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24

THE PLEADING OF THE ROSE AND OF THE VIOLET*




BY JOHN FROISSART



TRANSLATED BY MARION E. MARKLEY




In the presence of Imagination, before whom in due course of law actions are brought, an argument was one day commenced between the Rose and the Violet. The matter, of which I treat, was most wisely conducted. To set forth fully points, process, articles, and case, the advocate of the Rose appeared first and began as follows:

„Violet! I am here to propound a question in behalf of my lady, lovely Rose; I hereby announce to you, and intend likewise to proclaim and sustain in all courts of the land, that Rose if of greater worth, more desired, and more dearly esteemed than you are. That is just, for indeed she adorns the season with her color, more delicate than purple and crimson, and with her sweet fragrance. She lasts much longer in her beauty than do you, Violet; and, red or white, she springs in the pleasant month of May to draw all lovers out of their sadness. Then do ladies and youths, lords, bachelors and maidens gather her flowers, some making chaplets of them and others weaving garlands to adorn themselves.š

At this point, the advocate of the Violet, who was very old, could no longer keep silent, and broke in:

„O God! If I did not know how to speak, I might have to withdraw from this argument, but, if it please God, I shall speak, and I shall support the cause of Violet against Rose. Sir Advocate, I say and affirm, in spite of your speech, that Violet is more joyfully welcomed, more beloved, and more desired than Rose. Here is the cause: 25 now listen to the truth. When a winter full of frost and chill shall have put to rout, by its prolonged stay, trees and fruits, leaves and flowers, then men and women and children long for bright days, and wish the springtime to come swiftly, when they will hear the singing of larks and will find violets in orchards, gardens, and every pretty close. There youths and maidens gather them and make gay chaplets, and many put them under their pillows in token of delight and pleasure. And when this sweet and fresh season of spring comes anew, you may see many people fastening violets in fresh green sprays of gooseberry, and arranging them so as to set off their beauty and fragrance. To speak truly, Sir Advocate, one cannot do them too much honor. Now, I pray you, sit down; for I would rest a little. But I will take up the argument again, if, indeed there be any further need of my services.š

Each of the advocates seated himself, and Imagination set a day for their return, for she wished to hear them further.



Here follows how the Advocate of the Rose sets
forth her Cause



Now they have come to the appointed day; may it dawn happily, for I would hear most gladly the order of their discourse. The advocate of the Rose spoke first, for he was well versed in speaking, and he addressed them as follows:

„Before Imagination, who is my sovereign lady, I here make protest and vigorous complaint against the grievous charges with which Violet oppresses us. When she wishes to detract from the power of the Rose, white and red, 24 she shows little discrimination, and her advocate likewise, for as black differs from white so it is clear the Violet differs from the Rose. I do not know who is counselling this advocate, but certainly he is not endowed with good judgment; or if he is, it does not appear in this case. Now, to silence him completely I will give some details, that he may take counsel of them. First of all, I will compare the red rose, by figure, to the sun, for the round sun, when we see it rising at morning and setting at night, is in color not at all variegated, but sanguine indeed, and deep red as the red rose. There are yet further considerations why one should greatly honor the Rose. You know that there are two kinds of grapes, from which are made white wine and red, and with these wines the holy sacrament is solemnly celebrated. I choose the white rose to stand for the white wine, and for red wine the red rose. Indeed, they still cry in the streets, őCome buy the good wine Rosette.‚ Roses, white and red, have mysterious and agreeable virtue, for from them is made a liquid, called rose water, that is good for healthy folk, and necessary for those that are ill, because it assuages strong fevers. It is refreshing to the face, and to the mouth and the hands. Many, indeed, wish their pillows, be it for sleeping or waking, may be scented with the fragrance of the Rose. Consider where the Rose dwells. I call the rose-bush her house. God set her there, in all reason, not shut up in a tower, but enclosed about with sharp thorns so that the young goats that love to pasture on violets and nibble the leaves and tender shoots shall not touch roses nor buds.š

With this, the advocate for the Rose was silent, having reviewed wisely and well, it seemed, the case of the Rose, 27 red and white. The court adjourned for a little, until there was great impatience to know if the advocate of the Violet, having heard the case for lovely Rose, would return to the debate. Truly, you shall hear how he responded with much wisdom. But I must write down his replies before I can recite them.



Here follows how the Advocate of the Violet
sustains her Cause



„O Advocate for Violet, come forward, for they bring points of opposition against you,š said Imagination, „and you will have to make reply to them, unless I am to dismiss the case.š

The advocate answered, „Lady, I am all ready, by my soul, to reply, and to do my duty, and to show that I have spoken truth. First of all, I state, in plain prose, that I do not doubt the Rose may be beautiful and good and wise and may have many ways and uses that are much to be commended; but I should like to ask her advocate if his figure of the sun is acceptable or quite truthful. The Rose is cool and moist, the sun hot; now, in this point, his argument is false. However, let that count for what it may. My sword is as sharpened for all thrusts as his. He is foolish who evades his opponent when he can attack him. I have both occasion and motive for challenging him, and so I do it. He has just now compared the Rose to the sun; I assure him that I will not, by a still worse figure, compare violets to the stars or the planets. I will not strain his comparison farther, for that would be foolish. But I will name them daughters of the round firmament, 24 for they have her own color, without white, black, red, or green. When clouds came down from the heavens, the earth drank in their moisture and conceived violets, so she holds them in deep affection. Blue signifies steadfastness; he or she who wears it, remember, must have a heart always firm and steadfast and strengthened. Violets are flowers of good worth, fair to see and to wear. When ladies and maidens have fine gowns or rich hangings for their beds, if they scent them with violets people will say, „This robe is sweet,‚ and will enjoy the odor. Violets, dear masters, have further power and virtue, which strengthens my argument and overthrows all your specious comments.

„Take violets and roses, and, to test their power, throw them into brandy, to see what will happen and what will become of their odor. The brandy, which is powerful, will take away substance and vigor from the lovely Rose, while the Violet will persist in its fragrance; this is certain. So I hold her, and with reason, to be of far greater importance and of much nobler quality than the Rose. Furthermore, there is made from violets a good lotion which gives comfort to sick people, and from the plants and roots are made several medicines, but you cannot make anything out of a rose-bush, except a fire in winter. And if goats or sheep do browse on violets, I am sure that the milk they give does much good to the children who drink it.š

Then Master Papin, the advocate of the Rose, stood up and wished to say something, but Imagination spoke before him, and said, „Where are you going, Sir Advocate? You weary us with so much talking. Who wants to listen to your speeches? They would fill four rolls. We must stop your pleading, for we are compelled to hear other cases.š

29

„Lady,š said the advocate, „you ought to hear all suits out; for that is your court open. Do not be so hasty; you complain of the debate too soon. Pronounce your just decision on our case.š

Imagination, at these words, declared that she would hear no more, nor would she give a decision.

„Who will then? Tell us that, Lady!š

„Willingly,š she replied‚ „you have elsewhere a court of appeal for judging right and wrong, which is higher than mine.š

„And where is it? Lead us to it, or direct us, and we will go there.š

Imagination replied, „Good sir Advocate, the noble and high Fleur-de-lys, whom men should hold in dear esteem, has sovereignty, has she not, over the Rose and all other flowers? Indeed she has and always has had and shall have, as is just; for as the lion is king of beasts and the eagle king of birds, so, I assure you, is the Fleur-de-lys sovereign lady over all flowers, and most exalted. Therefore go to her court, — happy is he who has recourse to it, — I cannot send you to a better place to plead your cause. The way is not very long; say that I sent you there for counsel, that they may help you.š

„Ah, dear lady, and where does the Fleur-de-lys live? Since this is so, we will go there, if it please you.š

She responds, without hesitation, „In the noble realm of France. There you will find with all delight the noble and high Fleur-de-lys surrounded in state by a fair and goodly company: Hardihood, Youth, Wisdom, Honor, and Largesse, by whom you will be welcomed gladly and advised with counsel gracious and wise. For the King, 30 Orleans and Bourbon, Berry, Bourgoyne, Eu, and La March will not break their promise to study wisely, to consider loyally, and to examine your dispute, which will be pleasing to them. And when they have heard it, I believe that they will answer so wisely and so to the point that there will never be more argument between Rose and Violet such as this plea deals with. And if, through any difficulty in the affair, it should be necessary to have counsel, you know there are still the Marguerites, small and beautiful flowers, whom it is a pleasure to meet again at all seasons, summer and winter, and there are several other noble flowers, with which her court is much adorned, who may give her faithful counsel. Go there, I advise you.š

„Lady,„ said he, „that is our purpose.š With that the hearing was closed.




* The entire text containing this poem, along with Notes, is here on Elfinspell —>[ Legends and Satires of Medieval Literature, edited by Martha Hale Shackford, Ph.D.; Ginn and Company, Boston; 1913; pp. 24-32.



Of course for more of what Froissart can do go to his Chronicles, here on Elfinspell.




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