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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Of Hym That Togyder Wyll Serve Two Maysters
By Sebastian Brant (1458–1521)
 
A FOLE he is and voyde of reason
  Whiche with one hounde tendyth to take
Two harys in one instant and season;
  Rightso is he that wolde undertake
  Hym to two lordes a servaunt to make;        5
For whether that he be lefe or lothe,
The one he shall displease, or els bothe.
 
A fole also he is withouten doute,
  And in his porpose sothly blyndyd sore,
Which doth entende labour or go aboute        10
  To serve god, and also his wretchyd store
  Of worldly ryches: for as I sayde before,
He that togyder will two maysters serve
Shall one displease and nat his love deserve.
 
For he that with one hounde wol take also        15
  Two harys togyther in one instant
For the moste parte doth the both two forgo,
  And if he one have: harde it is and skant
  And that blynd fole mad and ignorant
That draweth thre boltis atons 1 in one bowe        20
At one marke shall shote to[o] high or to[o] lowe….
 
He that his mynde settyth god truly to serve
  And his sayntes: this worlde settynge at nought
Shall for rewarde everlastynge joy deserve,
  But in this worlde he that settyth his thought        25
  All men to please, and in favour to be brought
Must lout and lurke, flater, laude, and lye:
And cloke in knavys counseyll, though it fals be.
 
If any do hym wronge or injury
  He must it suffer and pacyently endure        30
A double tunge with wordes like hony;
  And of his offycis if he wyll be sure
  He must be sober and colde of his langage,
More to a knave, than to one of hye lynage.
 
Oft must he stoupe his bonet in his honde,        35
  His maysters back he must oft shrape and clawe,
His brest anoyntynge, his mynde to understonde,
  But be it gode or bad therafter must he drawe.
  Without he can Jest he is nat worth a strawe,
But in the mean tyme beware that he none checke;        40
For than layth malyce a mylstone in his necke.
 
He that in court wyll love and favour have
  A fole must hym fayne, if he were none afore,
And be as felow to every boy and knave,
  And to please his lorde he must styll laboure sore.        45
  His many folde charge maketh hym coveyt more
That he had lever 2 serve a man in myserye
Than serve his maker in tranquylyte.
 
But yet when he hath done his dylygence
  His lorde to serve, as I before have sayde,        50
For one small faute or neglygent offence
  Suche a displeasoure agaynst hym may be layde
  That out is he cast bare and unpurvayde, 3
Whether he be gentyll, yeman 4 grome or page;
Thus worldly servyse is no sure herytage.        55
 
Wherfore I may prove by these examples playne
  That it is better more godly and plesant
To leve this mondayne casualte and payne
  And to thy maker one god to be servaunt,
  Which whyle thou lyvest shall nat let the want        60
That thou desyrest justly, for thy syrvyce,
And than after gyve the, the joyes of Paradyse.
 
Note 1. Three bolts at once. [back]
Note 2. Rather. [back]
Note 3. Unprovided. [back]
Note 4. Yeoman. [back]
 
 
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