Imagens das páginas

Truth wold love me the lass d

A long time thereafter.
Ac if you wilneth to wend welle

This is the way thider:—
Ye moten ' go thorough Meekness,

Both men and wives,
Till ye come into Conscience," &c.

The personage who thus speaks is afterwards constantly designated Piers, or sometimes Perkin, the Ploughman, and he makes a considerable figure throughout the sixth and seventh Passus; after which we hear little more of him till we come to the sixteenth. In the eighteenth Passus " the character of Piers the Ploughman," according to Mr. Wright's view (Introduction, p. xxiv.), "is identified with that of the Saviour." Whitaker, who generally calls him "the mysterious personage," conceives (Introductory Discourse, p. xxviii.) that Piers in the latter part of the poem is intended to be the representative of the Church. Taking the church as meaning, not the clergy or the ecclesiastical system, but the body of the faithful, it would not perhaps be impossible to understand Piers as sustaining that character throughout the work.


'The popularity of Langland's poem appears to have brought alliterative verse into fashion again even for poems of considerable length; several romances were written in it, such as that of' William and the Werwolf,' that of ' Alexander,' that of ' Jerusalem,' and others; and the use of it was continued throughout the greater part of the fifteenth century. But the most remarkable imitation

Less. e But if you wish to go well. 'Must.

of the ' Vision' is the poem entitled 'Piers the Ploughman's Creed,' which appears to have been written about , the end of the fourteenth century: it was first printed separately at London, in 4to. by Reynold Wolfe, in 1553; then by Rogers, along with the ' Vision,' in 1561; then, separately, in 1814, as a companion to Whitaker's edition of the 'Vision;' and, lastly, along with the 'Vision,' in Mr. Wright's edition of 1842. The Creed is the composition of a follower of Wyclif, and an avowed opponent of Romanism. Here, Mr. Wright observes, "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." The satire, or invective, in this effusion (which consists only of 1697 short lines), is directed altogether against the clergy, and especially the monks or friars; and Piers or Peter is represented as a poor ploughman from whom the writer receives that instruction in Christian truth which he had sought for in vain from every order of these licensed teachers. The language is quite as antique as that of the ' Vision,' as may appear from the following passage, in which Piers is introduced :—

Then turned I me forth,

And talked to myself
Of the falsehede of this folk,

How faithless they weren.
And as I went by the way

Weeping for sorrow,
I see a seely" man me by

Opon the plough hongen.b

* Simple. b Hung.

His coat was of a cloutc

That cary d was y-called;
His hood was full of holes,

And his hair out;
With his knopped shoon"

Clouted full thick,
His ton f toteden K out

As he the lond treaded:
His hosen overhongeu his hoc-shynes b

On everich a side,
All beslomered1 in fen J

As he the plough followed.
Twey k mittens as meter1

Made all of clouts,
The fingers weren for-weard ">

And full of fen honged.
This whit" wasled c in the feen P

Almost to the ancle;
Four rotheren <i him beforn,

That feeble were worthy;r
Men might reckon each a rib•

So rentful' they weren.
His wife walked him with,

With a long goad,
In a cutted coat

Cutted full high,
Wrapped in a winnow " sheet

To wearen her fro weders,T

c Cloth. d Unknown. e Knobbed shoes.
f Toes. s Peeped.

b Neither of Mr. Wright's explanations seems quite satisfactory: "crooked shins;" or " the shin towards the hock or ankle?"

1 Bedaubed. i Mud. k Two. 1 Mr. Wright suggests Jitter; which does not seem to make sense.

m Were worn out. "Wight . 0 Dirtied himself. P Fen, mud. i Oxen (the Four Evangelists). 'Become? * Each rib. 'Meagre?" Winnowing.

T The meaning seems to be," to protect her from the weather."

Barefoot on the bare ice,

That the blood followed.
And at the lond's end w lath x

A little crom-bolle,!'
And thereon lay a little child

Lapped in clouts,
And tweyn of twey years old1

Opon another side.
And all they songen * o b song,

That sorrow was to hearen;
Thy criedeu all o cry,

A careful note.
The seely man sighed sore,

And said, " Children, beth" still."
This man looked opon me,

And leet the plough stonden;d
And said, " Seely man,

Why sighest thou so hard?
Gif thee lack lifelode,e

Lene thee ich willf
Swich e good as God hath sent:

Go we, leve brother." b

w The end of the field. » Lieth?

y Mr. Wright explains by "cnim-bowl." 1 Two of two years old. a Sang. b One.

c Be. d Let the plough stand.

e If livelihood lack, or be wanting to, thee.
f Give or lend thee I will. e Such.
b Let us go, dear brother.


-London: Printed by William Clowes & Sons, Stamford Street.


The works already published will furnish some notion of the variety sought to be attained in this Series. As it further advances this feature will be more clearly developed. The subjects proposed to be treated may be divided, upon a broad principle of Classification, into seven leading divisions. And here we may properly explain the circumstance that the ' Weekly Volumes' appear in cloth, or paper, of varying colours. The mere variety would, we think, be an advantage in itself; for a long series of books in one uniform binding, especially when the subjects are of a different character, is monotonous and distasteful. Every one who possesses an extensive library knows the advantage which a diversity of binding affords him in readily finding the book he wants. But we have endeavoured to systematize this variety, by adapting the colours to the nature of the subjects treated. The following arrangement applies to the volumes published; and will continue to prevail throughout the series:—

BlueGeneral Literature. Pinkdid England Novelets. SalmonGeography, Voyages, and Travels. GreenNatural Histori/. BrownManufactures, Commerce, Pub

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