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Some put themselves to the plough, took little rest,
I found there Friars, all the four orders,
the solemn voices that he heard through all the noise and babble of the world.
Langland's poem rose out of almost his whole life as a man. He began it about the year 1362, when he was not older than thirty. He was thoroughly revising it about the year 1377, when his age was forty-five, and he continued to revise and enlarge it oluring the next twenty years. The numerous MSS. which attest the great popularity of the poem represent it in three forms, corresponding to these stages of its development—first in eleven passus, or divisions ; then in twenty ; then in twenty-three. It was from a MS. of the second form that Robert Crowley, dwelling in Ely Rents in Holborn (he was Vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate), first printed “ The Vision of Piers Plowman,” in 1550, in a quarto volume of 250 pages. It was published to assist, by its true, voice, the great effort made towards reformation in the reign of Edward VI., and so heartily welcomed that there were three editions of the poem at this date. It was again printed by Reginald Wolfe in 1553; and, after the interval of Mary's reign, again by Owen Rogers in 156). But Langland's work was known to very few when, in 1813, Dr. Thomas Dunham Whitaker printed an edition of it from a MS. of the third and latest type. It was edited again by Mr. Thomas Wright, in 1842 and 1856, the latter edition being a most convenient and accessible one, forming two volumes of a “ Library of Old English Authors.” 1 Mr. Wright's edition was from a MS. giving a form of the poem similar to that published by Robert Crowley; and in 1867, 1869, and 1873, each of the three forms of the MSS. of “Piers Plowman” was represented, with collation of all the best of the three dozen MS. texts, in editions prepared by the Rev. W. W. Skeat, for the Early-English Text Society.
Wandering over Malvern Hills on a May morning, William became weary. He lay down and slept upon the grass. Then he saw in a dream—first of the series of dreams that form his Vision—"all the wealth of this world, and the woe both.” Between the sunrise, where rose in the east the Tower of Truth, and the sunset, where Death dwelt in a deep
There preached a Pardoner, as he a Priest were,
“ A fair field full of folk found I there between,
All manner of men, the mean and the rich, Working and wandering as the world asketh."
3 Our Lady of Walsingham. The shrine of the Virgin Mary in the monastery of the Augustinian Canons at Walsingham, in Norfolk (twenty-seven miles N.W. of Norwich), attracted very many pilgrims. Norfolk people said that the Milky-way pointed to it, and was Wal. singham-way. The monastery was founded in the eleventh century by Geoffrey de Taverche. Henry VIII. in the second year of his reign walked barefoot from the village of Barsham to the shrine at Walsingham, but afterwards he caused the image of Our Lady to be burnt at Chelsea. The ruins are now a lofty arch, sixty feet hixh, some cloister and another arch, a stone bath, and the two Wishing Wells. Any pilgrim allowed to drink of their water had his wish.
* Friars, all the four orders. Grey Friars (Franciscans or Minorites) : Black Friars (Dominieans); White Friars (Carmelites); Austin Friars (Augustines). The foundation of the Grey and Black Frans has been described (see pages 52, 53). The Carmelites claimed Elijah for their founder. They were established in the twelfth century by Berthold, a Calabrian, who went to the Holy Land and formet a hermit community on Mount Carmel, the traditional abode of Elijah Pressed out by the Saracens in 1238, they spread over Europe, Adi had in Langland's time about forty houses in England and Wie The Austin Friars followed the Rule of St. Augustine, prescribed by Pope Alexander IV. in 1256. 5 Wam, womb. First English “wamb," the belly. 6 Glosing, commenting on, interpreting. 7 Lieved, believed. First-English “lýfan," to allow.
& Bulls were so called from the seals attached. The round official seal of stamped lead attached to the document was called bulls from its roundness. This is one of a class of mimetic words said to renate in the roundness, or of the motion of the bubbles in a boilinum pot. Bull or ball, from the roundness of the bubble, Ballot, a little ball ; balloon, a great one. Ballare, to dance from the movement of boiling, whence ball, a dance; ballet, a little dance. So ballads vem probably named from the old custom of swaying to and fro m TITRE ways, accordant to the mood expressed by the reciter.
9 Blessed. Another MS. bas bonched, hammered at. Iceland “banga,” to hammer, whence the common English form * to kant. and a provincial form "to bunch," meaning to strike.
10 Brevet, letter of indulgence. A short official letter. Ou The “brievet," from Latin“ breve," like English and German "href* $0 also in Icelandic “bref" meant a letter and a written der or v el despatch, in which last sense (according to Cleas by and Tituse's : word first occurs in the negotiation between Norway and S. A.D. 1018.
11 Bleared, made dim. This is not the word bleared applied to
1 The "Library of Old English Authors,” published by J. R. Smith, Hoho Square, has already been referred to as containing in three of its five-shilling volumes Sir Thomas Malory's “History of King Arthur." It is a series of good handy editions of books of real worth,
Skeat'y work upon Langland's great poem is singularly thorough. He publishes, with a special introduction, each of its three forms separately, from collation of the MSS., with various reedings and reference to the MS. containing each. A fourth section i ikned to the General Introduction, Notes and Index. Besides his work on the whole poem, Mr. Skeat has contributed to the
Darmodon Press Series the first seven passus—“The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman, by William Langland, accord. ng to the verwion revised and enlarged by the author about A.D. 1.977," with Iutroduction, Notes, and Glossary, as an aid to the right wendy of Early Engligh in colleges and schools, and also as a most efficient guide to the reading of the whole poem by those to whom its English, without such help, would be obscure. Mr. Skeat's thorough study of the poem from all points of view makes him our chief authority in any question concerning it,
And raught with his ragéman rings and brooches.
“Though we had ykilléd the cat, yet should there come Thus ye giveth your gold gluttons to help.”
another To cratchen us and all our kind, though we creep under
benches, But, says the poet, though the bishop were a saint
For-thi • I counsel, for common profit, let the cat be, and worth both his ears, his seals should not be sent
And never be we so bold the bell him to shew. to deceive the people. Parsons and parish priests, in
For I heard my sire sayn, seven year past, this field full of folk that stood for the English
• There 6 the cat nis but a kitten the court is full ailing;' world, complained in Will's dream to the bishop
Witness of Holy Writ, who so can readthat their parishioners were poor since the pestilence
Væ terræ ubi puer est rex Salamon," time, and asked licence to live in London
“Woe to thee, 0 Land, when thy king is a child !” " And sing there for simony: silver is sweet.
(Ecclesiastes x. 16). There is here one of the Bishops and bachelors, both masters and doctors,
pathetic echoes of this cry which blended with the That have cure under Christ, and crowning in token, voice of England in our literature after young Ben charged with Holy-Church Charity to till,
Richard II. became king. Langland applied his That is leal love and life among learned and lewéd ;? fable of the belling of the cat to the power of They lien in London in Lentene and elles.
Edward III.'s son, John of Gaunt, the richest Some serven the King, and his silver tellen,
noble in England, the wielder of royal power in In the chequer and the chancelry, challenging his debts, the last years of his father's weakness, and one who Of wards and of wardmotes, waifs and strays.
was believed to be looking forward to possession Some aren as seneschals and serven other lords,
of the throne. Detested by the commonalty, he And ben in stead of stewards, and sitten and demen. was the cat whom the rats and mice desired to
bell. Langland's parable was a veiled suggestion Conscience accused such men, and the people heard, that no substantial gain was to be hoped. Though and the world was made worse by their covetousness. we might bell the cat, what of the kitten ? Could The Cardinals to whom St. Peter entrusted his power the misery of the land with John of Gaunt foremost to bind and to unbind were not the Cardinals at at court be less when it had a child for king and its court, who take that name and presume power in princes ate in the morning ? What his dream of the themselves to make a Pope; they were the four Cardi- | cat and the rats meant he said to his readers “divine nal Virtues. So Will, in his Vision, looked upon the | ye, for I ne dare." world till a King came into the field led by Knight The misery of the land! We have referred to the hood—“ the much might of the men made him to burning and ravage of our coast towns at the close reign." And then came Kind-wit, the knowledge of of Edward III.'s reign Langland has represented the natural man, and he made Clerks; and Conscience, country priests pleading that they could not draw Kind-wit, and Knighthood together agreed that the livings out of congregations wasted and impoverished Commons should support them. Kind-wit and the by plague. Later reference to these pestilences, as Commons contrived between them all the crafts, and well as to a memorable high wind, and to the treaty for chief profit of the people made a plough, whereby of Bretigny, fix the year 1362 as about the time when men may live through loyal labour while there Langland began to write his Vision. The first two remains life and land. Here Langland applies the of the great pestilences of the fourteenth century medieval fable of the rats and mice who wished to were suffered by England in the years 1318–49 bell the cat that they might know when to get out and 1360–61. The earlier of these, known as “the of his way; but when the bell was bought and Black Death” or “the Great Mortality," was, of all fastened to a collar, there was no rat of all the rout, plagues, the most desolating ever known in Europe. for all the realm of France, that durst have bound It was said that the plague entered Italy with a thick the bell about the cat's neck. Then stood forth a foul mist from the east. Unseasonable weather had wise little mouse, who said —
caused general failure of crops. In the spring of 1347, before the plague, bread was being distributed
to the poor in Italian cities ; 94,000 twelve-ounce red after crying-a word said to be formed from blear; but bleared loaves were given away daily from large public allied to blurred. See page 137, note 13 of the volume of this Library bakehouses erected in Florence alone. Famine precontaining “Shorter English Poems."
ceded pestilence; and of the famine many died. The i Raught with his rageman. Raught, reached, got to himself. FirstEnglish “ræ'can.”— Rageman. In the Chronicle of Lanercost (edited
“ Black Death" had raged on the northern shores of by Stevenson, page 261), we read that an instrument or charter of the Black Sea before it was brought thence to Consubjection and homage to the kings of England is called by the Scots stantinople. Thence it passed, in 1347, to Cyprus, ragman, because of the many seals hanging from it. “Unum instru.
Sicily, Marseilles, and some of the seaports of Italy. mentum sive cartam subjectionis et homagii faciendi regibus Angliæ . . . . a Scottis propter multa sigilla dependentia ragman voca It spread over the Mediterranean islands, and reached tur," That is the sense in which Langland uses the word. After. Avignon in January, 1348. Petrarch's Laura was wards in Wyntoun's Chronicle, Douglas and Dunbar, "ragman"
there among its victims. It spread through Italy and “ragment" mean a long piece of writing, a rhapsody, or an account. In course of time, it is said, “ragman's roll” became
and France, was in Florence by April, passed into “ rigmarole.'
Germany, entered England in August, but three · Lewed, the unlearned mass of the people. First-English "leóde,"
months then passed before it had reached London. people.
3 Tellen, count. First-English “tellan," * Demen, give judgment.
5 For-thi, therefore.
6 There, where.
In 1349 it was sweeping over northern Europe, but | drink, without excess. Though you desire much, it did not reach Russia till 1351. Those were not | Measure is medicine. All is not good for the spirit days of accurate statistics, and we may say nothing that the body asks, nor is the flesh fed by that in of the 23,840,000 said to have died by this plague which the soul delights. Believe not thy body, for in the East; but of Western towns, civilised enough the beguiling world speaks through it. Hear the to have some notion of the number of their inhabi- | soul's warning when the flesh leagues with the tiead tants, Venice said that there perished 100,000 of her people, or three-fourths of the whole population ; “Ah, ma dame, merci,” quoth I, “me liketh well suir Florence said she had lost 60,000; Avignon, 60,000;
words, Paris, 50,000; London, 100,000; Norwich, 51,100;
But the money of this mold that men so fast keepeth, Yarmouth, 7,052. In many places half the popula Tell ye me now to whom that treasure belongeth?" tion died; some little towns and villages lost all by
“Go to the Gospel,” quoth she, “and see what God i death and flight. Of the Franciscan Friars in Ger
When the people apposed him of a penny in the temple many there were said to have perished 124,434, and
And God asked of them what was the coin. in Italy 30,000. Merchants sought favour of God
Reddite Cæsari,' said God, 'that to Cæsar befalleth, by laying down their treasures at the altar; monks
Et quæ sunt Dei Deo, or else ye don ill.' shunned the gifts for the contagion that they brought,
For rightfully Reason should rule you all
And Kind-wit be Warden your wealth to keep, and closed their gates, and still had the vain riches
And tutor of your treasure and take it you at need, of this world thrown by despairing men over their
For husbandry and he holdeth together." convent walls. In the Hôtel Dieu at Paris, when five hundred were dying daily, pious women, Sisters
Then the dreamer asked what was meant by the deep of Charity, were about them with human ministra
dale and dark. That, he was told, tions and words of divine consolation. These nurses were perishing themselves daily of the disease from " That is the Castle of Care; whoso cometh therein which they would not flinch in the performance of May ban that he born was in body and in soul ; their duty; and as they fell at their posts there Therein woneth® a wight, that Wrong is his name, never was a want of other gentlewomen to press in
Father of Falsehood, found it first of all." and carry on their sacred work. The Black Death was followed in England by a murrain among cattle. It was he who urged Eve to do ill ; who was the It has been estimated by a modern writer that this
counsellor of Cain; who tricked Judas with the silver great pestilence destroyed a fourth part of the in of the Jews, and hung him afterwards upon an elder. habitants of Europe. The terror of this was fresh tree. He is the hinderer of love, and lieth always; he when pestilence, which broke out again at Avignon betrayeth soonest them who trust in earthly treasur, in 1360, was again scourging us in 1361. Of the to encumber men with covetousness. That is his second pestilence it was observed that the richer nature. The dreamer next wondered who she was classes suffered by it in larger proportion than before. that showed him such wise words of Holy Writ, and
We return to William's Vision of “ all the wealth | asked her name. She said, “I am Holv-Church; of this world and the woe both.” What means the thou oughtest to know me. I received thee at the mountain and the murky dale and the field full of first, and made thee a free man. Thou broughtest folk, he will go on to show. From the Castle on the me sureties to fulfil my bidding, to believe in me and hill came down to him a fair lady who called him by love me all thy lifetime.” Then he kneeled and asked his name,
grace of her, and sought her prayers for his amend
ment, and that she would teach him to believe on “ And said, “Will, sleepest thou? Scest thou this people
Christ. He sought to know of her no treasure but How busy they ben about the mase.?
that she would only tell him how to save his soul The most part of the people that passeth on this earth Have they worship in this world they willen no better,
“ « When all treasures ben tried,' qucth she, “Truth is the Of other heaven than here they holden no tale.' 3
best ; I was afcared of her face, though she fair were,
I do it on Deus Caritas' to deem the sooth, And said, “Merci, madame ;4 what may this be to mean?'
It is as dereworthy a druery 10 as dear God himself. • The tower upon toft,'s quoth she. Truth is therein,
For he that is true of his tongue and of his two hands And would that ye wrought as His word teacheth,
And doth the works therewith, and wilneth no man ill, For He is Father of Faith, and Former of All.
He is a god by the Gospel, aground and aloft, To be faithful to Him He gave you five wits
And like Our Lord also, by Saint Luke's words.!! For to worshipen Him therewith while ye liven here.'"
He bade the elements serve man, and yield all that man needed: three things only, clothing, and food, and
& Apposed him, put to him.
1 “ The Black Death in the Fourteenth Century." From the German of I. F. C. Hecker, M.D., Professor at Frederick William's University at Berlin. Translated by B. G, Babington, M.D. London, 1833. 2 Mase, bewilderment.
3 No tale, no account. * Merci, madame. Pardon me, madame.-Courteous introduction to the patting of a question.
5 Tojt, a green knoll, a site on a hill cleared for building.
7 “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto Grand the things that are God's." (Matthew xxii, 21.)
& Woneth, dwelleth. First-English " wunian," to dwell.
10 As dereworthy a druery, as precious an object of affection. Der worthy, First-English “deo-wurthe. Druery (Old French “ druere love.
11 It was told Jesus, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand with ri, desirins to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God as do it." (Luke viii, 20, 21.)
Clerkés that knowen, this should kennen it about,
Than Malkin of her maidenhood, whom no man desiretn. For Christian and Unchristian claimen it each one.'”.
For James the gentle judged in his books
That faith without fait 1+ is feebler than nought, Kings should rule for the maintenance of Truth, And dead as a door nail but if the deeds follow. and knights be as those whom David swore to serve
Fides sine operibus mortua est.15” Truth ever. The fair lady told the dreamer of the faithful angels and the pride that laid Lucifer lowest Many chaplains are chaste, but fail in charity. There of all, with whom they that work evil shall dwell are none harder and hungrier than men of Holyafter their death day. But all that have wrought Church, more hard and avaricious when advanced, well shall go eastward to abide ever in heaven, where and unkind to their kin and to all Christians. They Truth is God's throne.
eat up what is theirs for charity, and chide for more.
Encumbered with covetousness they cannot creep out “ * Lere? it these lewed men, for lettered it knoweth,
of it, so closely has avarice hasped them together. Than Truth and True Love is no treasure better.'
This is ill example to the unlearned people, • I have no kind knowing,' quoth I, “ye mote ken me better
“For these aren wordés written in the Evangile By what way it waxeth, and whether out of my meaning.' Date et dabitur vobis 16 (for I deal 17 you all), • Thou doted daff,' quoth she, dull aren thy wits.
And that is the lock of Love that unlooseth Grace, I lieve thou learnedst too lite3 Latin in thy youth.
That comforteth all Christians encumbered with sin. Heu mihi, quod sterilem duxi vitam juvenilem !
So Love is leech of life, and lysse 18 of all pain, It is a kind knowing that kenneth in thine heart
And the graft of grace, and graythest 19 way to Heaven. For to love they Lord liefest of all
Forthi I may say as I said, by sight of the text,
When all treasures ben tried, Truth is the best.
• Love it,' quoth that Lady, ‘let may 1 20 no longer And this I trow be Truth, whoso can teach thee better
To lere 21 thee what Love is. Now loke thee 22 Our Lord!'” Look thou suffer him to say, and so thou might learn. For Truth telleth that Love is triacle6 for sin
Then the dreamer knelt to the Lady, praying that And most sovereign salve for soul and for body.
she yet would teach him to know Falsehood from Love is the plant of peace and most precious of virtues,
Truth. “Look on thy left hand,” she said. “ Lo, For Heaven might not holden it, so heavy it seemed, where he standeth ; both Falseness and Favel Till it had of the earth eaten his fill.
(flattery) and fickle-tongued Liar, and many of their And when it had of this fold Alesh and blood taken
manners, both men and women.” I looked, says Will, Was never leaf upon lind7 lighter thereafter.'”
on my left hand as the Lady taught me, and saw
there as it were a woman richly clothed and crowned. Love led thenceforth the angels ; Love was mediator |
On all her five fingers were rings with red rubies between God and Man. God the Father made us,
and other precious stones. His heart was ravished by loved us, and suffered His Son to die meekly for our
her riches, and he asked her name. “That maiden,” misdeeds to amend us all. He willed no woe to
said Holy-Church,“ is Meed” (earthly reward), “who his persecutors, but mildly with mouth he besought
before kings and commons thwarts my teaching. Mercy to have pity on that people that pained him
In the Pope's palace she is privy as myself. Her to death.
father is Favel, who has a fickle tongue that never “ Forthi I redes you rich have pity on the poor,
spoke truth since he came to earth; and Meed is
mannered after him. I,” Holy-Church went on, Though ye be mighty to mote' be meek in your works;
“ought to be higher than she; my Father is the great The same measure that ye meteth, amiss or else, Ye shall be weighed herewith when ye wenden hence.
God and Ground of all Graces, One God, without Eadem mensura qua mensi fueritis, remecietur vobis.10
beginning, and I his good daughter. The man who Though ye be true of your tongue, and truly win,
loveth me and followeth my will shall have grace and And be as chaste as a child that neither chides nor fighteth,
a good end ; but he who loves Meed, I dare pledge my But if ye love loyally and lend 1? the poor
life, shall lose for her love a lap full of charity. That Of such good as God sent a goodly part,
most helps men to heaven; Meed most hinders: I rest Ye have no more merit in mass ne in hours 13
upon David's words, • Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? He that walketh uprightly,' &c., nor
taketh reward against the innocent. To-morrow is 1 Kennen it, make it known.
• Lero, teach.
this Meed to be married to the wretch Falseness, kin 3 Lite, little. First-English "lyt," from which "lytel” was formed by a diminutive suffix.
to the Fiend; Favel's tongue has enchanted her, and * Alas for me, that I have led a barren life in my youth. 5 It is better to die than to live ill.
6 Triacle, Theriaca, a very famous ancient antidote to poison. See 14 Fait, something done.
16 “Give, and it shall be given unto you." (Luke vi. 38.) 7 Lind, linden or lime-tree, applied also generally to a tree.
17 Deal, distribute. * Rede, counsel.
18 Lysse, dismissal. First-English “liss,” forgiveness, dismissal, 9 Mighty to mote, powerful when you cite poorer men, or plead grace, favour, comfort. against them in the law courts.
19 Graythest, straightest. Icelandic “greitha," to make ready, 10 “ With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you | speed, further. “Greithit Drottins götur," make straight the way of again." (Matthew vii. 2; Luke vi. 38.)
the Lord” (Luke iii. 4). 11 But if, unless. 12 Lend, give.
20 Let may I, I may delay. 13 Hours, religious services for particular times of the day.
21 Lere, teach.
* Loke thee, guard thee.
it is Liar's work that the Lady is thus wedded. Wait now, and thou wilt see whom it pleases that Meed should be thus married. Know, if thou canst, these lovers of lordships, and avoid them all. Leave them alone till Loyalty be judge, and have power to punish them, then put thy reason forth.” So the Lady left Will to his study of the life that was now crowding upon his dream, commending him to Christ before she left, and bidding him never burden his conscience for desire of Meed. He was left sleeping, and saw in his dream how Meed was to be married, and saw the rich folk, her relations, that were bidden to the bridal-as sisours and summoners," sheriffs and their clerks, beadles and bailiffs and brokers of ware, victuallers, advocates of the Arches, a rout past reckoning. But Simony and Civil Law and sisours of counties seemed to be most intimate with Meed. It was Favel who first brought her from her chamber to be joined with Falseness ; Simony and Civil Law assenting thereto at the prayer of Silver. Then Liar leapt forth with a deed that had been given by Guile to Falseness; Simony and Civil Law unfolded it, and thus it ran :
And all the Lordship of Lechery in length and in
breadth, As in works and in words and in waitings of eyes, In weeds 14 and in wishings, and with idle thoughts Where that will would and workmanship faileth. Gluttony he giveth them, and Great Oaths together, All day to drink at diverse tavernés There to jangle and to jape and judge their em.
Christian, 15 And in fasting days to frete 16 ere full time were, And then to sitten and soupen till sleep them assail, And awake with wanhope, 17 and no will to amend, For they lieveth be 18 lost, this is their last end; And they to have and to hold, and their heirs after, A Dwelling with the Devil and damned be for ever, With all the purtenance of Purgatory and the pain
“ Sciant presentes et futuri : et cetera.
That Meed is y-married more for her richesse
Reason; The County of Covetise he consenteth unto both, With usury and avarice and other false sleithes 12 In bargains and in brokages, 13 with the borough of Theft
Wrong was the name of the first witness to this Deed, then followed Piers the Pardoner, Bette the Beadle of Buckinghamshire, Raynold the Reve of Rutland soken,19 Mund the Miller, and many more. When Theology heard this, he was vexed and said to Civil Law, “Now sorrow come to thee for contracting marriages that anger Truth. Meed is the daughter of Amends, and God grants her to Truth, but thon hast given her to a beguiler. Thy text telleth thee not so. Truth saith “the Labourer is worthy of his hire.' Yet thou hast bound her to Falseness. Fie on thy law! Thou livest all by leasings. Thou and Simony shame Holy-Church. The notaries and ye trouble the people. Ye shall pay for it, both of you. Ye know well that Falseness is faithless and of Beelzebub's kin; but Meed is a well-born maiden who might kiss the King for cousin if she would. Be wise then. Take her to London where the law is taught, and see whether any law will suffer them to come together. But though the Justices adjudge her to Falseness, yet beware of the wedding. Truth has good wit, and Conscience is of his counsel and knows each one of you, and if he find you wanting and in league with Falseness it shall in the end be bitter to your souls.”
Civil Law agreed to this appeal to London ; but Simony and the Notaries could agree to nothing until they saw silver for it. Then Favel brought out florins enough, and bade Guile give gold all about, and specially to the notaries that none of them might fail, and fee False-Witness with florins enough, “For he may master Meed and make her subject to my will." When the gold was given there was a great thanking of Falseness and Favel, and many came to comfort Falseness, saying to him softly, “We shall never rest
14 Weeds, attire. First-English “we'a,” clothing.
15 Em-Christian. In First-English “em." in composition neant even or equal.
16 Frete, eat greedily. First-English "fretan,” eat up, devour, grar. German “fressen.”
1 Sisours, persons appointed to hold assizes.
· Summoners, sompnours, apparitors. Persons who summoned offenders before the ecclesiastical courts, and, as Chaucer shows, used their position as means of extortion.
3 Advocates of the Arches. The Archbishop of Canterbury's Court of Appeal was called the Court of Arches because in ancient times it was held in the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, Sancta Maria de Arcubus.
Witen, know. “Know all and witness that dwell here on earth,” &c.
5 Hendeness, urbanity. The word in its first sense is equivalent to handiness. Handiness is opposed to clumsiness of the untaught, and implies therefore the civilised ways and courtesies of social life; urbanity as opposed to clownishness.
6 Fain (First-English "fügen"), glad.
9 Unbuxom, unyielding. Buxom (First-English “buhsom "), from
10 Hests, commandments. First-English “hátan," to command; “ha's," a command.
11 Chest (First-English "ceast"), strife, enmity.
12 Sleithes, slippery ways. First-English “slíth," slippery, evil; “slíthan" and "slidan," to slide.
13 Brokages, commissions. First-English "brúcan," to use, enjoy, draw profit.
17 Wanhope, despair. The First-English prefix “wan" meant de ficiency, as in " waning" of light, in the word “wan" meaning deficiency of colour, and in “ want." 18 Lieveth be, believe themselves to be.
19 Soken. First-English “sócn," a lordship privileged by the ting to hold a "sốc" or soke; which was a court of the king's tenants of sóc-men authorised to minister justice or have jurisdiction, and wbuse tenure was therefore called "socagium" or socage-tenure.