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Article # 168
The Regius Poem or Halliwell Manuscript

Author: Culled from various sources    Posted on: Saturday, September 17, 2005
General Article | 1 comments  | Post your comment

The Regius Poem or Halliwell  Manuscript

The Regius Poem or Halliwell  Manuscript.

(Culled from various sources.)

 

[Numerous brethren had requested us to post the various Masonic Manuscripts in this site.In deference to those requests, a separate section has been opened to post the various manuscripts. The Masonic Manuscripts have been the very useful basis and source and have helped the Masonic Historians in their research on the Origin, History and Evolution of Freemasonry.Various Masonic manuscripts had been the bedrock of Masonic Antiquarian Research providing an insight on the origin and evolution of Freemasonry. Amongst the foremost and the oldest is the manuscript known as The Regius Poem or Halliwell Manuscript. Its form and contents vary from other manuscripts and therefore affords the strongest inside evidence, that it has come down to us from a source entirely different from that, which gave origin to other and later documents.  It is in poetic form. The  Manuscript  appears to have been copied or probably transcribed from an earlier copy. The same was in the Library of the British Kings, having been acquired from Charles Theyer, a famous book collector of the17 th Century. The manuscript has been listed in Catalogous Manuscriptorum  Angliae  authored by Bernard and published by Oxford in 1697. In a later publication Catalogue of the Manuscripts of the Old Royal Library by David Casley of the year 1734, this manuscript has been mentioned in page 259, but under the caption  Poem of Moral Duties”. That was probably the reason, for Freemasons ignoring the same, until it was published later by James Orchard Halliwell,   in whose name the Manuscript is being referred to. King George II, donated all the collections of the Royal Household to the British Museum in 1757.

  Halliwell at first referred to this manuscript in his paper, On the Introduction of Freemasonry into England presented at the Society of Antiquaries in 1838. He published the manuscript under the caption, “ A Poem on the Constitutions of  Masonry” in 1840. He published the manuscript again in 1844 as “ The Early History of Freemasonry in England

 Halliwell, who afterwards adopted the name of Phillips, was not a Freemason. As observed by Reverend Bro.Woodford, co-author of Encyclopedia, "it is somewhat curious that to Grandidier and Halliwell, both non-Masons, Freemasonry owes the impetus given at separate epochs to the study of its archeology and history."

 He has fixed the period of the manuscript as Circa 1390. The Masonic Scholar, Dr.Oliver holds the view that the manuscript contains the Constitutions approved by the General Assembly at York in the year 926. Various scholars have fixed varying dates. Bond and Egerton of the British Museum are of the opinion, that the manuscript would have been written in the middle of the 15 th century. Casley opines that the poem  was of the 14 th Century.

  There can be little difference of opinion on the assertion that this manuscript was “earliest document yet brought to light connected with the progress of freemasonry in Great Britain”. This manuscript has been the subject matter of discussion in numerous research societies including Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the earliest of which is found in Volume 1 of Antigrapha of that Lodge of 1889, which will be referred to in a separate article.

  The name Regius Poem was  suggested by the famous Masonic Historian Bro.Gould, as it had come from the collections of the Royal Household and also because of its preeminence as the oldest Masonic Document. It has also to be borne in mind that most of the Constitutions and Charges of Freemasonry are based on this manuscript.

  The Poem, which is in doggerel verse, is in the style of the English of those old days, which is different from the modern English. The important and tough task of transcribing the same in modern English was undertaken and completed by Roderick H. Baxter, a P.M of Quatuor Coronati Lodge and a  former President of Manchester Association of Masonic Research. His translation is supposed to be the best and apt and the same is posted hereunder. The Poem commences with the exordium in Latin, which is as  follows. “Hic Incipient Constituciones Artis Cemetrlae Secundum Euclydem”, which means “Here begin the Constitutions of the Art of Geometry according to Euclid.” With this short introduction, the translation of the poem is posted hereunder. Summary of very many learned articles will follow as a separate article.- Webmaster]

 

                                                                            Preamble

  Whoever will both well read and look
He may find written in old book
Of Great lords and also ladies,
That had many children together, Y-wisse; [certainly]
And had no income to keep them with,
Neither in town nor field nor frith: [enclosed wood]
A council together they could them take,
To ordain for these children's sake,
How they might best lead their life
Without great disease, care, and strife;
And most for the multitude that was coming
Of their children after their ending.
They send then after great clerks,
                                 To teach them then good works;                                   I


And pray we them, for our Lord's sake,
To our children some work to make,
That they might get their living thereby,
Both well and honestly full securely.
In that time, through good geometry,
This honest craft of good masonry
Was ordained and made in this manner,
Counterfeited of these clerks together;
At these lords' prayers they counterfeited geometry,
And gave it the name of masonry,
For the most honest craft of all.
These lord's children thereto did fall,
To learn of him the craft of geometry,
                             The which he made full curiously;                                   II


Through fathers' prayers and mothers' also,
This honest craft he put them to.
He that learned best, and was of honesty,
And passed his fellows in curiosity,
If in that craft he did him pass,
He should have more worship than the lasse. [less]
This great clerk's name was called Euclid,
His name is spread full wonder wide.
Yet this great clerk more ordained he
To him that was higher in this degree,
That he should teach the simplest of wit
In that honest craft to be parfytte; [perfect]
And so each one shall teach the other,
                                 And love together as sister and brother                             III


Furthermore yet that ordained he,
Master called so should he be
So that he were most worshipped,
Then should he be so called:
But masons should never one another call,
Within the craft amongst them all,
Neither subject nor servant, my dear brother,
Though he be not so perfect as is another;
Each shall call other fellows by cuthne, [friendship]
Because they come of ladies' birth
On this manner, through good wit of geometry,
Began first the craft of masonry:
The clerk Euclid on this wise it found,
                              This craft of geometry in Egypt land.                         IV


In Egypt he taught it full wide,
In divers lands on every side;
Many years afterwards, I understand,
Ere that the craft came into this land.
This craft came into England, as I you say,
In time of good King Athelstane's day;
He made then both hall and even bower,
And high temples of great honour,
To disport him in both day and night,
And to worship his God with all his might.
This good lord loved his craft full well,
And purposed to strengthen in every del [part]
For divers faults that in the craft he found;
                              He sent about into the land.                               V


After all the masons of the craft,
To come to him full even straghtfte, [straight]
For to amend these defaults all
By good counsel, if it might fall.
An assembly then he could let make
Of divers lords in their state,
Dukes, earls, and barons also,
Knights, squires and many mo, [more]
And the great burgesses of that city,
They were there all in their degree;
These were there each one algate, [always]
To ordain for these masons' estate
There they sought by their wit,
                               How they might govern it;                                  VI


Fifteen articles they there sought,
And Fifteen points there they wrought,

(Hic Incipit Articulus Primus).
Here Begins The First Article

The first article of this geometry;--
The master mason must be full securely
Both steadfast, trusty and true,
It shall him never then rue:
And pay thy fellows after the cost,
As victuals goeth then, well thou wost; [knowest]
And pay them truly, upon thy fay, [faith]
What they deserven may; [may deserve]
And to their hire take no more,
But what that they may serve for;
                              And spare neither for love nor drede, [dread]                 VII


Of neither parties to take no mede; [bribe]
Of lord nor fellow, whoever he be,
Of them thou take no manner of fee;
And as a judge stand upright,
And then thou dost to both good right;
And truly do this wheresoever thou gost, [goest]
                              Thy worship, thy profit, it shall be most.                             VIII

Second Article

The second article of good masonry,
As you must it here hear specially,
That every master, that is a mason,
Must be at the general congregation,
So that he it reasonably be told
Where that assembly shall be hold; [held]


And to that assembly he must needs gon, [go]
Unless he have a reasonable skwsacyon, [excuse]
Or unless he be disobedient to that craft
Or with falsehood is over-raft, [overtaken]
Or else sickness hath him so strong,
That he may not come them among;
That is an excuse good and able,
                           To that assembly without fable.                         IX

Third Article

The third article forsooth it is,
That the master take to no 'prentice,
unless he have good assurance to dwell
Seven years with him, as I you tell,
His craft to learn, that is profitable;


Within less he may not be able
To lords' profit not to his own
                       As you may know by good reason.                  X

Fourth Article

The fourth article this must be,
That the master him well besee,
That he no bondman 'prentice make,
Nor for covetousness do him take;
For the lord that his is bound to,
May fetch the 'prentice wheresoever he go,
If in the lodge he were y-take, [taken]
Much disease it might there make,
And such case it might befal,
That it might grieve some or all.

For all the masons that be there
Will stand together all y'fere. [together]
If such one in that craft should dwell,
Of divers dis-eases you might tell:
For more ease then, and of honesty,
Take a 'prentice of higher degree.
By old time written I find
That the 'prentice should be of gentle kind;
And so sometime, great lords' blood
                              Took this geometry that is full good.                       XI


Fifth Article

The fifth article is very good,
So that the 'prentice be of lawful blood;
The master shall not, for no advantage,
Make no 'prentice that is outrage; [deformed]
It is to mean, as you may hear,
That he have his limbs whole all y-fere; [together]
To the craft it were great shame,
To make a halt man and a lame,
For an imperfect man of such blood
Should do the craft but little good.
Thus you may know every one,
The craft would have a mighty man;
A maimed man he hath no might,
                               You must it know long ere night.                            XII

Sixth Article

The sixth article you must not miss
That the master do the lord no prejudice,
To take of the lord for his 'prentice,
As much as his fellows do, in all wise.
For in that craft they be full perfect,
So is not he, you must see it.
Also it were against good reason,
To take his hire as his fellows don. [do]
This same article in this case,
udgeth his 'prentice to take less
Than his fellows, that be full perfect.
In divers matters, know requite it,
he master may his 'prentice so inform,
That his hire may increase full soon,
And ere his term come to an end,
                          His hire may full well amend.                       XIII


Seventh Article

The seventh Article That is now here,
Full well will tell you all y-fere, [together]
That no master for favour nor dread,
Shall no thief neither clothe nor feed.
Thieves he shall barbour never one,
Nor him that hath killed a man,
Nor the same that hath a feeble name,
                              Lest it would turn the craft to shame.                      XIV


Eighth Article

The eighth article sheweth you so,

That the master may it well do.
If that he have any man of craft,and he be not so perfect as he ought,
He may him change soon anon,
And take for him a more perfect man.
Such a man through rechelaschepe, [recklessness]
                                Might do the craft scant worship.                         XV

Ninth Article

The ninth article sheweth full well,
That the master be both wise and felle; [strong]
That he no work undertake,
Unless he can both it end and make;
And that it be to the lords' profit also,


And to his craft, wheresoever he go;
And that the ground he well y-take, [taken]
That it neither flaw nor grake. [crack]

Tenth Article

The tenth article is for to know,
Among the craft, to high and low,
There shall no master supplant another,
But be together as sister and brother,
In this curious craft, all and some,
That belongeth to a master mason.
Nor he shall not supplant no other man,
That hath taken a work him upon,
                                In pain thereof that is so strong,                       XVI

That weigheth no less than ten ponge, [pounds]
But if that he be guilty found,
That took first the work on hand;
For no man in masonry
Shall not supplant other securely,
But if that it be so wrought,
That it turn the work to nought;
Then may a mason that work crave,
To the lords' profit for it to save'
In such a case if it do fall,
There shall be no mason meddle withal.
Forsooth he that beginneth the ground,
If he be a mason good and sound,
                            He hath it securely in his mind                                    XVII


To bring the work to full good end.

Eleventh Article

The eleventh article I tell thee,
That he is both fair and free;
For he teacheth, by his might,
That no mason should work by night,
But if it be in practising of wit,
If that I could amend it.

Articulus Duodecimus.
Twelfth Article


The twelfth article is of high honesty
To every mason wheresoever he be,
He shall not his fellows' work deprave,
If that he will his honesty save;
                           With honest words he it commend,               XVIII


By the wit that God did thee send;
But it amend by all that thou may,
Between you both without nay. [doubt]

Thirteenth Article

The thirteenth article, so God me save,
Is if the master a 'prentice have,
Entirely then that he him teach,
And measurable ponts that he him reche, [tell]
That he the craft ably may conne, [know]
                                Wheresoever he go under the sun.                          XIX


Fourteenth Article

The fourteenth article by good reason,
Sheweth the master how he shall don; [do]
He shall no 'prentice to him take.


Unless divers cares he have to make,
That he may within his term,
Of him divers points may learn.

Fifteenth Article

The fifteenth article maketh an end,
For to the master he is a friend;
To teach him so, that for no man,
No false maintenance he take him upon,
Nor maintain his fellows in their sin,
For no good that he might win;
Nor no false oath suffer him to make,
For dread of their souls' sake;
Lest it would turn the craft to shame,
                                And himself to very much blame.                         XX


Plural Constitutions
At this assembly were points ordained mo. [more]
Of great lords and masters also,
That who will know this craft and come to estate,
He must love well God and holy church algate, [always]
And his master also that he is with
Wheresoever he go in field or frythe, [enclosed wood]
And thy fellows thou love also,
       For that thy craft will that thou do.          

Second Point

The second point as you say,
That the mason work upon the work day,
As truly as he can or may,

To deserve his hire for the holy-day
And truly to labour on his deed,
                           Well deserve to have his mede. [reward]                XXI

Third Point

The third point must be severele, [severely]
With the 'prentice know it well
His master's counsel he keep and close,
And his fellow by his good purpose;
The privities of the chamber tell he no man,
Nor in the lodge whatsoever they don; [do]
Whatsoever thou hearest or seest them do,
Tell it no man wheresoever you go;
                             The counsel of hall, and even of bower,                 XXII


Keep it well to great honour,
Lest it would turn thyself to blame,
And bring the craft into great shame.

Fourth Point

The fourth point teacheth us alse, [also]
That no man to his craft be false;
Error he shall maintain none
Against the craft, but let it gone; [go]
Nor no prejudice he shall not do
To his master, nor his fellow also;
     And though the 'prentice be under awe,    
                            Yet he would have the same law.                XXIII

Fifth Point

The fifth is without nay, [doubt]
That when the mason taketh his pay
Of the master, ordained to him,
Full meekly taken so must it byn; [be]
Yet must the master by good reason,
Warn him lawfully before noon,
If he will not occupy him no more,
As he hath done there before;
Against this order he may not strive,
                                        If he think well for to thrive.                     XXIV

Sixth Point

The sixth point if full given to know,
Both to high and even to low,

For such case it might befal,
Amont the masons some or all,
Through envy or deadly hate,
Oft ariseth full great debate.
Then ought the mason if that he may,
Put them both under a day;
But loveday yet shall they make none,
Till that the work-day be clean gone;
Upon the holy-day you must well take
Leisure enough loveday to make,
Lest that it would the work-day
Hinder their work for such a fray;
                        to such end then that you them draw,                XXV

That they stand well in God's law.

Seventh Point

The seventh point he may well mean,
Of well long life that God us lene, [lend]
As it descrieth well openly,
Thou shalt not by thy master's wife lie,
Nor by thy fellows', in no manner wise,
Lest the craft would thee dispise;
Nor by they fellows' concubine,
No more thou wouldst he did by thine.
The pain thereof let it be sure,
That he be 'prentice full seven year,
If he forfeit in any of them


So chastised then must he ben; [be]
Full much care might there begin,
                                    For such a foul deadly sin.                         XXVI

Eighth Point

The eighth point, he may be sure,
If thou hast taken any cure,
Under thy master thou be true,
For that point thou shalt never rue;
A true mediator thou must needs be
To thy master, and thy fellows free;
Do truly all that thou might,
                            To both parties, and that is good right,                XXVII


Ninth Point

The ninth point we shall him call,
That he be steward of our hall,
If that you be in chamber y-fere, [together]
Each one serve other with mild cheer;
Gentle fellows, you must it know,
For to be stewards all o-rowe, [in turn]
Week after week without doubt,
Stewards to be so all in turn about,
Amiably to serve each one other,
As though they were sister and brother;
There shall never one another costage [cost]
Free himself to no advantage,
                             But every man shall be equally free                       XXVIII

In that cost, so must it be;
Look that thou pay well every man algate, [always]
That thou hast bought any victuals ate, [eaten]
That no craving be made to thee,
Nor to thy fellows in no degree,
To man or to woman, whoever he be,
Pay them well and truly, for that will we;
Thereof on thy fellow true record thou take,
For that good pay as thou dost make,
Lest it would thy fellow shame,
And bring thyself into great blame.
Yet good accounts he must make
                          Of such goods as he hath y-take, [taken]                XXIX

Where and how and to what end;
Such accounts thou must come to,
When thy fellows wish that thou do.

Tenth Point

The tenth point presenteth well good life,
To live without care and strife;
For if the mason live amiss,
And in his work be false y-wisse, [I know]
And through such a false skewsasyon [excuse]
May slander his fellows without reason,
                          Through false slander of such fame                     XXX


May make the craft acquire blame.
If he do the craft such villainy,
Do him no favour then securely,
Nor maintain not him in wicked life,
Lest it would turn to care and strife;
But yet him you shall not delayme, [delay]
Unless that you shall him constrain,
For to appear wheresoever you will,
Where that you will, loud or still;
To the next assembly you shall him call,
To appear before his fellows all,
                          And unless he will before them appear,             XXXI


The craft he must need forswear;
He shall then be punished after the law
That was founded by old dawe. [day]


Eleventh Point

The eleventh point is of good discretion,
As you must know by good reason;
A mason, if he this craft well con, [I know]
That seeth his fellow hew on a stone,
And is in point to spoil that stone,
Amend it soon if that thou can,
And teach him then it to amend,
That the lords' work be not y-schende [spoiled]


With fair words, that God thee hath lende [lent]
For his sake that sit above,
                            With sweet words nourish his love.                 XXXIII

Twelfth Point

The twelfth point is of great royalty,
There as the assembly held shall be,
There shall be masters and fellows also,
And other great lords many mo; [more]
There shall be the sheriff of that country,
And also the mayor of that city,
Knights and squires there shall be,
And also aldermen, as you shall see;
Such ordinance as they make there,

They shall maintain it all y-fere [together]
Against that man, whatsoever he be,
That belongeth to the craft both fair and free,
If he any strife against them make,
                                   Into their custody he shall be take. [taken]                  XXXIV

Thirteenth Point

The thirteenth point is to us full lief,
He shall swear never to be no thief,
Nor succour him in his false craft,
For no good that he hath byraft; [bereft]
And thou must it know or sin,
Neither for his good, nor for his kin

Fourteenth Point

The fourteenth point is full good law
To him that would be under awe;
A good true oath he must there swear
To his master and his fellows that be there;
He must be steadfast and true alsoT
o all this ordinance, wheresoever he go,
And to hes liege lord the king,
To be true to him over all thing.
And all these points here before
To them thou must need be y-swore, (sworn)
And all shall swear the same oath
Of the masons, be they lief be they loath,
                         To all these points here before.                              XXXV

That hath been ordained by full good lore.
And they shall enquire every man
Of his party, as well as he can,
If any man may be found guilty
In any of these parts specially;
And who he be, let him be sought,
                        And to the assembly let him be brought.          XXXVI


Fifteenth Point
The fifteenth point is of full good lore,
For them that shall be there y-swore, [sworn]
Such ordinance at the assembly was laid
Of great lords and masters before said;
For the same that be disobedient y-wisse [I know]


Against the ordinance that there is,
Of these articles that were moved there,
Of great lords and masons all y-fere, [together]
And if they be proved openly
Before that assembly, by and by,
And for their guilts no amends will make,
Then must they need the craft forsake;
And so masons craft they shall refuse,
And swear it never more to use,
But if that they will amends make,
Again to the craft they shall never take;
And if that they will not do so,
                              The sheriff shall come them soon to,               XXXVII


And put their bodies in deep prison,
For the trespass that they have done,
And take their goods and their cattle
Into the king's hand, every delle, [part]
And let them dwell there full still,
                                        Till it be our liege king's will.                       XXXVIII

Another Ordinance Of The Art Of Geometry.

They ordained there an assembly to be y-holde, [held]
Every year, wheresoever they would,
To amend the defaults, if any were found
Among the craft within the land;
Each year or third year it should be holde, [held]

In every place weresoever they would;
Time and place must be ordained also,
In what place they should assemble to,
All the men of craft there they must be,
And other great lords, as you must see,
To mend the faults the he there spoken,
If that any of them be then broken.
There they shall be all y-swore, [sworn]
That belongeth to this craft's lore,
To keep their statutes every one
That were ordained by King Althelstane;
                                   These statutes that I have here found                       XXXIX

I ordain they be held through my land,
For the worship of my royalty,
That I have by my dignity.
Also at every assembly that you hold,
That you come to your liege king bold,
Beseeching him of his grace,
o stand with you in every place,
To confirm the statutes of King Athelstane,
                         That he ordained to this craft by good reason.                    XL

ARS Quatuor Coronatorum
The Art Of The Four Crowned Ones

Pray we now to God almighty,And to his mother Mary bright,

That we may keep these articles here,
And these points well all y-fere, [together]
As did these holy martyrs four,
That in this craft were of great honour;
They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image-makers they were also.
For they were workmen of the best,
The emperor had to them great luste; [liking]
He willed of them an image to make
That might be worshipped for his sake;
Such monuments he had in his dawe, [day]
                               To turn the people from Christ's law.                          XLI

But they were steadfast in Christ's lay, [law]
And to their craft without nay; [doubt]
They loved well God and all his lore,
And were in his service ever more.
True men they were in that dawe, [day]
And lived well in God's law;
They thought no monuments for to make,
For no good that they might take,
To believe on that monument for their God,
They would not do so, though he was wod; [furious]
                        For they would not forsake their true fay, [faith]                 XLII

And believe on his false lay, [law]
The emperor let take them soon anon,
And put them in a deep prison;
The more sorely he punished them in that place,
The more joy was to them of Christ's grace,
Then when he saw no other one,
To death he let them then gon; [go]
By the book he might it show
In legend of sanctorum [holy ones]
                  The names of the quatouor coronatorum [four-crowned ones]        XLIII

Their feast will be without nay, [doubt]
After Hallow-e'en eighth day.
You may hear as I do read,
That many years after, for great dread
That Noah's flood was all run,
The tower of Babylon was begun,
As plain work of lime and stone,
As any man should look upon;
So long and broad it was begun,
Seven miles the height shadoweth the sun.
King Nebuchadnezzar let it make
                                To great strength for man's sake                        XLIV

Though such a flood again should come,
Over the work it should not nome; [take]
For they had so high pride, with strong boast all that work therefore was lost;
An angel smote them so with divers speech,
That never one knew what the other should reche. [tell]
Many years after, the good clerk Euclid
Taught the craft of geometry full wonder wide,
So he did that other time also,
Of divers crafts many mo. [more]
Through high grace of Christ in heaven,
                                 He commenced in the sciences seven;                          XLV

Grammar is the first science y-wisse, [I know]
Dialect the second, so I have I bliss,
Rhetoric the third without nay, [doubt]
Music is the fourth, as I you say,
Astronomy is the fifth, by my snout,
Arithmetic the sixth, without doubt,
Geometry the seventh maketh an end,
For he is both meek and hende, [courteous]
Grammar forsooth is the root,
Whoever will learn on the book;
                                 But art passeth in his degree,                       XLVI
As the fruit doth the root of the tree;

Rhetoric measureth with ornate speech among,
And music it is a sweet song;
Astronomy numbereth, my dear brother,
Arithmetic sheweth one thing that is another,
Geometry the seventh science it is,
That can separate falsehood from truth, I know
These be the sciences seven,
Who useth them well he may have heaven.
Now dear children by your wit
Pride and covetousness that you leave it,
And taketh heed to good discretion,
And to good nurture, wheresoever you come.
                                  Now I pray you take good heed,                            XLVII

For this you must know nede, [needs]
But much more you must wyten, [know]
Than you find here written.
If thee fail therto wit,
Pray to God to send thee it;
For Christ himself, he teacheth ous [us]
That holy church is God's house,
That is made for nothing ellus [else]
But for to pray in, as the book tellus; [tells us]
There the people shall gather in,
To pray and weep for their sin.
Look thou come not to church late,
                            For to speak harlotry by the gate;                    XLVIII

Then to church when thou dost fare,
Have in thy mind ever mare [more]
To worship thy lord God both day and night,
With all thy wits and even thy might.
To the church door when thou dost nome [come]
Of that holy water there some thou take,
For every drop thou feelest there
Quencheth a venial sin, be thou ser. [sure]
But first thou must do down thy hood,
For his love that died on the rood.
Into the church when thou dost gon, [go]
                         Pull up thy heart to Christ, anon;                             XLIX

Upon the rood thou look up then,
And kneel down fair upon thy knees,
Then pray to him so here to work,
After the law of holy church,
For to keep the commandments ten,
That God gave to all men;
And pray to him with mild voice
To keep thee from the sins seven,
That thou here may, in this life,
Keep thee well from care and strife;
Furthermore he grant thee grace,
                           In heaven's bliss to have a place.                          L

In holy church leave trifling words
Of lewd speech and foul bordes, [jests]
And put away all vanity,
And say thy pater noster and thine ave;
Look also that thou make no bere, [noise]
But always to be in thy prayer;
If thou wilt not thyself pray,
Hinder no other man by no way.
In that place neither sit nor stand,
But kneel fair down on the ground,
                            And when the Gospel me read shall,                         LI


Fairly thou stand up from the wall,
And bless the fare if that thou can,
When gloria tibi is begun;
And when the gospel is done,
Again thou might kneel down,
On both knees down thou fall,
For his love that bought us all;
And when thou hearest the bell ring
To that holy sakerynge, [sacrament]
Kneel you must both young and old,
And both your hands fair uphold,
                                  And say then in this manner,                       LII

Fair and soft without bere; [noise]
"Jesu Lord welcome thou be,
In form of bread as I thee see,
Now Jesu for thine holy name,
Shield me from sin and shame;
Shrift and Eucharist thou grand me bo, [both]
Ere that I shall hence go,
And very contrition for my sin,
That I never, Lord, die therein;
And as thou were of maid y-bore, [born]
Suffer me never to be y-lore; [lost]
                    But when I shall hence wend,                       LIII

Grant me the bliss without end;
Amen! Amen! so mote it be!
Now sweet lady pray for me.
"Thus thou might say, or some other thing,
When thou kneelest at the sakerynge, [sacrament]
For covetousness after good, spare thou not
To worship him that all hath wrought;
For glad may a man that day be,
That once in the day may him see;
It is so much worth, without nay, [doubt]
The virtue thereof no man tell may;
                             But so much good doth that sight,                        LIV

That Saint Austin telleth full right,
That day thou seest God's body,
Thou shalt have these full securely:-
Meet and drink at thy need,
None that day shalt thou gnede; [lack]
Idle oaths and words bo, [both]
God forgiveth thee also;
Sudden death that same day
Thee dare not dread by no way;
Also that day, I thee plight,
Thou shalt not lose thy eye sight;
                      And each foot that thou goest then,                  LV

That holy sight for to see,
They shall be told to stand instead,
When thou hast thereto great need;
That messenger the angel Gabriel,
Will keep them to thee full well.
From this matter now I may pass,
To tell more benefits of the mass:
To church come yet, if thou may,
And hear the mass each day;
If thou may not come to church,
Where that ever thou dost work,
                         When thou hearest the mass toll,                    LVI

Pray to God with heart still,
To give thy part of that service,
That in church there done is.
Furthermore yet, I will you preach
To your fellows, it for to teach,
When thou comest before a lord,
In hall, in bower, or at the board,
Hood or cap that thou off do,
Ere thou come him entirely to;
Twice or thrice, without doubt,
To that lord thou must lowte; [bow]
                      With thy right knee let it be do, [done]              LVII

Thine own worship thou save so.
Hold off thy cap and hood also,
Till thou have leave it on to do. [put]
All the time thou speakest with him,
Fair and amiably hold up thy chin;
So after the nurture of the book,
In his face kindly thou look.
Foot and hand thou keep full still,
For clawing and tripping, is skill;
From spitting and sniffling keep thee also,
By private expulsion let it go,
                            And if that thou be wise and felle, [discrete]                LVIII

Thou has great need to govern thee well.
Into the hall when thou dost wend,
Amongst the gentles, good and hende, [courteous]
Presume not too high for nothing,
For thine high blood, nor thy cunning,
Neither to sit nor to lean,
That is nurture good and clean.
Let not thy countenance therefor abate,
Forsooth good nurture will save thy state.
Father and mother, whatsoever they be,
Well is the child that well may thee,
                  In hall, in chamber, where thou dost gon; [go]              LIX

Good manners make a man.
To the next degree look wisely,
To do them reverence by and by;
Do them yet no reverence all o-rowe, [in turn]
Unless that thou do them know.
To the meat when thou art set,
Fair and honestly thou eat it;
First look that thine hands be clean,
And that thy knife be sharp and keen,
And cut thy bread all at thy meat,
Right as it may be there y-ete, [eaten]
                                  If thou sit by a worthier man,                             LX

Then thy self thou art one,
Suffer him first to touch the meat,
Ere thyself to it reach.
To the fairest morsel thou might not strike,
Though that thou do it well like;
Keep thine hands fair and well,
From foul smudging of thy towel;
Thereon thou shalt not thy nose snite, [blow]
Nor at the meat thy tooth thou pike; [pick]
Too deep in cup thou might not sink,
Though thou have good will to drink,
                          Lest thine eyes would water thereby-                    LXI


Then were it no courtesy.
Look in thy mouth there be no meat,
When thou begins to drink or speak.
When thou seest any man drinking,
That taketh heed to thy carpynge, [speech]
Soon anaon thou cease thy tale,
Whether he drink wine or ale,
Look also thou scorn no man,
In what degree thou seest him gone;
Nor thou shalt no man deprave,
If thou wilt thy worship save;
                          For such word might there outburst.              LXII


That might make thee sit in evil rest.
Close thy hand in thy fist,
And keep thee well from "had-y-wiste. [had I known]
Hold thy tongue and spend thy sight;
Laugh thou not with no great cry,
Nor make no lewd sport and ribaldry.
Play thou not but with thy peers,
Nor tell thou not all that thou hears;
Discover thou not thine own deed,
For no mirth, nor for no mede; [reward]
With fair speech thou might have thy will,
                            With it thou might thy self spylle. [spoil]                      LXII


When thou meetest a worthy man,
Cap and hood thou hold not on;
n church, in market, or in the gate,
Do him reverance after his state.
If thou goest with a worthier man
Then thyself thou art one,
Let thy foremost shoulder follow his back,
For that is nurture without lack;
When he doth speak, hold thee still,
When he hath done, say for thy will,
In thy speech that thou be felle, [discreet]
And what thou sayest consider thee well;
But deprive thou not him his tale,
Neither at the wine nor at the ale.
Christ then of his high grace,
Save you both wit and space,
Well this book to know and read,
Heaven to have for your mede. [reward]
                             Amen! Amen! so mote it be!                           LXIV

 

Culled from various sources


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Sai wrote on Tuesday, October 4, 2005:

Subject: The Regius Poem

The webmaster deserves special thanks for the posting of this ancient Masonic Manuscript and for opening up a section for Masonic Manuscripts. This section will be very useful for researchers of Masonic antiquity and history. W.Bro.D.Seshaasai



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