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“Art thou Thought?" quoth I then, 6 thou couthest? me

wisse 2 “ Where that Do-wel dwelleth, and do me to know." “Do-wel and Do-bet," quɔth he, . “ and Do-best the third, Beeth three fair virtues, and beeth not far to find. Whoso is true of his tongue

and of his two hands, And through leal o labor liveth and loveth his em-Christian, And thereto is true of his tale and holds well his hands, Not drunken nor disdainful, Do-wel him followeth. Do-bet doth all this, ac yet he doth more : He is low as a lamb and lovely of speech And helpeth heartily all men of that he may spare. The bags and the by-girdles he hath to-broke them all That the Earl Avarous held and his heirs, And of Mammons money

made him many friends, And is run into religion, and rendreth his Bible, And preacheth to the people Saint Paul's words :

Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes. Do-best bear should the bishop's cross And hale ? with the hooked end ill men to good, And with the point put down prevaricatores legis, Lords that liven as them lust and no law accounten, For their mucko and their meuble 10 such men thinken That no bishop should their bidding withsit." But Do-best should not dreaden them, but do as God

8

11

highte, 12

Nolite timere eos qui possunt occidere corpus. 18

And so the Dreamer sets out on his journey to the dwelling of Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best. At the suggestion of Thought, he finds Wit and inquires the way. Wit, who was

Long and lean and like to none other,

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answers his questions, and at the same time delivers a somewhat rambling lecture upon religious subjects and some pointed lessons regarding some of the moral virtues. Study, who is the wife of Wit, thereupon upbraids him for giving his wisdom to fools,

And said, Noli mittere, ye men, margerie-pearls

Among hogges that haven haws at will. And she cautions him to beware, also, of showing Holy Writ to swine. Finally, she directs the Dreamer to Clergy, whom he will find by the highway To-sufferboth-weal-and-much-woe. Clergy, when found, tells the Dreamer that in order to reach Do-wel he must obey the Ten Commandments and believe in Christ; and he delivers a moral lecture in which occurs a curious passage that has been regarded by some as a prophecy of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, some two hundred

years

later:

And there shall come a king, and confess your religions,
And beat you as the bible telleth, for breaking of your rule :
And amend moniales, monks, and canons.
And then friars in their freytor 2 shall find a key
Of Constantine's coffers, in which is the catal 3
That Gregory's godchildren had it dispended.
And than shall the abbot of Abingdon, and all his issue for

ever,
Have a knock of a king, and incurable the wound.

At the conclusion, the Dreamer exclaims :

“ This is a long lesson,

and little am I the wiser."

The visions which follow - there are nine in all are of a similar kind, introducing new personifications of

1 See Matthew vii. 6.

2 refectory.

3 wealth.

moral and intellectual qualities and mildly satirizing the prevalent vices of society and the corruptions of the Church. In the end, Piers, the humble ploughman, is identified with Christ; and the poet describes the Saviour's passion, his descent into hell, the founding of the Church, and the coming of antichrist. The stronghold of the Church is attacked by an army of priests and monks, and Conscience, deserted and almost despairing, cries out for help. But, no one coming, he takes a pilgrim's staff and vows that he will wander over the wide world to seek Piers the Ploughman.

Now, Kind, avenge me, and send me hap and hele till I have Piers Ploughman!” And after that he cried aloud upon Grace, and the poet awoke.

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The Kyng and his Knihtes

to the Churche wenten To heere Matyns and Masse

and to the Mete afterr. Then waked I of my wink

me was wo with alle That I nedde sadloker i-slept

and i-sege more. Er I a furlong hedde i-fare,

a feyntise me hente, That forther mihti not a-fote

for defaute of sleep. I sat softeliche a-doun

and seide my bileve, And so I bablede on my beodes,

thei brouhte me a-slepe,

The king and his knights

to the church went
To hear matins and mass

and to their meat after.
Then waked I of my dream

and was sorrowful withal
That I had not more soundly slept

and seen more.
Before I a furlong had gone

a faintness me seized,
That I further could not go

for want of sleep.
I sat softly adown

and said my creed,
And as I counted my beads

they put me to sleep.

Then sauh I muche more

then I beofore tolde, For I sauh the feld ful of folk

that ich of bi-fore schewede, And Concience with a crois

com for to preche. He preide the peple

haue pite of hem-selue, And preued that this pestilences

weore for puire synne, And this south westerne wynt

on a Seterday at euen Was a-perteliche for pruide

and for no poynt elles. Piries and plomtres

weore passchet to the grounde, In ensaumple to men

that we scholde do the bettre. Beches and brode okes

weore blowen to the eorthe, And turned upward the tayl

in toknyng of drede That dedly Synne or domesday

schulde fordon hem alle. Of this matere I mihte

momele ful longe, Bote I sigge as I sauh

(so me god helpe)! How Concience with a crois

comsede to preche. He bad wastors go worche

what thei best couthe, And wynne that thei wasteden

with sum maner craft. He preigede Pernel

hire porfil to leue, And kepen hit in hire cofre,

for catel at neode. He warned Watte

his wyf was to blame, That hire hed was worth a mark

and his hod worth a grote. He chargede chapmen

to chasten heore children; Let hem wonte non eige,

while that thei ben yonge.

Then saw I much more

than I before told, For I saw the field full of folk

that I before showed. And Conscience with a cross

came for to preach. He advised the people

to have pity of themselves, And proved that these pestilences

were for pure sin, And this south-western wind

on a Saturday evening Was a punishment for pride

and for nothing else. Pear-trees and plum-trees

were pushed to the ground For example to men

that we should do better. Beeches and broad oaks

were blown to the earth, And turned upward their roots

in sign of fear That deadly sin or doomsday

should destroy them all. Of this matter I might

chatter full long, But I tell what I saw

(so God help me)! How Conscience with a cross

commenced to preach. He bade idlers go work

as best they knew how, And win what they wasted

with some kind of craft. He advised Penelope

her embroidery to leave, And keep it in her chest

for money and needs. He warned Wat

that his wife was to blame, That her head was worth a mark

and his hood worth a farthing. He charged business men

to chastise their children ; Let them want no eye

while they are young.

He preyede preestes

and prelates to-gedere, That thei prechen the peple

to preuen hit in hem-seluen“ And libben as ge lereth us,

we wolen loue ow the betere."

He prayed the priests

and prelates together, That what they preach to the people

to practise in themselves – “And live as you teach us,

we will love you the better."

ENVY.

Envye with heui herte

asket aftur schrift, And gretliche his gultus

bi-ginneth to schewe. As pale as a pelet

in a palesye he seemede, I-clothed in a caurimauri

I couthe him not discreue. A kertil and a courtepy,

a knyf be his side; Of a freris frokke

were the fore sleuys. As a leek that hedde i-leigen

longe in the sonne, So loked he with lene chekes;

lourede he foule. His bodi was bolled,

for wraththe he bot his lippes, Wrothliche he wrong his fust;

he thougte him a-wreke With werkes or with wordes,

whon he seig his tyme.

Envy with heavy heart

sought for confession, And greatly his guiltiness

began to shew. As pale as a palet

in a palsy he seemed, Clothed in a caurimauri

which I cannot describe. A kirtle and a short cloak,

a knife by his side; Of a friar's dress

were the fore sleeves. As a leek that had lain

long in the sun, So looked he with lean cheeks;

scowled he wickedly. His body was swollen;

for wrath he bit his lips; Angrily he wrung his fist;

he thought to avenge himself With works or with words,

when he saw his time.

“ Whon I come to the churche

and knele bi-fore the Roode, And scholde preige for the peple

as the prest vs techeth, Thenne I crie vppon my knes

that Crist giue hem serwe That hath i-bore a-wei my bolle

and my brode schete. From the auter I turne

myn eige, and bi-holde Hou Heyne hath a newe Cote

“ When I come to the church

and kneel before the cross, And should pray for the people,

as the priest teacheth us, Then I cry, upon my knees,

that Christ give them sorrow That hath carried away my bowl

and my wide sheet. From the altar I turn

my eyes, and behold How Heyne (Henry?) hath a new

coat
and his wife another ;

and his wyf another;

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