THE PROLOUG

OF

THE LEVYNT BUKE.

THOW hie renown of Martis chevalry,
Quhilk glaidis euery gentill wicht to heyr,
Gif thow mycht Mars and Hercules deify,
Quhayrfor beyn nobillis to follow prowes sweyr ?
Weill auchtin eldris exemplis ws to steyr
Tyll hie curage, all honour till ensew :
Quhen we considder quhat wyrschip tharof grew,
All vice detest, and virteu lat ws leyr.

Prowes, but vyce, is provit lefull thyng
Be haly scriptur into syndry place,
Be Machabeus, Josue, Dauid kyng,
Mychael, and eyk his angellis full of grace,
That can the dragoun furth of hevynnis chace
With vailȝeand dyntis of ferm myndis contrar :
Nane vther strokis nor wapynnis had thai thar,
Nother speyr, buge, pol ax, swerd, knyfe, nor mace.

In takynning that in chevalry or fycht
Our myndis suld haue just ententioun,
The ground of batale fundyt apoun rycht ;
Nocht for thou lyst to mak discentioun,
To seik occasionis of contentioun,
Bot rype thy querrell, and discus it plane :
Wrangys to redres suld weyr be vndertane,
For na conquest, reif, skat, nor pensioun.

To speyk of moral vertuus hardyment,
Or rather of devyne, is myne entent ;
For warldly strenth is feble and impotent
In Goddis sight and insufficient.
The Psalmyst says, that God is nocht content
In mannys stalwart lymmys nor strenth of cors,
Bot into thame that trastis in his fors,
Askand mercy, and dredand jugement.

Strang fortitud, quhilk hardyment cleip we,
Ahuf the quhilk the virteu souerane
According princis, hecht magnanymite,
Is a bonte set betwix vicis tuane :
Of quham fuyl hardynes clepit is the tane,
That vndertakis all perrellis but avice ;
The tother is namyt schamefull cowardice,
Voyd of curage, and dolf as ony stane.

The fyrst is hardy all out by mesur,
Of tyme nor ressoun gevis he na cuyr,
No dowt he castis, bot all thinkis suyr,
Nocht may he suffir, nor his heyt indur :
The tother is of all prowes sa puyr,
That evir he standis in feyr and felloun dreyd,
And nevyr dar vndertak a douchty deyd,
Bot doith all curage and all manheid smuyr.

The first soundis towart virteu sum deyll,
Hardy lie is, couth he be avyse.
Of hardyment the tother has na feill :
Quhou may curage and cowardice agre ?
Of fortitud to compt ȝow euery gre,
As Aristotill in his Ethikis doith expres,
It wald, as now, contene our lang proces,
Quhayrfor of vther chevalry carp will we.

Gyf Crystis faithfull knychtis lyst ws be,
So as we aucht, and promyst hes at font,
Than man we byde baldly, and neuer fle,
Nowder be abasit, tepit, nor ȝit blunt,
Nor as cowartis to eschew the first dunt.
Paule witnessith, that nane sail wyn the croun,
Bot he quhilk dewly makis hym reddy boun
To stand wichtly, and fecht in the forfront.

And quha that sail nocht wyn the croun of meyd,
That is to say, the euerlastand blys,
The fyre eternall neidlyngis most thai dreyd.
For Christ into his gospell says, I wys,
Quha bydis nocht wyth me contrar me is :
And gif thou be aganist God, but weyr
Than art thou wageour onto Lucifer.
God salf ws all from sik ane fyre as this !

The armour of our chevalry, perfay,
So the Apostyll techis ws expres,
Nocht corporall bot spirituall bene thai ;
Our conquist haill, our vassalage and prowes,
Aganist spretis and princis of myrknes,
Nocht agane man, owr awin brother and mayt ;
Nor ȝit aganist our makar to debait,
As rabell tyll all virteu and gudnes.

The flesch debatis aganyst the spiritual gost,
Hys hie curage with sensual lust to law,
And, be the body victour, baith ar lost ;
The spreyt wald vp, the cors ay down lyst draw.
Thi secund fa the warld, ane other thraw,
Makis strang assaltis of covatys and estait,
Aganist quham is full perrellus debait :
Thir fais familiar bene full quaynt to knaw. 10

Lyf in thy flesch as maister of thi corps,
Lyf in this warld as nocht ay to remane :
Resyst the feyndis slycht with all thi fors,
He is thy ancyent ennymy, werst of ane ;
A thousand wylis he hes, and mony a trane ;
He kendillis oft thy flesch in byrnand heyt,
He causis wrachit plesance seme full sweit,
And, for nocht, of this fals warld makis the fane.

He is thy fa and aduersar principall,
Of promissioun wald the expell the land ;
For he the sammyn lost, and caucht a fall.
Enfors the strangly contrar hym to stand :
Rays hie the targe of faith vp in thi hand,
On hed the halsum helm of hop onlace,
In cheryte thy body all embrace,
And of devote orison mak thi brand.

Stand at defens, and schrenk nocht for a schore :
Think on the haly martyris at ar went,
Think on the pane of hell, and endles glore,
Think quhou thy Lord for the on rude was rent,
Think, and thou fle fra hym, than art thou schent,
Think all thou sufferis ontill his pane nocht is,
Think with quhou precius price as thy saul bocht is,
And ay the moder of grace in mynd emprent.

Feill bene thi fais, fers, and full of slycht;
Bot be thou stalwart campioun and knycht,
In feild of grace with forsaid armour brycht
Thou may debait thame lichtly in ilk fycht :
For of fre will thyne acton is sa wycht
Nane may it pers, wilt thou resist and stand ;
Becum thow cowart, craudoun recryand,
And by consent cry cok, thi deid is dycht.

Think quhou that fa is waik and impotent,
May venques nane bot thame lyst be ourcum.
He sal the nevyr ourset but thy consent,
Eith is defens to say nay, or be dum ;
And for thi weill, lo, this is all and sum :
Consent nevir, and thou sail nevir be lost ;
By disassent thou may venquys ane ost,
And, for anys ȝa, tyne thi meid euery crum.

Na wondir is ; for by exemple we se,
Quha servis his souerane intill all degre
Full mony dais, and eftir syne gif he
Committis anys trayson suld he nocht de,
Les than his prince, of gret humanite,
Pardoun his fait for his lang trew seruis,
Gif he wald mercy craif ? The sammyn wys
We bene forgevin, so that repent will we.

Bot quhat avails begin a strang melle,
Syne ȝeild the to thy fa but ony quhy,
Or cowartlie to tak the bak and fle ?
Na ; thar sall nane optene hie victory,
Les thai sustene the bargane douchtely ;
And quha so perseueris to the end
Ane conquerour and campioun euir is kend,
With palm of triumphe, honour, and glory.

The maist onsilly kynd of fortoun is
To haue bene happy ; Boetius techis so ;
As to haue bene in welth and hartis blys,
And now to be dekeit and in wo :
Rycht so, quha vertuus was, and fallis tharfro,
Of verray ressoune malewrus hait is he ;
And ȝit, by grace and his fre volunte,
He may recovir meryt agane alsso.

I say, be grace ; for quhen thou art in grace,
Thou may eik grace to grace, ay moyr and moyr.
Bot quhen thou fallys be syn tharfra, allace !
Of thy meryte thou gettis hyr nevirmor :
Ȝit quhen thou dewly disponis the tharfor,
Doing all that in the thar may be done,
Of hys gudnes the etern Lord alssone
Restoryis the meryt, wyth grace in erlis of glore.

Haill thy meryt thou had tofor thi fall,
That is to say, thy warkis meritable,
Restorit ar agane, bayth gret and small,
And grace tharto, quhilk is sa profitable
That thou tharby to eik merit art habill :
Bot nocht ilk gre of grace thou had befor ;
That gettis thou nocht sa sone, quhill fordyrmor.
Be war tharfor, fall nocht, bot standis stabill.

For lyke as quha offendit had his lord,
That lang tofor hys trew servand had bene,
And syne agane becumis at ane accord
With hys master, allthocht his lord wald meyne
On hys aid seruis, ȝit netheles, I weyn,
He sall nocht sone be tendir, as he was air :
Be war tharwith, and kepe ȝou fra the snair,
Tyne nocht ȝour laubour and ȝour thank betwene.

Exemple takis of this prynce Enee,
That, for his fatale cuntre, of behest
Sa feill dangeris sustenit on land and see,
Syk stryfe in stour sa oft, with speir in rest,
Quhill he his realme conquest bath west and est :
Sen all this dyd he for a temporall ryng,
Pres ws to wyn the kynryk ay lestyng,
Addres ws fast for till optene that fest.

He may be callit, as says Sanct Augustyn,
Ane delicait, our esy, crystyn knycht,
Refusis to thoill travel, sturt, or pyne,
And but debait wenys till optene the fycht.
To wyn the feyld, and nevir preif thy mycht,
That war nice thing : thy kyng Cryste in batell
Quhat sufferit he for the, O cative wicht !
Lyis thou at eys, thy prynce in bargane fell ?

Aschamis of our sleuth and cowerdice !
Seand thir gentillis and the paganis auld
Ensew vertu and eschew euery vyce,
And for sa schort renovne warryn so bald
To sustene weir and panis teir ontald :
Than lat ws strive that realm for to posseid,
The quhilk was hecht till Abraham and his seyd :
Lord, at ws wrocht and bocht, grant ws that hald !

Heyr endis the Prolong one the Lewynt Buik, and eftyr
cummys syne the buik of samyng vytht the fyrst cheptour.