct infcstationes eneruamus. 

319 



220 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

and heat last it is good not to cease from prayers. When they 
cease that often happens because of the corruptible flesh 
they may turn to read holy scripture, or do some other 
profitable thing, that they suffer not their thought to waver 
from God, so that when they rise to pray again they may be 
quicker than they were before. 

Truly then we pray well when we think of no other thing, 
but all our mind is dressed to heaven and our soul is enflamed 
with the fire of the Holy Ghost. Thus truly a marvellous 
plenteousness of God s goodness is found in us ; for from 
the innermost marrow of our hearts shall the love of God 
rise, and all our prayer shall be with desire and effect 1 ; 
so that we over-run not the words, but nearly every syllable 
with a great cry and desire we shall offer to our Lord. Our 
heart being kindled with hot fire our prayer is also kindled, 
and in the savour of sweetness is offered by our mouth in the 
sight of God, so that it is great joy to pray. For whiles in 
prayer a marvellous sweetness is given to the one praying, the 
prayer is changed to song. 

Here some are reproved that rather take heed to meditation 
than to prayer, not knowing that God s speech is fired ; and 
with it the filth of sin is cleansed, and the minds of pray-ers 
are enflamed with love. They say that they will first 
meditate and so stable their hearts ; but they are stabled the 
later in that they are not comforted by prayer. 

Although we can not gather our hearts together as we 
would yet may we not leave off, but little by little 2 we should 
study to grow in prayer, that at the last Jesu Christ may 
stable us. To which meditation helps if it pass not measure 
and manner. 

1 Bg. Sp. cum affectu et effectu. 

3 C. sokandly. Bg. Sp. sed paulatim studeamus. 



CHAPTER VIII 
OF MEDITATION 

FT"! HE meditation of Christ s passion and His death io 

good; and oft to recall 1 what pain and wretchedness He 

JL freely took for our health in going about and preaching, 

in hunger, thirst, cold, heat, reproaches, cursings, and 

sufferings ; so that it be not grievous to an unprofitable 

servant to follow his Lord and Emperor. 

He truly that says he dwells in Christ ought to walk as 
He didc 2 Christ says truly by Jeremy : Have mind of my 
poverty and of my passage, of wormwood and gall 3 ; that is 
to say, of sorrow and bitterness, by which I went from the 
world to the Father. 

Truly this mindfulness 4 or meditation overcomes the fiend 
and destroys his gins 5 ; it slakes fleshly temptation and 
kindles the soul to Christ s love ; it raises and cleanses, and also 
purges the mind. I trow this meditation is most profitable 
of all others to them that are newly turned to Christ. For 
there truly is shown the manhood 6 of Jesu Christ, in the 
which man should be repeatedly 7 glad ; in which he has 
matter for joy and also mourning. Joy for the sickerness of 
our gainbuying ; heaviness for the filth of our sinning, on 
account of which it is to be grieved for 8 that so worthy an 
offering is offered. For the boisterous and fleshly soul is not 

1 C. recorde. 2 cf. I John ii. 6. 3 Lam. iii. 19. 4 C. mynde. 
s i.e., crafts. 6 Bg. reads humilltas ; and Sp. humanitas. 

7 C. emong ; Bg. iterum. 8 C. to hcuy. 



222 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

ravished into the contemplation of the Godhead unless all 
fleshly lettings be wasted away by ghostly [meditation and 
contemplation of the manhood]. 

Truly when a man begins to have a clean heart, and no 
image of bodily things can beguile him, then sickerly he is 
admitted to high things, that in love of [the Godhead] he may 
be wonderfully made glad. 1 Some think truly on the joy of 
the blessed angels and holy souls joying with Christ ; and 
this thought belongs to contemplation. Some think on the 
wretchedness of man s condition and his filth, and they 
dispute in their thoughts about man s folly that for the 
vanities of this life forgets the joys unseen. Others thus 
dispose their thoughts : that they will nothing but the praise 
and desire of their Maker, so that they love Him as much as 
is possible for men in this life. To this meditation no man 
comes but he that is mickle used in these things before 

O 

rehearsed. For truly it is a more excellent manner than others 
and makes a man most contemplative. 

Therefore as the works and uses of saints are divers, so are 
their meditations divers. Yet all, because they come of one 
spring, go to one end, and they come or lead to one bliss ; but 
by divers ways, through the one charity, that is more in one 
than another. Therefore the psalm says: Deduxit me super 
semitas justitiae 2 ; that is, c He has led me upon the paths of 
righteousness ; as if to say, there is one righteousness and many 
paths by which we are led to the joy of the life everlasting ; 
because whiles all are one in being, they are of divers needs, 
and in one righteousness they are led to God by divers paths. 
Some go by a low path, some by a mean, 3 and some by a high. 
The higher path is given to him that is ordained from eternity 4 
to love Christ more, not because he works more than others, 
or gives more or suffers more, but because he loves more. 

1 note Ixxxi. * Ps. xxii. 3 (xxiii. 3). 3 i.e., middle. 

4 C. endlesly is ordaned ; Bg. Sp. ab aeterne pratdestinatur . 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 223 

Which love is heat and sweetness, and it seeks rest in 
all men. 

No man may set himself in any of these paths ; but he 
takes to that which God chose him. Sometimes they that 
seem in the higher are in the lower, and the reverse ; for that 
is only inward in soul before God, not in anything that may be 
done outward of man. According to the disposition and desire 
of their meditation they are dressed to this path or to that. By 
outward works no man may be known who is more or who 
less before God. Therefore it is folly to deem of the chosen 
and say : he passes him ; or, his merits are far below the meeds 
of this one, when plainly they know not their minds ; the 
which if they knew they might lawfully deem. 

Therefore truly God wills it to be secret from all creatures, 
that they despise not some too mickle, or honour some too 
mickle. For doubtless if they saw men s hearts, many that 
they honour they would despise as stinking and foul, and 
others that they set not by, nor yet desire to see, they would 
honour as most lovely, and as the holy angels. 

Good thoughts also and meditations of the elect [be of God,] 
and such by His grace He sheds forth to each one as best 
accords to their state and condition. Therefore I can tell 
thee my meditations, but which is most effectual for thee I 
cannot opine, for I see not thy inward desires. I trow truly 
that those meditations in thee most please God and most profit 
thee that God by His mercy sheds in thee. 

Nevertheless in the beginning thou mayest have the words 
of other men ; that I know well by myself. Truly if thou 
despise the teachings of doctors and trow that thyself mayest 
find something better than they teach thee in their writings, 
know forsooth that thou shalt not taste Christ s love. For 
truly it is a fond saying : c God taught them, why therefore 
shall He not teach me ? I answer thee : because thou art 
not such as they were. Thou art proud and sturdy, and they 
were lowly and meek ; and they asked nothing of God 



224 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

presuming, but meeking themselves under all, took knowledge 
from the saints. He taught them therefore so that we should 
be taught in their books. 

If truly thou now desirest the love of Christ in thy medita 
tions, or to resound His praises as meseems thou art well 
disposed. But the thoughts in which thou feelest more 
sweetness in God profit thee more. To meditate well without 
sweetness profits thee little, except in that case when the need 
for sweetness is not felt. 



CHAPTER IX 
OF READING 

IF thou desire to come to the love of God, and be kindled 
in thy desire for heavenly joys ; and be brought to the 
despising of earthly things, be not negligent in meditating 
and reading holy scripture ; and most in those places where 
it teaches manners, and to eschew the deceits of the fiend, 
and where it speaks of God s love, and of contemplative life. 
Hard sayings may be left to disputers and to wise men used 
for a long time in holy doctrine. 

It helps us truly mickle to profit in good. By this 
we know our defaults and good deeds ; in which things we 
sin, and in which not ; what we should do, and what forbear; 
and the most subtle deceits of our enemies are opened to us. 
They kindle to love, and prick to weeping. If we have 
delight in them as it were in all riches, they prepare us a 
table of delights. 1 

But let not covetousness of the honour or favour or praise 
of men kindle us to knowledge of scripture, but only the 
intent to please God ; that we may know how we should 
love Him, and teach our neighbour the same. We ought not 
to be holden wise anent the people but rather hide our 
knowledge than show it so as to be praised, as it is said : 
In corde meo abscondi eloquia tua, ut non peccem tibi, 2 that is : 

1 cf. Ps. xxiii. 5. C. }?a ordan vs a likand borde. Bg. Sp. prse- 
parant nobis mensam delicatam. 2 Ps. cxviii. n (cxix. n). 

Q aas 



226 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

c In my heart I hid thy words, that I sin not towards thee, in 
void or vain showing. 

Therefore the cause of our speaking should be only the 
praise of God and the edification of our neighbour, that it 
may be fulfilled in us : Semper laus ejus in ore meo. 1 < Alway 
His praise be in my mouth, and that is, when we seek not our 
own honour and we speak not against His praise. 

1 Ps. xxxiii. 2 (xxxiv. i). 



CHAPTER X 
OF CLEANNESS OF MIND 

BY these nine degrees before touched upon man comes to 
cleanness of mind, where God is seen. Cleanness, I say^ 
that may be had in this life. How may perfect clean 
ness be gotten here where so oft man, with venial sins at least, 
is defiled ? The feet of saints are to be washed for they draw 
the dust of the earth. 

Who may truly say, * I am clean from sin ? Truly none 
in this life ; for as Job says : Si lotus fuero aquis nivis^ et efful- 
serint velut munditlce manus me<z, tamen sordibus intinges me, et 
abominabuntur me vestimenta mea 1 ; that is to say : If I be 
washed with snow water/ that means true penance, and 
if my hands shine with cleanness, because of works of inno 
cence, c yet shalt thou touch me with filth, because of venial 
sins that can not be eschewed ; and my clothes shall abhor me, 2 
that is to say my flesh makes me abhor myself ; and sensuality 
that is so frail, slippery, and ready to love the liking beauty 
of this world, ofttimes makes me sin. Therefore the apostle 
says : Non regnet peccatum in nostro mortali corpore* c Sin 
reigns not in our mortal body, as who should say : Sin may 
un-reign in us, but it may not un-be. 

What cleanness therefore can man have in this life ? 
Truly worthy and great if he rightly use himself in the 

1 Job ix. 30, 31. a C. Sail vg me. cf. R.V. and mine own 

clothes shall abhor me. 3 R m. vi. i. 



228 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

study of reading, prayer, and meditation, as it is before noted. 
Truly although he sometimes sin venially yet forthwith, 
because his whole mind is dressed to God, it is destroyed. 
The heat truly of charity wastes in him all rust of sin, as it 
were a drop of water put into a great fire. 

The virtue therefore of a cleansed soul is to have the 
mind busy to God, for in this degree all the thought is 
dressed to Christ ; all the mind, although he seems to speak to 
others, is spread unto Him. Truly in a clean conscience 
nothing is bitter, sharp, or hard, but all is sweet and lovely. 
Out of cleanness of heart rises a song of joy, sweet ditty 
and joyful mirth. Then full oft a wonderful joy of God 
is given, and heavenly song is inshed. 1 In this state a man 
may know that he is in charity that he shall never lose ; he 
lives not without great dread not lest he should suffer 
tormentry but that he offend not his Lover. 

I spare to say more here for I seem to myself a full great 
wretch. For oft my flesh is noyed and assayed. Although 
forsooth the love of God and contemplative life is contained 2 
in these things beforesaid, yet somewhat of them is more 
specially to be said to your need and profit. 

1 note Ixxxii. 2 C. continude = Bg. Sp. contineantur. 



CHAPTER XI 
OF THE LOVE OF GOD 

SWEET and delectable light that is my Maker unmade ; 
enlighten the face and sharpness of my inward eye with 
clearness unmade, that my mind, pithily cleansed from 
uncleanness and made marvellous with gifts, may swiftly flee 
into the high mirth of love ; and kindled with Thy savour 
I may sit and rest, joying in Thee, Jesu. And going as it 
were ravished in heavenly sweetness, and made stable in the 
beholding of things unseen, never, save by godly things, shall 
I be gladdened. 

O Love everlasting, enflame my soul to love God, so that 
nothing may burn in me but His halsings. 1 O good Jesu, who 
shall grant me to feel Thee that now may neither be felt nor 
seen? Shed Thyself into the entrails of my soul. Come into 
my heart and fill it with Thy clearest sweetness. Moisten my 
mind with the hot wine of Thy sweet love, that forgetful of 
all ills and all scornful visions and imaginations, and only having 
Thee, I may be glad and joy in Jesu my God. Henceforward, 
sweetest Lord, go not from me, continually biding with me 
in Thy sweetness ; for Thy presence only is solace to me, and 
Thy absence only leaves me heavy. 

O Holy Ghost that givest grace where Thou wilt, come 
into me and ravish me to Thee ; change 2 the nature that 
Thou hast made with Thy honeyed gifts, that my soul 

1 i.e., embraces. 

7 Bg. reads inuncta, and Sp. innite. 
229 



230 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

fulfilled with Thy liking joy, may despise and cast away all 
things in this world. Ghostly gifts she may take of Thee, 
the Giver, and going by songful joy into undescried l light 
she may be all melted in holy love. Burn my reins and my 
heart with Thy fire that on Thine altar shall endlessly burn. 

O sweet and true Joy, I pray Thee come ! Come O sweet 
and most desired ! Come my Love, that art all my comfort ! 
Glide down into a soul longing for Thee and after Thee with 
sweet heat. Kindle with Thy heat the wholeness of my 
heart. With Thy light enlighten my inmost parts. Feed me 
with honeyed songs of love, as far I may receive them by my 
powers of body and soul. 

In these, and such other meditations be glad, that so thou 
mayest come to the pith of love. Love truly suffers not 
a loving soul to bide in itself, but ravishes it out to the Lover ; 
so that the soul is more there where it loves, than where the 
body is that by it lives and feels. 

There are soothly three degrees of Christ s love, by one or 
another of which he that is chosen to love profits. The first 
is called, unable to be overcome ; the second, unable to be 
parted ; the third is called singular. 2 

Then truly is love unovercomeable when it can not be overcome 
by any other desire. When it casts away lettings, and slakes 
all temptations and fleshly desires ; and when it patiently 
suffers all griefs for Christ, and is overcome by no flattery 
nor delight. All labour is light to a lover, nor can a man 
better overcome labour than by love. 

Love truly is undeparted when the mind is kindled with 
great love, and cleaves to Christ with undeparted thought. 
Forsooth it suffers Him not to pass from the mind a minute, 
but as if he were bound in heart to Him it thinks and sighs 

1 Bg. incircumscriptum. 

3 cf. Form of Perfect Living, viii. p. 46 ; where these degrees arc 
called * Insuptrabky Inseparable, and Singular* 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 231 

after Him, and it cries to be holden with His love that He may 
loose him from the fetters of mortality, and may lead him to 
Him Whom only he desires to see. And most this name 
JESU he in so mickle worships and loves that It continually 
rests in his mind. 

When therefore the love of Christ is set so mickle in the 
heart of God s lover and the world s despiser that it may not 
be overcome by other desire of love, it is called high. But 
when he holds undepartedly to Christ, ever thinking of Christ, 
by no occasion forgetting Him, it is called everlasting and 
undeparted. And if this be high and everlasting, what love can 
be higher or more ? 

Yet there is the third degree that is called singular. It is one 
thing to be high, and another to be alone ; as it is one thing to 
be ever presiding, 1 and another to have no fellow. Truly we 
may have many fellows and yet have a place before all. 

Truly if thou seekest or receivest any comfort other than 
of thy God, and if peradventure thou lovest the highest, yet it 
is not singular. Thou seest therefore to what the greatness of 
worthiness must increase, that when thou art high thou mayest 
be alone. Therefore love ascends to the singular degree when 
it excludes all comfort but the one that is in Jesu ; when 
nothing but Jesu may suffice it. 

The soul set in this degree loves Him alone; she yearns only 
for Christ, and Christ desires; only in His desire she abides, 
and after Him she sighs ; in Him she burns ; she rests in His 
warmth. Nothing is sweet to her, nothing she savours, except 
it be made sweet in Jesu ; whose memory is as a song of music 
in a feast of wine. Whatever the self offers to her (besides) 
it or comes into mind, is straightway cast back and suddenly 
despised if it serve not His desire or accord not with His will. 
She suppresses all customs that she sees serve not to the love of 
Christ. Whatever she does seems unprofitable and intolerable 

* C. to be present ; and see note Ixxxiii, 



232 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

unless it runs and leads to Christ, the End of her desire. When 
she can love Christ she trows she has all things that she wills to 
have, and withouten Him all things are abhorrent to her and 
wax foul. But because she trows to love Him endlessly she 
steadfastly abides, and wearies not in body nor heart but loves 
perseveringly and suffers all things gladly. And the more she 
thus lives in Him the more she is kindled in love, and the liker 
she is to Him. 

No marvel loneliness accords with such a one that grants 
no fellow among men. For the more he is ravished inwardly 
by joys, the less is he occupied in outward things ; nor is he 
let by heaviness or the cares 1 of this life. And now it seems 
as if the soul were unable to suffer pain, so that not being 
let by anguish, she ever joys in God. 

O my soul, cease from the love of this world and melt in 
Christ s love, that always it may be sweet to thee to speak, 
read, write, and think of Him ; to pray to Him and ever to 
praise Him. O God, my soul, to Thee devoted, desires to 
see Thee ! She cries to Thee from afar. She burns in Thee 
and languishes in Thy love. O Love that fails not, Thou 
hast overcome me ! O everlasting Sweetness and Fairness 
Thou hast wounded my heart, and now overcome and 
wounded I fall. For joy scarcely I live, and nearly I die ; 
for I may not suffer the sweetness of so great a Majesty in 
this flesh that shall rot. 

All my heart truly, fastened in desire for JESU, is turned into 
heat of love, and it is swallowed into another joy and another 
form. 2 Therefore O good Jesu have mercy upon a wretch. 
Show Thyself to me that longs ; give medicine to me hurt. 
I feel myself not sick, but languishing in Thy love. He that 
loves Thee not altogether loses all ; he that follows Thee not 
is mad. Meanwhile therefore be Thou my Joy, my Love, 
and Desire, until I may see Thee, O God of Gods, in Syon. 

* charges. 3 note Ixxxiv., and cf. note xxiii. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 233 

Charity truly is the noblest of virtues, the most excellent 
and sweetest, that joins the Beloved to the lover, and ever 
lastingly couples Christ with the chosen soul. It re-forms in 
us the image of the high Trinity, and makes the creature most 
like to the Maker. 

O gift of love, what is it worth before all other things, that 
challenges l the highest degree with the angels ! Truly the 
more of love a man receives in this life, the greater and higher 
in heaven shall he be. O singular joy of everlasting love that 
ravishes all His to the heavens above all worldly things, binding 
them with the bands of virtue. 

O dear charity, he is not wrought on earth that what 
ever else he may have has not thee. He truly that is 
busy to joy in thee, is forthwith lift above earthly things. 
Thou enterest boldly the bedchamber of the Everlasting King. 
Thou only art not ashamed to receive Christ. He it is that 
thou hast sought and loved. Christ is thine : hold Him, for 
He cannot but receive thee, whom only thou desirest to obey. 
For withouten thee plainly no work pleases Him. 2 Thou 
makest all things savoury. Thou art a heavenly seat ; angels 
fellowship ; a marvellous holiness ; a blissful sight ; and life 
that lasts endlessly. 

O holy charity, how sweet thou art and comfortable ; that 
remakest that that was broken. The fallen thou restorest ; 
the bond thou deliverest ; man thou makest even with angels. 
Thou raisest up those sitting and resting, and the raised thou 
makest sweet. 

In this degree or state of love is love chaste, holy, and 
wilful 3 : loving what is loved for the self, not for goods, 
and fastening itself altogether on that that is loved. Seek 
ing nothing outward, pleased 4 with itself: ardent, 5 sweet- 
smelling, heartily binding love to itself in a marvellously 

1 i.e., claims. 2 cf. \ Cor. xiii. 3 />., voluntary. 

4 i.e., content. 5 C. bolnand. 



234 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

surpassing manner. In the loved one joying; [all other things 
despising and forgetting]; thinking without forgetfulness ; 
ascending in desire ; falling in his love 1 ; going on in halsing ; 
overcome by kissing ; altogether molten in the fire of love. 

Thus truly Christ s lover keeps no order in his loving 
nor covets no degree, 2 because however fervent and joyful 
he be in the love of God in this life, yet he thinks to love 
God more and more. Yea, though he might live here ever 
more yet he should not trow at any time to stand still and not 
progress in love, but rather the longer he shall live the more 
he should burn in love. 

God truly is of infinite greatness, better than we can 
think ; of un-reckoned 3 sweetness ; inconceivable of all natures 
wrought ; and can never be comprehended by us as He is in 
Himself in eternity. But now, when the mind begins to burn 
in the desire for its Maker, she is made able to receive the un- 
wrought light, and so inspired and fulfilled by the gifts of the 
Holy Ghost as far as is lawful to mortals she has heavenly 
joy. [Then she overpasseth] all things seen, and is raised up 
in height of mind to the sweetness of everlasting life. And 
whiles the soul is spread 4 with the sweetness of the Godhead 
and the warmness of Creating 6 Light, she is offered in sacrifice 
to the everlasting King, and being accepted is all burned up. 

merry love, strong, ravishing, burning, wilful, stalwart, 
unslakened, 6 that brings all my soul to Thy service, and 
suffers it to think of nothing but Thee. Thou challengest for 
Thyself all that we live ; all that we savour ; all that we are. 7 

Thus therefore let Christ be the beginning of our love, whom 
we love for Himself. And so we love whatever is to be loved 
ordinately for Him that is the Well of love, and in whose 
hands we put all that we love and are loved by. Here soothly 

1 Bg. ruens in dilecto, pergens in amplexibus. This sentence 
does not occur in Sp. a i.e., rank. 3 C. vn-nowmbyrde. 

* Bg. perfunditur. 3 C. makand. 

6 Bg. Sp. inexstinguibilu. ^ cf. Rom. xiv. 8, 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 235 

is perfect love shown : when all the intent of the mind, all the 
privy working of the heart, is lift up into God s love ; so that 
the might and mirth of true love be so mickle that no worldly- 
joy, nor fleshly merchandise, be lawful nor liking. 

O love un-departed ! O love singular ! Although there were 
no torments for the wicked, nor no meed in heaven should be 
trowed [for chosen souls], yet shouldst thou never the sooner 
loose thee from thy Love. More tolerable it were to thee to 
suffer an untrowed grief than once to sin deadly. Therefore 
truly thou lovest God for Himself and for no other thing, nor 
thyself except for God ; and thereof it follows that nothing 
but God is loved in thee. How else should God be all in ilk 
thing, if there be any love of man in a man ? 

O clear charity, come into me and take me into thee and 
so present me before my Maker. Thou art savour well tasting ; 
sweetness well smelling, and pleasant odour ; a cleansing heat 
and a comfort endlessly lasting. Thou makest men contem 
plative ; heaven s gate thou openest ; the mouths of accusers 
thou sparrest ; thou makest God be seen and thou hidest a 
multitude of sins. We praise thee, we preach thee, by the 
which we overcome the world ; by whom we joy and ascend 
the heavenly ladder. In thy sweetness glide into me : and I 
commend me and mine unto thee withouten end. 



CHAPTER XII 
OF CONTEMPLATION 

/CONTEMPLATIVE life or contemplation has three 
I parts : reading, prayer and meditation. In reading God 
\J speaks to us ; in prayer we speak to God. 1 In meditation 
angels come down to us and teach us that we err not ; in 
prayer they go up and offer our prayers to God, joying in our 
profit ; that are messengers betwixt God and us. 

Prayer certain is a meek desire of the mind dressed in God, 
with which, when it comes to Him, He is pleased. Meditation 
on God and godly things, in which is the halsing of Rachel, 2 is 
to be taken after prayer and reading. 

To reading belongs reason or the inquisition ot truth, that 
is as a goodly light marked upon us. To prayer belongs 
praise, song, surpassing in beholding, and marvel ; and thus 
contemplative life or contemplation stands in prayer. 3 To 
meditation belongs the inspiration of God, understanding, 
wisdom and sighing/ 

If it be asked what is contemplation it is hard to define. 
Some say that contemplative life is nought else but knowledge 
of things to come and hidden : or to be void of all worldly 
occupation : or the study of God s letters. Others say that 
contemplation is the free sight into the visioned truths of 

1 note Ixxxv. 2 note Ixxxvi. 

3 note Ixxxvii. 4 Bg. Sp. suspirium. 

336 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 237 

wisdom, lift up with full high marvel. Others say that con 
templation is a free and wise insight of the soul all spread 
about to behold His might. 1 Others say, and say well, that 
contemplation is joy in heavenly things. Others say, and say 
best, that contemplation is the death of fleshly desires through 
the joy of the mind up-raised. 

To me it seems that contemplation is the joyful song ot 
God s love taken into the mind, with the sweetness of angels 
praise. This is the jubilation that is the end of perfect prayer 
and high devotion in this life. This is the ghostly mirth had in 
mind for the Everlasting Lover, with great voice out-breaking. 
This is the last 2 and most perfect deed of all deeds in this life. 
Therefore the psalmist says : Beatus vir qui sett jubilationem* 
that is to say, Blest be the man that knows jubilation, in 
contemplation of God. Truly none alien to God can joy in 
Jesu, nor taste the sweetness of His love. But if he desire to 
be ever kindled with the fire of everlasting love, in patience, 
meekness, and [gentle] manners 4 ; and to be made fair with 
all cleanness of body and soul, and dight with ghostly oint 
ments ; he is lift up into contemplation. Let him unceasingly 
seek healthful virtues, by which in this life we are cleansed 
from the wretchedness of sins, and in another life, free from 
all pain, we joy endlessly in the blessed life : yet in this 
exile he thus shall be worthy to feel the joyful mirth of God s 
love. 

Therefore be not slow to chastise 5 thyself with prayer and 
waking, and use holy meditations ; for doubtless with these 
ghostly labours, and with heaviness and weeping from inward 
repenting, the love of Christ is kindled in thee, and all 
virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost are shed into thy heart. 



1 Note Ixxxviii. a C. endly. 

3 Ps. Ixxxviii. 16 (Ixxxix. 15). 

4 Bg. Sp. humilitate et mansuctudine. D. mildness, 
s note Ixxxix. 



238 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

Begin therefore by wilful poverty, so that whiles thou de- 
sirest nought in this world, before God and man thou livest 
soberly, chastely and meekly. To have nothing is sometime 
of need, but to will that you may have nought is of great 
virtue. We may have mickle desires [and yet will to have 
right nought, when we hold that we have to our need 
and not to our lust. Right as he sometime that hath 
nought coveteth to have many things ; right so he 
that seemeth to have many things hath right nought, for 
that that he hath he loveth it not, save only for his bodily 
need *]. 

Truly it behoves the most perfect to take necessaries, else 
were he not perfect if he refused to take that whereof he 
should live. 

This is the manner for perfect men to keep : all worldly 
goods for God to despise, and yet to take of the same meat 
and clothing ; and if this want at any time, not to murmur 
but to praise God ; and as much as they may to refuse super 
fluities. The warmer a man waxes with the heat of ever 
lasting light, the meeker shall he be in all adversities. He 
that is truly and not feignedly meek holds himself worthy of 
being despised, and neither by harm nor reproof is provoked 
to wrath. Wherefore lowing himself to continual medita 
tion, it is given him to rise to the contemplation of 
heavenly things, and the sharpness of his mind being cleansed 
as the sickness of the flesh suffers, it is given him to sing 
sweetly and burningly with inward joys. And truly when 
he goes to seek any outward thing, he goes not with a proud 
foot, but only joying in high delights anon with the sweet 
ness of God s love is as it were ravished in trance, and being 
ravished is marvellously made glad. 

Such forsooth is contemplative life if it be taken in due 
manner. By long use in ghostly works we come to con- 

1 note xc. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 239 

templation of things everlasting. The mind s sight is truly 
taken up to behold heavenly things, yet by shadowly sight 1 
and in a mirror, not clearly and openly : whiles we go by 
faith we see as it were by a mirror and shadow. Truly if 
our ghostly eye be busy to that spiritual light it may not see 
that light in itself as it is, and yet it feels that it is there 
whiles it holds within the savour and heat of that light un 
known. Whereof in the psalm it is said : Sicut tenebrx ejus, ita 
et lumen ejus 2 ; that is : And as the darkness thereof, so the 
light thereof. 

Although truly the darkness of sin be gone from an holy 
soul, and murk things and unclean be passed, and the mind 
be purged and enlightened, yet whiles it bides in this mortal 
flesh that wonderful joy is not perfectly seen. Forsooth holy 
and contemplative men with a clear face behold God. 3 That 
is either their wits are opened [for to understand holy writ ; 
or else the door of heaven is opened unto them] : that is 
more. As one might say : all lettings betwixt their mind 
and God are put back, their hearts are purged, and they 
behold the citizens of heaven. Some truly have received 
both these. 

As we, standing in darkness, see nothing, so in contempla 
tion that invisibly 4 lightens the soul, no seen light we see. 
Christ also makes darkness His resting-place, 5 and yet speaks 
to us in a pillar of a cloud. But that that is felt is full 
delectable. And in this truly is love perfect when man, 
going in the flesh, 6 cannot be glad but in God, and wills or 
desires nothing but God or for God. Hereby it is shown 
that holiness is not in crying of the heart, or tears, or out- 

1 Bg. Sp. visionem enigmatic um. 

a Ps. cxxxviii. 12 (cxxxix. 12). 

3 Note xci. 

4 C. vnsemly; Bg. invisibiliter. 

5 C. puds hys restyng dirknes ; and cf. Ps. xviii, n. 

6 Bg. Sp. in came ambulans, 



2 4 o THE MENDING OF LIFE 

ward works, but in the sweetness of perfect charity and 
heavenly contemplation. Many truly are molten in tears, 
and afterwards have turned them to evil ; but no man defiles 
himself with worldly business after he has truly joyed in ever- 
lasting love. To greet and to sorrow belong to the new-con 
verted, beginners and profiters 1 ; but to sing joyfully and to 
go forth in contemplation belongs but to the perfect. 

He therefore that has done penance for a long time, whiles 
he feels his conscience pricking for default knows without 
doubt that he has not yet done perfect penance. Therefore 
in the meantime tears shall be as bread to him day and night 2 ; 
for unless he first punish himself with weeping and sighing 
he cannot come to the sweetness of contemplation. 

Contemplative sweetness is not gotten but with full great 
labour ; and with joy untold it is possessed. Forsooth it is not 
of man s merit but God s gift. And yet from the beginning 
to this day a man might never be ravished in contemplation 
of everlasting love unless he before had perfectly forsaken all 
the vanity of the world. Moreover he ought to be used in 
healthful meditation and devout prayer before he come truly 
to the contemplation of heavenly joys. 

Contemplation is sweet and desirable labour. It gladdens 
the labourer, and hurts not. No man has this but in joying : 
not when it comes, but when it goes, he is weary. O good 
labour to which mortal men dress them ! O noble and 
marvellous working that those sitting do most perfectly ! It 
behoves that he take great rest of body and mind whom the 
fire of the Holy Ghost truly enflames. 

Many truly know not how to rest in mind, 3 nor yet to put 



1 C. profetand ; i.e., those advancing, cf. Bg. Sp. Flere et 
gemere, est jam noviter conversorum et incipientium et profici- 
entium. 

2 cf. Ps. xlii. 3. 

3 note xcii. 



THE MENDING OF LIFE 241 

out void and unprofitable thoughts, and cannot fulfil what is 
bidden in the psalm : Vacate^ et videte quoniam ego sum Deus 1 ; 
that is to say : Be void from worldly vanity and see, for I 
am God. Truly the void in body, and wavering in heart, are 
not worthy to taste and see how sweet our Lord is how 
sweet the height of contemplation. 

Truly ilk man contemplative loves solitariness so that the 
more fervently and oftener, in that he is letted of no man, 
he may be exercised in his affections. 

Then, therefore, it is known that contemplative life is 
worthier and fuller of meed than active life. And all contem- 
platives by the moving of God love solitary life, and because 
of the sweetness of contemplation are especially fervent in 
love. It seems that solitary men raised by the gift of 
contemplation are high and touch the highest perfection. 
Unless it happen there be some in such state that they have 
come even with the height of the contemplative life, and 
yet they cease not to fulfil the office of the preacher. They 
pass these other solitaries highest in contemplation and only 
given to godly things, not to the needs of their neighbours 
their degrees being like, 2 and for their preaching they are 
worthy a crown [that is cleped aureola]. 3 

Truly a very contemplative man is set towards the light 
unseen with so great desire that ofttimes he is deemed by man 
as a fool or unwise ; and that is because his mind is enflamed 
from its seat 4 with Christ s love. It utterly changes his bodily 
bearing, and his body departing also from all earthly works 
it makes God s child as a man out of his mind. 5 

Thus truly whiles the soul gathers all the selr into endless 
mirth of love, withholding herself inwardly she flows not forth 
to seek bodily delights. And because she is fed inwardly 



1 Ps. xlv. ii (xlvi. 10), 

2 Sp. ceteris paribus, but Bg. casteris operibus. 3 see note xciii. 
* Bg. Sp. funditus inflammata. s note xciv. 

R 



242 THE MENDING OF LIFE 

with liking pleasure, 1 it is no marvel though she say sighing : 
c Who shall give thee me, my brother, that I may find thee 
without, and kiss thee?* 2 That is to say : loosed from the 
flesh I may be worthy to find Thee, and seeing Thee face 
to face, be joined with Thee withouten end. 4 And now man 
despises me. 3 

A devout soul given to contemplative life and fulfilled with 
love everlasting despises all vainglory of this world, and, 
joying only in Jesu, covets to be loosed. For why she is 
despised by these that savour and love this world, not heaven, 
and grievously languishes in love, and greatly desires with 
the lovely company of the angels to be given to the joys 
that worldly adversity can not noy. 

Nothing is more profitable, nothing merrier, than the grace 
of contemplation that lifts us from these low things and offers 
us to God. What is this grace but the beginning of joy ? 
And what is the perfection of joy but grace confirmed ? In 
which is kept for us a joyful happiness and happy joy, a 
glorious endlessness and everlasting joy ; to live with the 
saints and dwell with angels. And that which is above all 
things : truly to know God ; to love Him perfectly ; and in 
the shining of His majesty to see Him and, with a wonderful 
song of joy and melody, to praise Him endlessly. 

To whom be worship and joy, with deeds of thankfulness, 
in the world of worlds. 4 Amen. 

Thus endys ]>e xij chapetyrs of Richarde Hampole in-to 
tnglys translate be ffrere Richard Misyn, to informa- 
cioun of Cristyn sauls. A do { Millimo cccc mo -xxxiiij. 

1 Bg. et quia interniis dcliciis delicate pascitur. * Cant. viii. i. 

3 But R.V. reads : Yea, and none would despise me. Vulg. et 
jam me nemo despiciat. 

4 Sp. cui sit honor et gloria et gratiarum actio in secula 
seculorum. 



NOTES 

[A. = MS. Add. 37790. C. = C.C.C. MS. 236. 
L. = MS. Dd. 5.64.] 

Prologue of Richard Rolle. 

NOTE i., p. 12. This passage, beginning * Euigilans vero 
animam meam to the end of the chapter, is found in early 
printed editions of Bonaventura s works as the prologue to a 
treatise called the Incendlum Amoris. But both the prologue 
and the title are said to be spurious in the exhaustive edition 
of the works published by the college of S. Bonaventura. 
De titulo huius opusculi et de prologo illo Evlgllans vero 
animam meam, qui certissime spurius est, cum nee in primis 
editionibus nee in codicibus, exceptis tribus valde recentibus, in- 
veniatur (Ad Claras Aquas, vol. viii. p. 3, 1898). 

This is interesting as freeing Rolle at any rate in this case 
from the charge of incorporating the writings of others in his 
works. Not that the charge was a serious one in those days, 
when the pride of authorship was unknown. Rolle s aim was 
to kindle men s hearts to love God ; by his own words if he 
could, or if he found his thoughts better expressed by another, 
he would gladly use what that other had written or said. 

NOTE ii., p. 13. L. reads : eo de iure apciores essent ad anian- 
dum ; which Misyn translates literally. C. ]?e more 
abyll to lufe be lawe ]?ai ar. x 

1 I have both here and in the footnotes followed the spelling of the manu 
scripts. 



343 






244 NOTES 

THE FIRE OF LOVE 
BOOK I 

Chapter I. 

NOTE iii., p. 16. C. reads: for ]?ai vnmanerly wyth 
warldly mone has armyd Ipam set/. But L. quia terrenas 
pecunias immoderate amauerunt * ; which is probably correct, 
and which I have therefore followed. 

NOTE iv., p. 17. An omission in C. L. reads: [ Erumpit 
enim in ostensione operis feruor amoris. ] 

NOTE v., p. 18. Another omission. L. [ c et qui ad amandum 
deum semper sunt auidi. ] 

Chapter II. 

NOTE vi., p. 20. The Bible references are to the Vulgate of 
Sixtus V and Clement VII, and where the A.V. differs the 
reference to the latter has been added in brackets. I have not 
been able to trace the source of Rolle s quotations. They 
often differ slightly from the Vulgate, nor do they follow the 
Vctus Itala. Most probably Rolle quoted from the missal or 
breviary, or possibly he may have relied upon his memory 
which has sometimes played him false. 

(Eccli. = Ecclesiasticus. Eccl. = Ecclesiastes.) 

NOTE vii., p. 20. A difficult passage. I give both the Latin 
and Middle English in full. L. l Porro perfecti qui in 
hanc excellentem abundunciam eterne amicicie assumuntur in 
preclaro calice caritatis melliflue, dulcore indelibili iam imbuti 
viuunt atque in almiphono amenitatis archano in animum 
suum hauriuntfelicem ardorem quo iocundati iugiter inestima- 
bilem habent interni electuarii confortacionem. And C. Parfyte 
forsoth ]?at in to )?is passynge plente of endeles frenschyp ar 
takyn. taght with swetnes ]?at sail not waste, new lyffe in ]?e 
clere chales of full swete charite. And in holy counsaill of 
myrth ]?ai drawe into ]?ere saules happy hete. with ]?e whilk J?ai 
gretely gladdyd has gretter comforth ]?en may be trowyd ot 
gostely let wary. 



NOTES 245 

NOTE viii., p. 21. This is the only passage in the Incendium 
where Rolle breaks into rhythm : 

L. O deus meus, 
O amor meus 
Illabere mihi, 
Tua caritate perforate, 
Tua pulcritudine vulnerato, 
Illabere, inquam, 
Et languentem 

and then he continues : consolare medicina tu miseri ; ostende 
te amanti ; ecce in te est omne desiderium meum, omne quod 
querit cor meum/ etc. Dr. Horstman takes this absence of 
rhythm as one of the proofs of the later date of the Incendium, 
since the Melum Gontemplativorum, a much earlier work, is 
constantly broken up into verse. 

NOTE ix., p. 21. L. reads : nee me aliquando deseras quern 
tanto tui desiderio cernis flagrare? but C. has : Forsake ]?ou 
neuer hym ]?at ]xm feles so swetely smel in ]?i desyre ; mis- 
forfragrare. 



Chapter IV. 

NOTE x., p. 27. There seems some corruption here. L. et 
quasi in organo ascendit in altum concupitum clarificantem 
contemplari ; and C. & als wer goyng to heghe clere desyre 
in noys of organes to be contemplatyue. The difficulty here 
is contemplari] which I have altered in the text to contem 
plation. 

Chapter V 

NOTE xi., p. 30. Rolle seems here to have sacrificed clearness 
for the sake of alliteration. L. reads : * Quamobrem capaces 
gaudii amoris et concipientes calorem qui non potest consumi 
concurrunt in canticum clari concentus et armonie amorose, 
atque in amenitate amicabili obumbracionem habent celitus 



246 NOTES 

infusam, contra omnem estum lenocinii ac liuoris. And 
C. ffor whilk ]?inge takars of lufly ioy & heete consauand }?at 
may not be consumyd in songe )?ai ryn of clene companys & 
lufly armony. And in frendely myrth heuenly }?ai hauc in gett 
a schadow agayne all hete of lychcry & fylth. 

NOTE xii., p. 30. In this passage also the sense seems subordi 
nated to the alliteration. L. Hinc est vtique quod sine 
memore moriuntur, immo cum gaudio gradientes, et tarn 
grandem gradum eleuantur in eternis honoribus et consistunt 
coronati in copiosissima creatoris contemplacione continentes 
cum choris clarissimis, qui eciam ardencius anhelant in essen- 
ciam ipsam omnibus imperantem. And C. * Herefore 
treuly it is ]?at ]?ai with-outen heuynes dy sothely with Ioy 
passand vnto so grete degre in endles worschip. ]?ai are lyft. 
and ar crounyd in behaldynge moste plentevous of J>er makar. 
syngand with clerist vvheris ]?e whilk also more byrnyngly 
desiris in to ]?at godhede ]?at reulys all ]?inge. 

NOTE xiii., p, 31. This idea often occurs ; compare Prol., p. 13 ; 
and Bk. II. ch. iii., p. 142. It is common in most mystical 
writers, and many illustrations might be quoted from the 
Fioretti of S. Francis. For example brother Giles once praised 
Bonaventura s learning, and the latter replied that a poor old 
woman could love God better than a learned theologian. 
Thereupon Giles cried out to an old woman who was passing, 
that she loved God better than Bonaventura. 

Chapter VII. 

NOTE xiv., p. 35. The Latin brings out the meaning more 
clearly. L. quia et vna est maiestas trium personarum, plena 
et perfecta et quelibet persona in se plenam continet 
maiestatem, equalitatem quidem et ydemptitatem habens 
sccundum deitatis substantiam et diuersitatis distinccione non 
carens secundum vocabuli proprietatem. 

Property is here used in the scientific sense. Compare the 
Prayer of Humble Access: Whose property is always to 
have mercy. 



NOTES 247 

NOTE xv., p. 36. An omission in C. L. reads : [ et filius non 
minor est in patrc quam in se. ] 

NOTE xvi., p. 36. In the shorter versions of the Incendium 
this chapter begins here, with the words : * Nichil enim tarn 
suaue est sicut diligere christum/ 

Chapter IX. 

NOTE xvii., p. 43. There is some corruption here. C. reads : 
And noudyr ]?ai will be ouyrcumyne. with auctorite ne resun 
)?at J?ai suld not be sene hawsande haue sayd ]?at wer 
vnacordyng. And L. et nee auctoritate nee racione possunt 
vinci ne videantur victi et incongruum protulisse. Some 
word is wanted to translate victi, but hawsande seems to be a 
mistaken writing for haue said which follows it ; nor is it 
found in A. It would be interesting if any one could throw 
light on this passage. 

NOTE xviii., p. 46. C. reads : * Also ]?ai ]?at name berys of lyfc 
more cunnyng* But L. eciam illi qui sanctions vite nomen 
gestant ; which seems borne out by the context, and which 
I have therefore followed in the text. 

Chapter X. 

NOTE xix., p. 48. L. fortis est ut mors dileccio, dura sicut 
infernus emulacio* \ which is the Vulgate reading. Compare the 
Vetus Itala: durus sicut inferi ze/us. The A.V. and R.V. 
read : For love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. 
Rolle however gives the reading in the text in several of his 
English works. See The Form of Living : For luf es stalwart 
als ]?e dede. ]?at slaes al lyuand thyng in erth ; and hard als 
hell. ]?at spares noght till ]?am J?at er dede ; and in The 
Commandment of Love : In J>is degre es lufe stalworth as dede. 
& hard as hell (Horst., vol. i., p. 39, and p. 63 ; and also cf. 
The Fire of Love, Bk. II. xi., p. 156). 

NOTE xx., p. 50. L. : Valde autem difficile est [habere diuicias 
et eas non amare, et non minus difficile est] artem rel officium 



248 NOTES 

habere lucrosum, et auarum non esse ; The words in brackets 
are omitted in C. 

NOTE xxi., p. 50. C. ffor god his seruandis }?at delyuers in ]?er 
sight before )?ai see nott/ And L. 4 quia deum qui seruos suos 
liberat in conspectu suo non preuident ; from which I have 
emended the passage. 

Chapter XI. 

NOTE xxii., p. 54. C. withoutyn comparison treuly more 
mede sail he be worthy with songfull ioy prayand behaldand 
redeand & pinkand well, bot discretely etand. J?en if he with- 
outen J?is euermore suld fast, breede allone or herbys if he suld 
ete. & besily suld pray & rede. L. * Incomparabiliter enim 
magis merebitur cum canoro gaudio orando contemplando 
legendo meditando, bene set discrete comedendo, quam si sine 
illo semper ieiunaret, panemque tantummodo aut herbas 
comederet, iugiterque oraret et legeret. Rolle evidently 
means that it is better to eat moderately and be cheerful 
over one s prayers, meditation, etc., than to fast vigorously 
and to pray with a heavy heart. 

Any italicized words in the text are merely to elucidate the 
meaning, and are of course not found in the manuscript. 

NOTE xxiii., p. 54. Compare The Mending of Life (ch. xi., p. 232) 
where there is the same phrase : l All my hert truly festynd 
in desire of Ihesu is turnyd in to heet of lufe & it is swaloyd 
In-to a no]?er Ioy and a nodir form. 

Chapter XIII. 

NOTE xxiv., p. 61. blessed Maglorius . . . and his firmer fat hr 
Saint Sampson. 

Sampson or Samson was a native ot South Wales, and of 
high birth. From the age of five he was brought up in the 
monastery of Saint Iltut. After his ordination as deacon and 
priest he lived a still more austere life than before, and was 



NOTES 249 

so struck by the piety and learning of some Irish monks who 
visited the monastery on their way from Rome that he went 
with them to Ireland. He stayed there for some time and 
wrought several miraculous cures which caused him to be so 
sought after that his modesty could not support it. He therefore 
returned to Wales, and was consecrated bishop but, until by 
divine revelation he was called to Dol in Brittany, he had no see. 
There he established a monastery, and having occasion to visit 
King Childebert at Paris the latter nominated him to be the 
first bishop of Dol. He died at the age of eighty-five in 
565 A.D. His festival is kept in Brittany on July z8th. 

Mag/onus or Magloire was a cousin of Sampson, and his disciple 
and immediate successor in the bishopric of Dol. They were 
fellow-students in the monastery of Saint Iltut, but when the 
education of Maglorius was thought to be completed he returned 
to his own family. Some time later Sampson, being on a visit to 
them, * spoke so movingly of the things of God that Maglorius 
resolved to leave the world and to live a dedicated life. From 
henceforth these two were inseparable companions and after 
his cousin s death Maglorius, although quite an old man, held 
the bishopric of Dol for several years. But God made known 
to him that he might, as he wished, retire and give his life to 
prayer and contemplation. First he withdrew to a quiet 
spot in the neighbourhood of Dol, but afterwards he went to 
Jersey. There having healed a nobleman of leprosy the latter 
as a thankoffering gave him the wherewithal to found an abbey. 
Maglorius ministered among the people on the island, and in the 
pestilence which broke out in 585 A.D. he is said to have per 
formed many miracles of healing. In the latter years of his 
life he seems hardly ever to have left the church, being 
absorbed in prayer. This, and his death very shortly after the 
outbreak of the sickness, recalls Richard Rolle to our mind ; 
for it is not unlikely that the death of the latter was due to the 
plague of 1349, wn i cn he probably caught while ministering 
to the sick. Maglorius is commemorated in Brittany on 
October 24th. (See the Menology of England and Wales, by the 
Rev. R. Stanton, pp. 364 and 512.) 



NOTES 

The following interesting reference to Sampson and 
Maglorius is found in the Lives of the English Saints, which 
were begun by Newman. 

1 About the very time when St. Marculfus died, St. Sampson 
came to Jersey with his cousin Judael, a prince of British 
blood. Shortly after came St. Maglorius, who healed the 
Prankish count Loyesco of the leprosy, and to him was given 
half the island, rich in woodlands and in fisheries. Here he 
built a fair Abbey, where dwelt sixty monks ; in his day the 
faith of Christ sank deep into the minds of the islanders, for 
the poor fishermen, who in their frail barks had to wrestle with 
that stormy sea, loved him well, and willingly brought their 
fish to the Abbey, whose vassals they were. Long afterwards 
they told how St. Maglorius was kind to them, so that when 
one of them was drowned, the Saint wept sore, and vowed a 
vow never to eat fish again ; and when evening came, he with 
all the monks went down to the shore chanting litanies ; then 
he threw himself upon the sandy beach, and God heard his 
prayer and was pleased to restore the dead man to life. In 
Guernsey too the Saint healed the daughter of the native 
chieftain ; and a field there, where once stood a chapel or 
which he was the patron, is still called after his name. (From 
the life of St. Helier, written by Rev. J. B. Dalgairns, vol. vi., 
p. 40, edit, by A. W. Hutton, 1901.) 



Chapter XIV. 

NOTE xxv., p. 64. L. * non dico girouagi qui sunt scandalum 
heremitarum. S. Benedict in his Rule speaks thus of these 
monks : The fourth kind of monks are those called " Girovagi," 
who spend all their lives long wandering about divers provinces, 
staying in different cells for three or four days at a time, ever 
roaming, with no stability, given up to their own pleasures and 
to the snares of gluttony, and worse in all things than the 
Sarabites. Of the most wretched life of these (latter) it is 
better to say nothing than to speak. (Transl. by Fr. Hunter 
Blair. Sands, London. P. 15). 



NOTES 251 

The Sarabites, or Sarabaitae, are described by Du Cange as 
* monks who, approved by no Rule, are recognized as keeping 
faith with the world, and by the tonsure lying to God. By 
twos and threes they stray about the towns and villages, living 
as pleases themselves, as appears in the Rule of S. Benedict. 
He also gives references to Cassian (Collat. 18, Cap. vii.), 
St. Jerome and other writers. 

NOTE xxvi., p. 65. Rolle has here played freely with allitera 
tion, which Misyn translates literally. L. * En amans ardeo 
anhelans auide. 

NOTE xxvii., p. 67. L. * et mens in mellifluum melos immor- 
atur, i.e., tarries in full sweet song ; but I have thought it 
better to follow C. in the text, not knowing from what manu 
script Misyn was translating. 

Chapter XV. 

NOTE xxxviii., p. 69. This chapter, which begins * Cum infeli- 
citer florerem et in iuventus vigilantis adolescencie iam aduenisset, 
etc., is found in the printed versions or Rolle s Latin works, 
and in some of the MSS., under the title of Incendium Amoris. 
It is slightly longer in its separate form, and in La Bigne con 
tinues thus : * Intelligendo etiam quod ex magno amorisincendio 
tantus virtutis decor in animo crescit, quod iustus potius eligeret 
omnem pcenam incurrere, quam semel Deum offendere. Et 
quanquam sciret quod posset per pcenitentiam resurgere & 
postea Deo magis placere et sanctior esse ; quia hoc quilibet 
perfectus intelligit quod nihil est Deus charius innocentia, aut 
acceptabilius voluntate bona. 

* Si enim recte amaremus Deum, debemus magis velle magnum 
praemium in ccelo amittere, quam saltern venialitur peccare ; 
quia iustissimum est, iustitiae mercedem non requirere : sed 
amicitiam Dei, quae est ipse Deus. Melius est ergo semper 
tormentum pati, quam semel a iustitia ad iniquitatem sponte 
deduci & scienter : cum etiam constet manifeste, quod quidam 
Christum tarn ardentur diligunt, quod nullo modo peccare 



252 NOTES 

volunt, non solum tales a pcena liberi erunt, sed etiam cum 
angelis aeternaliter gaudebunt. 

NOTE xxix., p. 70. The expression right there is still in 
common use in America, as is also gotten and the use of guess, 
meaning (as in ME.) think ; and lovely, meaning lovable. 
These examples could easily be multiplied. 

NOTE xxx., p. 71. A. and C. have only won and a blank 
following. C. bot when fyrst I won dowtand of 

whome it suld be ; which the E.E.T.S. translates: Bot 
when first I won\_deryd~\l etc. L. reads : set cum prius 
fluctuarem dubitando a quo esset, etc., which I have followed 
in the text. 

NOTE xxxi., p. 71. This use of beheld is not uncommon in 
ME. Cf. also Rev. i. 12, I turned to see the voice that 
spake with me. 

Chapter XIX. 

NOTE xxxii., p. 88. An omission in C. L. nisi prius cor eius 
[eterni amoris facibus funditus inflammetur, vt videlicet] cor 
suum igne amoris ardere senciat. 

NOTE xxxiii., p. 89. C. And after J?e inward mane to godis 
lufe I am glad, bot git I can not so mykyll lufe ]?at fleschly 
desire I mygt barely slokin ; but L. et condelector /egi deum 
secundum interiorem hominem, set nescio adhuc tantum 
amare quod possum concupiscenciam penitus extinguere. 

Chapter XX. 

NOTE xxxiv., p. 91. Another omission. L. Quesiuit te 
pocius quam tua, [et accepit a te et te et tua, alii famulantur 
tibi vt habeant tua] et parum curant de te, etc. 

Chapter XXI. 

NOTE xxxv., p. 94. L. vnde in ferculo veri salomonis, co- 
lumpne sunt argentes et reclinatorium aureum, and cf. Vulg., 



NOTES 253 

* Ferculum fecit sibi rex Salomon de lignis Libani. Meat- 
board is a curious translation of ferculum. The A.V. translates 
it chariot and R. V. * palanquin. Ferculum was generally 
used of a bier or litter on which to carry the spoils of war, or 
images of the gods, in a solemn procession. 

NOTE xxxvi., p. 96. Rolle has surely forgotten Pletro da 
Murrone, who was forced from his hermit s cell in the Abruzzi 
to become Pope Celestine V (A.D. 1294), but was advised to 
abdicate a few months later by Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani, 
who was elected to succeed him as Boniface VIII. Because 
of his abdication Dante places him in the Inferno, and thus 
speaks of him : 

4 P6scia ch io v ebbi alcun riconosciuto, 
Vidi e conobbi 1 ombra di colui. 
Che fece per viltate il gran rifuto. 

Inf., c. iii. 1. 58 s/ff. 

But he was more kindly judged by Petrarch (De Pit. So/it.). 
Pietro s life is beautifully told in a novel by John Ayscough, 
called San Celestlno. 

Chapter XXII. 

NOTE xxxvii., p. 97. A difficult passage. L. et sic vt de 
priuilegiatis loquar, pre gaudio diuine dileccionis in cantum 
spiritualem vel in sonum celicum contemplando suscipi, et in 
interna quiete se motis perturbacionibus suauiter immorari j 
quatinus dum viro dei exterius nil libet agere, eterni amoris 
delicias in carmine canoro et ineffabili iubilo interius rapiatur 
personare. And cf. C. *& so ]?at I of men priuelegid speek for 
loy of godis lufe in to gostly songis or heuenly sound be- 
haldandly for to be takyn. And in warldly rest all sturbelans 
put bak swetely to byde. In so mykill }?at whilst to godis 
mane no ]?inge is lefull vtward to wyrk. swetnes of endles lyfe 
in likyng songe in tnyrth vn mesurd with in is takyn to sownd. 
I have emended the passage as I best could. 



254 NOTES 

NOTE xxxviii., p. 98. L. quia in sublimltate mentis positus 
atque amore christi raptus supra se ; which Misyn thus 
translates : C. for sett in rightwis mynde & rauisched with 
cristis lufe. abown hym self he is takyn, etc. Sublimltate 
mentis probably means that highest kind of knowledge which 
comes from union with God. 

Chapter XXIII. 

NOTE xxxix., p. 100. L. Amari autem aliquid non potest 
nisi propter bonum quod est aut existens aut apparens [et 
quod amato inest vel certe inesse estimatur]. The words in 
brackets are omitted in C. 

Chapter XXVII. 

NOTE xl., p. 115. L. reads: * Nam per memoriam rei 
humiliorls humiliatur mens viri sanccioris." I have left C. 
unaltered, as either reading could stand. Moreover the 
C.C.C. MS. 193 has another reading still: "Nam per 
memoriam rei melioris humiliatur mens viri sanccioris." 

Chapter XXIX. 

NOTE xli., p. 124. L. reads : Porro tales facti sunt quia 
in puritate viuunt ; but C. Forsoth slik sayntis ]?er ar for 
in clennes )?ai lyff," reading sancti (fci) for facti. This idea, 
that a saint would rather for ever suffer in hell than once 
commit deadly sin, is common in mystical writings, and is 
found in several places in Rolle. E.g. Bk. I. ch. viii., 
p. 39 ; and compare ch. xv. note xxxviii. 

Chapter XXX. 

NOTE xlii., p. 129. A Purchasour is one who acquires, or aims 
at acquiring, possessions; one who feathers his nest ; or 
one who acquires land or property in any way other than 
by inheritance. O.E.D. In L. they are called : terrarum 
adqulsitores and terre perpetratores. 

NOTE xliii., p. 130. An omission. L. [ Propterea potentes 
potenter tormenta pacientur, quia deum scientes, non deum 
sed semetipsos glorificantes euanuerunt in cogitacionibus suis. ] 



NOTES 255 

BOOK II 

Chapter I. 

NOTE xliv., p. 133. This throws an interesting side-light upon 
the difficulties with which hermits who were not ordained had 
to contend ; often having to walk long distances to hear mass 
on holy days and days of obligation. 

Chapter II. 

NOTE xlv., p. 136. An omission in C. L. Exit autem in 
hanc excellenciam animus dum [per excessum euolat] et supra 
se rapitur, et oculo mentali apertum celum secreta offert 
intuenda. 

NOTE xlvi., p. 138. C. vnnethis in half a nozurc he may 
fulfill/ but A. has, half a day, following the reading of L. iam 
sepe per dimidiam diem vix implebit. Since this reading is 
borne out by the context I have followed it. 

Chapter III. 

NOTE xlvii., p. 140. There is some corruption here. L. Ita 
enim stabiliti sunt, quod nullo clamore vel tumultu aut qua- 
cumque alia re distrahi poterunt ab oracione vel cogitacione, 
set tantum a [canore per talia diuelli. Istud namque] duke 
canticum spirituale quidem et speciale valde [quia specialis- 
simis] datum ; and C. reads : ]?ai truly ar so stabyld J?at 
with no cry or noys ar any odyr J>inge fro prayer may be 
distracte or ]?oyght. but onely for sweit gostly songe truly & full 
speciall it is giffyn. The E.E.T.S. is here misleading, because 
the words fro fonge are inserted without brackets, so that the 
passage reads thus : )>ai truly ar so stabyld ]?at with no cry 
or noys or any odyr ]?inge fro prayer []>ai] may be distracte, or 
>oyght, bot onely fro songe. For sweit gostly songe truly 
& full speciall it is giffyn. The omission in C. probably 
arose from the repetition of the word songe. 

Chapter IV. 

NOTE xlviii., p. 144. C. reads : Truly ]?e lufer of almygty 
god withouten skyll is not raisyd in mynde he j?ink to see and 



256 NOTES 

]?e lufely songe to synge J?at spryngis vp in ]?e savvlc, etc. ; 
but L. Re vera non absque racione rapitur amator omnipo- 
tentis ad excelsa intellectu intuenda, atque ad canendum 
canticum amorosum erumpens in anima. \ink must evidently 
be a miswriting for Tpinge. 

NOTE xlix., p. 144. This passage is difficult : L. Ex quo in 
omnem amenitatem decantans introducitur, et fons feruoris 
intermini exuberans in amenitate in amplexus suscipitur ; et 
singular! solacio cum impetu meatus amenissimi dilectus 
debriatus in ardoribus optimis adornatur. C. reads : )?erfor 
syngand in to all myrth is led. & ]?e well of endless heyt 
brekand vp in myrth is takyn in halsynge & singuler solas & 
with mygtt of ]?e luflyest passage J?e lufer refreschyd in sweit 
heit is arayd. A. has a slightly different reading : and with 
myrth and might of the luflyest passage, etc. Passage probably 
refers to the passage of contemplation, but the whole meaning 
in C. is a little obscure. 

NOTE 1., p. 145. The Latin is more intensive. L. quasi 
mundans mare per guttam et guttam interer exhaurire, et in 
modicum terre foramen totum instillando detrudere. 

NOTE li., p. 146. L. Heu iuuenem simul virginem lac- 
tantem cum homine sene ignis concupiscencie deuorauit ; 
referring to Deut. xxxii. 25, which is said at Lauds on 
Saturday. There is another reference to the same canticle in 
Bk. II. ch. viii., p. 167. 

NOTE Hi., p. 147. L. reads : Siquidem si clamorem ilium 
canorem ab extrinsecis auribus omnino absconditum arbitrer, 
quod et vere esse audeo annunciare vtinam et illius modula- 
minis inueniam auctorem hominem, qui etsi non dictis, tamen 
scriptis mihi gloriam meam decantaret, et neupmata que nexus 
in nomine nobilissimo coram amato meo edere non erubui, 
canendo ac neupmatizando depromeret ; and C. fforsoth. if 
I demyd ]?at cry or songe fro bodily eris is all way hyd, & ]?at 
J dar wele say. wold god of ]?at melody a man I mygt fynde 



NOTES 257 

Autor. ]?e qwhilk ]?of not in worde gitt in writtynge my ioy 
he sulde synge & notis of lufe ]?e qwhilk in ]?e wordiest name 
before my lufe. I schamyd nott to say, syngand and loyand 
he suld schew owt, etc. 

NOTE liii., p. 148. The Latin gives the sense of this passage 
more clearly. L. In hac equidem apercione exultarem 
amplius aut de certe vberius eiularem, quoniam mihi ostende- 
retur incendium amoris et sonora iubilacio euidenter effulgeret 
clamosa quoque cogitacio sine laudatore non laberetur, neque 
sic in ambiguis laborarem. 

Chapter VI. 

NOTE liv., p. 153. There is evidently some corruption in the 
heading \to this chapter. L. reads : De diuersis electorum 
donis et quomodo sancti profecerunt ad amorem orando, me- 
ditando, diligendo, aduersa sustinendo et uicia odiendo ; et 
quod amor ex deo procedit, et eius memoria amantl est 
necessaria, nee amans cadit temptacionibus carnalibus ut 
aliqui imperfecti, nee leditur fomite licet ducit. And C. Of 
dyuers giftys of godis chosyn and how sayntis cum to lufe in 
praying J?inkynge lufynge aduersite sofyrand vlssittand. And 
J?at lufe cumys of god & ]?at his lufe is necessary. And at trew 
lufars fallis not be fleschly temptacions. als odyr inparfite nor 
with dreggis ot synne is hurtt ]?of all ]?ai laste. I have 
emended vissittand to * hating vice and at to that, but have 
otherwise left C. unaltered. Misyn always translates fomes as 
dregs (cf. Bk. I. ch. xviii., p. 88), but Rolle s idea here seems to 
be rather that of a spark which is easily rekindled. A more 
exact translation would be : nor is injured by the spark of 
sin (*.*., of carnal temptation) although it attracts. 

NOTE lv., p. 154. L. Jam tune veniunt in animam eius affec- 
ciones dulces et meditaciones mirabiles soli deo fauentes que 
ruminate, et in hac mente cum intencione extense, ipsam ineffa- 
biliter afficiunt. And C. Now cum in to hys sawle sweit 
affeccions & wondyrfull meditacions. onely fauerabyll to god. 



NOTES 

J?e qwhilk tastyd & in ]?is mynde with intention sprede it 
chiryschis more )?en may be spokyn. Rolle here plays upon 
the words extensus and intensus. The meaning is that the 
soul, pondering over and over in her mind these wonderful 
meditations about God, is at one and the same time stretched 
forth to God without and intent upon God within, so that 
she feels an ineffable joy in the presence of God. 

Chapter VII. 

NOTE Ivi., p. 164. L. * Set quia corpus quod corrumpitur 
aggrauat animam, et terrena inhabitacio deprimit sensum multa 
cogitantem non eadem facilitate semper iubilat, etc. ; and 
C. Bot sen ]?e body ]?at rotys greuys ]?e sawle & ]?is warldly 
dwellynge owr sensualyte many Binges ]?inkand castis downe. 
]?erfor not ay with slyke besynes synges. Rensum does not 
here bear the meaning of our modern word * sensuality, so I 
have altered it in the text to mind. 

Chapter VIII. 

NOTE Ivii., p. 167. Compare note li. jfel draconum, vinum 
impiorum and venemum aspidum are written on the margin of 
A, and C. and underlined in red. 

NOTE Iviii., p. 167. I give the Latin ot this passage for 
the sake of the antitheses, which cannot be so well expressed 
in English. L. Habet enim mundus mendax, delicias 
miseriarum, diuicias vanitatum, blandimenta vulnerancia, de- 
lectamenta pestifere, felicitatem falsam, voluptatem insanam, 
dileccionem amentem, odibilem tenebrosam, in inicio meridiem, 
in fine noctem eternam ; et sal insulsum, saporem insipidum, 
decorem deformem, amiciciam horribilem, matutinum mulcens, 
vesperum pungens, mel amaricans, fructum necantem. Habet 
et rosam fetoris, gaudium lamentacionis, melodiam mesticie, 
preconium despeccionis, vere nectar mortis, ornatum abhomina- 
cionis, ducem seducentum, principem deprimentem. Habet 
et gementem gemmam et laudem ludibrium, lilium liuorem, 
cantum clangorem, speciem putredinem, discordem concordiam, 






NOTES 259 

niuem ingredinem, solacium desolatorium, inopiam regnum. 
Habet et philomenam magis, vacca mugientem, merulinam 
vocem, melum nescientem ouem, vulpinam pellem induentem, 
et columbam plus fera furientem. This is a curious antici 
pation of Lily and the later Euphuists. For further examples 
of Euphuism in Rolle s writings see The Prose Style of Richard 
Rolle, by J. P. Schneider, p. 76. 

Chapter IX. 

NOTE lix., p. 170. The E.E.T.S. version has & of foly 
of sinne, misreading sttttte, which evidently should be read 
j#tfz<? = some, since L. et de insipiencia quorundam qui 
nimis abstinent vel nudi sunt, etc. 

It is interesting to compare this chapter of the Incendlum 
with Cicero s De Amicitia. Dr. Schneider (p. 58) has pointed 
out many parallel passages between them. Lily s debt in the 
Euphues to Cicero is obvious, so that, to some extent at 
least, Rolle and Lily drew from the same source. 

NOTE lx., p. 171. C. 4 ]?e tone errand now is not parfyte & 
so sothly it may go to nogt ]?at is agayns resone. qwhere a 
man is lufyd for hym self not for profett or lykynge. And 
L. * Errante enim vno iam perfecta non est, et sic paulatim 
possit ad nichilum deuenire, quod est contra racionem [vere- 
amicicie] qua quis amatur propter seipsum, non propter vtile 
vel delectabile. Probably the copyist wrote sothly for softly, 
which is Misyn s usual translation of paulatim. 

NOTE Ixi., p. 172. L. i nichil infelicius quam fuisse felicem? 
Compare Dante : 

4 Nessun maggior dolore 
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice 
Nella miseria ; e ci6 sa il tuo dottore. 

Inf., c. v. 1. 121 sq. 

The dottore is thought to be Boethius (see De Consol. Philos., 
Bk. ii., Prose 4). Chaucer thus translates the passage : But 
this is a thing that greetly smerteth me whan it remembreth 



260 NOTES 

me. For in alle advcrsitee of fortune, the most unsely kinde 
of contrarious fortune is to han been weleful (Student s 
Chaucer, p. 144). Compare also Troilus and Cressida : 

For of fortunes sharp adversitee, 
The worst kinde of infortune is this, 
A man to have ben in prosperitee, 
And it remembren, whan it passed is. 

Bk. iii. stanza 233. 

NOTE Ixii., p. 172. An omission in C. L. [ Si autem propter 
hanc amiciciam aliquid contra diuinam voluntatem ab amicis 
agatur, est amicicia peruersa fetida et immunda et multum 
demeritoria. ] 

NOTE Ixiii., p. 175. C. reads : * Neuer J?e les it behouys J?at 
aftyr kynde & grace in )?is ]?ingis ]?at to ]?e body is nedefull ff 
in me & in men ]?at ]?a be delityd. But L. Oportet tamen vt 
secundum naturam et secundum graciam in hiis que corpori 
suo sunt necessaria, et in hominibus delectentur. I have 
omitted and in me in the text as it is obviously a mistake of 
the copyist. 

NOTE Ixiv., p. 176. It would be interesting if any one would 
throw light upon the word brokis? The whole sentence reads 
thus in C. l Sum truly has }?e lufe of god bot not after conyng]?e 
qwhilk qwhils ]?a study to put by superfluite J?a ar also vnwysely. 
Also ]?a ar brokls of ]?er necessaris to cut away supposand )?at ]?a 
gode may nott plees. ]?amself bot if ]?a castis be to mikyl 
abstinens & vnmesurde nakydnes. And L. Habent enim 
quidam zelum dei, set non secundum scienciam qui dum 
supcrflua student abicere, eciam de necessariis ducuntur incaute 
resecare, estimantes deo placere non posse nisi se per nimiam 
abstinenciam et nuditatem immoderate affligant. 

Chapter X. 

NOTE Ixv., p. 178. An omission in C. L. [ et ab amoris tanti 
memoria, nee ad momentum euagere pemittit] ligat mentem 
amantis vt et ad vanam non defluat et in amatum iugiter tendat. 



NOTES 261 

NOTE Ixvi., p. 178. C. reads : And in tyme or our meet takynge 
& space be twix morsels, to geild hym loueyngis with honily 
swetnes and cry of metell & with desire in meet qwhiel to 
gerne. And L. et inter ipsa cibariorum sumpcionum et 
morsellorum interualla illi laudes personare cum suauitate 
mellica et mentali clamore, ac desiderio ad ipsum inter epulas 
anhelare. In the E.E.T.S. version metell is glossed as = O.K. 
me\el (speech), but possibly Misyn has here mistaken me tali 
(mentali) for metalh, and written * metell/ 

NOTE Ixvii., p. 179. The words in brackets are omitted in C. 
L. Cum hoc quippe abundans eris internis epulis, et delicias 
eterni amoris experieris, [vt signum cognoscas] in certitudine et 
quasi in sciencia quod amator es eterni regis. 

NOTE Ixviii., p. 180. There is some corruption here owing 
probably to the repetition of drede. C. I drede (]?at) at I 
lufe. luf not me agayn. & jit I a dred for drede ill lufars 
departis & [all] )?er vanites wastis. 1 The words within 
brackets are not found in A., but L. reads : timeone id quod 
amo non ita me reamet, [et si de hoc non timerem tamen 
adhuc concucior pro morte] male amantes separat, et cunctam 
vanitatem suam deuastat. I have therefore emended from 
L. in the text. 



Chapter XI. 

NOTE Ixix., p. 183. C. reads: * ]?is warld is parfite, but 
L. Actus iste perfectus est. Perhaps the scribe of C. mis 
took actus for aedls. 

NOTE Ixx., p. 185. A difficult passage. C. So no meruayle 
]?e ioy of ]?is warlds semys to ]?ame ]?at right behaldis & solas of 
synly bonde ilk odyr filoynge in onastate neuer abydes bot 
passis to it cum to noght ; and L. sic nimirum gaudium 
huius mundi recte considerantibus apparet, et succedentibus 
sibi solaciis captiuorum ; nunquam in eodem statu permanet 
set pertransit donee in nichilum redigatur. 



262 NOTES 

NOTE Ixxi., p. 186. This passage also is difficult to 
translate. I have followed C. closely. L. reads : * Post 
transitum denique mirabiliter eleuabitur in laudem conditoris, 
et inestimabiliter affluet deliciis canendo, et in clamorem 
seraphicum cito assurget vt laudando luceat et feueat iugiter 
sine fine. 

Chapter XII. 

NOTE Ixxii., p. 190. These two paragraphs, from That joy 
certain, to from the desire she received, are found in MS. 
Rawl. C. 397, under the heading : Excerptus ex caput xlii 
Ricardi heremitae Tncendiu Amoris, de languenti Dei amore 
et de conditione et proprietate Philomene ; and are followed 
by a poem on the nightingale. In MS. Rawl. 389 this poem is 
ascribed to John Peckam, Archbishop of Canterbury, or John 
Hoveden, or Bonaventura. In any case it is probably not by 
Rolle. On the margin of L. is written this note : Ricardus 
voluit assimilari philomae. 

NOTE Ixxiii., p. 191. C. reads : to longe longynly in lufe dee. 
deyngly I sal wax stronge & in heet I sal be norischyd. & ioy 
I sal & ioyand likyngis of lufe synge with myrth & as wer of a 
pype hote deuocion sal gif songe & aungelis melody my sal to 
]?e hyest sal gelde with inforth dressyd And of ]?e mouth offyrd 
in the awtyr of godis loifynge. And L. : Vt langueam languendo 
deficiam pre amore, set deficiendo conualescam et nutriar in 
ardore, iubilemque ac iubilando canam delicias amoris cum 
amenitate,et tanquam ex fistula perflet canora ac feruens deuocio, 
et emittat odas animus altissimo interius incensas, set eciam ex 
ore oblatas in ara diuine laudis/ Rawl. MS. C. 397 reads odat 
for odas. There is probably some corruption in the text here. 






NOTES 263 

THE MENDING OF LIFE 

[Bg. = La Bigne s Magna Bibliotheca Patrum. 
Sp. = Speculum Spiritualium. D. = Douce MS. 322. 

Chapter I. 

NOTE Ixxiv., p. 198. Vulg. : Curavimus Babylonem, et non 
est sanata. A.V, and R.V. We would have healed Babylon 
but she is not healed. 

NOTE Ixxv., p. 200. It is interesting to compare this passage 
with D. : And delectaciouns that they had before tyme in 
synne he bryngeth agene to her thought, he sheweth forth 
greet hardnesse and bytternesse of penance for to make us 
wery with hit, he reyseth vp fantasyes withouten nombre, newe 
thoughtes and affectiouns that profyten nat, the whyche were 
before styll and a slepe. 

The Douce MS. belongs to the largest extant group of 
English MSS. of The Mending of Life, and was probably 
therefore the most popular. It differs so greatly from Misyn s 
as to lead us to suppose it must have been translated from 
a different Latin version. Any necessary additions in the 
text I have taken from this MS., inserting them in square 
brackets. 

Chapter III. 

NOTE Ixxvi., p. 203. There is no division of chapter here in 

C. In A. a later hand has added a mark to denote a fresh 
chapter before the words : If thou lufe christ, at end of 
Chapter II, but all the Latin MSS. and editions begin the 
chapter as in the text, as do most of the other ME. versions. 

D. has the heading : Of wilful Poverty. 

NOTE Ixxvii., p. 206. In D. the play upon the word double, is 
emphasized : * but he shal be clothed and bounded with a 
double mantell of confusion, that ys double dampnacioun of 
body and soule. 



264 NOTES 

Chapter IV. 

NOTE Ixxviii., p. 212. In Sp. here follow nearly three 
columns of closely printed matter not found in Bg. nor in 
any other Latin MS. or printed version in the Bodleian. Of 
MSS. elsewhere I cannot speak for certain. 

Chapter V. 

NOTE Ixxix., p. 213. Here also there is a long insertion in 
Sp. The chapter begins : Temptatio est vita hominis super 
terrain ; and then follows a long tractate on the tribulations of 
the tempted, citing the examples of Joseph, Jeremias, Ezechiel, 
etc., for five columns, and then ends as in Bg., Cum enim 
diabolus, etc. of which we have the translation in our version. 

Chapter VII. 

NOTE Ixxx., p. 219. D. Than peradventure hit were good 
that a man gave hym for awhyle to meditacioun of god and 
holy writte other of the passion of cryste. And suche other 
tyll hys hert were more stabeled. and so make an ende and 
fulfyll hys prayers. 

Chapter VIII. 

NOTE Ixxxi., p. 222. This passage beginning : * Some think 
truly on the joy of the blessed angels/ etc. is not found in 
either the Digby MS. or D. ; which is further evidence that 
these translations are from another version than the one Misyn 
used. 

Chapter X. 

NOTE Ixxxii., p. 228. D. reads : ffbr than ofte tymes so greet 
vnspekable gladnesse ys gevyn of our lord to suche a soule : 
that heuynly melody ys in hit. and ioy vnseable ys felyd. In 
D. and the Digby MS. the chapter ends here. 

Chapter XI. 

NOTE Ixxxiii., p. 231. Bg. reads : * Aliud est solum esse, et 
aliud summum esse ; sicut aliud est semper praesidens esse, et 



NOTES 265 

aliud comfortem non admittere ; but Sp. sicut aliud est 
semper potentem esse. Misyn here follows Bg. Both con 
tinue : * Possumus enim multos socios habere, et tamen prae 
omnibus superiorem locum tenere. This whole passage is 
omitted in the Digby MS. and in D. 

NOTE Ixxxiv., p. 232. Bg. reads : * et in illam gloriam atque 
formam absorbetur ; but Sp. * et in alllam gloriam atque 
formam non absorbetur. Compare D. all myn hert ys fastened 
in desyre of Jhesu : and hyt ys all turned in to the fyre of 
loue. and all chaunged in to another fourme and ioye. And 
see Note xxiii. 



Chapter XII. 

NOTE Ixxxv., p. 236. Bg. In lectione loquitur nobis Deus : 
In oratione loquimur nos Deo. Compare S. Bernard, on 
reading: 4 Nam cum oramus, cum Deo loquimur; cum legimus, 
Deus nobiscum loquitur. (De Modo bene Vivendi, ch. i. L. 
in Migne s Patrol. Lai., vol. iii. p. 1272.) 

NOTE Ixxxvi., p. 236. Rachel. With medieval writers Rachel 
and Leah in the Old Testament,^as Mary and Martha in the 
New, were symbolic of the active and contemplative life. 
Compare Dante : 

Sappia, qualunque il mio nome domanda, 
Ch io mi son Lia, e vo movendo intorno 
Le belle mani a farmi una ghirlanda 
Per piacermi allo specchio qui m adorno ; 
Ma mia suora Rachel mai non si smaga 
Dal suo miraglio, e siede tutto giorno. 

Purg.j c. xxvii. 1. 100 sq. 

The E.E.T.S. version glosses the word as O.E. recels incense, 
which is ingenious, but hardly even from a philological point 
of view correct. 



266 NOTES 

NOTE Ixxxvii., p. 236. Bg. and Sp, read; Ad orationem per- 
tinet laus, hymnus, speculatio, excessus, administratio, et sic 
in oratione vita contemplativa consistit vel meditatio J ; and 
D. * To prayer perteyneth loouyng, ympne, beholdyng, ouer- 
passyng, wonderyng. And this ys contemplacioun in prayer. 

NOTE Ixxxviii., p. 237. There is a slight and rather interesting 
variant in the readings of Bg. and Sp. here. I give both. 
Bg. Alij dicunt, quod contemplatio estperspicaciain sapientiae 
spectacula, cum admiratlone suspensa. Alij dicunt, quod con 
templatio est libera et perspicax animi intuitus ad vires perspi- 
ciendas circumquaque diffusas. And Sp. Alij dicunt quod 
contemplatio est libera perspicatia spectacula sapientie cum 
adminlstrafione suspensa. Alij dicunt quod contemplatio est 
prospicax intuitus animi ad vires prospicandas vimque diffusus.* 
Boke in C. is an evident misreading of libera. I have emended 
the passage in the text from these Latin readings. It is omitted 
both in D. and the Digby MS. 

NOTE Ixxxix., p. 237. Bg. reads : semetipsum ergo non 
pigeat mancipari orationi ; and Sp. ad orationibus et vigiliis 
atque exerceat in meditationibus sanctis ; and D. And there 
fore yrke he nat. or he be nat wery : for to geve hymsel to 
prayers and to wakyng and to vse hymsylf in holy medi- 
tatiouns. 

NOTE xc., p. 238. There is a long omission here in C. 
Sp. reads : * Possumus autem multa habere [et nihil tamen 
velle, quando ea quae habemus non ad voluptatem, sed ad ne- 
cessitatem retinemus, sicut quandoque qui nihil habet multa 
cupit.] Necessaria perfectissimum accipere oportet, etc. 
The passage from D. which I have inserted in text is still 
longer, and must be a translation from a version other than 
Bg. ; or from Sp. which closely follows Bg. 

NOTE xci., p. 239. D. reads: Holy & contemplatyf men 
beholden the ioye of god through revelation. Bg. Porro 
sancti et contemplativi revelata facie gloriam Dei speculantur. 






NOTES 267 

NOTE xcii., p. 240. Compare D. * Ther ben many that cannat 
holde holyday neyther make Saturday in her soule neyther put 
oute veyne thoughts from her mynde : they may nat fulfyll 
that the prophete biddeth, etc. 

NOTE xciii., p. 241. Compare the Digby MS. But also wi]? 
Jat he fulfilles ]?e office of }>e predicacioun to his euen cristen. 
he ]?is passes ]?e first. j?ouj al he be most hig in contempla- 
cioun. in greet perfeccioun for he schal haue a special mede 
in heuene ]?at is callid a fyue rosis for his preching passynge 
]?at o]?er ]?at gyues oonli to contemplacioun. 

The Aureol is generally taken by mystical writers to be 
the reward of those who have taken the vow of celibacy. 
Jeremy Taylor speaks of that little coronet or special reward 
which God hath prepared (extraordinary and besides the great 
Crown of all faithful Souls) for those who have not defiled them 
selves with women^ but follow the Virgin Lamb for ever? Holy 
Living, ch. ii. sect. 3. 

NOTE xciv., p. 241. Compare D. So that he ys maad as hit 
were all another man. Bg. reads : velut alienum Deo reddit, 
and Sp. : velut alienatum virum Dei reddit. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

LIST OF THE MANUSCRIPTS OF THE INCENDIUM 
4MORIS AND THE DE EMENDATIONS 7ITAE 

Incendium Amoris 

Also found under the titles : 

Melodia Amoris (C.C.C.O. 193). 

De excellentia amoris Dei seu Amatori Dei she 

De Vita Contemplativa. (Add. MS. 24661) 

_ 

In the British Museum 
Addit. MS. 24661 * 

Harl. MSS. 106 (fragment only), 275; 5235 (c. xv. only) 
Reg. MS. 5. C. iii.* 
Sloane MS. 2275 

In the Bodleian Library, Oxford 
Bod. MSS. 16*; 66; 861 
Laud. MSS. 202*; 528* 
Rawl. MS. A. 389 
Rawl. MS. C. 397 * 

Oxford Colleges 

BalliolMS. 224 A.* 
Corpus Christi MS. 193 
S. John s MS. 127 

* There are two versions of the Incendium, one being much shortened. The 
asterisk denotes the shorter version. 

769 



270 BIBLIOGRAPHY 

In the University Library, Cambridge 
Dd. 5.64.1 
Mm. 5.37.4 



In the Cambridge Colleges 
Caius MSS. 140, 2; 332.4* 
Emmanuel MS. 35.6. (Both versions) 
S.John s MS. 23.1* 

ENGLISH VERSIONS 

Add. MS. 37790 
C.C.C.O. MS. 236 



De Emendatione Vitae 

Also found under the titles : 

De Emendatione Peccatorum (or Peccatoris) 

De modo vivendi et Regula in appetando perfectionem 

(Magd. MS. 71 and Harl. MS. 5398) 
De Regula vivendi (Harl. MS. 106 ; Bod. MS. 122 ; 86 1 ; 

Rawl. MS. A. 389) 

De Institutione Vitae (Bal. MS. 224, A.) 
Vehiculum Vitae (Bruce MS. 356; and Laud. MS. 497) 

In the British Museum 

Addit. MSS. 16170; 24661 ; 34763 

Burn MS. 356 

Cott. Faust MS. A.v. 9 

Egerton MS. 671 (begins in middle of chap, i) 

Harl. MSS. 106; 275 ; 2439; 5235 ; 5398 

Sloane MS. 2275 

In the Lambeth Library 
MS. 500 






BIBLIOGRAPHY 271 

In the Bodleian Library, Oxford- 
Bod. MSS. 16 ; 48 ; 54 ; 6l ; 122 ; 456 ; 86l 
Douce MS. 107 

Laud. MSS. in (frag.) ; 202 ; 497 (imperf.) ; 528 
Rawl. MS. A. 389 
Rawl. MS. C. 269 

In the Oxford Colleges 
Balliol MS. 224, A 
Brasenose MS. 15 
Corpus Christi MSS. 155 ; 193 
Magdalen MS. 71 
Merton MSS. 16; 67 

In the University Library, Cambridge 
Dd. 4.54.3 
Dd. 5.64.1 
Ff. 5.36.2 
Gg. 1.32.10 
Hh. 4.13.15 
Mm. 5.37.4 

In the Cambridge Colleges 
Caius MSS. 140.11 ; 216.1 
Jesus MS. 46 
Peterhouse MS. 218.5 
Trinity MS. 14.111. 

ENGLISH VERSIONS 

British Museum 

Addit. MS. 37790 
Harl. MSS. 1706 ; 2406 
Lansdowne MS. 455 

Oxford 

C.C.C. MS. 236 
Digby MS. 1 8 
Douce MS. 322 



272 BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Cambridge 
Ff. 540.2 
Ff. 5.30.2 
Caius Col. MS. 669.2 

Dublin 

Trin. Col. MS. 432 

This list is only provisional, but it may be of some use to students 
of Rolle. Since it was made a note has appeared in the Athenaum of 
August 23, 1913, by Miss H. E. Allen, in which she draws attention 
to another MS. of the Incendlum in the Durham Cathedral library 
(MS. B. iv. 35). Miss Allen s forthcoming book will contain 
complete lists of all the known authentic writings of Richard Rolle. 



PRINTED EDITIONS OF THE DE EMENDATIONS 

The *De Emendatione is found as an appendix to an edition of the 
SPECULUM SPIRITUALIUM. Printed in Paris, 1510. 

It is also found in a volume with title beginning : D. Ricardi 
Pampolitani anglosaxonis eremitae, etc. 

Printed at Antwerp, 1533. 

(This contains also chap. xv. of the Incendium, beginning : * Cum 
infeliciter florerem. ) 

The same, edited by J. Fabri. Cologne, 1535. 

A later re-issue, with commentaries on the Psalms, Job, etc. 

Cologne, 1536. 

Reprinted (without the commentaries). Paris, 1618. 

Included in La Bigne s Eibliotheca Patrum Maxima. 

Cologne, 1618 (torn. xv.). 

A later edition of the same. Lyons, 1677 (torn. xxvi.). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RICHARD ROLLE 

English Martyrology, by a Catholick Priest. 1608. 

A British Martyrology. London, 1761. 

Ojpcium de 8. Ricardo de Hampole, in the York Breviary. 

(Surtees Society Publications, 1882, vol. ii. Appendix v.) 
English Prose Treatises of Richard Rolle. 

(E.E.T.S., orig. series, 20). 1866. 
The Psalter translated by Rolle of Hampole. Edited by Rev. H. R. 

Bramley. Clar. Press, 1884. 
Richard Rolle and his Followers. Edited by C. Horstman, 2 vols. 

(Library of English Writers). Sonnenschein, 1896. 
The Fire of Love and the Mending of Life. Edited by Rev. R. Harvey 

(E.E.T.S., orig. series, 106). 1896. 

A Book of the Love of Jesus. Edited by Rev. R. H. Benson, 1905. 
(It contains a Meditation on the Passion, and the Oleum 

E/usum by Rolle ; and other short extracts and verses from 

various M.E. sources.) 
The Prose Style of Richard Rolle, a Dissertation, by J. P. Schneider. 

Furst Co., Baltimore, 1906. 
The Authorship of the Prick of Conscience, by H. E. Allen. Radcliffe 

College Monographs, No. 15. Ginn and Co., 1910. 
The Form of Perfect Living. Rendered into modern English by 

G. E. Hodgson. Baker, 1910. 
The Mending of Life. Edited by Rev. Dundas Harford. Allenson, 



The German treatises on Rolle are not noted here but a list on 
them is given in the Dictionary of National Biography ; and also in 
the bibliography to chap, ii., vol. II., of the Cambridge History of 
English Literature. 

T *7 3 



274 BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Interesting References to Richard Rolle occur in the follow 
ing histories of literature. 

A History of Early English Literature, by Professor Ten Brink. 

Vol. i. p. 291 sq. Bohn s Library, 1883. 
Ihe Fourteenth Century, in Periods of European Literature, by 

F. J. Snell. Blackwood, 1899. 

(It contains an interesting chapter on Allegory, Mysticism, 

and Reform.) 
A Short History of English Literature, by Professor Saintsbury, 

p. 73 sq. Macmillan, 1903. 
The Cambridge History of English Literature. Vol. ii. p. 43 sq. 

Camb. Univ. Press, 1908. 



GLOSSARY 

anent with (L. apud] (p. 210), towards, concerning 

anon at once 

behested promised 

behold consider, regard 

boisterous rude, ignorant 

busily continually 

challenge demand, claim (p. 50), provoke (p. 49) 

charge take care, consider (p. 129) 

chere countenance, face 

cherish, cherishing entice, allure 

clearness purity 

comfort strength 

common (v.) share in common 

covet, coveting desire, desiring 

curiosity skill 

depart, departed to part, separate 

discomfit (v.) to defeat, conquer 

discomjit (s.) conquest 

dis-ease discomfort, anxiety 

dress, dressing direct, directing 

eftsoons again, afterwards 

enpride take pride in 

errand business 

fairhead beauty 

feel used of all the senses : to perceive by smell, 
taste or touch ; or mentally : to believe, think 

fellowly social 

275 



2 7 6 



GLOSSARY 



flitings 


reproofs, quarrelling 


fond, fondly, finny d 


foolish, foolishly 


forbar 


obstruct 


forsake 


refuse 


forthink 


repent 


fret 


eat away, irritate 


gainbuy, galnbuying 


redeem, redeeming 


gainbuyer 


redeemer 


gainsetting 


opposing 


gar 


to make, cause 


grave (v.) 


dig 


griefs 


injuries 


halse, halting 


embrace, kiss 


heavy (v.) 


grieve 


herefore 


hence 


hie 


hasten 


ilk 


each 


impugnations 


spiritual assaults, temptations 


influence 


inflowing 


janglers 


talkers, chatterers 


japes 


deceits 


let 


hinder 


letters 


hinderers 


lurk 


hide (p. 50) 


lust 


pleasure in both a good and a bad sense 


mannerly 


ordinately 


marvel 


admiration 


meanly 


moderately 


meed 


reward 


needless 


unrewarded 


mickle 


much 


moisten 


used always in the sense of inebriate (L. de- 




briare] 


namely 


especially 



GLOSSARY 



277 



outray 

overbad 
overrun 



outgoing, going out of bounds ; hence out 
rage 
oppress 
pass over lightly, implying omission 



pithily to the core, or pith (L. medullitus) 

plainly altogether 

pricking grief, sorrow 

privity secret 

profit, profiting advance, advancing 

proficient one who has made advance in the spiritual life 

quick ardent, alive 

quicker more ardent 

quickness fervour 

ransack lit., search the house 

record remember 

reek smoke 

release relax 

reparel restore (p. 100), devise, contrive (p. 213) 

sad serious, wise 

sadness constancy (p. 174) 

science knowledge 

sentence meaning 

settled free from dregs (L. defecata), as we speak of 

wine being settled 

show declare, make known 

shrewd wicked, depraved 
sicker, sickerly sure, securely 

sickerness certainty, security (p. 16) 

skills arguments, reasons 

slake extinguish, quench, kill (p. 150) 

slander disgrace 

slow sluggish 

slowness torpor, sluggishness 

snib blame 

soon straightway, forthwith 



2 7 8 



GLOSSARY 



spar 


bolt 


speciality 


characteristic 


speed, speedjul 


help, helpful 


spread 


stretch forth, extend 


stand 


continue, consist 


stint 


cease, limit 


stirrings 


temptation, exhortation 


strait 


severe (p. 101), narrow 


teem 


empty 


tents 


tries 


thirl, thirling 


pierce, piercing 


travel 


used for the journey of this life 


umbelapped 


enwrapped 


urn be set 


set round 


unthank 


displeasure 


unmannerly 


immoderately 


unmeed 


with no reward 


vain 


empty 


vanity 


emptiness 


vanish 


to become empty 


vaunt 


to empty out 


very (adj.) 


real, true 


waking 


vigil 


waitings 


lyings-in-wait, snares 


waste 


waste away, destroy 


whiles 


as long as, during 


withhold 


retain 


wilfully 


voluntarily 


worthily 


deservedly 



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