P.1: In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,
P.2: I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were,
P.3: In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes,
P.4: Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
P.5: Ac on a May morwenynge on Malverne hilles
P.6: Me bifel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte.
P.7: I was wery forwandred and wente me to reste
P.8: Under a brood bank by a bourne syde;
P.9: And as I lay and lenede and loked on the watres,
P.10: I slombred into a slepyng, it sweyed so murye.
P.11: Thanne gan I meten a merveillous swevene —
P.12: That I was in a wildernesse, wiste I nevere where.
P.13: A[c] as I biheeld into the eest an heigh to the sonne,
P.14: I seigh a tour on a toft trieliche ymaked,
P.15: A deep dale bynethe, a dongeon therinne,
P.16: With depe diches and derke and dredfulle of sighte.
P.17: A fair feeld ful of folk fond I ther bitwene —
P.18: Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche,
P.19: Werchynge and wandrynge as the world asketh.
P.20: Somme putten hem to the plough, pleiden ful selde,
P.21: In settynge and sowynge swonken ful harde,
P.22: And wonnen that thise wastours with glotonye destruyeth
P.23: And somme putten hem to pride, apparailed hem therafter,
P.24: In contenaunce of clothynge comen disgised-
P.25: In preieres and penaunce putten hem manye,
P.26: Al for the love of Oure Lord lyveden ful streyte
P.27: In hope to have heveneriche blisse —
P.28: As ancres and heremites that holden hem in hire selles,
P.29: Coveiten noght in contree to cairen aboute
P.30: For no likerous liflode hire likame to plese.
P.31: And somme chosen chaffare; they cheveden the bettre —
P.32: As it semeth to oure sight that swiche men thryveth;
P.33: And somme murthes to make as mynstralles konne,
P.34: And geten gold with hire glee — [gilt]lees, I leeve-
P.35: Ac japeres and jangeleres, Judas children,
P.36: Feynen hem fantasies, and fooles hem maketh —
P.37: And han wit at wille to werken if they wolde.
P.38: That Poul precheth of hem I wol nat preve it here:
P.39: Qui loquitur turpiloquium is Luciferes hyne-
P.40: Bidderes and beggeres faste aboute yede
P.41: [Til] hire bely and hire bagge [were] bredful ycrammed,
P.42: Faiteden for hire foode, foughten at the ale.
P.43: In glotonye, God woot, go thei to bedde,
P.44: And risen with ribaudie, tho Roberdes knaves;
P.45: Sleep and sory sleuthe seweth hem evere.
P.46: Pilgrymes and palmeres plighten hem togidere
P.47: For to seken Seint Jame and seintes at Rome;
P.48: Wenten forth in hire wey with many wise tales,
P.49: And hadden leve to lyen al hire lif after.
P.50: I seigh somme that seiden thei hadde ysought seintes:
P.51: To ech a tale that thei tolde hire tonge was tempred to lye
P.52: Moore than to seye sooth, it semed bi hire speche.
P.53: Heremytes on an heep with hoked staves,
P.54: Wenten to Walsyngham — and hire wenches after:
P.55: Grete lobies and longe that lothe were to swynke
P.56: Clothed hem in copes to ben knowen from othere,
P.57: And shopen hem heremytes hire ese to have.
P.58: I fond there freres, alle the foure ordres,
P.59: Prechynge the peple for profit of [the wombe]:
P.60: Glosed the gospel as hem good liked;
P.61: For coveitise of copes construwed it as thei wolde.
P.62: Manye of thise maistres mowe clothen hem at likyng
P.63: For hire moneie and hire marchaundise marchen togideres.
P.64: Sith charite hath ben chapman and chief to shryve lordes
P.65: Manye ferlies han fallen in a fewe yeres.
P.66: But Holy Chirche and hii holde bettre togidres
P.67: The mooste meschief on molde is mountynge up faste.
P.68: Ther preched a pardoner as he a preest were:
P.69: Broughte forth a bulle with bisshopes seles,
P.70: And seide that hymself myghte assoillen hem alle
P.71: Of falshede of fastynge, of avowes ybroken. –
P.72: Lewed men leved hym wel and liked hise wordes,
P.73: Comen up knelynge to kissen his bulle.
P.74: He bonched hem with his brevet and blered hire eighen,
P.75: And raughte with his rageman rynges and broches.
P.76: — Thus ye gyven youre gold glotons to helpe,
P.77: And leneth it losels that leccherie haunten”
P.78: Were the bisshop yblessed and worth bothe his eris,
P.79: His seel sholde noght be sent to deceyve the peple.
P.80: Ac it is noght by the bisshop that the boy precheth —
P.81: For the parisshe preest and the pardoner parten the silver
P.82: That the povere [peple] of the parissche sholde have if they ne were.
P.83: Persons and parisshe preestes pleyned hem to the bisshop
P.84: That hire parisshes weren povere sith the pestilence tyme,
P.85: To have a licence and leve at London to dwelle,
P.86: And syngen ther for symonie, for silver is swete.
P.87: Bisshopes and bachelers, bothe maistres and doctours —
P.88: That han cure under Crist, and crownynge in tokene
P.89: And signe that thei sholden shryven hire parisshens,
P.90: Prechen and praye for hem, and the povere fede —
P.91: Liggen at Londoun in Lenten and ellis.
P.92: Somme serven the King and his silver tellen,
P.93: In Cheker and in Chauncelrie chalangen his dettes
P.94: Of wardes and of wardemotes, weyves and streyves.
P.95: And somme serven as servaunts lordes and ladies,
P.96: And in stede of stywardes sitten and demen.
P.97: Hire messe and hire matyns and many of hire houres
P.98: Arn doone undevoutliche; drede is at the laste
P.99: Lest Crist in Consistorie acorse ful manye”
P.100: I parceyved of the power that Peter hadde to kepe —
P.101: To bynden and unbynden, as the Book telleth —
P.102: How he it lefte with love as Oure Lord highte
P.103: Amonges foure vertues, most vertuous of alle vertues,
P.104: That cardinals ben called and closynge yates
P.105: There Crist is in kyngdom, to close and to shette,
P.106: And to opene it to hem and hevene blisse shewe.
P.107: Ac of the Cardinals at court that kaughte of that name
P.108: And power presumed in hem a Pope to make
P.109: To han the power that Peter hadde. impugnen I nelle —
P.110: For in love and in lettrure the eleccion bilongeth;
P.111: Forthi I kan and kan naught of court speke moore.
P.112: Thanne kam ther a Kyng: Knyghthod hym ladde;
P.113: Might of the communes made hym to regne.
P.114: And thanne cam Kynde Wit and clerkes he made,
P.115: For to counseillen the Kyng and the Commune save.
P.116: The Kyng and Knyghthod and Clergie bothe
P.117: Casten that the Commune sholde hem [communes] fynde.
P.118: The Commune contreved of Kynde Wit craftes,
P.119: And for profit of al the peple plowmen ordeyned
P.120: To tilie and to travaille as trewe lif asketh.
P.121: The Kyng and the Commune and Kynde Wit the thridde
P.122: Shopen lawe and leaute — eeh lif to knowe his owene.
P.123: Thanne loked up a lunatik, a leene thyng withalle,
P.124: And knelynge to the Kyng clergially he seide,
P.125: “Crist kepe thee, sire Kyng, and thi kyngryche,
P.126: And lene thee lede thi lond so leaute thee lovye,
P.127: And for thi rightful rulyng be rewarded in hevene”‘
P.128: And sithen in the eyr on heigh an aungel of hevene
P.129: Lowed to speke in Latyn — for lewed men ne koude
P.130: Jangle ne jugge that justifie hem sholde,
P.131: But suffren and serven — forthi seide the aungel:
P.132: ” Sum Rex, sum Princeps”,-neutrum fortasse deinceps ”
P.132: O qui iura regis Christi specialia regis,
P.132: Hoc quod agas melius — iustus es, esto pius ”
P.135: Nudum ius a te vestiri vult pietate.
P.135: Qualia vis metere, talia grana sere:
P.135: Si ius nudatur, nudo de iure metatur;
P.135: Si seritur pietas, de pietate metas’.
P.136: Thanne greved hym a goliardeis, a gloton of wordes,
P.140: And to the aungel an heigh answerde after:
P.141: ” Dum ” rex” a ” regere ” dicatur nomen habere,
P.141: Nomen habet sine re nisi studet iura tenere’.
P.142: Thanne [c]an al the commune crye in vers of Latyn
P.143: To the Kynges counseil — construe whoso wolde —
P.143: “Precepta Regis sunt nobis vincula legis”‘
P.144: With that ran ther a route of ratons at ones
P.145: And smale mees myd hem: mo than a thousand
P.146: Comen to a counseil for the commune profit;
P.147: For a cat of a court cam whan hym liked
P.150: And overleep hem lightliche and laughte hem at his wille,
P.151: And pleide with hem perillousli and possed aboute.
P.152: “For doute of diverse dredes we dar noght wel loke”
P.153: And if we grucche of his gamen he wol greven us alle —
P.154: Cracchen us or clawen us and in hise clouches holde.
P.155: That us lotheth the lif er he late us passe.
P.156: Mighte we with any wit his wille withstonde,
P.157: We myghte be lordes olofte and lyven at oure ese’.
P.158: A raton of renoun, moost renable of tonge,
P.159: Seide for a sovereyn [salve] to hem alle,
P.160: “I have yseyen segges’, quod he, “in the Cite of Londoun
P.161: Beren beighes ful brighte abouten hire nekkes,
P.162: And somme colers of crafty work; uncoupled they wenden
P.163: Bothe in wareyne and in waast where hem leve liketh,
P.164: And outher while thei arn elliswhere, as I here telle.
P.165: Were ther a belle on hire beighe, by Jesus, as me thynketh,
P.166: Men myghte witen wher thei wente and awey renne.
P.167: And right so’, quod that raton, “reson me sheweth
P.168: To bugge a belle of bras or of bright silver
P.169: And knytten it on a coler for oure commune profit
P.170: And hangen it upon the cattes hals — thanne here we mowen
P.171: Wher he ryt or rest or rometh to pleye;
P.172: And if hym list for to laike, thanne loke we mowen
P.173: And peeren in his presence the while hym pleye liketh,
P.174: And if hym wratheth, be war and his wey shonye’.
P.175: Al the route of ratons to this reson assented;
P.176: Ac tho the belle was ybrought and on the beighe hanged
P.177: Ther ne was raton in al the route, for al the reaume of France,
P.178: That dorste have bounden the belle aboute the cattes nekke,
P.179: Ne hangen it aboute his hals al Engelond to wynne,
P.180: [Ac] helden hem unhardy and hir counseil feble,
P.181: And leten hire laboure lost and al hire longe studie.
P.182: A mous that muche good kouthe, as me tho thoughte,
P.183: Strook forth sternely and stood bifore hem alle,
P.184: And to the route of ratons reherced thise wordes:
P.185: “Though we hadde ykilled the cat, yet sholde ther come another
P.186: To cracchen us and al oure kynde, though we cropen under benches.
P.187: Forthi I counseille al the commune to late the cat worthe,
P.188: And be we nevere so bolde the belle hym to shewe.
P.188: The Vision of Piers Plowman
P.189: The while he caccheth conynges he coveiteth noght oure caroyne,
P.190: But fedeth hym al with venyson; defame we hym nevere.
P.191: For bettre is a litel los than a long sorwe:
P.192: The maze among us alle, theigh we mysse a sherewe!
P.193: For I herde my sire seyn, is seven yeer ypassed,
P.194: “”Ther the cat is a kitoun, the court is ful elenge”.
P.195: That witnesseth Holy Writ, whoso wole it rede —
P.196: Ve terre ubi puer rex est, &c.
P.197: For may no renk ther reste have for ratons by nyghte.
P.198: For many mennes malt we mees wolde destruye,
P.199: And also ye route of ratons rende mennes clothes,
P.200: Nere the cat of the court that kan you overlepe;
P.201: For hadde ye rattes youre [raik] ye kouthe noght rule yowselve.
P.202: “I seye for me’, quod the mous, ” I se so muchel after,
P.203: Shal nevere the cat ne the kiton by my counseil be greved,
P.204: Ne carpynge of this coler that costed me nevere.
P.205: And though it costned me catel, biknowen it I nolde,
P.206: But suffren as hymself wolde [s]o doon as hym liketh —
P.207: Coupled and uncoupled to cacche what thei mowe.
P.208: Forthi ech a wis wight I warne — wite wel his owene!’
P.209: (What this metels bymeneth, ye men that ben murye,
P.210: Devyne ye — for I ne dar, by deere God in hevene)!
P.211: Yet hoved ther an hundred in howves of selk —
P.212: Sergeants, it semed, that serveden at the Barre,
P.213: Pleteden for penyes and pounded the lawe,
P.214: And noght for love of Oure Lord unlose hire lippes ones.
P.215: Thow myghtest bettre meete myst on Malverne Hilles
P.216: Than get a “mom’ of hire mouth til moneie be shewed!
P.217: Barins and burgeises and bondemen als
P.218: I seigh in this assemblee, as ye shul here after;
P.219: Baksteres and brewesteres and bochiers manye,
P.220: Wollen webbesters and weveres of lynnen,
P.221: Taillours and tynkers and tollers in markettes,
P.222: Masons and mynours and many othere craftes:
P.223: Of alle kynne lybbynge laborers lopen forth somme-
P.224: As dykeres and delveres that doon hire dedes ille
P.225: And dryveth forth the longe day with “Dieu save Dame Emme!’
P.226: Cokes and hire knaves cryden, ” Hote pies, hote!
P.227: Goode gees and grys! Go we dyne, go we!’
P.228: Taverners until hem tolden the same:
P.229: “Whit wyn of Oseye and wyn of Gascoigne,
P.230: Of the Ryn and of the Rochel, the roost to defie!’
P.231: — Al this I seigh slepyng, and sevene sythes more.
1.001: What this mountaigne bymeneth and the merke dale
1.002: And the feld ful of folk, I shal yow faire shewe.
1.003: A lovely lady of leere in lynnen yclothed
1.004: Cam doun fom [the] castel and called me faire,
1.005: And seide, “Sone, slepestow? Sestow this peple-
1.006: How bisie they ben aboute the maze?
1.007: The mooste partie of this peple that passeth on this erthe,
1.008: Have thei worship in this world, thei wilne no bettre;
1.009: Of oother hevene than here holde thei no tale’.-
1.010: I was afeed of hire face, theigh she faire weere,
1.011: And seide, ” Mercy, madame, what [may] this [be] to mene?’
1.012: “The tour upon the toft’, quod she, “Truthe is therinne,
1.013: And wolde that ye wroughte as his word techeth.
1.014: For he is fader of feith and formed yow alle
1.015: Bothe with fel and with face and yaf yow fyve wittes
1.016: For to worshipe hym therwith while that ye ben here.
1.017: And therfore he highte the erthe to helpe yow echone
1.018: Of woilene, of lynnen, of liflode at nede
1.019: In mesurable manere to make yow at ese;
1.020: And comaunded of his curteisie in commune three thynges:
1.021: Are none nedfulle but tho, and nempne hem I thynke,
1.022: And rekene hem by reson — reherce thow hem after.
1.023: “That oon is vesture from chele thee to save,
1.024: And mete at meel for mysese of thiselve,
1.025: And drynke whan thow driest — ac do noght out of reson,
1.026: That thow worthe the wers whan thow werche sholdest.
1.027: For Lot in hise lifdayes, for likynge of drynke,
1.028: Dide by hise doughtres that the devel liked:
1.029: Delited hym in drynke as the devel wolde,
1.030: And leccherie hym laughte, and lay by hem bothe —
1.031: And al he witte it the wyn, that wikked dede:
1.031: Inebriemus eum vino dormiamusque cum eo, ut
1.031: servare possimus de patre nostro semen.
1.032: Thorugh wyn and thorugh wommen ther was Loth acombred,
1.033: And there gat in glotonie gerles that were cherles.
1.034: Forthi dred delitable drynke and thow shalt do the bettre.
1.035: Mesure is medicine, though thow muchel yerne.
1.036: Al is nought good to the goost that the gut asketh,
1.037: Ne liflode to the likame that leef is to the soule.
1.038: Leve nought thi likame, for a liere hym techeth —
1.039: That is the wrecched world, wolde thee bitraye.
1.040: For the fend and thi flessh folwen togidere,
1.041: And that [shendeth] thi soule; set it in thin herte.
1.042: And for thow sholdest ben ywar, I wisse thee the beste.’
1.043: “A, madame, mercy,’ quod I, ” me liketh wel youre wordes.
1.044: Ac the moneie of this molde that men so faste holdeth —
1.045: Telleth me to whom that tresour appendeth.’
1.046: Go to the Gospel,’ quod she, “that God seide hymselven,
1.047: Tho the poeple hym apposede with a peny in the Temple
1.048: Wheither thei sholde therwith worshipe the kyng Cesar.
1.049: And God asked of hem, of whom spak the lettre,
1.050: And the ymage ylike that therinne stondeth?
1.051: Cesares, thei seiden, “we seen it wel echone.’
1.052: “”Reddite Cesari,” quod God, “” that Cesari bifalleth,
1.053: Et que sunt Dei Deo, or ellis ye don ille.’
1.054: — For rightfully Reson sholde rule yow alle,
1.055: And Kynde Wit be wardeyn youre welthe to kepe,
1.056: And tutour of youre tresor, and take it yow at nede,
1.057: For housbondrie and he holden togidres.’
1.058: Thanne I frayned hire faire, for Hym that hire made,
1.059: “That dongeon in the dale that dredful is of sighte —
1.060: What may it bemeene, madame, I yow biseche?’
1.061: “That is the castel of care — whoso comth therinne
1.062: May banne that he born was to bodi or to soule!
1.063: Therinne wonyeth a wight that Wrong is yhote,
1.064: Fader of falshede — and founded it hymselve.
1.065: Adam and Eve he egged to ille,
1.066: Counseilled Kaym to killen his brother,
1.067: Judas he japed with Jewen silver,
1.068: And sithen on an eller hanged hym after.
1.069: He is lettere of love and lieth hem alle:
1.070: That trusten on his tresour bitrayed arn sonnest.’
1.071: Thanne hadde I wonder in my wit what womman it weere
1.072: That swiche wise wordes of Holy Writ shewed,
1.073: And halsede hire on the heighe name, er she thennes yede,
1.074: What she were witterly that wissed me so faire.
1.075: “Holi Chirche I am,’ quod she, thow oughtest me to knowe.
1.076: I underfeng thee first and the feith taughte.
1.077: Thow broughtest me borwes my biddyng to fulfille,
1.078: And to loven me leelly the while thi lif dureth.’
1.079: Thanne I courbed on my knees and cried hire of grace,
1.080: And preide hire pitously to preye for my synnes,
1.081: And also kenne me kyndely on Crist to bileve,
1.082: That I myghte werchen His wille that wroghte me to man:
1.083: “Teche me to no tresor, but tel me this ilke =
1.084: How I may save my soule, that seint art yholden.’
1.085: “Whan alle tresors arn tried,’ quod she,-Treuthe is the beste.
1.086: I do it on Deus caritas to deme the sothe;
1.087: It is as dereworthe a drury as deere God hymselven.
1.088: Who is trewe of his tonge and telleth noon oother,
1.089: And dooth the werkes therwith and wilneth no man ille,
1.090: He is a god by the Gospel, agrounde and olofte,
1.091: And ylik to Oure Lord, by Seint Lukes wordes.
1.092: The clerkes that knowen this sholde kennen it aboute,
1.093: For Cristen and uncristen cleymeth it echone.
1.094: ” Kynges and knyghtes sholde kepen it by reson —
1.095: Riden and rappen doun in reaumes aboute,
1.096: And taken transgressores and tyen hem faste
1.097: Til treuthe hadde ytermyned hire trespas to the ende.
1.098: For David in hise dayes dubbed knyghtes,
1.099: And dide hem sweren on hir swerd to serven truthe evere.
1.100: And that is the profession apertly that apendeth to knyghtes,
1.101: And naught to Fasten o Friday in fyve score wynter,
1.102: But holden with hym and with here that wolden alle truthe,
1.103: And never leve hem for love ne for lacchynge of silver —
1.104: And whoso passe[th] that point is apostata in the ordre.
1.105: – But Crist, kyngene kyng, knyghted ten —
1.106: Cherubyn and Seraphyn, swiche sevene and another,
1.107: And yaf hem myght in his majestee — the murier hem thoughte —
1.108: And over his meene meynee made hem archangeles;
1.109: Taughte hem by the Trinitee treuthe to knowe,
1.110: To be buxom at his biddyng — he bad hem nought ellis.
1.111: “Lucifer with legions lerned it in hevene,
1.112: [And was the lovelokest to loke after Oure Lord (one)]
1.113: Til he brak buxomnesse; his blisse gan he tyne,
1.114: And fel fro that felawshipe in a fendes liknesse
1.115: into a deep derk helle to dwelle there for evere.
1.116: And mo thousandes myd hym than man kouthe nombre
1.117: Lopen out with Lucifer in lothliche forme
1.118: For thei leveden upon hym that lyed in this manere:
1.119: Ponam pedem in aquilone, et similis ero Altissimo.
1.120: And alle that hoped it myghte be so, noon hevene myghte hem holde,
1.121: But fellen out in fendes liknesse [ful] nyne dayes togideres,
1.122: Til God of his goodnesse [garte the hevene to stekie
1.123: And gan stable it and stynte] and stonden in quiete.
1.124: ” Whan thise wikkede wenten out, wonderwise thei fellen —
1.125: Somme in eyr, somme in erthe, somme in helle depe;
1.126: Ac Lucifer lowest lith of hem alle:
1.127: For pride that he putte out, his peyne hath noon ende.
1.128: And alle that werchen with wrong wende thei shulle
1.129: After hir deth day and dwelle with that sherewe;
1.130: Ac tho that werche wel as Holy Writ telleth,
1.131: And enden as I er seide in truthe, that is the beste,
1.132: Mowe be siker that hire soules shul wende to hevene,
1.133: Ther Treuthe is in Trinitee and troneth hem alle.
1.134: Forthi I seye, as I seyde er, by sighte of thise textes —
1.135: Whan alle tresors arn tried, Truthe is the beste.
1.136: Lereth it th[u]s lewed men, for lettred it knoweth —
1.137: That Treuthe is tresor the trieste on erthe.’
1.138: “Yet have I no kynde knowynge,’ quod I, “ye mote kenne me bettre
1.139: By what craft in my cors it comseth, and where.’
1.140: “Thow doted daffe!’ quod she, dulle are thi wittes.
1.141: To litel Latyn thow lernedest, leode, in thi youthe:
1.141: Heu michi quia sterilem duxi vitam iuvenilem!
1.142: It is a kynde knowynge that kenneth in thyn herte
1.143: For to loven thi Lord levere than thiselve,
1.144: No dedly synne to do, deye theigh thow sholdest —
1.145: This I trowe be truthe; who kan teche thee bettre,
1.146: Loke thow suffre hym to seye, and sithen lere it after;
1.147: For thus witnesseth his word; worche thow therafter.
1.148: ” For Truthe telleth that love is triacle of hevene:
1.149: May no synne be on hym seene that that spice useth.
1.150: And alle his werkes he wroughte with love as hym liste,
1.151: And lered it Moyses for the leveste thyng and moost lik to hevene,
1.152: And also the plante of pees, moost precious of vertues :
1.153: For hevene myghte nat holden it, so was it hevy of hymself,
1.154: Til it hadde of the erthe eten his fille.
1.155: And whan it hadde of this fold flessh and blood taken,
1.156: Was nevere leef upon lynde lighter therafter,
1.157: And portatif and persaunt as the point of a nedle,
1.158: That myghte noon armure it lette ne none heighe walles.
1.159: ” Forthi is love ledere of the Lordes folk of hevene,
1.160: And a meene, as the mair is, [inmiddes] the kyng and the commune;
1.161: Right so is love a ledere and the lawe shapeth:
1.162: Upon man for hise mysdedes the mercyment he taxeth.
1.163: And for to knowen it kyndely — it comseth by myght,
1.164: And in the herte, there is the heed and the heighe welle.
1.165: For in kynde knowynge in herte ther [coms]eth a myght —
1.166: And that falleth to the Fader that formed us alle,
1.167: Loked on us with love and leet his sone dye
1.168: Mekely for oure mysdedes, to amenden us alle.
1.169: And yet wolde he hem no wo that wroughte hym that peyne,
1.170: But mekely with mouthe mercy he bisoughte,
1.171: To have pite of that peple that peyned hym to dethe.
1.172: ” Here myghtow sen ensample in hymself oone —
1.173: That he was myghtful and meke, and mercy gan graunte
1.174: To hem that hengen hym heigh and his herte thirled.
1.175: ” Forthi I rede yow riche, haveth ruthe of the povere,
1.176: Though ye be myghty to mote, beeth meke in youre werkes,
1.177: For the same mesure that ye mete, amys outher ellis,
1.178: Ye shulle ben weyen therwith whan ye wenden hennes:
1.178: Eadem mensura qua mensi fueritis remecietur vobis.
1.179: For though ye be trewe of youre tonge and treweliche wynne,
1.180: And as chaste as a child that in chirche wepeth,
1.181: But if ye loven leelly and lene the povere
1.182: Of swich good as God sent, goodliche parteth,
1.183: Ye ne have na moore merite in Masse ne in houres
1.184: Than Malkyn of hire maydenhede, that no man desireth.
1.185: For James the gentile jugged in hise bokes
1.186: That feith withouten feetis (feblere] than nought,
1.187: And as deed as a dorenai but if the dedes folwe:
1.187: Fides sine operibus mortua est &c.
1.188: “Forthi chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in helle;
1.189: It is as lewed as a lampe that no light is inne.
1.190: Manye chapeleyns arn chaste, ac charite is aweye;
1.191: Are none hardere than hii whan [hii] ben avaunced:
1.192: Unkynde to hire kyn and to alle Cristene,
1.193: Chewen hire charite and chiden after moore —
1.194: Swich chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in helle.
1.195: Manye curatours kepen hem clene of hire bodies;
1.196: Thei ben acombred with coveitise, thei konne noght out crepe,
1.197: So harde hath avarice yhasped hem togideres.
1.198: And that is no truthe of the Trinite, but tricherie of helle,
1.199: And lernynge to lewed men the latter for to deele.
1.200: For [thise ben wordes] writen in the [Euaungelie]:
1.201: “” Date, et dabitur vobis — for I deele yow alle.
1.202: And that is the lok of love that leteth out my grace,
1.203: To conforten the carefulle acombred with synne.”
1.204: Love is leche of lif and next Oure Lord selve,
1.205: And also the graithe gate that goth into hevene.
1.206: Forthi I seye as I seide er by sighte of the textes:
1.207: Whan alle tresors ben tried, Treuthe is the beste.
1.208: “Now have I told thee what truthe is — that no tresor is bettre —
1.209: I may no lenger lenge thee with; now loke thee Oure Lord!’
2.001: Yet I courbed on my knees and cried hire of grace,
2.002: And seide, ” Mercy, madame, for Marie love of hevene,
2.003: That bar that blisful barn that boughte us on the Rode —
2.004: Kenne me by sorn craft to knowe the false.’
2.005: Loke upon thi let-t half, and lo where he stondeth —
2.006: Bothe Fals and Favel, and hire feeres manye!’
2.007: I loked on my left half as the Lady me taughte,
2.008: And was war of a womman wonderliche yclothed —
2.009: Purfiled with pelure, the pureste on erthe,
2.010: Ycorouned with a coroune, the Kyng hath noon bettre.
2.011: Fetisliche hire fyngres were fretted with gold wyr,
2.012: And thereon rede rubies as rede as any gleede,
2.013: And diamaundes of derrest pris and double manere saphires,
2.014: Orientals and ewages envenymes to destroye.
2.015: Hire robe was ful riche, of reed scarlet engreyned,
2.016: With ribanes of reed gold and of riche stones.
2.017: Hire array me ravysshed, swich richesse saugh I newere.
2.018: I hadde wonder what she was and whos wif she were.
2.019: “What is this womman,’ quod I, so worthili atired?’
2.020: “That is Mede the mayde.’ quod she, hath noyed me ful ofte,
2.021: And ylakked my lemman that Leautee is hoten,
2.022: And bilowen h[ym] to lordes that lawes han to kepe.
2.023: In the Popes paleis she is pryvee as myselve,
2.024: But soothnesse wolde noght so — for she is a bastard,
2.025: For Fals was hire fader that hath a fikel tonge,
2.026: And nevere sooth seide sithen he com to erthe;
2.027: And Mede is manered after hym, right as [asketh kynde]:
2.027: Qualis pater, talis filius. Bona arbor bonum fructum facit.
2.028: “I oughte ben hyere than [heo] — I kam of a bettre.
2.029: My fader the grete God is and ground of alle graces,
2.030: Oo God withouten gynnyng, and I his goode doughter,
2.031: And hath yeven me Mercy to marie with myselve;
2.032: And what man be merciful and leelly me love
2.033: Shal be mylord and I his leef in the heighe hevene;
2.034: And what man taketh Mede. myn heed dar I legge
2.035: That he shal lese for hire love a lappe of Caritatis.
2.036: “How construeth David the King of men that [cacch]eth Mede,
2.037: And men of this moolde that maynteneth truthe,
2.038: And how ye shul save yourself? The Sauter bereth witnesse:
2.038: Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo, &c.
2.040: “And now worth this Mede ymaried to a mansed sherewe,
2.041: To oon Fals Fikel-tonge, a fendes biyete.
2.042: Favel thorugh his faire speche hath this folk enchaunted,
2.043: And al is Lieres ledynge that [lady] is thus ywedded.
2.044: Tomorwe worth ymaked the maydenes bridale;
2.045: And there myghtow witen if thow wilt whiche thei ben alle
2.046: That longen to that lordshipe, the lasse and the moore.
2.047: Knowe hem there if thow kanst, and kepe [thee from hem alle],
2.048: And lakke hem noght but lat hem worthe, til Leaute oe Justice
2.049: And have power to punysshe hem — thanne put forth thi reson.
2.050: Now I bikenne thee Crist,’ quod she, “and his clene moder,
2.051: And lat no conscience acombre thee for coveitise of Mede.’
2.052: Thus lefte me that lady liggynge aslepe,
2.053: And how Mede was ymaried in metels me thoughte —
2.054: That al the riche retenaunce that regneth with the False
2.055: Were boden to the bridale on bothe two sides,
2.056: Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche.
2.057: To marien this mayde was many man assembled,
2.058: As of knyghtes and of clerkes and oother commune peple,
2.059: As sisours and somonours, sherreves and hire clerkes,
2.060: Bedelles and baillifs and brocours of chaffare,
2.061: Forgoers and vitaillers and vokettes of the Arches;
2.062: I kan noght rekene the route that ran aboute Mede.
2.063: Ac Symonie and Cyvylle and sisours of courtes
2.064: Were moost pryvee with Mede of any men, me thoughte.
2.065: Ac Favel was the firste that fette hire out of boure
2.066: And as a brocour broughte hire to be with Fals enjoyned.
2.067: Whan Symonye and Cyvylle seighe hir bother wille,
2.068: Thei assented for silver to seye as bothe wolde.
2.069: Thanne leep Liere forth and seide, “Lo! here a chartre
2.070: That Gile with his grete othes gaf hem togidere,’ —
2.071: And preide Cyvylle to see and Symonye to rede it.
2.072: Thanne Symonye and Cyvylle stonden forth bothe
2.073: And unfoldeth the feffement that Fals hath ymaked,
2.074: And thus bigynnen thise gomes to greden ful heighe:
2.074: “Sciant presentes & futuri, &c.
2.075: Witeth and witnesseth, that wonieth upon this erthe,
2.076: That Mede is ymaried moore for hire goodes
2.077: Than for any vertue or fairnesse or any free kynde.
2.078: Falsnesse is fayn of hire for he woot hire riche;
2.079: And Favel with his fikel speche feffeth by this chartre
2.080: To be Princes in Pride, and poverte to despise,
2.081: To bakbite and to bosten and bere fals witnesse,
2.082: To scorne and to scolde and sclaundre to make,
2.083: Unbuxome and bolde to breke the ten hestes.
2.084: And the erldom of Envye and Wrathe togideres,
2.085: With the chastilet of cheste and chaterynge out of reson.
2.086: The countee of Coveitise and alle the costes about —
2.087: That is usure and avarice — al I hem graunte
2.088: In bargaynes and in brocages with al the burghe of thefte,
2.089: And al the lordshipe of Leccherie in lengthe and in brede —
2.090: As in werkes and in wordes and in waitynges with eighes,
2.091: And in wedes and in wisshynges and with ydel thoughtes
2.092: Ther as wil wolde and werkmanshipe faylith.’
2.093: Glotonye he gaf hem ek and grete othes togidere,
2.094: And al day to drynken at diverse tavernes,
2.095: And there to jangle and jape and jugge hir evencristen,
2.096: And in fastynge dayes to frete er ful tyme were.
2.097: And thanne to sitten and soupen til sleep hem assaille,
2.098: And breden at burgh swyn, and bedden hem esily,
2.099: Til Sleuthe and sleep sliken hise sydes;
2.100: And thanne wanhope to awaken hym so with no wil to amende,
2.101: For he leveth be lost — this is his laste ende.
2.102: “And thei to have and to holde, and hire heires after,
2.103: A dwellynge with the devel, and dampned be for evere,
2.104: With alle the appurtinaunces of Purgatorie into the pyne of helle-
2.105: Yeldynge for this thyng at one yeres ende
2.106: Hire soules to Sathan, to suffre with hym peynes,
2.107: And with hym to wonye with wo while God is in hevene.’
2.108: In witnesse of which thyng Wrong was the firste,
2.109: And Piers the Pardoner of Paulynes doctrine,
2.110: Bette the Bedel of Bokynghamshire,
2.111: Reynald the Reve of Rutland Sokene,
2.112: Munde the Millere — and many mo othere.
2.113: “In the date of the devel this dede I assele
2.114: By sighte of Sire Symonie and Cyvyles leeve.’
2.115: Thanne tened hym Theologie whan he this tale herde,-
2.116: And seide to Cyvyle, “Now sorwe mote thow have —
2.117: Swiche weddynges to werche to wrathe with Truthe!
2.118: And er this weddynge be wroght, wo thee bitide!
2.119: For Mede is muliere, of Amendes engendred;
2.120: And God graunted to gyve Mede to truthe,
2.121: And thow hast gyven hire to a gilour — now God gyve thee sorwe!
2.122: The text telleth thee noght so, Truthe woot the sothe,
2.123: For Dignus est operarius his hire to have —
2.124: And thow hast fest hire to Fals; fy on thi lawe!
2.125: For al bi lesynges thow lyvest and lecherouse werkes.
2.126: Symonye and thiself shenden Holi Chirche,
2.127: The notaries and ye noyen the peple.
2.128: Ye shul abiggen bothe, by God that me made!
2.129: ” Wel ye witen, wernardes, but if youre wit faille,
2.130: That Fals is feithlees and fikel in hise werkes
2.131: And as a bastarde ybore of Belsabubbes kynne.
2.132: And Mede is muliere, a maiden of goode,
2.133: And myghte kisse the Kyng for cosyn and she wolde.
2.134: Forthi wercheth by wisdom and by wit also,
2.135: And ledeth hire to Londoun, there lawe is yshewed,
2.136: If any lawe wol loke thei ligge togideres.
2.137: And though justices juggen hire to be joyned with Fals,
2.138: Yet be war of the weddynge — for witty is Truthe,
2.139: And Conscience is of his counseil and knoweth yow echone,
2.140: And if he fynde yow in defaute and with the false holde,
2.141: It shal bisitte youre soules ful soure at the laste.’
2.142: Herto assenteth Cyvyle, ac Symonye ne wolde,
2.143: Til he hadde silver for his se[el] and [signes] of notaries.
2.144: Thanne fette Favel forth floryns ynowe
2.145: And bad Gile, “Go gyve gold al aboute,
2.146: And namely to the notaries, that hem noon faille;
2.147: And feffe Fals-witnesse with floryns ynowe,
2.148: For he may Mede amaistrye and maken at my wille.’
2.149: Tho this gold was ygyve, gret was the thonkyng
2.150: To Fals and to Favel for hire faire yiftes,
2.151: And comen to conforten from care the-False,
2.152: And seiden, “Certes, sire, cessen shul we nevere,
2.153: Til Mede be thi wedded wif thorugh wit of us alle;
2.154: For we have Mede amaistried with oure murie speche,
2.155: That she graunteth to goon with a good wille
2.156: To London, to loken if the lawe wolde
2.157: Juggen yow joyntly in joie for evere.’
2.158: Thanne was Falsnesse fayn and Favel as blithe,
2.159: And leten somone alle segges in shires aboute,
2.160: And bad hem alle be bown, beggers and othere,
2.161: To wenden with hem to Westmynstre to witnesse this dede.
2.162: Ac thanne cared thei for caples to carien hem thider;
2.163: And Favel fette forth thanne foles ynowe
2.164: And sette Mede upon a sherreve shoed al newe,
2.165: And Fals sat on a sisour that softeli trotted
2.166: And Favel on a flaterere fetisly atired.
2.167: Tho hadde notaries none; anoyed thei were
2.168: For Symonye and Cyvylle sholde on hire feet gange.
2.169: Ac thanne swoor Symonye and Cyvylle bothe
2.170: That somonours golde be sadeled and serven hem echone.
2.171: “And late apparaille thise provisours in palfreyes wise;
2.172: Sire Symonye hymself shal sitte upon hir bakkes.
2.173: Denes and southdenes, drawe yow togideres;
2.174: Erchedekenes and officials and alle youre registrers,
2.175: Lat sadle hem with silver oure synne to suffre —
2.176: As devoutrye and divorses and derne usurie —
2.177: To bere bisshopes aboute abrood in visitynge.
2.178: Paulynes pryvees for pleintes in consistorie
2.179: Shul serven myself that Cyvyle is nempned.
2.180: And cartsadle the commissarie — oure cart shal he [drawe],
2.181: And fecchen us vitailles at fornicatores,
2.182: And maketh of Lyere a lang cart to leden alle thise othere,
2.183: As fobberes and faitours that on hire feet rennen.’
2.184: And thus Fals and Favel fareth forth togideres,
2.185: And Mede in the middes and alle thise men after.
2.186: I have no tome to telle the tail that hem folweth,
2.187: Of many maner man that on this molde libbeth,
2.188: Ac Gyle was forgoer and gyed hem alle.
2.189: Sothnesse seigh hem wel, and seide but litel,
2.190: A[c] priked his palfrey and passed hem alle,
2.191: And com to the Kynges court and Conseience it tolde,
2.192: And Conseience to the Kyng carped it after.
2.193: ” Now, by Cryst!’ quod the Kyng, “and I cacche myghte
2.194: Fals or Favel or any of hise feeris,
2.195: I wolde be wroken of tho wrecches that wercheth so ille,
2.196: And doon hem hange by the hals and alle that hem maynteneth.
2.197: Shal nevere man of this molde meynprise the leeste,
2.198: But right as the lawe loke[th], lat falle on hem alle!’
2.199: And comaunded a constable that com at the firste,
2.200: To attachen tho tyraunts: “For any [tresor], I hote,
2.201: Fettreth Falsnesse faste, for any kynnes yiftes,
2.202: And girdeth of Gyles heed — lat hym go no ferther;
2.203: And bringeth Mede to me maugree hem alle!
2.204: And if ye lacche Lyere, lat hym noght ascapen
2.205: Er he be put on the pillory, for any preyere, I hote.’
2.206: Drede at the dore stood and the doom herde,
2.207: And how the Kyng comaunded constables and sergeaunts
2.208: Falsnesse and his Felawship to fettren and to bynden.
2.209: Thanne Drede wente wyghtliche and warned the False,
2.210: And bad hym fle for fere, and hise feeris alle.
2.211: Falsnesse for fere thanne fleigh to the freres
2.212: And Gyle dooth hym to go, agast for to dye.
2.213: Ac marchaunts metten with hym and made hym abyde,
2.214: And bishetten hym in hire shoppes to shewen hire ware,
2.215: Apparailed hym as a prentice the peple to serve.
2.216: Lightliche Lyere leep awey thennes,
2.217: Lurkynge thorugh lanes, tolugged of manye.
2.218: He was nowher welcome for his manye tales,
2.219: Over al yhonted and yhote trusse,
2.220: Til pardoners hadde pite, and pulled hym into house.
2.221: They wesshen hym and wiped hym and wounden hym in cloutes,
2.222: And senten hym [on Sondayes with seles] to chirches,
2.223: And gaf pardoun for pens poundemele aboute.
2.224: Thanne lourede leches, and lettres thei sente
2.225: That he sholde wonye with hem watres to loke.
2.226: Spycers speken with hym to spien hire ware,
2.227: For he kouthe on hir craft and knew manye gommes.
2.228: Ac mynstrales and messagers mette with hym ones,
2.229: And [with]helden hym an half yeer and ellevene dayes.
2.230: Freres with fair speche fetten hymthen,
2.231: And for knowynge of comeres coped hym as a frere;
2.232: Ac he hath leve to lepen out as ofte as hym liketh,
2.233: And is welcome whan he wile, and woneth with hem ofte.
2.234: Alle fledden for fere and flowen into hernes;
2.235: Save Mede the mayde na mo dorste abide.
2.236: Ac trewely to telle, she trembled for fere,
2.237: And ek wepte and wrong whan she was attached.
3.001: Now is Mede the mayde and no mo of hem alle,
3.002: With bedeles and baillies brought bifore the Kyng.
3.003: The Kyng called a clerk — l kan noght his name —
3.004: To take Mede the maide and maken hire at ese.
3.005: I shal assayen hire myself and soothliche appose
3.006: What man of this world that hire were levest.
3.007: And if she werche bi wit and my wil folwe
3.008: I wol forgyven hire this gilt, so me God helpe!’
3.009: Curteisly the clerk thanne, as the Kyng highte,
3.010: Took Mede bi the myddel and broghte hire into chambre.
3.011: Ac ther was murthe and mynstralcie Mede to plese;
3.012: That wonyeth at Westmynstre worshipeth hire alle.
3.013: Gentilliche with joye the justices somme
3.014: Busked hem to the bour ther the burde dwellede,
3.015: Conforted hyre kyndely by Clergies leve,
3.016: And seiden, ” Mourne noght, Mede, ne make thow no sorwe,
3.017: For we wol wisse the Kyng and thi wey shape
3.018: To be wedded at thi wille and wher thee leef liketh
3.019: For al Conscienees cast or craft, as I trowe.’
3.020: Mildely Mede thanne merciede hem alle
3.021: Of hire grete goodnesse — and gaf hem echone
3.022: Coupes of clene gold and coppes of silver,
3.023: Rynges with rubies and richesses manye,
3.024: The Ieeste man of hire meynee a moton of golde.
3.025: Thanne laughte thei leve thise lordes at Mede.
3.026: With that comenclerkes to conforten hire the same,
3.027: And beden hire be blithe — “For we beth thyne owene
3.028: For to werche thi wille the while thow myght laste.’
3.029: Hendiliche heo thanne bihighte hem the same —
3.030: To loven hem lelly and lordes to make,
3.031: And in the consistorie at the court do callen hire names.
3.032: ” Shal no lewednesse lette the clerke that I lovye,
3.033: That he ne worth first avaunced for I am biknowen
3.034: Ther konnynge clerkes shul clokke bihynde.’
3.035: Thanne cam ther a confessour coped as a frere;
3.036: To Mede the mayde [mekeliche he loutede]
3.037: And seide ful softely, in shrift as it were,
3.038: “Theigh lewed men and lered men hadde leyen by thee bothe.
3.039: And Falshede hadde yfolwed thee alle thise fifty wynter,
3.040: I shal assoille thee myself for a seem of whete,
3.041: And also be thi bedeman, and bere wel thyn er[ende],
3.042: Amonges knyghtes and clerkes, Conscience to torne.
3.043: Thanne Mede for hire mysdedes to that man kneled,
3.044: And shrof hire of hire sherewednesse — shamelees, I trowe;
3.045: Tolde hym a tale and took hym a noble
3.046: For to ben hire bedeman and hire brocour als.
3.047: Thanne he assoiled hire soone and sithen he seide,
3.048: ” We have a wyndow in werchynge, wole stonden us ful hye;
3.049: Woldestow glaze that gable and grave therinne thy name,
3.050: Sykir sholde thi soule be hevene to have.’
3.051: ” Wiste I that,’ quod the womman,-I wolde noght spare
3.052: For to be youre frend, frere, and faile yow nevere
3.053: While ye love lordes that lecherie haunten
3.054: And lakketh noght ladies that loven wel the same.
3.055: It is a freletee of flessh — ye fynden it in bokes —
3.056: And a cours of kynde. wherof we comen alle.
3.057: Who may scape the sclaundre, the scathe is soone amended;
3.058: It is synne of the sevene sonnest relessed.
3.059: Have mercy,’ quod Mede, of men that it haunteth
3.060: And I shal covere youre kirk, youre cloistre do maken,
3.061: Wowes do whiten and wyndowes glazen,
3.062: Do peynten and portraye [who paied] for the makynge,
3.063: That every segge shall see I am suster of youre house.’
3.064: Ac God to alle good folk swich gravynge defendeth —
3.065: To writen in wyndowes of hir wel dedes —
3.066: An aventure pride be peynted there, and pomp of the world;
3.067: For God knoweth thi conscience and thi kynde wille,
3.068: And thi cost and thi coveitise and who the catel oughte.
3.069: Forthi I lere yow lordes, leveth swiche w[rityng]es —
3.070: To writen in wyndowes of youre wel dedes
3.071: Or to greden after Goddes men whan ye [gyve] doles,
3.072: On aventure ye have youre hire here and youre hevene als.
3.072: Nesciat sinsitra quid faciat dextra:
3.073: Lat noght thi left half, late ne rathe,
3.074: Wite what thow werchest with thi right syde —
3.075: For thus bit the Gospel goode men doon hir almesse.
3.076: Maires and maceres, that menes ben bitwene
3.077: The kyng and the comune to kepe the lawes,
3.078: To punysshe on pillories and on pynynge stooles
3.079: Brewesters and baksters, bochiers and cokes —
3.080: For thise are men on this molde that moost harm wercheth
3.081: To the povere peple that parcelmele buggen.
3.082: For thei poisone the peple pryveliche and ofte,
3.083: Thei richen thorugh regratrie and rentes hem biggen
3.084: With that the povere peple sholde putte in hire wombe.
3.085: For toke thei on trewely, thei tymbred nought so heighe,
3.086: Ne boughte none burgages — be ye ful certeyne!
3.087: Ac Mede the mayde the mair h[eo] bisought[e]
3.088: Of alle swiche selleris silver to take,
3.089: Or presents withouten pens — as pieces of silver,
3.090: Rynges or oother richesse the regratiers to mayntene.
3.091: ” For my love,’ quod that lady, love hem echone,
3.092: And suffre hem to selle somdel ayeins reson.’
3.093: Salamon the sage a sermon he made
3.094: For to amenden maires and men that kepen lawes,
3.095: And tolde hem this teme that I telle thynke:
3.095: Ignis devorabit tabernacula eorum qui libenter accipiunt munera, &c.
3.096: Among thise lettrede leodes this Latyn is to mene
3.097: That fir shall falle and [for]brenne al to bloo askes
3.098: The houses and the homes of hem that desireth
3.100: Yiftes or yeresyeves because of hire offices.
3.101: The Kyng fro counseil cam, and called after Mede,
3.102: And ofsente hire as swithe with sergeaunts manye
3.103: That broughte hire to boure with blisse and with joye.
3.104: Curteisly the Kyng thanne comsed to telle;
3.105: To Mede the mayde he melleth thise wordes:
3.106: ” Unwittily, womman, wroght hastow ofte;
3.107: Ac worse wroghtest thow nevere than tho thow Fals toke.
3.108: But I forgyve thee that gilt, and graunte thee my grace;
3.109: Hennes to thi deeth day do so na moore!
3.110: I have a knyght, Conscience, cam late fro biyonde;
3.111: If he wilneth thee to wif, wiltow hym have?’
3.112: “Ye, Iord,’ quod that lady, ” Lord forbede it ellis!
3.113: But I be holly at youre heste, lat hange me soone!’
3.114: Thanne was Conscience called to come and appere
3.115: Bifore the Kyng and his conseil, as clerkes and othere.
3.116: Knelynge Conseience to the Kyng louted,
3.117: To wite what his wille were and what he do sholde.
3.118: “Woltow wedde this womman,’ quod the Kyng, “if I wole assente?
3.119: For she is fayn of thi felaweshipe, for to be thi make.’
3.120: Quod Conscience to the-Kyng, “Crist it me forbede!
3.121: Er I wedde swich a wif, wo me bitide!
3.122: For she is frele of hire feith, fikel of hire speche,
3.123: And maketh men mysdo many score tymes.
3.124: In trust of hire tresor she t[en]eth ful manye:
3.125: Wyves and widewes wantounnesse she techeth,
3.126: And lereth hem lecherie that loveth hire yiftes.
3.127: Poure fader she felled thorugh false biheste,
3.128: And hath apoisoned popes and peired Holy Chirche.
3.129: Is noght a bettre baude, by Hym that me made,
3.130: Bitwene hevene and helle, in erthe though men soghte!
3.131: For she is tikel of hire tail, talewis of tonge,
3.132: As commune as the cartwey to [knaves and to alle] —
3.133: To monkes, to mynstrales, to meseles in hegges;
3.134: Sisours and somonours, swiche men hire preiseth,
3.135: Sherreves of shires were shent if she ne were —
3.136: For she dooth men lese hire lond and hire lif bothe.
3.137: She leteth passe prisoners and paieth for hem ofte,
3.138: And gyveth the gailers gold and grotes togidres
3.139: To unfettre the Fals — fle where hym liketh;
3.140: And taketh the trewe bi the top and tieth hym faste,
3.141: And hangeth hym for hatrede that harm[e]de nevere.
3.142: “To be cursed in consistorie she counteth noght a russhe
3.143: For she copeth the commissarie and coteth hise clerkes.
3.144: She is assoiled as soone as hireself liketh;
3.145: She may neigh as muche do in a monthe ones
3.146: As youre secret seel in sixe seore dayes!
3.147: She is pryvee with the Pope — provisours it knoweth,
3.148: For Sire Symonie and hirselve seleth hire bulles.
3.149: She blesseth thise bisshopes, theigh thei be lewed;
3.150: Provendreth persones and preestes she maynteneth
3.151: To h[old]e lemmans and lotebies alle hire lif daies
3.152: And bryngen forth barnes ayein forbode lawes.
3.153: “Ther she is wel with the kyng, wo is the reaume —
3.154: For she is favorable to Fals and defouleth truthe ofte.
3.155: By Jesus! with hire jeweles youre justice she shendeth
3.156: And lith ayein the lawe and letteth hym the gate,
3.157: That feith may noght have his forth, hire floryns go so thinke.
3.158: She ledeth the lawe as hire list and lovedaies maketh,
3.159: And doth men lese thorugh hire love that lawe myghte wynne —
3.160: The maze for a mene man, though he mote evere!
3.161: Lawe is so lordlich, and looth to maken ende:
3.162: Withouten presents or pens he pleseth wel fewe.
3.163: “Barons and burgeises she bryngeth in sorwe,
3.164: And al the comune in care that coveiten lyve in truthe,
3.165: For clergie and coveitise she coupleth togidres.
3.166: This is the lif of that lady — now Lord yyve hire sorwe,
3.167: And alle that maynteneth hire men, meschaunee hem bitide!
3.168: For povere men may have no power to pleyne though thei smerte,
3.169: Swich a maister is Mede among men of goode.’
3.170: Thanne mournede Mede and mened hire to the Kynge
3.171: To have space to speke, spede if she myghte.
3.172: The Kyng graunted hire grace with a good wille:
3.173: “Excuse thee if thow kanst; I kan namoore seggen,
3.174: For Conscience accuseth thee, to congeien thee for evere.’
3.175: “Nay, lord,’ quod that lady, “leveth hym the werse
3.176: Whan ye witen witterly wher the wrong liggeth.
3.177: Ther that meschief is gret, Mede may helpe.
3.178: And thow knowest, Conscience, I kam noght to chide,
3.179: Ne to deprave thi persone with a proud herte.
3.180: Wel thow woost, wernard, but if thow wolt gabbe,
3.181: Thow hast hanged on myn half ellevene tymes,
3.182: And also griped my gold, and gyve it where thee liked.
3.183: ow wrathest thee now, wonder me thynketh!
3.184: Yet I may, as I myghte, menske thee with yiftes
3.185: And mayntene thi manhode moore than thow knowest.
3.186: “Ac thow hast famed me foule bifore the Kyng here;
3.187: For killed I nevere no kyng, ne counseiled therafter,
3.188: Ne dide as thow demest — I do it on the Kynge.
3.189: In Normandie was he noght noyed for my sake —
3.190: Ac thow thiself, soothly, shamedest hym ofte:
3.191: Crope into a cabane for cold of thi nayles,
3.192: Wendest that wynter wolde han ylasted evere,
3.193: And dreddest to be ded for a dym cloude,
3.194: And hyedest homward for hunger of thi wombe.
3.195: Withouten pite, pilour, povere men thow robbedest
3.196: And bere hire bras at thi bak to Caleis to selle,
3.197: Ther I lafte with my lord his lif for to save.
3.198: I made his men murye and mournynge lette;
3.199: I batred hem on the bak and boldede hire hertes,
3.200: And dide hem hoppe for hope to have me at wille.
3.201: Hadde I ben marchal of his men, by Marie of hevene!
3.202: I dorste have leyd my lif and no lasse wedde,
3.203: He sholde have be lord of that lond in lengthe and in brede,
3.204: And also kyng of that kith his kyn for to helpe —
3.205: The leeste brol of his blood a barones piere!
3.206: Cowardly thow, Conscience, conseiledest hym thennes —
3.207: To leven his lordshipe for a litel silver,
3.208: That is the richeste reaume that reyn overhoveth.
3.209: “It bicometh to a kyng that kepeth a reaume
3.210: To yeve [men mede] that mekely hym serveth —
3.211: To aliens and to alle men, to honouren hem with yiftes;
3.212: Mede maketh hym biloved and for a man holden.
3.213: Emperours and erles and alle manere lordes
3.214: Thorugh yiftes han yonge men to yerne and to ryde.
3.215: The Pope and alle prelates presents underfongen
3.216: And medeth men hemselven to mayntene hir lawes,
3.217: Servaunts for hire servyce, we seeth wel the sothe,
3.218: Taken mede of hir maistres, as thei mowe acorde.
3.219: Beggeres for hir biddynge bidden men mede.
3.220: Mynstrales for hir myrthe mede thei aske.
3.221: The Kyng hath mede of his men to make pees in londe.
3.222: Men that [kenne clerkes] craven of hem mede.
3.223: Preestes that prechen the peple to goode
3.224: Asken mede and massepens and hire mete [also].
3.225: Alle kyn crafty men craven mede for hir prentices.
3.226: Marchaundise and mede mote nede go togideres:
3.227: No wight, es I wene, withouten Mede may libbe!
3.228: Quod the Kyng to Conscience, “By Crist, as me thynketh,
3.229: Mede is worthi the maistrie to have!-
3.230: “Nay,’ quod Conscience to the Kyng and kneled to the erthe,
3.231: “Ther are two manere of medes, my Iord, by youre leve.
3.232: That oon God of his grace graunteth in his blisse
3.233: To tho that wel werchen while thei ben here.
3.234: The Prophete precheth therof and putte it in the Sauter:
3.234: Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo?
3.235: Lord, who shal wonye in thi wones with thyne holy seintes
3.236: Or resten in thyne holy hilles? — This asketh David.
3.237: And David assoileth it hymself, as the Sauter telleth:
3.237: Qui ingreditur sine macula et operatur iusticiam.
3.238: Tho that entren of o colour and of one wille,
3.239: And han ywroght werkes with right and with reson,
3.240: And he that useth noght the lyf of usurie
3.241: And enformeth povere men and pursueth truthe:
3.241: Qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram, et munera super innocentem &c.
3.242: And alle that helpen the innocent and holden with the rightfulle,
3.243: Withouten mede doth hem good and the truthe helpeth —
3.244: Swiche manere men, my lord, shul have this firste mede
3.245: Of God at a gret nede, whan thei gon hennes.
3.246: “Ther is another mede mesurelees, that maistres desireth:
3.247: To mayntene mysdoers mede thei take,
3.248: And therof seith the Sauter in a salmes ende —
3.248: In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt; dextra eorum repleta est muneribus:
3.250: And he that gripeth hir gold, so me God helpe,
3.251: Shal abien it bittre, or the Book lieth!
3.252: Preestes and persons that plesynge desireth,
3.253: That taken mede and moneie for masses that thei syngeth,
3.254: Taken hire mede here as Mathew us techeth:
3.254: Amen, amen, receperunt mercedem suam.
3.255: That laborers and lewede [leodes] taken of hire maistres,
3.256: It is no manere mede but a mesurable hire.
3.257: In marchaundise is no mede, I may it wel avowe:
3.258: It is a permutacion apertly — a penyworth for another.
3.259: “Ac reddestow nevere Regum, thow recrayed Mede,
3.260: Whi the vengeaunce fel on Saul and on his children?
3.261: God sente to Saul by Samuel the prophete
3.262: That Agag of Amalec and al his peple after
3.263: Sholden deye for a dede that doon hadde hire eldres.
3.264: “Forthi,’ seide Samuel to Saul, “God hymself hoteth thee
3.265: To be buxom at his biddynge, his wil to fulfille.
3.266: Weend to Amalec with thyn oost, and what thow fyndest there — sle it:
3.267: Burnes and beestes — bren hem to dethe!
3.268: Widwes and wyves, wommen and children,
3.269: Moebles and unmoebles, and al thow myght fynde —
3.270: Bren it, bere it noght awey, be it never so riche;
3.271: For mede ne for monee, loke thow destruye it!
3.272: Spille it and spare it noght — thow shalt spede the bettre.”
3.273: And for he coveited hir catel and the kyng spared,
3.274: Forbar hym and his beestes bothe as the Bible witnesseth
3.275: Otherwise than he was warned of the prophete,
3.276: God seide to Samuel that Saul sholde deye,
3.277: And al his seed for that synne shenfulliche ende.
3.278: Swich a meschief Mede made the kyng to have
3.279: That God hated hym for evere and alle his heires after.
3.280: “The culorum of this cas kepe I noght to shewe;
3.281: On aventure it noyed me, noon ende wol I make,
3.282: For so is this world went with hem that han power
3.283: That whoso seith hem sothest is sonnest yblamed!
3.284: “I, Conseience, knowe this, for Kynde Wit it me taughte —
3.285: That Reson shal regne and reaumes governe,
3.286: And right as Agag hadde, happe shul somme:
3.287: Samuel shal sleen hym and Saul shal be blamed,
3.288: And David shal be diademed and daunten hem alle,
3.289: And oon Cristene kyng kepen [us] echone.
3.290: Shal na moore Mede be maister as she is nouthe,
3.291: Ac love and lowenesse and leautee togideres —
3.292: Thise shul ben raaistres on moolde [trewe men] to save.
3.293: And whoso trespaseth ayein truthe or taketh ayein his wille,
3.294: Leaute shal don hym lawe, and no lif ellis.
3.295: Shal no sergeant for his service were a sik howve,
3.296: Ne no pelure in his [paviloun] for pledynge at the barre.
3.297: ” Mede of mysdoeres maketh manye lordes,
3.298: And over lordes Iawes [led]eth the reaumes.
3.299: Ac kynde love shal come yit and Conscience togideres
3.300: And make of lawe a laborer; swich love shal arise
3.301: And swich pees among the peple and a parfit truthe
3.302: That Jewes shul wene in hire wit, and wexen wonder glade,
3.303: That Moyses or Messie be come into this erthe,
3.304: And have wonder in hire hertes that men beth so trewe.
3.305: “Alle that beren baselard, brood swerd or launce,
3.306: Ax outher hachet or any wepene ellis,
3.307: Shal be demed to the deeth but if he do it smythye
3.308: into sikel or to sithe, to shaar or to kultour —
3.308: Conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres, &c —
3.309: Ech man to pleye with a plow, pykoise or spade,
3.310: Spynne, or sprede donge, or spille hymself with sleuthe;
3.311: Preestes and persons with Plucebo to hunte,
3.312: And dyngen upon David eche day til eve.
3.313: Huntynge or haukyng if any of hem use,
3.314: His boost of his benefice worth bynomen hym after.
3.315: “Shal neither kyng ne knyght, constable ne meire
3.316: Over[carke] the commune ne to the court sompne,
3.317: Ne putte hem in panel to doon hem plighte hir truthe;
3.318: But after the dede that is doon oon doom shal rewarde
3.319: Mercy or no mercy as Truthe [moste] acorde.
3.320: ” Kynges court and commune court, consistorie and chapitle —
3.321: Al shal be but oon court, and oon b[ur]n be justice:
3.322: That worth Trewe-tonge, a tidy man that tened me nevere.
3.323: Batailles shul none be, ne no man bere wepene,
3.324: And what smyth that any smytheth be smyte therwith to dethe!
3.324: Non levabit gens contra gentem gladium &c.
3.325: “And er this fortune falle, fynde men shul the worste,
3.326: By sixe sonnes and a ship and half a shef of arwes;
3.327: And the myddel of a moone shal make the Jewes torne,
3.328: And Sarsynes for that sighte shul synge Gloria in excelsis &c —
3.329: For Makometh and Mede myshappe shul that tyme;
3.330: For Melius est bonum nomen quam divicie multe.’
3.331: Also wroth as the wynd weex Mede in a while.
3.332: ” I kan no Latyn?’ quod she. “Clerkes wite the sothe!
3.333: Se what Salomon seith in Sapience bokes:
3.334: That thei that yyven yiftes the victorie wynneth,
3.335: And muche worshipe have therwith, as Holy Writ telleth —
3.335: Honorem adquiret qui dat munera, &c.’
3.336: ” I leve wel, lady,’ quod Conscience, “that thi Latyn be trewe.
3.337: Ac thow art lik a lady that radde a lesson ones,
3.338: Was omnia probate, and that plesed hire herte —
3.340: For that lyne was no lenger at the leves ende.
3.341: Hadde she loked that other half and the leef torned,
3.342: She sholde have founden fele wordes folwynge therafter:
3.343: Quod bonum est tenete — Truthe that text made.
3.344: And so [mys]ferde ye, madame — ye kouthe na moore fynde
3.345: Tho ye loked on Sapience, sittynge in youre studie.
3.346: This text that ye han told were [tidy] for lordes,
3.347: Ac yow failed a konnynge clerk that kouthe the leef han torned.
3.348: And if ye seche Sapience eft, fynde shul ye that folweth.
3.349: A ful teneful text to hem that taketh mede:
3.349: 350 And that is Animam autem aufert accipientium &c.
3.350: And that is the tail of the text of that tale ye shewed —
3.351: That theigh we wynne worshipe and with mede have victorie,
3.352: The soule that the soude taketh by so muche is bounde.-
4.001: ” Cesseth!’ seide the Kyng, ” I suffre yow no lenger.
4.002: Ye shul saughtne, forsothe, and serve me bothe.
4.003: Kis hire,’ quod the Kyng, “Conscience, I hote!’
4.004: ” Nay, by Crist!’ quod Conscience, ” congeye me rather!
4.005: But Reson rede me therto, rather wol I deye.’
4.006: “And I comaunde thee,’ quod the Kyng to Conseience thanne,
4.007: “Rape thee to ryde, and Reson that thow fecche.
4.008: Comaunde hym that he come my counseil to here,
4.009: For he shal rule my reaume and rede me the beste
4.010: Mede and of mo othere, what man shal hire wedde,
4.011: And acounte with thee, Conscience, so me Crist helpe,
4.012: How thow lernest the peple, the lered and the lewed!’
4.013: “I am fayn of that foreward,’ seide the freke thanne,
4.014: And ryt right to Reson and rouneth in his ere,
4.015: And seide hym as the Kyng seide, and sithen took his leve.
4.016: “I shal arraye me to ryde,’ quod Reson,-reste thee a while,’
4.017: And called Caton his knave, curteis of speche,
4.018: And also Tomme Trewe-tonge-tel-me-no-tales
4.019: Ne lesynge-to-laughen-of-for-I-loved-hem-nevere.
4.020: ” Set my sadel upon Suffre-til-I-se-my-tyme,
4.021: And lat warroke hym wel with witty-wordes gerthes.
4.022: Hange on hym the hevy brydel to holde his heed lowe,
4.023: For he wol make “”wehee” twies er he be there.’
4.024: Thanne Conscience on his capul caireth forth faste,
4.025: And Reson with hym ryt, rownynge togideres
4.026: Whiche maistries Mede maketh on this erthe.
4.027: Oon Waryn Wisdom and Witty his fere
4.028: Folwed hem faste, for thei hadde to doone
4.029: In th’Eseheker and in the Chauncerye, to ben descharged of thynges,
4.030: And riden faste for Reson sholde rede hem the beste
4.031: For to save hem for silver from shame and from harmes.
4.032: A[c] Conscience knew hem wel, thei loved coveitise,
4.033: And bad Reson ryde faste and recche of hir neither:
4.034: “Ther are wiles in hire wordes, and with Mede thei dweneth —
4.035: Ther as wrathe and wranglynge is, ther wynne thei silver;
4.036: Ac there is love and leautee, thei wol noght come there:
4.036: Contricio et infelicitas in viis eorum &c.
4.037: Thei ne gyveth noght of God one goose wynge:
4.037: Non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum &c.
4.038: For thei wolde do moore for a dozeyne chiknes
4.039: Than for the love of Oure Lorde or alle hise leeve seintes!
4.040: Forthi, Reson, lat hem ride,