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In religion, and in all the realm, amongst rich and poor;
That prayers have no power the pestilence to let,
And yet the wretches of this world are none 'ware by other,
Nor for dread of the death, withdraw not their pride,
Nor be plenteous to the poor, as pure charity would,
But in gains and in gluttony, forglote goods themself,
And breaketh not to the beggar, as the book teacheth.
And the more he winneth, and waxeth wealthy in riches,
And lordeth in landës, the less good he dealeth.
Tobie telleth ye not so, takë heed, ye rich,
How the bible book of him beareth witness ;
Whoso hath much, spend manly, so meaneth Tobit,
And whoso little wieldeth, rule him thereafter ;
For we have no letter of our life, how long it shall endure.
Suchë lessons lordës shouldë love to hear,
And how he might most meinie, manlich find;
Not to fare as a fildeler, or a friar to seek feasts,
Homely at other men's houses, and haten their own.
Elengel is the hall every day in the week ;
There the lord nor the lady liketh not to sit,
Now hath each rich a rule to eaten by themself
In a privy parlour, for poorë men's sake,
Or in a chamber with a chimney, and leave the chief hall
That was made for mealës men to eat in.'-
And when that Wit was 'ware what Dame Study told,
He became so confuse he cunneth not look,
And as dumb as death, and drew him arear,
And for no carping I could after, nor kneeling to the earth
I might get no grain of his greatë wits,
But all laughing he louted, and looked upon Study,
In sign that I shouldë beseechen her of grace,
And when I was 'ware of his will, to his wife I louted
And said, 'Mercie, madam, your man shall I worth
As long as I live both late and early,
For to worken your will, the while my life endureth,
With this that ye ken me kindly, to know to what is Dowell.'
'For thy meekness, man,' quoth she, “and for thy mild speech,
I shall ken thee to my cousin, that Clergy is hoten.3
He hath wedded a wife within these six moneths,
Is syb 4 to the seven arts, Scripture is her name;
They two as I hope, after my teaching,
Shall wishen thee Dowell, I dare undertake.'
Then was I as fain as fowl of fair morrow,
1. Elenge:' strange, deserted.-.Rule:' custom.-Hoten:' named mother.
And gladder than the gleeman that gold hath to gift,
And asked her the highway where that Clergy dwelt.
‘And tell me some token,' quoth I, for time is that I wend.'
"Ask the highway,' quoth she, hencë to suffer
Both well and woe, if that thou wilt learn ;
And ride forth by riches, and rest thou not therein,
For if thou couplest ye therewith, to Clergy comest thou never,
And also the likorous land that Lechery hight,
Leave it on thy left half, a largë mile and more,
Till thou come to a court, keep well thy tongue
From leasings and lyther2 speech, and likorous drinkės,
Then shalt thou see Sobriety, and Simplicity of speech,
That each might be in his will, his wit to shew,
And thus shall ye come to Clergy that can many things ;
Say him this sign, I set him to school,
And that I greet well his wife, for I wrote her many books,
And set her to Sapience, and to the Psalter glose ;
Logic I learned her, and many other laws,
And all the unisons to music I made her to know ;
Plato the poet, I put them first to book,
Aristotle and other more, to argue I taught,
Grammer for girlës, I gard s first to write,
And beat them with a bales but if they would learn ;
Of all kindës craftës I contrived toolës,
Of carpentry, of carvers, and compassed masons,
And learned them level and line, though I look dim;
And Theology hath tenedo me seven score timës ;
The more I muse therein, the mistier it seemeth,
And the deeper I divine. the darker me it thinketh.
And then came Covetise ; can I him no descrive,
So hungerly and hollow, so sternëly he looked,
He was bittle-browed and baberlipped also;
With two bleared eyen as a blindë hag,
And as a leathern pursë lolled his cheekës,
Well sider than his chin they shivered for cold :
And as a bondman of his bacon his beard was bidrauled,
With a hood on his head, and a lousy hat above.
And in a tawny tabard, of twelve winter age,
Allë torn and baudy, and full of lice creeping;
But that if a louse could have leapen the better,
She had not walked on the welt, so was it threadbare.
• I have been Covetise,' quoth this caitiff,
For sometime I served Symmë at style,
And was his prentice plight, his profit to wait.
First I learned to lie, a leef other twain
Wickedly to weigh, was my first lesson:
To Wye and to Winchester I went to the fair
With many manner merchandise, as my master me hight.
Then drave I me among drapers my donet' to learn.
To draw the lyfer along, the longer it seemed
Among the rich rays,' &c.
And now is religion a rider, a roamer by the street,
A leader of lovëdays, and a loudë 3 beggar, .
A pricker on a palfrey from manor to manor,
An heap of houndës at his arse as he a lord were.
And if but his knave kneel, that shall his cope bring,
He loured on him, and asked who taught him courtesy,
MERCY AND TRUTH.
Out of the west coast, a wench, as methought,
Came walking in the way, to heavenward she looked ;
Mercy hight that maidë, a meek thing withal,
A full benign birdë, and buxom of speech;
Her sister, as it seemed, came worthily walking,
Even out of the east, and westward she looked,
A full comely creature, Truth she hight,
For the virtue that her followed afeared was she never.
When these maidens met, Mercy and Truth,
Either asked other of this great marvel,
Of the din and of the darkness, &c.
NATURE, OR KIND, SENDING FORTH HIS DISEASES FROM THE PLANETS, AT THE
COMMAND OF CONSCIENCE, AND OF HIS ATTENDANTS, AGE AND DEATH.
Kind Conscience then heard, and came out of the planets,
And sent forth his forriours, Fevers and Fluxes,
Coughës and Cardiacles, Crampës and Toothaches,
Rheumës, and Radgondes, and raynous Scallës,
Boilës, and Botches, and burning Agues,
Phreneses and foul Evil, foragers of Kind!
There was Harow! and Help! here cometh Kind,
With Death that is dreadful, to undo us all!'
The lord that liveth after lust then aloud cried.
Age the hoar, he was in the va-ward,
And bare the banner before Death : by right he it claimed
Kindë came after, with many keenë sorës,
As Pocks and Pestilences, and much people shent.
So Kind through corruptions, killed full many :
Death came driving after, and all to dust pashed
Kings and Kaisers, knightës and popës.
Many a lovely lady, and leman of knights,
Swooned and swelted for sorrow of Death's dints.
Conscience, of his courtesy, to Kind he besought
To cease and sufire, and see where they would
Leave Pride privily, and be perfect Christian,
And Kind ceased then, to see the people amend. Piers Plowman' found many imitators. One wrote ' Piers the Plowman's Crede;' another, "The Plowman's Tale;' another, a poem on · Alexander the Great;' another, on the 'Wars of the Jews;' and another, 'A Vision of Death and Life,' extracts from all which may be found in Warton's 'History of English Poetry.
We close this preliminary essay by giving a very ancient hymn to the Virgin, as a specimen of the once universally-prevalent alliterative poetry.
Hail be you, Mary, mother and may,
Mild, and meek, and merciable ;
Hail, folliche fruit of soothfast fay,
Against each strife steadfast and stable;
Hail, soothfast soul in each, a say,
Under the sun is none so able;
Hail, lodge that our Lord in lay,
The foremost that never was founden in fable;
Hail, true, truthful, and tretable,
Hail, chief ychosen of chastity,
Hail, homely, hendy, and amiable:
To pray for us to thy Sonë 80 free! AVE.
Hail, star that never stinteth light;
Hail, bush burning that never was brent;
Hail, rightful ruler of every right,
Shadow to shield that should be shent;
Hail, blessed be you blossom bright,
To truth and trust was thine intent;
Hail, maiden and mother, most of might,
Of all mischiefs an amendëment;
Hail, spice sprung that never was spent;
Hail, throne of the Trinity ;
Hail, scion that God us soon to sent,
You pray for us thy Sonë free! AVE.
Hail, heartily in holiness;
Hail, hope of help to high and low;
Hail, strength and stel of stableness ;
Hail, window of heaven wowe;
Hail, reason of righteousness,
To each a caitiff comfort to know;
Hail, innocent of angerness,
Our takel, our tol, that we on trow;
Hail, friend to all that beoth forth flow;
Hail, light of love, and of beauty,
Hail, brighter than the blood on snow:
You pray for us thy Sonë free! AVE
IV. Hail, maiden; hail, mother; hail, martyr trew; Hail, kindly yknow confessour; Hail, evenere of old law and new ; Hail, builder bold of Christë's bower; Hail, rose highest of hyde and hue; Of all fruitës fairest flower ; Hail, turtle trustiest and true, Of all truth thou art treasour ; Hail, pured princess of paramour; Hail, bloom of brere brightest of ble; Hail, owner of earthly honour: You pray for us thy Sonë so free! Ave, &a.
Hail, hendy; hail, holy emperess;
Hail, queen courteous, comely, and kind;
Hail, destroyer of every strife;
Hail, mender of every man's mind;
Hail, body that we ought to bless,
So faithful friend may never man find;
Hail, lever and lover of largëness,
Sweet and sweetest that never may swynde ;