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Title: The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman, Volume I of II
Author: Langland, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman, Volume I of II" ***

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Transcriber's note: A few obvious typographical errors have been corrected:
they are listed at the end of the text.

In this edition line numbers are displayed on every tenth line--in the
printed work they were synchronised to the pagination, with sometimes only
one number per page. Lines marked = were printed AND COUNTED as two lines.

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_). In the main text of
The Vision, the numbers of the original pages are enclosed in curly
brackets to facilitate the use of the glossary.

       *       *       *       *       *

Library of Old Authors.

[Illustration: Spede the plough & send us korne enough]






  Corresponding Member of the Imperial Institute of France,
  Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.


  VOL. I.




It is now thirteen years since the first edition of the following text of
this important poem was published by the late Mr. Pickering, during which
time the study of our old literature and history has undergone considerable
development, and it is believed that a reprint at a more moderate price
would be acceptable to the public. Holding still the same opinion which he
has always held with regard to the superior character of the manuscript
from which this text was taken, the editor has done no more than carefully
reprint it, but, in order to make it as useful as he could, he has revised
and made additions to both the Notes and the Glossary.

The remarkable poem of The Vision of Piers Ploughman is not only so
interesting a monument of the English language and literature, but it is
also so important an illustration of the political history of our country
during the fourteenth century, that it deserves to be read far more
generally than it has been, and the editor will rejoice sincerely if he
should have contributed by this new edition to render it more popular, and
place it within the reach of a greater number of readers. Independent of
its historical and literary importance, it contains many beauties which
will fully repay the slight labour required to master its partially
obsolete language, and, as one of the purest works in the English tongue as
it existed during the century in which it was composed, it is to be hoped
that, when the time shall at length arrive when English antiquities and
English philology and literary history are at length to be made a part of
the studies in our universities and in the higher classes of our schools,
the work of the Monk of Malvern, as a link between the poetry and language
of the Anglo-Saxon and those of modern England, will be made a prominent


             _Nov. 1855_.


The History of the Middle Ages in England, as in other countries,
represents to us a series of great consecutive political movements,
coexistent with a similar series of intellectual revolutions in the mass of
the people. The vast mental development caused by the universities in the
twelfth century led the way for the struggle to obtain religious and
political liberty in the thirteenth. The numerous political songs of that
period which have escaped the hand of time, and above all the mass of
satirical ballads against the Church of Rome, which commonly go under the
name of Walter Mapes, are remarkable monuments of the intellectual history
of our forefathers. Those ballads are written in Latin; for it was the most
learned class of the community which made the first great stand against the
encroachments and corruptions of the papacy and the increasing influence of
the monks. We know that the struggle alluded to was historically
unsuccessful. The baronial wars ended in the entire destruction of the
popular leaders; but their cause did not expire at Evesham; they had laid
foundations which no storm could overthrow, not placed hastily on the
uncertain surface of popular favour, but fixed deeply in the public mind.
The barons, who had fought so often and so staunchly for the great charter,
had lost their power; even the learning of the universities had faded under
the withering grasp of monachism; but the remembrance of the old contest
remained, and what was more, its literature was left, the songs which had
spread abroad the principles for which, or against which, Englishmen had
fought, carried them down (a precious legacy) to their posterity. Society
itself had undergone an important change; it was no longer a feudal
aristocracy which held the destinies of the country in its iron hand. The
plant which had been cut off took root again in another (a healthier) soil;
and the intelligence which had lost its force in the higher ranks of
society began to spread itself among the commons. Even in the thirteenth
century, before the close of the baronial wars, the complaints so
vigorously expressed in the Latin songs, had begun, both in England and
France, to appear in the language of the people. Many of the satirical
poems of Rutebeuf and other contemporary writers against the monks, are
little more than translations of the Latin poems which go under the name of
Walter Mapes.

During the successive reigns of the first three Edwards, the public mind in
England was in a state of constant fermentation. On the one hand, the
monks, supported by the popish church, had become an incubus upon the
country. Their corruptness and immorality were notorious: the description
of their vices given in the satirical writings of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries exceeds even the bitterest calumnies of the age of
Rabelais or the reports of the commissioners of Henry the Eighth.[1] The
populace, held in awe by the imposing appearance of the popish church, and
by the religious belief which had been instilled into them from their
infancy, were opposed to the monks and clergy by a multitude of personal
griefs and jealousies: these frequently led to open hostility, and in the
chronicles of those days we read of the slaughter of monks, and the burning
of abbeys, by the insurgent towns-people or peasantry. At the same time,
while the monks in revenge treated the commons with contempt, there were
numerous people who, under the name of Lollards and other such
appellations,--led sometimes by the love of mischief and disorder, but more
frequently by religious enthusiasm,--whose doctrines were simple and
reasonable (although the church would fain have branded them all with the
title of heretics),--went abroad among the people preaching not only
against the corruptions of the monks, but against the most vital doctrines
of the church of Rome, and, as might be expected, they found abundance of
listeners. On the other hand, a new political system, and the
embarrassments of a continued series of foreign wars, were adding to the
general ferment. Instead of merely calling together the great feudal barons
to lead their retainers to battle, the king was now obliged to appeal more
directly to the people; and at the same time the latter began to feel the
weight of taxation, and consequently they began to talk of the defects and
the corruptions of the government, and to raise the cries, which have since
so often been heard, against the king's "evil advisers." These cries were
justified by many real and great oppressions under which the commons, and
more particularly the peasantry, suffered; and (as the king and aristocracy
were too much interested in the continuance of the abuses complained of to
be easily induced to agree to an effective remedy), the commons began to
feel that their own interests were equally opposed to those of the church,
of the aristocracy, and of the crown, and amidst the other popular
doctrines none were more loudly or more violently espoused than those of
levellers and democrats. These, though comparatively few, aggravated the
evil, by affording a pretence for persecution. The history of England
during the fourteenth century is a stirring picture; its dark side is the
increasing corruption of the popish church; its bright side, the general
spread of popular intelligence, and the firm stand made by the commons in
the defence of their liberties, and in the determination to obtain a
redress of grievances.

Under these circumstances appeared PIERS PLOUGHMAN. It is not to be
supposed that all the other classes of society were hostile to the commons.
The people, with the characteristic attachment of the Anglo-Saxons to the
family of their princes, wished to believe that their king was always their
friend, when not actuated by the counsels of his "evil advisers;"[2]
several of the most powerful barons stood forward as the champions of
popular liberty; and many of the monks quitted their monasteries to
advocate the cause of the reformation. It appears to be generally agreed
that a monk was the author of the poem of Piers Ploughman; but the
question, one perhaps but of secondary importance, as to its true writer,
is involved in much obscurity.[3] Several local allusions and other
circumstances seem to prove that it was composed on the borders of Wales,
where had originated most of the great political struggles, and we can
hardly doubt that its author resided in the neighbourhood of "Malverne
hilles." We have less difficulty in ascertaining its date. At ll.
1735-1782, we have, without doubt, an allusion to the treaty of Bretigny,
in 1360, and to the events which preceded it: in the earlier part of this
passage there is an allusion to the sufferings of the English army in the
previous winter campaign, to the retreat which followed, and the want of
provisions which accompanied it, and to the tempest which they encountered
near Chartres (the "dym cloude" of the poem). The "pestilences" mentioned
at l. 2497 were the great plague which happened in 1348-9 (and which had
previously been alluded to in the opening of the poem, l. 168), and that of
1361-2,--the first two of the three great pestilences which devastated our
island in the fourteenth century. The south-western wind, mentioned in l.
2500, occurred on the fifteenth day of January 1362. It is probable that
the poem of Piers Ploughman was composed in the latter part of this year,
when the effects of the great wind were fresh in people's memory, and when
the treaty of Bretigny had become a subject of popular discontent.[4]

The poem was given to the world under a name which could not fail to draw
the attention of the people. Amid the oppressive injustice of the great and
the vices of their idle retainers, the corruptions of the clergy, and the
dishonesty which too frequently characterised the dealings of merchants and
traders, the simple unsophisticated heart of the ploughman is held forth as
the dwelling of virtue and truth. It was the ploughman, and not the pope
with his proud hierarchy, who represented on earth the Saviour who had
descended into this world as the son of the carpenter, who had lived a life
of humility, who had wandered on foot or ridden on an ass. "While God
wandered on earth," says one of the political songs of the beginning of the
fourteenth century,[5] "what was the reason that he would not ride?" The
answer expresses the whole force of the popular sentiment of the age:
"because he would not have a retinue of greedy attendants by his side, in
the shape of grooms and servants, to insult and oppress the peasantry."

At the period when this poem was first published, England, in common with
the rest of Europe, had been struck with a succession of calamities. Little
more than twelve years had passed since a terrible pestilence had swept
away perhaps not less than one-half of the population.[6] The lower
classes, ill fed and neglected, perished by thousands, while the higher
ranks--the proud and pampered nobility--escaped; "he who was ill nourished
with unsubstantial food," says a contemporary writer, "fell before the
slightest breath of the destroyer; to the poor, death was welcome, for life
is to them more cruel than death. But death respected princes, nobles,
knights, judges, gentlemen; of these few die, because their life is one of
enjoyment."[7] It was the general belief that this fearful visitation had
been sent by God as a punishment for the sins which had more particularly
characterised the higher orders of society; yet instead of profiting by the
warning, they became, during the years which followed, prouder, more cruel
and oppressive, and more licentious, than before. Another pestilence came,
which visited the classes that had before escaped, and at the same time a
tempest such as had seldom been witnessed seemed to announce the vengeance
of heaven. The streets and roads were filled with zealots who preached and
prophesied of other misfortunes, to people who had scarcely recovered from
the terror of those which were past. At this moment the satirist stepped
forth, and laid open with unsparing knife the sins and corruptions which
provoked them.

From what has been said, it will be seen that the Latin poems attributed to
Walter Mapes, and the Collection of Political Songs, form an introduction
to the Vision of Piers Ploughman. It seems clear that the writer was well
acquainted with the former, and that he not unfrequently imitates them. The
Poem on the Evil Times of Edward II. already alluded to (in the Political
Songs) contains within a small compass all his chief points of accusation
against the different orders of society. But a new mode of composition had
been brought into fashion since the appearance of the famous "Roman de la
Rose," and the author makes his attacks less directly, under an allegorical
clothing. The condition of society is revealed to the writer in a dream, as
in the singular poem just mentioned, and as in the still older satire, the
_Apocalypsis Goliæ_; but in Piers Ploughman the allegory follows no
systematic plot, it is rather a succession of pictures in which the
allegorical painting sometimes disappears altogether, than a whole like the
Roman de la Rose, and it is on that account less tedious to the modern
reader, while the vigorous descriptions, the picturesque ideas, and
numerous other beauties of different kinds, cause us to lose sight of the
general defects of this class of writings.

Piers Ploughman is, in fact, rather a succession of dreams, than one simple
vision. The dreamer, weary of the world, falls asleep beside a stream amid
the beautiful scenery of Malvern Hills. In his vision, the people of the
world are represented to him by a vast multitude assembled in a fair
meadow; on one side stands the tower of Truth, elevated on a mountain, the
right aim of man's pilgrimage, while on the other side is the dungeon of
Care, the dwelling place of Wrong. In the first sections (_passus_) of the
poem are pictured the origin of society, the foundation and dignity of
kingly power, and the separation into different classes and orders. In the
midst of his astonishment at what he sees, a fair lady, the personification
of "holy church," approaches, to instruct the dreamer. She explains to him
the meaning of the different objects which had presented themselves to his
view, and shows by exhortations and examples the merit of content and
moderation, the danger of disobedience (exemplified in the story of
Lucifer's fall), and the efficacy of love and charity. In the midst of his
conversation with his instructor, a lady makes her appearance on the scene.
This is lady Mede, the personification of that mistaken object at which so
large a portion of mankind direct their aim--the origin of most of the
corruptions and evil deeds in the world--not the just remuneration of our
actions which we look forward to in a future life, but the reward which is
sought by those who set all their hopes on the present. Holy Church now
quits the dreamer, who is left to observe what is taking place amid the
crowd in the field. (_Passus II._) They all pay their court to lady Mede,
who, by the intermediation of Cyvyle, or the law, is betrothed in marriage
to Falsehood. The marriage is forbidden by Theology, and Cyvyle agrees to
carry the cause to London for judgment, contrary to the desire of Simony.
Falsehood and Flattery bribe the lawyers to aid the former in his suit, but
their designs are baffled by Conscience, at whose suggestion the king takes
the lady into his own custody, and drives away Falsehood and his greedy
followers. Mede soon finds favour at court (_Passus III._), and especially
with the friars, who are ready to absolve her of all her sins for a proper
consideration. The king proposes to marry her to Conscience; who, however,
declines the match, and as a reason for his refusal gives a very
unfavourable picture of the lady's previous life and private character.
Mede defends herself, and accuses Conscience of thwarting and opposing the
will and designs of kings and great people. The dispute becoming hot, the
king interferes and orders Mede and Conscience to be reconciled and kiss
each other. (_Passus IV._) This Conscience refuses to do, unless by the
advice of Reason; on whose arrival, Peace comes into the parliament to make
his complaint against the cruel oppressions of Wrong. Wrong is condemned,
but Mede and the lawyers attempt to get him off with the payment of a sum
of money. The king, however, allows himself to be guided by Reason and
Conscience, expresses his dissatisfaction that law is influenced by Mede,
and his determination to govern his realm by the counsel of Reason.

In a second vision (_Passus V._), the dreamer is again carried to the
"field full of folk," where Reason has taken upon himself the character of
a preacher, and, fortified with the king's authority, induces the various
classes of sinners to confess and repent. The personification of the
different sins forms perhaps the most remarkable part of the whole poem.
The multitude being thus converted from their evil courses, are persuaded
by Repentance and Hope to set out on a pilgrimage in search of Truth. In
their ignorance of the path which they must follow in this search, they
apply to a palmer who had wandered over a large portion of the world in
search of different saints; but they find him as little acquainted with the
way as themselves. They are helped out of this dilemma by Piers the
Ploughman, who, seeing them terrified by the difficulties of the road,
offers to be their guide, if they will wait till he has sown his half acre.
(_Passus VI._) In the mean time all the pilgrims who have strength and
skill, are employed on some useful works, except the knight, who
undertakes, in return for the support which he is to derive from the
ploughman's labours, to watch and protect him against plunderers and
foreign enemies. The peace of the labourers is first disturbed by Waster,
who refuses to perform the conditions by which the others are bound: the
aid of the knight being found inefficient against this turbulent gentleman,
the Ploughman is obliged to send for Hunger, who effectually humbles him.
This section of the poem is a continued allusion to the effects of the
famine and pestilence, and a satire upon the luxurious and extravagant life
of our forefathers in the fourteenth century. (_Passus VII._) Truth,
hearing of the intentions of Piers the Ploughman to leave his labours in
order to serve as a guide to the pilgrims in their journey, sends him a
messenger, exhorting him to remain at home and continue his labours, and
giving him a "pardon" which was to embrace all those who aided him
honestly, by their works, and who should carry on their various avocations
in purity of heart. The writer here takes occasion to sneer at the
"pardons" of the pope, then so much in vogue; a priest questions the
legitimacy of Piers' bull of pardon, and the altercation between them
becomes so loud that the dreamer awakes. The pardon of Piers Ploughman is
granted to those who do good works: the dreamer is lost in the speculation
on the question as to what the good works are, and he becomes engaged in a
new pilgrimage, in search of a person who has not appeared

(_Passus VIII._) All his inquiries after Do-well are fruitless: even the
friars, to whom he addresses himself, give but a confused account; and,
weary with wandering about, the dreamer is again overtaken by slumber.
Thought now appears to him, and recommends him to Wit, who describes to him
the residence of Do-well, Do-better, and Do-best, and enumerates their
companions and attendants. (_Passus IX._) The Castle of Do-well is an
allegorical representation of man (the individual), in which lady Anima
(the soul) is placed for safety, and guarded by a keeper named Kynde
(nature). With Do-well, the representative of those who live according to
truth in honest wedlock, are contrasted the people who live in lust and
wickedness, the descendants of the murderer Cain, who was begotten by Adam
in an evil hour. (_Passus X._) Wit has a wife named lady Study, who is
angry that her spouse should lay open his high truths to those who are
uninitiated--it is no better than "throwing pearls to swine, which would
rather have hawes." Wit is daunted by his wife's long lecture, and leaves
the dreamer to pursue his own suit. This he does with so much meekness and
humility, that the wrath of dame Study is appeased, and she sends him to
Clergy, with a token of recommendation from herself. Clergy receives the
pilgrim, and entertains him with a long declamation on the character of
Do-well, Do-better, and Do-best, and on the corruptions of the church and
the monkish orders, in the course of which is uttered the remarkable
prophecy of the king who was to "confess and beat" the monks, and give them
an "incurable knock," which was after less than two centuries so exactly
fulfilled in the dissolution of the monasteries. The wanderer confesses
himself "little the wiser" for Clergy's lecture, and by his pertness of
reply merits a reproof from Scripture. (_Passus XI._) In another vision the
dreamer is exposed to the seductions of Fortune, whose two fair damsels,
Concupiscentia-carnis and Covetousness-of-the-Eyes, persuade him to enjoy
the present moment, and lead him entirely from his previous pursuit. He is
only recalled from his error by the approach of Old Age, and then he falls
into the contemplation of a series of subjects, the covetousness of the
friars who gave absolution from motives of personal interest,
predestination, &c. Then Kynde, or Nature, came and carried him to a
mountain, which represented the world, and there showed him how all other
animals but man followed Reason; and Imaginative came after, and told him
that all his present doubt and anxiety had been brought upon him for
contending with Reason and suffering himself to be led astray by Fortune.
(_Passus XII._) The whole of the next section of the poem is occupied with
a long exhortation by Imaginative, concerning God's chastisements, the
merits of Charity and Mercy, the greater responsibility before God of those
who are learned and cannot sin ignorantly, the difficulty for the rich man
to enter heaven.

(_Passus XIII._) In another vision, Conscience meets with the dreamer, and
takes him to dine with Clergy. Patience comes to the feast in beggar's
weeds, but is seated in the most honourable place at the table. A doctor of
the church is of the party, and distinguishes himself by his gluttony; and
by discussing theological questions after dinner. At length Conscience and
Patience go on a pilgrimage. In their way they meet with a minstrel, named
Activa Vita, or Haukyn the Active-man, with a coat covered with spots of
dirt, whom they question on his mode of life. (_Passus XIV._) Haukyn the
Active-man, the representative of that class of people who neglect their
souls for their worldly affairs, excuses the dirtiness of his apparel on
the ground that he has none to change, and that he has too many occupations
to allow him time to have it cleaned. Conscience and Patience teach him a
method to clean his coat, inform him where charity is to be found, and
recommend patient poverty to him, showing him the advantage of poverty over
riches. Haukyn's repentance and lamentation for the neglect of his duties
awake the dreamer.

(_Passus XV._) Amid his anxiety to know something more certain of Do-well,
the dreamer has another vision, in which Soul appears to him, and enters
into a long relation of the corruptions and negligence of the clergy.
(_Passus XVI._) Soul finally sends him to Piers the Ploughman, who
possesses the garden in which the tree of Charity grows, and which is
rented under him by Free-will. Piers explains to him the nature of the
tree, and of the props which support it; and shakes down some of the fruit
for him. The allegory then changes, and we are introduced to the birth and
passion of the Saviour, as arising out of the fruit of Charity. At this
moment the dreamer awakes, and therewith loses sight of Piers the
Ploughman; in his anxiety to find Piers, he meets with Faith, in the garb
of Abraham, who was in search of God, now incarnate, and who waited for his
passion in order to be delivered from hell. (_Passus XVII._) Then comes
Spes, or Hope, who also was in search of the knight that was to vanquish
the evil one. As they go along the way towards Jerusalem to the "justes,"
discoursing on the obligations of the old and new law and the abrogation of
the former, they meet with a man who had been left helpless by thieves,
wounded and naked: Faith and Hope passed by without helping him, but the
Samaritan, who was also riding to the "justes," descended from his horse,
bound his wounds, and deposited him in an inn at the grange named _Lex
Christi_. The Samaritan gives the dreamer a singular explanation of the
mysteries of the Trinity; and, after having represented to him the
heinousness of sins against the different persons, and the necessity of
making reparation, he pursues his way to Jerusalem.

(_Passus XVIII._) The vision which forms the eighteenth section or
_passus_, and in which the character of Piers the Ploughman is identified
with that of the Saviour, is entirely occupied with an allegorical
description of Christ's Passion, and his descent into Hell. (_Passus XIX._)
In the next section the history of Christ's passion and victory, and his
figurative representative Piers the Ploughman, is continued. Grace, through
Piers the Ploughman, descends upon the people, and lays the foundation of
the Church, which is cultivated by Piers with his four oxen (the four
Evangelists). Piers is attacked by Pride, who gathers a great host to
assail the Church. Conscience advises the people who follow Piers (the
Church), to take shelter in the stronghold of Unity, and make preparations
for their defence. By the counsel of Kind-wit and Conscience they dig a
great ditch around Unity. The measures of Surety are embarrassed by the
unreasonable opposition of some members or parts of the community, who
oppose Pier's doctrine of restitution--the brewer will not repent of the
tricks which he puts on his customers, the vicar adheres to his simony, the
lord will continue to oppress his tenants, and the king will not be
restrained by his laws. (__Passus XX.__) In the last section of the poem,
the dreamer, after having been accosted by Need, who preaches on the
virtues of temperance, has a vision of Antichrist, who comes to attack the
Castle of Unity. It must be remembered that at this period many people
supposed that Antichrist was already on the earth, and that he was the
cause of all the evils with which mankind was then visited, so that this
last notion brought the allegory home to people's feelings. The
standard-bearer of Antichrist was Pride. Conscience called Kynde, or
Nature, to his aid, who brought an army of diseases and pestilences. Death,
one of his chief soldiers, made terrible havoc. At length Kynde ceased his
ravages; and a horde of enemies immediately arose against Conscience, such
as Fortune, Lechery, Covetousness, Simony. Life, with his mistress Fortune,
indulged in all kinds of excess, until he was visited by Age and Despair,
who treated him very roughly. The dreamer, forsaken by Fortune, and
participating in the misfortunes of Life, by the advice of Kynde takes
shelter with Conscience in the castle of Unity, which is threatened by an
army of priests and monks. At length this stronghold is endangered by the
entrance of Flattery, who is admitted in the disguise of a Physician.
Conscience, unable to retain possession, embarks upon another pilgrimage in
search of Piers the Ploughman, and the dreamer awakes. This is the
conclusion of the poem. Whitaker thought that it should have had a more
consoling end; but it must be remembered that the writer of Piers Ploughman
designed to paint the world as it was, and to describe the numerous
obstacles which lay in the way of the improvement and amelioration of
mankind when he wrote.

While one member of the monastic order was thus contributing by his
satirical pen towards producing a reform among his countrymen, another monk
was beginning to preach in a still bolder manner against the popish system.
This was John Wycliffe, under whom the despised lollards became an
important sect. This attempt at religious reformation only formed part of
the great movement of the fourteenth century, which soon afterwards broke
out in the popular commotions of the reign of Richard II. The writer of
Piers Ploughman was neither a sower of sedition, nor one who would be
characterised by his contemporaries as a heretic. The doctrines inculcated
throughout the book are so far from democratic, that he constantly preaches
the Christian doctrine of obedience to rulers. Yet its tendency to debase
the great, and to raise the commons in public consideration, must have
rendered it popular among the latter: and, although no single important
doctrine of the popish religion is attacked, yet the unsparing manner in
which the vices and corruptions of the church are laid open, must have
helped in no small degree the cause of the Reformation. Of the ancient
popularity of Piers Ploughman we have a proof in the great number of copies
which still exist, most of them written in the latter part of the
fourteenth century; and the circumstance that the manuscripts are seldom
executed in a superior style of writing, and scarcely ever ornamented with
painted initial letters, may perhaps be taken as a proof that they were not
written for the higher classes of society. From the time when it was
published, the name of Piers Ploughman became a favourite among the popular
reformers.[8] The earliest instance of the adoption of that name for
another satirical work is found in the Creed of Piers Ploughman, printed
also in the present volume, and in which even the form of verse of the
Vision is imitated.

In this latter poem, which was undoubtedly written by a Wycliffite, Piers
Ploughman is no longer an allegorical personage--he is the simple
representative of the peasant rising up to judge and act for himself--the
English _sans-culotte_ of the fourteenth century, if we may be allowed the
comparison. When it was written, a period of great excitement had passed
since the age of Langlande, the reputed author of the Vision--a period
characterised by the turbulence of the peasantry--which had witnessed in
France the fearful insurrection of the _Jacquerie_, and in England the
rebellion of Wat Tyler and Jack Straw.[9]

In Piers Ploughman's Creed it is the church simply, and not the state,
which is the object of attack. The clergy--and more particularly the
monks--are accused of having falsified religion, and of being actuated
solely by worldly passions--pride, covetousness, self-love. The writer,
placing himself in the position of one who has just learnt the first
grounds of religious knowledge, is anxious to find a person capable of
instructing him in his creed, and with this object he addresses himself to
the different orders of friars. He applies first to the Minorites, who
abuse the Carmelites, and pride themselves in their own holiness. Disgusted
with their jealousies and self-sufficiency, the inquirer seeks the
Preachers, or Dominicans; amid their stately buildings, and under their
sleek and well filled skins, he finds the same want of Christian charity:
their pride drives him to the order of St. Austin. The Austin Friars, as
well as the Carmelites, will only instruct him for money, and, shocked at
their covetousness, he continues his wanderings, until at last he meets
with a poor Ploughman, in whom he finds the charity and knowledge after
which he has been seeking. The Ploughman enters into a bitter attack on the
vices of all the four orders of friars: he describes their spirit of
persecution, exemplified in the case of Wycliffe and others, and their
simony; speaks of Wycliffe and Walter Brute as preachers of the truth; and
finishes by teaching the inquirer his simple creed.

The Creed of Piers Ploughman was written by one who approved the opinions
of Wycliffe, and it seems to have been carefully proscribed. There does not
appear to exist any manuscript older than the first printed edition.

The great popularity of the Vision of Piers Ploughman in the fourteenth
century, and its political influence, are proved by another close
imitation, which was composed immediately after the capture, and previous
to the deposition, of king Richard II. This poem also appears to have been
proscribed, and we have only a fragment left, which was printed from an
unique manuscript for the Camden Society. It also is composed in
alliterative verse, and its meaning is rendered obscure by a confused
allegorical style. It was evidently written towards the Welsh Border,
perhaps at Bristol, which is mentioned in the opening lines; and it appears
to have been intended as a continuation of, or as a sequel to, Piers
Ploughman, which it immediately follows in the only manuscript in which it
is preserved.

Another early poem, of which the Ploughman is the hero, was inserted in the
works of Chaucer under the title of the Ploughman's Tale. This, like the
Creed, is free from allegory; and it differs from the others also in being
written in rhyme, and not in alliterative verse. The Ploughman's Tale was
probably written in the earlier half of the fifteenth century.[10] It is a
coarse attack on the different orders of the clergy, for their pride,
covetousness, and other vices. Its versification has little merit; and
there appears to be no good reason for inserting it among the Canterbury

The vision of Piers Ploughman appears to have continued to enjoy a wide
popularity down to the middle of the fifteenth century. We hear nothing of
it from that period to the middle of the sixteenth, when it was printed by
the reformers, and received with so much favour, that no less than three
editions, or rather three impressions, are said to have been sold in the
course of one year. Another edition was printed at the beginning of the
reign of Queen Elizabeth; and it appears to have been much read in the
latter part of the sixteenth century, and even at the beginning of the
seventeenth. The name of Piers Ploughman is not uncommon in the political
tracts of that period.[11]

The Poem of Piers Ploughman is peculiarly a national work. It is the most
remarkable monument of the public spirit of our forefathers in the middle,
or, as they are often termed, dark ages. It is a pure specimen of the
English language at a period when it had sustained few of the corruptions
which have disfigured it since we have had writers of "Grammars;" and in it
we may study with advantage many of the difficulties of the language which
these writers have misunderstood. It is, moreover, the finest example left
of the kind of versification which was purely English, inasmuch as it had
been the only one in use among our Anglo-Saxon progenitors, in common with
the other people of the North. To many readers it will be perhaps necessary
to explain that rhyming verse was not in use among the Anglo-Saxons. In
place of rhyme, they had a system of verse of which the characteristic was
a very regular _alliteration_, so arranged that, in every couplet, there
should be two principal words in the first line beginning with the same
letter, which letter must also be the initial of the first word on which
the stress of the voice falls in the second line. There has, as yet, been
discovered no system of foot-measure in Anglo-Saxon verse, but the common
metre consists apparently in having two rises and two falls of the voice in
each line. These characteristics are accurately preserved in the verse of
Piers Ploughman; and the measure appears to be the same, if we make
allowance for the change of the slow and impressive pronunciation of the
Anglo-Saxon for the quicker pronunciation of Middle English, which
therefore required a greater number of syllables to fill up the same space
of time.

We can trace the history of alliterative verse in England with tolerable
certainty. The Anglo-Normans first brought in rhymes, which they employed
in their own poetry. The adoption of this new system into the English
language was gradual, but it appears to have commenced in the first half of
the twelfth century. It was, at first, mixed with alliterative couplets:
that is, in the same poem were used sometimes rhyming couplets, which were
suddenly changed for alliterative couplets, and then, after awhile, rhyme
was again brought in, and so on. Of this kind of poetry we have four very
remarkable examples, the _Proverbs of King Alfred_, a poem which was
certainly in existence in the first half of the twelfth century;[12] the
_Early English Bestiary_;[13] the Poem on the _Debate between the Body and
the Soul_;[14] and the grand work of Layamon.[15] The following lines from
the Bestiary may serve as a specimen of the manner in which the two systems
are intermixed; they form part of the account of the spider:--

  "ðanne _r_enneð ge _r_apelike,
  for ge is ai _r_edi,
  _n_imeð anon to ðe _n_et,
  and _n_imeð hem ðere,
  _b_itterlike ge hem _b_it
  and here _b_ane wurðeð,
  _d_repeð and _d_rinkeð hire _blod_,
  _d_oð ge hire non oðer _god_,
  bute fret hire _fille_,
  and dareð siðen _stille_."
    .    .    .    .    .    .
  "Cethegrande is a _fis_
  ðe moste ðat in water _is_;
  ðat tu wuldes seien _get_,
  gef ðu it soge wan it _flet_," etc.

This kind of poetry appears to have been common until the middle of the
thirteenth century; after which period we only find alliteration in songs,
not used in simple alliterative couplets, but mixed up in the same lines
with rhyme in an irregular and playful manner.[16] But there appears little
room for doubting that during the whole of this time the pure alliterative
poetry was in use among the lower classes of society; and its revival
towards the middle of the fourteenth century appears to have been a part of
the political movement which then took place. In this point of view, the
poem of Piers Ploughman becomes still more worthy of attention as a
document of contemporary literary history. The old alliterative verse came
so much into fashion at this period that it was adopted for the composition
of long romances, of which several still remain.[17] The use of this kind
of verse was continued in the fifteenth century, and was imitated in
Scotland as late as the time of Dunbar, but the later writers were
evidently unacquainted with the strict rules of this species of

The Anglo-Saxons, who used this kind of verse only, wrote their poetry
invariably as prose. But the scribe was in the habit of indicating the
division of the lines by a dot. Among modern scholars a question has arisen
as to the propriety of printing the alliterative couplet in two short
lines, or in one long one. It appears to me that the mode in which the dot
is used in the manuscripts decides the question in favour of the short
lines. The manner in which the alliterative couplet is intermixed with the
rhyming couplet in the poems of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (which
also are written in the manuscripts in the same form as prose), seems to me
a strong confirmation of this opinion; at least in these last-mentioned
cases, the verse must have been considered as written in short lines. As
the scribes quitted the custom of writing poetry in their manuscripts as
prose, with the divisions of lines indicated by dots, to adopt that of
arranging them in lines as we do at present, these short lines were found
very inconvenient because they were obliged either to waste a great deal of
parchment, or to write in several narrow columns. To remedy this, they fell
perhaps gradually into the custom of writing the two parts of the
alliterative couplet in one line, always, however, marking the division by
a dot. They followed the same method with the shorter rhyming lines, as is
the case with the old English Metrical Romance of Horn in a manuscript in
the Harleian Collection.[18] All the alliterative poetry of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries is found written in these long lines, with the dot
of division in the middle. In the fifteenth century the meaning of this dot
appears to have been forgotten, and the system of alliteration so far
misunderstood, that the writers thought it only necessary to have _at
least_ three alliterative words in a long line, without any consideration
of their position in the line. I say _at least_, because they not
unfrequently inserted four or five alliterative words in the same line,
which would certainly have been considered a defect in the earlier writers.
It is my opinion, that a modern editor is wrong in printing the verses of
Piers Ploughman in long lines, as they stand in the manuscripts, unless he
profess to give them as a fac-simile of the manuscripts themselves, or he
plead the same excuse of convenience from the shape of his book. In either
case, he must carefully preserve the dots of separation in the middle of
the lines, which are more inconvenient than the length of the lines,
because they interfere with the punctuation of the modern editor. If, as
appears to be the case, these dots are merely marks to indicate the
division of the couplet, their purpose is much better served by printing
the lines in couplets. The construction of the earlier Anglo-Saxon verse,
the analogy of the mixed rhyming and alliterative verses of the semi-Saxon
poems, and the use of these dots in the middle of the lines in the
manuscripts of Piers Ploughman, appear to me convincing proofs that it
ought to be printed so. I think moreover that the alliterative verse reads
much more harmoniously in the short couplets than in the long lines.

The manuscripts of the Vision of Piers Ploughman are extremely numerous
both in public and in private collections. There are at least eight in the
British Museum: there are ten or twelve in the Cambridge Libraries; and
they are not less numerous at Oxford. As might be expected in a popular
work like this, the manuscripts are in general full of variations; but
there are two classes of manuscripts which give two texts that are widely
different from each other, those variations commencing even with the first
lines of the poem. One of these texts, which was adopted in the early
printed editions, is given in the present volumes; the other text was
selected for publication by Dr. Whitaker. The following extract, comprising
the first lines of the poem,[19] will show how each text begins, and will
enable those who possess manuscripts of Piers Ploughman to ascertain at
once to which text they belong:--

      TEXT I.                            TEXT II.

  In a somer seson                   In a somè seyson,
  Whan softe was the sonne,          Whan softe was the sonne,
  I shop me into shroudes            Y shop into shrobbis
  As I a sheep weere,                As y shepherde were.
  In habite as an heremite           In abit az an ermite
  Unholy of werkes,                  Unholy of werkes,
  Wente wide in this world           That wente forthe in the worle
  Wonders to here,                   Wondres to hure,
  Ac on a May morwenynge             And sawe meny cellis
  On Malverne hilles                 And selcouthe thynges.
  Me bifel a ferly,                  Ac on a May morwenyng
  Of fairye me thoghte.              On Malverne hulles
  I was wery for-wandred,            Me by-fel for to slepe,
  And wente me to reste              For weyrynesse of wandryng,
  Under a broode bank                And in a lande as ich lay
  By a bournes syde,                 Lenede ich and slepte,
  And as I lay and lenede,           And merveylously me mette,
  And loked on the watres,           As ich may yow telle.
  I slombred into a slepyng,         Al the welthe of this worlde,
  It sweyed so murye.                And the woo bothe,
  Thanne gan I meten                 Wynkyng as it were
  A merveillous swevene,             Wyterly ich saw hyt,
  That I was in a wildernesse        Of truyth and of tricherye,
  Wiste I nevere where;              Of tresoun and of gyle,
  And as I biheld in to the eest     Al ich saw slepyng,
  An heigh to the sonne,             As ich shal yow telle.
  I seigh a tour on a toft, etc.     Esteward ich behulde
                                     After the sonne,
                                     And sawe a tour as ich trowede, etc.

Besides such variations as appear in the foregoing specimen, there are in
the second text many considerable additions, omissions, and transpositions.
It would not be easy to account for the existence of two texts differing so
much; but it is my impression that the first was the one published by the
author, and that the variations were made by some other person, who was
perhaps induced by his own political sentiments to modify passages, and was
gradually led on to publish a revision of the whole. It is certain that in
some parts of Text II. the strong sentiments or expressions of the first
text are softened down. We may give as an example of this, the statement of
the popular opinion of the origin and purpose of kingly government:--

      TEXT I.                            TEXT II.

  Thanne kam ther a kyng,            Thanne cam ther a kyng,
  Knyghthod hym ladde,               Knyghtod hym ladde,
  Might of the communes              The meche myghte of the men
  Made hym to regne.                 Made hym to regne.
  And thanne cam kynde wit,          And thanne cam a kynde witte,
  And clerkes he made,               And clerkus he made,
  For to counseillen the kyng,       And concience and kynde wit,
  And the commune save.              And knyghthod to-gederes,
  The kyng and knyghthod,            Caste that the comune
  And clergie bothe,                 Sholde hure comunes fynde.
  Casten that the commune            Kynde wit and the comune
  Sholde hem self fynde.             Contrevede alle craftes,
  The commune contreved              And for most profitable to the puple,
  Of kynde wit craftes,              A plouh thei gonne make,
  And for profit of al the peple     Wit leil labour to lyve,
  Plowmen ordeyned,                  Wyl lyve and londe lasteth.
  To tilie and to travaille,
  As trewe lif asketh.
  The kyng and the commune,
  And kynde wit the thridde,
  Shopen lawe and leauté,
  Ech man to knowe his owene.

Nobody, I think, can deny that in this instance the doctrine is stated far
more distinctly and far more boldly in the first text than in the second.
In general the first text is the best, whether we look at the mode in which
the sentiments are stated, or at the poetry and language.

As far as I have been able to examine the remaining manuscripts of Piers
Ploughman, at London and in the Universities, I think that nearly
two-thirds of those which remain are of the _fourteenth_ century; and the
greater number, particularly of those written in the fourteenth century,
present what I have distinguished as the first text, that given in the
present volumes. I am by no means inclined to coincide in the reasons which
led Dr. Whitaker to prefer the second text; if I were disposed to admit, as
barely possible (the supposition is quite a gratuitous one), "that the
first edition of this work appeared when its author was a young man, and
that he lived and continued in the habit of transcribing to extreme old
age" (Pref.), I cannot agree with an editor in adopting a copy which he
believes to be "a faithful representation of the work as it came first from
the author," and which not only abounds in words and idioms which he
afterwards altered, but which contains also "many original passages which
the greater maturity of the author's judgment induced him to expunge."

I know only of two manuscripts of the Creed of Piers Ploughman, one in the
British Museum (MS. Reg. 18, B. XVII.), the other in the Library of Trinity
College, Cambridge, both on paper, and written long after the date of the
printed editions, from which they appear to have been copied.

The first printed edition of the Vision was that of Robert Crowley, in
1550; and it was so favourably received, that there is reason for believing
that no less than three editions (or rather three impressions[20]) were
sold in the course of the year. It is clear that Crowley had obtained an
excellent manuscript; the printer has changed the orthography at will, and
has evidently altered a word at times, but on the whole this printed text
differs very little from the one we now publish.

Three years after the appearance of the Vision, another printer, Reynold
Wolfe, published the first edition of the Creed, in the same form as
Crowley's edition of the Vision.[21]

After the stormy reign of Mary was past, in the beginning of that of
Elizabeth, the call for a new edition, and perhaps the destruction of many
copies of the old one, led the well-known printer Owen Rogers to reprint
the Vision and the Creed together.[22] The impression was probably large,
for it is still by no means a rare book. It was evidently much read during
the reign of Elizabeth, and is not unfrequently alluded to by the writers
of that age.

No other edition of this popular poem appeared, until it was published by
Dr. Whitaker, in 1813,[23] from a manuscript then in the possession of Mr.
Heber,[24] which contained the second text, written in a rather broad
provincial dialect. This edition was printed in black-letter, in a very
large and expensive form. In 1814, a reprint of the old edition of the
Creed was published in the same form, as a companion to the Vision. It is
not generally known that Dr. Whitaker projected an edition of the same text
and paraphrase which are given in his 4to edition, in 8vo, with Roman type
instead of black-letter. After a few sheets had been composed, the design
was abandoned, as it is said, in favour of the larger form. A copy of the
proof sheets, formerly belonging to Mr. Haslewood, is now in the possession
of Sir Frederick Madden. I am told that a rival edition was also begun, but
not persevered in.

An attempt at a modernization, or rather a translation, of Piers Ploughman,
was made in the earlier years of the present century, but only a few
specimens appear to have been executed. The following lines, which possess
some merit (though not very literal or correct), are the modern version the
author proposed to give of ll. 2847-2870 of the poem. They were
communicated to me by Sir Henry Ellis.

 "Next AVARICE came: but how he look'd, to say,
  Words do I want that rightly shall portray:
  Like leathern purse his shrivell'd cheeks did shew,
  Thick lipp'd, with two blear eyes and beetle brow:
  In a torn threadbare tabard was he clad,
  Which twelve whole winters now in wear he had;
  French scarlet 'twas, its colour well it kept,
  So smooth that louse upon its surface crept."

It will be necessary, in conclusion, to say a few words on the edition now
offered to the public. Without taking into consideration the inaccuracies
and imperfections of Whitaker's edition, its inconvenient size and high
price made it altogether inaccessible to the general reader; and there
appeared to be a wish for one in a more convenient and less expensive form.
At the same time it was desired that a good text of a work so important for
the history of our language and literature should be selected. Dr. Whitaker
was not well qualified for this undertaking; he also laboured under many
disadvantages; he had access to only three manuscripts, and those not very
good ones; and he has not chosen the best text even of those. Unless he had
some reason to believe that the book was originally written in a particular
dialect, he ought to have given a preference to that among the oldest
manuscripts which presents the purest language; but we cannot allow that
manuscript to be chosen on a ground so capricious as "that the orthography
and dialect in which it is written approach very near to that semi-Saxon
jargon in the midst of which the editor was brought up, and which he
continues to hear daily spoken on the confines of Lancashire, and the West
Riding of the county of York." (Pref.) This could not have been the
language employed by a monk of Malvern.

The present editor has endeavoured, in the leisure moments which he has
been able to snatch from other employments, to supply the deficiency as
well, and in as unassuming manner, as he could. He has chosen for his text
a manuscript belonging to the valuable library of Trinity College,
Cambridge (where its shelf-mark is B. 15, 17), because it appears to him to
be the best and oldest manuscript now in existence. It is a fine folio
manuscript, on vellum, written in a large hand, undoubtedly contemporary
with the author of the poem, and in remarkably pure English, with
ornamented initial letters. His object has been to give the poem as popular
a form as is consistent with philological correctness. He has added a few
notes which occurred to him in the course of editing the text, and which he
hopes may render the meaning and allusions sometimes clearer to the general
reader, for whom more especially they are intended. They might have been
enlarged and rendered more complete, if he had been master of sufficient
leisure to enable him to undertake extensive researches. But there are
allusions, as well as words, in both poems to which it would be difficult
at present to give any certain explanation. It has been thought advisable
to give in the notes the important variations of the second text, from Dr.
Whitaker's edition; and a few readings are added from a second manuscript
in Trinity College Library (R. 3, 14). The editor has hoped to add to the
utility of the book by a copious glossary. He has been unwillingly obliged
to leave a few words without explanation; all our early alliterative poetry
abounds in difficult words. In this point he has to acknowledge the kind
assistance of Sir Frederick Madden, whom no person equals in profound
knowledge of English glossography, and than whom no one is more generous to
advise and assist those who are in need of his aid. To Sir Henry Ellis, who
kindly lent him his own manuscript notes on Piers Ploughman, the editor
also owes his grateful acknowledgments; and he regrets that at the time he
received them the notes were already so far printed as to hinder him from
making as much use of them as he could have wished.

  _London, June 1, 1842._

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *




  In a somer seson,                                          1
  Whan softe was the sonne,
  I shoop me into shroudes
  As I a sheep weere,
  In habite as an heremite
  Unholy of werkes,
  Wente wide in this world
  Wondres to here;
  Ac on a May morwenynge
  On Malverne hilles                                        10
  Me bifel a ferly,
  Of fairye me thoghte.
  I was wery for-wandred,
  And wente me to reste
  Under a brood bank
  By a bournes syde;
  And as I lay and lenede,
  And loked on the watres,
  I slombred into a slepyng,
  It sweyed so murye.                                       20

    Thanne gan I meten
  A merveillous swevene,
  That I was in a wildernesse,
  Wiste I nevere where,
  And as I biheeld into the eest
  An heigh to the sonne,
  I seigh a tour on a toft
  Trieliche y-maked,
  A deep dale bynethe,
  A dongeon therinne,                                       30
  With depe diches and derke
  And dredfulle of sighte.
  A fair feeld ful of folk
  Fond I ther bitwene,
  Of alle manere of men,
  The meene and the riche,
  Werchynge and wandrynge,
  As the world asketh.

    Some putten hem to the plough,
  Pleiden ful selde,                                        40
  In settynge and sowynge
  Swonken ful harde,
  And wonnen that wastours
  With glotonye destruyeth.

    And somme putten hem to pride,
  Apparailed hem therafter,
  In contenaunce of clothynge
  Comen degised.

    In preires and penaunces
  Putten hem manye,                                         50
  Al for the love of oure Lord
  Lyveden ful streyte,
  In hope to have after
  Hevene riche blisse;
  As ancres and heremites
  That holden hem in hire selles,
  And coveiten noght in contree
  To carien aboute,
  For no likerous liflode
  Hire likame to plese.                                     60

    And somme chosen chaffare;
  Thei cheveden the bettre,
  As it semeth to our sight
  That swiche men thryveth.

    And somme murthes to make,
  As mynstralles konne,
  And geten gold with hire glee,
  Giltles, I leeve.

    Ac japeres and jangeleres,
  Judas children,                                           70
  Feynen hem fantasies,
  And fooles hem maketh,
  And han hire wit at wille
  To werken, if thei wolde.
  That Poul precheth of hem
  I wol nat preve it here;
  But _Qui loquitur turpiloquium_
  Is Luciferes hyne.

    Bidderes and beggeres
  Faste aboute yede,                                        80
  With hire belies and hire bagges
  Of breed ful y-crammed;
  Faiteden for hire foode,
  Foughten at the ale.
  In glotonye, God woot,
  Go thei to bedde,
  And risen with ribaudie,
  Tho Roberdes knaves;
  Sleep and sory sleuthe
  Seweth hem evere.                                         90

    Pilgrymes and palmeres
  Plighten hem togidere,
  For to seken seint Jame,
  And seintes at Rome.
  They wenten forth in hire wey,
  With many wise tales,
  And hadden leve to lyen
  Al hire lif after.

    I seigh somme that seiden
  Thei hadde y-sought seintes;                             100
  To ech a tale that thei tolde
  Hire tonge was tempred to lye,
  Moore than to seye sooth,
  It semed bi hire speche.

    Heremytes on an heep
  With hoked staves
  Wenten to Walsyngham,
  And hire wenches after,
  Grete lobies and longe
  That lothe were to swynke;                               110
  Clothed hem in copes,
  To ben knowen from othere;
  And shopen hem heremytes,
  Hire ese to have.

    I fond there freres,
  Alle the foure ordres,
  Prechynge the peple
  For profit of hemselve;
  Glosed the gospel,
  As hem good liked;                                       120
  For coveitise of copes,
  Construwed it as thei wolde.
  Many of thise maistre freres
  Now clothen hem at likyng,
  For hire moneie and hire marchaundize
  Marchen togideres.
  For sith charité hath ben chapman,
  And chief to shryve lordes,
  Manye ferlies han fallen
  In a fewe yeres;                                         130
  But holy chirche and hii
  Holde bettre togidres,
  The mooste meschief on molde
  Is mountynge wel faste.

    Ther preched a pardoner,
  As he a preest were;
  Broughte forth a bulle
  With many bisshopes seles,
  And seide that hymself myghte
  Assoillen hem alle,                                      140
  Of falshede, of fastynge,
  Of avowes y-broken.

    Lewed men leved it wel,
  And liked hise wordes;
  Comen up knelynge
  To kissen hise bulles.
  He bouched hem with his brevet,
  And blered hire eighen,
  And raughte with his rageman
  Rynges and broches.                                      150

    Thus thei gyven hire gold
  Glotons to kepe,
  And leveth in swiche losels
  As leccherie haunten.

    Were the bisshope y-blessed,
  And worth bothe hise eris,
  His seel sholde noght be sent
  To deceyve the peple.
  Ac it is noght by the bisshope
  That the boy precheth;                                   160
  For the parisshe preest and the pardoner
  Parten the silver,
  That the poraille of the parisshe
  Sholde have, if thei ne were.

    Parsons and parisshe preestes
  Pleyned hem to the bisshope,
  That hire parisshes weren povere
  Sith the pestilence tyme,
  To have a licence and leve
  At London to dwelle,                                     170
  And syngen ther for symonie;
  For silver is swete.

    Bisshopes and bachelers,
  Bothe maistres and doctours,
  That han cure under Crist,
  And crownynge in tokene
  And signe that thei sholden
  Shryven hire parisshens,
  Prechen and praye for hem,
  And the povere fede,                                     180
  Liggen at Londone
  In Lenten and ellis.

    Somme serven the kyng,
  And his silver tellen
  In cheker and in chauncelrie,
  Chalangen hise dettes
  Of wardes and of wardemotes,
  Weyves and streyves.

    And somme serven as servauntz
  Lordes and ladies,                                       190
  And in stede of stywardes
  Sitten and demen;
  Hire messe and hire matyns
  And many of hire houres
  Arn doon un-devoutliche;
  Drede is at the laste,
  Lest Crist in consistorie
  A-corse ful manye.

    I perceyved of the power
  That Peter hadde to kepe,                                200
  To bynden and unbynden,
  As the book telleth;
  How he it lefte with love,
  As oure Lord highte,
  Amonges foure vertues,
  The beste of alle vertues,
  That cardinals ben called,
  And closynge yates.
  There is Crist in his kingdom
  To close and to shette,                                  210
  And to opene it to hem,
  And hevene blisse shewe.

    Ac of the cardinals at court
  That kaughte of that name,
  And power presumed in hem
  A pope to make,
  To han that power that Peter hadde,
  Impugnen I nelle;
  For in love and in lettrure
  The election bilongeth,                                  220
  For-thi I kan and kan naught
  Of court speke moore.

    Thanne kam ther a kyng,
  Knyghthod hym ladde,
  Might of the communes
  Made hym to regne.

    And thanne cam kynde wit,
  And clerkes he made,
  For to counseillen the kyng,
  And the commune save.                                    230

    The kyng and knyghthod,
  And clergie bothe,
  Casten that the commune
  Sholde hemself fynde.

    The commune contreved
  Of kynde wit craftes,
  And for profit of al the peple
  Plowmen ordeyned,
  To tilie and to travaille,
  As trewe lif asketh.                                     240

    The kyng and the commune,
  And kynde wit the thridde,
  Shopen lawe and leauté,
  Ech man to knowe his owene.

    Thanne loked up a lunatik,
  A leene thyng with-alle,
  And, knelynge to the kyng,
  Clergially he seide:

    "Crist kepe thee, sire kyng!
  And thi kyng-ryche,                                      250
  And lene thee lede thi lond,
  So leauté thee lovye,
  And for thi rightful rulyng
  Be rewarded in hevene."

    And sithen in the eyr an heigh
  An aungel of hevene
  Lowed to speke in Latyn,
  For lewed men ne koude
  Jangle ne jugge,
  That justifie hem sholde,                                260
  But suffren and serven;
  For-thi seide the aungel:
  _Sum rex, sum princeps,
  Neutrum fortasse deinceps;
  O qui jura regis
  Christi specialia regis,
  Hoc quod agas melius,
  Justus es, esto pius.
  Nudum jus a te
  Vestiri vult pietate;                                    270
  Qualia vis metere,
  Talia grana sere.
  Si jus nudatur,
  Nudo de jure metatur;
  Si seritur pietas,
  De pietate metas._

    Thanne greved hym a goliardeis,
  A gloton of wordes,
  And to the aungel an heigh
  Answerde after:                                          280
  _Dum rex a regere
  Dicatur nomen habere;
  Nomen habet sine re,
  Nisi studet jura tenere._

    Thanne gan al the commune
  Crye in vers of Latyn,
  To the kynges counseil;
  Construe who so wolde:
  _Præcepta regis
  Sunt nobis vincula legis._                               290

    With that ran ther a route
  Of ratons at ones,
  And smale mees myd hem
  Mo than a thousand,
  And comen to a counseil
  For the commune profit;
  For a cat of a contree
  Cam whan hym liked,
  And overleep hem lightliche,
  And laughte hem at his wille,                            300
  And pleide with hem perillousli,
  And possed aboute.
  "For doute of diverse dredes,
  We dar noght wel loke;
  And if we grucche of his gamen,
  He wol greven us alle,
  Cracchen us or clawen us,
  And in hise clouches holde,
  That us lotheth the lif
  Er he late us passe.                                     310
  Mighte we with any wit
  His wille withstonde,
  We mighte be lordes o-lofte,
  And lyven at oure ese."

    A raton of renoun,
  Moost renable of tonge,
  Seide for a sovereyn
  Help to hymselve:

    "I have y-seyen segges," quod he
  "In the cité of Londone,                                 320
  Beren beighes ful brighte
  Abouten hire nekkes,
  And somme colers of crafty werk;
  Uncoupled thei wenten
  Bothe in wareyne and in waast
  Where hemself liked.
  And outher while thei arn ellis-where,
  As I here telle;
  Were ther a belle on hire beighe,
  By Jhesu, as me thynketh,                                330
  Men myghte witen wher thei wente,
  And awey renne!"

    "And right so," quod that raton,
  "Reson me sheweth,
  To bugge a belle of bras,
  Or of bright silver,
  And knytten it on a coler
  For oure commune profit,
  Wher he ryt or rest,
  Or renneth to pleye;                                     340
  And if hym list for to laike,
  Thanne loke we mowen,
  And peeren in his presence
  The while him pleye liketh:
  And, if hym wratheth, be war,
  And his way shonye."

    Al this route of ratons
  To this reson thei assented.
  Ac tho the belle was y-brought,
  And on the beighe hanged,                                350
  Ther ne was raton in al the route,
  For al the reaume of Fraunce,
  That dorste have bounden the belle
  About the cattes nekke,
  Ne hangen it aboute the cattes hals,
  Al Engelond to wynne.
  Alle helden hem un-hardy,
  And hir counseil feble;
  And leten hire labour lost
  And al hire longe studie.                                360

    A mous that muche good
  Kouthe, as me thoughte,
  Strook forth sternely,
  And stood bifore hem alle,
  And to the route of ratons
  Reherced thise wordes:

    "Though we killen the cat,
  Yet sholde ther come another
  To cacchen us and al oure kynde,
  Though we cropen under benches.                          370
  For-thi I counseille al the commune
  To late the cat worthe;
  And be we nevere bolde
  The belle hym to shewe;
  For I herde my sire seyn,
  Is seven yeer y-passed,
  Ther the cat is a kitone
  The court is ful elenge;
  That witnesseth holy writ,
  Who so wole it rede:                                     380
  _Væ terræ ubi puer rex est! etc._
  For may no renk ther reste have
  For ratons by nyghte;
  The while he caccheth conynges,
  He coveiteth noght youre caroyne,
  But fedeth hym al with venyson:
  Defame we hym nevere.
  For better is a litel los
  Than a long sorwe,
  The maze among us alle,                                  390
  Theigh we mysse a sherewe;
  For many mennes malt
  We mees wolde destruye,
  And also ye route of ratons
  Rende mennes clothes,
  Nere the cat of that court
  That can yow over-lepe;
  For hadde ye rattes youre wille,
  Ye kouthe noght rule yow selve."

    "I seye for me," quod the mous,                        400
  "I se so muchel after,
  Shal nevere the cat ne the kiton
  By my counseil be greved,
  Thorugh carpynge of this coler
  That costed me nevere
  And though it hadde costned me catel,
  Bi-knowen it I nolde,
  But suffren, as hymself wolde,
  To doon as hym liketh,
  Coupled and uncoupled                                    410
  To cacche what thei mowe.
  For-thi ech a wis wight I warne,
  Wite wel his owene."

    What this metels by-meneth,
  Ye men that ben murye
  Devyne ye, for I ne dar,
  By deere God in hevene.

    Yet hoved ther an hundred
  In howves of selk,
  Sergeantz it bi-semed                                    420
  That serveden at the barre,
  Pleteden for penyes
  And poundes the lawe;
  And noght for love of our Lord
  Unclose hire lippes ones.
  Thow myghtest bettre meete myst
  On Malverne hilles,
  Than gete a mom of hire mouth,
  Til moneie be shewed.

    Barons and burgeises,                                  430
  And bonde-men als,
  I seigh in this assemblee,
  As ye shul here after:
  Baksteres and brewesteres,
  And bochiers manye;
  Wollen webbesters,
  And weveres of lynnen,
  Taillours and tynkers,
  And tollers in markettes,
  Masons and mynours,                                      440
  And many othere craftes.
  Of alle kynne lybbynge laborers
  Lopen forth somme,
  As dikeres and delveres,
  That doon hire dedes ille,
  And dryveth forth the longe day
  With _Dieu save dame Emme_.

    Cokes and hire knaves
  Cryden, "Hote pies, hote!
  Goode gees and grys!                                     450
  Gowe, dyne, gowe!"

    Taverners until hem
  Trewely tolden the same,
  Whit wyn of Oseye,
  And reed wyn of Gascoigne,
  Of the Ryn and of the Rochel,
  The roost to defie.
  [Al this I saugh slepynge,
  And seve sithes more.]                                   459

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Primus de Visione._

  What this mountaigne by-meneth                           460
  And the merke dale,
  And the feld ful of folk,
  I shal yow faire shewe.

    A lovely lady of leere,
  In lynnen y-clothed,
  Cam doun from a castel
  And called me faire,
  And seide, "Sone, slepestow?
  Sestow this peple,
  How bisie thei ben                                       470
  Alle aboute the maze?
  The mooste partie of this peple
  That passeth on this erthe,
  Have thei worship in this world,
  Thei wilne no bettre;
  Of oother hevene than here
  Holde thei no tale."

    I was a-fered of hire face,
  Theigh she fair weere,
  And seide, "Mercy, madame,                               480
  What is this to meene?"

    "The tour on the toft," quod she,
  "Truthe is therinne;
  And wolde that ye wroughte,
  As his word techeth!
  For he is fader of feith,
  And formed yow alle
  Bothe with fel and with face,
  And yaf yow fyve wittes,
  For to worshipe hym therwith,                            490
  While that ye ben here.
  And therfore he highte the erthe
  To helpe yow echone,
  Of wollene, of lynnen,
  Of liflode at nede,
  In mesurable manere
  To make yow at ese;
  And comaunded of his curteisie
  In commune three thynges,
  Are none nedfulle but tho,                               500
  And nempne hem I thynke,
  And rekene hem by reson;
  Reherce thow hem after.

    "That oon vesture,
  From cold thee to save;
  And mete at meel
  For mysese of thiselve;
  And drynke whan thow driest;
  Ac do noght out of reson,
  That thow worthe the wers                                510
  Whan thow werche sholdest.

    "For Lot in hise lif-dayes,
  For likynge of drynke,
  Dide by hise doughtres
  That the devel liked,
  Delited hym in drynke
  As the devel wolde,
  And leccherie hym laughte,
  And lay by hem bothe,
  And al he witte it the wyn                               520
  That wikked dede.
  _Inebriamus eum vino, dormiamusque
      cum eo, ut servare possimus de
      patre nostro semen._
  Thorugh wyn and thorugh wommen
  Ther was Loth acombred,
  And there gat in glotonie
  Gerles that were cherles.

    "For-thi dred delitable drynke,
  And thow shalt do the bettre.                            530
  Mesure is medicine,
  Though thow muchel yerne.
  It is nought al good to the goost
  That the gut asketh,
  Ne liflode to thi likame;
  For a liere hym techeth,
  That is the wrecched world
  Wolde thee bitraye.
  For the fend and thi flesshe
  Folwen togidere.                                         540
  This and that seeth thi soule,
  And seith it in thin herte;
  And for thow sholdest ben y-war,
  I wisse thee the beste."

    "Madame, mercy!" quod I,
  "Me liketh wel youre wordes;
  Ac the moneie of this molde
  That men so faste holdeth,
  Tel me to whom, madame,
  That tresour appendeth."                                 550

    "Go to the gospel," quod she,
  "That God seide hymselven;
  Tho the poeple hym apposede
  With a peny in the temple,
  Wheither thei sholde therwith
  Worshipe the kyng Cesar.

    "And God asked of hym,
  Of whom spak the lettre,
  And the ymage was lik
  That therinne stondeth.                                  560

    "'Cesares,' thei seiden,
  'We seen it wel echone.'

    "'_Reddite Cæsari_,' quod God,
  'That _Cæsari_ bifalleth,
  _Et quæ sunt Dei Deo_,'
  Or ellis ye don ille;
  For rightfully reson
  Sholde rule yow alle,
  And kynde wit be wardeyn
  Youre welthe to kepe,                                    570
  And tutour of youre tresor,
  And take it yow at nede,
  For housbondrie and hii
  Holden togidres."

    Thanne I frayned hire faire,
  For hym that me made,
  "That dongeon in the dale,
  That dredful is of sighte,
  What may it be to meene,
  Madame, I yow biseche?"                                  580

    "That is the castel of Care;
  Who so comth therinne
  May banne that he born was,
  To bodi or to soule.
  Therinne wonyeth a wight
  That Wrong is y-hote,
  Fader of falshede,
  And founded it hymselve.
  Adam and Eve
  He egged to ille;                                        590
  Counseilled Kaym
  To killen his brother;
  Judas he japed
  With Jewen silver,
  And sithen on an eller
  Hanged hymselve.
  He is lettere of love,
  And lieth hem alle
  That trusten on his tresour;
  Bitrayeth he hem sonnest."                               600

    Thanne hadde I wonder in my wit
  What womman it weere,
  That swiche wise wordes
  Of holy writ shewed;
  And asked hire on the heighe name,
  Er she thennes yede,
  What she were witterly
  That wissed me so faire.

    "Holi chirche I am," quod she,
  "Thow oughtest me to knowe;                              610
  I underfeng thee first,
  And the feith taughte;
  And broughtest me borwes
  My biddyng to fulfille,
  And to loven me leelly
  The while thi lif dureth."

    Thanne I courbed on my knees,
  And cried hire of grace;
  And preide hire pitously
  Preye for my sinnes,                                     620
  And also kenne me kyndely
  On Crist to bi-leve,
  That I myghte werchen his wille
  That wroghte me to man.
  "Teche me to no tresor,
  But tel me this ilke,
  How I may save my soule,
  That seint art y-holden."

    "Whan alle tresors arn tried," quod she,
  "Treuthe is the beste;                                   630
  I do it on _Deus caritas_,
  To deme the sothe,
  It is as dereworthe a drury
  As deere God hymselven.

    "Who is trewe of his tonge,
  And telleth noon oother,
  And dooth the werkes therwith,
  And wilneth no man ille,
  He is a God by the gospel
  A-grounde and o-lofte,                                   640
  And y-lik to oure Lord,
  By seint Lukes wordes.
  The clerkes that knowen this,
  Sholde kennen it aboute,
  For cristen and un-cristen
  Cleymeth it echone.

    "Kynges and knyghtes
  Sholde kepen it by reson,
  Riden and rappen doun
  In reaumes aboute,                                       650
  And taken _transgressores_,
  And tyen hem faste,
  Til treuthe hadde y-termyned
  Hire trespas to the ende.
  And that is profession apertli
  That apendeth to knyghtes;
  And naught to fasten o friday
  In fyve score wynter,
  But holden with hym and with here
  That wolden alle truthe,                                 660
  And nevere leve hem for love
  Ne for lacchynge of silver.
  For David in hise dayes
  Dubbed knyghtes,
  And dide hem sweren on hir swerdes
  To serven truthe evere;
  And who so passed that point
  Was apostata in the ordre.

    "But Crist kyngene kyng
  Knyghted ten,                                            670
  Cherubyn and seraphyn,
  Swiche sevene and othere
  And yaf hem myght in his majestee,
  The murier hem thoughte,
  And over his meene meynee
  Made hem archangeles;
  Taughte hem by the Trinitee
  Treuthe to knowe;
  To be buxom at his biddyng,
  He bad hem nought ellis.                                 680

    "Lucifer with legions
  Lerned it in hevene;
  But for he brak buxomnesse
  His blisse gan he tyne,
  And fel fro that felawshipe
  In a fendes liknesse,
  Into a deep derk helle,
  To dwelle there for evere;
  And mo thousandes myd hym
  Than man kouthe nombre                                   690
  Lopen out with Lucifer
  In lothliche forme,
  For thei leveden upon hym
  That lyed in this manere:
  _Ponam pedem in aquilone, et similis ero altissimo._       =

    "And alle that hoped it myghte be so,
  Noon hevene myghte hem holde,
  But fellen out in fendes liknesse
  Nyne dayes togideres,                                    700
  Til God of his goodnesse
  Gan stablisse and stynte,
  And garte the hevene to stekie
  And stonden in quiete.

    "Whan thise wikkede wenten out,
  In wonder wise thei fellen;
  Somme in the eyr, somme in erthe,
  And somme in helle depe;
  Ac Lucifer lowest lith
  Yet of hem alle,                                         710
  For pride that he putte out,
  His peyne hath noon ende.
  And alle that werchen with wrong,
  Wende thei shulle,
  After hir deth day
  And dwelle with that sherewe.

    "And tho that werche wel,
  As holy writ telleth,
  And enden as I er seide
  In truthe, that is the beste,                            720
  Mowe be siker that hire soules
  Shul wende to hevene,
  Ther treuthe is in trinitee,
  And troneth hem alle.
  For-thi I seye, as I seyde er,
  By sighte of thise textes,
  Whan alle tresors arn tried,
  Truthe is the beste;
  Lereth it thise lewed men,
  For lettred men it knoweth,                              730
  That treuthe is tresor
  The trieste on erthe."

    "Yet have I no kynde knowyng." quod I,
  "Ye mote kenne me bettre,
  By what craft in my cors
  It comseth, and where."

    "Thow doted daffe," quod she,
  "Dulle are thi wittes;
  To litel Latyn thow lernedest,
  Leode, in thi youthe."                                   740
  _Heu michi! quia sterilem duxi vitam juvenilem._           =

    "It is a kynde knowyng," quod she,
  "That kenneth in thyn herte,
  For to loven thi Lord
  Levere than thiselve,
  No dedly synne to do,
  Deye theigh thow sholdest;
  This I trowe be truthe.
  Who kan teche thee bettre,                               750
  Loke thow suffre hym to seye,
  And sithen lere it after;
  For truthe telleth that love
  Is triacle of hevene.
  May no synne be on hym seene,
  That useth that spice,
  And alle hise werkes be wroughte
  With love as hym liste;
  And lered it Moyses for the leveste thyng,
  And moost lik to hevene,                                 760
  And al so the plentee of pees
  Moost precious of vertues;
  For hevene myghte nat holden it,
  It was so hevy of hymself,
  Til it hadde of the erthe
  Eten his fille.

    "And whan it hadde of this fold
  Flesshe and blood taken,
  Was nevere leef upon lynde
  Lighter therafter,                                       770
  And portatif and persaunt
  As the point of a nedle,
  That myghte noon armure it lette,
  Ne none heighe walles.

    "For-thi is love ledere
  Of the Lordes folk of hevene,
  And a meene, as the mair is
  Bitwene the kyng and the commune;
  Right so is love a ledere,
  And the law shapeth,                                     780
  Upon man for hise mysdedes
  The mercyment he taxeth.
  And for to knowen it kyndely
  It comseth by myght,
  And in the herte there is the heed
  And the heighe welle;
  For in kynde knowynge in herte,
  Ther a myght bigynneth;
  And that falleth to the fader
  That formed us alle,                                     790
  Loked on us with love,
  And leet his sone dye
  Mekely for oure mysdedes,
  To amenden us alle.
  And yet wolde he hem no wo
  That wroughte hym that peyne,
  But mekely with mouthe
  Mercy bisoughte,
  To have pité of that peple
  That peyned hym to dethe.                                800

    "There myghtow sen ensample
  In hymself oone,
  That he was myghtful and meke,
  And mercy gan graunte
  To hem that hengen hym on heigh
  And his herte thirled.

    "For-thi I rede yow, riche,
  Haveth ruthe of the povere;
  Though ye be myghtful to mote,
  Beeth meke in youre werkes,                              810
  For the same mesures that ye mete,
  Amys outher ellis,
  Ye shulle ben weyen therwith
  Whan ye wenden hennes.
  _Eadem mensura qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis._      =

    "For though ye be trewe of youre tonge
  And treweliche wynne,
  And as chaste as a child
  That in chirche wepeth,                                  820
  But if ye loven leelly
  And lene the povere,
  Swich good as God yow sent
  Goodliche parteth,
  Ye ne have namoore merite
  In masse nor in houres,
  Than Malkyn of hire maydenhede
  That no man desireth.

    "For James the gentile
  Jugged in hise bokes,                                    830
  That feith withouten the feet
  Is right no thyng worthi,
  And as deed as a dore-tree,
  But if the dedes folwe.
  _Fides sine operibus mortua est, etc._

    "For-thi chastité withouten charité
  Worth cheyned in helle;
  It is as lewed as a lampe
  That no light is inne.
  Manye chapeleyns arn chaste,                             840
  Ac charité is aweye;
  Are no men avarouser than hii
  Whan thei ben avaunced,
  Unkynde to hire kyn,
  And to alle cristene
  Chewen hire charité,
  And chiden after moore;
  Swiche chastité withouten charité
  Worth cheyned in helle.

    "Manye curatours kepen hem                             850
  Clene of hire bodies;
  Thei ben acombred with coveitise,
  Thei konne noght doon it from hem,
  So harde hath avarice
  Y-hasped hem togideres;
  And that is no truthe of the Trinité,
  But tricherie of helle,
  And lernynge to lewed men
  The latter for to deele.
  For-thi thise wordes                                     860
  Ben writen in the gospel,
  _Date, et dabitur vobis_,
  For I deele yow alle,
  And that is the lok of love,
  And leteth out my grace,
  To conforten the carefulle
  A-combred with synne.

    "Love is leche of lif,
  And next oure Lord selve,
  And also the graithe gate                                870
  That goth into hevene;
  For-thi I seye, as I seide
  Er by the textes,
  Whan alle tresors ben tried,
  Treuthe is the beste.

    "Now have I told thee what truthe is,
  That no tresor is bettre;
  I may no lenger lenge thee with,
  Now loke thee oure Lorde."                               879

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Secundus de Visione, ut supra._

  Yet I courbed on my knees,                               880
  And cried hire of grace,
  And seide, "Mercy, madame,
  For Marie love of hevene,
  That bar that blisful barn
  That boughte us on the rode,
  Kenne me by som craft
  To knowe the false."

    "Loke up on thi left half,
  And lo where he stondeth!
  Bothe Fals and Favel,                                    890
  And hire feeres manye."

    I loked on my left half,
  As the lady me taughte,
  And was war of a womman
  Worthiliche y-clothed,
  Purfiled with pelure
  The fyneste upon erthe,
  Y-corouned with a coroune,
  The kyng hath noon bettre;
  Fetisliche hire fyngres                                  900
  Were fretted with gold wyr,
  And theron rede rubies
  As rede as any gleede,
  And diamaundes of derrest pris,
  And double manere saphires,
  Orientals and ewages,
  Envenymes to destroye.

    Hire robe was ful riche,
  Of reed scarlet engreyned,
  With ribanes of reed gold                                910
  And of riche stones.
  Hire array me ravysshed,
  Swich richesse saugh I nevere;
  I hadde wonder what she was,
  And whos wif she were.

    "What is this womman," quod I,
  "So worthili atired?"

    "That is Mede the mayde," quod she,
  "Hath noyed me ful ofte,
  And y-lakked my lemman                                   920
  That Leautee is hoten,
  And bi-lowen hire to lordes
  That lawes han to kepe.

    "In the popes paleis
  She is pryvee as myselve;
  But soothnesse wolde noght so,
  For she is a bastarde;
  For fals was hire fader
  That hath a fikel tonge,
  And nevere sooth seide                                   930
  Sithen he com to erthe;
  And Mede is manered after hym,
  Right as kynde asketh
  _Qualis pater talis filius.
  Bonus arbor bonum fructum facit._

    "I oughte ben hyere than she,
  I kam of a bettre;
  My fader the grete God is
  And ground of alle graces,
  So God withouten gynnyng,                                940
  And I his goode doughter,
  And hath yeven me mercy
  To marie with myselve,
  And what man be merciful
  And leelly me love,
  Shal be my lord and I his leef
  In the heighe hevene.

    "And what man taketh Mede,
  Myn heed dar I legge,
  That he shal lese for hire love                          950
  A lappe of _caritatis_.

    "How construeth David the king
  Of men that taketh Mede,
  And men of this moolde
  That maynteneth truthe,
  And how ye shul save yourself,
  The sauter bereth witnesse:
  _Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo, etc._          =

    "And now worth this Mede y-maried                      960
  Unto a mansed sherewe,
  To oon fals fikel tonge,
  A fendes biyete;
  Favel thorugh his faire speche
  Hath this folk enchaunted,
  And al is Lieres ledynge,
  That she is thus y-wedded.

    "To-morwe worth y-maked
  The maydenes bridale,
  And there myghtow witen, if thow wilt,                   970
  Whiche thei ben alle
  That longen to that lordshipe,
  The lasse and the moore.
  Knowe hem there, if thow kanst,
  And kepe thow thi tonge,
  And lakke hem noght, but lat hem worthe
  Till leauté be justice,
  And have power to punysshe hem,
  Thanne put forth thi reson.
  Now I bikenne thee Crist," quod she,                     980
  "And his clene moder,
  And lat no conscience acombre thee
  For coveitise of Mede."

    Thus lefte me that lady
  Liggynge a-slepe;
  And how Mede was y-maried
  In metels me thoughte,
  That al the riche retenaunce
  That regneth with the false,
  Were boden to the bridale                                990
  On bothe two sides,
  Of alle manere of men
  The meene and the riche;
  To marien this mayde
  Were many men assembled,
  As of knyghtes and of clerkes,
  And oother commune peple,
  As sisours and somonours,
  Sherreves and hire clerkes,
  Bedelles and baillifs,                                  1000
  And brocours of chaffare,
  Forgoers and vitaillers,
  And advokettes of the arches;
  I kan noght rekene the route
  That ran aboute Mede.

    Ac Symonie and Cyvylle,
  And sisours of courtes,
  Were moost pryvee with Mede
  Of any men, me thoughte.
  Ac Favel was the firste                                 1010
  That fette hire out of boure,
  And as a brocour broughte hire
  To be with Fals enjoyned.

    Whan Symonye and Cyvylle
  Seighe hir bothe wille,
  Thei assented, for silver,
  To seye as bothe wolde.

    Thanne leep Liere forth, and seide,
  "Lo here a chartre!"
  That Gile with hise grete othes                         1020
  Gaf hem togidere,
  And preide Cyvylle to see,
  And Symonye to rede it.

    Thanne Symonye and Cyvylle
  Stonden forth bothe,
  And unfoldeth the feffement
  That Fals hath y-maked,
  And thus bigynnen thise gomes
  To greden ful heighe:
  _Sciant præsentes et futuri, etc._                      1030

    Witeth and witnesseth,
  That wonieth upon this erthe,
  That Mede is y-maried
  Moore for hire goodes
  Than for any vertue or fairnesse,
  Or any free kynde.
  Falsnesse is fayn of hire,
  For he woot hire riche;
  And Favel with his fikel speche
  Feffeth by this chartre,                                1040
  To be princes in pride
  And poverte to despise,
  To bakbite and to bosten,
  And bere fals witnesse,
  To scorne and to scolde,
  And sclaundre to make,
  Unbuxome and bolde
  To breke the ten hestes.

    And the erldom of Envye
  And Wrathe togideres,                                   1050
  With the chastilet of Cheste,
  And Chaterynge out of reson.

    The countee of Coveitise,
  And alle the costes aboute,
  That is Usure and Avarice,
  Al I hem graunte,
  In bargaynes and in brocages,
  With al the burghe of Thefte,

    And al the lordshipe of Leccherie
  In lengthe and in brede,                                1060
  As in werkes and in wordes,
  And in waitynges with eighes,
  And in wedes and in wisshynges,
  And with ydel thoughtes,
  There as wil wolde
  And werkmanshipe fayleth.

    Glotonye he gaf hem ek,
  And grete othes togidere,
  And al day to drynken
  At diverse tavernes,                                    1070
  And there to jangle and jape,
  And jugge hir even cristen;
  And in fastynge dayes to frete
  Er ful tyme were,
  And thanne to sitten and soupen
  Til sleep hem assaille;
  And breden as burghe swyn,
  And bedden hem esily,
  Til sleuthe and sleep
  Sliken hise sydes,                                      1080
  And thanne wanhope to awaken hem so
  With no wil to amende,
  For he leveth be lost,
  This is hir laste ende.

    And thei to have and to holde,
  And hire heires after,
  A dwellynge with the devel,
  And dampned be for evere,
  With alle the appurtinaunces of purgatorie                 =
  Into the pyne of helle.                                 1091

    Yeldynge for this thyng,
  At one dayes tyme,
  Hire soules to Sathan,
  To suffre with hym peynes,
  And with hym to wonye with wo
  While God is in hevene.

    In witnesse of which thyng,
  Wrong was the firste,
  And Piers the pardoner                                  1100
  Of Paulynes doctrine,
  Bette the bedel
  Of Bokyngham shire,
  Reynald the reve
  Of Rutland sokene,
  Maude the millere,
  And many mo othere.

    In the date of the devel
  This dede I ensele,
  By sighte of Sire Symonie                               1110
  And Cyvyles leeve.

    Thanne tened hym Theologie,
  Whan he this tale herde;
  And seide unto Cyvyle,
  "Now sorwe mote thow have,
  Swiche weddynges to werche,
  To wrathe with truthe;
  And er this weddynge be wroght,
  Wo thee bitide!

    "For Mede is muliere                                  1120
  Of Amendes engendred,
  And God graunteth to gyve
  Mede to Truthe;
  And thow hast gyven hire to a gilour;
  Now God gyve thee sorwe!
  Thi text telleth thee noght so,
  Truthe woot the sothe;
  For _Dignus est operarius_
  His hire to have,
  And thow hast fest hire to Fals,                        1130
  Fy on thi lawe!
  For al bi lesynges thow lyvest
  And lecherouse werkes.
  Symonye and thiself
  Shenden holi chirche;
  The notaries and ye
  Noyen the peple;
  Ye shul a-biggen it bothe,
  By God that me made!

    "Wel ye witen, wernardes,                             1140
  But if youre wit faille,
  That Fals is feithlees
  And fikel in hise werkes,
  And was a bastarde y-bore
  Of Belsabubbes kynne;
  And Mede is muliere,
  A maiden of goode,
  And myghte kisse the kyng
  For cosyn, and she wolde.

    "For-thi wercheth by wisdom,                          1150
  And by wit also;
  And ledeth hire to Londone,
  There it is y-shewed,
  If any lawe wol loke
  Thei ligge togideres;
  And though justices juggen hire
  To be joyned to Fals,
  Yet be war of weddynge;
  For witty is Truthe,
  And Conscience is of his counseil,                      1160
  And knoweth yow echone,
  And if he fynde yow in defaute
  And with the false holde,
  It shal bi-sitte youre soules
  Ful soure at the laste."

    Herto assenteth Cyvyle,
  Ac Symonye ne wolde,
  Til he hadde silver for his service,
  And also the notaries.

    Thanne fette Favel forth                              1170
  Floryns ynowe,
  And bad Gile to gyven
  Gold al aboute,
  And namely to the notaries
  That hem noon ne faille,
  And feffe false witnesses
  With floryns ynowe,
  "For thei may Mede a-maistrye,
  And maken at my wille."

    Tho this gold was y-gyve,                             1180
  Gret was the thonkyng
  To Fals and to Favel
  For hire faire giftes,
  And comen to conforten
  From care the false,
  And seiden, "Certes, sire,
  Cessen shul we nevere,
  Til Mede be thi wedded wif
  Thorugh wittes of us alle;
  For we have Mede a-maistried                            1190
  With oure murie speche,
  That she graunteth to goon,
  With a good wille,
  To London, to loken
  If the lawe wolde
  Juggen yow joyntly
  In joie for evere."

    Thanne was Falsnesse fayn,
  And Favel as blithe,
  And leten somone alle segges                            1200
  In shires aboute,
  And bad hem alle be bown,
  Beggers and othere,
  To wenden with hem to Westmynstre
  To witnesse this dede.

    Ac thanne cared thei for caples
  To carien hem thider,
  And Favel fette forth thanne
  Foles ynowe,
  And sette Mede upon a sherreve                          1210
  Shoed al newe.

    And Fals sat on a sisour,
  That softeli trotted;
  And Favel on a flaterere
  Fetisly atired.

    Tho hadde notaries none,
  Anoyed thei were,
  For Symonye and Cyvylle
  Sholde on hire feet gange.

    Ac thanne swoor Symonye,                              1220
  And Cyvylle bothe,
  That somonours sholde be sadeled
  And serven hem echone,
  And late apparaille thise provisours
  In palfreyes wise,
  Sire Symonye hymself
  Shal sitte upon hir bakkes.

    "Denes and southdenes,
  Drawe yow togideres,
  Erchdekenes and officials,                              1230
  And alle youre registrers,
  Lat sadle hem with silver
  Oure synne to suffre,
  As avoutrye and divorses,
  And derne usurie,
  To bere bisshopes aboute
  A-brood in visitynge.

    "Paulynes pryvees
  For pleintes in consistorie,
  Shul serven myself                                      1240
  That Cyvyle is nempned.

    "And cart-sadle the commissarie,
  Oure cart shal he lede,
  And fecchen us vitailles.
  At _Fornicatores_.
  And maketh of Lyere a lang cart
  To leden alle thise othere,
  As freres and faitours,
  That on hire feet rennen."

    And thus Fals and Favel                               1250
  Fareth forth togideres,
  And Mede in the middes,
  And alle thise men after.

    I have no tome to telle
  The tail that hire folwed;
  Ac Gyle was for-goer,
  And gyed hem alle.

    Sothnesse seigh hem wel,
  And seide but litel,
  And priked his palfrey,                                 1260
  And passed hem alle,
  And com to the kynges court,
  And Conscience it tolde;
  And Conscience to the kyng
  Carped it after.

    "Now, by Crist," quod the kyng,
  "And I cacche myghte
  Fals or Favel,
  Or any of hise feeris,
  I wolde be wroken of tho wrecches                       1270
  That wercheth so ille,
  And doon hem hange by the hals,
  And alle that hem maynteneth;
  Shal nevere man of this molde
  Meynprise the leeste,
  But right as the lawe wol loke,
  Lat falle on hem alle."

    And comaunded a constable
  That com at the firste,
  To attachen tho tyrauntz,                               1280
  "For any thyng I hote,
  And fettreth faste Falsnesse,
  For any kynnes giftes,
  And girdeth of Gyles heed,
  And lat hym go no ferther;
  And if ye lacche Lyere,
  Lat hym noght ascapen
  Er he be put on the pillory,
  For any preyere, I hote;
  And bryngeth Mede to me                                 1290
  Maugree hem alle."

    Drede at the dore stood,
  And the doom herde,
  And how the kyng comaunded
  Constables and sergeauntz
  Falsnesse and his felawshipe
  To fettren and to bynden.

    Thanne Drede wente wyghtliche,
  And warned the False,
  And bad hym fle for fere,                               1300
  And hise felawes alle.

    Falsnesse for fere thanne
  Fleigh to the ffreres,
  And Gyle dooth hym to go,
  A-gast for to dye;
  Ac marchauntz metten with hym
  And made hym abide,
  And bi-shetten hym in hire shoppes
  To shewen hire ware,
  Apparailed hym as apprentice                            1310
  The peple to serve.

    Lightliche Lyere
  Leep awey thanne,
  Lurkynge thorugh lanes,
  To-lugged of manye.
  He was nowher welcome,
  For his manye tales,
  Over al y-honted,
  And y-hote trusse,
  Til pardoners hadde pité,                               1320
  And pulled hym into house.
  They wesshen hym and wiped hym.
  And wounden hym in cloutes,
  And senten hym with seles
  On Sondayes to chirches,
  And yeven pardoun for pens
  Pounde-mele aboute.

    Thanne lourede leches,
  And lettres thei sente,
  That he sholde wonye with hem                           1330
  Watres to loke.

    Spycers speken with hym,
  To spien hire ware;
  For he kouthe of hir craft,
  And knewe manye gommes.

    And mynstrales and messagers
  Mette with hym ones,
  And helden hym an half-yeer
  And ellevene dayes.

    Freres with fair speche                               1340
  Fetten hym pennes,
  And for knowynge of comeres
  Coped hym as a frere;
  Ac he hath leve to lepen out,
  As ofte as hym liketh,
  And is welcome whan he wile,
  And woneth with hem ofte.

    Alle fledden for fere,
  And flowen into hernes;
  Save Mede the mayde,                                    1350
  Na-mo dorste abide.
  Ac trewely to telle,
  She trembled for drede,
  And ek wepte and wrong,
  Whan she was attached.                                  1355

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Tertius de Visione, ut supra._

  Now is Mede the mayde,                                  1356
  And na-mo of hem alle,
  With bedeles and with baillies
  Brought bifore the kyng.

    The kyng called a clerk,                              1360
  Kan I noght his name,
  To take Mede the maide
  And maken hire at ese.
  "I shal assayen hire myself,
  And soothliche appose,
  What man of this moolde
  That hire were levest.
  And if she werche bi wit,
  And my wil folwe,
  I wol forgyven hire this gilt,                          1370
  So me God helpe!"

    Curteisly the clerk thanne,
  As the kyng highte,
  Took Mede bi the myddel
  And broghte hire into chambre;
  And ther was murthe and mynstralcie,
  Mede to plese.

    They that wonyeth in Westmynstre                         =
  Worshipeth hire alle,                                   1380
  Gentilliche with joye;
  The justices somme
  Busked hem to the bour
  Ther the burde dwellede,
  To conforten hire kyndely,
  By clergies leve;
  And seiden, "Mourne noght, Mede,
  Ne make thow no sorwe;
  For we wol wisse the kyng,
  And thi wey shape,                                      1390
  To be wedded at thi wille,
  And wher thee leef liketh,
  For al Consciences cast
  Or craft, as I trowe."

    Mildely Mede thanne
  Merciede hem alle
  Of hire grete goodnesse,
  And gaf hem echone
  Coupes of clene gold,
  And coppes of silver,                                   1400
  Rynges with rubies,
  And richesses manye;
  The leeste man of hire meynee
  A moton of golde.
  Than laughte thei leve
  Thise lordes at Mede.

    With that comen clerkes
  To conforten hire the same,
  And beden hire be blithe;
  "For we beth thyne owene,                               1410
  For to werche thi wille,
  The while thow myght laste."

    Hendiliche heo thanne
  Bi-highte hem the same,
  To loven hem lelly,
  And lordes to make,
  And in the consistorie at the court
  Do callen hire names;
  "Shal no lewednesse lette
  The leode that I lovye,                                 1420
  That he ne worth first avaunced;
  For I am bi-knowen,
  There konnynge clerkes
  Shul clokke bi-hynde."

    Thanne cam ther a confessour,
  Coped as a frere;
  To Mede the mayde
  He meved thise wordes,
  And seide ful softely,
  In shrift as it were,                                   1430
  "Theigh lewed men and lered men
  Hadde leyen by thee bothe,
  And Falsnesse hadde y-folwed thee
  Alle thise fifty wynter,
  I shal assoille thee myself
  For a seem of whete,
  And also be thi bedeman,
  And bere wel thi message
  Amonges knyghtes and clerkes,
  Conscience to torne."                                   1440

    Thanne Mede for hire mysdedes
  To that man kneled,
  And shrof hire of hire sherewednesse,
  Shamelees, I trowe;
  Tolde hym a tale,
  And took hym a noble,
  For to ben hire bedeman
  And hire brocour als.

    Thanne he assoiled hire soone,
  And sithen he seide,                                    1450
  "We have a wyndow in werchynge
  Wole sitten us ful hye,
  Woldestow glaze that gable
  And grave therinne thy name,
  Syker sholde thi soule be
  Hevene to have."

    "Wiste I that," quod that womman,
  "I wolde noght spare
  For to be youre frend, frere,
  And faile yow nevere,                                   1460
  While ye love lordes
  That lecherie haunten,
  And lakketh noght ladies
  That loven wel the same.
  It is freletee of flesshe,
  Ye fynden it in bokes,
  And a cours of kynde
  Wherof we comen alle.
  Who may scape sclaundre,
  The scathe is soone amended;                            1470
  It is synne of the sevene
  Sonnest relessed.

    "Have mercy," quod Mede,
  "Of men that it haunteth,
  And I shal covere youre kirk,
  Youre cloistre do maken,
  Wowes do whiten,
  And wyndowes glazen,
  Do peynten and portraye,
  And paie for the makynge,                               1480
  That every segge shal seye
  I am suster of youre house."

    Ac God to alle good folk
  Swich gravynge defendeth,
  To writen in wyndowes
  Of hir wel dedes,
  An aventure pride be peynted there,
  And pomp of the world;
  For Crist knoweth thi conscience,
  And thi kynde wille,                                    1490
  And thi cost and thi coveitise,
  And who the catel oughte.

    For-thi I lere yow, lordes,
  Leveth swiche werkes;
  To writen in wyndowes
  Of youre wel dedes,
  Or to greden after Goddes men
  Whan ye dele doles,
  On aventure ye have youre hire here,
  And youre hevene als.                                   1500
  _Nesciat sinistra quid faciat dextra._

    Lat noght thi left half
  Late ne rathe
  Wite what thow werchest
  With thi right syde;
  For thus by the gospel
  Goode men doon hir almesse.

    Maires and maceres,
  That menes ben bitwene
  The kyng and the comune                                 1510
  To kepe the lawes,
  To punysshe on pillories
  And pynynge-stooles,
  Brewesters and baksters,
  Bochiers and cokes,
  For thise are men on this molde
  That moost harm wercheth
  To the povere peple
  That percel-mele buggen;
  For thei enpoisone the peple                            1520
  Pryveliche and ofte,
  Thei richen thorugh regratrie,
  And rentes hem biggen,
  With that the povere peple
  Sholde putte in hire wombe.
  For toke thei on trewely,
  Thei tymbred nought so heighe,
  Ne boughte none burgages,
  Be ye ful certeyne.

    Ac Mede the mayde                                     1530
  The mair hath bi-sought
  Of alle swiche selleris
  Silver to take,
  Or presentz withouten pens,
  As pieces of silver,
  Rynges or oother richesse,
  The regratiers to mayntene;
  "For my love," quod that lady,
  "Love hem echone,
  And suffre hem to selle                                 1540
  Som del ayeins reson."

    Salomon the sage
  A sermon he made,
  For to amenden maires
  And men that kepen lawes;
  And tolde hem this teme,
  That I telle thynke,
  _Ignis devorabit tabernacula eorum
      qui libenter accipiunt munera,
      etc._                                               1550

    Among thise lettrede leodes
  This Latyn is to mene,
  That fir shal falle and brenne
  Al to bloo askes
  The houses and homes
  Of hem that desireth
  Yiftes or yeres-yeves
  By cause of hire offices.

    The kyng fro the conseil cam,
  And called after Mede,                                  1560
  And of sente hire as swithe
  With sergeauntz manye,
  And broughte hire to boure
  With blisse and with joye.

    Curteisly the kyng thanne
  Comsed to telle,
  To Mede the mayde
  He meveth thise wordes,
  "Unwittily, womman,
  Wroght hastow ofte,                                     1570
  Ac worse wroghtestow nevere
  Than tho thow Fals toke.
  But I forgyve thee that gilt,
  And graunte thee my grace;
  Hennes to thi deeth day
  Do so na-moore.

    "I have a knyght Conscience,
  Cam late fro biyonde;
  If he wilneth thee to wif,
  Wiltow hym have?"                                       1580

    "Ye, lord," quod that lady,
  "Lord forbede it ellis!
  But I be holly at youre heste,
  Lat hange me soone."

    And thanne was Conscience called
  To come and appere
  Bifore the kyng and his conseil,
  As clerkes and othere.

    Knelynge Conscience
  To the kyng louted,                                     1590
  To wite what his wille were,
  And what he do wolde.

    "Woltow wedde this womman," quod the kyng,
  "If I wole assente?
  For she is fayn of thi felaweshipe,
  For to be thi make."

    Quod Conscience to the kyng,
  "Crist it me forbede!
  Er I wedde swich a wif,
  Wo me bitide!                                           1600
  For she is frele of hire feith,
  Fikel of hire speche,
  And maketh men mysdo
  Many score tymes;
  Trust of hire tresor
  Bitrayeth ful manye.

    "Wyves and widewes
  Wantonnes she techeth,
  And lereth hem lecherie
  That loveth hire giftes.                                1610
  Youre fader she felled
  Thorugh false biheste,
  And hath enpoisoned popes,
  And peired holy chirche.
  Is noght a bettre baude,
  By hym that me made!
  Bitwene hevene and helle,
  In erthe though men soughte.
  For she is tikel of hire tail,
  And tale-wis of hire tonge;                             1620
  As commune as a cartwey
  To ech a knave that walketh,
  To monkes, to mynstrales,
  To meseles in hegges.

    "Sisours and somonours,
  Swiche men hire preiseth;
  Sherreves of shires
  Were shent if she ne were;
  For she dooth men lese hire lond
  And hire lif bothe;                                     1630
  She leteth passe prisoners,
  And paieth for hem ofte,
  And gyveth the gailers gold
  And grotes togidres,
  To unfettre the fals
  Fle where hym liketh;
  And taketh the trewe bi the top
  And tieth hem faste,
  And hangeth hem for hatrede
  That harm dide nevere.                                  1640

    "To be corsed in consistorie
  She counteth noght a bene;
  For she copeth the commissarie,
  And coteth hise clerkes.
  She is assoiled as soone
  As hireself liketh;
  And may neigh as muche do
  In a monthe one,
  As youre secret seel
  In sixe score dayes.                                    1650
  For she is pryvee with the pope,
  Provisours it knoweth;
  For sire Symonie and hirselve
  Seleth hire bulles.

    "She blesseth thise bisshopes,
  Theigh thei be lewed;
  Provendreth persones,
  And preestes maynteneth,
  To have lemmans and lotebies
  Alle hire lif daies,                                    1660
  And bryngeth forth barnes
  Ayein forbode lawes.
  Ther she is wel with the kyng,
  Wo is the reaume;
  For she is favourable to fals,
  And de-fouleth truthe ofte.

    "By Jhesus! with hire jeweles
  Youre justices she shendeth,
  And lith ayein the lawe,
  And letteth hym the gate,                               1670
  That feith may noght have his forth,
  Hire floryns go so thikke.
  She ledeth the lawe as hire list,
  And love-daies maketh,
  And doth men lese thorugh hire love,
  That lawe myghte wynne
  The maze for a mene man,
  Though he mote hire evere.
  Lawe is so lordlich
  And looth to maken ende,                                1680
  Withouten presentz or pens
  She pleseth wel fewe.

    "Barons and burgeises
  She bryngeth in sorwe,
  And al the comune in care
  That coveiten lyve in truthe;
  For clergie and coveitise
  She coupleth togidres.
  This is the lif of that lady;
  Now Lord gyve hire sorwe!                               1690
  And alle that maynteneth hire men,
  Meschaunce hem bitide!
  For povere men may have no power
  To pleyne hem, though thei smerte.
  Swich a maister is Mede
  Among men of goode."

    Thanne mournede Mede,
  And mened hire to the kynge
  To have space to speke,
  Spede if she myghte.                                    1700

    The kyng graunted hire grace,
  With a good wille,
  "Excuse thee, if thow kanst;
  I kan na-moore seggen.
  For Conscience accuseth thee,
  To congeien thee for evere."

    "Nay, lord," quod that lady,
  "Leveth hym the werse,
  Whan ye witen witterly
  Wher the wrong liggeth.                                 1710
  Ther that meschief is gret,
  Mede may helpe.
  And thow knowest, Conscience,
  I kam noght to chide
  Ne deprave thi persone,
  With a proud herte.
  Wel thow woost, wernarde,
  But if thow wolt gabbe,
  Thow hast hanged on myn half
  Ellevene tymes,                                         1720
  And also griped my gold,
  Gyve it where thee liked;
  And whi thow wrathest thee now,
  Wonder me thynketh.
  Yet I may as I myghte
  Menske thee with giftes,
  And mayntene thi manhode
  Moore than thow knowest.

    "Ac thow hast famed me foule
  Bifore the kyng here;                                   1730
  For killed I nevere no kyng
  Ne counseiled therafter,
  Ne dide as thow demest
  I do it on the kynge.

    "In Normandie was he noght
  Noyed for my sake;
  Ac thow thiself soothly
  Shamedest hym ofte,
  Crope into a cabane
  For cold of thi nayles,                                 1740
  Wendest that wynter
  Wolde han y-lasted evere,
  And dreddest to be ded
  For a dym cloude,
  And hyedest homward
  For hunger of thi wombe.

    "Withouten pité, pilour,
  Povere men thow robbedest;
  And bere hire bras at thi bak
  To Caleis to selle,                                     1750
  Ther I lafte with my lord,
  His lif for to save.
  I made his men murye,
  And mournynge lette;
  I batred hem on the bak,
  And boldede hire hertes,
  And dide hem hoppe for hope
  To have me at wille.
  Hadde I ben marchal of his men,
  By Marie of hevene!                                     1760
  I dorste have leyd my lif,
  And no lasse wedde,
  He sholde have be lord of that lond
  In lengthe and in brede,
  And also kyng of that kith
  His kyn for to helpe,
  The leeste brol of his blood
  A barones piere.

    "Cowardly thow, Conscience,
  Conseiledest hym thennes,                               1770
  To leven his lordshipe
  For a litel silver,
  That is the richeste reaume
  That reyn over-hoveth.

    "It bi-cometh to a kyng
  That kepeth a reaume,
  To yeve mede to men,
  That mekely hym serveth,
  To aliens and to alle men,
  To honouren hem with giftes;                            1780
  Mede maketh hym bi-loved
  And for a man holden.

    "Emperours and erles,
  And alle manere lordes,
  For giftes han yonge men
  To renne and to ryde.

    "The pope and alle the prelates
  Presentz underfongen,
  And medeth men hemselven
  To mayntene hir lawes.                                  1790

    "Sergeauntz for hire servyce,
  We seeth wel the sothe,
  Taken mede of hir maistres,
  As thei mowe acorde.

    "Beggeres for hir biddynge,
  Bidden men mede.

    "Mynstrales for hir myrthe,
  Mede thei aske.

    "The kyng hath mede of his men,
  To make pees in londe.                                  1800

    "Men that teche children,
  Craven after mede.

    "Preestes that prechen the peple
  To goode, asken mede,
  And massepens and hire mete
  At the meel-tymes.

    "Alle kynne craftes men
  Craven mede for hir prentices.

    "Marchauntz and Mede
  Mote nede go togideres.                                 1810
  No wight, as I wene,
  Withouten mede may libbe."

    Quod the kyng to Conscience,
  "By Crist! as me thynketh,
  Mede is well worthi
  The maistrie to have."

    "Nay," quod Conscience to the kyng,
  And kneled to the erthe,
  "Ther are two manere of medes,
  My lord, with youre leve.                               1820

    "That oon God of his grace
  Graunteth in his blisse
  To tho that wel werchen,
  While thei ben here;
  The prophete precheth therof,
  And putte it in the Sauter,
  _Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo?_               =

    "Lord, who shal wonye in thi wones,
  And with thyne holy seintes,                            1830
  Or resten in thyne holy hilles?
  This asketh David;
  And David assoileth it hymself,
  As the Sauter telleth.
  _Qui ingreditur sine macula et operatur justitiam._        =

    "Tho that entren of o colour,
  And of one wille,
  And han y-wroght werkes
  With right and with reson;                              1840
  And he that useth noght
  The lyf of usurie,
  And enformeth povere men,
  And pursueth truthe.
  _Qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad
      usuram, et munera super innoc. etc._                   =

    "And alle that helpen the innocent,
  And holden with the rightfulle,
  Withouten mede doth hem good,                           1850
  And the truthe helpeth,
  Swiche manere men, my lord,
  Shul have this firste mede
  Of God at a gret nede,
  Whan thei gon hennes.

    "Ther is another mede mesurelees,
  That maistres desireth,
  To mayntene mysdoers
  Mede thei take,
  And therof seith the Sauter                             1860
  In a salmes ende,
  _In quorum manibus iniquitates
      sunt, dextra eorum repleta est

    "And he that gripeth hir gold,
  So me God helpe!
  Shal abien it bittre,
  Or the book lieth.

    "Preestes and persons
  That plesynge desireth,                                 1870
  That taken mede and moneie
  For masses that thei syngeth,
  Taken hire mede here,
  As Mathew us techeth.
  _Amen, Amen, recipiebant mercede suam._                    =

    "That laborers and lowe folk
  Taken of hire maistres,
  It is no manere mede,
  But a mesurable hire.                                   1880

    "In marchaundise is no mede,
  I may it wel avowe,
  It is a permutacion apertly,
  A penyworth for another.

    "Ac reddestow nevere _Regum_?
  Thow recrayed Mede,
  Whi the vengeaunce fel
  On Saul and on his children?
  God sente to Saul
  By Samuel the prophete,                                 1890
  That Agag of Amalec,
  And al his peple after,
  Sholden deye for a dede
  That doon hadde hire eldres.

    "For-thi seide Samuel to Saul,
  'God hymself hoteth
  Thee be buxom at his biddynge,
  His wil to fulfille;
  Weend to Amalec with thyn oost,
  And what thow fyndest there sle it,                     1900
  Burnes and beestes
  Bren hem to dethe,
  Widwes and wyves,
  Wommen and children,
  Moebles and un-moebles,
  And al thow myght fynde,
  Bren it, bere it noght awey,
  Be it never so riche,
  For mede ne for monee,
  Loke thow destruye it,                                  1910
  Spille it and spare it noght,
  Thow shalt spede the bettre.'

    "And for he coveited hir catel,
  And the kyng spared,
  Forbar hym and his beestes bothe,
  As the Bible witnesseth,
  Oother wise than he was
  Warned of the prophete,
  God seide to Samuel
  That Saul sholde deye,                                  1920
  And al his seed for that synne
  Shenfulliche ende.
  Swich a meschief Mede made
  Saul the kyng to have,
  That God hated hym for evere,
  And alle hise heires after.

    "The culorum of this cas
  Kepe I noght to telle,
  On aventure it noyed men,
  Noon ende wol I make,                                   1930
  For so is this world went
  With hem that han power,
  That who so seith hem sothest
  Is sonnest y-blamed.

    "Conscience knowe this,
  For kynde wit it me taughte,
  That Reson shal regne
  And reaumes governe,
  And right as Agag hadde,
  Happe shul somme,                                       1940
  Samuel shal sleen hym,
  And Saul shal be blamed,
  And David shal be diademed,
  And daunten hem alle;
  And oon cristene kyng
  Kepen hem alle.
  Shal na-moore Mede
  Be maister, as she is nouthe;
  Ac love and lowenesse
  And leautee togideres,                                  1950
  Thise shul ben maistres on moolde,
  Truthe to save.

    "And who so trespaseth ayein truthe,
  Or taketh ayein his wille,
  Leauté shal don hym lawe,
  And no lif ellis;
  Shall no sergeaunt for his service
  Were a silk howve,
  Ne no pelure in his cloke
  For pledynge at the barre.                              1960
  Mede of mysdoeres
  Maketh manye lordes,
  And over lordes lawes
  Ruleth the reaumes.

    "Ac kynde love shal come yit,
  And conscience togideres,
  And make of lawe a laborer;
  Swich love shal arise,
  And swich a pees among the peple,
  And a perfit truthe,                                    1970
  That Jewes shul wene in hire wit,
  And wexen wonder glade,
  That Moyses or Messie
  Be come into this erthe,
  And have wonder in hire hertes
  That men beth so trewe.

    "Alle that beren baselarde,
  Brood swerd or launce,
  Ax outher hachet,
  Or any wepene ellis,                                    1980
  Shal be demed to the deeth,
  But if he do it smythye
  Into sikel or to sithe,
  To shaar or to kultour;
  _Conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres, etc._                 =

    "Ech man to pleye with a plow,
  Pykoise or spade,
  Spynne or sprede donge,
  Or spille hymself with sleuthe.                         1990

    "Preestes and persons
  With _Placebo_ to hunte,
  And dyngen upon David
  Eche day til eve.
  Huntynge or haukynge
  If any of hem use,
  His boost of his benefice
  Worth by-nomen hym after.
  Shal neither kyng ne knyght,
  Constable ne meire,                                     2000
  Overlede the commune,
  Ne to the court sompne,
  Ne putte hem in panel
  To doon hem plighte hir truthe;
  But after the dede that is doon
  Oon doom shal rewarde,
  Mercy or no mercy,
  As truthe wole acorde.

    "Kynges court and commune court,
  Consistorie and chapitle,                               2010
  Al shal be but oon court,
  And oon baron be justice.
  Thanne worth Trewe-tonge a tidy man
  That tened me nevere;
  Batailles shul none be,
  Ne no man bere wepene;
  And what smyth that any smytheth,
  Be smyte therwith to dethe.
  _Non levabit gens contra gentem
      gladium, etc._                                      2020

    "And er this fortune falle,
  Fynde men shul the worste,
  By sixe sonnes and a shipe,
  And half a shef of arwes,
  And the myddel of a moone,
  Shal make the Jewes to torne,
  And Sarzynes for that sighte
  Shul synge _Gloria in excelsis, etc._
  For Makometh and Mede
  Mys-happe shul that tyme,                               2030
  For _melius est bonum nomen quam divitiæ multæ._"          =

    Al so wroth as the wynd
  Weex Mede in a while,
  "I kan no Latyn," quod she,
  "Clerkes wite the sothe;
  Se what Salomon seith
  In Sapience bokes,
  That thei that gyven giftes
  The victorie wynneth,                                   2040
  And moost worshipe hadde therwith
  As holy writ telleth:
  _Honorem adquiret qui dat munera, etc._                    =

    "Leve wel, lady," quod Conscience,
  "That thi Latyn be trewe;
  Ac thow art lik a lady
  That radde a lesson ones,
  Was _omnia probate_,
  And that plesed hire herte;                             2050
  For that lyne was no lenger
  At the leves ende.
  Hadde she loked that oother half,
  And the leef torned,
  She sholde have founden fele wordes
  Folwynge therafter,
  _Quod bonum est tenete_;
  Truthe that text made.
  And so ferde ye, madame,
  Ye kouthe na-moore fynde,                               2060
  Tho ye loked on Sapience
  Sittynge in youre studie.
  This text that ye han told
  Were good for lordes;
  Ac yow fayled a konnynge clerk
  That kouthe the leef han torned.
  And if ye seche Sapience eft,
  Fynde shul ye that folweth,
  A ful teneful text
  To hem that taketh mede;                                2070
  And that is _animam autem aufert accipientium, etc._,      =
  And that is the tail of the text;
  Of that that she shewed,
  That theigh we wynne worshipe,
  And with mede have victorie,
  The soule that the sonde taketh
  By so muche is bounde."                                 2078

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Quartus de Visione, ut supra._

  "Cesseth," seith the kyng,                              2079
  "I suffre yow no lenger;
  Ye shul saughtne for sothe,
  And serve me bothe.
  Kis hire," quod the kyng,
  "Conscience, I hote."

    "Nay, by Crist!" quod Conscience,
  "Congeye me er for evere,
  But Reson rede me therto,
  Rather wol I deye."

    "And I comaunde thee," quod the kyng,
  To Conscience thanne,                                   2090
  "Rape thee to ryde,
  And Reson thow fecche;
  Comaunde hym that he come
  My counseil to here,
  For he shal rule my reaume
  And rede me the beste,
  And acounte with thee, Conscience,
  So me Crist helpe!
  How thow lernest the peple,
  The lered and the lewed."                               2100

    "I am fayn of that foreward,"
  Seide the freke thanne,
  And ryt right to Reson,
  And rouneth in his ere,
  And seide as the kyng bad,
  And sithen took his leve.

    "I shal arraye me to ryde," quod Reson,
  "Reste thee a while."
  And called Caton his knave,
  Curteis of speche,                                      2110
  And also Tomme Trewe-tonge,--
  "Tel me no tales,
  Ne lesynge to laughen of,
  For I loved hem nevere;
  And set my sadel upon Suffre,
  Til I se my tyme,
  And lat warroke hym wel
  With witty-wordes gerthes,
  And hange on hym the hevy brydel
  To holde his heed lowe,                                 2120
  For he wol make 'wehee!'
  Twies er he be there."

    Thanne Conscience upon his capul
  Carieth forth faste,
  And Reson with hym ryt,
  Rownynge togideres,
  Whiche maistries Mede
  Maketh on this erthe.

    Oon Waryn Wisdom,
  And Witty his feere,                                    2130
  Folwed hym faste,
  For thei hadde to doone
  In th'escheker and in the chauncerye,
  To ben descharged of thynges;
  And riden faste, for Reson sholde
  Rede hem the beste,
  For to save hem for silver
  From shame and from harmes.
  And Conscience knew hem wel,
  Thei loved coveitise;                                   2140
  And bad Reson ryde faste,
  And recche of hir neither.
  "Ther are wiles in hire wordes,
  And with Mede thei dwelleth;
  Ther as wrathe and wranglynge is,
  Ther wynne thei silver;
  Ac where is love and leautee,
  Thei wol noght come there.
  _Contritio et infelicitas in viis eorum,
      etc._                                               2150

    "Thei ne yeveth noght of God
  One goose wynge.
  _Non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum, etc._                =

    "For woot God thei wolde do moore
  For a dozeyne chicknes,
  Or as manye capons,
  Or for a seem of otes,
  Than for the love of oure Lord,
  Or alle hise leeve seintes.                             2160
  For-thi Reson lat hem ride,
  Tho riche by hemselve,
  For Conscience knoweth hem noght,
  Ne Crist, as I trowe."
  And thanne Reson rood faste
  The righte heighe gate,
  As Conscience hym kenned,
  Til thei come to the kynge.

    Curteisly the kyng thanne
  Com ayeins Reson,                                       2170
  And bitwene hymself and his sone
  Sette hym on benche;
  And wordeden wel wisely
  A gret while togideres.

    And thanne com Pees into parlement,
  And putte forth a bille,
  How Wrong ayeins his wille
  Hadde his wif taken,
  And how he ravysshede Rose
  Reginaldes loove,                                       2180
  And Margrete of hir maydenhede
  Maugree hire chekes.
  "Bothe my gees and my grys
  Hise gadelynges feccheth,
  I dar noght for fere of hem
  Fighte ne chide.
  He borwed of me Bayard,
  He broughte hym hom nevere,
  Ne no ferthyng therfore,
  For ought I koude plede.                                2190
  He maynteneth hise men
  To murthere myne hewen,
  Forstalleth my feires,
  And fighteth in my chepyng,
  And breketh up my bernes dore,
  And bereth awey my whete,
  And taketh me but a taillé
  For ten quarters of otes;
  And yet he beteth me therto,
  And lyth by my mayde.                                   2200
  I am noght hardy for hym
  Unnethe to loke."

    The kyng knew he seide sooth,
  For Conscience hym tolde
  That Wrong was a wikked luft,
  And wroghte muche sorwe.

    Wrong was afered thanne,
  And Wisdom he soughte,
  To maken pees with hise pens;
  And profred hym manye,                                  2210
  And seide, "Hadde I love of my lord the kyng,
  Litel wolde I recche,
  Theigh Pees and his power
  Pleyned hym evere."

    Tho wente Wisdom
  And sire Waryn the Witty,
  For that Wrong hadde y-wroght
  So wikked a dede,
  And warnede Wrong tho
  With swich a wis tale,                                  2220
  "Who so wercheth by wille,
  Wrathe maketh ofte;
  I sey it by myself,
  Thow shalt it wel fynde;
  But if Mede it make,
  Thi meschief is uppe,
  For bothe thi lif and thi lond
  Lyth in his grace."

    Thanne wowede Wrong
  Wisdom ful yerne,                                       2230
  To maken pees with his pens,
  Handy dandy payed.

    Wisdom and Wit thanne
  Wenten togidres,
  And token Mede myd hem
  Mercy to wynne.

    Pees putte forth his heed,
  And his panne blody,
  "Withouten gilt, God it woot,
  Gat I this scathe;                                      2240
  Conscience and the commune
  Knowen the sothe."

    Ac Wisdom and Wit
  Were aboute faste,
  To overcomen the kyng
  With catel, if thei myghte.

    The kyng swor by Crist,
  And by his crowne bothe,
  That Wrong for hise werkes
  Sholde wo tholie;                                       2250
  And comaundede a constable
  To casten hym in irens,
  And lete hym noght thise seven yer
  Seen his feet ones.

    "God woot," quod Wisdom,
  "That were noght the beste;
  And he amendes nowe make,
  Lat maynprise hym have,
  And be borgh for his bale,
  And buggen hym boote,                                   2260
  And so amenden that is mys-do
  And evere moore the bettre."

    Wit acorded therwith,
  And seide the same,
  "Bettre is that boote
  Bale a-doun brynge,
  Than bale be y-bet,
  And boote never the bettre."

    And thanne gan Mede to mengen hire,
  And mercy she bi-soughte,                               2270
  And profrede Pees a present
  Al of pure golde:
  "Have this, man, of me," quod she,
  "To amenden thi scathe,
  For I wol wage for Wrong
  He wol do so na-moore."

    Pitously Pees thanne
  Preyde to the kynge,
  To have mercy on that man
  That mys-dide hym so ofte;                              2280
  "For he hath waged me wel,
  As Wisdom hym taughte,
  And I forgyve hym that gilt
  With a good wille,
  So that the kyng assente,
  I kan seye no bettre;
  For Mede hath me amendes maad,
  I may na-moore axe."

    "Nay," quod the kyng tho,
  "So me Crist helpe!                                     2290
  Wrong wendeth noght so a-wey,
  Erst wole I wite moore.
  For lope he so lightly,
  Laughen he wolde;
  And eft the boldere be
  To bete myne hewen;
  But Reson have ruthe on hym,
  He shal reste in my stokkes;
  And that as longe as he lyveth,
  But lownesse hym borwe."                                2300

    Som men radde Reson tho
  To have ruthe on that shrewe,
  And for to counseille the kyng,
  And Conscience after;
  That Mede moste be maynpernour
  Reson thei bi-soughte.

    "Reed me noght," quod Reson,
  "No ruthe to have,
  Til lordes and ladies
  Loven alle truthe,                                      2310
  And haten alle harlotrie,
  To heren or to mouthen it.

    "Til Parnelles purfille
  Be put in hire hucche,
  And childrene cherissynge
  Be chastynge with yerdes,
  And harlottes holynesse
  Be holden for an hyne.

    "Til clerkene coveitise be
  To clothe the povere and fede,                          2320
  And religiouse romeris
  _Recordare_ in hir cloistres,
  As seynt Beneyt hem bad,
  Bernard and Fraunceis,
  And til prechours prechynge
  Be preved on hemselve.

    "Til the kynges counseil
  Be the commune profit,
  Til bisshopes bayardes
  Ben beggeris chaumbres,                                 2330
  Hire haukes and hire houndes
  Help to povere religious.

    "And til seint James be sought
  There I shal assigne,
  That no man go to Galis
  But if he go for evere;--
  And alle Rome renneres,
  For robberes biyonde,
  Bere no silver over see
  That signe of kyng sheweth,                             2340
  Neither grave ne ungrave,
  Gold neither silver,
  Upon forfeture of that fee,
  Who so fynt it at Dovere,
  But if he be marchaunt or his man,
  Or messager with lettres,
  Provysour or preest,
  Or penaunt for hise synnes.

    "And yet," quod Reson, "by the Rode!
  I shal no ruthe have,                                   2350
  While Mede hath the maistrie
  In this moot-halle.
  Ac I may shewe ensamples,
  As I se outher while,
  I seye it by myself," quod he,
  "And it so were
  That I were kyng with coroune
  To kepen a reaume,
  Sholde nevere Wrong in this world,
  That I wite myghte,                                     2360
  Ben unpunysshed in my power,
  For peril of my soule,
  Ne gete my grace for giftes,
  So me God save!
  Ne for no mede have mercy,
  But mekenesse it make;
  For _nullum malum_ the man
  Mette with _inpunitum_,
  And bad _nullum bonum_
  Be _irremuneratum_.                                     2370

    "Lat youre confessour, sire kyng,
  Construe this unglosed;
  And if ye werchen it in werk,
  I wedde myne eris,
  That lawe shal ben a laborer
  And lede a-feld donge,
  And love shal lede thi lond,
  As the leef liketh."

    Clerkes that were confessours
  Coupled hem togideres,                                  2380
  Al to construe this clause,
  And for the kynges profit,
  Ac noght for confort of the commune,
  Ne for the kynges soule;
  For I seigh Mede in the moot-halle
  On men of lawe wynke,
  And thei laughynge lope to hire,
  And left Reson manye.
  Waryn Wisdom
  Wynked upon Mede,                                       2390
  And seide, "Madame, I am youre man,
  What so my mouth jangle;
  I falle in floryns," quod that freke,
  "And faile speche ofte."

    Alle rightfulle recordede
  That Reson truthe tolde;
  And Wit acorded therwith,
  And comendede hise wordes,
  And the mooste peple in the halle,
  And manye of the grete,                                 2400
  And leten Mekenesse a maister,
  And Mede a mansed sherewe.

    Love leet of hire light,
  And leauté yet lasse,
  And seiden it so heighe
  That al the halle it herde,
  "Who so wilneth hire to wif,
  For welthe of hire goodes,
  But he be knowe for a cokewold,
  Kut of my nose."                                        2410

    Mede mornede tho,
  And made hevy chere,
  For the mooste commune of that court
  Called hire an hore.
  Ac a sisour and a somonour
  Sued hire faste,
  And a sherreves clerk
  Bisherewed at the route;
  "For ofte have I," quod he,
  "Holpen yow at the barre,                               2420
  And yet yeve ye me nevere
  The worth of a risshe."

    The kyng callede Conscience,
  And afterward Reson,
  And recordede that Reson
  Hadde rightfully shewed;
  And modiliche upon Mede
  With myght the kyng loked;
  And gan wexe wroth with lawe,
  For Mede almoost hadde shent it;                        2430
  And seide, "thorugh lawe, as I leve!
  I lese manye eschetes;
  Mede overmaistreth lawe,
  And muche Truthe letteth.
  Ac Reson shal rekene with yow,
  If I regne any while,
  And deme yow bi this day,
  As ye han deserved.
  Mede shal noght maynprise yow,
  By the Marie of hevene!                                 2440
  I wole have leauté in lawe,
  And lete be al youre janglyng;
  And as moost folk witnesseth wel,
  Wrong shal be demed."

    Quod Conscience to the kyng,
  "But the commune wole assente,
  It is ful hard, by myn heed!
  Hertoo to brynge it,
  Alle youre lige leodes
  To lede thus evene."                                    2450

    "By hym that raughte on the rode!"
  Quod Reson to the kynge,
  "But if I rule thus youre reaume,
  Rende out my guttes,
  If ye bidden buxomnesse
  Be of myn assent."

    "And I assente," seith the kyng,
  "By seinte Marie my lady!
  By my counseil commune,
  Of clerkes and of erles;                                2460
  Ac redily, Reson,
  Thow shalt noght ride fro me,
  For, as longe as I lyve,
  Lete thee I nelle."

    "I am al redy," quod Reson,
  "To reste with yow evere;
  So Conscience be of oure counseil,
  I kepe no bettre."

    "And I graunte," quod the kyng,
  "Goddes forbode ellis!
  Als longe as oure lyf lasteth,
  Lyve we togideres."                                     2472

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Quintus de Visione, ut supra._

  The kyng and hise knyghtes                              2473
  To the kirke wente,
  To here matyns of the day
  And the masse after.
  Thanne waked I of my wynkyng,
  And wo was withalle,
  That I ne hadde slept sadder,
  And y-seighen moore.                                    2480
  Ac er I hadde faren a furlong,
  Feyntise me hente,
  That I ne myghte ferther a foot
  For defaute of slepynge,
  And sat softely a-doun,
  And seide my bileve,
  And so I bablede on my bedes,
  Thei broughte me a-slepe.
  And thanne saugh I muche moore
  Than I bifore of tolde,                                 2490
  For I seigh the feld ful of folk,
  That I bifore of seide,
  And how Reson gan arayen hym
  Al the reaume to preche,
  And with a cros afore the kyng
  Comsede thus to techen.

    He preved that thise pestilences
  Were for pure synne,
  And the south-westrene wynd
  On Saterday at even                                     2500
  Was pertliche for pure pride,
  And for no point ellis;
  Pyries and plum-trees
  Were puffed to the erthe,
  In ensaumple that the segges
  Sholden do the bettre;
  Beches and brode okes
  Were blowen to the grounde,
  Turned upward hire tailes,
  In tokenynge of drede                                   2510
  That dedly synne er domes-day
  Shal for-doon hem alle.

    Of this matere I myghte
  Mamelen ful longe;
  Ac I shal seye as I saugh,
  So me God helpe!
  How pertly afore the peple
  Reson bigan to preche.

    He bad Wastour go werche,
  What he best kouthe,                                    2520
  And wynnen his wastyng
  With som maner crafte.

    He preide Pernele
  Hir purfil to lete,
  And kepe it in hire cofre
  For catel at hire nede.

    Tomme Stowne he taughte
  To take two staves,
  And fecche Felice hom
  Fro the wynen pyne.                                     2530
  He warnede Watte
  His wif was to blame,
  For hire heed was worth half marc,
  And his hood noght worth a grote;
  And bad Bette kutte
  A bough outher tweye,
  And bete Beton therwith,
  But if she wolde werche.

    And thanne he chargede chapmen
  To chastizen hir children,                              2540
  Late no wynnyng hem for-wanye
  While thei be yonge,
  Ne for no poustee of pestilence
  Plese hem noght out of reson.
  "My sire seide so to me,
  And so dide my dame,
  That the levere child
  The moore loore bihoveth;
  And Salomon seide the same,
  That _Sapience_ made,                                   2550
  _Qui parcit virgæ, odit filium_.
  The Englissh of this Latyn is,
  Who so wole it knowe
  Who so spareth the spring,
  Spilleth hise children."

    And sithen he prechede prelates
  And preestes togideres,
  "That ye prechen to the peple,
  Preve it on yowselve,
  And dooth it in dede,                                   2560
  It shal drawe yow to goode;
  If ye leven as ye leren us,
  We shul leve yow the bettre."

    And sithen he radde Religion
  Hir rule to holde;
  "Lest the kyng and his conseil
  Youre comunes apeire,
  And be stywardes of youre stedes,
  Til ye be ruled bettre."

    And sithen he counseiled the kyng                     2570
  His commune to lovye;
  "It is thi trewe tresor,
  And tryacle at thy nede."

    And sithen he preide the pope
  Have pité on holy chirche,
  And er he gyve any grace,
  Governe first hymselve.

    "And ye that han lawes to kepe,
  Lat truthe be youre coveitise,
  Moore than gold outher giftes,                          2580
  If ye wol God plese;
  For who so contrarieth Truthe,
  He telleth in the gospel,
  That God knoweth hym noght,
  Ne no seynt of hevene.
  _Amen dico vobis, nescio vos._

    "And ye that seke seynt James,
  And seyntes of Rome,
  Seketh seynt Truthe,
  For he may save yow alle;                               2590
  _Qui cum patre et filio_,
  That faire hem bi-falle
  That seweth my sermon."
  And thus seyde Reson.

    Thanne ran Repentaunce,
  And reherced his teme:
  And garte Wille to wepe
  Water with hise eighen.

    Pernele Proud-herte
  Platte hire to the erthe,                               2600
  And lay longe er she loked,
  And "Lord, mercy!" cryde,
  And bi-highte to hym
  That us alle made,
  She sholde unsowen hir serk,
  And sette there an heyre,
  To affaiten hire flesshe
  That fiers was to synne.
  "Shal nevere heigh herte me hente,
  But holde I wole me lowe                                2610
  And suffre to be mys-seyd,
  And so dide I nevere;
  And now I wole meke me,
  And mercy biseche,
  For al this I have
  Hated in myn herte."

    Thanne Lechour seide, "Allas!"
  And on oure Lady he cryde,
  To maken mercy for hise mys-dedes
  Bitwene God and his soule;                              2620
  With that he sholde the Saterday,
  Seven yer therafter,
  Drynke but myd the doke,
  And dyne but ones.

    Envye with hevy herte
  Asked after shrifte,
  And carefully _mea culpa_
  He comsed to shewe.
  He was as pale as a pelet,
  In the palsy he semed;                                  2630
  And clothed in a kaurymaury,
  I kouthe it nought discryve,
  In kirtel and courtepy,
  And a knyf by his syde;
  Of a freres frokke
  Were the fore-sleves;
  And as a leek that hadde y-leye
  Longe in the sonne,
  So loked he with lene chekes
  Lourynge foule.                                         2640

    His body was to-bollen for wrathe,
  That he boot hise lippes;
  And wryngynge he yede with the fust,
  To wreke hymself he thoughte
  With werkes or with wordes,
  Whan he seyghe his tyme.
  Ech a word that he warpe
  Was of a neddres tonge;
  Of chidynge and of chalangynge
  Was his chief liflode,                                  2650
  With bakbitynge and bismere,
  And berynge of fals witnesse.

    "I wolde ben y-shryve," quod this sherewe,
  "And I for shame dorste;
  I wolde be gladder, by God!
  That Gybbe hadde meschaunce,
  Than though I hadde this wouke y-wonne
  A weye of Essex chese.

    "I have a neghebore by me,
  I have anoyed hym ofte,                                 2660
  And lowen on hym to lordes
  To doon hym lese his silver,
  And maad his frendes be his foon
  Thorugh my false tonge;
  His grace and his goode happes
  Greven me ful soore.

    "Bitwene manye and manye
  I make debate ofte,
  That bothe lif and lyme
  Is lost thorugh my speche.                              2670
  And whan I mete hym in market
  That I moost hate,
  I hailse hym hendely,
  As I his frend were;
  For he is doughtier than I,
  I dar do noon oother;
  Ac hadde I maistrie and myght,
  God woot my wille!

    "And whan I come to the kirk,
  And sholde knele to the roode,                          2680
  And preye for the peple
  As the preest techeth,
  For pilgrymes and for palmeres,
  For al the peple after,
  Thanne I crye on my knees
  That Crist gyve hem sorwe,
  That beren awey my bolle
  And my broke shete.

    "Awey fro the auter thanne
  Turne I myne eighen,                                    2690
  And bi-holde Eleyne
  Hath a newe cote;
  I wisshe thanne it were myn,
  And al the web after.

    "And of mennes lesynge I laughe,
  That liketh myn herte;
  And for hir wynnynge I wepe,
  And waille the tyme;
  And deme that thei doon ille,
  There I do wel werse.                                   2700
  Who so under-nymeth me hero
  I hate hym dedly after;
  I wolde that ech a wight
  Were my knave,
  For who so hath moore than I,
  Than angreth me soore.
  And thus I lyve love-lees,
  Lik a luther dogge;
  That al my body bolneth,
  For bitter of my galle.                                 2710

    "I myghte noght ete many yeres
  As a man oughte,
  For envye and yvel wil
  Is yvel to defie.
  May no sugre ne swete thyng
  Aswage my swellyng?
  Ne no _diapenidion_
  Dryve it fro myn herte?
  Ne neither shrifte ne shame,
  But who so shrape my mawe?"                             2720

    "Yis redily," quod Repentaunce,
  And radde hym to the beste,
  "Sorwe of synnes
  Is savacion of soules."

    "I am sory," quod that segge,
  "I am but selde oother,
  And that maketh me thus megre,
  For I ne may me venge.

    "Amonges burgeises have I be
  Dwellyng at Londone,                                    2730
  And gart bakbityng be a brocour
  To blame mennes ware;
  Whan he solde and I nought,
  Thanne was I redy
  To lye and to loure on my neghebore,
  And to lakke his chaffare;
  I wole amende this, if I may,
  Thorugh myght of God almyghty."

    Now awaketh Wrathe,
  With two white eighen;                                  2740
  And nevelynge with the nose,
  And his nekke hangyng.

    "I am Wrathe," quod he,
  "I was som tyme a frere,
  And the coventes gardyner
  For to graffen impes;
  On lymitours and listres
  Lesynges I ymped,
  Til thei beere leves of lowe speche,
  Lordes to plese,                                        2750
  And sithen thei blosmede a-brood
  In boure to here shriftes;
  And now is fallen therof a fruyt,
  That folk han wel levere
  Shewen hire shriftes to hem,
  Than shryve hem to hir persons.

    "And now persons han perceyved
  That freres parte with hem,
  Thise possessioners preche
  And deprave freres.                                     2760

    "And freres fyndeth hem in defaute,
  As folk bereth witnesse,
  That whan thei preche the peple
  In many places aboute,
  I Wrathe walke with hem,
  And wisse hem of my bokes.
  Thus thei speken of my spiritualté,
  That either despiseth oother,
  Til thei be bothe beggers
  And by my spiritualté libben,                           2770
  Or ellis al riche
  And ryden aboute.
  I Wrathe reste nevere,
  That I ne moste folwe
  This wikked folk,
  For swich is my grace.

    "I have an aunte to nonne,
  And an abbesse bothe;
  Hir hadde levere swowe or swelte,
  Than suffre any peyne,                                  2780

    "I have be cook in hir kichene,
  And the covent served
  Manye monthes with hem,
  And with monkes bothe.
  I was the prioresse potager,
  And othere povere ladies,
  And maad hem joutes of janglyng,
  That dame Johane was a bastard,
  And dame Clarice a knyghtes doughter,
  Ac a cokewold was hir sire;                             2790
  And dame Pernele a preestes fyle,
  Prioresse worth she nevere,
  For she hadde child in chirie-tyme,
  Al our chapitre it wiste.

    "Of wikkede wordes
  I Wrathe hire wortes made,
  Til 'thow lixt' and 'thow lixt'
  Lopen out at ones,
  And either hite oother
  Under the cheke;                                        2800
  Hadde thei had knyves, by Crist
  Hir either hadde kild oother.

    "Seint Gregory was a good pope,
  And hadde a good forwit,
  That no prioresse were preest,
  For that he ordeyned;
  They hadde thanne ben _infames_ the firste day,
  Thei kan so yvele hele conseil.

    "Among monkes I myghte be,
  Ac many tyme I shonye it;                               2810
  For there ben manye felle frekes
  My feeris to aspie,
  Bothe priour and suppriour
  And oure _pater abbas_;
  And if I telle any tales,
  Thei taken hem togideres,
  And doon me faste frydayes
  To breed and to watre,
  And am chalanged in the chapitre hous
  As I a child were,                                      2820
  And baleised on the bare ers,
  And no brech bitwene.
  For-thi have I no likyng
  With tho leodes to wonye.
  I ete there unthende fisshe,
  And feble ale drynke;
  Ac outher while whan wyn cometh,
  Thanne I drynke wyn at eve,
  And have a flux of a foul mouth
  Wel fyve dayes after.                                   2830
  Al the wikkednesse that I woot
  By any of oure bretheren,
  I couthe it in oure cloistre,
  That al oure covent woot it."

    "Now repente thee," quod Repentaunce,
  "And reherce thow nevere
  Counseil that thow knowest
  By contenaunce ne by right;
  And drynk nat over delicatly,
  Ne to depe neither,                                     2840
  That thi wille by cause therof
  To wrathe myghte turne.
  _Esto sobrius_," he seide,
  And assoiled me after,
  And bad me wilne to wepe
  My wikkednesse to amende.

    And thanne cam Coveitise,
  Kan I hym naght discryve,
  So hungrily and holwe
  Sire Hervy hym loked.                                   2850
  He was bitel-browed,
  And baber-lipped also,
  With two blered eighen
  As a blynd hagge;
  And as a letheren purs
  Lolled hise chekes,
  Wel sidder than his chyn
  Thei chyveled for elde;
  And as a bonde-man of his bacon
  His berd was bi-draveled,                               2860
  With an hood on his heed,
  A lousy hat above,
  And in a tawny tabard
  Of twelf wynter age,
  Al so torn and baudy,
  And ful of lys crepyng,
  But if that a lous couthe
  Han lopen the bettre,
  She sholde noght han walked on that welthe,
  So was it thred-bare.                                   2870

    "I have ben coveitous," quod this caytif,
  "I bi-knowe it here,
  For som tyme I served
  And was his prentice y-plight
  His profit to wayte.

    "First I lerned to lye,
  A leef outher tweyne;
  Wikkedly to weye
  Was my firste lesson;                                   2880
  To Wy and to Wynchestre
  I wente to the feyre,
  With many manere marchaundise,
  As my maister me highte.
  Ne hadde the grace of gyle y-go
  Amonges my chaffare,
  It hadde ben unsold this seven yer,
  So me God helpe!

    "Thanne drough I me among drapiers,
  My donet to lerne,                                      2890
  To drawe the liser along,
  The lenger it semed;
  Among the riche rayes
  I rendred a lesson,
  To broche hem with a pak-nedle,
  And playte hem togideres,
  And putte hem in a presse,
  And pyne hem therinne,
  Til ten yerdes or twelve
  Hadde tolled out thrittene.                             2900

    "My wif was a webbe,
  And wollen cloth made;
  She spak to spynnesteres
  To spynnen it oute,
  Ac the pound that she paied by
  Peised a quatron moore
  Than myn owene auncer,
  Who so weyed truthe.

    "I boughte hire barly-malt,
  She brew it to selle,                                   2910
  Peny ale and puddyng ale
  She poured togideres,
  For laborers and for lowe folk
  That lay by hymselve.

    "The beste ale lay in my bour,
  Or in my bed-chambre;
  And who so bummed therof,
  Boughte it therafter,
  A galon for a grote,
  God woot, no lesse!                                     2920
  And yet it cam in cuppe-mele,
  This craft my wif used.
  Rose the Regrater
  Was hire righte name;
  She hath holden hukkerye
  Al hire lif tyme.
  Ac I swere now, so thee ik!
  That synne wol I lete,
  And nevere wikkedly weye,
  Ne wikke chaffare use;                                  2930
  But wenden to Walsyngham,
  And my wif als,
  And bidde the Roode of Bromholm
  Brynge me out of dette."

    "Repentedestow evere?" quod Repentaunce,
  "Or restitucion madest."

    "Yis, ones I was y-herberwed," quod he,
  "With an heep of chapmen,
  I roos whan thei were a-reste
  And riflede hire males."                                2940

    "That was no restitucion," quod Repentaunce,
  "But a robberis thefte;
  Thow haddest be the bettre worthi
  Ben hanged therfore,
  Than for al that
  That thow hast here shewed."

    "I wende riflynge were restitucion," quod he,
  "For I lerned nevere rede on boke;
  And I kan no Frensshe, in feith,
  But of the fertheste ende of Northfolk."                2950

    "Usedestow evere usurie?" quod Repentaunce,
  "In al thi lif tyme."

    "Nay sothly," he seide,
  "Save in my youthe
  I lerned among Lumbardes
  And Jewes a lesson,
  To weye pens with a peis,
  And pare the hevyeste,
  And lene it for love of the cros,
  To legge a wed and lese it.                             2960
  Swiche dedes I dide write,
  If he his day breke,
  I have mo manoirs thorugh rerages,
  Than thorugh _miseretur et commodat_.

    "I have lent lordes
  And ladies my chaffare,
  And ben hire brocour after,
  And bought it myselve;
  Eschaunges and chevysaunces
  With swich chaffare I dele,                             2970
  And lene folk that lese wole
  A lippe at every noble,
  And with Lumbardes lettres
  I ladde gold to Rome,
  And took it by tale here,
  And tolde hem there lasse."

    "Lentestow evere lordes,
  For love of hire mayntenaunce?"

    "Ye, I have lent to lordes,
  Loved me nevere after,                                  2980
  And have y-maad many a knyght
  Bothe mercer and draper,
  That payed nevere for his prentishode
  Noght a peire gloves."

    "Hastow pité on povere men,
  That mote nedes borwe?"

    "I have as muche pité of povere men,
  As pedlere hath of cattes,
  That wolde kille hem, if he cacche hem myghte,
  For coveitise of hir skynnes."                          2990

    "Artow manlich among thi neghebores
  Of thi mete and drynke?"

    "I am holden," quod he, "as hende
  As hound is in kichene,
  Amonges my neghebores, namely,
  Swiche a name ich have."

    "Now God lene thee nevere," quod Repentaunce,
  "But thow repente the rather,
  The grace on this grounde
  Thi good wel to bi-sette,                               3000
  Ne thyne heires after thee
  Have joie of that thow wynnest,
  Ne thyne executours wel bi-sette
  The silver that thow hem levest;
  And that was wonne with wrong
  With wikked men be despended.
  For were I frere of that hous
  Ther good feith and charité is,
  I nolde cope us with thi catel,
  Ne oure kirk amende,                                    3010
  Ne have a peny to my pitaunce,
  So God my soule save!
  For the beste book in oure hous,
  Theigh brent gold were the leves,
  And I wiste witterly
  Thow were swich as thow tellest.
  _Servus es alterius,
  Dum fercula pinguia quæris;
  Pane tuo potius
  Vescere, liber eris._                                   3020

    "Thow art an unkynde creature,
  I kan thee noght assoille,
  Til thow make restitucion
  And rekene with hem alle;
  And sithen that Reson rolle it
  In the registre of hevene,
  That thow hast maad ech man good,
  I may thee noght assoile.
  _Non dimittitur peccatum, donec restituatur
      oblatum._                                           3030

    "For alle that han of thi good,
  Have God my trouthe!
  Ben holden at the heighe doom
  To helpe thee to restitue;
  And who so leveth noght this be sooth,
  Loke in the Sauter glose,
  In _Miserere mei, Deus_,
  Wher I mene truthe;
  _Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti, etc._
  Shal nevere werkman in this world                       3040
  Thryve with that thow wynnest.
  _Cum sancto sanctus eris;_
  Construwe me this on Englisshe."

    Thanne weex that sherewe in wanhope,
  And wolde han hanged hym;
  Ne hadde Repentaunce the rather
  Reconforted hym in this manere.

    "Have mercy in thi mynde,
  And with thi mouth biseche it;
  For Goddes mercy is moore                               3050
  Than alle hise othere werkes.
  And al the wikkednesse in this world
  That man myghte werche or thynke,
  Nis na-moore to the mercy of God,
  Than in the see a gleede.
  _Omnis iniquitas quantum ad misericordiam
      Dei, est quasi scintilla
      in medio maris._

    "For-thi have mercy in thy mynde,
  And marchaundise leve it;                               3060
  For thow hast no good ground
  To gete thee with a wastel,
  But if it were with thi tonge,
  Or ellis with thi two hondes.
  For the good that thow hast geten
  Bigan al with falshede,
  And as longe as thow lyvest therwith,
  Thow yeldest noght, but borwest.

    "And if thow wite nevere to whiche,
  Ne whom to restitue,                                    3070
  Ber it to the bisshope,
  And bid hym of his grace
  Bi-sette it hymself,
  As best is for thi soule;
  For he shal answere for thee
  At the heighe dome,
  For thee and for many mo
  That man shal yeve a rekenyng,
  What he lerned yow in Lente,
  Leve thow noon oother,                                  3080
  And what he lente yow of oure Lordes good
  To lette yow fro synne."

    Now bi-gynneth Gloton
  For to go to shrifte,
  And karieth hym to kirke-warde
  His coupe to shewe;
  And Beton the brewestere
  Bad hym good morwe,
  And asked at hym with that,
  Whider-ward he wolde.                                   3090

    "To holy chirche," quod he,
  "For to here masse,
  And sithen I wole be shryven,
  And synne na-moore."

    "I have good ale, gossib," quod she,
  "Gloton, woltow assaye?"

    "Hastow ought in thi purs?" quod he,
  "Any hote spices?"

    "I have pepir and piones," quod she,
  "And a pound of garleek,                                3100
  And a ferthyng-worth of fenel-seed
  For fastynge dayes."

    Thanne goth Glotin in,
  And grete othes after.
  Cesse the souteresse
  Sat on the benche;
  Watte the warner,
  And his wif bothe;
  Tymme the tynkere,
  And tweyne of his prentices;                            3110
  Hikke the hakeney-man,
  And Hughe the nedlere;
  Clarice of Cokkeslane,
  And the clerk of the chirche;
  Dawe the dykere,
  And a dozeyne othere.

    Sire Piers of Pridie,
  And Pernele of Flaundres;
  A ribibour, a ratoner,
  A rakiere of Chepe,                                     3120
  A ropere, a redyng-kyng,
  And Rose the dyssheres;
  Godefray of Garlekhithe,
  And Griffyn the Walshe;
  And upholderes an heep,
  Erly by the morwe,
  Geve Gloton with glad chere
  Good ale to hanselle.

    Clement the Cobelere
  Caste of his cloke,                                     3130
  And at the newe feire
  He nempned it to selle,

    Hikke the hakeney-man
  Hitte his hood after,
  And bad Bette the bocher
  Ben on his syde.

    Ther were chapmen y-chose
  This chaffare to preise,
  That who so hadde the hood
  Sholde han amendes of the cloke.                        3140

    Two risen up in rape,
  And rouned togideres,
  And preised thise peny-worthes
  A-part by hemselve;
  Thei kouthe noght by hir conscience
  Acorden in truthe,
  Til Robyn the ropere
  Aroos by the southe,
  And nempned hym for a nounpere,
  That no debat nere.                                     3150

    Hikke the hostiler
  Hadde the cloke,
  In covenaunt that Clement
  Sholde the cuppe fille,
  And have Hikkes hood hostiler,
  And holden hym y-served.
  And who so repented rathest
  Sholde aryse after,
  And greten sire Gloton
  With a galon ale.                                       3160

    There was laughynge and lourynge,
  And "lat go the cuppe;"
  And seten so till even-song,
  And songen umwhile,
  Til Gloton hadde y-glubbed
  A galon and a gille.
  Hise guttes bigonne to gothelen
  As two gredy sowes;
  He pissed a potel
  In a pater-noster while,                                3170
  And blew his rounde ruwet
  At his rugge-bones ende,
  That alle that herde that horn
  Held hir noses after,
  And wisshed it hadde been wexed
  With a wispe of firses.

    He myghte neither steppe ne stonde,
  Er he his staf hadde;
  And thanne gan he to go
  Like a gle-mannes bicche,                               3180
  Som tyme aside,
  And som tyme arere,
  As who so leith lynes
  For to lacche foweles.

    And whan he drough to the dore,
  Thanne dymmed his eighen;
  He stumbled on the thresshfold,
  And threw to the erthe.
  Clement the cobelere
  Kaughte hym by the myddel,                              3190
  For to liften hym o-lofte;
  And leyde hym on his knowes.
  Ac Gloton was a gret cherl,
  And a grym in the liftyng,
  And koughed up a cawdel
  In Clementes lappe;
  Is noon so hungry hound
  In Hertford shire
  Dorste lape of that levynges,
  So un-lovely thei smaughte.                             3200

    With al the wo of this world,
  His wif and his wenche
  Baren hym hom to his bed,
  And broughte hym therinne;
  And after al this excesse
  He hadde an accidie,
  That he sleep Saterday and Sonday,
  Til sonne yede to reste.

    Thanne waked he of his wynkyng,
  And wiped hise eighen;                                  3210
  The firste word that he warpe
  Was "where is the bolle?"
  His wif gan edwyte hym tho,
  How wikkedly he lyvede;
  And Repentaunce right so
  Rebuked hym that tyme,
  "As thow with wordes and werkes
  Has wroght yvele in thi lyve,
  Shryve thee, and be shamed therof,
  And shewe it with thi mouthe."                          3220

    "I Gloton," quod the grom,
  "Gilty me yelde,
  That I have trespased with my tonge,
  I kan noght telle how ofte;
  Sworen Goddes soule,
  And so me God helpe!
  There no nede was,
  Nyne hundred tymes.

    "And over-seyen me at my soper,
  And som tyme at nones,                                  3230
  That I Gloton girte it up
  Er I hadde gon a myle,
  An y-spilt that myghte be spared
  And spended on som hungry;
  Over delicatly on fastyng-dayes
  Dronken and eten bothe,
  And sat som tyme so longe there,
  That I sleep and eet at ones.
  For love of tales in tavernes
  And for drynke, the moore I dyned;                      3240
  And hyed to the mete er noon,
  Whan fastyng-days were."

    "This shewynge shrift," quod Repentaunce,
  "Shal be meryt to the."

    And thanne gan Gloton greete,
  And gret doel to make,
  For his luther lif
  That he lyved hadde;
  And avowed to faste,
  "For hunger or for thurste,                             3250
  Shal nevere fyssh on Fryday
  Defyen in my wombe,
  Til abstinence myn aunte
  Have gyve me leeve;
  And yet have I hated hire
  Al my lif tyme."

    Thanne cam Sleuthe al bi-slabered,
  With two slymy eighen;
  "I moste sitte," seide the segge,
  "Or ellis sholde I nappe.                               3260
  I may noght stonde ne stoupe,
  Ne withoute a stool knele;
  Were I brought a-bedde,
  But if my tail-ende it made,
  Sholde no ryngynge do me ryse
  Er I were ripe to dyne."
  He bigan Benedicite with a bolk,
  And his brest knokked,
  And raxed and rored,
  And rutte at the laste.                                 3270

    "What, awake, renk!" quod Repentaunce,
  "And rape thee to shryfte."

    "If I sholde deye bi this day,
  Me list nought to loke;
  I kan noght parfitly my pater-noster,
  As the preest it syngeth;
  But I kan rymes of Robyn Hood,
  And Randolf erl of Chestre;
  Ac neither of oure Lord ne of oure Lady
  The leeste that evere was maked.                        3280

    "I have maad avowes fourty,
  And foryete hem on the morwe;
  I perfournede nevere penaunce
  As the preest me highte;
  Ne right sory for my synnes
  Yet was I nevere.
  And if I bidde any bedes,
  But if it be in wrathe,
  That I telle with my tonge
  Is two myle fro myn herte.                              3290
  I am ocupied eche day,
  Haly-day and oother,
  With ydel tales at the ale,
  And outher while at chirche;
  Goddes peyne and his passion
  Ful selde thenke I on it.

    "I visited nevere feble men,
  Ne fettred folk in puttes;
  I have levere here an harlotrye,
  Or a somer game of souters,                             3300
  Or lesynge to laughen at
  And bi-lye my neghebores,
  Than al that evere Marc made,
  Mathew, Johan, and Lucas.
  And vigilies and fastyng-dayes,
  Alle thise late I passe;
  And ligge a-bedde in Lenten,
  And my lemman in myne armes,
  Til matyns and masse be do,
  And thanne go to the freres.                            3310
  Come I to _Ite, missa est_,
  I holde me y-served;
  I nam noght shryven som tyme,
  But if siknesse it make,
  Nought twyes in two yer,
  And thanne up gesse I shryve me.

    "I have be preest and parson
  Passynge thritty wynter,
  And yet can I neyther solne ne synge,
  Ne seintes lyves rede;                                  3320
  But I kan fynden in a feld,
  Or in a furlang, an hare,
  Bettre than in _Beatus vir,
  Or in Beati omnes_,
  Construe oon clause wel
  And kenne it to my parisshens.
  I kan holde love-dayes,
  And here a reves rekenyng;
  Ac in canon nor in decretals
  I kan noght rede a lyne.                                3330

    "If I bigge and borwe aught,
  But if it be y-tailed,
  I foryete it as yerne;
  And if men me it axe
  Sixe sithes or sevene,
  I forsake it with othes;
  And thus tene I trewe men
  Ten hundred tymes.

    "And my servauntz som tyme
  Hir salarie is bi-hynde;                                3340
  Ruthe it is to here the rekenyng,
  Whan we shul rede acountes.
  So with wikked wil and wrathe,
  My werkmen I paye.

    "If any man dooth me a bienfait,
  Or helpeth me at nede,
  I am unkynde ayeins curteisie,
  And kan nought understounden it;
  For I have and have had
  Som del haukes maneres,                                 3350
  I am noght lured with love,
  But ther ligge aught under the thombe.

    "The kyndenesse that myn even cristene
  Kidde me fernyere,
  Sixty sithes I Sleuthe
  Have foryete it siththe.
  In speche and in sparynge of speche
  Y-spilt many a tyme
  Bothe flessh and fissh,
  And manye othere vitailles,                             3360
  Both bred and ale,
  Buttre, melk, and chese,
  For-sleuthed in my service
  Til it myghte serve no man.

    "I ran aboute in youthe,
  And yaf me naught to lerne,
  And evere siththe have I be beggere
  For my foule sleuthe.
  _Heu michi! quia sterilem vitam duxi
      juvenilem._"                                        3370

    "Repentedestow noght?" quod Repentaunce;
  And right with that he swowned,
  Til _Vigilate_ the veille
  Fette water at hise eighen,
  And flatte it on his face,
  And faste on hym cryde,
  And seide, "Ware thee, for Wanhope
  Wolde thee bi-traye,
  'I am sory for my synnes'
  Seye to thiselve,                                       3380
  And beet thiself on the brest,
  And bidde hym of grace;
  For is ne gilt here so gret
  That his goodnesse nys moore."

    Thanne sat Sleuthe up,
  And seyned hym swithe,
  And made a vow to-fore God
  For his foule sleuthe.
  "Shal no Sonday be this seven yer,
  But siknesse it lette,                                  3390
  That I ne shal do me er day
  To the deere chirche;
  And here matyns and masse,
  As I a monk were,
  Shal noon ale after mete
  Holde me thennes,
  Til I have even-song herd,
  I bi-hote to the roode!
  And yet wole I yelde ayein,
  If I so much have,                                      3400
  Al that I wikkedly wan
  Sithen I wit hadde.

    "And though my liflode lakke,
  Leten I nelle,
  That ech man ne shal have his,
  Er I hennes wende;
  And with the residue and the remenaunt,
  Bi the Rode of Chestre!
  I shal seken Truthe erst
  Er I se Rome."                                          3410

    Roberd the robbere
  On _Reddite_ loked,
  And for ther was noght wherof,
  He wepte swithe soore;
  Ac yet the synfulle sherewe
  Seide to hymselve,
  "Crist, that on Calvarie
  Upon the cros deidest,
  Tho Dysmas my brother
  Bi-soughte yow of grace,                                3420
  And haddest mercy on that man
  For _memento_ sake,
  So rewe on this robbere
  That _reddere_ ne have,
  Ne nevere wene to wynne
  With craft that I owe;
  But for thi muchel mercy
  Mitigacion I bi-seche,
  Ne dampne me noght at domes-day
  For that I dide so ille."                               3430

    What bi-fel of this feloun
  I kan noght faire shewe;
  Wel I woot he wepte faste
  Water with bothe hise eighen,
  And knoweliched his gilt
  To Crist yet eft soones,
  That _Poenetentia_ his pik
  He sholde polshe newe,
  And lepe with hym over lond
  Al his lif tyme,                                        3440
  For he hadde leyen by _Latro_
  Luciferis aunte.

    And thanne hadde Repentaunce ruthe,
  And redde hem alle to knele;
  "For I shal bi-seche for alle synfulle
  Our Saveour of grace,
  To amenden us of oure mysdedes,
  And do mercy to us alle."

    "Now God," quod he, "that of thi goodnesse
  Bi-gonne the world to make,                             3450
  And of naught madest aught, and man
  Moost lik to thiselve,
  And sithen suffredest for to synne,
  A siknesse to us alle,
  And al for the beste, as I bi-leve,
  What evere the book telleth.
  _O felix culpa! O necessarium peccatum Adæ! etc._          =

    "For thorugh that synne thi sone
  Sent was to this erthe,                                 3460
  And bicam man of a maide,
  Mankynde to save:
  And madest thiself with thi sone
  And us synfulle y-liche
  _Faciamus hominem ad imaginem
      nostram. Et alibi. Qui manet
      in caritate, in Deo manet, et
      Deus in eo._

    "And siththe with thi selve sone
  In oure secte deidest,                                  3470
  On Good-Fryday, for mannes sake,
  At ful tyme of the daye,
  Ther thiself ne thi sone
  No sorwe in deeth feledest,
  But in oure secte was the sorwe,
  And thi sone it ladde.
  _Captivam duxit captivitatem._

    "The sonne for sorwe therof
  Lees light of a tyme,
  Aboute mydday whan moost light is,                      3480
  And meel-tyme of seintes,
  Feddest with thi fresshe blood
  Oure fore-fadres in derknesse.
  _Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris,
      vidit lucem magnam._

    "And thorugh the light that lepe out of thee
  Lucifer was blent.
  And blewe alle thi blessed
  Into the blisse of paradys.

    "The thridde day after                                3490
  Thow yedest in oure sute,
  A synful Marie the seigh,
  Er seynte Marie thi dame;
  And al to solace synfulle
  Thow suffredest it so were.
  _Non veni vocare justos sed peccatores
      ad poenitentiam._

    "And al that Marc hath y-maad,
  Mathew, Johan, and Lucas,
  Of thyne doughty dedes                                  3500
  Was doon in oure armes.
  _Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis._           =

    "And by so muche me semeth
  The sikerer we mowe
  Bidde and bi-seche,
  If it be thi wille,
  That art oure fader and oure brother,
  Be merciable to us,
  And have ruthe on thise ribaudes                        3510
  That repenten hem here soore,
  That evere thei wrathed thee in this world,
  In word, thought, or dedes."

    Thanne hent Hope an horn
  Of _Deus, tu conversus vivificabis_,
  And blew it with _Beati quorum
  Remissæ sunt iniquitates_,
  That alle seintes in hevene
  Songen at ones.
  _Homines et jumenta salvabis, quemadmodum               3520
      multiplicasti misericordiam tuam._                     =

    A thousand of men tho
  Thrungen togideres,
  Cride upward to Crist,
  And to his clene moder,
  To have grace to go with hem
  Truthe to seke.

    Ac there was wight noon so wys
  The wey thider kouthe,                                  3530
  But blustreden forth as beestes
  Over bankes and hilles;
  Til late was and longe
  That thei a leode mette,
  Apparailled as a paynym
  In pilgrymes wise.
  He bar a burdoun y-bounde
  With a brood liste,
  In a withwynde wise
  Y-wounden aboute;                                       3540
  A bolle and a bagge
  He bar by his syde,
  And hundred of ampulles
  On his hat seten,
  Signes of Synay,
  And shelles of Galice,
  And many a crouche on his cloke,
  And keyes of Rome,
  And the vernycle bi-fore,
  For men sholde knowe                                    3550
  And se bi hise signes
  Whom he sought hadde.

    This folk frayned hym first,
  Fro whennes he come.

    "Fram Syny," he seide,
  "And fram oure Lordes sepulcre;
  In Bethlem and in Babiloyne,
  I have ben in bothe;
  In Armonye and Alisaundre,
  In manye othere places.                                 3560
  Ye may se by my signes,
  That sitten on myn hatte,
  That I have walked ful wide
  In weet and in drye,
  And sought goode seintes
  For my soules helthe."

    "Knowestow aught a corsaint,
  That men calle Truthe?
  Koudestow aught wissen us the wey,
  Wher that wye dwelleth?"                                3570

    "Nay, so me God helpe!"
  Seide the gome thanne,
  "I seigh nevere palmere,
  With pyk ne with scrippe,
  Asken after hym er
  Til now in this place."

    "Peter!" quod a plowman,
  And putte forth his hed,
  "I knowe hym as kyndely
  As clerk doth hise bokes;                               3580
  Conscience and kynde wit
  Kenned me to his place,
  And diden me suren hym sikerly
  To serven hym for evere,
  Bothe to sowe and to sette,
  The while I swynke myghte.
  I have ben his folwere
  Al this fifty wynter,
  Bothe y-sowen his seed,
  And suwed hise beestes,                                 3590
  Withinne and withouten
  Waited his profit.
  I dyke and I delve,
  I do that Truthe hoteth;
  Som tyme I sowe,
  And som tyme I thresshe;
  In taillours craft and tynkeris craft,
  What Truthe kan devyse,
  I weve and I wynde,
  And do what Truthe hoteth,                              3600
  For though I seye it myselfe,
  I serve hym to paye;
  I have myn hire wel,
  And outher whiles moore.
  He is the presteste paiere
  That povere men knoweth;
  He ne withhalt noon hewe his hire,
  That he ne hath it at even;
  He is as lowe as a lomb,
  And lovelich of speche;                                 3610
  And if ye wilneth to wite
  Where that he dwelleth,
  I shal wisse you witterly
  The wey to his place."

    "Ye, leve Piers," quod thise pilgrimes,
  And profred hym huyre,
  For to wende with hem
  To Truthes dwellyng-place.

    "Nay, by my soules helpe!" quod Piers,
  And gan for to swere,                                   3620
  "I nolde fange a ferthyng.
  For seint Thomas shryne;
  Truthe wolde love me the lasse
  A long tyme therafter;
  Ac if yow wilneth to wende wel,
  This is the wey thider.

    "Ye moten go thorugh Mekenesse,
  Both men and wyves,
  Til ye come into Conscience,
  That Crist wite the sothe                               3630
  That ye loven oure Lord God
  Levest of alle thynges,
  And thanne youre neghebores next
  In none wise apeire,
  Other wise than thow woldest
  He wroughte to thiselve.

    "And so boweth forth by a brook,
  Til he fynden a ford,
  Youre-fadres-honoureth,                                 3640
  _Honora patrem et matrem, etc._
  Wadeth in that water,
  And wasshe yow wel therinne,
  And ye shul lepe the lightloker
  Al youre lif tyme;
  And so shaltow se Swere-noght,-

    "Thanne shaltow come by a croft,                      3650
  But come thow noght therinne;
  That croft hatte Coveite-noght-
  Loke ye breke no bowes there,
  But if it be youre owene.

    "Two stokkes ther stondeth,
  Ac stynte ye noght there,
  Thei highte Stele-noght and Sle-noght,                  3660
  Strik forth by bothe,
  And leve hem on thi lift half,
  And loke noght therafter,
  And hold wel thyn hali-day
  Heighe til even.

    "Thanne shaltow blenche at a bergh,
  He is frythed in with floryns
  And othere fees manye;
  Loke thow plukke no plaunte there,                      3670
  For peril of thi soule;
  Thanne shul ye see Seye-sooth,-

    "Thanne shaltow come to a court
  As cler as the sonne;
  The moot is of Mercy
  The manoir aboute,
  And alle the walles ben of Wit,                         3680
  To holden Wil oute,
  And kerneled wit Cristendom,
  Mankynde to save,
  Botrased with Bileef-so,-

    "And alle the houses ben hiled,
  Halles and chambres,
  With no leed but with love,
  And lowe speche as bretheren;
  The brugg is of Bidde-wel,-                             3690
  Ech piler is of penaunce,
  Of preieres to seyntes;
  Of almes-dedes are the hokes
  That the gates hangen on.

    "Grace hatte the gatewarde,
  A good man for sothe;
  His man hatte Amende-yow,
  For many men hym knoweth;
  Telleth hym this tokene,                                3700
  That Truthe wite the sothe;
  'I perfourned the penaunce
  That the preest me enjoyned,
  And am ful sory for my synnes,
  And so I shal evere,
  Whan I thynke theron,
  Theigh I were a pope.'

    "Biddeth Amende-yow meke hym
  Til his maister ones,
  To wayven up the wiket                                  3710
  That the womman shette,
  Tho Adam and Eve
  Eten apples un-rosted.
  _Per Evam cunctis clausa est, et per
      Mariam virginem patefacta est._

    "For he hath the keye and the cliket,
  Though the kyng slepe.
  And if grace graunte thee
  To go in this wise,
  Thow shalt see in thiselve                              3720
  Truthe in thyn herte,
  In a cheyne of charité
  As thow a child were,
  To suffren hym and segge noght
  Ayein thi sires wille.

    "And be war thanne of Wrathe-thee,
  That is a wikked sherewe;
  He hath envye to hym
  That in thyn herte sitteth,
  And poketh forth pride                                  3730
  To preise thiselven.
  The boldnesse of thi bienfetes
  Maketh thee blynd thanne;
  And thanne worstow dryven out as dew,
  And the dore closed,
  Keyed and cliketted,
  To kepe thee withouten;
  Happily an hundred wynter
  Er thow eft entre.
  Thus myghtestow lesen his love,                         3740
  To lete wel by thiselve,
  And nevere happily eft entre,
  But grace thow have.

    "And ther are seven sustren
  That serven Truthe evere,
  And arn porters of the posternes
  That to the place longeth.

    "That oon hatte Abstinence,
  And Humilité another;
  Charité and Chastité                                    3750
  Ben hise chief maydenes;
  Pacience and Pees
  Muche peple thei helpeth;
  Largenesse the lady,
  She let in ful manye,
  Heo hath holpe a thousand out
  Of the develes punfolde;
  And who is sib to thise sevene,
  So me God helpe!
  He is wonderly welcome,                                 3760
  And faire underfongen.
  And but if ye be sibbe
  To some of thise sevene,
  It is ful hard, by myn heed!" quod Piers,
  "For any of yow alle
  To geten in-going at any gate there,
  But grace be the moore."

    "Now by Crist!" quod a kutte-purs
  "I have no kyn there."
  "Nor I," quod an ape-ward,                              3770
  "By aught that I kan knowe."
  "Wite God!" quod a wafrestere,
  "Wiste I this for sothe,
  Sholde I nevere ferther a foot,
  For no freres prechyng."

    "Yis," quod Piers the Plowman,
  And poked hem alle to goode,
  "Mercy is a maiden there
  Hath myght over alle;
  And she is sib to alle synfulle,                        3780
  And hire sone also,
  And thorugh the help of hem two
  Hope thow noon oother,
  Thow myght gete grace there,
  So thow go bi-tyme."

    "Bi seint Poul!" quod a pardoner,
  "Peraventure I be noght knowe there;
  I wol go fecche my box with my brevettes,
  And a bulle with bisshopes lettres."

    "By Crist!" quod a commune womman,
  "Thi compaignie wol I folwe;
  Thow shalt seye I am thi suster,
  I ne woot where thei bicome."                           3793

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Sextus de Visione, ut supra._

  "This were a wikkede wey,                               3794
  But who so hadde a gyde,
  That wolde folwen us ech a foot;"
  Thus this folke hem mened.

    Quod Perkyn the Plowman,
  "By seint Peter of Rome!
  I have an half acre to erie                             3800
  By the heighe weye;
  Hadde I eryed this half acre,
  And sowen it after,
  I wolde wende with yow,
  And the wey teche."

    "This were a long lettyng,"
  Quod a lady in scleyre,
  "What sholde we wommen
  Werche the while?"

    "Somme shul sowe the sak," quod Piers,                3810
  "For shedyng of the whete;
  And ye, lovely ladies,
  With youre longe fyngres,
  That ye have silk and sandel
  To sowe, whan tyme is;
  Chesibles for chapeleyns,
  Chirches to honoure.

    "Wyves and widewes,
  Wolle and flex spynneth;
  Maketh cloth, I counseille yow,                         3820
  And kenneth so youre doughtres;
  The nedy and the naked,
  Nymeth hede how thei liggeth,
  And casteth hem clothes,
  For so comaundeth Truthe.
  For I shal leven hem liflode,
  But if the lond faille,
  Flesshe and breed bothe
  To riche and to poore,
  As long as I lyve,                                      3830
  For the Lordes love of hevene;
  And alle manere of men
  That thorugh mete and drynke libbeth,
  Helpeth hym to werche wightliche,
  That wynneth youre foode."

    "By Crist!" quod a knyght thoo,
  "He kenneth us the beste;
  Ac on the teme, trewely,
  Taught was I nevere;
  But kenne me," quod the knyght,                         3840
  "And by Crist I wole assaye!"

    "By seint Poul!" quod Perkyn,
  "Ye profre yow so faire,
  That I shal swynke and swete,
  And sowe for us bothe,
  And othere labours do for thi love
  Al my lif tyme,
  In covenaunt that thow kepe
  Holy kirke and myselve
  Fro wastours and fro wikked men                         3850
  That this world destruyeth.
  And go hunte hardiliche
  To hares and to foxes,
  To bores and to brokkes
  That breken doun myne hegges;
  And so affaite thi faucons
  Wilde foweles to kille;
  For swiche cometh to my croft,
  And croppeth my whete."

    Curteisly the knyght thanne                           3860
  Comsed thise wordes;
  "By my power, Piers!" quod he,
  "I plighte thee my trouthe,
  To fulfille this forwarde,
  Though I fighte sholde;
  Als longe as I lyve
  I shal thee mayntene."

    "Ye, and yet a point," quod Piers,
  "I preye yow of moore,
  Loke ye tene no tenaunt,                                3870
  But Truthe wole assente;
  And though ye mowe amercy hem,
  Lat mercy be taxour,
  And mekenesse thi maister,
  Maugree Medes chekes.
  And though povere men profre yow
  Presentes and giftes,
  Nyme it noght, an aventure
  Ye mowe it noght deserve;
  For thow shalt yelde it ayein                           3880
  At one yeres tyme,
  In a ful perilous place,
  Purgatorie it hatte.

    "And mys-bede noght thi bonde-men,
  The bettre may thow spede;
  Though he be thyn underlyng here,
  Wel may happe in hevene
  That he worth worthier set,
  And with moore blisse.
  _Amice, ascende superius._                              3890
  For in charnel at chirche
  Cherles ben yvel to knowe,
  Or a knyght from a knave there,
  Knowe this in thyn herte.
  And that thow be trewe of thi tonge,
  And tales that thow hatie,
  But if thei ben of wisdom or of wit
  Thi werkmen to chaste.
  Hold with none harlotes,
  Ne here noght hir tales,                                3900
  And namely at the mete
  Swiche men eschuwe;
  For it ben the develes disours,
  I do the to understonde."

    "I assente, by seint Jame!"
  Seide the knyght thanne,
  "For to werche by thi wordes
  The while my lif dureth."

    "And I shal apparaille me," quod Perkyn,
  "In pilgrymes wise,                                     3910
  And wende with yow I wile,
  Til we fynde Truthe;
  And caste on my clothes
  Y-clouted and hole,
  My cokeres and my coffes,
  For cold of my nailes;
  And hange myn hoper at myn hals
  In stede of a scryppe.
  A busshel of bred corn
  Brynge me therinne;                                     3920
  For I wol sowe it myself,
  And sithenes wol I wende
  To pilgrymage, as palmeres doon,
  Pardon for to have.
  And who so helpeth me to erie
  And sowen here er I wende,
  Shal have leve, by oure Lorde!
  To lese here in hervest,
  And make hem murie thermyd,
  Maugree who so bi-gruccheth it.                         3930
  And alle kynne crafty-men,
  That konne lyven in truthe,
  I shal fynden hem fode,
  That feithfulliche libbeth.

    "Save Jagge the jogelour,
  And Jonette of the stuwes,
  And Danyel the dees-pleyere,
  And Denote the baude,
  And frere the faitour,
  And folk of hire ordre,                                 3940
  And Robyn the ribaudour
  For hise rusty wordes.
  Truthe tolde me ones,
  And bad me telle it after,
  _Deleantur de libro viventium_,
  I sholde noght dele with hem,
  For holy chirche is hote of hem
  No tithe to take;
  _Qui cum justis non scribantur_;
  They ben ascaped good aventure,                         3950
  God hem amende!"

    Dame Werch-whan-tyme-is
  Piers wif highte;
  His doughter highte Do-right-so,-
  His sone highte Suffre-thi-sovereyns-
  Lat God y-worthe with al,                               3960
  For so his word techeth;
  For now I am old and hoor,
  And have of myn owene,
  To penaunce and to pilgrimage
  I wol passe with thise othere.

    "For-thi I wole er I wende
  Do write my biqueste,
  _In Dei nomine, Amen_,
  I make it myselve;
  He shal have my soule,                                  3970
  That best hath deserved it;
  And fro the fend it defende,
  For so I bileve,
  Til I come to hise acountes,
  As my Credo me telleth,
  To have a relees and a remission,
  On that rental I leve.

    "The kirke shal have my caroyne,
  And kepe my bones;
  For of my corn and catel                                3980
  She craved the tithe;
  I paide it ful prestly,
  For peril of my soule.
  For-thi is he holden I hope
  To have me in his masse,
  And mengen in his memorie
  Amonges alle cristene.

    "My wif shal have of that I wan
  With truthe, and na-moore,
  And dele among my doughtres,                            3990
  And my deere children;
  For though I deye to day,
  My dettes are quyte;
  I bar hom that I borwed,
  Er I to bedde yede.

    "And with the residue and the remenaunt,
  By the Rode of Lukes!
  I wol worshipe therwith
  Truthe by my lyve,
  And ben his pilgrym atte plow,                          4000
  For povere mennes sake.
  My plow-foot shall be my pikstaf,
  And picche a-two the rotes,
  And helpe my cultour to kerve
  And clense the furwes."

    Now is Perkyn and hise pilgrimes
  To the plow faren;
  To erie his half acre
  Holpen hym manye;
  Dikeres and delveres                                    4010
  Digged up the balkes.
  Therwith was Perkyn a-payed,
  And preised hem faste.

    Othere werkmen ther were
  That wroghten ful yerne;
  Ech man in his manere
  Made hymself to doone,
  And somme to plese Perkyn
  Piked up the wedes.

    At heigh prime Piers                                  4020
  Leet the plowgh stonde,
  To over-sen hem hymself,
  And who so best wroghte
  He sholde be hired therafter,
  Whan hervest tyme come.

    And thanne seten somme,
  And songen atte nale,
  And holpen ere this half acre
  With "How, trolly lolly."

    "Now, by the peril of my soule!" quod Piers,          4030
  All in pure tene,
  "But ye arise the rather
  And rape yow to werche,
  Shal no greyn that groweth
  Glade yow at nede,
  And though ye deye for doel,
  The devel have that reccheth."

    Tho were faitours a-fered,
  And feyned hem blynde;
  Somme leide hir legges a-liry,                          4040
  As swiche losels konneth,
  And made hir mone to Piers,
  And preide hym of grace;
  "For we have no lymes to laboure with,
  Lord, y-graced be the;
  Ac we preie for yow, Piers,
  And for youre plowgh bothe,
  That God of his grace
  Youre greyn multiplie,
  And yelde yow for youre almesse                         4050
  That ye gyve us here;
  For we may noght swynke ne swete,
  Swich siknesse us eyleth."

    "If it be sooth," quod Piers, "that ye seyn,
  I shal it soone aspie.
  Ye ben wastours, I woot wel,
  And Truthe woot the sothe;
  And I am his olde hyne,
  And highte hym to warne,
  Whiche thei were in this world                          4060
  Hise werkmen apeired.
  Ye wasten that men wynnen
  With travaille and with tene;
  Ac Truthe shal teche yow
  His teme to dryve,
  Or ye shul eten barley breed,
  And of the broke drynke.

    "But if he be blynd or broke-legged,
  Or bolted with irens,
  He shall ete whete breed,                               4070
  And drynke with myselve,
  Til God of his goodnesse
  Amendement hym sende.
  Ac ye myghte travaille, as Truthe wolde,
  And take mete and hyre,
  To kepe kyen in the feld,
  The corn fro the beestes,
  Diken or delven,
  Or dyngen upon sheves,
  Or helpe make morter,                                   4080
  Or bere muk a-feld.

    "In lecherie and in losengerie
  Ye lyven, and in sleuthe;
  And al is thorugh suffraunce,
  That vengeaunce yow ne taketh.

    "Ac ancres and heremites
  That eten noght but at nones,
  And na-moore er the morwe,
  Myn almesse shul thei have,
  And of catel to kepe hem with,                          4090
  That han cloistres and chirches.

    "Ac Robert Renaboute
  Shal noght have of myne,
  Ne postles, but thei preche konne
  And have power of the bisshope;
  Thei shul have payn and potage,
  And make hemself at ese,
  For it is an unreasonable religion
  That hath right noght of certein."

    And thanne gan Wastour to wrathen hym,                4100
  And wolde have y-foughte;
  And to Piers the Plowman
  He profrede his glove;
  A bretoner, a braggere,
  A-bosted Piers als,
  And bad hym go pissen with his plowgh,
  "For-pynede sherewe!
  Wiltow or neltow,
  We wol have oure wille
  Of thi flour and of thi flesshe,                        4110
  Fecche whanne us liketh;
  And maken us murye thermyde,
  Maugree thi chekes."

    Thanne Piers the Plowman
  Pleyned hym to the knyghte,
  To kepen hym as covenaunt was
  Fro cursede sherewes,
  And fro thise wastours wolves-kynnes
  That maketh the world deere;
  "For tho wasten and wynnen noght,                       4120
  And that ilke while
  Worth nevere plentee among the peple,
  The while my plowgh liggeth."

    Curteisly the knyght thanne,
  As his kynde wolde,
  Warnede Wastour,
  And wissed hym bettre,
  "Or thow shalt abigge by the lawe,
  By the ordre that I bere!"

    "I was noght wont to werche," quod Wastour,           4130
  "And now wol I noght bigynne;"
  And leet light of the lawe,
  And lasse of the knyghte;
  And sette Piers at a pese,
  And his plowgh bothe;
  And manaced Piers and his men,
  If thei mette eft soone.

    "Now, by the peril of my soule!" quod Piers,
  "I shal apeire yow alle;"
  And houped after Hunger,                                4140
  That herde hym at the firste,
  "A-wreke me of thise wastours," quod he,
  "That this world shendeth."

    Hunger in haste thoo
  Hente Wastour by the wombe,
  And wrong him so by the wombe,
  That bothe hise eighen watrede.

    He buffeted the bretoner
  Aboute the chekes,
  That he loked lik a lanterne                            4150
  Al his lif after.
  He bette hem so bothe,
  He brast ner hire guttes;
  Ne hadde Piers with a pese loof
  Preyed Hunger to cesse,
  They hadde be dolven,
  Ne deme thow noon oother.

    "Suffre hem lyve," he seide,
  "And lat hem ete with hogges,
  Or ellis benes or bren                                  4160
  Y-baken togideres,
  Or ellis melk and mene ale;"
  Thus preied Piers for hem.

    Faitours for fere herof
  Flowen into bernes,
  And flapten on with flailes
  Fro morwe til even;
  That Hunger was noght so hardy
  On hem for to loke,
  For a potful of peses                                   4170
  That Piers hadde y-maked.

    An heep of heremytes
  Henten hem spades,
  And kitten hir copes,
  And courtepies hem maked,
  And wente as werkmen
  With spades and with shoveles
  And dolven and dikeden,
  To dryve awey hunger.

    Blynde and bed-reden                                  4180
  Were bootned a thousande,
  That seten to begge silver,
  Soone were thei heeled;
  For that was bake for bayarde,
  Was boote for many hungry;
  And many a beggere for benes
  Buxum was to swynke;
  And eche a povere man wel a-paied
  To have pesen for his hyre,
  And what Piers preide hem to do,                        4190
  As prest as a sperhauk;
  And therof was Piers proud,
  And putte hem to werke,
  And yaf hem mete as he myghte aforthe,
  And mesurable hyre.

    Thanne had Piers pité,
  And preide Hunger to wende
  Hoom unto his owene yerd,
  And holden hym there;
  "For I am wel a-wroke                                   4200
  Of wastours, thorugh thy myghte.
  Ac I preie thee, er thow passe,"
  Quod Piers to Hunger,
  "Of beggeris and of bidderis
  What best be to doone.
  For I woot wel, be thow went,
  Thei wol werche ful ille;
  For meschief it maketh
  Thei be so meke nouthe,
  And for defaute of hire foode                           4210
  This folk is at my wille.

    "Thei are my blody bretheren," quod Piers,
  "For God boughte us alle.
  Truthe taughte me ones
  To loven hem echone;
  And to helpen hem of alle thyng
  Ay as hem nedeth.
  And now wolde I wite of thee
  What were the beste;
  And how I myghte a-maistren hem,                        4220
  And make hem to werche."

    "Here now," quod Hunger,
  "And hoold it for a wisdom;
  Bolde beggeris and bigge
  That mowe hir breed bi-swynke,
  With houndes breed and horse breed
  Hoold up hir hertes;
  A-bate hem with benes,
  For bollynge of hir wombes;
  And if the gomes grucche,                               4230
  Bidde hem go swynke,
  And he shal soupe swetter
  Whan he it hath deserved.

    "And if thow fynde any freke
  That fortune hath apeired,
  Or any manere false men,
  Fonde thow swiche to knowe;
  Conforte hym with thi catel,
  For Cristes love of hevene;
  Love hem and leve hem,                                  4240
  So lawe of God techeth,
  _Alter alterius onera portare._

    "And alle manere of men
  That thow myght aspie,
  That nedy ben and noughty,
  Help hem with thi goodes;
  Love hem and lakke hem noght,
  Lat God take the vengeaunce;
  Theigh thei doon yvele,
  Lat God y-worthe.                                       4250
  _Mihi vindictam, et ego retribuam._

    "And if thow wilt be gracious to God,
  Do as the gospel techeth,
  And bi-love thee amonges lewed men,
  So shaltow lacche grace;
  _Facite vos amicos de Mammone iniquitatis._"               =

    "I wolde noght greve God," quod Piers,
  "For al the good on grounde.
  Mighte I synne-lees do as thow seist?"                  4260
  Seide Piers thanne.

    "Ye, I bi-hote thee," quod Hunger,
  "Or ellis the Bible lieth;
  Go to Genesis the geaunt,
  The engendrour of us alle:
  _In sudore_ and swynk
  Thow shalt thi mete tilie,
  And laboure for thi liflode,
  And so oure Lorde highte.
  And Sapience seith the same,                            4270
  I seigh it in the Bible,
  _Piger præ frigore_
  No feeld nolde tilie,
  And therfore he shal begge and bidde,
  And no man bete his hunger.

    "Mathew with mannes face
  Mouthed thise wordes,
  That _servus nequam_ hadde a mnam,
  And for he wolde noght chaffare,
  He hadde maugree of his maister                         4280
  Evere moore after,
  And by-nam hym his mnam,
  For he ne wolde werche,
  And yaf that mnam to hym
  That ten mnames hadde;
  And with that he seide,
  That holy chirche it herde,
  He that hath shal have
  And helpe there it nedeth;
  And he that noght hath shal noght have,                 4290
  And no man hym helpe,
  And that he weneth wel to have
  I wole it hym bi-reve.
  Kynde wit wolde
  That ech a wight wroghte,
  Or in dikynge or in delvynge,
  Or travaillynge in preieres;
  Contemplatif lif or actif lif
  Crist wolde thei wroghte.
  The Sauter seith in the Psalme                          4300
  Of _Beati omnes_,
  The freke that fedeth hymself
  With his feithful labour,
  He is blessed by the book
  In body and in soule."
  _Labores manuum tuarum, etc._

    "Yet I preie yow," quod Piers,
  "_Par charité_, and ye konne
  Any leef of leche-craft,
  Lere it me, my deere;                                   4310
  For some of my servauntz,
  And myself bothe,
  Of al a wike werche noght,
  So oure wombe aketh."

    "I woot wel," quod Hunger,
  "What siknesse yow eyleth;
  Ye han manged over muche,
  And that maketh yow grone.
  Ac I hote thee," quod Hunger,
  "As thow thyn hele wilnest,                             4320
  That thow drynke no day
  Er thow dyne som what.
  Ete noght, I hote thee,
  Er hunger thee take,
  And sende thee of his sauce
  To savore with thi lippes;
  And keep som til soper-tyme,
  And sitte noght to longe,
  And rys up er appetit
  Have eten his fille.                                    4330
  Lat noght sire Surfet
  Sitten at thi borde.
  Leve hym noght, for he is lecherous,
  And likerous of tunge,
  And after many maner metes
  His mawe is a-fyngred.

    "And if thow diete thee thus,
  I dar legge myne eris,
  That Phisik shal hise furred hodes
  For his fode selle,                                     4340
  And his cloke of Calabre,
  With alle the knappes of golde,
  And be fayn, by my feith!
  His phisik to lete,
  And lerne to laboure with lond,
  For liflode is swete.
  For murthereris are manye leches,
  Lord hem amende!
  They do men deye thorugh hir drynkes,
  Er destynee it wolde."                                  4350
  "By seint Poul!" quod Piers,
  "Thise arn profitable wordes!
  Wend now, Hunger, whan thow wolt,
  That wel be thow evere!
  For this is a lovely lesson,
  Lord it thee for-yelde!"

    "Bi-hote God!" quod Hunger,
  "Hennes ne wole I wende,
  Til I have dyned bi this day,
  And y-dronke bothe."                                    4360

    "I have no peny," quod Piers,
  "Pulettes to bugge,
  Ne neither gees ne grys,
  But two grene cheses,
  A fewe cruddes and creme,
  And an haver cake,
  And two loves of benes and bran
  Y-bake for my fauntes;
  And yet I seye, by my soule!
  I have no salt bacon,                                   4370
  Ne no cokeney, by Crist!
  Coloppes for to maken.

    "Ac I have percile and porettes,
  And manye cole plauntes,
  And ek a cow and a calf,
  And a cart mare
  To drawe a-feld my donge,
  The while the droghte lasteth;
  And by this liflode we mote lyve
  Til Lammesse tyme.                                      4380
  And by that, I hope to have
  Hervest in my crofte,
  And thanne may I dighte thi dyner,
  As me deere liketh."

    Al the povere peple tho
  Pescoddes fetten,
  Benes and baken apples
  Thei broghte in hir lappes,
  Chibolles and chervelles,
  And ripe chiries manye,                                 4390
  And profrede Piers this present
  To plese with Hunger.

    Al Hunger eet in haste,
  And axed after moore.
  Thanne povere folk, for fere,
  Fedden Hunger yerne,
  With grene poret and pesen,
  To poisone hym thei thoghte.
  By that it neghed neer hervest,
  And newe corn cam to chepyng;                           4400
  Thanne was folk fayn,
  And fedde Hunger with the beste,
  With goode ale, as Gloton taghte,
  And garte Hunger go slepe.

    And tho wolde Wastour noght werche,
  But wandren aboute,
  Ne no beggere ete breed
  That benes inne were,
  But of coket and cler-matyn,
  Or ellis of clene whete;                                4410
  Ne noon halfpeny ale
  In none wise drynke,
  But of the beste and of the brunneste
  That in burghe is to selle.

    Laborers that have no land
  To lyve on but hire handes,
  Deyned noght to dyne a day
  Nyght-olde wortes;
  May no peny ale hem paye,
  Ne no pece of bacone,                                   4420
  But if it be fresshe flessh outher fisshe,
  Fryed outher y-bake,
  And that _chaud_ and _plus chaud_,
  For chillynge of hir mawe;
  And but if he be heighliche hyred;
  Ellis wole he chide,
  And that he was werkman wroght
  Waille the tyme,
  Ayeins Catons counseil
  Comseth he to jangle.                                   4430
  _Paupertatis onus patienter ferre memento._                =

    He greveth hym ageyn God,
  And gruccheth ageyn Reson,
  And thanne corseth he the kyng,
  And al his counseil after,
  Swiche lawes to loke
  Laborers to greve.
  Ac whiles Hunger was hir maister,
  Ther wolde noon of hem chide,                           4440
  Ne stryven ayeins his statut,
  So sterneliche he loked.

    Ac I warne yow, werkmen,
  Wynneth whil ye mowe,
  For Hunger hiderward
  Hasteth hym faste.
  He shal a-wake with water
  Wastours to chaste;
  Er fyve be fulfilled,
  Swich famyn shal a-ryse,                                4450
  Thorugh flodes and thorugh foule wedres
  Fruytes shul faille,
  And so seide Saturne,
  And sente yow to warne.

    Whan ye se the sonne a-mys,
  And two monkes heddes,
  And a mayde have the maistrie,
  And multiplie by eighte,
  Thanne shal deeth with-drawe,
  And derthe be justice,                                  4460
  And Dawe the dykere
  Deye for hunger;
  But God of his goodnesse
  Graunte us a trewe.                                     4464

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Septimus de Visione, ut supra._

  Treuthe herde telle her                                 4465
  And to Piers he sente,
  To maken his teme
  And tilien the erthe,
  And purchaced hym a pardone
  _A poena et a culpa_,                                   4470
  For hym and for hise heires,
  For evere moore after,
  And bad hym holde hym at home,
  And erien hise leyes.
  And alle that holpen hym to erye,
  To sette or to sowe,
  Or any oother mestier
  That myghte Piers availle,
  Pardon with Piers Plowman
  Truthe hath y-graunted.                                 4480

    Kynges and knyghtes,
  That kepen holy chirche,
  And rightfully in remes
  Rulen the peple,
  Han pardon thorugh purgatorie
  To passen ful lightly,
  With patriarkes and prophetes
  In paradis to be felawe.

    Bysshopes y-blessed,
  If thei ben as thei sholde,                             4490
  Legistres of bothe lawes,
  The lewed therwith to preche,
  And in as muche as thei mowe
  Amenden alle synfulle,
  Arn peres with the Apostles,
  This pardon Piers sheweth,
  And at the day of dome
  At the heighe deys sitte.

    Marchauntz in the margyne
  Hadde manye yeres,                                      4500
  Ac noon _a poena et a culpa_
  The pope nolde hem graunte,
  For thei holde noght hir hali-dayes
  As holy chirche techeth,
  And for thei swere by hir soule,
  And so God moste hem helpe,
  Ayein clene Conscience,
  Hir catel to selle.

    Ac under his secret seel
  Truthe sente hem a lettre,                              4510
  That thei sholde buggen boldely
  That hem best liked,
  And sithenes selle it ayein,
  And save the wynnyng,
  And amende meson-dieux thermyd,
  And mys-eise folk helpe,
  And wikkede weyes
  Wightly amende,
  And do boote to brugges
  That to-broke were,                                     4520
  Marien maydenes,
  Or maken hem nonnes,
  Povere peple and prisons
  Fynden hem hir foode,
  And sette scolers to scole,
  Or to som othere craftes,
  Releve religion,
  And renten hem bettre;
  "And I shal sende yow myselve
  Seint Michel myn archangel,                             4530
  That no devel shal yow dere,
  Ne fere yow in youre deying,
  And witen yow fro wanhope,
  If ye wol thus werche,
  And sende youre soules in saufté
  To my seintes in joye."

    Thanne were marchauntz murie,
  Manye wepten for joye,
  And preiseden Piers the Plowman,
  That purchaced this bulle.                              4540

    Men of lawe leest pardon hadde,
  That pleteden for Mede;
  For the Sauter saveth hem noght,
  Swiche as take giftes,
  And nameliche of innocentz
  That noon yvel ne konneth.
  _Super innocentem munera non accipies._                    =

    Pledours sholde peynen hem
  To plede for swiche and helpe;                          4550
  Princes and prelates
  Sholde paie for hire travaille.
  _A regibus et principibus erit merces eorum._              =

    Ac many a justice and jurour
  Wolde for Johan do moore
  Than _pro Dei pietate_,
  Leve thow noon oother.

    Ac he that spendeth his speche,
  And speketh for the povere                              4560
  That is innocent and nedy,
  And no man apeireth,
  Conforteth hym in that caas
  Withouten coveitise of giftes,
  And sheweth lawe for oure Lordes love,
  As he it hath y-lerned,
  Shal no devel at his deeth day
  Deren hym a myte,
  That he ne worth saaf and his soule,
  The Sauter bereth witnesse:                             4570
  _Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo?_               =

    Ac to bugge water, ne wynd,
  Ne wit, ne fir the ferthe,
  Thise foure the fader of hevene
  Made to this foold in commune.
  Thise ben Truthes tresores
  Trewe folk to helpe,
  That nevere shul wexe ne wanye,
  Withouten God hymselve.                                 4580

    Whan thei drawen on to deye,
  And indulgences wolde have,
  Hir pardon is ful petit
  At hir partyng hennes,
  That any mede of mene men
  For hir motyng taketh.
  Ye legistres and lawieres,
  Holdeth this for truthe,
  That if that I lye,
  Mathew is to blame,                                     4590
  For he bad me make yow this,
  And this proverbe me tolde,
  _Quodcunque vultis ut faciant vobis
      homines, facite eis._

    Alle libbynge laborers
  That lyven with hir hondes,
  That treweliche taken,
  And treweliche wynnen,
  And lyven in love and in lawe,
  For hir lowe hertes                                     4600
  Haveth the same absolucion
  That sent was to Piers.

    Beggeres ne bidderes
  Ne beth noght in the bulle,
  But if the suggestion be sooth
  That shapeth hem to begge.
  For he that beggeth or bit,
  But if he have nede,
  He is fals with the feend,
  And defraudeth the nedy;                                4610
  And also he bi-gileth the gyvere,
  Ageynes his wille;
  For if he wiste he were noght nedy,
  He wolde gyve that another
  That were moore nedy than he,
  So the nedieste sholde be holpe.
  Caton kenneth me thus,
  And the clerc of stories;
  _Cui des videto_,
  Is Catons techyng.                                      4620

    And in the stories he techeth
  To bistowe thyn almesse.
  _Sit elemosina tua in manu tua,
      donec studes cui des._

    Ac Gregory was a good man,
  And bad us gyven alle
  That asketh for his love
  That us al leneth.
  _Non eligas cui miserearis, ne forte
      prætereas illum qui meretur                         4630
      accipere. Quia incertum est
      pro quo Deo magis placeas._

    For wite ye nevere who is worthi,
  Ac God woot who hath nede;
  In hym that taketh is the trecherie,
  If any treson walke.
  For he that yeveth, yeldeth,
  And yarketh hym to reste;
  And he that biddeth, borweth,
  And bryngeth hymself in dette.                          4640
  For beggeres borwen evere mo,
  And hir borgh is God almyghty,
  To yelden hem that yeveth hem,
  And yet usure moore.
  _Quare non dedisti pecuniam meam
      ad mensam, ut ego veniam cum
      usuris exigere?_

    For-thi biddeth noght, ye beggeres,
  But if ye have gret nede;
  For who so hath to buggen hym breed,                    4650
  The book bereth witnesse,
  He hath y-nough that hath breed y-nough,
  Though he have noght ellis.
  _Satis dives est, qui non indiget pane._

    Lat usage be youre solas,
  Of seintes lyves redyng,
  The book banneth beggerie,
  And blameth hem in this manere:
  _Junior fui, et jam senui, et non vidi
      justum derelictum, nec semen                        4660
      ejus, etc._

    For ye lyve in no love,
  Ne no lawe holde;
  Manye of yow ne wedde noght
  The womman that ye with deele,
  But as wilde bestes with 'wehee!'
  Worthen uppe and werchen,
  And bryngen forth barnes,
  That bastardes men calleth;
  Or the bak or som boon                                  4670
  He breketh in his youthe,
  And siththe goon faiten with youre fauntes
  For evere moore after.
  Ther is moore mys-shapen peple
  Amonges thise beggeres,
  Than of alle manere men
  That on this moolde walketh.
  And thei that lyve thus hir lif,
  Mowe lothe the tyme
  That evere thei were men wroght,                        4680
  Whan thei shal hennes fare.
  Ac olde men and hore,
  Than help-lees ben of strengthe,
  And wommen with childe
  That werche ne mowe,
  Blynde and bed-reden,
  And broken hire membres,
  That taken thise myschiefs mekeliche,
  As mesels and othere,
  Han as pleyn pardon                                     4690
  As the plowman hymselve.
  For love of hir lowe hertes,
  Oure Lord hath hem graunted
  Hir penaunce and hir purgatorie
  Here on this erthe.

    "Piers," quod a preest thoo,
  "Thi pardon moste I rede;
  For I wol construe ech clause,
  And kenne it thee on Englisshe."

    And Piers at his preiere                              4700
  The pardon unfoldeth;
  And I by-hynde hem bothe
  Biheld al the bulle,
  And in two lynes it lay,
  And noght a leef more,
  And was writen right thus,
  In witnesse of Truthe:
  _Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam eternam.              =
  Qui vero mala, in ignem eternum._                       4710

    "Peter," quod the preest thoo,
  "I kan no pardon fynde,
  But do wel and have wel,
  And God shal have thi soule,
  And do yvel and have yvel,
  Hope thow noon oother,
  But after thi deeth-day
  The devel shal have thi soule."
  And Piers for pure tene
  Pulled it a-tweyne,                                     4720
  And seide _Si ambulavero in medio
      umbræ mortis, non timebo mala,
      quoniam tu mecum es._

    "I shal cessen of my sowyng," quod Piers,                =
  "And swynke noght so harde,
  Ne aboute my bely joye
  So bisy be na-moore;
  Of preieres and of penaunce
  My plough shal ben herafter,                            4730
  And wepen whan I sholde slepe,
  Though whete-breed me faille.

    "The prophete his payn eet
  In penaunce and in sorwe,
  By that the Sauter seith,
  So dide othere manye;
  That loveth God lelly,
  His liflode is ful esy.
  _Fuerunt mihi lacrimæ meæ panes
      die ac nocte._                                      4740

    "And but if Luc lye,
  He lereth us by foweles,
  We sholde noght be to bisy
  Aboute the worldes blisse;
  _Ne soliciti sitis_,
  He seith in the Gospel,
  And sheweth us by ensamples
  Us selve to wisse.
  The foweles in the feld,
  Who fynt hem mete at wynter?                            4750
  Have thei no gerner to go to,
  But God fynt hem alle."

    "What!" quod the preest to Perkyn,
  "Peter! as me thynketh,
  Thow art lettred a litel:--
  Who lerned thee on boke?"

    "Abstynence the abbesse," quod Piers,
  "Myn a.b.c. me taughte;
  And Conscience cam afterward,
  And kenned me muche moore."                             4760

    "Were thow a preest," quod he,
  "Thou myghtest preche where thou sholdest,
  As divinour in divinité,
  With _Dixit insipiens_ to thi teme."

    "Lewed lorel!" quod Piers,
  "Litel lokestow on the Bible;
  On Salomons sawes
  Selden thow biholdest:
  _Ejice derisores et jurgia cum eis, ne
      crescant, etc._"                                    4770

    The preest and Perkyn
  Opposeden either oother.
  And I thorugh hir wordes a-wook,
  And waited aboute,
  And seigh the sonne in the south
  Sitte that tyme,
  Mete-lees and monei-lees
  On Malverne hulles,
  Musynge on this metels,
  And my wey ich yede.                                    4780

  Many tyme this metels
  Hath maked me to studie
  Of that I seigh slepynge,
  If it so be myghte,
  And also for Piers the Plowman
  Ful pencif in herte,
  And which a pardon Piers hadde
  Al the peple to conforte,
  And how the preest impugned it
  With two propre wordes.                                 4790
  Ac I have no savour in songewarie,
  For I se it ofte faille;
  Caton and canonistres
  Counseillen us to leve
  To sette sadnesse in songewarie,
  For _sompnia ne cures_.

    Ac for the book Bible
  Bereth witnesse
  How Daniel divined
  The dreem of a kyng,                                    4800
  That was Nabugodonosor
  Nempned of clerkes.

    Daniel seide, "Sire kyng,
  Thi dremels bitokneth
  That unkouthe knyghtes shul come
  Thi kyngdom to cleyme;
  Amonges lower lordes
  Thi lond shal be departed."
  And as Daniel divined,
  In dede it fel after;                                   4810
  The kyng lees his lordshipe,
  And lower men it hadde.

    And Joseph mette merveillously
  How the moone and the sonne
  And the ellevene sterres
  Hailsed hym alle.

    Thanne Jacob jugged
  Josephes swevene.
  "Beau fitz," quod his fader,
  "For defaute we shullen,                                4820
  I myself and my sones,
  Seche thee for nede."

    It bifel as his fader seide,
  In Pharaoes tyme,
  That Joseph was justice
  Egipte to loke;
  It bifel as his fader tolde,
  Hise frendes there hym soughte,
  And al this maketh me
  On this metels to thynke.                               4830
  And how the preest preved
  No pardon to Do-wel,
  And demed that Do-wel
  Indulgences passed,
  Biennals and triennals,
  And bisshopes lettres;
  And how Do-wel at the day of dome
  Is digneliche underfongen,
  And passeth al the pardon
  Of seint Petres cherche.                                4840

    Now hath the pope power
  Pardon to graunte the peple,
  Withouten any penaunce
  To passen into hevene;
  This is oure bileve,
  As lettred men us techeth:
  _Quodcumque ligaveris super terram,
      erit ligatum et in coelis, etc._                       =

    And so I leve leelly,                                 4850
  Lordes forbode ellis!
  That pardon and penaunce
  And preieres doon save
  Soules that have synned
  Seven sithes dedly;
  Ac to truste to thise triennals,
  Trewely me thynketh,
  Is noght so siker for the soule,
  Certes, as is Do-wel.

    For-thi I rede yow, renkes,                           4860
  That riche ben on this erthe,
  Upon trust of youre tresor
  Triennals to have,
  Be ye never the bolder
  To breake the .x. hestes;
  And namely ye maistres,
  Meires and jugges,
  That have the welthe of this world
  And for wise men ben holden,
  To purchace yow pardon                                  4870
  And the popes bulles.
  At the dredful dome,
  Whan dede shulle rise,
  And comen alle to-fore Crist
  Acountes to yelde,
  How thow laddest thi lif here,
  And hise lawes keptest,
  And how thow didest day by day,
  The doom wole reherce.
  A poke ful of pardon there,                             4880
  Ne provincials lettres,
  Theigh ye be founde in the fraternité
  Of alle the foure ordres,
  And have indulgences double-fold,
  But if Do-wel yow helpe,
  I sette youre patentes and youre pardon
  At one pies hele.

    For-thi I counseille alle Cristene
  To crie God mercy,
  And Marie his moder                                     4890
  Be oure meene bitwene,
  That God gyve us grace here,
  Er we go hennes,
  Swiche werkes to werche
  While we ben here,
  That after oure deeth-day
  Do-wel reherce
  At the day of dome,
  We dide as he highte.                                   4899

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Octavus de Visione, et incipit Do-wel._

  Thus y-robed in russet                                  4900
  I romed aboute
  Al a somer seson
  For to seke Do-wel;
  And frayned ful ofte
  Of folk that I mette,
  If any wight wiste
  Wher Do-wel was at inne;
  And what man he myghte be
  Of many man I asked.

    Was nevere wight, as I wente,                         4910
  That me wisse kouthe
  Where this leode lenged,
  Lasse ne moore;
  Til it bi-fel on a Friday
  Two freres I mette,
  Maistres of the menours,
  Men of grete witte.
  I hailsed hem hendely,
  As I hadde y-lerned,
  And preide hem _par charité_,                           4920
  Er thei passed ferther,
  If thei knewe any contree
  Or costes, as thei wente,
  "Where that Do-wel dwelleth
  Dooth me to witene."
  For thei be men of this moolde
  That moost wide walken,
  And knowen contrees and courtes,
  And many kynnes places,
  Bothe princes paleises                                  4930
  And povere mennes cotes,
  And Do-wel and Do-yvele
  Wher thei dwelle bothe.

    "Amonges us," quod the Menours,
  "That man is dwellynge,
  And evere hath, as I hope,
  And evere shal herafter."

    "_Contra_," quod I as a clerc,
  And comsed to disputen,
  And seide hem soothly,                                  4940
  "_Septies in die cadit justus._
  Sevene sithes, seith the book,
  Synneth the rightfulle;
  And who so synneth," I seide,
  "Dooth yvele, as me thynketh;
  And Do-wel and Do-yvele
  Mowe noght dwelle togideres.
  _Ergo_ he nys noght alwey
  Amonges yow freres;
  He is outher while ellis where                          4950
  To wisse the peple."

    "I shal seye thee, my sone,"
  Seide the frere thanne,
  "How seven sithes the sadde man
  On a day synneth;
  By a forbisne," quod the frere,
  "I shal thee faire shewe.
  Lat brynge a man in a boot
  Amydde the brode watre,
  The wynd and the water                                  4960
  And the boot waggyng
  Maketh the man many a tyme
  To falle and to stonde;
  For stonde he never so stif,
  He stumbleth if he meve,
  Ac yet is he saaf and sound,
  And so hym bihoveth.
  For if he ne arise the rather,
  And raughte to the steere,
  The wynd wolde with the water                           4970
  The boot over throwe;
  And thanne were his lif lost,
  Through lachesse of hymselve.

    "And thus it falleth," quod the frere,
  "By folk here on erthe;
  The water is likned to the world
  That wanyeth and wexeth;
  The goodes of this grounde arn lik
  To the grete wawes,
  That as wyndes and wedres                               4980
  Walketh aboute;
  The boot is likned to oure body
  That brotel is of kynde,
  That thorugh the fend and the flesshe
  And the frele worlde
  Synneth the sadde man
  A day seven sithes.

    "Ac dedly synne doth he noght,
  For Do-wel hym kepeth;
  And that is charité the champion,                       4990
  Chief help ayein synne;
  For he strengheth men to stonde,
  And steereth mannes soule,
  And though the body bowe
  As boot dooth in the watre,
  Ay is thi soule saaf,
  But if thow wole thiselve
  Do a deedly synne,
  And drenche so thi soule,
  God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe,                        5000
  If thiself liketh.
  For he yaf thee a yeres-gyve,
  To yeme wel thiselve,
  And that is wit and free-wil,
  To every wight a porcion,
  To fleynge foweles,
  To fisshes and to beestes;
  Ac man hath moost therof,
  And moost is to blame,
  But if he werche wel therwith,                          5010
  As Do-wel hym teacheth."

    "I have no kynde knowyng," quod I,
  "To conceyven alle youre wordes;
  Ac if I may lyve and loke,
  I shal go lerne bettre."

    "I bikenne thee Crist," quod he,
  "That on cros deyde!"
  And I seide, "The same
  Save yow fro myschaunce,
  And gyve yow grace on this grounde                      5020
  Goode men to worthe!"

  And thus I wente wide wher
  Walkyng myn one,
  By a wilde wildernesse,
  And by a wodes side;
  Blisse of the briddes
  Broughte me a-slepe,
  And under a lynde upon a launde
  Lened I a stounde,
  To lythe the layes                                      5030
  Tho lovely foweles made.
  Murthe of hire mouthes
  Made me ther to sleple;
  The marveillouseste metels
  Mette me thanne
  That ever dremed wight
  In world, as I wene.

    A muche man, as me thoughte,
  And lik to myselve,
  Cam and called me                                       5040
  By my kynde name.

    "What artow?" quod I tho,
  "That thow my name knowest."

    "That thou woost wel," quod he,
  "And no wight bettre."

    "Woot I what thow art?"
  "Thought," seide he thanne;
  "I have sued thee this seven yeer,
  Seye thow me no rather."

    "Artow Thought," quod I thoo,                         5050
  "Thow koudest me wisse,
  Where that Do-wel dwelleth,
  And do me that to knowe."

    "Do-wel and Do-bet,
  And Do-best the thridde," quod he,
  "Arn thre fair vertues,
  And ben noght fer to fynde.
  Who so is trewe of his tunge,
  And of his two handes,
  And thorugh his labour, or thorugh his land,            5060
  His liflode wynneth,
  And is trusty of his tailende,
  Taketh but his owene,
  And his noght dronklewe ne dedeynous,
  Do-wel hym folweth.

    "Do-bet dooth right thus:
  Ac he dooth muche moore;
  He is as lowe as a lomb,
  And lovelich of speche,
  And helpeth alle men                                    5070
  After that hem nedeth.
  The bagges and the bigirdles,
  He hath to-broke hem alle,
  That the erl Avarous
  Heeld and hise heires.
  And thus with Mammonaes moneie
  He hath maad hym frendes,
  And is ronne to religion,
  And hath rendred the Bible,
  And precheth to the peple                               5080
  Seint Poules wordes:
  _Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum
      sitis ipsi sapientes._

    "And suffreth the unwise
  With yow for to libbe;
  And with glad wille dooth hem good,
  For so God yow hoteth.

    "Do-best is above bothe,
  And bereth a bisshopes crosse,
  Is hoked on that oon ende                               5090
  To halie men fro helle;
  A pik is on that potente,
  To putte a-down the wikked
  That waiten any wikkednesse
  Do-wel to tene.
  And Do-wel and Do-bet
  Amonges hem han ordeyned,
  To crowne oon to be kyng
  To rulen hem bothe;
  That if Do-wel or Do-bet                                5100
  Dide ayein Do-best,
  Thanne shal the kyng come
  And casten hem in irens,
  And but if Do-best bede for hem,
  Thei to be ther for evere.

    "Thus Do-wel and Do-bet,
  And Do-best the thridde,
  Crouned oon to the kyng
  To kepen hem alle,
  And to rule the reme                                    5110
  By hire thre wittes,
  And noon oother wise
  But as thei thre assented."

    I thonked Thoght tho,
  That he me thus taughte.
  "Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying;
  I coveite to lerne
  How Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best
  Doon among the peple."

    "But Wit konne wisse thee," quod Thoght,              5120
  "Wher tho thre dwelle,
  Ellis woot I noon that kan
  That now is alyve."

    Thoght and I thus
  Thre daies we yeden,
  Disputyng upon Do-wel
  Day after oother;
  And ere we were war,
  With Wit gonne we mete.
  He was long and lene,                                   5130
  Lik to noon other;
  Was no pride on his apparaille,
  Ne poverte neither;
  Sad of his semblaunt,
  And of softe chere.
  I dorste meve no matere
  To maken hym to jangle,
  But as I bad Thoght thoo
  Be mene bitwene,
  And pute forth som purpos                               5140
  To preven hise wittes,
  What was Do-wel fro Do-bet,
  And Do-best from hem bothe.

    Thanne Thoght in that tyme
  Seide thise wordes:
  "Where Do-wel, Do-bet,
  And Do-best ben in londe,
  Here is Wil wolde wite,
  If Wit koude teche hym;
  And wheither he be man or womman
  This man fayn wolde aspie,
  And werchen as thei thre wolde,
  Thus is his entente."                                   5153

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Nonus de Visione, ut supra, et Primus de Do-wel_

  "Sire Do-wel dwelleth," quod Wit,                       5154
  "Noght a day hennes,
  In a castel that Kynde made
  Of four kynnes thynges;
  Of erthe and of eyr it is maad,
  Medled togideres,
  With wynd and with water                                5160
  Witterly enjoyned.
  Kynde hath closed therinne
  Craftily withalle
  A lemman that he loveth
  Lik to hymselve;
  _Anima_ she hatte.
  Ac envye hir hateth,
  A proud prikere of Fraunce,
  _Princeps hujus mundi_,
  And wolde wynne hire awey                               5170
  With wiles, and he myghte.

    "Ac Kynde knoweth this wel,
  And kepeth hire the bettre,
  And dooth hire with sire Do-wel,
  Is duc of thise marches.

    "Do-bet is hire damyselle,
  Sire Do-weles doughter,
  To serven this lady leelly
  Bothe late and rathe.

    "Do-best is above bothe,                              5180
  A bisshopes peere;
  That he bit moot be do,
  He ruleth hem alle.
  _Anima_, that lady,
  Is lad by his leryng.
  Ac the constable of that castel,
  That kepeth al the wacche,
  Is a wis knyght withalle,
  Sire Inwit he hatte,
  And hathe fyve faire sones                              5190
  Bi his firste wyve;
  Sire Se-wel, and Sey-wel,
  And Here-wel the hende,
  Sire Werch-wel-with-thyn-hand,
  A wight man of strengthe,
  And sire Godefray Go-wel;
  Grete lordes, for sothe.
  Thise fyve ben set
  To kepe this lady _Anima_,
  Til Kynde come or sende                                 5200
  To saven hire for evere."

    "What kynnes thyng is Kynde?" quod I,
  "Kanstow me telle?"

    "Kynde," quod Wit, "is a creatour
  Of alle kynnes thynges,
  Fader and formour
  Of al that evere was maked;
  And that is the grete God
  That gynnyng hadde nevere,
  Lord of lif and of light,                               5210
  Of lisse and of peyne.
  Aungeles and alle thyng
  Arn at his wille;
  Ac man is hym moost lik
  Of marc and of shafte;
  For thorugh the word that he spak
  Woxen forth beestes.
  _Dixit et facta sunt._

    "And made man likkest
  To hymself one,                                         5220
  And Eve of his ryb-bon,
  Withouten any mene,
  For he was synguler hymself;
  And seide _faciamus_,
  As who seith moore moot herto
  Than my word oone,
  My myght moot helpe
  Forth with my speche.
  Right as a lord sholde make lettres,
  And hym lakked parchemyn,                               5230
  Though he koude write never so wel,
  If he hadde no penne,
  The lettre, for al the lordshipe,
  I leve were nevere y-maked.

    "And so it semeth by hym,
  As the Bible telleth,
  There he seide _Dixit et facta sunt_,
  He moste werche with his word,
  And his wit shewe.
  And in this manere was man maad,                        5240
  Thorugh myght of God almighty,
  With his word and werkmanshipe,
  And with lif to laste.
  And thus God gaf hym a goost,
  Thorugh the godhede of hevene,
  And of his grete grace
  Graunted hym blisse,
  And that is lif that ay shal laste
  To al his lynage after.
  And that is the castel that Kynde made,                 5250
  _Caro_ it hatte,
  And is as muche to mene
  As man with a soule;
  And that he wroghte with werk,
  And with word bothe,
  Thorgh myght of the magesté
  Man was y-maked.

    "Inwit and alle wittes
  Closed ben therinne,
  For love of the lady _Anima_,                           5260
  That lif is y-nempned;
  Over al in mannes body
  He walketh and wandreth.
  And in the herte is hir hoom
  And hir mooste reste.

    "Ac Inwit is in the heed,
  And to the herte he loketh;
  What _Anima_ is leef or looth,
  He lat hire at his wille;
  For after the grace of God,                             5270
  The gretteste is Inwit.

    "Muche wo worth that man
  That mys-ruleth his Inwit;
  And that ben glotons glubberes,
  Hir God is hire wombe.
  _Quorum deus venter est._

    "For thei serven Sathan,
  Hir soules shal he have.
  That lyven synful lif here,
  Hir soule is lich the devil;                            5280
  And alle that lyven good lif
  Are lik to God almyghty,
  _Qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, etc._                =

    "Alas! that drynke shal for-do
  That God deere boughte,
  And dooth God forsaken hem
  That he shoop to his liknesse.
  _Amen dico vobis, nescio vos. Et alibi:
      Et dimisi eos secundum desideria                    5290

    "Fools that fauten Inwit,
  I fynde that holy chirche
  Sholde fynden hem that hem fauted,
  And fader-lese children,
  And widewes that han noght wherwith
  To wynnen hem hir foode,
  Madde men, and maydenes
  That help-lese were,
  Alle thise lakken Inwit,                                5300
  And loore bihoveth.

    "Of this matere I myghte
  Make a long tale,
  And fynde fele witnesses
  Among the foure doctours;
  And that I lye noght of that I lere thee,
  Luc bereth witnesse.

    "God-fadres and god-modres,
  That seen hire god-children
  At mys-eise and at myschief,                            5310
  And mowe hem amende,
  Shul have penaunce in purgatorie
  But thei hem helpe.
  For moore bilongeth to the litel barn,
  Er he the lawe knowe,
  Than nempnynge of a name,
  And he never the wiser.
  Sholde no cristene creature
  Cryen at the yate,
  Ne faille payn ne potage,                               5320
  And prelates dide as thei sholden.
  A Jew wolde noght se a Jew
  Go janglyng for defaute,
  For alle the mebles on this moolde,
  And he amende it myghte.

    "Alas! that a cristene creature
  Shal be unkynde til another;
  Syn Jewes, that we jugge
  Judas felawes,
  Eyther of hem helpeth oother                            5330
  Of that that hem nedeth.
  Whi nel we cristene
  Of Cristes good be as kynde
  As Jewes, that ben oure lores-men?
  Shame to us alle!
  The commune for hir unkyndenesse,
  I drede me, shul abye.

    "Bisshopes shul be blamed
  For beggeres sake.
  He is wors than Judas,                                  5340
  That gyveth a japer silver,
  And biddeth the beggere go,
  For his broke clothes.
  _Proditor est prælatus cum Juda,
      qui patrimonium Christi mimis
      distribuit. Et alibi: Perniciosus
      dispensator est, qui res
      pauperum Christi inutiliter

    "He dooth noght wel that dooth thus,                  5350
  Ne drat noght God almyghty;
  He loveth noght Salomons sawes,
  That sapience taughte.
  _Initium sapientiæ, timor Domini._

    "That dredeth God, he dooth wel;
  That dredeth him for love,
  And noght for drede of vengeaunce,
  Dooth therfore the bettre.

    "He dooth best that with-draweth hym
  By daye and by nyghte,                                  5360
  To spille any speche
  Or any space of tyme.
  _Qui offendit in uno, in omnibus est reus._                =

    "Lesynge of tyme,
  Truthe woot the sothe,
  Is moost y-hated upon erthe
  Of hem that ben in hevene;
  And siththe to spille speche,
  That spicerie is of grace,                              5370
  And Goddes gle-man,
  And a game of hevene.
  Wolde nevere the feithful fader
  This fithele were un-tempred,
  Ne his gle-man a gedelyng,
  A goere to tavernes.

    "To alle trewe tidy men
  That travaille desiren,
  Oure Lord loveth hem and lent
  Loude outher stille                                     5380
  Grace to go to hem,
  And of-gon hir liflode.
  _Inquirentes autem Dominum non
      minuentur omni bono._

    "Trewe wedded libbynge folk
  In this world is Do-wel,
  For thei mote werche and wynne,
  And the world sustene.
  For of hir kynde thei come
  That confessours ben nempned,                           5390
  Kynges and knyghtes,
  Kaysers and cherles,
  Maidenes and martires,
  Out of o man come.
  The wif was maad the weye
  For to helpe werche;
  And thus was wedlok y-wroght
  With a mene persone,
  First, by the fadres wille,
  And the frendes conseille;                              5400
  And sithenes by assent of hemself,
  As thei two myghte acorde.
  And thus was wedlok y-wroght,
  And God hymself it made
  In erthe and in hevene,
  Hymself bereth witnesse.

    "Ac fals folk feyth-lees,
  Theves and lyeres,
  Wastours and wrecches,
  Out of wedlok, I trowe,                                 5410
  Conceyved ben in yvel tyme,
  As Caym was on Eve;
  Of swiche synfulle sherewes
  The Sauter maketh mynde:
  _Concepit in dolore, et peperit iniquitatem, etc._         =

    "And alle that come of that Caym,
  Come to yvel ende.
  And God sente to Seem,
  And seide by an aungel,                                 5420
  'Thyn issue in thyn issue
  I wol that thei be wedded,
  And noght thi kynde with Caymes
  Y-coupled nor y-spoused.'

    "Yet some, ayein the sonde
  Of oure Saveour of hevene,
  Caymes kynde and his kynde
  Coupled togideres,
  Til God wrathed for hir werkes,
  And swich a word seide,                                 5430
  'That I makede man
  It me for-thynketh.'
  _Poenitet me fecisse hominem._

    "And com to Noe anon,
  And bad hym noght lette:
  'Swith go shape a ship
  Of shides and of bordes;
  Thyself and thi sones,
  And sithen youre wyves,
  Busketh yow to that boot,                               5440
  And bideth ye therinne,
  Til fourty daies be fulfild,
  That the flood have y-wasshen
  Clene awey the corsed blood
  That Caym hath y-maked.

    "'Beestes that now ben
  Shul banne the tyme
  That evere that cursed Caym
  Coom on this erthe;
  Alle shul deye for hise dedes,                          5450
  By dales and by hulles,
  And the foweles that fleen
  Forth with othere beestes,
  Excepte oonliche
  Of ech kynde a couple,
  That in thi shyngled ship
  Shul ben y-saved.'
  Here a-boughte the barn
  The bel-sires giltes,
  And alle for hir fadres                                 5460
  Thei ferden the werse;
  The Gospel is her ayein,
  In o degré, I fynde:
  _Filius non portabit iniquitatem patris,
     et pater non portabit iniquitatem
     filii, etc._

    "Ac I fynde if the fader
  Be fals and a sherewe,
  That som del the sone
  Shal have the sires tacches.                            5470

    "Impe on an ellere,
  And if thyn appul be swete,
  Muchel merveille me thynketh;
  And moore of a sherewe
  That bryngeth forth any barn,
  But if he be the same,
  And have a savour after the sire;
  Selde sestow oother.
  _Nunquam colligitur de spinis uva,
      nec de tribulis ficus._                             5480

    "And thus thorugh cursed Caym
  Cam care upon erthe;
  And al for thei wroghte wedlokes
  Ayein Goddes wille.
  For-thi have thei maugré of hir mariages
  That marie so hir children.
  For some, as I se now,
  Sooth for to telle,
  For coveitise of catel
  Un-kyndely ben wedded;                                  5490
  As careful concepcion
  Cometh of swiche mariages,
  As bi-fel of the folk
  That I bifore of tolde,
  Therfore goode sholde wedde goode,
  Though thei no good hadde;
  'I am _via et veritas_,' seith Crist,
  'I may avaunce yow alle.'

    "It is an uncomly couple,
  By Crist! as me thynketh,                               5500
  To yeven a yong wenche
  To an old feble,
  Or wedden any wodewe
  For welthe of hir goodes,
  That nevere shal barn bere
  But if it be in hir armes.
  Many a peire, sithen the pestilence,
  Han plight hem togideres,
  The fruyt that brynge forth
  Arn foule wordes,                                       5510
  In jelousie joye-lees,
  And janglynge on bedde,
  Have thei no children but cheeste,
  And clappyng hem bitwene.
  And though thei do hem to Dunmowe,
  But if the devel helpe,
  To folwen after the flicche,
  Fecche thei it nevere;
  And but thi bothe be for-swore,
  That bacon thei tyne.                                   5520

    "For-thei I counseille alle cristene
  Coveite noght be wedded
  For coveitise of catel,
  Ne of kyn-rede riche;
  Ac maidenes and maydenes
  Macche yow togideres,
  Wodewes and wideweres
  Wercheth the same;
  For no londes, but for love,
  Loke ye be wedded,                                      5530
  And thanne gete ye the grace of God,
  And good y-nough to lyve with.

    "And every maner seculer
  That may noght continue,
  Wisely goo wedde,
  And ware hym fro synne;
  For lecherie in likynge
  Is lyme-yerd of helle.
  Whiles thow art yong,
  And thi wepene kene,                                    5540
  Wreke thee with wyvyng,
  If thow wolt ben excused.
  _Dum sis vir fortis,
  Ne des tua robora scortis;
  Scribitur in portis,
  Meretrix est janua mortis._

    "Whan ye han wyved, beth war
  And wercheth in tyme;
  Noght as Adam and Eve,
  Whan Caym was engendred.                                5550
  For in un-tyme, trewely,
  Bitwene man and womman,
  Ne sholde no bourde or bedde be;
  But if thei bothe were clene
  Bothe of lif and of soule,
  And in perfit charité,
  That ilke derne dede do
  No man ne sholde.
  And if thei leden thus hir lif,
  It liketh God almyghty;                                 5560
  For he made wedlok first,
  And hymself it seide:
  _Bonum est ut unusquisque uxorem
      suam habeat, propter

    "And thei that other gates ben geten
  For gedelynges arn holden,
  As fals folk fondlynges,
  Faitours and lieres,
  Ungracious to gete good                                 5570
  Or love of the peple,
  Wandren and wasten
  What thei cacche mowe,
  Ayeins Do-wel thei doon yvel,
  And the devel serve;
  And after hir deeth day
  Shul dwelle with the same,
  But God gyve hem grace here
  Hemself to amende.

    "Do-wel my frend is,                                  5580
  To doon as lawe techeth;
  To love thi frend and thi foo,
  Leve me, that is Do-bet;
  To gyven and to yemen
  Bothe yonge and olde,
  To helen and to helpen,
  Is Do-best of alle.

    "And Do-wel is to drede God,
  And Do-bet to suffre,
  And so cometh Do-best of bothe,                         5590
  And bryngeth adoun the mody,
  And that is wikked wille
  That many a werk shendeth,
  And dryveth awey Do-wel
  Thorugh dedliche synnes."                               5595

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Decimus de Visione, et Secundus de Do-wel._

  Thanne hadde Wit a wif,                                 5596
  Was hote dame Studie,
  That lene was of lere,
  And of liche bothe;
  She was wonderly wroth                                  5600
  That Wit me thus taughte;
  And al starynge dame Studie
  Sterneliche loked.

    "Wel artow wis," quod she to Wit,
  "Any wisdomes to telle
  To flatereres or to fooles,
  That frenetike ben of wittes."
  And blamed hym and banned hym,
  And bad hym be stille,
  With swiche wise wordes                                 5610
  To wissen any sottes.
  And seide, "_Noli mittere_, man,
  Margery perles
  Among hogges, that han
  Hawes at wille;
  Thei doon but dryvele theron,
  Draf were hem levere
  Than al the precious perree
  That in paradis wexeth.
  I seye it by swiche," quod she,                         5620
  "That sheweth by hir werkes,
  That hem were levere lond
  And lordshipe on erthe,
  Or richesse, or rentes,
  And reste at hir wille,
  Than alle the sooth sawes
  That Salomon seide evere.

    "Wisdom and wit now
  Is noght worth a kerse,
  But if it be carded with coveitise,                     5630
  As clotheres kemben hir wolle.
  Who so can contreve deceites
  And conspire wronges,
  And lede forth a love-day
  To lette with truthe,
  He that swiche craftes can
  To counseil is cleped.
  Thei lede lordes with lesynges,
  And bi-lieth Truthe.

    "Job the gentile                                      5640
  In his gestes witnesseth,
  That wikked men thei welden
  The welthe of this worlde;
  And that thei ben lordes of ech a lond
  That out of lawe libbeth.
  _Quare impii vivunt, bene est omnibus
      qui prævaricantur et inique

    "The Sauter seith the same
  By swiche that doon ille:                               5650
  _Ecce ipsi peccatores abundantes in
      sæculo obtinuerunt divitias._

    "Lo! seith holy lettrure,
  Whiche beth thise sherewes?
  Thilke that God gyveth moost,
  Leest good thei deleth;
  And moost un-kynde to the commune
  That moost catel weldeth.
  _Quæ perfecisti destruxerunt, justus
      autem, etc._                                        5660

    "Harlotes for hir harlotrie
  May have of hir goodes,
  And japeris and jogelours,
  And jangleris of gestes.

    "Ac he that hath holy writ
  Ay in his mouthe,
  And kan telle of Tobye,
  And of twelve apostles,
  Or prechen of the penaunce
  That Pilat wikkedly wroghte                             5670
  To Jhesu the gentile,
  That Jewes to-drowe;
  Litel is he loved
  That swich a lesson sheweth,
  Or daunted or drawe forth,
  I do it on God hymselve.

    "But thoo that feynen hem foolis,
  And with faityng libbeth,
  Ayein the lawe of oure Lord,
  And lyen on hemselve,                                   5680
  Spitten and spuen,
  And speke foule wordes,
  Drynken and drevelen,
  And do men fer to gape,
  Likne men, and lye on hem,
  That leneth hem no giftes;
  Thei konne na-moore mynstralcie
  Ne musik men to glade,
  Than Munde the millere
  Of _Multa fecit Deus_.                                  5690
  Ne were hir vile harlotrye,
  Have God my trouthe!
  Sholde nevere kyng ne knyght,
  Ne chanon of seint Poules,
  Gyve hem to hir yeres-gyve
  The gifte of a grote.

    "Ac murthe and mynstralcie
  Amonges men is nouthe
  Lecherie, losengerye,
  And losels tales,                                       5700
  Glotonye and grete othes,
  This murthe thei lovyeth.

    "Ac if thei carpen of Crist,
  Thise clerkes and thise lewed
  At mete in hir murthe,
  Whan mynstrals beth stille,
  Thanne telleth thei of the Trinité
  A tale outher tweye,
  And bryngen forth a balled reson,
  And taken Bernard to witnesse,                          5710
  And putten forth a presumpcion
  To preve the sothe.
  Thus thei dryvele at hir deys
  The Deitee to knowe,
  And gnawen God with the gorge,
  Whanne hir guttes fullen.

    "Ac the carefulle may crie
  And carpen at the yate,
  Bothe a-fyngred and a-furst,
  And for chele quake;                                    5720
  Is ther noon to nyme hym neer,
  His anoy to amende,
  But hunten hym as an hound,
  And hoten hym go thennes.
  Litel loveth he that Lord
  That lent hym al that blisse,
  That thus parteth with the povere
  A percell whan hym nedeth.
  Ne were mercy in meene men
  Moore than in riche,                                    5730
  Mendinauntz mete-lees
  Myghte go to bedde.
  God is muche in the gorge
  Of thise grete maistres,
  Ac amonges meene men
  His mercy and hise werkes.
  And so seith the Sauter,
  I have seighen it ofte:
  _Ecce audivimus eam in Effrata, invenimus
      eam in campis silvæ._                               5740

    "Clerkes and othere kynnes men
  Carpen of God faste,
  And have hym muche in the mouth;
  Ac meene men in herte.

    "Freres and faitours
  Han founde swiche questions,
  To plese with proude men,
  Syn the pestilence tyme;
  And prechen at seint Poules
  For pure envye of clerkes;                              5750
  That folk is noght fermed in the feith,
  Ne free of hire goodes,
  Ne sory for hire synnes;
  So is pride woxen,
  In religion and in al the reme,
  Amonges riche and povere,
  That preieres have no power
  The pestilence to lette.
  And yet the wrecches of this world
  Is noon y-war by oother;                                5760
  Ne for drede of the deeth
  With-drawe noght hir pride;
  Ne beth plentevouse to the povere,
  As pure charité wolde;
  But in gaynesse and in glotonye
  For-glutten hir good hemselve,
  And breketh noght to the beggere
  As the Book techeth:
  _Frange esurienti panem tuum, etc._
  And the moore he wynneth and welt                       5770
  Welthes and richesse,
  And lordeth in londes,
  The lasse good he deleth.

    "Tobye telleth yow noght so,
  Taketh hede, ye riche,
  How the book Bible
  Of hym bereth witnesse.
  _Si tibi sit copia, abundanter tribue.
  Si autem exiguum, illud impertiri
      stude libenter._                                    5780

    "Who so hath muche, spende manliche,
  So seith Tobye;
  And who so litel weldeth,
  Rule hym therafter.
  For we have no lettre of oure lif,
  How longe it shal dure,
  Swiche lessons lordes sholde
  Lovye to here,
  And how he myghte moost meynee
  Manliche fynde.                                         5790

    "Nought to fare as a fithelere or a frere,
  For to seke festes
  Homliche at othere mennes houses,
  And hatien hir owene.
  Elenge is the halle
  Ech day in the wike,
  Ther the lord ne the lady
  Liketh noght to sitte.
  Now hath ech riche a rule
  To eten by hymselve                                     5800
  In a pryvee parlour,
  For povere mennes sake,
  Or in a chambre with a chymenee,
  And leve the chief halle
  That was maad for meles,
  Men to eten inne,
  And al to spare to spende
  That spille shal another.

    "I have y-herd heighe men,
  Etynge at the table,                                    5810
  Carpen, as thei clerkes were,
  Of Crist, and of hise myghtes;
  And leyden fautes upon the fader
  That formede us alle,
  And carpen ayein clerkes
  Crabbede wordes,
  Why wolde oure Saveour suffre
  Swich a worm in his blisse,
  That bigiled the womman,
  And the man after,                                      5820
  Thorugh whiche wiles and wordes
  Thei wente to helle,
  And al hir seed for hir synne
  The same deeth suffrede.

    "Here lyeth youre lore,
  Thise lordes gynneth dispute,
  Of that the clerkes us kenneth
  Of Crist by the Gospel:
  _Filius non portabit iniquitatem patris,
      etc._                                               5830

    "Why sholde we that now ben,
  For the werkes of Adam,
  Roten and to-rende?
  Reson wolde it nevere.
  _Unusquisque portabit onus suum, etc._

    "Swiche motyves thei mene,
  Thise maistres in hir glorie,
  And maken men in mys-bileve
  That muse muche on hire wordes,
  Ymaginatif herafterwarde                                5840
  Shal answere to hir purpos.

    "Austyn to swiche argueres
  Telleth this teme:
  _Non plus sapere quam oportet._

    "Wilneth nevere to wite
  Why that God wolde
  Suffre Sathan
  His seed to bigile;
  Ac bileveth lelly
  In the loore of holy chirche,                           5850
  And preie hym of pardon
  And penaunce in thi lyve,
  And for his muche mercy
  To amende yow here.
  For alle that wilneth to wite
  The weyes of God almyghty,
  I wolde his eighe were in his ers,
  And his fynger after,
  That evere wilneth to wite
  Why that God wolde                                      5860
  Suffre Sathan
  His seed to bigile,
  Or Judas to the Jewes
  Jhesu bitraye.
  Al was as thow woldest,
  Lord, y-worshiped be the!
  And al worth as thow wolt,
  What so we dispute.

    "And tho that useth thise hanylons
  To blende mennes wittes,                                5870
  What is Do-wel fro Do-bet,
  That deef mote he worthe,
  Siththe he wilneth to wite
  Whiche thei ben bothe,
  But if he lyve in the lif
  That longeth to Do-wel.
  For I dar ben his bolde borgh,
  That do-bet wole he nevere,
  Theigh Do-best drawe on hym
  Day after oother."                                      5880

    And whan that Wit was y-war
  What dame Studie tolde,
  He bicom so confus,
  He kouthe noght loke,
  And as doumb as deeth,
  And drough hym arere;
  And for no carpyng I kouthe after,
  Ne knelyng to the grounde,
  I myghte gete no greyn
  Of his grete wittes.                                    5890
  But al laughynge he louted,
  And loked upon Studie
  In signe that I sholde
  Bi-sechen hire of grace.

    And whan I was war of his wille,
  To his wif gan I loute,
  And seide, "Mercy, madame,
  Youre man shal I worthe
  As longe as I lyve,
  Bothe late and rathe,                                   5900
  For to werche youre wille
  The while my lif dureth,
  With that ye kenne me kyndely
  To knowe what is Do-wel."

    "For thi mekenesse, man," quod she,
  "And for thi mylde speche,
  I shal kenne thee to my cosyn
  That Clergie is hoten.
  He hath wedded a wif
  Withinne thise sixe monthes,                            5910
  Is sib to seven artz,
  Scripture is hir name.
  They two, as I hope,
  After my techyng,
  Shullen wissen thee to Do-wel,
  I dar it undertake."

    Thanne was I al so fayn,
  As fowel of fair morwe,
  And gladder than the gle-man
  That gold hath to gifte;                                5920
  And asked hire the heighe wey
  Where that Clergie dwelte,
  "And tel me som tokene," quod I,
  "For tyme is that I wende."

    "Aske the heighe wey," quod she,
  "Hennes to Suffre-
  If that thow wolt lerne,
  And ryd forth by Richesse,
  Ac rest thow noght therinne;                            5930
  For if thow couplest thee therwith,
  To Clergie comestow nevere.

    "And also the likerouse launde
  That Lecherie hatte,
  Leve it on thi left half
  A large myle or moore,
  Til thow come to a court,
  And-likerouse-drynkes.                                  5940

    "Thanne shaltow se Sobretee,
  And Sympletee-of-speche,
  That ech wight be in wille
  His wit thee to shewe;
  And thus shaltow come to Clergie,
  That kan manye thynges.

    "Seye hym this signe,
  I sette hym to scole,
  And that I grete wel his wif,
  For I wroot hire manye bokes,                           5950
  And sette hire to Sapience,
  And to the Sauter glose;
  Logyk I lerned hire,
  And manye othere lawes,
  And alle musons in musik
  I made hire to knowe.

    "Plato the poete
  I putte first to boke,
  Aristotle and othere mo
  To argue I taughte.                                     5960

    "Grammer for girles
  I garte first to write,
  And bette hem with a baleys,
  But if thei wolde lerne,

    "Of alle kynne craftes
  I contreved tooles,
  Of carpentrie, of kerveres,
  And compased masons,
  And lerned hem level and lyne,
  Though I loke dymme.                                    5970

    "Ac Theologie hath tened me
  Ten score tymes;
  The moore I muse therinne
  The mystier it seemeth,
  And the depper I devyne
  The derker me it thynketh.
  It is no science, for sothe,
  For to sotile inne;
  A ful lethi thyng it were,
  If that love nere;                                      5980
  Ac for it leteth best bi-love,
  I love it the bettre.
  For there that love is ledere,
  Ther lakked nevere grace.
  Loke thow love lelly,
  If thee liketh Do-wel;
  For Do-bet and Do-best
  Ben of Loves kynne.

    "In oother science it seith,
  I seigh it in Caton:                                    5990
  _Qui simulat verbis, nec corde est fidus amicus,
  Tu quoque fac simile, sic ars deluditur arte._

    "Who so gloseth as gylours doon,
  Go me to the same;
  And so shaltow fals folk
  And feith-lees bigile.
  This is Catons kennyng
  To clerkes that he lereth.

    "Ac Theologie techeth noght so,
  Who so taketh yeme;                                     6000
  He kenneth us the contrarie,
  Ayein Catons wordes.
  For he biddeth us be as bretheren,
  And bidde for our enemys.
  And loven hem that lyen on us,
  And lene hem whan hem nedeth,
  And do good ayein yvel,
  God hymself it hoteth.
  _Dum tempus habemus, operemur
      bonum ad omnes, maxime autem                        6010
      ad domesticos fidei._
  Poul preched the peple
  That perfitnesse lovede,
  To do good for Goddes love,
  And gyven men that asked,
  And namely to swiche
  As suwen oure bileve,
  And alle that lakketh us, or lyeth,
  Oure Lord techeth us to lovye.
  And noght to greven hem that greveth us,                6020
  God hymself forbad it,
  _Mihi vindictam, et ego retribuam._

    "For-thi loke thow lovye,
  As longe as thow durest;
  For is no science under sonne
  So sovereyn for the soule.

    "Ac astronomye is an hard thyng,
  And yvel for to knowe;
  Geometrie and geomesie,
  So gynful of speche,                                    6030
  Who so thynketh werche with tho two
  Thryveth ful late,
  For sorcerie is the sovereyn book
  That to tho sciences bilongeth.

    "Yet ar ther fibicches in forceres
  Of fele mennes makyng,
  Experimentz of alkenamye
  The peple to deceyve;
  If thow thynke to do-wel,
  Deel therwith nevere.                                   6040

    "Alle thise sciences I myself
  Sotilede and ordeynede,
  And founded hem formest
  Folk to deceyve.
  Tel Clergie this tokene,
  And Scripture after,
  To counseille thee kyndely
  To knowe what is Do-wel."

    I seide, "Graunt mercy, madame,"
  And mekely hir grette;                                  6050
  And wente wightly awey
  Withoute moore lettyng,
  And til I com to Clergie
  I koude nevere stynte;
  And grette the goode man,
  As Studie me taughte,
  And afterwardes the wif,
  And worshiped hem bothe,
  And tolde hem the tokenes
  That me taught were.                                    6060
  Was nevere gome upon this ground,
  Sith God made the worlde,
  Fairer under-fongen,
  Ne frendlier at ese,
  Than myself, soothly,
  Soone so he wiste
  Than I was of Wittes hous,
  And with his wif, dame Studie.

    I seide to hem soothly
  That sent was I thider,                                 6070
  Do-wel and Do-bet
  And Do-best to lerne.

    "It is a commune lyf," quod Clergie,
  "On holy chirche to bileve,
  With alle the articles of the feith
  That falleth to be knowe;
  And that is to bileve lelly,
  Bothe lered and lewed,
  On the grete God
  That gynnyng hadde nevere,                              6080
  And on the soothfast Sone
  That saved mankynde
  Fro the dedly deeth
  And devel's power,
  Thorugh the help of the Holy Goost,
  The which goost is of bothe,
  Thre persones, ac noght
  In plurel nombre;
  For al is but oon God,
  And ech is God hymselve.                                6090
  _Deus pater, Deus filius, Deus spiritus sanctus._          =
  God the fader, God the sone,
  God holy goost of bothe,
  Makere of mankynde,
  And of beestes bothe.

    "Austyn the olde
  Herof made bokes,
  And hymself ordeyned
  To sadde us in bileve.                                  6100
  Who was his auctour?
  Alle the foure euvangelistes,
  And Crist cleped hymself so,
  The euvangelistes bereth witnesse.

    "Alle the clerkes under Crist
  Ne koude this assoille;
  But thus it bi-longeth to bileve
  To lewed that willen do-wel.
  For hadde nevere freke fyn wit
  The feith to dispute,                                   6110
  Ne man hadde no merite,
  Myghte it ben y-preved.
  _Fides non habet meritum, ubi humana
      ratio præbet

    "Thanne is Do-bet to suffre
  For the soules helthe,
  Al that the book bit
  Bi holi cherches techyng;
  And that is, man, bi thy myght,                         6120
  For mercies sake.
  Loke thow werche it in werk,
  That thi word sheweth,
  Swich as thow semest in sighte
  Be in assay y-founde.
  _Appare quod es, vel esto quod appares._                   =

    "And lat no body be
  By thi beryng bigiled,
  But be swich in thi soule                               6130
  As thow semest withoute.

    "Thanne is Do-best to be boold
  To blame the gilty,
  Sythenes thow seest thiself
  As in soule clene;
  Ac blame thow nevere body,
  And thow be blame worthy.
  _Si culpare velis,
  Culpabilis esse cavebis;
  Dogma tuum sordet,                                      6140
  Cum te tua culpa remordet._

    "God in the Gospel
  Grevously repreveth
  Alle that lakketh any lif,
  And lakkes han hemselve.
  _Qui consideras festucam in oculo
      fratris tui, trabem in oculo tuo, etc._                =

    "Why menestow thi mood for a mote
  In thi brotheres eighe,                                 6150
  Sithen a beem in thyn owene
  A-blyndeth thiselve.
  _Ejice primo trabem in oculo tuo, etc._                    =
  Which letteth thee to loke
  Lasse outher more.

    "I rede ech a blynd bosarde
  Do boote to hymselve,
  For abbotes and for priours,
  And for alle manere prelates,                           6160
  As persons and parisshes preestes
  That preche sholde and teche
  Alle maner men to amenden
  Bi hire myghtes.

    "This text was told yow,
  To ben y-war, er ye taughte,
  That ye were swiche as ye seye,
  So salve with othere;
  For Goddes word wolde noght be lost,
  For that wercheth evere;                                6170
  If it availled noght the commune,
  It myghte availle yowselve.

    "Ac it semeth now soothly
  To the worldes sighte,
  That Goddes word wercheth noght
  On lered ne on lewed,
  But in swich a manere
  As Marc meneth in the gospel:
  _Dum cæcus ducit cæcum, ambo in
      foveam cadunt._                                     6180

    "Lewed men may likne yow thus,
  That the beem lith in youre eighen;
  And the festu is fallen
  For youre defaute,
  In alle maner men,
  Thorugh mansede preestes.
  The Bible bereth witnesse
  That the folk of Israel
  Bittre a-boughte the giltes
  Of two badde preestes,                                  6190
  Offyn and Fynes,
  For hir coveitise,
  _Archa Dei_ mys-happed,
  And Ely brak his nekke.

    "For-thi ye corectours claweth heron.
  And corecteth first yowselve
  And thanne mowe ye safly seye,
  As David made in the Sauter,
  _Existimasti inique quod ero tui
      similis, arguam te, et statuam                      6200
      contra faciem tuam._

    "And thanne shul burel clerkes ben abasshed
  To blame yow or to greve,
  And carpen noght as thei carpe now,
  Ne calle yow doumbe houndes.
  _Canes non valentes latrare._
  And drede to wrathe yow in any word,
  Youre werkmanshipe to lette,
  And be prester at youre preiere,
  Than for a pound of nobles.                             6210
  And al for youre holynesse,
  Have ye this in herte.

    "In scole there is scorn,
  But if a clerk wol lerne,
  And gret love and likyng,
  For ech of hem loveth oother.

    "Ac now is Religion a rydere,
  A romere aboute,
  A ledere of love-dayes,
  And a lond-buggere,                                     6220
  A prikere on a palfrey
  Fro manere to manere,
  An heepe of houndes at his ers
  As he a lord were.
  And but if his knave knele
  That shal his coppe brynge,
  He loureth on hym, and asketh hym
  Who taughte hym curteisie.

    "Litel hadde lordes to doon,
  To gyve lond from hire heires                           6230
  To religiouse, that han no routhe,
  Though it reyne on hir auters.

    "In many places ther thei ben persons,
  By hemself at ese
  Of the povere have thei no pité;
  And that is hir charité.
  Ac thei leten hem as lordes
  Hire londes lyen so brode.

    "Ac ther shal come a kyng,
  And confesse yow religiouses,                           6240
  And bete yow as the Bible telleth
  For brekynge of youre rule;
  And amende monyals,
  Monkes and chanons,
  And puten to hir penaunce
  _Ad pristinum statum ire_;
  And barons with erles beten hem,
  Thorugh _Beatus-virres_ techyng,
  That hir barnes claymen
  And blame yow foule.                                    6250
  _Hi in curribus et hi in equis ipsi
      obligati sunt, etc._

    "And thanne freres in hir fraytour
  Shul fynden a keye
  Of Costantyns cofres,
  In which is the catel
  That Gregories god-children
  Han yvele despended.

    "And thanne shal the abbot of Abyngdone                  =
  And al his issue for evere,                             6261
  Have a knok of a kyng,
  And incurable the wounde.

    "That this worth sooth, seke ye
  That ofte over-se the Bible:
  _Quomodo cessavit exactor, quievit
      tributum, contrivit Dominus
      baculum impiorum et virgam
      dominantium cædentium plaga
      insanabili._                                        6270

    "Ac er that kyng come,
  Caym shal awake.
  But Do-wel shal dyngen hym adoun,
  And destruye his myghte."

    "Thanne is Do-wel and Do-bet," quod I,
  "_Dominus_ and knyghthode."

    "I nel noght scorne," quod Scripture,
  "But if scryveynes lye;
  Kynghod ne knyghthod,
  By noght I kan a-wayte,                                 6280
  Helpeth noght to hevene-ward
  Oone heris ende;
  Ne richesse right noght,
  Ne reautee of lordes.
  Poul preveth it impossible
  Riche men to have hevene.
  Salomon seith also
  That silver is worst to lovye:
  _Nihil iniquius quam amare
      pecuniam._                                          6290
  And Caton kenneth us to coveiten it
  Naught but as nede techeth,
  _Dilige denarium, sed parce dilige formam._                =
  And patriarkes and prophetes,
  And poetes bothe,
  Writen to wissen us
  To wilne no richesse,
  And preiseden poverte with pacience;
  The apostles bereth witnesse                            6300
  That thei han eritage in hevene,
  And by trewe righte;
  Ther riche men no right may cleyme,
  But of ruthe and grace."

    "_Contra_," quod I, "by Crist!
  That kan I repreve,
  And preven it by Peter,
  And by Poul bothe,
  That is baptized beth saaf,
  Be he riche or povere."                                 6310

    "That is _in extremis_," quod Scripture,
  "Amonges Sarzens and Jewes,
  They mowen be saved so,
  And that is oure bileve,
  That an un-cristene in that caas
  May cristen an hethen;
  And for his lele bileve,
  Whan he the lif tyneth,
  Have the heritage of hevene
  As any man cristene.                                    6320

    "Ac cristene men withoute moore
  Maye noght come to hevene;
  For that Crist for cristene men
  Deide and confermed the lawe,
  That who so wolde and wilneth
  With Crist to arise,
  _Si cum Christo surexistis, etc._
  He sholde lovye and leve,
  And the lawe fulfille.
  That is, love thi lord God                              6330
  Levest aboven alle;
  And after, alle cristene creatures
  In commune, ech man oother;
  And thus bi-longeth to lovye,
  That leveth be saved.
  And but we do thus in dede,
  At the day of dome
  It shal bi-sitten us ful soure
  The silver that we kepen;
  And oure bakkes that mothe-eten be,                     6340
  And seen beggeris go naked;
  Or delit in wyn and wilde fowel,
  And wite any in defaute.
  For every cristene creature
  Sholde be kynde til oother,
  And sithen hethen to helpe,
  In hope of amendement.

    "God hoteth heighe and lowe
  That no man hurte oother;
  And seith, 'Slee noght that semblable is                6350
  To myn owene liknesse,
  But if I sende thee som tokene;'
  And seith '_Non moechaberis_.
  Is slee noght, but suffre,
  And al for the beste;
  For I shal punysshe hem in purgatorie
  Or in the put of helle,
  Ech man for hise mysdedes,
  But mercy it lette.'"

  "This is a long lesson," quod I,                        6360
  "And litel am I the wiser;
  Where Do-wel is or Do-bet,
  Derkliche ye shewen.
  Manye tales ye tellen
  That Theologie lerneth;
  And that I man maad was,
  And my name y-entred
  In the legende of lif
  Longe er I were,
  Or ellis un-writen for som wikkednesse,                 6370
  As Holy Writ witnesseth:
  _Nemo ascendit ad coelum, nisi qui
      de coelo descendit._

    "I leve it wel," quod I, "by oure Lord!
  And on no lettrure bettre.
  For Salomon the sage,
  That Sapience taughte,
  God gat hym grace of wit,
  And alle hise goodes after;
  He demed wel and wisely,                                6380
  As Holy Writ telleth.
  Aristotle and he,
  Who wissed men bettre?
  Maistres that of Goddes mercy
  Techen men and prechen,
  Of hir wordes thei wissen us
  For wisest as in hir tyme,
  And al holy chirche
  Holdeth hem bothe y-dampned.

    "And if I sholde werche by hir werkes                 6390
  To wynne me hevene,
  That for hir werkes and wit
  Now wonyeth in pyne,
  Thanne wroughe I un-wisly,
  What so evere ye preche.

    "Ac of fele witty, in feith,
  Litel ferly I have,
  Though hir goost be un-gracious
  God for to plese.
  For many men on this moolde                             6400
  Moore setten hir hertes
  In good than in God;
  For-thi hem grace failleth
  At hir mooste meschief,
  Whan thei shal lif lete.
  As Salomon dide, and swiche othere
  That shewed grete wittes;
  Ac hir werkes, as holy writ seith,
  Were evere the contrarie.
  For-thi wise witted men,                                6410
  And wel y-lettrede clerkes,
  As thei seyen hemself,
  Selde doon therafter.
  _Super cathedra Moysi, etc._

    "Ac I wene it worth of manye,
  As was in Noes tyme,
  Tho he shoop that shipe
  Of shides and of bordes;
  Was nevere wrighte saved that wroghte theron,              =
  Ne oothir werkman ellis,                                6421
  But briddes, and beestes,
  And the blissed Noe,
  And his wif with hise sones,
  And also hire wyves;
  Of wightes that it wroghte
  Was noon of hem y-saved.

    "God leve it fare noght so bi folk
  That the feith techeth
  Of holi chirche, that herberwe is,                      6430
  And Goddes hous to save,
  And shilden us from shame therinne,
  As Noes ship dide beestes;
  And men that maden it
  A-mydde the flood a-dreynten.
  The culorum of this clause
  Curatours is to mene,
  That ben carpenters holy kirk to make
  For Cristes owene beestes:
  _Homines et jumenta salvabis, Domine, etc._                =

    "On Good Friday I fynde                               6442
  A felon was y-saved,
  That hadde lyved al his lif
  With lesynges and with thefte;
  And for he beknede to the cros,
  And to Crist shrof him,
  He was sonner y-saved
  Than seint Johan the Baptist;
  And or Adam or Ysaye,                                   6450
  Or any of the prophetes,
  That hadde y-leyen with Lucifer
  Many longe yeres,
  A robbere was y-raunsoned
  Rather than thei alle,
  Withouten any penaunce of purgatorie,
  To perpetuel blisse.

    "Than Marie Maudeleyne
  What womman dide werse?
  Or who worse than David,                                6460
  That Uries deeth conspired?
  Or Poul the apostle,
  That no pité hadde
  Muche cristene kynde
  To kille to dethe?
  And now ben thise as sovereyns
  With seintes in hevene,
  Tho that wroughte wikkedlokest
  In world tho thei were.
  And tho that wisely wordeden,                           6470
  And writen manye bokes
  Of wit and of wisedom,
  With dampned soules wonye.
  That Salomon seith, I trowe be sooth
  And certein of us alle:
  _Sunt justi atque sapientes et opera
      eorum in manu Dei sunt, etc._

    "Ther are witty and wel libbynge,
  Ac hire werkes ben y-hudde
  In the hondes of almyghty God,                          6480
  And he woot the sothe,
  Wherfore a man worth allowed there,
  And hise lele werkes,
  Or ellis for his yvel wille,
  And for envye of herte,
  And be allowed as he lyved so;
  For by the luthere men knoweth the goode.

    "And wherby wiste men which were whit,
  If alle thyng blak were?
  And who were a good man,                                6490
  But if ther were som sherewe?
  For-thi lyve we forth with othere men,
  I leve fewe ben goode;
  For _quant_ oportet _vient en place_,
  _Il n'y ad que_ pati.
  And he that may al amende,
  Have mercy on us alle!
  For sothest word that ever God seide
  Was tho he seide _Nemo bonus_.

    "Clergie tho of Cristes mouth                         6500
  Comended was it litel;
  For he seide to seint Peter,
  And to swiche as he lovede,
  _Cum steteritis ante reges et præsides, etc._              =
  Though ye come bifore kynges
  And clerkes of the lawe,
  Beth noght abasshed,
  For I shal be in youre mouthes,
  And gyve yow wit and wille,                             6510
  And konnyng to conclude
  Hem alle that ayeins yow
  Of Cristendom disputen.

    "David maketh mencion,
  He spak amonges kynges,
  And myghte no kyng over-comen hym
  As by konnynge of speche,
  But wit and wisedom
  Wan nevere the maistrie,
  Whan man was at meschief,                               6520
  Withoute the moore grace.

    "The doughtieste doctour
  And devinour of the Trinitee
  Was Austyn the olde,
  And heighest of the foure,
  Seide thus in a sermon,
  I seigh it writen ones:
  _Ecce ipsi idiotæ vi rapiunt coelum, ubi
      nos sapientes in inferno
      mergimur._                                          6530

    "And is to mene to men,
  Moore ne lesse,
  Arn none rather y-ravysshed
  Fro the righte bileve,
  Than are thise konnynge clerkes
  That konne manye bokes.

    "Ne none sonner saved,
  Ne sadder of bileve,
  Than plowmen and pastours,
  And othere commune laborers;                            6540
  Souteres and shepherdes,
  And othere lewed juttes,
  Percen with a pater-noster
  The paleys of hevene,
  And passen purgatorie penaunce-lees
  At her hennes partyng
  Into the blisse of paradis,
  For hir pure bileve,
  That imparfitly here knewe,
  And ek lyvede.                                          6550

    "Ye men knowe clerkes,
  That han corsed the tyme
  That evere thei kouthe or knewe moore
  Than _Credo in Deum patrem_;
  And principally hir pater-noster
  Many a persone hath wisshed.

    "I se ensamples myself,
  And so may manye othere,
  That servauntz that serven lordes
  Selde fallen in arerage,                                6560
  And tho that kepen the lordes catel,
  Clerkes and reves.

    "Right so lewed men,
  And of litel knowyng,
  Selden falle thei so foule
  And so fer in synne,
  As clerkes of holy chirche
  That kepen Cristes tresor,
  The which is mannes soule to save,
  As God seith in the Gospel:
  _Ite vos in vineam meam._"                              6571

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Undecimus._

  Thanne Scripture scorned me                             6572
  And a skile tolde,
  And lakked me in Latyn,
  And light by me she sette,
  And seide "_Multi multa sciunt
  Et seipsos nesciunt._"

    Tho wepte I for wo
  And wrathe of hir speche;
  And in a wynkynge wrathe                                6580
  Weex I a-slepe.
  A merveillous metels
  Mette me thanne,
  That I was ravysshed right there,
  And Fortune me fette,
  And into the lond of longynge
  Allone she me broughte,
  And in a mirour that highte middel-erthe
  She made me to biholde.
  "Sone," she seide to me,                                6590
  "Here myghtow se wondres,
  And knowe that thow coveitest,
  And come therto, peraunter."

    Thanne hadde Fortune folwynge hire
  Two faire damyseles;
  Men called the elder mayde,
  And Coveitise-of-eighes
  Y-called was that oother.
  Pride-of-parfit-lyvynge                                 6600
  Pursued hem bothe,
  And bad me for my contenaunce
  Acounten Clergie lighte.

  Colled me aboute the nekke,
  And seide, "Thow art yong and yeepe,
  And hast yeres y-nowe
  For to lyve longe,
  And ladies to lovye;
  And in this mirour thow myght se                        6610
  Myghtes ful manye,
  That leden thee wole to likynge
  Al thi lif tyme."

    The secounde seide the same,
  "I shal sewe thi wille;
  Til thow be a lord and have lond,
  Leten thee I nelle,
  That I ne shal folwe thi felawshipe,
  If Fortune it like."
  "He shal fynde me his frend,"                           6620
  Quod Fortune therafter;
  "The freke that folwede my wille
  Failled nevere blisse."

    Thanne was ther oon that highte Elde,
  That hevy was of chere;
  "Man," quod he, "if I mete with thee,
  By Marie of hevene!
  Thow shalt fynde Fortune thee faille
  At thi mooste nede,
  And _Concupiscentia-carnis_                             6630
  Clene thee forsake.
  Bittrely shaltow banne thanne
  Bothe dayes and nyghtes
  That evere thow hir knewe,
  And Pride-of-parfit-lyvynge
  To muche peril thee brynge."

    "Ye, recche thee nevere," quod Rechelesnesse,
  Stood forthe in raggede clothes,
  "Folwe forth that Fortune wole,                         6640
  Thow hast wel fer til Elde;
  A man may stoupe tyme y-nogh,
  Whan he shal tyne the crowne.

    "_Homo proponit_ quod a poete,
  And Plato he highte,
  And _Deus disponit_ quod he,
  Lat God doon his wille.
  If Truthe wol witnesse it be wel do
  Fortune to folwe,
  _Concupiscentia-carnis_,                                6650
  Ne Coveitise-of-eighes,
  Ne shal noght greve thee gretly,
  Ne bigile, but if thow wolt thiselve."

    "Ye, fare wel Phippe and Faunteltee,"
  And forth gan me drawe,
  Til _Concupiscentia-carnis_
  Acorded alle my werkes.

    "Alas! eighe," quod Elde
  And Holynesse bothe,
  "That wit shal torne to wrecchednesse,                  6660
  For wil to have his likyng."

  Conforted me anoon after,
  And folwed me fourty wynter
  And a fifte moore,
  That of Do-wel ne Do-bet
  Ne deyntee me thoughte.
  I hadde no likyng, leve me if thee list,
  Of hem ought to knowe.
  Coveitise-of-eighes                                     6670
  Com ofter in mynde
  Than Do-wel or Do-bet,
  Among my dedes alle.

  Conforted me ofte,
  And seide, "Have no conscience
  How thow come to goode.
  Go confesse thee to som frere,
  And shewe hym thi synnes;
  For whiles Fortune is thi frend                         6680
  Freres wol thee lovye,
  And fecche thee to hir fraternitee,
  And for the biseke
  To hir priour provincial
  A pardon for to have,
  And preien for thee pol by pol,
  If thow be _pecuniosus_."
  _Sed poena pecuniaria non sufficit pro
      spiritualibus delictis._

    By wissynge of this wenche I wroughte,                6690
  Hir wordes were so swete,
  Til I for-yat youthe,
  And yarn into elde.

    And thanne was Fortune my foo,
  For al hir faire speche;
  And poverte pursued me,
  And putte me lowe.

    And tho fond I the frere a-fered,
  And flittynge bothe
  Ayeins oure firste for-warde;                           6700
  For I seide I nolde
  Be buried at hire hous,
  But at my parisshe chirche.
  For I herde ones
  How Conscience it tolde,
  That there a man were cristned
  Be kynde he sholde be buryed;
  Or where he were parisshen,
  Right there he sholde be graven.
  And for I seide thus to freres,                         6710
  A fool thei me helden,
  And loved me the lasse
  For my lele speche.

    Ac yet I cryde on my confessour,
  That heeld hymself so konnyng;
  "By my feith! frere," quod I,
  "Ye faren lik thise woweris
  That wedde none widwes
  But for to welden hir goodes.
  Right so, by the roode!                                 6720
  Roughte ye nevere
  Where my body were buryed,
  By so ye hadde my silver.

    "Ich have muche merveille of yow,
  And so hath many another,
  Whi youre covent coveiteth
  To confesse and to burye,
  Rather than to baptize barnes
  That ben catecumelynges.
  Baptizynge and buryinge                                 6730
  Bothe beth ful nedefulle;
  Ac muche moore meritorie,
  Me thynketh it is to baptize.
  For a baptized man may,
  As thise maistres telleth,
  Thorugh contricion come
  To the heighe hevene.
  _Sola contritio, etc._
  Ac barn withouten bapteme
  May noght so be saved.                                  6740
  _Nisi quis renatus fuerit._
  Loke ye, lettred men,
  Wheither I lye or do noght."
  And Lewté loked on me,
  And I loured after.

    "Wherfore lourestow?" quod Lewtee,
  And loked on me harde.

    "If I dorste," quod I, "amonges men
  This metels avowe!"

    "Yis, by Peter and by Poul!" quod he,                 6750
  And took hem bothe to witnesse.
  "_Non oderis fratres secrete in corde
      tuo, sed publice argue illos._"

    "They wole aleggen also," quod I,
  "And by the Gospel preven:
  _Nolite judicare quemquam._"

    "And wherof serveth lawe?" quod Lewtee,
  "If no lif undertoke it,
  Falsnesse ne faiterie,
  For som what the apostle seide,                         6760
  _Non oderis fratrem._
  And in the Sauter also
  Seith David the prophete,
  _Existimasti inique quod ero tui similis, etc._            =

    "It is _licitum_ for lewed men
  To sigge the sothe,
  If hem liketh and lest,
  Ech a lawe it graunteth;
  Excepte persons and preestes,                           6770
  And prelates of holy chirche,
  It falleth noght for that folk
  No tales to telle,
  Though the tale be trewe,
  And it touche synne.

    "Thyng that al the world woot,
  Wherfore sholdestow spare
  To reden it in retorik
  To a-rate dedly synne?
  Ac be nevere moore the firste                           6780
  Defaute to blame;
  Though thow se yvel, seye it noght first,
  Be sory it nere amended.
  No thyng that is pryvé,
  Publice thow it nevere;
  Neither for love preise it noght,
  Ne lakke it for envye.
  _Parum lauda, vitupera parcius._"

    "He seith sooth," quod Scripture tho,
  And skipte an heigh, and preched.                       6790
  Ac the matere that she meved,
  If lewed men it knewe,
  The lasse, as I leve,
  Lovyen it thei wolde.

    This was hir teme and hir text,
  I took ful good hede;
  _Multi_ to a mangerie
  And to the mete were sompned;
  And whan the peple was plener comen,
  The porter unpynned the yate,                           6800
  And plukked in _Pauci_ pryveliche,
  And leet the remenaunt go rome.

    Al for tene of hir text
  Trembled myn herte;
  And in a weer gan I wexe,
  And with myself to dispute
  Wheither I were chosen or noght chosen.
  On holi chirche I thoughte,
  That under-fonged me atte font
  For oon of Goddes chosene.                              6810
  For Crist cleped us alle,
  Come if we wolde,
  Sarzens and scismatikes,
  And so he dide the Jewes.
  _O vos omnes sitientes, venite, etc._
  And bad hem souke for synne
  Safly at his breste,
  And drynke boote for bale,
  Brouke it who so myghte.

    "Thanne may alle cristene come, quod I,"                 =
  "And cleyme there entree                                6822
  By the blood that he boughte us with
  And thorugh bapteme after.
  _Qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, etc._                =
  For though a cristen man coveited
  His cristendom to reneye,
  Rightfully to reneye
  No reson it wolde.                                      6830

    "For may no cherl chartre make,
  Ne his catel selle,
  Withouten leve of his lord;
  No lawe wol it graunte.
  Ac he may renne in arerage,
  And rome so fro home,
  And as a reneyed caytif
  Recchelesly rennen aboute.
  And Reson shal rekene with hym,
  And casten hym in arerage,                              6840
  And putten hym after in a prison
  In purgatorie to brenne,
  For hise arerages rewarden hym there
  To the day of dome;
  But if Contricion wol come,
  And crye, by his lyve,
  Mercy for hise mysdedes,
  With mouthe and with herte,"

    "That is sooth," seide Scripture;
  "May no synne lette                                     6850
  Mercy al to amende,
  And mekenesse hir folwe.
  For thei beth, as oure bokes telleth,
  Above Goddes werkes."
  _Misericordia ejus super omnia opera ejus._                =

    "Ye, baw for bokes," quod oon
  Was broken out of helle,
  Highte Trojanus, hadde ben a trewe knyght,
  Took witnesse at a pope,                                6860
  How he was ded and dampned
  To dwellen in pyne,
  For an uncristene creature;
  "Clerkes wite the sothe,
  That al the clergie under Crist
  Ne myghte me cracche fro helle,
  But oonliche love and leautee,
  And my laweful domes.

    "Gregorie wiste this wel,
  And wilned to my soule                                  6870
  Savacion for soothnesse
  That he seigh in my werkes;
  And after that he wepte,
  And wilned me were graunted
  Grace; withouten any bene biddyng
  His boone was under-fongen,
  And I saved, as ye see,
  Withouten syngynge of masses.
  By love and by lernyng
  Of my lyvynge, in truthe,                               6880
  Broughte me fro bitter peyne
  Ther no biddyng myghte."

    Lo! ye lordes, what leautee dide
  By an emperour of Rome,
  That was an uncristene creature,
  As clerkes fyndeth in bokes.
  Nought thorugh preiere of a pope,
  But for his pure truthe,
  Was that Sarsen saved.
  As seint Gregorie bereth witnesse.                      6890

    Wel oughte ye, lordes, that lawes kepe,
  This lesson to have in mynde,
  And on Trojanus truthe to thenke,
  And do truthe to the peple.
  "Lawe, withouten love," quod Trojanus,
  "Ley ther a bene,
  Or any science under sonne,
  The sevene artz and alle,
  But thei ben lerned for oure Lordes love,
  Lost is al the tyme;"                                   6900
  For no cause to cacche silver therby,
  Ne to be called a maister,
  But al for love of oure Lord,
  And the bet to love the peple,
  For seint Johan seide it,
  And sothe arn hise wordes.
  _Qui non diligit, manet in morte._

    Who so loveth noght, leve me,
  He lyveth in deep deyinge;
  And that alle manere men,                               6910
  Enemyes and frendes,
  Love hir eyther oother,
  And leve hem, as hemselve,
  Who so leveth noght, he loveth noght,
  God woot the sothe!
  Crist comaundeth ech a creature
  To conformen hym to lovye,
  And sovereynly the povere peple,
  And hir enemyes after.
  For hem that haten us                                   6920
  Is oure merite to lovye,
  And povere peple to plese,
  Hir preieres maye us helpe.
  And oure joye and oure heele
  Jhesu Crist of hevene
  In a povere mannes apparaille
  Pursued us evere;
  And loketh on us in hir liknesse,
  And that with lovely chere,
  To knowen us by oure kynde herte                        6930
  And castynge of oure eighen,
  Wheither we love the lordes here
  Bifore the Lord of blisse;
  And exciteth us by the Euvangelie
  That whan we maken festes,
  We sholde noght clepe oure kyn therto,
  Ne none kynnes riche.
  _Cum facitis convivia, nolite invitare amicos._            =
  "Ac calleth the carefulle therto,                       6940
  The croked and the povere.
  For youre frendes wol feden yow,
  And fonde yow to quyte
  Youre festynge and youre faire gifte;
  Ech frend quyteth so oother.

    "Ac for the povere I shal paie,
  And pure wel quyte hir travaille,
  That gyveth hem mete or moneie,
  Or loveth hem for my sake."
  For the beste ben som riche,                            6950
  And some beggeres and povere.
  For alle are we Cristes creatures,
  And of his cofres riche,
  And bretheren as of oo blood,
  As wel beggeres as erles.
  For on Calvarie of Cristes blood
  Cristendom gan sprynge,
  And blody bretheren we bicomen there
  Of o body y-wonne,
  As _quasi modo geniti_,                                 6960
  And gentil-men echone;
  No beggere ne boye amonges us,
  But if it synne made.
  _Qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati._

    "In the olde lawe,
  As holy lettre telleth,
  Mennes sones
  Men callen us echone,
  Of Adames issue and Eve,
  Ay til God man deide;                                   6970
  And after his resurexcion
  _Redemptor_ was his name,
  And we hise bretheren thorugh hym y-brought,
  Bothe riche and povere.

    "For-thi love we as leve bretheren,
  And ech man laughe of oother;
  And of that ech man may forbere
  Amende there it nedeth;
  And every man helpe oother,
  For hennes shul we alle.                                6980
  _Alter alterius onera portate._

    "And be we noght un-kynde of oure catel,                 =
  Ne of oure konnyng neither.
  For woot no man how neigh it is
  To ben y-nome fro bothe.
  For-thi lakke no lif oother,
  Though he moore Latyn knowe;
  Ne under-nyme noght foule;
  For is noon withoute defaute.                           6990
  For what evere clerkes carpe
  Of cristendom or ellis,
  Crist to a commune womman seide,
  In commune at a feste,
  That _fides sua_ sholde saven hire,
  And salven hire of synnes.

    "Thanne is bileve a lele help,
  Above logyk or lawe.
  Of logyk or of lawe
  In _Legenda Sanctorum_                                  7000
  Is litel alowaunce maad,
  But if bileve hem helpe.
  For it is over longe er logyk
  Any lesson assoille;
  And lawe is looth to lovye,
  But if he lacche silver.
  Bothe logyk and lawe,
  That loveth noght to lye,
  I conseille alle cristene
  Clyve noght theron to soore;                            7010
  For some wordes I fynde writen,
  That were of feithes techyng,
  That saved synful men,
  As seint Johan bereth witnesse.
  _Eadem mensura qua mensi fueritis,
      remetietur vobis._

    "For-thi lerne we the lawe of love,
  As oure Lord taughte,
  And as seint Gregorie seide
  For mannes soule helthe:                                7020
  _Melius est scrutari scelera nostra,
      quam naturas rerum._

    "Why I meve this matere,
  Is moost for the povere;
  For in hir liknesse oure Lord
  Ofte hath ben y-knowe.
  Witnesse in the Pask wyke
  Whan he yede to Emaüs;
  Cleophas ne knew hym noght
  That he Crist were,                                     7030
  For his povere apparaille,
  And pilgrymes wedes,
  Til he blessede and brak
  The breed that thei eten;
  So bi hise werkes thei wisten
  That he was Jhesus,
  Ac by clothyng thei knewe hym noght,
  Ne by carpynge of tunge.
  And al was in ensample
  To us synfulle here,                                    7040
  That we sholde be lowe
  And loveliche of speche,
  And apparaille us noght over proudly,
  For pilgrymes are we alle.

    "And in the apparaille of a povere man,
  And pilgrymes liknesse,
  Many tyme God hath ben met
  Among nedy peple,
  Ther nevere segge hym seigh
  In secte of the riche.                                  7050

    "Seint Johan and othere seintes
  Were seyen in poore clothyng,
  And as povere pilgrymes
  Preyed mennes goodes.

    "Jhesu Crist on a Jewes doghter lighte,
  Gentil womman though she were,
  Was a pure povere maide,
  And to a povere man y-wedded.

    "Martha on Marie Maudeleyne
  An huge pleynt made,                                    7060
  And to oure Saveour self
  Seide thise wordes:
  _Domine, non est tibi curæ quod
      soror mea reliquit me solam

    "And hastily God answerde,
  And eitheres wille folwed,
  Bothe Marthaes and Maries,
  As Mathew bereth witnesse;
  Ac poverte God putte bifore,                            7070
  And preised that the bettre.
  _Maria optimam partem elegit, quæ non, etc._               =

    "And alle the wise that evere were,
  By aught I kan aspye,
  Preiseden poverte for best lif,
  If pacience it folwed,
  And bothe bettre and blesseder
  By many fold than richesse.
  For though it be sour to suffre,                        7080
  Therafter cometh swete;
  As on a walnote withoute
  Is a bitter barke,
  And after that bitter bark,
  Be the shelle aweye,
  Is a kernel of confort
  Kynde to restore.

    "So is after poverte or penaunce
  Paciently y-take;
  For it maketh a man to have mynde                       7090
  In God, and a gret wille
  To wepe and to wel bidde,
  Wherof wexeth mercy,
  Of which Crist is a kernelle
  To conforte the soule.
  And wel sikerer he slepeth,
  The man that is povere,
  And lasse he dredeth deeth,
  And in derke to ben y-robbed,
  Than he that is right riche,                            7100
  Reson bereth witnesse.
  _Pauper ego ludo, dum tu dives meditaris._                 =

    "Al though Salomon seide,
  As folk seeth in the Bible,
  _Divitias nec paupertates, etc._
  Wiser than Salomon was
  Bereth witnesse and taughte
  That parfit poverte was
  No possession to have,                                  7110
  And lif moost likynge to God,
  As Luc bereth witnesse:
  _Si vis perfectus esse, vade et vende._

    "And is to mene to men
  That on this moolde lyven,
  Who so wole be pure parfit
  Moot possession forsake,
  Or selle it, as seith the Book,
  And the silver dele
  To beggeris that goon and begge                         7120
  And bidden good for Goddes love.
  For failed nevere man mete
  That myghtful God serveth,
  As David seith in the Sauter
  To swiche that ben in wille
  To serve God goodliche,
  Ne greveth hym no penaunce:
  _Nihil inpossibile volenti._
  Ne lakketh nevere liflode,
  Lynnen ne wollen.                                       7130
  _Inquirentes autem Dominum non
      minuentur omni bono._

    "If preestes weren parifite,
  Thei wolde ne silver take
  For masses ne for matyns,
  Noght hir mete of usureres,
  Ne neither kirtel ne cote,
  Theigh thei for cold sholde deye,
  And thei hir devoir dide,
  As David seith in the Sauter:                           7140
  _Judica me, Deus, et decerne causam meam._                 =

    "_Spera-in-Deo_ speketh of preestes
  That have no spendyng silver,
  That if thei travaille truweliche
  And truste in God almyghty,
  Hem sholde lakke no liflode,
  Neyther lynnen ne wollen.
  And the title that ye take ordres by
  Telleth ye ben avaunced;                                7150
  Thanne nedeth yow noght to take silver
  For masses that ye syngen.
  For he that took yow youre title,
  Sholde take yow youre wages,
  Or the bisshop that blessed yow,
  If that ye ben worthi.

    "For made nevere kyng no knyght,
  But he hadde catel to spende
  As bifel for a knyght,
  Or foond hym for his strengthe.                         7160
  It is a careful knyght,
  And of a caytif kynges makyng,
  That hath no lond ne lynage riche,
  Ne good loos of hise handes.

    "The same I segge, for sothe,
  By alle swiche preestes
  That han neither konnynge ne kyn,
  But a crowne one,
  And a title, a tale of noght,
  To his liflode at his meschief.                         7170
  He hath moore bileve, as I leve,
  To lacche through his croune
  Cure, than for konnyng,
  Or knowen for clene berynge.
  I have wonder for why
  And wherefore the bisshope
  Maketh swiche preestes,
  That lewed men bitrayen.

    "A chartre is chalangeable
  Bifore a chief justice;                                 7180
  If fals Latyn be in the lettre,
  The lawe it impugneth,
  Or peynted parentrelynarie,
  Or percelles over-skipped;
  The gome that gloseth so chartres
  For a goky is holden.

    "So is it a goky, by God!
  That in his gospel failleth,
  Or in masse or in matyns
  Maketh any defaut.                                      7190
  _Qui offendit in uno, in omnibus est reus._                =

    "And also in the Sauter
  Seith David to over-skipperis,
  _Psallite Deo nostro, psallite, quoniam
      rex terræ Deus Israel,
      psallite sapienter._

    "The bisshop shal be blamed
  Bifore God, as I leve,
  That crouneth swiche Goddes knyghtes                    7200
  That konneth noght _sapienter_
  Synge, ne psalmes rede,
  Ne seye a masse of the day.
  And never neither is blame-lees
  The bisshope ne the chapeleyn;
  For hir either is endited,
  And that is, _ignorantia
  Non excusat episcopos
  Nec idiotes_ preestes.

    "This lokynge on lewed preestes                       7210
  Hath doon me lepe from poverte,
  The which I preise ther pacience is
  Moore perfit than richesse."

  Ac muche moore in metynge thus
  With me gan oon dispute;
  And slepynge I seigh al this.
  And sithen cam Kynde,
  And nempned me by my name,
  And bad me nymen hede,
  And thorugh the wondres of this world                   7220
  Wit for to take.
  And on a mountaigne that myddel-erthe
  Highte, as me thoughte,
  I was fet forth
  By ensamples to knowe
  Thorugh ech a creature and kynde
  My creatour to lovye.

    I seigh the sonne and the see,
  And the sond after;
  And where that briddes and beestes                      7230
  By hir makes yeden;
  Wilde wormes in wodes,
  And wonderful foweles
  With fleckede fetheres
  And of fele colours.

    Man and his make
  I myghte bothe biholde;
  Poverte and plentee;
  Bothe pees and werre;
  Blisse and bale bothe                                   7240
  I seigh al at ones;
  And how men token mede,
  And mercy refused.

    Reson I seigh soothly
  Sewen alle beestes,
  In etynge, in drynkynge,
  And in engendrynge of kynde;
  And after cours of concepcion,
  Noon took kepe of oother
  As whan thei hadde ryde in rotey tyme,                  7250
  Anoon right therafter
  Males drowen hem to males
  A-morwenynges by hemselve,
  And in evenynges also
  The males ben fro femelles.
  Ther ne was cow ne cow-kynde
  That conceyved hadde,
  That wolde belwe after boles,
  Ne boor after sowe;
  Bothe hors and houndes,                                 7260
  And alle othere beestes,
  Medled noght with hir makes
  That with fole were.

    Briddes I biheld
  That in buskes made nestes,
  Hadde nevere wye wit
  To werche the leeste.
  I hadde wonder at whom
  And wher the pye lerned
  To legge the stikkes                                    7270
  In whiche she leyeth and bredeth.
  Ther nys wrighte, as I wene,
  Sholde werche hir nestes to paye;
  If any mason made a molde therto,
  Muche wonder it were.

    Ac yet me merveilled moore,
  How many othere briddes
  Hidden and hileden
  Hir egges ful derne
  In mareys and moores,                                   7280
  For men sholde hem noght fynde;
  And hidden hir egges,
  Whan thei therfro wente,
  For fere of othere foweles,
  And for wilde beestes.

    And some troden hir makes,
  And on trees bredden,
  And broughten forth hir briddes so
  Al above the grounde;
  And some briddes at the bile                            7290
  Thorugh brethyng conceyved;
  And some caukede; and took kepe
  How pecokkes bredden.
  Muche merveilled me
  What maister hem made,
  And who taughte hem on trees
  To tymbre so heighe,
  Ther neither burn ne beest
  May hir briddes rechen.

    And sithen I loked upon the see,                      7300
  And so forth upon the sterres;
  Manye selkouthes I seigh,
  Ben noght to seye nouthe.

    I seigh floures in the fryth,
  And hir faire colours;
  And how among the grene gras
  Growed so manye hewes,
  And some soure and some swete,
  Selkouth me thoughte;
  Of hir kynde and hir colour                             7310
  To carpe it were to longe.

    Ac that moost meved me
  And my mood chaunged,
  That Reson rewarded
  And ruled alle beestes,
  Save man and his make;
  Many tyme and ofte
  No reson hem folwede.
  And thanne I rebukede
  Reson, and right                                        7320
  Til hymselven I seyde:
  "I have wonder of thee," quod I,
  "That witty art holden,
  Why thow ne sewest man and his make,
  That no mysfeet hem folwe."

    And Reson a-rated me,
  And seide, "Recche thee nevere;
  Why I suffre or noght suffre,
  Thiself hast noght to doone.
  Amende thow it, if thow myght,                          7330
  For my tyme is to abide.
  Suffraunce is a soverayn vertue,
  And a swift vengeance.
  Who suffrede moore than God?" quod he;
  "No gome, as I leeve.
  He myghte amende in a minute while
  Al that mys-standeth;
  Ac he suffreth for som mannes goode,
  And so it is oure bettre,
  The wise and the witty                                  7340
  Wroot thus in the Bible:
  _De re quæ te non molestat, noli certare._

    "For be a man fair or foul,                              =
  It falleth noght for to lakke
  The shap ne the shaft
  That God shoop hymselve;
  For al that he dide was wel y-do,
  As holy writ witnesseth:
  _Et vidit Deus cuncta quæ fecerat, et                   7350
      erant valde bona._

    "And bad every creature
  In his kynde encreesse;
  Al to murthe with man,
  That moste wo tholie
  In fondynge of the flessh,
  And of the fend bothe.
  For man was maad of swich a matere,
  He may noght wel a-sterte
  That ne som tyme hym bitit                              7360
  To folwen his kynde.
  Caton a-cordeth therwith,
  _Nemo sine crimine vivit._"

    Tho caughte I colour anoon,
  And comsed to ben ashamed,
  And awaked therwith.
  Wo was me thanne,
  That I in metels ne myghte
  Moore have y-knowen.
  And thanne seide I to myself,                           7370
  And chidde that tyme,
  "Now I woot what Do-wel is," quod I,
  "By deere God! as me thynketh."

    And as I caste up myne eighen,
  Oon loked on me and asked
  Of me, what thynge it were:
  "Y-wis, sire," I seide,
  "To se muche and suffre moore,
  Certes," quod I, "is Do-wel."

    "Haddestow suffred," he seide,                        7380
  "Slepynge tho thow were,
  Thow sholdest have knowen that Clergie kan,
  And contreved moore thorugh reson.
  For Reson wolde have reherced thee
  Right as Clergie seide.
  Ac for thyn entre-metynge,
  Here artow forsake.
  _Philosophus esses, si tacuisses._

    "Adam, whiles he spak noght,
  Hadde paradis at wille;                                 7390
  Ac whan he mamelede aboute mete,
  And entre-metede to knowe
  The wisedom and the wit of God,
  He was put fram blisse.

    "And right so ferde Reson bi thee;
  Thow with thi rude speche
  Lakkedest and losedest thyng
  That longed the noght to doone.
  Tho hadde he no likyng
  For to lere the moore.                                  7400

    "Pryde now and presumpcion
  Peraventure wol thee appele,
  That Clergie thi compaignye
  Kepeth noght to suwe.
  Shal nevere chalangynge ne chidynge
  Chaste a man so soone,
  As shal shame, and shenden hym,
  And shape hym to amende.
  For lat a dronken daffe
  In a dyk falle,                                         7410
  Lat hym ligge, loke noght on hym,
  Til hym liste aryse.
  For though Reson rebuked hym thanne,
  It were but pure synne.
  Ac whan nede nymeth hym up
  For doute lest he sterve,
  And shame shrapeth hise clothes,
  And hise shynes wassheth.
  Thanne woot the dronken daffe
  Wherfore he is to blame."                               7420

    "Ye siggen sooth," quod I;
  "Ich have y-seyen it ofte,
  Ther smyt no thyng so smerte,
  Ne smelleth so soure,
  As shame, there he sheweth hym;
  For every man hym shonyeth.
  Why ye wisse me thus," quod I,
  "Was for I rebuked Reson."

    "Certes," quod he, "that is sooth;"
  And shoop hym for to walken.                            7430
  And I aroos up right with that,
  And folwed hym after,
  And preyde hym of his curteisie
  To telle me his name.                                   7434

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Duodecimus, etc._

  "Iam Ymaginatif," quod he,                              7435
  "Ydel was I nevere,
  Though I sitte by myself,
  In siknesse nor in helthe.
  I have folwed thee, in feith!
  Thise fyve and fourty wynter,                           7440
  And manye tymes have meved thee
  To thynke on thyn ende,
  And how fele fernyeres are faren,
  And so fewe to come;
  And of thi wilde wantownesse
  Tho thow yong were,
  To amende it in thi middel age,
  Lest myght the failled
  In thyn olde elde,
  That yvele kan suffre                                   7450
  Poverte or penaunce,
  Or preyeres to bidde.
  _Si non in prima vigilia, nec in secunda, etc._            =

    "Amende thee, while thow myght;
  Thow hast ben warned ofte
  With poustees of pestilences,
  With poverte and with angres;
  And with thise bittre baleises
  God beteth his deere children.                          7460
  _Quem diligo, castigo._

    "And David in the Sauter seith
  Of swiche that loveth Jhesus:
  _Virga tua et baculus tuus ipsa me consolati sunt._        =

    "Al though thow strike me with thi staf,
  With stikke or with yerde,
  It is but murthe as for me,
  To amende my soule.
  And thow medlest thee with makynges,                    7470
  And myghtest go seye thi Sauter,
  And bidde for hem that gyveth thee breed,
  For ther are bokes y-knowe
  To telle men what Do-wel is,
  Do-bet and Do-best bothe,
  And prechours to preven what it is
  Of many a peire freres."

    I seigh wel he seide me sooth;
  And som what me to excuse,
  Seide Caton conforted me his sone,                      7480
  That clerk though he were,
  To solacen hym som tyme,
  As I do whan I make:
  _Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis._

    "And of holy men I herde, quod I,"                       =
  "How thei outher while
  Pleyden the parfiter,
  To ben in manye places,
  Ac if ther were any wight                               7490
  That wolde me telle
  What were Do-wel and Do-bet
  And Do-best at the laste,
  Wolde I nevere do werk,
  But wende to holi chirche,
  And ther bidde my bedes,
  But whan ich ete or slepe."

    "Poul in his pistle," quod he,
  "Preveth what is Do-wel:
  _Fides, spes, caritas, et major horum, etc._               =
  Feith, hope, and charité;                               7502
  And alle ben goode,
  And saven men sondry tymes;
  Ac noon so soone as charité.
  For he dooth wel withouten doute,
  That dooth as lewté techeth;
  That is, if thow be man maryed,
  Thi make thow lovye,
  And lyve forth as lawe wole,                            7510
  While ye lyven bothe.

    "Right so if thow be religious,
  Ren thow nevere ferther
  To Rome ne to Rochemador,
  But as thi rule techeth;
  And hold thee under obedience,
  That heigh wey is to hevene.

    "And if thow be maiden to marye,
  And myght wel continue,
  Seke thow nevere seint ferther                          7520
  For no soule helthe.
  For what made Lucifer
  To lese the heighe hevene?
  Or Salomon his sapience,
  Or Sampson his strengthe?
  Job the Jew his joye
  Ful deere a-boughte;
  Aristotle and othere mo,
  Ypocras and Virgile;
  Alisaundre, that al wan,                                7530
  Elengliche ended.
  Catel and kynde wit
  Was combraunce to hem alle.

    "Felice hir fairnesse
  Fel hire al to sclaundre;
  And Rosamounde right so,
  Reufulliche to bileve,
  The beauté of hir body
  In baddenesse she despended.
  Of manye swiche I may rede,                             7540
  Of men and of wommen,
  That wise wordes wolde shewe,
  And werche the contrarie.
  _Sunt homines nequam bene de virtute loquentes._           =

    "And riche renkes right so
  Gaderen and sparen,
  And tho men that thei moost haten
  Mynistren it at the laste.
  And for thei suffren and see                            7550
  So manye nedy folkes,
  And love hem noght as oure Lord bit,
  Thei lesen hir soules.
  _Date et dabitur vobis._

    "And richesse right so,
  But if the roote be trewe.
  Ac grace is a gras therof
  Tho grevaunces to abate.
  Ac grace ne groweth noght
  But amonges lowe;                                       7560
  Pacience and poverte
  The place highte ther it groweth,
  And in lele lyvynge men,
  And in lif holy,
  And thorugh the gifte of the Holy Goost,
  As the Gospel telleth.
  _Spiritus ubi vult spirat._

    "Clergie and kynde wit
  Cometh of sighte and techyng;
  As the book bereth witnesse                             7570
  To burnes that kan rede.
  _Quod scimus loquimur, quod vidimus testamur._             =

    "Of _quod scimus_ cometh clergie
  And konnynge of hevene;
  And of _quod vidimus_ cometh kynde wit,
  Of sighte of diverse peple.
  Ac grace is a gifte of God,
  And of greet love spryngeth;
  Knew nevere clerk how it cometh forth,                  7580
  Ne kynde wit the weyes.
  _Nescit aliquis unde venit, aut quo vadit, etc._           =

    "Ac yet is clergie to comende,
  And kynde wit bothe;
  And namely clergie, for Cristes love
  That of clergie is roote.
  For Moyses witnesseth that God wroot
  For to wisse the peple
  In the olde lawe, as the lettre telleth,                7590
  That was the lawe of Jewes,
  That what womman were in avoutrye taken,
  Were she riche or poore,
  With stones men sholde hir strike,
  And stone hire to dethe.

    "A womman, as I fynde,
  Was gilty of that dede.
  Ac Crist of his curteisie
  Thorugh clergie hir saved;
  And thorugh caractes that Crist wroot,                  7600
  The Jewes knewe hemselve
  Giltier as a-fore God,
  And gretter in synne,
  Than the womman that there was,
  And wenten awey for shame.

    "The clergie that there was,
  Conforted the womman.
  Holy kirke knoweth this,
  That Cristes writyng saved hire.
  So clergie is confort                                   7610
  To creatures that repenten,
  And to mansede men
  Meschief at hire ende.

    "For Goddes body myghte noght ben
  Of breed, withouten clergie;
  The which body is bothe
  Boote to the rightfulle,
  And deeth and dampnacion
  To hem that deyeth yvele,
  As Cristes caracte confortede,                          7620
  And bothe coupable shewed,
  The womman that the Jewes broughte,
  That Jhesus thoughte to save.
  _Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini._
  Right so Goddes body, bretheren,
  But if it be worthili taken,
  Dampneth us at the day of dome,
  As the caractes dide the Jewes.

    "For-thi I counseille thee, for Cristes sake,
  Clergie that thow lovye.                                7630
  For kynde wit is of his kyn,
  And neighe cosynes bothe
  To oure Lord, leve me;
  For-thi love hem, I rede.
  For bothe ben as mirours
  To amenden oure defautes,
  And lederes for lewed men
  And for lettred bothe.

    "For-thi lakke thow nevere logik,
  Lawe ne hise custumes;                                  7640
  Ne countreplede clerkes,
  I counseille thee for evere.
  For as a man may noght see,
  That mysseth hise eighen;
  Na-moore kan no clerk,
  But if he caughte it first thorugh bokes.
  Al though men made bokes,
  God was the maister,
  And seint spirit the samplarie,
  And seide what men sholde write.                        7650

    "Right so ledeth lettrure
  Lewed men to reson;
  And as a blynd man in bataille
  Bereth wepne to fighte,
  And hath noon hap with his ax
  His enemy to hitte,
  Na-moore kan a kynde witted man,
  But clerkes hym teche,
  Come for al his kynde wit
  To cristendom, and be saved.                            7660
  Which is the cofre of Cristes tresor,
  And clerkes kepe the keyes
  To unloken it at hir likyng,
  And to the lewed peple
  Gyve mercy for hire mysdedes,
  If men it wolde aske
  Buxomliche and benigneliche,
  And bidden it of Grace.

    "_Archa Dei_ in the olde lawe
  Levytes it kepten;                                      7670
  Hadde nevere lewed man leve
  To leggen hond on that cheste,
  But he were preest or preestes sone,
  Patriark or prophete.
  For clergie is kepere
  Under Crist of hevene.
  Was ther nevere no knyght,
  But clergie hym made.
  Ac kynde wit cometh
  Of alle kynnes syghtes,                                 7680
  Of briddes and of beestes,
  Of tastes of truthe and of deceites.

    "Lyveris to-forn us
  Useden to marke
  For selkouthes that thei seighen,
  Hir sones for to teche;
  And helden it an heigh science
  Hir wittes to knowe.
  Ac thorugh hir science soothly
  Was nevere no soule y-saved,                            7690
  Ne broght by hir bokes
  To blisse ne to joye;
  For alle hir kynde knowynges
  Come but of diverse sightes.

    "Patriarkes and prophetes
  Repreveden hir science,
  And seiden hir wordes and hir wisdomes
  Nas but a folye;
  And to the clergie of Crist
  Counted it but a trufle.                                7700
  _Sapientia hujus mundi stultitia est apud Deum._           =

    "For the heighe Holy Goost
  Hevene shal to-cleve,
  And love shall lepen out after
  Into the lowe erthe;
  And clennesse shal cacchen it,
  And clerkes shullen it fynde.
  _Pastores loquebantur ad invicem._

    "He speketh there of riche men right noght,           7710
  Ne of right witty,
  Ne of lordes that were lewed men,
  But of the hyeste lettred oute.
  _Ibant magi ab oriente._

    "If any frere were founde there,
  I gyve thee fyve shillynges;
  Ne in none burgeises cote
  Was that barn born;
  But in a burgeises place
  Of Bethlem the beste.                                   7720
  _Sed non erat ei locus in diversorio, et
      pauper non habet diversorium._

    "To pastours and to poetes
  Appered the aungel,
  And bad hem go to Bethlem
  Goddes burthe to honoure;
  And songe a song of solas,
  _Gloria in excelsis Deo!_

    "Clerkes knewen it wel,
  And comen with hir presentz,                            7730
  And diden homage honurably
  To hym that was almyghty.

    "Why I have tolde al this,
  I took ful good hede
  How thow contrariedest Clergie
  With crabbede wordes,
  How that lewde men lightloker
  Than lettrede were saved,
  Than clerkes or kynde witted men
  Of cristene peple;                                      7740
  And thow seidest sooth of somme,
  Ac se in what manere.

    "Tak two stronge men,
  And in Themese cast hem,
  And bothe naked as a nedle,
  Her noon sikerer than oother;
  That oon hath konnynge and kan
  Swymmen and dyven;
  That oother is lewed of that labour,
  That lerned nevere swymme;                              7750
  Which trowestow of tho two
  That is in moost drede?
  He that nevere ne dyved,
  Ne noght kan of swymmyng?
  Or the swymmere that is saaf
  By so hymself like,
  Ther his felawe fleteth forth
  As the flood liketh,
  And is in drede to drenche,
  That nevere dide swymme?"                               7760

    "That swymme kan noght," I seide,
  "It semeth to my wittes."

    "Right so," quod the renk.
  "Reson it sheweth,
  That he that knoweth clergie
  Kan sonner arise
  Out of synne, and be saaf,
  Though he synne ofte,
  If hym liketh and lest,
  Than any lewed leelly.                                  7770
  For if the clerk be konnynge,
  He knoweth what is synne,
  And how contricion withoute confession
  Conforteth the soule;
  As thow seest in the Sauter,
  In Salmes oon or tweyne,
  How contricion is comended,
  For it cacheth awey synne.
  _Beati quorum remissæ sunt iniquitates,
      et quorum tecta sunt, etc._                         7780

    "And this conforteth ech a clerk,
  And covereth hym fro wanhope.
  In which flood the fend
  Fondeth a man hardest.
  Ther the lewed lith stille,
  And loketh after lente,
  And hath no contricion er he come to shrifte,
  And thanne kan he litel telle,
  But as his lores-man lereth hym
  Bileveth and troweth;                                   7790
  And that is after person or parissh preest,
  The whiche ben peraventure
  Unkonnynge to lere lewed men,
  As Luc bereth witnesse:
  _Dum cæcus ducit cæcum, etc._

    "Wo was hym marked
  That wade moot with the lewed!
  Wel may the barn blesse that man
  That hym to book sette,
  That lyvynge after lettrure                             7800
  Saveth hym lif and soule.
  _Dominus pars hereditatis meæ_,
  Is a murye verset,
  That hath take fro Tybourne
  Twenty stronge theves;
  Ther lewed theves ben lolled up,
  Loke how thei be saved.

    "The thef that hadde grace of God
  On Good-friday, as thow spekest,
  Was for he yald hym creaunt to Crist on the cros,       7810
  And knewliched hym gilty,
  And grace asked of God,
  That to graunten it is redy
  To hem that buxomliche biddeth it,
  And ben in wille to amenden.
  Ac though that theef hadde hevene,
  He hadde noon heigh blisse,
  As seint Johan and othere seintes
  That deserved hadde bettre.

    "Right as som man yeve me mete,                       7820
  And a-mydde the floor sette me,
  And hadde mete moore than y-nough,
  Ac noght so muche worshipe
  As tho that seten at the syde table,
  Or with the sovereynes of the halle;
  But sete as a beggere bord-lees
  By myself on the grounde.
  So it fareth by that felon
  That a Good-friday was saved.
  He sit neither with seint Johan,                        7830
  Symond ne Jude,
  Ne with maydenes ne with martires,
  Confessours ne wydewes;
  But by hymself as a soleyn,
  And served on erthe.
  For he that is ones a thef
  Is evere moore in daunger,
  And, as lawe liketh,
  To lyve or to deye.
  _De peccato propitiato, noli esse sine metu._              =
  And for to serven a seint                               7842
  And swich a thef togideres,
  It were neither reson ne right
  To rewarde hem bothe y-liche.

    "And right as Trojanus the trewe knyght
  Dwelte noght depe in helle,
  That oure Lord ne hadde hym lightly out,
  So leve I the thef be in hevene.
  For he is in the loweste of hevene,                     7850
  If oure bileve be trewe;
  And wel loselly he lolleth there,
  By the lawe of holy chirche.
  _Qui reddit unicuique juxta opera sua, etc._               =

    "And why that oon theef on the cros
  Creaunt hym yald
  Rather than that oother theef,
  Though thow woldest appose,
  Alle the clerkes under Crist                            7860
  Ne kouthe the skile assoille.
  _Quare placuit, quia voluit._

    "And so I seye by thee
  That sekest after the whyes,
  And a-resonedest Reson
  A rebukynge as it were;
  And of the floures in the fryth,
  And of hire faire hewes,
  Wherof thei cacche hir colours
  So clere and so brighte;                                7870
  And willest of briddes and of beestes,
  And of hir bredyng, to knowe,
  Why some be a-lough and some a-loft,
  Thi likyng it were;
  And of the stones and of the sterres
  Thow studiest, as I leve;
  How evere beest outher brid
  Hath so breme wittes.

    "Clergie ne kynde wit
  Ne knew nevere the cause;                               7880
  Ac kynde knoweth the cause hymself,
  And no creature ellis.
  He is the pies patron,
  And putteth it in hir ere
  There the thorn is thikkest
  To buylden and brede.
  And kynde kenned the pecok
  To cauken in swich a kynde;
  And kenned Adam
  To knowe his pryvé membres,                             7890
  And taughte hym and Eve
  To helien hem with leves.

    "Lewed men many tymes
  Maistres thei apposen,
  Why Adam ne hiled noght first
  His mouth that eet the appul,
  Rather than his likame a-logh;
  Lewed asken thus clerkes.

    "Kynde knoweth whi he dide so,
  Ac no clerk ellis,                                      7900
  Ac of briddes and of beestes
  Men by olde tyme
  Ensamples token and termes,
  As telleth the poetes;
  And that the faireste fowel
  Foulest engendreth,
  And feblest fowel of flight is
  That fleeth or swymmeth;
  And that the pecok and the pehen
  Proude riche men bitokneth;                             7910
  For the pecok, and men pursue hym,
  May noght flee heighe,
  For the trailynge of his tail
  Overtaken is he soone,
  And his flessh is foul flessh,
  And his feet bothe,
  And un-lovelich of ledene,
  And looth for to here.

    "Right so the riche,
  If he his richesse kepe,                                7920
  And deleth it noght til his deeth-day,
  The tail of alle sorwe
  Right so as the pennes of the pecok
  Peyneth hym in his flight.
  So is possession peyne
  Of pens and of nobles,
  To alle hem that it holdeth,
  Til hir tail be plukked.

    "And though the riche repente thanne
  And bi-rewe the tyme                                    7930
  That evere he gadered so grete,
  And gaf therof so litel;
  Though he crye to Crist thanne
  With kene wil, I leve,
  His ledene be in oure Lordes ere
  Like a pies chiteryng.
  And whan his caroyne shal come
  In cave to be buryed,
  I leve it flawme ful foule
  The fold al aboute,                                     7940
  And alle the othere ther it lith
  Envenymeth thorugh his attre.

    "By the po feet is understande,
  As I have lerned in Avynet,
  Executours false frendes
  That fulfille noght his wille
  That was writen and thei witnesse
  To werche right as it wolde.
  Thus the poete preveth that the pecok
  For hise fetheres is reverenced,                        7950
  Right so is the riche
  By reson of hise goodes.

    "The larke, that is a lasse fowel,
  Is moore lovelich of ledene,
  And wel a wey of wynge
  Swifter than the pecok,
  And of flessh by fele fold
  Fatter and swetter;
  To lowe libbynge men
  The larke is resembled.                                 7960

    "Aristotle the grete clerk
  Swiche tales he telleth.
  Thus he likneth in his logik
  The leeste fowel oute,
  And wheither he be saaf or noght saaf
  The sothe woot no clergie,
  Ne of Sortes ne of Salomon
  No scripture kan telle.
  Ac God is so good, I hope,
  That siththe he gaf hem wittes                          7970
  To wissen us weyes therwith
  That wissen us to be saved,
  And the bettre for hir bokes
  To bidden we ben holden,
  That God for his grace
  Gyve hir soules reste.
  For lettred men were lewed men yet,
  Ne were loore of hir bokes."

    "Alle thise clerkes," quod I tho,
  "That in Crist leven,                                   7980
  Seyen in hir sermons
  That neither Sarsens ne Jewes
  Ne no creature of Cristes liknesse
  Withouten cristendom worth saved."

    "_Contra_," quod Ymaginatif thoo,
  And comsed for to loure;
  And seide "_Salvabitur
  Vix justus in die judicii.
  Ergo salvabitur_," quod he,
  And seide na-moore Latyn.                               7990

    "Trojanus was a trewe knyght,
  And took nevere Cristendom,
  And he is saaf, so seith the book,
  And his soule in hevene.
  For ther is fullynge of font,
  And fullynge in blood shedyng,
  And thorugh fir is fullyng,
  And that is ferme bileve.
  _Advenit ignis divinus non comburens,
      sed illuminans, etc._                               8000

    "Ac Truthe that trespased nevere,
  Ne traversed ayeins his lawe,
  But lyveth as his lawe techeth,
  And leveth ther be no bettre;
  And if ther were, he wolde amende,
  And in swich wille deieth,
  Ne wolde nevere trewe god,
  But truthe were allowed,
  And wheither it be worth or noght worth,
  The bileve is gret of truthe,                           8010
  And an hope hangynge therinne
  To have a mede for his truthe.
  For _Deus dicitur quasi dans vitam
      æternam suis, hoc est fidelibus.
      Et alibi: Si ambulavero in
      medio umbræ mortis._

    "The glose graunteth upon that vers
  A greet mede to Truthe,
  And wit and wisdom," quod that wye,
  "Was som tyme tresor                                    8020
  To kepe with a commune,
  No catel was holde bettre,
  And muche murthe and manhod;"
  And right with that he vanysshed.                       8024

       *       *       *       *       *


          _Passus Decimus Tertius, etc._

  And I awaked therwith                                   8025
  Wit-lees ner-hande,
  And as a freke that fre were
  Forth gan I walke
  In manere of a mendinaunt
  Many a yer after,                                       8030
  And of this metyng many tyme
  Muche thought I hadde.

    First how Fortune me failed
  At my mooste nede;
  And how that Elde manaced me,
  Myghte we evere mete;
  And how that freres folwede
  Folk that was riche,
  And folk that was povere
  At litel pris thei sette;                               8040
  And no corps in hir kirk-yerde
  Nor in his kirk was buryed,
  But quik he biquethe aught
  To quyte with hir dettes;
  And how this Coveitise over-com
  Clerkes and preestes;
  And how that lewed men ben lad,
  But oure Lord hem helpe,
  Thorugh un-konnynge curatours,
  To incurable peynes.                                    8050

    And how that Ymaginatif
  In dremels me tolde
  Of Kynde and of his konnynge,
  And how curteis he is to bestes,
  And how lovynge he is to briddes
  On londe and on watre.
  Leneth he no lif
  Lasse ne moore.
  The creatures that crepen
  Of kynde ben engendred.                                 8060
  And sithen how Ymaginatif seide,
  _Vix salvabitur_;
  And whan he hadde seid so,
  How sodeynliche he passed.

    I lay doun longe in this thoght,
  And at the laste I slepte.
  And as Crist wolde, ther com Conscience
  To conforte me that tyme,
  And bad me come to his court,
  With Clergie sholde I dyne;                             8070
  And for Conscience of Clergie spak,
  I com wel the rather.
  And there I seigh a maister,
  What man he was I nyste,
  That lowe louted
  And loveliche to Scripture.

    Conscience knew hym wel,
  And welcomed hym faire.
  Thei wesshen and wipeden,
  And wenten to the dyner.                                8080
  And Pacience in the paleis stood
  In pilgrymes clothes,
  And preyde mete _par charité_
  For a povere heremyte.

    Conscience called hym in,
  And curteisliche seide,
  "Welcome! wye; go and wasshe;
  Thow shalt sitte soone."

    This maister was maad sitte,
  As for the mooste worthi.                               8090
  And thanne Clergie and Conscience
  And Pacience cam after.

    Pacience and I
  Were put to be macches,
  And seten bi oureselve
  At the side borde.

    Conscience called after mete;
  And thanne cam Scripture,
  And served hem thus soone
  Of sondry metes manye,                                  8100
  Of Austyn, of Ambrose,
  And of the foure Euvangelistes,
  _Edentis et bibentis quæ apud eos sunt._                   =

    Ac this maister nor his man
  No maner flesshe eten;
  Ac thei eten mete of moore cost,
  Mortrews and potages
  Of that men mys-wonne
  Thei made hem wel at ese.                               8110
  Ac hir sauce was over sour,
  And unsavourly grounde
  In a morter _post mortem_
  Of many a bitter peyne,
  But if thei synge for tho soules,
  And wepe salte teris.
  _Vos qui peccata hominum comeditis,
      nisi pro eis lacrimas et orationes
      effunderitis, ea quæ in
      deliciis comeditis, in tormentis                    8120

    Conscience ful curteisly tho
  Comaunded Scripture
  Bifore Pacience breed to brynge
  And me that was his macche.
  He sette a sour loof to-forn us,
  And seide, "_agite pænitentiam_."
  "As longe," quod I, "as I lyve,
  And lycame may dure."
  "Here is propre service," quod Pacience,                8130
  "Ther fareth no prince bettre,"

    And thanne he broughte us forth a mees of oother mete,
  Of _Miserere mei, Deus_,
  And he broughte us of _Beati quorum_,
  Of _Beatus-virres_ makyng.
  _Et quorum tecta sunt peccata_ in a disshe,
  Of derne shrifte _Dixi et confitebor tibi_.
  "Bryng Pacience som pitaunce,"
  Pryveliche quod Conscience.

    And thanne hadde Pacience a pitaunce.                 8140
  _Pro hac orabit ad te omnis sanctus
      in tempore oportuno._
  And Conscience conforted us,
  And carped us murye tales.
  _Cor contritum et humiliatum Deus non despicies._          =

    Pacience was proud
  Of that propre service,
  And made hym murthe with his mete;
  Ac I mornede evere,                                     8150
  For this doctour on the heighe dees
  Drank wyn so faste.
  _Væ vobis qui potentes estis ad bibendum vinum!_           =
  He eet manye sondry metes,
  Mortrews and puddynges,
  Wombe-cloutes and wilde brawen,
  And egges y-fryed with grece.

    Thanne seide I to myself so
  Pacience it herde,                                      8160
  "It is noght foure dayes that this freke
  Bifore the deen of Poules
  Preched of penaunces
  That Poul the apostle suffrede,
  _In fame et frigore_
  And flappes of scourges."
  _Ter cæsus sum, et a Judeis quinquies
      quadragenas, etc._

    Ac o word thei over-huppen
  At ech a tyme that thei preche,                         8170
  That Poul in his Pistle
  To al the peple tolde:
  _Periculum est in falsis fratribus._

    Holi writ bit men be war,
  I wol noght write it here
  In Englisshe, on aventure
  It sholde be reherced to ofte,
  And greve therwith goode men,
  Ac gramariens shul redde.
  _Unusquisque a fratre se custodiat,                     8180
      quia, ut dicitur, periculum est
      in falsis fratribus._

    Ac I wiste nevere freke that as a frere yede
  Bifore men on Englisshe
  Taken it for his teme,
  And telle it withouten glosyng.
  They prechen that penaunce is
  Profitable to the soule,
  And what meschief and _male ese_
  Crist for man tholede.                                  8190

    "Ac this Goddes gloton," quod I,
  "With hise grete chekes,
  Hath no pité on us povere,
  He perfourneth yvele;
  That he precheth he preveth noght,"
  To Pacience I tolde,
  And wisshed ful witterly,
  With wille ful egre,
  That disshes and doublers
  Bifore this ilke doctour                                8200
  Were molten leed in his mawe,
  And Mahoun amyddes.
  "I shal jangle to this jurdan
  With his juste wombe,
  To telle me what penaunce is,
  Of which he preched rather."

    Pacience perceyved what I thoughte,
  And wynked on me to be stille,
  And seide, "Thow shalt see thus soone,
  Whan he may na-moore,                                   8210
  He shal have a penaunce in his paunche,
  And puffe at ech a worde;
  And thanne shullen his guttes gothele,
  And he shal galpen after.
  For now he hath dronken so depe,
  He wole devyne soone,
  And preven it by hir Pocalips
  And passion of seint Avereys,
  That neither bacon ne braun,
  Blancmanger ne mortrews,                                8220
  Is neither fissh nor flesshe,
  But fode for a penaunt
  And thanne shal he testifie of the Trinité,
  And take his felawe to witnesse,
  What he fond in a frayel,
  After a freres lyvyng;
  And but he first lyve be lesyng,
  Leve me nevere after.
  And thanne is tyme to take,
  And to appose this doctour                              8230
  Of Do-wel and Do-bet,
  And if Do-wel be any penaunce."

    And I sat stille, as Pacience seide,
  And thus soone this doctour,
  As rody as a rose,
  Rubbede hise chekes,
  Coughed and carped;
  And Conscience hym herde,
  And tolde hym of a Trinité,
  And toward us he loked.                                 8240

    "What is Do-wel, sire doctour?" quod I,
  "Is it any penaunce?"

    "Do-wel," quod this doctour,
  And took the cuppe and drank,
  "Is do noon yvel to thyn even-cristen
  Nought by thi power."

    "By this day! sire doctour," quod I,
  "Thanne be ye noght in Do-wel;
  For ye han harmed us two,
  In that ye eten the puddyng,                            8250
  Mortrews and oother mete,
  And we no morsel hadde.
  And if ye fare so in youre fermerye,
  Ferly me thynketh,
  But cheeste be ther charité sholde be.
  And yonge children dorste pleyne,
  I wolde permute my penaunce with youre,
  For I am in point to Do-wel."

    Thanne Conscience curteisly
  A contenaunce made,                                     8260
  And preynte upon Pacience
  To preie me to be stille;
  And seide hymself, "Sire doctour,
  And it be youre wille,
  What is Do-wel and Do-bet,
  Ye dyvynours knoweth."

    "Do-wel," quod this doctour,
  "Do as clerkes techeth;
  And Do-bet is he that techeth,
  And travailleth to teche othere;                        8270
  And Do-best doth hymself so,
  As he seith and precheth."
  _Qui facit et docuerit, magnus vocabitur
      in regno coelorum._

    "Now thow, Clergie," quod Conscience,
  "Carpest what is Do-wel.
  I have sevene sones," he seide,
  "Serven in a castel,
  Ther the lord of lif wonyeth,
  To leren what is Do-wel;                                8280
  Til I se tho sevene
  And myself acorde,
  I am un-hardy," quod he,
  "To any wight to preven it.
  For oon Piers the Plowman
  Hath impugned us alle,
  And set alle sciences at a sope,
  Save love one;
  And no text ne taketh
  To mayntene his cause,                                  8290
  But _Dilige Deum_,
  And _Domine quis habitabit_.
  And seith that Do-wel and Do-bet
  Arn two infinités,
  Whiche infinités, with a feith!
  Fynden out Do-best,
  Which shal save mannes soule;
  Thus seith Piers the Plowman."

    "I kan noght heron," quod Conscience,
  "Ac I knowe wel Piers;                                  8300
  He wol noght ayein holy writ speken,
  I dar wel undertake.
  Thanne passe we over til Piers come,
  And preve this in dede.
  Pacience hath be in many place,
  And peraunter mouthed
  That no clerk ne kan,
  As Crist bereth witnesse:
  _Patientes vincunt, etc._"

    "Ac youre preiere," quod Pacience tho,                8310
  "So no man displese hym.
  _Disce_," quo he, "_Doce_,
  _Dilige inimicos_.
  _Disce_, and Do-wel;
  _Doce_, and Do-bet;
  _Dilige_, and Do-best;
  Thus taughte me ones
  A lemman that I lovede,
  Love was hir name:

    "With wordes and with werkes," quod she,              8320
  "And wil of thyn herte,
  Thow love leelly thi soule
  Al thi lif tyme,
  And so thow lere the to lovye,
  For oure Lordes love of hevene,
  Thyn enemy in alle wise
  Evene forth with thiselve.
  Cast coles on his heed
  Of alle kynde speche,
  Bothe with werkes and with wordes                       8330
  Fonde his love to wynne;
  And leye on him thus with love,
  Til he laughe on the.
  And but he bowe for this betyng,
  Blynd mote he worthe.

    "Ac for to fare thus with thi frend,
  Folie it were.
  For he that loveth thee leelly,
  Litel of thyne coveiteth.
  Kynde love coveiteth noght                              8340
  No catel but speche.
  With halfe a laumpe lyne,
  In Latyn, _Ex vi transitionis_,
  I bere therinne aboute
  Faste y-bounde Do-wel,
  In a signe of the Saterday
  That sette first the kalender,
  And al the wit of the Wodnesday
  Of the nexte wike after,
  The myddel of the moone,                                8350
  As the nyght of bothe,
  And herwith am I welcome
  Ther I have it with me,

    "Undo it, lat this doctour deme
  If Do-wel be therinne.
  For, by hym that me made!
  Myghte nevere poverte
  Misese ne meschief,
  Ne no man with his tonge,
  Coold ne care,                                          8360
  Ne compaignye of theves,
  Ne neither hete ne hayl,
  Ne noon helle pouke,
  Ne fuyr ne flood,
  Ne feere of thyn enemy,
  Tene thee any tyme,
  And thow take it with the.
  _Caritas nihil timet, etc._"

    "It is but a dido," quod this doctour,
  "A disours tale;                                        8370
  Al the wit of this world,
  And wight mennes strengthe,
  Kan noght conformen a pees
  Bitwene and hise enemys,
  Ne bitwene two cristene kynges
  Kan no wight pees make
  Profitable to either peple;"
  And putte the table fro hym,
  And took Clergie and Conscience
  To conseil, as it were,                                 8380
  That Pacience thow most passe,
  For pilgrymes konne wel lye.

    Ac Conscience carped loude,
  And curteisliche seide,
  "Frendes, fareth wel;"
  And faire spak to Clergie,
  "For I wol go with this gome,
  If God wol yeve me grace,
  And be pilgrym with Pacience,
  Til I have preved moore."                               8390

    "What!" quod Clergie to Conscience,
  "Ar ye coveitous nouthe
  After yeres-geves, or giftes,
  Or yernen to rede redels?
  I shal brynge yow a Bible,
  A book of the olde lawe,
  And lere yow, if yow like,
  The leeste point to knowe,
  That Pacience the pilgrym
  Parfitly knew nevere."                                  8400

    "Nay, by Crist!" quod Conscience
  To Clergie, "God thee for-yelde;
  For al that Pacience me profreth
  Proud am I litel.
  Ac the wil of the wye,
  And the wil of folk here,
  Hath meved my mood
  To moorne for my synnes.
  The goode wil of a wight
  Was nevere bought to the fulle.                         8410
  For ther nys no tresour, for sothe,
  To a trewe wille.

    "Hadde noght Maudeleyne moore
  For a box of salve,
  Than Zacheus for he seide
  _Dimidium bonorum meorum do pauperibus?_                   =
  And the poore widewe
  For a peire of mytes,
  Than alle tho that offrede                              8420
  Into _gazophilacium_?"

    Thus curteisliche Conscience
  Congeyed first the frere,
  And sithen softeliche he seide
  In Clergies ere,
  "Me were levere, by oure Lord!
  And I lyve sholde,
  Have pacience perfitliche,
  Than half thi pak of bokes."

    Clergie of Conscience                                 8430
  No congie wolde take,
  But seide ful sobreliche,
  "Thow shalt se the tyme
  Whan thow art wery of-walked,
  Wille me to counseille."

    "That is sooth," quod Conscience,
  "So me God helpe!
  If Pacience be oure partyng felawe,
  And pryvé with us bothe,
  Ther nys wo in this world                               8440
  That we ne sholde amende,
  And conformen kynges to pees,
  And alle kynnes londes;
  Sarsens and Surré,
  And so forth alle the Jewes,
  Turne into the trewe feith,
  And intil oon bileve."

    "That is sooth," quod Clergie,
  "I se what thow menest;
  I shal dwelle as I do,                                  8450
  My devoir to shewe,
  And confermen fauntekyns,
  And oother folk y-lered,
  Til Pacience have preved thee,
  And parfit thee maked."

    Conscience tho with Pacience passed,
  Pilgrymes as it were.
  Thanne hadde Pacience, as pilgrymes han,
  In his poke vitailles,
  Sobretee and symple speche,                             8460
  And soothfast bileve,
  To conforte hym and Conscience,
  If thei come in place
  There un-kyndenesse and coveitise is,
  Hungry contrees bothe.

    And as the wente by the weye,
  Of Do-wel thei carped;
  Thei mette with a mynstral,
  As me tho thoughte.
  Pacience apposed hym first.                             8470
  And preyde he sholde hem telle
  To Conscience what craft he kouthe,
  And to what contree he wolde.

    "I am a mynstrall," quod that man,
  "My name is _Activa-vita_;
  Al ydelnesse ich hatie,
  For of actif is my name;
  A wafrer, wol ye wite,
  And serve manye lordes,
  And fewe robes I fonge,                                 8480
  Or furrede gownes.
  Couthe I lye to do men laughe,
  Thanne lacchen I sholde
  Outher mantel or moneie
  Amonges lordes or mynstrals.
  Ac for I kan neither taboure ne trompe,
  Ne telle no gestes,
  Farten ne fithelen
  At festes, ne harpen,
  Jape ne jogele,                                         8490
  Ne gentilliche pipe,
  Ne neither saille ne saute,
  Ne synge with the gyterne,
  I have no goode giftes
  Of thise grete lordes.
  For no breed that I brynge forth,
  Save a benyson on the Sonday
  Whan the preest preieth the peple
  Hir pater-noster to bidde
  For Piers the Plowman,                                  8500
  And that hym profit waiten;
  And that am I actif,
  That ydelnesse hatie;
  For alle trewe travaillours
  And tiliers of the erthe,
  Fro Mighelmesse to Mighelmesse
  I fynde hem with my wafres.

    "Beggeris and bidderis
  Of my breed craven,
  Faitours and freres,                                    8510
  And folk with brode crounes.
  I fynde payn for the pope,
  And provendre for his palfrey;
  And I hadde nevere of hym,
  Have God my trouthe!
  Neither provendre ne personage
  Yet of popes gifte,
  Save a pardon with a peis of leed
  And two polles amyddes.
  Hadde ich a clerc that couthe write,                    8520
  I wolde caste hym a bille,
  That he sente me under his seel
  A salve for the pestilence,
  And that his blessynge and hise bulles
  Bocches myghte destruye.
  _In nomine meo dæmonia ejicient, et
      super ægros manus imponent, et
      bene habebunt._

    "And thanne wolde I be prest to the peple
  Paast for to make,                                      8530
  And buxom and busy
  Aboute breed and drynke
  For hym and for alle hise,
  Founde I that his pardon
  Mighte lechen a man,
  As I bileve it sholde.
  For sith he hath the power
  That Peter hymself hadde,
  He hath the pot with the salve,
  Soothly as me thynketh.                                 8540
  _Argentum et aurum non est mihi;
      quod autem habeo tibi do: in
      nomine Domini surge et

    "Ac if myght of myracle hym faille,
  It is for men ben noght worthi
  To have the grace of God,
  And no gilt of pope.
  For may no blessynge doon us boote,
  But if we wile amende,                                  8550
  Ne mannes masse make pees
  Among cristene peple,
  Til pride be pureliche for-do,
  And thorugh payn defaute.
  For er I have breed of mele,
  Oft moot I swete;
  And er the commune have corn y-nough,
  Many a cold morwenyng.
  So er my wafres be y-wroght,
  Muche wo I tholye.                                      8560

    "At Londone, I leve,
  Liketh wel my wafres;
  And louren whan thei lakken hem.
  It is noght long y-passed,
  There was a careful commune,
  Whan no cart com to towne
  With breed fro Stratforde;
  Tho gonnen beggeris wepe,
  And werkmen were agast a lite;
  This wole be thought longe.                             8570
  In the date of oure Drighte,
  In a drye Aprille,
  A thousand and thre hundred
  Twies twenty and ten,
  My wafres there were gesene
  Whan Chichestre was maire."

    I took good kepe, by Crist!
  And Conscience bothe,
  Of Haukyn the actif man,
  And how he was y-clothed.                               8580
  He hadde a cote of Cristendom,
  As holy kirke bileveth;
  Ac it was moled in many places
  With manye sondry plottes;
  Of pride here a plot,
  And there a plot of unbuxome speche,
  Of scornyng and of scoffyng,
  And of unskilful berynge,
  As in apparaill and in porte
  Proud amonges the peple,                                8590
  Oother wise than he hym hath
  With herte or sighte shewynge,
  Hym willyng that alle men wende
  He were that he is noght.
  For-why he bosteth and braggeth
  With manye bolde othes,
  And inobedient to ben undernome
  Of any lif lyvynge;
  And noon so singuler by hymself,
  Ne so pomp holy,                                        8600
  Y-habited as an heremyte,
  An ordre by hymselve,
  Religion saunz rule
  Or resonable obedience,
  Lakkynge lettrede men
  And lewed men bothe
  In likynge of lele lif,
  And a liere in soule,
  With inwit and with outwit
  Ymagynen and studie,                                    8610
  As best for his body be
  To have a badde name,
  And entremetten hym over al
  Ther he hath noght to doone,
  Willynge that men wende
  His wit were the beste.
  And if he gyveth ought to povere gomes,
  Telle what he deleth,
  Povere of possession in purs
  And in cofre bothe.                                     8620
  And as a lyoun on to loke,
  And lordlich of speche,
  Boldest of beggeris,
  A bostere that noght hath,
  In towne and in tavernes
  Tales to telle,
  And segge thyng that he nevere seigh,
  And for sothe sweren it,
  Of dedes that he nevere dide
  Demen and bosten                                        8630
  And of werkes that he wel dide
  Witnesse, and siggen--
  "Lo! if ye leve me noght,
  Or that I lye wenen,
  Asketh at hym or at hym,
  And he yow kan telle
  What I suffrede and seigh
  And som tymes hadde,
  And what I kouthe and knew,
  And what kyn I com of."                                 8640
  Al he wolde that men wiste
  Of werkes and of wordes
  Which myghte plese the peple,
  And preisen hymselve.
  _Si hominibus placerem, Christi
      servus non essem. Et alibi:
      Nemo potest duobus dominis

    "By Crist!" quod Conscience tho,
  "Thi beste cote, Haukyn,                                8650
  Hath manye moles and spottes,
  It moste ben y-wasshe."

    "Ye, who so toke hede," quod Haukyn,
  "Bihynde and bifore,
  What on bak and what on body half,
  And by the two sydes,
  Men sholde fynde manye frounces,
  And manye foule plottes."

    And he torned hym as tyd,
  And thanne took I hede,                                 8660
  It was fouler bi fele fold
  Than it first semed.
  It was bi-dropped with wrathe
  And wikkede wille,
  With envye and yvel speche,
  Entisynge to fighte,
  Liynge and laughynge,
  And leve tonge to chide,
  Al that he wiste wikked
  By any wight tellen it,                                 8670
  And blame men bihynde hir bak,
  And bidden hem meschaunce,
  And that he wiste by Wille
  Tellen it Watte,
  And that Watte wiste
  Wille wiste it after,
  And make of frendes foes
  Thorugh a fals tonge,
  Or with myght or with mouth,
  Or thorugh mennes strengthe                             8680
  Avenge me fele tymes,
  Other frete myselve
  Withinne as a shepsteres shere,
  Y-sherewed man and cursed.
  _Cujus maledictione os plenum est
      et amaritudine, sub lingua ejus
      labor et dolor. Et alibi: Filii
      hominum, dentes eorum arma
      et sagittæ, et lingua eorum
      gladius acutus._                                    8690

    "Ther is no lif that me loveth
  Lastynge any while;
  For tales that I telle,
  No man trusteth to me.
  And whan I may noght have the maistrie,
  Swich malencolie I take,
  That I cacche the crampe,
  And the cardiacle som tyme,
  Or an ague in swich an angre,
  And som tyme a fevere                                   8700
  That taketh me al a twelve monthe,
  Til that I despise
  Lechecraft of oure Lord,
  And leve on a wicche,
  And seye that no clerc ne kan,
  Ne Crist, as I leve,
  To the soutere of Southwerk,
  Or of Shordyche dame Emme;
  And seye that no Goddes word
  Gaf me nevere boote,                                    8710
  But thorugh a charme hadde I chaunce
  And my chief heele."

    I waitede wisloker,
  And thanne was it soilled
  With likynge of lecherie,
  As by lokynge of his eighe.
  For ech a maide that he mette
  He made hire a signe
  Semynge to synne-warde,
  And some tyme he gan taste                              8720
  Aboute the mouth, or bynethe
  Bigynneth to grope,
  Til eitheres wille wexeth kene,
  And to the werke yeden,
  As wel in fastyng dayes and Fridaies
  As forboden nyghtes,
  And as wel in Lente as out of Lente,
  Alle tymes y-liche.
  Swiche werkes with hem
  Were nevere out of seson,                               8730
  Til thei myghte na-moore;
  And thanne murye tales,
  And how that lecchours lovye
  Laughen and japen,
  And of hir harlotrye and horedom
  In hir elde tellen.

    Thanne Pacience perceyved
  Of pointes of this cote,
  That were colomy thorugh coveitise
  And unkynde desiryng;                                   8740
  Moore to good than to God
  The gome his love caste,
  And ymagynede how
  He it myghte have
  With false mesures and met,
  And with fals witnesse;
  Lened for love of the wed,
  And looth to do truthe;
  And awaited thorugh which
  Wey to bigile,                                          8750
  And menged his marchaundise,
  And made a good moustre;
  "The worste withinne was,
  A greet wit I let it,
  And if my neghebore hadde any hyne,
  Or any beest ellis,
  Moore profitable than myn,
  Manye sleightes I made
  How I myghte have it,
  Al my wit I caste.                                      8760
  And but I it hadde by oother wey,
  At the laste I stale it;
  Or priveliche his purs shook,
  And unpikede hise lokes;
  Or by nyghte or by daye
  Aboute was ich evere,
  Thorugh gile to gaderen
  The good that ich have.

    "If I yede to the plowgh,
  I pynched so narwe,                                     8770
  That a foot lond or a forow
  Fecchen I wolde
  Of my nexte neghebore,
  And nymen of his erthe.
  And if I repe, over-reche,
  Of yaf hem reed that ropen
  To seise to me with hir sikel
  That I ne sew nevere.

    "And who so borwed of me,
  A-boughte the tyme                                      8780
  With presentes prively,
  Or paide som certeyn;
  So he wolde or noght wolde,
  Wynnen I wolde,
  And bothe to kith and to kyn
  Unkynde of that ich hadde.

    "And who so cheped my chaffare,
  Chiden I wolde,
  But he profrede to paie
  A peny or tweyne                                        8790
  Moore than it was worth;
  And yet wolde I swere
  That it coste me muche moore,
  And swoor manye othes.

    "On holy daies at holy chirche
  Whan ich herde masse,
  Hadde I nevere wille, woot God,
  Witterly to biseche
  Mercy for my mysdedes,
  That I ne moorned moore                                 8800
  Nor losse of good, leve me,
  Than for my likames giltes.
  As if I hadde dedly synne doon,
  I dredde noght that so soore,
  As when I lened, and leved it lost,
  Or longe er it were paied.
  So if I kidde any kyndenesse
  Myn even cristen to helpe,
  Upon a cruwel coveitise
  Myn herte gan hange.                                    8810

    "And if I sente over see
  My servauntz to Brugges,
  Or into Pruce-lond my prentis,
  My profit to waiten,
  To marchaunden with moneie,
  And maken hire eschaunges,
  Mighte nevere me conforte.
  In the mene while
  Neither masse ne matynes,
  No none maner sightes;                                  8820
  Ne nevere penaunce perfournede,
  Ne pater-noster seide,
  That my mynde ne was moore
  On my good in a doute,
  Than in the grace of God,
  And hise grete helpes.
  _Ubi thesaurus tuus, ibi et cor tuum._

    "Whiche ben the braunches
  That bryngen a man to sleuthe?
  He that moorneth noght for hise mysdedes,               8830
  Ne maketh no sorwe,
  And penaunce that the preest enjoyneth
  Perfourneth yvele,
  Dooth noon almesse,
  Dred hym of no synne,
  Lyveth ayein the bileve,
  And no lawe holdeth,
  Ech day is holy day with hym,
  Or an heigh ferye;
  And, if he aught wole here,                             8840
  It is an harlotes tonge.
  Whan men carpen of Crist,
  Or of clennesse of soules,
  He wexeth wroth and wol noght here
  But wordes of murthe;
  Penaunce of povere men,
  And the passion of seintes,
  He hateth to here therof,
  And alle that it telleth.
  Thise ben the braunches, beth war,                      8850
  That bryngen a man to wanhope.

    "Ye lordes and ladies,
  And legates of holy chirche,
  That fedeth fooles sages,
  Flatereris and lieris,
  And han likynge to lithen hem
  To do yow to laughe,
  _Væ vobis qui ridetis, etc._
  And gyveth hem mete and mede,
  And povere men refuse;                                  8860
  In youre deeth deyinge,
  I drede me ful soore
  Lest tho thre manner men
  To muche sorwe yow brynge.
  _Consentientes et agentes pari poena punientur._           =

    "Patriarkes and prophetes,
  And prechours of Goddes wordes,
  Saven thorugh hir sermons
  Mannes soule fro helle.                                 8870
  Right so flatereris and fooles
  Arn the fendes disciples
  To entice men thorugh hir tales
  To synne and to harlotrie.
  Ac clerkes, that knowen holy writ,
  Sholde kenne lordes
  What David seith of swiche men,
  As the Sauter telleth.
  _Non habitabit in medio domus meæ,
      qui facit superbiam, et qui                         8880
      loquitur iniqua._

    "Sholde noon harlot have audience
  In halle nor in chambre,
  Ther wise men were,
  Witnesseth Goddes wordes,
  Ne no mys-proud man
  Amonges lordes ben allowed.

    "Ac flaterers and fooles
  Thorugh hir foule wordes
  Leden tho that loven hem                                8890
  To Luciferis feste,
  With _Turpiloquio_, a lady of sorwe,
  And Luciferis fithele."
  Thus Haukyn the actif man
  Hadde y-soiled his cote,
  Til Conscience acouped hym therof
  In a curteis manere,
  Why he ne hadde whasshen it,
  Or wiped it with a brusshe.                             8899

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


[1] See the "Apocalypsis Goliæ" and other pieces in the poems of Walter
Mapes; the Order of Fair Ease in the Political Songs, and the Poems of
Rutebeuf; and, in English, the remarkable "Poem on the Evil Times of Edward
II." in the appendix to the Political Songs. The Poem entitled the Order of
Fair Ease bears some resemblance to the _Abbaye de Theleme_ of Rabelais.

[2] This sentiment was perpetuated in a numerous class of ballads, in which
the monarch is represented as thrown incognito among the lower classes, as
listening to their expressions of loyalty and to the tale of their
sufferings. See the "Tale of King Edward and the Shepherd" in Hartshorne's
_Ancient Metrical Tales_; "The King and the Barker," in Ritson's _Pieces of
Ancient Popular Poetry_; "The King and the Miller," and "King Edward IV.
and the Tanner of Tamworth," in _Percy's Reliques_; &c. The earliest known
form of this tale is the story of "Henry II. and the Cistercian Abbot,"
printed from Giraldus Cambrensis in the _Reliquiæ Antiquiæ_, vol. ii. p.

[3] It was at least a tradition early in the sixteenth century (for we have
no means now of ascertaining whether there were any substantial grounds for
the statement), that the author was named Robert Longlande (or Langlande),
that he was born at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, and that (after
receiving his education at Oxford) he became a monk of Malvern. I do not
think, with Tyrwhitt and Price, that the name _Wil_, given in the poem to
the dreamer, necessarily shows that the writer's name was _William_; and
still less that the mention of "Kytte my wif" and "Calote my doghter" (p.
395 of the present volume), and of the dreamer's having resided at
Cornhill, refer to the family and residence of the author of the poem. If
he were a monk (as appears probable by his intimate acquaintance with the
Scriptures and the Fathers), he would not be married. Sir Frederick Madden
discovered a very important entry in a hand of the fifteenth century on the
fly-leaf of a manuscript of Piers Ploughman in the library of Trinity
College, Dublin, to the following effect--"Memorandum, quod Stacy de
Rokayle, pater Willielmi de Langlond, qui Stacius fuit generosus, et
morabatur in Schiptone under Whicwode, tenens domini Le Spenser in comitatu
Oxon., _qui prædictus Willielmus fecit librum qui vocatur Perys
Ploughman_."--It would perhaps be not impossible to trace the name and
history of this Stacy de Rokayle; but till that be done, I do not think
this memorandum ought to be considered as overthrowing the old tradition
relating to Robert Longlande. It may be mentioned as a remarkable specimen
of the patriotism of David Buchanan, that he lays claim to the author of
Piers Ploughman as a Scotchman:--"Robertus Langland, natione Scotus,
professione sacerdos, vir ex obscuris ortus parentibus, pius admodum et
ingeniosus et zelo divinæ gloriæ plenus; inter monachos Benedictinos
educatus in civitate Aberdonensi, vir æque erat in omni humaniore
literatura insigniter doctus, et in medicina admodum clarus, pium opus
sermone vulgare scripsit cui imposuit, || Visionem Petri Aratoris, lib. 1.
|| Pro conjugio sacerdotum. lib. 1. || Claruit anno Christi Redemptoria,
1369. Regnante Davide Secundo in Scotia."--Dav. Buchanan, _de Scriptoribus
Scotis. MS. Bibl. Univ. Edin._

[4] We may mention another historical allusion in Piers Ploughman, which
seems to involve a chronological difficulty; the dry April in the mayoralty
of John Chichester, 1. 8567. It appears clear that this is an allusion to a
remarkable drought in the year 1351, which answers precisely to a
calculation of the date given in the text, in which all the manuscripts
that I have consulted agree. But the only year in which Chichester is said
to have been mayor was 1368-9 according to some, or 1369-70 according to
others. Stowe (as quoted in the note on this passage) has altered the text
of Piers Ploughman to suit the year in which Chichester is known to have
been mayor: yet there can be little doubt (even from the allusion to the
treaty of Bretigny) that the poem itself was composed before that date, and
therefore the same or another Chichester had probably been mayor before.

[5] Political Songs, p. 240.

[6] This terrible calamity was said by the astrologers to have been brought
about by an extraordinary conjunction of Saturn with the other planets,
which happened scarcely once in a thousand years. An astrologer and
physician, who witnessed its effects, Symon de Covino, has left a Latin
poem on the subject under the title _De Judicio Solis in Conviviis
Saturni_, in which he describes Saturn as indulging his malevolence towards
the human race by obtaining a judgment against men for their sins. This
opinion is alluded to in Piers Ploughman, l. 4453,

 "And so seide Saturne,
  And sente yow to warne."

The influence of this planet was represented by astrologers as being
peculiarly noxious, as is expressed in the following old distich:--

 "Jupiter atque Venus boni, Saturnusque malignus,
  Sol et Mercurius cum Luna sunt mediocres."


 "Qui male pastus erat fragili virtute ciborum,
  Labitur exiguo percussus flamine cladis:
  Indeque Saturni vulgus, pauperrima turba,
  Grata morte cadunt, quia vivere talibus est mors.
  Post quos lunares pereunt et mercuriales.
  Et sic debilior succumbit in ordine primo:
  Post alii tandem pestem secuntur eamdem.
  Sed dea principibus et nobilibus, generosis,
  Militibus, seu judicibus fera Parca pepercit.
  Raro cadunt tales, quia talibus est data vita
  Dulcis in hoc mundo, quam gloria laudat inanis."
                 _Symon de Covino_, in the _Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des
                               Chartes_, tom. ii. p 236.

[8] We have a very remarkable proof of the popularity of Piers Ploughman
with the lower orders (among whom probably parts of it were repeated by
memory), and of its influence on the insurrections of the peasantry in the
reign of Richard II., in the seditious letter of John Ball to the commons
of Essex, preserved by Thomas Walsingham (_Hist. Angl._ p. 275). I am not
sure if "John _Schep_" may not contain an allusion to the opening of the
poem; but the second passage, here printed in Italics, refers evidently to
Passus VI. and VII., and the third is an allusion to the characters of
Do-well and Do-best.

"John _Schep_ sometime Seint Mary priest of Yorke, and now of Colchester,
graeteth well John Namelesse, and John the Miller, and John Carter, and
biddeth them that they beware of guyle in borough, and stand together in
Gods name, and biddeth _Piers Plowman goe to his werke_, and chastise well
Hob the robber, and take with you John Trewman, and all his fellows, and no
moe. John the Miller hath y-ground, smal, small, small. The kings sonne of
heaven shal pay for all. Beware or ye be woe, know your frende fro your
foe. Have ynough, and say hoe: _And do well and better_, and flee sinne,
and seeke peace and holde you therin, and so biddeth John Trewman and all
his fellowes."

[9] The mention of Wycliffe and of Walter Brute and other circumstances,
fix the date of Piers Ploughman's Creed with tolerable certainty in the
latter years of the reign of Richard II. It was probably written very soon
after the year 1393, the date of the persecution of Walter Brute at
Hereford; and from the particular allusion to that person we may perhaps
suppose that like the Vision it was written on the Borders of Wales.

[10] Different circumstances connected with this poem (which also appears
to have been proscribed, for we have no early manuscript of it) lead me to
suppose that it was written in the reign of Henry IV., when the _burning_
of heretics came into fashion, which is alluded to in the following

 "Were Christ on earth here, eftsoone
  These would damne him to die:
  All his hestes they han for-done,
  And saine his sawes ben heresie:
  And ayenst his commaundements they crie,
  And _damne all his to be brende_;
  For it liketh not hem such losengerie,
  God almighty hem amend!"

In another passage, the writer of this poem alludes to the Creed of Piers
Ploughman as though he were the author of it, and as a piece then known to

 "And all such other counterfaitours,
  Chanons, canons, and such disguised,
  Been Gods enemies and traitours,
  His true religion han foule despised.
  Of _freres_ I have told before,
  In a _making of a Crede_;
  And yet I could tell worse and more,
  But men would werien it to rede."

Perhaps, however, the writer only claims the authorship of the Creed in his
allegorical character, as the representative of that class of satirical
writers who were then attacking the monastic orders.

[11] We may enumerate the following as specimens of such works published in
the sixteenth century. Several similar publications appeared in the century

"Pyers Plowmans Exortation vnto the lordes, knights, and burgoysses of the
parlyament house." 8vo. printed by Anthony Scholoker, in the reign of
Edward VI.

"Newes from the North, Otherwise called the Conference between Simon
Certain, and Pierce Plowman, faithfully collected and gathered by T. F.
Student." 4to. London, John Allde, 1579.

"The Plowmans complaint of sundry wicked livers, and especially of the bad
bringing vp of children; written in verse by R. B. printed for Hugh Corne,
1580." 8vo.

"A goodlye Dialogue and dysputacion between Pyers Ploweman and a Popish
Preest, c[=o]cernynge the Supper of the Lorde." 8vo, without date.

[12] Printed in the _Reliquiæ Antiquæ_, vol i. pp. 170-188. On the date of
this poem, see the _Biographia Britannica Literaria_ (by the editor of the
present work), Anglo-Saxon period, pp. 395, 396.

[13] Printed in the _Altdeutsche Blätter_ von Moriz Haupt und Heinrich
Hoffmann, vol. ii. pp. 99-120, and in the _Reliquiæ Antiquæ_, vol. i. pp.

[14] Discovered in a MS. at Worcester by Sir Thomas Phillipps, who
published a small edition of it, in folio.

[15] Edited by Sir Frederick Madden, for the Society of Antiquaries.

[16] Many instances of this will be found in my _Specimens of Lyric
Poetry_, composed in England in the reign of Edward the First (Percy
Society Publication).

[17] Such as _William and the Werwolf_, edited by Sir Frederick Madden; the
_Romance of Jerusalem_; that of _Alexander_; &c.

[18] MS. Harl. 2253. In this manuscript, and in several others which I have
seen the rhyming poems in short lines, whether in English, Latin, or
French, are arranged in this manner; and I have met with instances in which
part of a poem has been arranged in this way, and other parts of the same
poem have been arranged in short lines, to suit the scribe's convenience. I
have a strong impression of having met with an early English manuscript in
which a fragment of alliterative verse was written in short couplets.

[19] _Text I._ is from the edition now offered to the public: _Text II._
from that edited by Dr. Whitaker.

[20] The title of the second impression is, "The Vision of Pierce
Ploughman, nowe the seconde time imprinted by Roberte Crowley, dwellynge in
Elye rentes in Holburne. Whereunto are added certayne notes and cotations
in the mergyne gevynge light to the Reader, &c. Imprinted at London by
Roberte Crowley, dwellyng in Elye rentes in Holburne. The yere of our Lord
M.D.L. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum." 4to, 125 leaves.

[21] The title consists merely of the words "Pierce the Ploughman's Crede,"
upon a tablet in the midst of a wood-cut which had evidently been brought
from the continent. A fac-simile of the most important part of the cut is
given in Mr. Payne Collier's Bibliographical Catalogue of the Library of
Lord Francis Egerton, p. 235. The colophon, on a separate leaf, is
"Imprinted at London. By Reynold Wolfe. Anno Domini M.D.L.III." It consists
of 16 leaves in 4to.

[22] The title of this edition is, "The Vision of Pierce Plowman, newlye
imprynted after the authours olde copy, with a brefe summary of the
principall matters set before every part called Passus. Wherevnto is also
annexed the Crede of Pierce Plowman, neuer imprinted with the booke before.
¶ Imprynted at London, by Owen Rogers, dwellyng neare vnto great Saint
Bartelmewes gate, at the sygne of the spred Egle. ¶ The yere of our Lord
God, a thousand, fyve hundred, thre score and one. The xxi. daye of the
Moneth of Februarye. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum." 4to. This
edition is not foliated, or paged; and it is remarkable that it is as
frequently found without the Creed, as with it. This edition of the Creed
is also sometimes found separate.

[23] Whitaker's edition bears the following title,--"Visio Willielmi de
Petro Plouhman, Item Visiones ejusdem de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest. Or, The
Vision of William concerning Piers Plouhman, and The Visions of the same
concerning the Origin, Progress, and Perfection of Christian Life, &c. By
Thomas Dunham Whitaker, LL.D., &c." 4to. London. Murray, 1813.

[24] This manuscript was bought at Heber's sale for the British Museum,
where it is classed as Additional MS. No. 10,574.

       *       *       *       *       *

Corrections made to printed text

Page xxxiii, Text II: "Al the welthe of this worlde" corrected from "...

Page xxxix, foot: "undertake" corrected from "untertake".

Line 935: "fructum" corrected from "fructrum".

Line 3740: "myghtestow" corrected from "mgyhtestow".

Headings: Passus VIII "incipit Do-wel" corrected from "Primus de Do-wel".
Passus VIII "Primus de Do-wel" corrected from "Primus de Do-bet". Passus
VIII clearly concerns Do-wel (see the Introduction); Passus XVI is the true
"Primus de Do-bet".

Line 5058: "Who" corrected from "Whe".

Line 5384: "minuentur" corrected from "minuenter" (Ps. 33:11).

Line 6186: "mansede" corrected from "mausede" (noted as erratum in Volume

Line 6528: "vi rapiunt" corrected from "irapiunt" (noted as erratum in
Volume II).

Line 7624: "Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini" corrected from "Polite
judicare, et not judicabimini" (Luke 6:37).

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