Original Text
British Library Additional MS 10340.
5Savour no more thanne the byhove schal;
14And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.
16The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth a fal.
17Here is non home, here nys but wyldernesse.
21And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.
Made the of nought, and in espec{.i}al
Draw unto hym, and pray in general
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.


1] This poem consists in twenty-two MSS. and was first printed by Caxton, c. 1477-8. In the MSS. it has such titles as The good counceyl of chawcer and Moral balade of Chaucyre. In the Chaucer Society reprint Furnivall entitled it Truth. One scribe, Shirley, heads the poem: Balade that Chaucier made on his deeth bedde, which would fix the date in 1400, but his statement has been questioned. The present text is from MS. Brit. Mus. Add. 10310, the only one that includes the Envoy. This is addressed to one Vache, probably Sir Philip de la Vache (1346- 1408), son in-law to Chaucer's friend, Sir Lewis Clifford. A prosperous courtier, he lost his offices between 1386 and 1389, but afterwards recovered favour. It has been suggested that the poem was addressed to him during the time of his misfortune. Much of the thought of this poem is from Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, which Chaucer translated.

pres. Crowd.
sothefastnesse. Truth. Back to Line

2] Let thy property suffice thee, though it be small. Back to Line
3] tykelnesse. Instability. Back to Line
4] wele blent overal. Prosperity blindeth everywhere. Back to Line
6] reede. Advise. Back to Line
7] Cf. John, viii, 32.
hit is no drede. There is no doubt. Back to Line
8] Tempest the nought. Do not distress thyself. Back to Line
9] In trust of Fortune who continually turns her wheel. Back to Line
10] Much happiness stands in little anxiety. Back to Line
11] Beware of kicking against an awl (Cf. Acts, ix, 5). Back to Line
12] crokke. Crock, pot. Back to Line
13] Daunte. Rule, dominate. Back to Line
15] buxumnesse. Submissiveness, obedience. Back to Line
18] beste. Beast. Back to Line
19] of. For. Back to Line
20] heye weye. The main road.
gost. Spirit. Cf. Romans, viii, 4; Gal., vi, 16. Back to Line
21] Vache. See introductory note.
olde wrechednesse. Long continued wretchedness (over thy misfortunes). Back to Line
21] thral. Slave. Back to Line
21] Crie hym mercy, that ... Made thee of nought. Thank him who, out of his goodness, created thee of nothing. Back to Line
21] other. Perhaps the poet himself.
mede. Reward. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition
2RP.1.39; RPO 1996-2000.