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That on wit and on wil alle zoure wardes keep.
she was brewster too, and played tricks with her Lo! in heuene an hy' was an holy comune
ales. Til Lucifer the lyere leyued” that hym-selue
“ Didst thou never make restitution ?" quoth ReWere wittyour and worthiour than he that was hus
“Yes,” said Avarice; “I was lodged once with a Hold zow in vnite, and he that other wolde
company of chapmen, and when they were asleep, I Ys cause of alle combraunce to confounde a reame.'
got up and rifled their bags." And siththen he preide the Pope haue pite of Holy
“That was a rueful restitution," quoth Repentchurche,
ance, “forsooth. Thou wilt hang high for it, here And no grace to graunte til good loue were
or in hell. Usedst thou ever usury in all thy Among alle kynne kynges ouer cristene puple.
lifetime ?” •Comaunde that alle confessours that eny kynge
“Nay, only in my youth, when I learned among shryueth,
the Lombards to clip coin, and took pledges of more Enioyne hem pees for here penaunce and perpetual
worth than the money lent. I lent to those who forzeuenesse Of alle manere acciouns, and eche man loue other.
would lose their money; they bought time. I have And ze that secheth Seint lame and seyntes of Rome,
lent to lords and ladies that loved me never after. Secheth seinte Treuthe in sauacion of youre saules:
I have made a knight of many a mercer." Qui cum patre et filio that faire hem by-falle
“By the rood,” said Repentance, “thine heirs That suweth • my sarmon.' And thus ended Reason." shall have no joy in the silver thou leavest. The
Pope and all his pardoners cannot absolve thee of
thy sins unless thou make restitution.” When Reason had done preaching, Repentance went
“I won my goods," Avarice went on, “by false among the throng, and made Will weep and Pernel
words and false devices. I am rich through Guile Proudheart stretch herself flat on the earth. It
and Glosing. If my neighbour had anything more was long ere she looked up and cried upon the Lord profitable than mine, I used all my wit to find for mercy. Pernel personifying Pride, with her
how I might have it. And if it could be had no began the repentant confessions of the Seven Deadly
other way, at last I stole it, or shook his purse Sins, which classify homely suggestions of the evil
privily, unpicked his locks. And if I went to the that is in the world. After Pride came Envy to con
plough, I pinched on his half acre, so that I got a fession, after Envy Wrath, dweller with men who
foot of land or a furrow of my neighbour's earth; delight in harming one another. Prelates and friars and if I reaped, I bade my reapers put their sickle are at war, and so Wrath keeps them in dispute.
into that I never sowed. On holy days when I went One of Wrath's aunts is a nun, another an abbess;
to church, I mourned not for my sins, but for any he has been cook in their kitchen and made their
worldly good that I had lost. Though I did deadly pottage of jangles. The sisters sit and dispute until
sin, it less troubled me than money lent and lost, or 4. Thou liest !” and “Thou liest!" be lady over them all.
long in being paid. And if a servant was at Bruges Wrath sits in the wives' pews. “The parson knows
to await my profit and trade with my money, neither how little I love Lettice at the Stile, my heart was
matins nor mass, nor penance performed, nor paterchanged towards her from the time when she was
noster said, could comfort the mind that was more in before me at sacrament to take the holy bread. I
my goods than in God's grace and His great might." don't care to live among monks, for they eat more fish
“Now," quoth Repentance, “truly I have ruth of than flesh, and drink weak ale; but otherwhile when
your way of living. Were I a friar, in good faith, for wine cometh and when I drink late I have a flux of all the cold on earth. I would not clothe me or take a a foul mouth well five days after.” “Now repent
meal's meat of thy goods, if my heart knew thee to be thee!" quoth Repentance, “and be sober;"and absolved
as thou sayest. I would rather live on water-cresses him, and bade him pray to God by His help to amend. | than be fed and kept on false men's winnings. Thou Luxury next came to confession and repentance ; ) art an unnatural creature. I cannot absolve thee then Avarice in a torn tabard of twelve years old, until thou have made, according to thy might, to all who was once apprentice to Sim at the Stile," where
men restitution. All that have of thy gooils are he learned to lie and to use false weights. He went bound at the high day of doom to help thee to with his master's goods to the fair at Winchester or
restore. The priest that takes thy tithe shall take Weyhill, and his wares would have gone unsold for his part with thee in purgatory and help pay thy seven years had Guile not helped him. Avarice told |
debt, if he knew thee to be a thief when he received of tricks of trade learnt from the drapers; how his
thine offering.” wife, Rose the Regrater, wove, and paid the spinsters
Then there was a Welshman named Evan Yieldby false weight for their work upon the wool; how again, who said in great sorrow that though he
were left without livelihood, he would restore to 1 An hy, on high.
every one, before he went thence, all that he had Leyued, believed.
won from him wickedly. Robert the Rifler looked 3 Siththen, after that.
on Redelite and wept sorely, because he had not * That suveth, that follow, or act according to. French "suivre."
wherewith to make restitution ; and he praved with 6 Sim at the Stile. In another version he is “Sim atte noke," equivalent to "atten oke," at the oak: here use happens to be made
tears to Christ, who pitied Dismas his brother, of the answering phrise for a hypothetical dwelling.place "at the stile." Both forms remain in the phrase "Jack Nokes and Tom Stiles." See, just before, " Lettice at the Stile."
6 Reddite, Restore! Reddere, to restore.
the repentant thief upon the cross, to rue on him, Robert, who had not Reddere, and never hoped to come by it through any craft he knew. “By the rood,” said Repentance, “thou art on the way to heaven if that be in thy heart which I hear upon thy tongue
“ * Trust in his mochel mercy and zet might thou be saved,
For all the wretchedness of this world, and wicked deeds,
scintilla in medio maris.? • Repent thee anon!' quoth Repentance, right so to the
usurer, • And have His Mercy in mind.'”
After Avarice came Gluttony in like manner to Repentance, and confessed his evil ways. On his way to church on a Friday fast-day, when he passed the house of Betty the brewster, she bade him good morrow, and asked whither he went.
“ To holy church,” he said, “ to hear mass, and then sit and be shriven, and sin no more.”
“I have good ale, gossip Glutton, wilt thou assay ?”
“What hast thou ?” quoth he. “Any hot spices ?"
“I have pepper and peony-seed, and a pound of garlic, a farthing's worth of fennel-seed for fasting days."
Then goeth Glutton in, and Great-oaths after. Ciss the sempstress sat on the bench, Wat the warrener and his wife drunk, Tom the tinker and two of his boys, Hick the hackneyman and Hugh the needler, Clarice of Cock Lane, the Clerk of the church, Sir Piercy Pridie and Pernel of Flanders, Daw the dítcher, with a dozen idle lads of porters and of pick-purses and of pilled tooth-drawers. A ribibour? and a ratcatcher, a raker and his boy, a roper and a riding-king, and Rose the disher, Godfrey the garlicmonger, Griffith the Welshman, and a heap of upholders early in the morning gave Glutton with glad cheer good ale for hansel. Clement the cobbler cast off his cloak and put it up at New Fair.3 Hick the hackneyman threw his hood after, and bade Bet the butcher be on his side. Chapmen were chosen to appraise the goods. Then arose great disputing and a heap of oaths, each seeking to get the better of
cloak, in covenant that Clement should fill the cup and have the hackneyman's hood, and hold himself satisfied; and whoever first repented should arise after and greet Sir Glutton with a gallon of ale. Then follows a lively picture of Glutton's drunkenness, and his being helped home by Clement the cobbler. His wife put him to bed, where he slept all Saturday and Sunday, and the first words he said when he woke were, “ Who holds the bowl?" His wife and his conscience rebuked him of sin; he became ashamed, shrove himself to Repentance, and cried, “ Have mercy on me, thou Lord that art on high. To thee, God, I Glutton, yield me guilty of my trespass with the tongue, swearing, I cannot tell how often, by “thy Soul' and by thy Sides,' and ‘so help me God Almighty!' where no need was, many times falsely ; I have over-supped myself at supper, and sometimes eaten at dinner more than nature could digest. I cannot speak for shame of my filthiness. Before noon on fast-days I fed me with ale out of reason, among ribalds to hear their ribaldry. Hereof, good God, grant me forgiveness of all my ill living in all my lifetime.”
Sloth, described with the same homely truth as really seen and known among the people, came to Repentance after Gluttony, and completed the embodiment of the chief misdeeds of the world in the confessions of the Seven Deadly Sins. Then Repentance prayed for all the penitents, and after the prayer of Repentance, Hope blew on a horn “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven," till all the saints joined with the sinners in the song of David, “O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God !”
Then thronged a thousand men together, crying upward to Christ and to his pure mother, that they might have grace to find Truth. But there was none who knew the way. They went astray like beasts over the brooks and hills.
They met a Palmer* in his pilgrim's weeds, with bowl and bag and vernicle, and asked him “Whence he came ?” “From Sinai,” he said, “and from the Sepulchre. I have been to Bethlehem and Babylon, to Armenia, Alexandria, Damascus. You may see by the tokens in my cap that I have been to shrines of good saints for my soul's health, and walked full widely in wet and in dry.”
“Knowest thou,” they asked him, “of a saint that men call Truth; and could'st thou show us the way to where he dwells.”
“Nay," said the man then, “I never knew of palmer with staff and scrip, who ever asked after him before, until now in this place."
“ “Peter!'5 quoth a Plowman, and put forth his head
“I know him as kindly as clerks don their books,
the other, till Robin the roper was named umpire to - end the dispute. Hick the hackneyman had the
1 All Iniquity in relation to the Mercy of God is as a spark in the midst of the sea.
2 Ribibour, player on the rebeck, or rude country fiddle.
3 There was in 1297 a mart called the New Fair in Soper Lane, Cheapside, and others like it were called “Eve-chepings.” They were for the sort of barter still popular among schoolboys as “swapping." Something is offered in exchange against some other thing, and if necessary something else must be thrown in to make the exchange equal. New Fair is in our day carried on through papers devoted to the satisfaction of a taste for "swapping" among grown-up boys and girls. Clement the cobbler has many descendants who contribute to them, and manage exchanges more politely than their ancestor, by inserting and answering advertisements like this: “ Wanted, lady's large new dark brown soft felt hat, broad bri Exchange swansdown mutf and collarette.-7116 P."
4 The Palmer was one who visited the shrines of many saints. Living upon the way by charity, his bowl was for what he found to drink, his bag for bread and meat that might be given to him. The vernicle, worn with other tokers in the cap, was a little copy of the miraculous transfer of the face of Christ to the bandkerchief offered him by St. Veronica when he was bearing his own cross to Calvary.
5“ Peter!” was a common exclamation in the fourteenth century. It has perhaps a designed fitness in the introducing of Piers Plowman, Peter being the rock on whom Christ built his Church.
e kindly, naturally. “Kind," nature,
Conscience and Kind-wit? kenned me to his place
In this manner Piers the Plowman first appears in the Vision. In the field full of folk “working and wandering as the world asketh,” repentant men turn from the ills of life, look up to God, and seek for Truth. Those who toil in the mere form of search, but want its soul, know nothing of their need and cannot help. But what is hidden from the wise of this world God has revealed to the humble. “Whosoever would be chief among you let him be your servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Under the figure, therefore, of the Plowman, faithful to his day's labour, the poet first introduces the humility that becomes servant to Truth. Once introduced, the Plowman presently rises to his place in the poem as a type of Christ himself.
The pilgrims to Truth offered meed to Piers for showing them the way; but he set that aside and freely told them that they must all go through Meekness, till they came to Conscience, known to God Himself, and loyally love him as their lord; that is, they must rather die than do any deadly sin, and must in nowise hurt their neighbours or do otherwise to them than they would have them do to themselves. Then as they followed the brook they would find the ford Honour-your-fathers; therein they should wade and wash them well. Then they would come to Swear-not-but-for-need, and by the croft Covet-not, from which they must be careful to take nothing away. Near by it are two stocks, Steal-not and Slay-not, but do not stay there; strike on to the hill Bear-nofalse-witness, through a forest of florins. Pluck there no plant, on peril of thy soul! Next they would see Say-sooth, and by that way come to a court clear as the sun; the moat is of Mercy, and the walls are of Wit that Will cannot win; the battlements are of Christendom, the buttresses are of Believe-so-or-thou-be'st-not-saved. The houses are
roofed, not with lead, but all with love and loyalty ; the bars are of buxomness as brethren of one body, the bridge is Pray-well-and-the-better-speed. Each pillar is of penance and prayers to saints; almsdeeds are the hinges of the gates, which are kept by Grace and his man Amend-you. “Say to him this for token, 'I am sorry for my sins, so shall I ever be, and I perform the penance that the priest commanded' Ride to Amend-you, humble yourselves to his master Grace to open the high gate of Heaven that Adam and Eve shut against us all. Through Eve that gate was closed, and through the Virgin Mary it is opened. She hath a latchkey, and can lead in whom she loveth. If Grace grant thee to enter in this wise, thou shalt see Truth where he sits in thine own heart, and solaces thy soul and saves thee from pain. Also charge Charity to build a temple within thine whole heart, to lodge therein all Truth and find all manner of folk food for their souls, if Love and Loyalty and Our Law be true. Beware then of Wrath, for he has envy against him who sitteth in thine heart and urges Pride in thee to praise thyself. If thy wellbeing make thee bold and blind, thou wilt be driven out and the gate locked and latched against thee, so that thou mayest not enter again for a hundred years. To that place belong Seven Sisters, who serve Truth ever, and are porters at the postern. They are Abstinence, Humility, Charity, Chastity, Patience, Peace, and Liberality. Unless one be sib to these seven it is hard to enter in at the gate unless Grace be the more.”
“I have no kin among them," said a cut-purse; “ Nor I," said an ape-ward ; “Nor I," said a wafer maker. “Yes," said Piers Plowman, and urged them all to good : “Mercy is a maid there who hath might over them all, and she and her Son are sib to all the sinful. Through the help of these two ye may get grace there, if ye go betimes.” “Yea," quoth one, “I have bought a piece of ground, and now must I thither to see how I like it," and took leave of Piers. Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and therefore I must go with a good will at once to drive them; therefore, I pray you, Piers, if peradventure you meet Truth, so tell him, that I may be excused.” Then there was one named Active, who said, “I have married a wife who is changeable of mood, and if I were out of her sight for a fortnight she would lour on me and say I lovel another. Therefore, Piers Plowman, I pray thee tell Truth I cannot come, because my Kit so cleaves to me, Uxorem duxi et ideo non possum venire." 13 Quoth Contemplation, “ Though I suffer care, famine, and want, yet will I follow Piers. But the way is so difficult that, without a guide to go with us, we may take a wrong turning."
Then said Piers Plowman, “I have a half-acre to plough by the highway. Had I ploughed that halfacre and sowed seed in it, I would go with you and teach the way.”
That will delay us a long time,” said a lady in a veil. “What shall we women do meanwhile ?"
- - 12 Sih, related. First-English “sıb," peace, relationship; so Guesp is God sib, related in God, sponsor in ba piisin. 13 See Luke xiv. 18-20.
i Kind-uit, natural kuowledge. ? S keren him, give him surety, 8 Surink, labour.
Wayten, watch after. 5 Somdel to paye, in some part to his content. To paye, tc his pleasure. Latin “pacare," to satisfy.
6 Prest, ready. French “pret."
9 Woneth, dwells. 10 Wissen (First-English "wiesian"), to show the way.
11 The word leal or loyal qualifying love thronghout Piers Plowman and otherwise used, has always its first sense of obedience to or accordance with just law.
“I pray you," said Piers, “for your own profit, pany of idle chatterers who help the devil to draw that some sew the sack to prevent shedding of the men to sin. The Knight promised for himself and wheat; and ye worthy women who work on fine silk his wife to obey his conscience and work as Piers with your long fingers, work at fit times chasubles directed. for chaplains to do honour to the church; wives and Then Piers apparelled himself to go as a pilgrim widows spin wool and flax, Conscience bids you with those who sought Truth; he hung his seedmake cloth for profit of the poor and pleasaunce of basket on his neck instead of a scrip, and a bushel yourselves. For I shall feed them, unless the earth of bread-corn was within, “For I will sow it myself," fail, as long as I live, for our Lord's love in heaven. he said, “and then we will go upon our journey. And all manner of men whom this earth sustains, My plough-foot shall be my staff to help my coulter help me, your food-winner, to work vigorously.” to cut and cleanse the furrows, and all who help me
Quoth a knight, “He counsels the best. I never to plough and to weed shall have leave, by our Lord, was taught to drive a team. I wish I could. I to go and glean after, and be merry. therewith, grudge should like to try some time, as it were, for who may. And I shall feed all true men who live pleasure.
faithfully ; not Jack the juggler, Daniel the dice“Surely, Sir Knight,” said Piers then, “I shall toil player, Robin Ribald, Friar Faitour, and folk of and sow for us both, and labour for thee while thou that order." livest, on condition that thou keep Holy-Church and Piers had a wife, Dame Work-when-time-is, and myself from wasters and wicked men who destroy the names of his son and daughter mean Obedience. this world. Go boldly to hunt the beasts that break | Piers made a will, leaving his body to the Church, my hedges, and fly falcons at the wild fowl that to his wife and children all that he had truly earned. defile my corn."
Debts he had none. He always bare home what he Then said the Knight, “ According to my power, borrowed ere he went to bed. Piers ; I plight my troth faithfully to defend thee, Then Piers went to the ploughing of his half-acre and fight for thee if need be.”
by the roadside, and had many to help. At high prime Piers let the plough stand to see who wrought best; he should be hired thereafter when harvesttime came. Some sat and sang at the ale, helping to plough the half-acre with “Hoy, trolly lolly!” When urged to work with the threat that not a grain should gladden them in time of need, they pleaded that they were blind, or lame, and could not work: “But we pray for you, Piers, and for your plough too, that God of his grace will multiply your grain and reward you for your almesse that ye give us here. We have no limbs to labour with, we thank the Lord.”
“Your prayers would help, I hope, if ye were true,” said Piers, “but Truth wills that there be no feigning among those who beg. I fear ye are wasters, who devour what loyal toil has raised out of the land. But the halt, the blind, the prisoners shall eat my corn and share my cloth.”
Then one of the Wasters offered to fight with Piers Plowman, and spoke to him contemptuously. Another came bragging, and said, “Will thou or nill thou, we will have our will, and fetch thy meat and flour whenever we like to make us merry.” Piers looked to the Knight for help. The Knight warned Waster courteously that if he did not amend his way he must be beaten, and set in the stocks. “I was never used to work," said Waster, “and I will not begin now.” So he took little heed of the law, and less of the Knight, and set Piers at defiance.
Then Piers fetched Hunger to punish these misTHE KNIGHT.
doers. Hunger soon seized Waster by the throat, wrung him by the belly till his eyes watered, and
buffeted him about the cheeks till he looked like a Then the Knight was warned also to respect his
lanthorn all his life after. Piers had to pray off bondmen, and remember that before God it was hard
Hunger with a loaf of pease-bread. “Hunger, have to distinguish knight from knave or queen from
mercy on him," said Piers, “and let me give him quean. Ranks might be reversed, when to the lowly it would be said, “Friend, go up higher." The knight is bound to be courteous and avoid the com
i Faitour, Make-believe.
From the Abbey Church at Teuckesbury.
beans. What was baked for the horse may save who in any way helped at his ploughing: to kings him.” Then the feigners were afeared, and flew to and knights who defended him ; to bishops if they Piers's barns, and threshed with their flails so stoutly were loyal and full of love, merciful to the meek, from morning to evening that Hunger was afraid to | mild to the good, severe to the bad men of whatever look on them. Hermits cut their copes into short rank when they would not amend; to merchants coats, took spades, spread dung, weeded, for dread of who earned honestly and made a right use of their their death, such strokes gave Hunger. Friars of all gain, repairing the hospitals, mending the highways, five orders worked, for fear of Hunger. Piers was helping the fatherless, the poor, the prisoner, helping glad, and was sending Hunger away, but asked also to bring the young to school. “Do this,” said counsel of him first; since many were at work for Truth, “and I myself shall send you Michael, mine fear of famine, not for love.
angel, that no fiend shall hurt you, and your souls “ Truth," said Piers, “ taught me once to love shall come to where I dwell, and there abide in bliss them all; teach me, Sir Hunger, how to master for ever and ever.” Then the merchants wept for them, and make them love the labour for their joy, and prayed for Piers Plowman. It was ill with living.”
lawyers who would not plead unpaid, but well with Hunger advised that the able-bodied who avoided them if they would plead for the innocent poor and work should be fed only with the bread of dogs and comfort them, and maintain their cause against inhorses. “ Give them beans. If any object, bid him justice of the strong. There follows upon Truth's Go, work; and he shall sup the sweeter when he | message a tender picture of the sorrows of the poor hath deserved.”
mother of many children, whose spinning barely pays Hunger quoted many words of Scripture in support the rent of the low cot, the cost of milk and meal of his argument that men were born to work. They | to feed the little ones who hunger as she is hungershould not eat till Hunger sent his sauce, or let Sir ing herself :Surfeit sit by them at table. If men did thus,
“And woe in winter-time with waking a-nights Physic should sell his furred hood for his food,
To rise to the ruel,' to rock the cradle,
Both to card and to comb, to clouten ó and to wash, “And lerne labore with londe leste lyflode hym faile.
To rub and to rely, rushes to pilie,? Ther aren meny luthere' leeches, and lele leches fewe;
That ruth is to read others in ryme shewe Thei don men deye. thorgh here 3 drynkes er destinye hit
The woe of these women that woneth in cotes." wolde." Piers said that Hunger was right, and bade fare
Still dwelling upon love as the companion of
labour, the poet touches on the secret sorrows of poor well; but Hunger would not go till he had dined. It
men, who will not beg or complain or make their was not yet harvest, and there was nothing to be
need known to their neighbours; whose craft is all had but a little curds and cream, an oat-cake, a few
their substance, bringing in few pence to clothe and loaves of beans and pease, parsley, onions, half-red
feed those whom they love; to whom a farthing's cherries, a cow and her calf, and a cart-mare. But the poor people brought what they could to feed
worth of mussels is a fast-day feast. To help and
comfort such as these, and crooked men and blind, is Hunger, who ate all in haste, and asked for more.
charity indeed. But beggars with their bags, whose But when it was harvest-time, and the new corn was
church is the brewhouse; if they be not halt, or blind, in, Hunger ate and was satistied, and went away. And then the beggars would eat only the finest bread,
or sick, if they be idlers who deceive ; leave them to
work or starve. And those who wander wanting wit, they would take no halfpenny ale-only the best and
- the lunatics and lepers, to whom cold and heat are brownest that the brewsters sell. Labourers, who
as one, and who walk moneyless far and wide, as had only their hands to live by, would not dine
Peter and Paul did, though they preach not nor work upon worts more than one night old, or penny ale
miracles,—to my conscience, it is as if God, giver of and a piece of bacon, but must have fresh meat and fish, hot, and hotter, because their stomachs were
wit and health, had sent forth these also as His a-cold. They would chide if they had not high
apostles, without bread and bag and begging of no wages, and curse the laws; but they strove not so
man, reverencing no man more than another for his
dignity, to draw from us love and mercy. They are when Hunger frowned upon them. Here the poet,
heaven's minstrels : men give gold to all manner of reading signs of the stars according to the astrology that formed part of the undoubted science of his day,
minstrels in the name of great lords. Rather, ye rich,
shonld ve lielp with your goods these minstrels of warned his countrymen, by the aspect of Saturn,
God, whose sins are hid under His secret seal, than that Hunger was coming back; for famine and pestilence were on the way to them again.
the idlers and unlearned eremites who come into the
It was a sad prediction which, in those days, must needs be ful
house to rest them and to roast them with their filled. The next of the great pestilences followed a
backs to the fire, and leave when they will, to go
next where they are most likely to find a round of sore famine in 1382.
bacon. These eremites worked till they found out Truth heard of these things, and sent to bid Piers till the earth ; granting a full pardon to him and all
* Ruel, the spinning-wheel.
$ (louten, patch, I Luthere, bad. First-English “lath," evil, whence our " loathe."
6 Rely, reel. ? D'on men deye, cause men to die.
7 Pilie, peel. * llere, their.