Imagens das páginas
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His othre brethere on and on
His other brethren one by one
Woren ybiried at ebron,
Were buried at Hebron,
And here endade to ful in wis
And here fully ended in sooth
The boc the is hoten Genesis
The book that is called Genesis,
The moyses, thurg godes red,
That Moses, by the counsel of God,
Wrot for lefful soules ned
Wrought for the need of faithful souls.
God schilde his soule fro helle bale
God shield his soul from bale of hell
The mad it thus on engel tale,
Who made it thus in English speech,
And he that thise lettres wrot
And he that wrote these letters
God him helpe weli mot
May God effectually help him,
And berge is soule fro sorge and grot
And protect his soul from sorrow and weeping
Of helle pine, cold and hot!
Of hell pains, cold and hot !
And alle men the it heren wiless
And all men that will to hear it
God leve hem in his blisse spilen
God give them to have pleasure in His bliss
Among engeles and seli men
Among angels and blessed men
Withuten ende in reste ben!
To be in rest without end !
And luue and pais us bitwen,
And love and peace be us between,
And God so graunte. Amen, amen!

Accordingly the poem first illustrates with doctrine and anecdote the Ten Commandments, and the sins against them; then the Seven Deadly SinsPride, Anger, Envy, Sloth, Covetousness, Gluttony, and Lechery—with stories about each; then in like manner the sin of sacrilege. Then follow rhymes and stories on the Seven Sacraments-Baptism, Confirmation, Sacrament of the Altar, Penance, Holy Orders, Marriage, Extreme Unction. Then come illustrations of the twelve requisites and the twelve graces of thrift. Among sins against the first Commandment, Robert of Brunne reckoned many of the superstitions of the people, which put some kind of charm in the place of quiet trust in God.


We now pass out of the thirteenth century with only a reminder that in the year 1300 Dante was in mid-life-thirty-five years old—and that it is the date of the action of his “Divine Comedy.” Petrarch was born in 1304, and Boccaccio in 1313. Not many years later there were born in England, Chaucer, Gower, Langland, and Wiclif.

Robert Mannyng, who was born at Bourn, in Lincolnshire, and is also known, therefore, as Robert of Brunne, was a canon of the Gilbertine order, in which devout persons of both sexes lived together. He turned into English rhyme, for the instruction of the people, a Chronicle of England that had been written by an Englishman, Peter Langtoft. It had been written in French verse for the few; and Robert turned also into English verse a religious book written in French verse by another Englishman, William of Waddington (a Yorkshire town near Clitheroe), and called the “ Manuel des Péchés." The original poem in French has been ascribed also to Grosseteste. Robert of Brunne called his translation “ The Handlynge Synne ;" for he said

[If] aný man gave thee meed For to raise the devil3 indeed For to tell or for to wrey 4 Thingé that was done away; If thou have do any of this Thou hast sinned and do amiss, And thou art worthy to be shent 5 Through this each 6 commandément. If thou in sword or in basín Any child mad'st look therein, Or in thumb, or in crystal, Witchécraft men clepen 7 it all; Believe not in the pie's chattering, It is no truth but false believing ; Many believen in the pie When she cometh low or high Chattering, and hath no rest, Then, say they, we shall have geste; Many are trowen on their wiles And many times the pie them guiles. Also is meeting in the morrow 10 When thou shalt go to buy or to borrow;

i The “Handlyng Synne" and the “Manuel des Péchés," carefully edited by Frederick J. Furnivall, M.A., were first printed in a volume published by the Roxburghe Club in 1862.

2 Trotevale, a trifling thing.

3 Devil. Pronounced as one syllable, “de'il." So "over" is reud "o'er," and "evil" has become will."

- Wrey and urie, bewray, discover. First-English “wrégan." 5 Shent, blamed, shamed. First-English “scændan," to shame. 6 This each ("alc"), this same. 7 Clepen, call. First-English “ clypian." 8 Hare geste, hear news. The French original is

“Si il oient la pie iangler

Quident sanz dute noueles auer." The English saying is, “When the pie chatters we shall are strangers."

9 Trowen, to trust, believe. First-English "treowian." 10 Morrow (“morwe"), morning.

“In Frenshé ther a clerk hyt sees He clepyth it ‘Manuel de Pecches.' • Manuel' ys Handlyng with honde; Pecches ys synne, y understonde : These twey wurdys that beyn atwynne, Do hem togedyr ys ` Handlyng Synne.'”



If then thy errand speed ne set
Then wilt thou curse him that thou met.
It is the ticement of the devil
To curse them that thought thee no evil.
Of hansel I can no skill also
It is nought to believe thereto,
Methinketh it is false every dele, 2
I believe it not, ne ne'er shall wele.
For many have glad hansel at the morrow
And to them ere even com'th mochel sorrow,
And many one have in the day great noy 3
And yet ere even com'th to them mochel joy.
So may’st thou wit, if thou good can,
That hansel is no belief to man.
Believe not much in no dreams,
For many be naught but glittering gleams,
These clerks say that is vanity.

This oldé man upon a day
Plained him that he coldé lay:-
“Son,” he said, “ for Goddés love
Wrie' me with some clothe above."
The son that was the husband
To whom was given all the land,
Clepéd his son, and bade him take
A sack, of those that he did make,
And bade him turn it tweyfold
And lay it on his father 10 for cold.
The child, as he bade him do,
Took a sack and carve 't in two.
His father spaké to him yorn,"
“See! Why hast thou the sack shorn".
The child answered him in haste,
It was through the Holy Ghast, 12 —
“ This deed have I done for thee.
Good example giv'st thou me
How I shall serve thee in thy eld,
When thou, thyself, may'st not weld.13
This half sack 14 shall lie thy father above:
And keep the tother part to thy behove.
Unkindly thou teachest me the good:
Of unkind cometh unkind blood."
This example were good to con,
Both to the father and eke to the son.
God is not payéd,ló here we find
That the son to the father is not kind.


Such sensible counsel as this comes under the head of turning aside from God by making to oneself idols of the imagination, and putting trust in them. I add two of Robert of Brunne's illustrative tales. This is in illustration of the fourth Commandment :


Among warnings against the seven sins, under the head of Covetousness comes, in Robert of Brunne's “Handlyng Synne"


Saint John the Almoner 16 Saith Piers was an okerer, 17

THE FOND FATHER. Of a man that some time was I shall you tell a little pas.* Of his son he was jealous 6 And gave him all his land and house, And all his catel 6 in town and field That he should keep him well in his eld. This young man wax fast and was jolife, His counsel was to take a wife ; He wedded one and brought her home With all the mirth that thereto come: He baddé her first loud and still To serve his father well at his 7 will. Soon afterward, this yongé man His heart, his thoughté, change began; Tendrer he was of wife and child Than to his father meek or mild. Of one day he thoughté five, Long him thought his father alive ; And every day, both the tone and the tother, Servéd him well worse than other. I trow this man, when he gan moan For thought that he gave so much his sone, This oldé man, was brought so low That he lay full cold beside a wow.8


1 I can no skill, I know no reason ; for the belief in luck that comes with the first coin taken as hansel. A hansel is that which is given into the hand, from “ hand” and First-English “syllan,” to give. Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood says it does not mean the coin given, but the hand itself given in striking a bargain. This is the root of the name of the Hanse Towns, a confederation bound by agreement for common security of trade.

2 Dele, part; from “ dæ'lan," to divide, deal out. 3 Noy, hurt. French “ nuire," Latin“ nocere."

Pas, a setting forth; from "pandere," to spread out, as when Æneas “ordine singula pandit." Each division of a long poem, as a spreading forth of a distinct section, was sometimes called a “ Passus."

5 Jealous. The French text bas “geluz.” The word is of the root of " zeal,” and used here in the same sense as in the phrase “ jaloux de lui plaire," anxious to please him.

6 Calel, possessions, chattels. 7 At his, pronounced “at's." So line 6, in his, " in's." & Wow, wall. The spelling in the original is “loghe" and "woghe.”

First-English “wah.” In Piers Plowman, Mede promises that she shall

“ Yowre cloystre do maken,

Wowos do whiten, and windowes glasen." 9 Wrie, cover, clothe. First-English “wrigan," to cover or clotne. Whence the phrase “ to rig out."

10 Father used to be pronounced rapidly, fa'r; so also “other," o'r, whence " or."

11 Yorn, eagerly, anxiously. First-English “georn," desirous, eager, anxious.

12 Ghast (First-English “gást"), spirit.
13 Weld, have power, rule. First-English "wealdan."

14 The verse often seems irregular where it is not so. We have to remember the old ways of contraction and running together of iden. tical letters, as here :

“ This half sack shöllie thy fa'r above:

And keep the to'r part-t-thy behove." 15 Payed, “pacatus," pleased.

16 St. John the Almoner, to whom this story is ascribed, was a famous Patriarch of Alexandria. He was born at Amathonte in the island of Cyprus, and was made Patriarch A.D. 610 against his will, after the death of his wife and children. The zeal of his charity and love for the poor obtained for him the title of “The Almoner." Though his revenues were very great he lived poorly, and slept on a small pallet under a wretched blanket. A rich Alexandrian presented him with a good one. The saint slept under it one night, reproached himself for luxury, and sold it the next day. The rich man bought it, and presented it again; the saint sold it again. It was bought and given again, and sold again; the saint saying good-humouredly to his friend, “We shall see which of us first tires." His exertions for the poor during the famine of A.D. 615 and the plague that followed were last famous incidents of the Almoner's life. He died at his birth. place in the year 616.

17 Okerer, usurer; from First-English "eácan," to eke or increase.

Greaté marvel had they all
That such a chance might him befal.




And was swithécovetous
And a niguna and avarous,
And gathered pence unto store
As okcrers doen aywhore.?
Befel it sn upon a day
That pooré men sat in the way
And spread their hatrent on their barm 5
Against the sunné that was warm,
And reckoned the custom-house each one
At which they had good, and at which none;
Where they had good they praised well,
And where they had nought never a dele.
As they spake of many what
Comé Piers forth in that gat.?
Then said each one that sat and stood,
“ Here com'th Piers, that ne'er did good;"
Each one said other janglánds
They took ne'er good at Piers' hand;
Ne none poor man ne'er shall have,
Coud he never so well crave.
One of them began to say,
“A wager dare I with you lay
That I shall have some good of him,
Be he ne'er so gryll' ne grim."
To that wager they granted all,
To give him a gift if so might befal.
This man up stert and took the gate
Till he came to Piers' gate.
As he stood still and bode the qued 10
One come with an ass charged with bread :
That eaché breadé Piers had bought,
And to his house should it be brought.
This saw Piers come therewithal.
The pooré thought, “ Now ask I shall :" —
“ I ask thee some good, for charity,
Piers, if thy willé be!"
Piers stood and looked on him,
Felounly, with eyes grim.
He stooped down to seek a stone
But, as hap was, then found he none.
For the stone he took a loaf
And at the pooré man it drove.
The poor man hent it up belivell
And was thereof full ferly 12 blithe.
To his fellows fast he ran
With the loaf, this pooré man,
“Lo,” he saidé, “ what I have!
Of Piers' gift, so God me save!”--
Nay, they sworé by their thrift,
Piers gave never such a gift.
He said, “ Ye shall well understand
That I it had at Piers' hand;
That dare I swear on the halidom,
Here before you each one."

The thirdé day, thus writ it is,
Piers fell in a great sickness;
And as he lay in his bed
Him thoughté well that he was led
With one that after him was sent
To come unto his Judgement.
Before the Judgé was he brought,
To yield account how he had wrought.
Piers stood full sore adrade
And was abashéd as maid :
He saw a fiend on the to party 13
Bewraying 14 him full felonly;
All it was shewed him before
How he had lived since he was bore;
And namely 15 every wicked deed
Sin first he coudé himself lead,
Why he them did and for what chesun, 16
Of all behoveth him yield a reason.
On the tother party stood men full bright
That would have saved him at their might,
But they mighté no good find
That might him save or unbind.
The fair men said, “ What is to rede, 17
Of him find we no good deed
That God is payed of-but of a loaf
The which Piers at the poor man drove.
Yet gave he it with no good will
But cast it after him with ill;
For Goddés love he gave it not
Ne for almsdeed he it had thought:
Nathéless the pooré man
Had the loaf of Piers than." 18
The fiend had laid in balance
His wicked deeds and his mischance:
They laid the loaf against his deeds-
That had nought else, they moté needs-
The holy man telleth us and says
That the loaf made even peise. 19
Then said these faire men to Piers,
" If thou be wisé, now thou leres 20
How this loaf thee helpeth at need
To till 21 thy soul with almés deed."


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i Swithé, greatly. First-English "gwith,” strong, great.
2 Nigun, niggard.
3 Aywhore, everywhere. First-English “æghwar."
* Hatren, clothes. First-English "hæter,” clothing.
6 Barm. (First-English “bearm "), lap.
6 Never a dele, never a bit.
: Gat, road. Icelandic “gata.”
$ Jangland, prating, chattering.
9 Gryl, stern, cruel, hideous, causing fear.

10 Bode the qued, waited for the shrewish or ill-disposed person. There was First-English “cwead," filth.

il Hent it up belire, snatched it up quickly. First-English “ hentan," to pursue, seize.

12 Ferly, wonderfully.

13 On the to party, on the one side. In line 77 are the angels * the tother party."

14 Beuraying, accusing. 15 Namely, especially.

16 Chesun, motive. Norman-French 17 Rede, counsel. First-English “ræ'a.”

18 Than, then. 19 Peise, weight, balance. French "peser," to weigh. 20 Thou leres, you learn, take the lesson home.

21 Till, prop up. The root “ til” meaning fit or good in Teutoni languages, the verb from it means to make fit or good. To till the soil is to make it fit or good for fruit-bearing. To till the soul is to make it fit to stand in the day of trial. The same root yields a vincial use of the word “ till" as “ to prop up,” make fit to stand; and that is the sense here.

22 Were, uncertainty, confusion.
23 Acouped, inculpated, accused.

24 Fele, many.

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And said it was an evil sign
And that himself was not dignes
For to be in his prayer,
Therefore nold 6 he the kirtle wear.
When he hadde full long grete
And a party began thereof lete,?
For commonly after weep
Falle men soone on sleep,-
As Piers lay in his sleeping
Him thought a fairé swevening.'
Him thought he was in heaven light,
And of God he had a sight,
Sitting in his kirtle clad
That the poor man of him had,
And spake to him full mildély :

From that time then wex Piers
A man of so fairé maneres
That no man might in him find
Bui to the poor both meek and kind,
A milder man ne might not be,
Ne to the poor more of alms free,
And rueful of heart also he was
That mayst thou here learn in this pas.



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Lost Souls. From a Fresco of the Day of Judgment, discovered in 1804 over the great arch separating nave and chancel in the Chapel of Holy Crose.

Stratford-on-Avon. Engraved in Thomas Sharp's “ Coventry Musteries."


Piers met upon a day A poor man by the way As naked as he was bore That in the sea had allé lore. He came to Piers where he stood And asked him some of his good, Somewhat of his clothing For the love of Heaven's king. Piers was of rueful heart, He took his kirtle off, as smart, And did it on the man above And bade him wear it for his love. The man it took and was full blithe ; He yede 2 and soldé it as swithe.3 Piers stood and did behold How the man the kirtle sold, And was therewith ferly wroth, That he sold so soon his clothe; He might no longer for sorrow stand, But yede home full sore greetánd,

“ Why weepest thou and art sorrý ?
Lo, Piers,” he said, “this is thy clothe.
For he sold it were thou wroth?

Know it well, if that thou can,-
For me thou gave it the poor man.
That thou gave him in charity
Everydeal thou gave it me.”
Piers of sleepé out abraid 10
And thought great wonder and sethen 11 said,
“ Blessed be allé pooré men,
For God Almighty loveth them!
And well is them that poor are here,
They are with God both lief and dear! 170
And I shall fonde 12 both night and day
To be poor, if that I may."


of 5 Digne, worthy.

6 Nold, would not. 7 Began in some degree to slacken or cease from it. 8 For, because. 9 Suevening (First-English "swefen"), dream.

10 Out abraid, started out. So after Pharaoh's dream in the metrical story of Genesis and Exodus, “ The king abraid and woc in thogt." Icelandic “bregtha," to move swiftly. 11 Sethen, afterwards.

2 Fonde, seek. First-English "fandian," to try to find.

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Hastily he took his catél
Ana gave it to poor men each deal.
Piers called to him his clerk,
That was his notary and bade him hark,
“I shall thee show a privity,
A thing that thou shalt do to me,
i will that thou no man it tell.
My body I takel thee here to sell
To some man as in bondage,
To live in povert and in serváge.
But a thou do this, I will be wroth,
And thou and thine shall be me loth.3
If thou do it, I shall thee give
Ten pound of gold, well with to live.
Those ten pound I take thee here,
And me to sell in bond manere.
I ne recké unto whom,
But only he have the Christendom.
The ransom thou shalt for me take,
Therefore thou shalt sickerness make 4
For to give it blithely and well
To pooré men every deal,
And withhold thereof no thing
The mountenance of a farthing."
His clerk was woe to do that deed,
But only for menace and for dread,
For dread Piers made him it do,
And did him plight his troth thereto.
When his clerk had made his oath
Piers did on him a foul cloth,
Unto a churché both they yedes
For to fulfil his will indeed.

The Emperor sent his messengers
All about for to seek Piers,
But they ne mighté never hear
Of rich Piers the tollere,'*
In what steadé he was nome 15
Nor whitherward he was become;
Nor the clerk would tell to none
Whitherward that Piers was gone.




Now is Piers becomé bryche 16
That ere was both stout and rich,
All that ever any man him do bade
Piers did it with hearté glad,
He wex 17 so mild and so meek
A milder man thurt 18 no man seek,
For he meeked himself o'er skill 19
Pots and dishes for to swill;
To great penánce he gan him take,
And muché for to fast and wake;
And much he loved tholmodness 20
To rich, to poor, to more, to less.
Of allé men he would have dout, 21
And to their bidding meekly lout ; 22
Would they bid him sit or stand
Ever he wouldé be bowánd,
And, for he bare him so meek and soft,
Shrewés misdid him 23 full oft
And held him folted or wood,24
For he was so mild of mood.
And they that were his feláws
Missaid him most in theiré saws;
And all he suffered their upbraid
And never naught against them said.




When that they to the churché come,
“ Lord," thoughté the clerk, “now whom
Might I find this eaché sele
To whom I might sell Piers well."
The clerk lookéd everywhere
And at the lasté he knew where.
A rich man that ere had be
Special knowledge ever betwe,
But through mischance at a cas
All his good y-loré was,
“ Yolë,” thus that man hight,
And knew the clerk well by sight.
They spake of old acquaintance
And Yolë told him of his chance.
“Yea," said the clerk, “I rede7 thou buy
A man to do thy marchaundye,
That thou mayst hold in serváge
To restore well thy damage."
Then said Yolë, “In such chaffare
Would I fain my silver ware." 8
The clerke said, “Lo! one here
A true man and a debonere
That will serve thee to payo
Peynible all that he may.

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1 Take (in the sense of betake), confide, entrust. 2 But, unless.

3 Loth, hateful. * Sickerness make, give your assurance.

5 Yede, went. 6 Sele, time, season. First-English “se'l,” good opportunity. 7 Rede, advise.

8 Ware, lay out in bargaining. From First-English “wær," a cau. tion, agreement, warranty.

9 To pay, to your satisfaction. - Debonere (French “ débonnaire"), of good manners, easy, kind.

10 Peynible (French “ pénible"), taking pains.

11 Frame, profit, advantage. First-English “freme," profit, gain, 12 Foison, abundance.

18 Plenerly, fully. 14 Tollere, farmer of public tolls. The “publican" of the New Testament.

15 To what place he had taken himself. 16 Bryche, a servant. First-English “brýce," useful, serviceable. 17 Wex, grew. First-English “weaxan." 18 Thurt, needed. First-English "theartian," to need. 19 Skill, knowledge.

20 Tholmodness, long-suffering. First-English "tholian," to endure; "mod," mood or temper.

21 Dout, fear. French "douter." 22 Lout, bow. First-English "hlútan." 23 Mixdid him, misbehaved to him. 24 Folted or wood, foolish or mad.

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