Mum and the Sothsegger
MUM AND THE SOTHSEGGER: FOOTNOTES1 When tax collectors arrive to take what they have
2 And though your treasurer be loyal and builds not too high
3 Be sure that you do not advantage the rich and [that you] take pity on the poor
4 And hear them out as sincerely as though you had payment (hire) from them
5 And if you wish to know what the man is called
6 And if he speak too forthrightly, he is turned out
7 Lines 42-43: There is no clerk of the king's who ever clothed him [the Soothsayer] even once / Although he [the clerk] clothed himself at Christmas and all the next year
8 But babbles on boisterously like an unschooled child
9 With trickery and with bribery to devise deceptions
10 How truth might be contravened and turned aside
11 Through the image of the impression that remains in the palm (see note)
12 Lines 70-71: I liken that to liars, for in the long run, / Of every man's speech the truth will be known
13 For which you might be harmed and receive back what you deliver
14 If your brother sins against you set him straight etc.
15 To such a simple post, look where you please
16 And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth, etc. David
17 And recounted the misrule that grew in the realm
18 For there is no man from the king's retinue, more influential nor less
19 For although men burn the town where the man dwells
20 And turn it into good fortune, for the rest of your life
21 Well known and notable and astute in warfare
22 Lines 250-51: While sergeants-at-law search for you to drag you into court / Because of your wild words which often cause anger and dissension
23 Do not hold company with nay-sayers at all
24 For I sense by your fable-making that you are malicious in your actions
25 And ever you keep close so that you are not left behind
26 You will not engage with people unless there is profit in doing so
27 He who can reform but who secretly neglects to do so shares the fault of the evil-doer
28 No harm comes from remaining silent, harm comes from speaking
29 Called into question the Soothsayer as curtly as he could
30 And set up many compasses, as the [geometric] art requires
31 Selected for the professorial chair to chastise fools
32 And more responsive to his bidding than young apprentice to the master
33 To argue subtly or to seek out any deeper meanings
34 It is some pernicious foolishness of the new fashion
35 That no priest should preach except poor holy friars
36 You yourself must be vulnerable to the law you imposed
37 "That the knave rendered a judgment which came back to haunt him later"
38 Then has the licensed friar permission to learn where he may come (see note)
39 He abandons the inferior portion for the better
40 These good men of God gather everything to themselves
41 Neither by word nor will as surely indeed
42 Honour the Lord with thy substance. The Prophet
43 For when they come to your cottage to beg what they need
44 C, because it is crooked, for Carmelites you must understand
45 M, for these Minorites (Franciscans, Friars Minor), cursed are their works
46 They leap over lightly (i.e., overlook wrongs), and lie wondrously much
47 For they have engaged in jousts against Jesus' works
48 Lines 520a-b: Let him carry off the treacherous people, of the believers in the last things; / Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and with the just let them not be written
49 They have turned charity into cupidity. Wisdom
50 To repair their church and to sustain their income
51 To where the principle of pluralities (multiple benefices) was nobly established (see note)
52 But they always remained near the food bin and the manger
53 Scarcely contain the flesh unless it should rupture
54 And had not their guts groaned where they were girt
55 For filching of foodstuffs beyond the legal amount
56 Do not possess gold or silver in your purses
57 Lines 576-77: And every man that I encountered believed I was mad because of my words / they knew no other [explanation]
58 And lest I was looking for trouble, cease [the search] immediately
59 But explain it to a sovereign so it can be proved afterwards (see note)
60 But he did not utter a single syllable on that matter
61 For seven years on Sundays and feast-days
62 For truth's sake do away with all human affections
63 That which you call God's share, let God's men (the poor) have it
64 You must agree with the majority (the most) if you desire to maintain your health
65 For he is intimate with the proudest and takes his price from that association
66 Lines 691-92: He squanders no speech unless bribes cause it, / Until he knows which way desire will tend
67 For if you come into their clutches, you may not creep away from there
68 So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works
69 Wished for water afterwards with which to wash his hands
70 When the head ails the other members grieve
71 For I will go down no path unless crafty precaution shows the way
72 Where any grousing or complaining or difficulty should arise
73 And spoke up for the [influential] party and ignored the merits of the legal pleading
74 And went toward the door and stayed there no longer
75 Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake. Gospel
76 With a broad broom-shaped beard, a little bald
77 Well proportioned and vigorous for his age
78 And I continued to draw nearer to him as near as I should
79 He who labors not does not eat. Bernard
80 Gladly, good man, your bidding shall be done
81 Could not design their rafters nor imitate their works
82 Their living-quarters are partitioned, I prove it by their honeycombs
83 And each chamber has a leader who keeps the peace in his quarter
84 And all the principals are ready for the prince when they are needed
85 Believe it well, the least among them know their language
86 Whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame. Paul
87 But hear how they end with their whole gathering
88 Nothing is so harsh as the poor man when he is raised to an exalted position. Gregory
89 And investigated spiritual authorities without stint despite anger [directed against me]
90 Such as peers of the realm who have the power to refuse and to allow
91 He who is able to denounce sin and does not is the doer of sin. Sidrac
92 They lead men the long way round and break love-days [appointed for reconciliation]
93 To accept bribes, and to sol-fa before they sing (see note)
94 Influence and reward, fear and hatred pervert true justice. Canon [Law]
95 Cursedness or oppression or contrivance of fraud
96 He spreads his lines in such a way that may be called desire
97 He does not shirk [his duty] for income or payment that he might receive
98 "Many thanks, gardener," I said, "and God reward you
99 Would to God that each man who has taken a degree in school
100 He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold but from another place / is a thief and a robber. / Gospel
101 Speed you hence to his house and hop straight in
102 For poverty has a jailer when he steps over his bounds
103 Then Dread with a door-bar drives out the most virtuous people
104 He will sooner grow angrier than follow your advice
105 Woe to those who sell sin for money. Grosseteste
106 There is a volume of fifteen pages on the archdeacon's visitation [to check on priests]
107 But they are rooted in a row (in the roll-book) to enrich the nobility
108 These parsons and these canons (prebendiaries) who have plural benefices
109 Lines 1380-81: For the poor of their parish, and they should be present among them / To heal the wounds of their sheep (congregation) when they were sick
110 Flee from gossip lest you begin to be taken for their author
111 May those who have damaged Henry experience misfortunes
112 And complain when the tax collection happens that applies to all of us
113 I say if their destiny were so appointed and in similar circumstances
114 Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation
115 Such that they were placed in slavery by kings of surrounding countries
116 I never heard of harder [laws], and yet they were followed
117 They did not spare the blood of their own offspring
118 He who would have grieved for a groat would have moaned at that
119 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity
120 We cannot be equals with the more powerful. Wisdom
121 When a court pleading is told, if it concerns powerful men
122 They will approach no nearer unless they think to cause trouble
123 Though no damage occurs except aggravated hearts
124 And behave such that household goods and provisions are damaged
125 Wrath inspires hatred; peacefulness nourishes love
126 Nay, I will maintain my dignity, despite those who complain
127 Wrath may not rest in a sound mind or body. Solomon
128 Pride brings forth all wickedness even unto death. Solomon
129 To contend at law where there is no offence due to property [recorded in an account]
130 "If he were slow to prosecute, though eager for his object" (D&S)
131 And he thought less of in the shire and round about
132 To inaugurate legal proceedings whose basis is not clear
133 And withdraw gracefully lest force assaults you
134 For if you quit before you are defeated then will your reputation rise
135 Gold (money) and property so unite them that they cannot be separated
136 That it would be better for him to lose his land than to be so long in litigation
137 And a miracle to poor men who know little of legal debate
138 Unless the laws are executed, what may they avail
139 But then he makes provision for the poor when the sun goes down (i.e., at the end of his life)
140 Who bestows his property for God's sake when his spirit has departed
141 For although a fifteenth were bequeathed, a receipt shall be given
142 For so long as they have half of it, they must hold themselves contented
143 And interpret as straightforwardly as the Ram is horned (i.e., convolutedly)
144 What should happen a week before Sunday
145 They purchased no church appointments from a prince or someone else
MUM AND THE SOTHSEGGER: NOTESAbbreviations: B: Barr's edition of Mum; D&S: Day and Steele's edition of Mum; IMEV: Carlton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins, Index of Middle English Verse; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MEPW: Dean, ed., Medieval English Political Writings; MS: MS British Library Additional 41666; OED2: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.; PP: Piers Plowman, ed. Schmidt; PPCr: Piers the Plowman's Crede, in 6ES; RiR: Richard the Redeless; 6ES: Dean, ed., Six Ecclesiastical Satires; Sk: Skeat's 1886 edition of RiR; Sz: Szarmach's transcription of the MS; Usk: The Chronicle of Adam Usk, ed. Given-Wilson; WGO: Dean, The World Grown Old in Later Medieval Literature; Wr: Wright's 1838 edition of RiR
1 Hough. A corrector D&S designate "M" has written how in the left-hand margin. D&S differentiate among four main correctors or editors (A, B, C, and D), who place a dot over the word to be corrected, and other correctors, including M (whom they suspect is the scribe of the MS); N (who underlines words to be corrected); P (who inserts with a caret); S, in two hands (who uses interlineation or marginal corrections); O (who designates words for omission); and L (who inserts single letters). Both Barr and Doyle believe that fewer editors and correctors were involved in marking the MS. That material has been lost from the beginning is clear from the lack of a large initial letter (such as the one that appears at line 29).
The sentiment and wording of line 1 is repeated in line 1650. covetous peuple may refer to Henry's first supporters - notably the Percies of Northumberland, including the Duke of Northumberland and his son, Henry Percy (called Hotspur) - who helped put him on the throne but who felt neglected once he became king.
4 profit of grete. MS: profit of oþer. Emended by D&S and B, adopting the marginal suggestion of one of the correctors (called, by D&S, "A"). The MS's oþer seems to be dittography (inadvertent repetition) from the oþer at the end of line 3. The "A" corrector has placed a dot over the oþer of line 4 and has written the word grete in the right-hand margin. In this line "A" has placed a dot over departid and, in the left margin, written parte, with a dot over it.
5 Leste uncunnyng come yn and caste. So MS; D&S and B use the corrector's marginal gloss "comyn," interpreting come yn as the commons. I read uncunnyng substantively rather than adjectivally. D&S comment: "caste vp þe halter: cast off restraint. Perhaps 'þe' should be inserted before 'vncunnyng'" (p. 106).
6 According to K. B. McFarlane, Henry IV's councils were not fixed, predictable sessions but instead were "nebulous" and "indistinct." See "Council and Parliament" in Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), pp. 82-89.
7 smaicche of the smoke. The word smaicche - "taste" - signifies a sampling of something (Old English smæc), usually something pleasant (as nectar), but here the connotation is ironic.
9 tymbre not to high. This wording seems to have been suggested by : "þei tymbred nou3t so hei3e" (PP, B III.85; compare A III.74, C III.84).
11-12 For two yere . . . leued men tellen. The idea here is that even a loyal Treasurer may make a small fortune in a brief time of service. D&S summarize: "Even if the Treasurer be honest, he can do well for himself, for in two years (men say) he will make enough to live as a lord for twenty years." The "A" corrector wants to substitute "leude," presumably ignorant, for leued, men who may be believed or men in the know.
17 Sergeantz . . . atte barre. The A text of PP contains similar language: "Seriauntis, it semide, þat seruide at þe Barre; / Pleted for penis and poundes þe lawe, / And nou3t for loue of Oure Lord vnlose here lippes ones" (Prol.85-87). "Sergeants were the most prestigious and powerful lawyers of Chaucer's time; they ranked above esquires, and were the equal of knights. Their group, called the Order of the Coif, was small (only twenty-one sergeants were created during Richard II's reign), chosen from among the most accomplished apprentices who had spent at least sixteen years studying and practicing law. They had exclusive rights to plead cases in the Court of Common Pleas, and all judges were chosen from this group" (Patricia J. Eberle in The Riverside Chaucer, p. 811).
18 prentys of court. The apprentices "were practising lawyers who had received legal training in the central law courts, or . . . students who were currently receiving such training. These lawyers might practise as advocates, attorneys, advisers, clerks or officials." See Maureen Jurkowski, "Lawyers and Lollardy in the Early Fifteenth Century," in Lollardy and the Gentry in the Later Middle Ages, ed. Margaret Aston and Colin Richmond (New York:St. Martin's Press, 1997), pp. 155, 156 respectively.
19 reeche not of the riche. The MS does not include not. D&S and B properly insert it.
24 graunteth thaym. So D&S, B; MS: graunteth hym.
with a good chiere. The meaning of chiere is usually "demeanor," "countenance," but a corrector or reader - identified by D&S as the "E" corrector, has written "wille" in the right-hand margin.
25 writtz . . . waxe. The narrator asks that the "penylees" be granted legal redress in the form of writtz and then sealed in waxe. In some Middle English complaint poems the green wax sealing legal writs was reason for consternation. See, for example, Song of the Husbandman, note to line 55, in MEPW, p. 261.
27 mayntenance. Maintenance was the practice of wrongfully supporting one side in litigation, often accompanied by threats of violence or other forms of intimidation. A "meyntenour," explains Sk in his note to RiR II.78, is "a technical term for one who abets another in wrong-doing, and supports him in defeating justice" (II, p. 292).
29 Now. There "is space left for cap N; only small letter for prompt to rubricator" (Sz).
38 Sothesigger. My convention throughout the text and notes of the poem is to capitalize the one "Sothesegger" who is the object of the narrator's quest (parallel to Langland's Piers Plowman) but to use lower-case "sothesegger" for the generic type: "the Sothesegger" versus "a sothesegger."
41 And yf . . . undre. The idea here is that if a soothsayer oversteps what people want to hear, he will be summarily ousted.
42-43 There is . . . yere after. My translation of these lines is speculative and based on the readings of D&S and B. The sense of the lines seems to be that the Soothsayer provides his own clothes because no one wants to sponsor him. Hence he is called, in line 44, "Alexander without livery."
42-46 There is . . . But the. The left-hand margin has been cut away so as to omit the first letters of lines 42-44 and the first words of lines 45-46. D&S reconstructed them, and I follow their suggestions.
52 pure poynt . . . sothe. The truth in effect lances the wound and drives out the disease of falseness and corruption.
61 peynture. MS: preynte. Stricken, with peynture written faintly in the margin. The scribe reduplicated the subsequent preynte, though the reduplication makes sense too. The impression in this case is of a coin which has greased someone's palm. The "crosse" in line 66 also refers to the impression from a coin.
66 crosse. See note to line 61.
76 For. MS: Fort. D&S and B emend to For. The "D" corrector suggests now.
81a Si peccauerit . . . corrige etc. The wording is based on Matthew 18.15: "But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone." The Latin is in the right-hand margin and marked by an editor to be placed after line 81.
87-89 And he . . . to have. D&S translate the important part of these lines: "'He that is most of might shall . . . have regard of a reasonable man,' i.e. thyself" (p. 107). The "he" who is "most of might," however, might be Christ rather than a temporal lord.
88 soeth. "So P (dot and caret)" (D&S, p. 29).
106 mede. So D&S, B. MS: soulde but "A" corrector suggests mede.
113 though . . . after. I.e., although what the Soothsayer said proved to be true after he left the service for which he was held to be foolish.
114-24 But muche . . . woo falle. The narrator wonders that oure corouned king (line 115) does not have a soothsayer to help govern the realm. The poor, he claims, have many such to help them manage their wealth and guide them when misfortune should arise. King Henry did in fact have at least one advisor who risked his wrath with stern advice.
115a Et nunc . . . David. This is based on Psalm 2.10 and is inserted in the right-hand margin next to line 120, but with a mark indicating that the Latin should be inserted after line 115, which is where it appears in D&S.
116 saye. So D&S, B, based on a correction ("B"). MS: telle. The scribe may have anticipated the beginning of line 120. At the top of fol. 2a and "keyed to end of 116" (Sz) four verse lines in English are appended:
Thorough mayntenance and mysrewle of maisters above120 Next to this line appears the following verses (transcribed by Sz):
And al is consail to þe king / he knoweth not þe fawtes
For lacke of a loresman / þat lesinges hateth
That wold telle hym þe trouthe / and trippe not aside (Sz's transcription)
And souuerayns sothely / þay serue but a whiles / yit shuld hit lengthe þayre lyves / and þe lawe mende.
At the bottom of fol. 2a similar verses appear, with the "margin cut away" for the opening words (transcribed by Sz):
[And] souuerayns soethly / þay serve but a whiles124 ware, ere. There is a caesural mark, a virgule, between these two words, which I have marked with a comma in the text.
[Yit] shuld hit lengthe þayre lives / and þe lawe mende.
134-39 Hough . . . But. The margin for these lines is lost. I follow D&S's reconstruction of the initial letters of the first words of these lines.
141-42 Forto telle . . . with other. A soothsayer - "fabuler" - could enlighten the king as to the true situation (the texte) without obfuscating it with misleading rhetoric (the glose or glozing). This truth teller could explain how words work with respect to both truth and falsehood (the oon and the other).
143 king . . . londe. A reference to Henry Bolingbroke's landing at Ravenspur on his return from exile in France in July, 1399, at which time Henry was seeking allies for his cause against Richard, who had confiscated his father's estates. This action is mentioned at the beginning of RiR. See note to Prol.11.
148 the crosse. Perhaps the Bristol cross featured in RiR Prol.56 ("the rode of Chester"). "The market-cross was everywhere the place where proclamations were made" (D&S, p. 108).
149 and. I adopt B's excellent emendation, since customs and taxation of the people - the latter much discussed in this poem - are different things but both cause for abuses. A corrector has inserted the word and above the line between custume and of.
152-55 But piez . . . owen peeris. D&S in their marginal paraphrase of these lines say, "The magpies who once disputed with the parrot were punished, and dare not now complain openly" (p. 32). In their explanatory notes they offer: "Once some of the commons discussed their grievances with some one of higher rank, and consequently suffered fines and imprisonments. Now they dare not speak, except privately among themselves" (p. 108). The semantics of the lines do not permit such confidence about the relationship between and among the magpies and the parrot, as B observes in her discussion of parle (line 155). The magpies may be holding a conclave with or disputing with the parrot - they may be allies or foes. B speculates that if the magpies and parrot are allies, then these lines may refer to the Cirencester rebellion of 1399-1400. The magpie would be Sir Ralph Lumley, "whose heraldic charge was three parrots." The rebels "were not executed for their part in the rebellion but were imprisoned for a short time in the Tower of London. This would fit the caige of line 153" (p. 299).
166 mynde. This is the reading that a corrector suggests in the left-hand margin. The MS reads warne but that word does not alliterate according to the poet's usual pattern. D&S and B, on the strength of line 285, emend mynde to mynne, "remind."
169 yblent. So MS (y blent); D&S and B emend to y-brent ("burned") on the strength of a corrector.
176 haylstones. These hailstones are part of the extended metaphor of the silencing of truth, which is hounded, shouted down, shunned, and injured by princes. The extended metaphor begins at line 171.
179 fro greve. So D&S, B, based on a corrector's oute of greue; MS: fro grayen (perhaps anticipating his grayne later in the same line).
180 A corrector or editor has added, at the bottom of the page, "that draweth al to goodnesse and gouuernaunce after" for insertion into the text between lines 180 and 181 (Sz).
181 goyng uppon erthe means simply "alive," as also at line 212.
196 tabart. A tabard was a short gown, often emblazoned and worn over armor. The phrase "tuck at your tabard" means to pay someone back.
205a Here . . . the Sothsigger. This statement occurs in the right-hand margin. Previous editions have not included it in the textual portion.
228-31 Leste . . . Of . . . That . . . There. The left-hand margin is torn for the initial letters of these words. I follow D&S's reconstruction of them.
234 not is suggested by a corrector and is required for the sense.
238 Forto . . . passe. D&S gloss "Seeing that thy desire (to talk) will set aside thy understanding" (p. 109). Mum upholds the virtues of reticence and silence, which can be admirable qualities. But the debate between Mum and the Soothsayer concerns when it is better to speak out and properly advise the king and his council than to hold one's tongue.
240 knytte . . . knotte. D&S explain this phrase as "broke off what I intended to do"(p. 110); B glosses as "to conclude" with the sense of "coming to a decision." But the meaning here must be something like paused for the length of time it takes to compose a knot: the narrator as Soothsayer appropriately stops talking for a time after Mum's harangue.
244 sittith. So D&S and B; MS: fittith.
247 for oyle. Oil, as in line 271, is associated with flattery. See RiR III.186 and note.
254 Oon . . . waye. This phrase means "only twenty minutes" (time measured by distance). Lines 252-54 may be paraphrased "You would be better served to follow me (Mum) for eighty long years than be a soothsayer, God help me, for twenty short minutes."
256 contra here and in line 262 has the sense of a contrarious speaker, someone who causes strife with his words. D&S translate this line "have nothing to do with contradiction" (p. 110).
262 coveite . . . cumpaignie. The syntax of this phrase and of lines 261-62 is difficult. B emends his cumpaignie to thy cumpaignie. The meaning is clearly that nobody will want to be in the same room with Soothsayer while he is so quarrelsome as to have Contra for a companion.
266 casting. So D&S and B; MS: cafting. My translation of this line is based on B's glosses.
269 glaunsyng of boltes. These shafts are metaphorical. The Soothsayer says Mum keeps himself well out of harm's way through his flattering, non-controversial speech.
272 bouche . . . cnave. Mum knows when to keep quiet so as not to interfere with his sinecure from the court (his bouche) for both his beast and his serving-man. The MS reads caue rather than cnaue, the emendation formulated by D&S and adopted by B.
273 yit. So a corrector, D&S, and B; MS: yf.
274a ffacientis . . . in secretis etc. Attributed to Gregory the Great in the Speculum Christiani: A Middle English Religious Treatise of the Fourteenth Century, ed. G. Holmstedt, EETS o. s. 182 (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), p. 63 and passim. The English translation reads: "Wyth-outen doute he has the gylte of the doynge that recke3 not to amende that thyng that [he] myghte correcte, et cetera."
276 Do Bette is one of three stages of action and sometimes an allegorical figure in PP, the other two being Dowel (Do Well) and Dobest (Do Best). The narrator of PP goes on a long search for Dowel over the course of the poem.
281 ynowe. So MS (y nowe), B (y-nowe). D&S: add [and fele] to the end of the line based on a corrector's "feble" and line 1298.
289 Caton. A reference to The Distichs of Cato (third century?), an immensely popular and influential series of sayings, authorship unknown, studied by every schoolchild as part of his early training in Latin, as the narrator acknowledges when he says, of Cato's book, "I saw hit in youthe" (line 290). The name "Cato" became attached to the Monostichs (one-line adages) and Distichs (couplets) because the author was thought to be "Dionysius Cato" or Marcus Porcius Cato of Utica (Cato the Censor's great-grandson). The Monostichs were known as Petit Cato or Little Cato and the Distichs as Magnus Cato or Great Cato. Perhaps the best-known aphorism is from Book 1, distich 3, which appears in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde as "firste vertu is to kepe tonge" (III.294); see also The Manciple's Tale, IX (H)332-33. Another of Cato's oft-quoted sayings is alluded to below in line 875 (and see note to that line).
291a Nam . . . locutum. From Cato's Distichs (Magnus Cato) 1.12. The Latin is marked for insertion between lines 291 and 292 (Sz). A Middle English translation of this Latin couplet reads:
From the edition of Sarah M. Horrall, "Christian Cato: A Middle English Translation of the Disticha Catonis," Florilegium 3 (1980), 158-97, at p. 164 (lines 73-75).
For to be still may no3te dysplese,
& mekyll speche dose oft dysese,
Bot it be rewled be ryght.
much; often causes harm
304 Sidrac and Salomonis termes. The narrator is on a quest for wisdom and help trying to make sense of Mum and his own situation. He turns to authors and works regarded in the late Middle Ages as containing important sayings and truth. Sidrac was said to be a descendant of Japhet born 847 years after the Flood. In Middle English poems (IMEV 772, longer version; IMEV 2147, shorter version), king Boctus asked Sidras 847 questions. "The result is a comprehensive medieval encyclopedia, one of the largest, in dialogue form" (F. L. Utley, in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, Vol. 3, ed. A. E. Hartung [New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1972], p. 745). "Sydrac and Boctus" is item 75 in Utley's section on "Dialogues, Debates, and Catechisms." "By Solomon the middle ages understood all the Wisdom literature, as in Melibeus 2249-50, where two passages from Ecclesiasticus are assigned to Jhesus Syrak and Salomon respectively" (D&S, p. xxv). For these three wisdom literature figures cited together, see The Tale of Beryn, line 2666 and note, in the Canterbury Tales: Fifteenth-Century Continuations and Additions, ed. John M. Bowers (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992), pp. 129, 188.
305 Seneca the sage refers to a collection of aphorisms attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca. Solomon, Seneca, and Sidrac are cited again in line 1212.
311 the newe jette. MS: yette. So D&S, B: iette. The phrase "new jet" appears often in medieval satires on clothing fashion and refers both to new fashions and to an arrogant manner of carrying oneself, one's demeanor. See MED s.v. get n.1 (a) and (b); Chaucer's General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales I(A)682 (said of the Pardoner); and MEPW The Simonie, line 118 and note. The author of Mum uses the word for new fashions in academic inquiry as well, as when the Doctor of Philosophy renders his opinion of Mum's argument: "Hit is sum noyous nyceté of the newe jette" (line 375).
313 good. D&S (on the strength of a corrector) and B insert this word, which is required for the alliteration and metrics of the line. MS: þat gouuernance.
321-91 The narrator in these lines visits universities at Cambridge, Oxford, and Orleans in search of sure knowledge about Mum and the Sothsegger. "The episode," explains B, "satirises the uselessness of academic learning in a fashion reminiscent of Wycliffite polemics" (p. 24).
322-23 Cambrigge . . . Orleance. The English universities were highly regarded for theology and law; Orleans was famous for its school of law.
328 seven sciences. The narrator has wandered to the universities to seek academic wisdom about when to speak and when to keep silent. He queries the Liberal Arts of Grammar, Music, Physics, Astronomy, Rhetoric, Logic, and Geometry but, like the narrator of PP or of PPCr, he is little the wiser for this visit to the great universities.
329 for doute . . . better. For uncertainty of the better world (i.e., heaven). The MS reads dome / and doute of þe better but a corrector suggests for for and, and B adopts that correction. D&S read And how we dwellid in [dwere] / and doute of þe better. Dwere means doubt.
330 Sire Grumbald is an allegorical figure for the stern Grammarian who wants words to fit together neatly and to make sense. The Grammarian's expertise fails when it comes to parsing the issues that separate Mum from the Sothsegger.
334 the. So D&S, B (based on a corrector). MS: y; Sz: "MS = y, almost þ [sans e]."
337 of his make. MS: on the skyes, which anticipates line 338. So D&S and B on the strength of a corrector (with his make).
342 shophister. Logic, who can manipulate words.
343 the. So D&S, B, based on a corrector. MS: a.
345 as choghe was ever. So a corrector. D&S, B: as choghe was he euer; MS: and couche was he neuer. The chough is a crowlike bird regarded as noisy and chattering, as in "Jack Upland's" rejoinder to Friar Daw's Reply. Upland claims that Friar Daw - whose name means a chattering bird - "grounded his logic" on "cursynges and false glose, / Chidyng with blasfemie, on chyteryng as chowghes" (6ES, p. 204, lines 4-5).
354 semely sage. Described as a "doctour of doutz" (line 360), the sage is a Doctor of Theology.
368 letter. So D&S, B (based on a corrector's lettrure). MS: better.
373-77 Yit knewe . . . endith. D&S paraphrase: "Neither I nor they have ever heard of such a question as you have brought forward. It is some foolish newfangled idea, for orthodox doctrine only tells us how good governorship has good results" (p. 38).
387-88 Saynt Nicholas . . . the glose. Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of scholars, so these scholars abandon study and give themselves over to flattery and easy reading (the gloss, which explains the text).
392 foure ordres. The four orders, as in PPCr, are the Franciscans (Greyfriars, or Friars Minor), the Dominicans (Blackfriars, or Preaching Friars), the Augustinians, and the Carmelites (White Friars).
397 shorte. So D&S, B. MS: shotte.
398 every couple. The friars traveled in pairs, so the narrator interrogates pairs of friars about his caas - Mum versus the Soothsayer. The antifraternal lyric Preste, Ne Monke, Ne Yit Chanoun laments "that ever it shuld be so, / Suche clerkes as thai about shuld go, / Fro toun to toun by two and two, / To seke thair sustynaunce" (MEPW, p. 48).
399 Til the cloistre and the quyre. "The sense of the line . . . appears to be that in all departments of the friars' houses, from the religious to the more secular, Mum was lord" (D&S, p. 112).
409 stirid a statute. This may imply that friars were behind parliamentary legislation authorizing friars to preach, to the detriment of parish priests and, later on, Lollards.Wyclifif and Wycliffite writers such as the author of Jack Upland denounced the expanded role of the friars in matters traditionally the preserve of the parish priest. The most important anti-Lollard legislation was the statute De haeretico comburendo, passed shortly after William Sawtrey was burned as a heretic, in 1401.
411 deede. So D&S, B (based on a corrector). MS omits.
417 manieres. So MS, B; D&S: names (based on a corrector). D&S argue vigorously on behalf of the corrector's reading saying "the sense clearly is that friars first gave Lollards their names, and now they must have the same name given them" (p. 112). That is, because the friars have visited destruction on the Lollards through branding them, they must suffer a similar fate. The author of Mum alludes to the hanging of Franciscans (and others) on Tyburn Hill in 1402 for spreading rumors - judged as treason - that Richard II was still alive. See also a possible allusion to this event in Upland's Rejoinder, lines 271-72, in 6ES. For critical and historical commentary, see McNiven, Heresy and Politics in the Reign of Henry IV, pp. 95-97, and the Eulogium historiarum (monastic prose chronicle), ed. F. Haydon, 3.393 (under the year 1402), and Chronica et annales, ed. H. T. Riley, pp. 340 (one Franciscan executed for proclaiming that Richard II lives) and 341 (eight Franciscans executed for treason, exact reason unstated). The story is also told by E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, pp. 27-29 (drawing heavily on the Eulogium).
420a Patere . . . tuleris. The MS is torn at this point and D&S have reconstructed from . . . egem qu? . . . eris. This line in the Vernon Little Cato is translated as follows:
Suche lawe as þou hast brou3tLines 93-96, in The Minor Poems of the Vernon Manuscript, Part II, ed. F. J. Furnivall, EETS o.s. 117 (London: Kegan Paul, 1901), p. 560. B places the quotation after line 422, although the mark for insertion follows line 420. The quotation is not from Seneca but from Monostichs of Cato.
And haunted hast bi-fore
Þou most hit mekely suffre,
ffor winnyng or for lore.
426-27 Thay goon . . . softe wolle. An issue that arose with respect to mendicant poverty was whether friars should wear shoes. PPCr (lines 298-300) portrays friars as favoring shoes despite the rule against them:
430 stiren hit . . . sticke. Because the Franciscan rule forbids friars to accept money, they handled money with a stick.
Fraunces bad his bretheren barfote to wenden.
Nou han thei bucled shon for blenynge of her heles,
And hosen in harde weder, yhamled by the ancle.
buckled shoes; sores on
cut short at
431 by obedience of th'ordre. This phrase, like so much else in this passage, is highly ironic. The mendicants are indeed supposed to submit to the discipline of their order - they take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience - but in this case their obedience is more like indulgence: they are ordered to accept money (with a stick) and to beg for cash in specific limited districts. See note to line 440.
436-37 They casten . . . parcelle-mele. The Provincial Chapter meetings included the parceling out of begging districts called "limitacions" (see line 438). Those so licensed to beg in a district were termed, like Chaucer's Friar Huberd, "limitour[s]" (line 440). Friar Huberd was "the beste beggere in his hous" (General Prologue I [A]252), which means that he contrived the greatest income.
440 limitour. A limiter was assigned to a particular area and was licensed to beg within it. See also the note to lines 436-37 above.
451 frere be fatt. One of the persistent charges against friars in antifraternal literature was that they pampered themselves and were overfed. The narrator of PPCr, for example, comes upon a huge, grotesque Dominican in the convent's refectory, "A greet cherl and a grym, growen as a tonne [barrel], / With a face as fat as a full bledder / Blowen bretfull of breth . . . " (lines 221-23). Chaucer's limiter, "a wantowne and a merye," fills his "double worstede . . . semycope" as "rounded as a belle out of a presse," he is so fat (General Prologue I [A]208, 262-63).
454 But that . . . hevene. A corrector adds in the right-hand margin: "ne to noo creature þat can ony reason" (Sz).
456 balle his heede. So MS; D&S, B: balle [with] his [browe], with the notation "MS omits." A corrector suggests "liste ball with his browe" (Sz). The question posed in lines 455-56 is, "What use is it to beg from a beggar unless you would break hard stones by smashing your head against them?"
461-65 Thorough crafte . . . guilen the poure. D&S paraphrase these lines: "They aim at controlling the great by means of the sacrament of penance" (p. 40).
468 forsothe. So D&S, B: [for] sothe; MS: sothe.
469a Honora dominum. From Proverbs 3.9.
473 sauce. Friars should receive, that is, a "piquant accompaniment" (D&S, p. 157) with their food - namely, a lecture on truth telling. The condiment metaphor continues in line 479 with the word "spicerie."
475 symonie. Simony was the practice of selling church pardons, offices, and benefits, widely regarded as corrupt among Wycliffites, Lollards, and reformists generally. It takes its name from Simon Magus, who attempted to purchase with money the power of God dispensed through the Apostles' hands (Acts 8.18-19).
481 Covetise . . . the grene. Covetousness here is depicted as a knight - "Sire Covetise" - who has the better of another knight in a jousting tournament. The other knight is overcome with greed. Lines 481-86 chronicle the spread of Covetousness into Westminster, council chambers, and the courts.
482 woneth at Westmynstre. A corrector or editor adds in the margin: "At shire and at sessions thaire shoon þay appeire" (Sz).
483 while the crosse walketh. The "cross" refers to the back of a coin, hence a figure for covetousness, with wordplay on the Veneration of the Cross at the Good Friday ceremony mentioned in PP B 18.428, "And crepeþ to þe cros on knees, and kisseþ it for a iuwel." Compare C 20.474. Here the "cross" walks in procession, as money goes from hand to hand.
485 mayntenance. See above, note to line 27.
487 toquen. The "token" in case is a piece of truth from the non-fraternal or anti-mendicant perspective: the wonder is that "holy" people such as the friars have not yielded even one martyr in more than a century (according to the narrator).
490 seven. So D&S, B based on "the conventional number for such formulae"; MS: viij. "Note the play on the words 'Confessors' and 'Martyrs' - two of the classes of saints in the Liturgy" (D&S, p. 115).
491 thay. So D&S, B based on a corrector; MS omits.
492 in no. So D&S, B. "[in no]: MS: not with a space after it; crossed out by original scribe and in no added above line by M" (D&S, p. 41).
493-98 of Caym thaire werkes . . . clerc tolde. In antifraternal literature the friars were compared both with Antichrist and with Cain (who was one of the first two "brothers" and the first fratricide). Piers in PPCr testifies that friars are "Of the kynrede of Caym" (line 486); and in Jack Upland they are said to be "Caymes castel-makers" (and see Friar Daw's Reply, line 105). In 6ES, pp. 122 and 153. Cain was said to be the founder of mendicant orders:
See MEPW, p. 50. Cain appears thematically as an evil principle in PP. For critical discussions of Cain in this literature, see Penn Szittya, The Antifraternal Tradition in Medieval Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 163-64, 229-30 and WGO, pp. 120-25; 205-12.
It semes sothe that men sayne of hame
In many dyvers londe,
That that caytyfe cursed Cayme
First this ordre fonde.
494 fundre of alle the foure ordres. The issue of the origins of the fraternal orders vis-a-vis the historical church was important to the mendicants and their critics alike. Christ never authorized the mendicant orders; and they were not part of the apostolic church either. Wyclif and writers in the PP tradition returned to this question often. Each of the friars questioned by the narrator of PPCr tries to claim primacy for his order. The Franciscan says that "we Menures most scheweth / The pure Apostells life," while the Dominican claims "oure foundement was first of the othere" (lines 103-04; 250). The Austin friar traces his order's founding back to "Paul, primus heremite" (line 308), while the Carmelite boasts "we Karmes first comen / Even in Elyes tyme, first of hem all" (lines 382-83). Antifraternal writers trace the origins back even further - to the first brother-slayer and constructor of the city of man.
496 Armacanes. Richard FitzRalph, Archbishop of Armagh, and scourge of friars in well-known sermons preached at St. Paul's Cross in 1357. For FitzRalph's influence on the anti-mendicant literature of the later fourteenth century, see Penn R. Szittya, The Antifraternal Tradition in Medieval Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), chapter 3: "The Antifraternal Ecclesiology of Archbishop Richard FitzRalph," pp. 123-54.
499 this worde . . . titil. The worde mentioned signifies Caym. titil refers to the abbreviation mark (a macron) over the y in the name Caym; that is, the name "Caym" must be written out in full to include the four letters that signify the four orders. See note to line 500.
500 foure lettres. These four letters - C, A, I, and M - in the form of an acrostic was a favorite with late medieval English antifraternal writers. D&S trace the derivation to Wyclif's Trialogus 4.33. In Preste, Ne Monke, Ne Yit Chanoun appears the following lines:
In MEPW, p. 50; see note to line 110 on p. 100.
Nou se the sothe whedre it be swa,
That frere Carmes come of a k
The frer Austynes come of a,
Frer Iacobynes of i,
Of M comen the frer Menours.
Thus grounded Caym thes four ordours,
That fillen the world ful of errours
And of ypocrisy. (lines 109-16)
Now observe; truth whether
505 A corrector or editor adds at the bottom of fol. 6a: "Hit shal not greue a good frere though gilty be amendid" (Sz).
514 in justes. So D&S, B based on a corrector (who reads ioustes); MS: iustice.
520a-b The first quotation is from the hymn "Placare Christi servulis" for the Vesper of All Saints. The quotation beginning Deleantur de libro vivencium is Psalm 68.29.
535 A corrector or editor adds next to this line:
Yit gesse I þat good men of grey and of blake536 Thenne passid I. The narrator turns away from the friars and looks for help among the monastic houses; but he receives as little help from the monks as he did from the friars. He cannot even enter the monastery (line 552).
And of þe white witerly I wote wel been many
But dan conuent þe compaignie as my credo techeth
Cunen mo crokes / þan crist euer taught.
544 fundacions of. So MS. D&S: fundacion of; B: fundacion as.
544-45 For . . . serve. Although the syntax is difficult, the meaning seems to be: "For the founders intended the founding [of the monastic houses] to be established for God's men, though it serves the powerful."
545a Mutauerunt . . . in cupiditatem. Although the attribution to Sapientia would suggest that the quotation is from the Book of Wisdom, it is from some other source.
549 ysopid. So D&S, B; MS: y sepid.
555 pluralité. Pluralism was the holding of more than one benefice with the cure of souls. Pluralism, a widespread practice that led to absentee benefice-holders, was forbidden by Lateran IV and other decrees.
560 cracche. So D&S and B (based on a corrector); MS: racke, which does not alliterate. Cracche can mean horse's manger. Both cracche and mangier in this line seem to refer to the choir's food provisions.
566 The offering at Mass and tithes were to be distributed to the support of the parish priest, to the upkeep of the church, and to the poor.
566-69 And n'adde . . . atte leste. D&S, glossing Belial, suggest a possible paraphrase for these lines: "Having given nothing to the poor, they travel with money in their purses. Hence (though they may be blamed by Christ), they will never be blamed by the devil [Belial]" (p. 116).
567 purses. So MS; D&S, B: purses [bottume] based on a corrector.
569a A corrector has added Matthei 10 capitulo. Matthew 10.9 reads "Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses."
588 that. So B; MS, D&S: hit, which may be anticipation of the hit in line 589. The syntax of the lines in this section is difficult, but the meaning is clearly that God approves the narrator's course of action and sends him safe-conduct through the dangerous political climate in which he finds himself. God does not want the narrator to alter his current course of action (lines 587-88).
589 But showe . . . after. My translation is very provisional. A corrector adds at the bottom of fol. 7a, for insertion after this line, "the high maker of molde and man with his handes" (Sz). The corrector apparently wants to gloss souvrayn; according to this explanation, God would seem to want the narrator to maintain his course of action and not seek shelter in some figment of his "wittes."
594 ballid. So MS, B; D&S: bablid. B suggests that "the sounds of men and bells clashing together . . . belittle[s] the institutionalised services of the established church" (p. 319).
603 plummes. So D&S and B based on a corrector; MS: notes.
604 An expander writes, at the bottom of fol. 7b, for inclusion after this line (Sz):
of lyke and of lynne seede of lambes and egges610 what-so. So D&S, B; MS: so. A corrector suggests "or what so ye wynne."
of coltes and of calues / þat þe cow lycketh
of benes and of boutre / þat bele doo make
621 leve. So D&S; B: lene. Sz: leue but with the notation "almost looks like lene."
623 An expander adds "To hire of þair holy nesse for harvest is sake" (Sz).
637 According to the MED, a laudate as a term of abuse means "?an unlearned priest who knows only these two, most frequently recited, Psalms." See also below lines 1358-59.
639 derve. So D&S; B: derne. Sz: derue but with the notation derne?
641 ever. So D&S, B based on a corrector. MS: were. Since the narrator has been emphasizing the martyrs' love of God as opposed to instruction, ever makes best sense.
644-50 Ne by . . . usen. The rhetorical device of repeating the first word(s) of verse lines was known as anaphora. The Mum-poet uses this technique to good effect in these lines, contrasting the clerks of former days with their modern-day counterparts.
647 double dees. "Daises above the ordinary height" (D&S, p. 118), hence another indication of modern-day clerical arrogance.
655 lith. So D&S, B. MS: light.
666 two dooles. Both portions: that for the poor and that for the church.
685 As. MS: as.D&S, B emend to And.
692 Til he . . . drawe, "i.e., which is going to be the popular side" (D&S, p. 118).
694 And getith . . . beste. D&S translate: "And gets for himself a great reward, which may be accounted among the best" (p. 119).
707-08 prelatz . . . do there. Bishops in their clerical role were not permitted to take part in death sentences; hence they would have to leave Parliament during such discussions.
713a Sic luceat . . . opera vestra bona etc. From Matthew 5.16.
719 never. Sz, noting that this word is in darker ink, asks "later?"
720 a-twart. MS: tw and a space afterwards. So D&S, B based on a corrector.
745 qui . . . videtur. Underlined in red (Sz).
752-57 Yf a freeke . . . trewe lawe. In felony trials the accused was compelled to state how he would be tried after a plea of not guilty. He was supposed to respond, "By God and my country" in order for the trial to proceed. If he said nothing - if he "stood mute" - a jury had to decide whether he was deliberately trying to forestall the trial process or whether he was deaf or dumb. Mum's citing this precedent is ironic and self-condemnatory, since the prisoner's silence is taken for guilt unless he is physically unable to hear or speak; in this legal situation it is better to be a truth teller than mum.
761-62 That lightly . . . caste for hit. "Which (quarrels) the Church might easily have prevented by its action, if it had devised wise counsel against the occasion" (D&S, p. 120).
775 Lucas. B explains MS lucas as "a common name which fits the alliteration," while D&S gloss it, tentatively, as "? 'luck-ace,' luckless person," since ace is "the lowest throw of the dice." MS reads yf an othir rather than for an othir, D&S's emendation accepted by B.
792 To bachillers, to banerettz, to barons and erles. Bachelor knights and knights banneret define the two grades of knighthood, the second - the banner-bearing knights - being of a higher rank. Barons and earls, then princes and peers (line 793), complete the progression toward lofty, worldly establishment.
796 sothesiggerz. So D&S, B. MS: sothe sigger.
798 yee. So D&S, B. MS: ee.
803 al . . . lyvraye. A reference to identifying uniforms and often badges worn by private armies in the service of magnates. Parliament tried to check the abuses associated with such activities with the Statute of Livery and Maintenance in 1390. See RiR II.2 and note; see also Paul Strohm, Appendix 2: "The Literature of Livery," in Hochon's Arrow: The Social Imagination of Fourteenth-Century Texts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 179-85.
820 yere-is gifte. Refers to gifts bestowed either at New Year's (see PP B X.47; A XI.34) or at the beginning of a term of office (PP B III.100; A III.92).
824 sergeantz. So D&S, B based on a correction; MS: a sergeant (but a crossed out and z added to sergeant). The same pluralization of MS sergeant occurs in line 833.
837-40 "the Sothesigger . . . suche frendes." Following D&S and B, I place these words in quotation marks as direct speech rather than reported speech; but it might be reported speech.
847a Beati . . . propter iusticiam. Matthew 5.10.
865 a heepe. D&S and B spell this a-heepe and gloss it "in a crowd" (D&S, p. 133), and "a-plenty" (B, p. 168). I suggest "a heap of other common fellows."
875 Caton . . . bokes. Cato's Distichs 2.31 - Somnia ne cures - paraphrased by Pertelote in Chaucer's The Nun's Priest's Tale as "Ne do no fors of dremes" (VII [B2]2941): pay no heed to dreams. A Middle English translation of 2.31 reads: "On dremes, son thynke þou not lang, / Bot also þai com, so lat þaim gange, / & pas out of þi mynd" (lines 448-50 in Sarah M. Horrall's edition, "Christian Cato: A Middle English Translation of the disticha Catonis," Florilegium 3 , 176).
928 burnysshid. Refers to the antlers, which have been scraped clean of velvet.
935 ne so hevenely. So MS; D&S, B: ne so hevenely [sounes].
939 cheerly. So D&S, B; MS: cleerly, which spoils the alliteration on ch.
946 freholde. An estate held in fee simple or owned outright for the term of one's life.
954 a sage. Here begins a long sequence within the narrator's dream on a beekeeper who is also a gardener. This wise man, himself a truth teller, explains that the Sothsegger may be located "Yn manis herte" (line 1224); "And mynde," he adds, "is his mansion that made alle th'estres" or rooms (line 1225). The beekeeper sequence concludes at line 1287, when the narrator awakens.
959 sene. So D&S, B; MS: seme.
976 garth. So D&S; MS, B: gate, which B glosses as "plot of land" or "furrow" or "track to the ploughed" (p. 336). She points out that the beekeeper also "digs" and "delves" in the land (as in line 977). As gardener the beekeeper anticipates the Gardener of Shakespeare's Richard II, who roots out "The noisome weeds which without profit suck / The soil's fertility from wholesome flowers" (3.4.38-39) - as Richard II should have done from his commonwealth.
978 leyghttone. See MED s.v. leigh-toun, "A garden; esp. a kitchen garden, herb garden." The word derives from the Old English word for "leek-enclosure," leac- or leah-tun.
982 doon worste. To "do worst" is the polar opposite of the social and spiritual idea in PP - to "do best." The drones not only undermine the common profit, they also subvert the spiritual enterprise - "the deveil hym quelle," says the gardener. Later on the gardener speaks of Lucifer, sower of poisonous weeds (heretics and schismatics), who fears "forto do wel" (line 1170), a reversal of the dreamer's quest in PP. Mum's servant, Antichrist's angel and a "muche shrewe," lurks at truth's door to debate "eche day with Do-welle withynne" (lines 1254, 1258). The gardener finally identified composing a work on truth-telling as the best he can do: "thou mays do no better" (line 1278).
987a Qui . . . manducet. The quotation from St. Bernard derives from 2 Thessalonians 3.10: "if any man will not work, neither let him eat." In Speculum Christiani: A Middle English Religious Treatise of the Fourteenth Century, ed. Gustaf Holmstedt (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), pp. 64, 65 this is attributed to Apostolus and is translated into Middle English as "He that trauels [works] not, lete hym not ete" (p. 64). The idea is picked up in PP B.7, where Hunger helps Piers keep people employed.
1001 the boke. Refers to De proprietatibus rerum of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, thirteenth-century Franciscan writer, whom the beekeeper cites at lines 1028 and 1054 ("Bartholomew the Bestiary"). The De proprietatibus rerum is an encyclopedic work on such subjects as theology, philosophy, botany, and zoology, including the bee lore that found its way into Mum. See On the Properties of Things: John Trevisa's Translatioin of Bartholomaeus Anglicus de proprietatibus rerum, a critical text, ed. M. C. Seymour, et al. 2 vols (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1975).
1006 cope. So D&S, B (suggested by a corrector); MS: erthe.
1011 wythynne. So D&S, B: [wy]-thynne; MS: by þynne.
1026 Thay. So D&S, B; MS: That.
1030 lydene. So D&S, B; MS: lydenys.
1044 drane . . . hym. So MS, B; D&S: drane[s] . . . þaym.
1045 in thaire wide . . . hide. The point is that the drones have eaten them.
1048a Quorum . . . confusione. Philippians 3.19. "Could presumably go after 1046 (so D&S) though positioned at 1048 in marg." (Sz). I have followed Sz's suggestion for positioning after line 1048.
1054 Bartholomew the Bestiary sounds like a title or designation for De proprietatibus rerum, but that work contains much more than a bestiary. The designation or title does appear in other writings. See Klaus Bitterling, "Mum and the Sothsegger und Bartholomaeus Anglicus," Archiv für das Studium der neuren Sprachen und Literatur 216 (1979), 345-56.
1062 shal. So D&S (based on a corrector), B; MS: shald.
1089 hit is to mistike. The authors of both RiR and Mum include these built-in disclaimers about their allegorical sections. See RiR "derkliche endited," I.20, and note, and III.63.
1115 of. So D&S, B; MS: ffor al.
1117 more and moulde. The expression seems to mean that Lucifer is the origin and exemplar of evil deeds. B emends the phrase to more, [a] moulde.
1117-21 There is a large oval hole in the manuscript at these lines, but the scribe has worked the lines around on both sides of it, as he did on the verso side of fol. 13 at lines 1163-65.
1118-28 And principally . . . trouble. D&S paraphrase these lines: "This I can prove by what happens in Parliament, where the knights of the shire should speak out boldly their complaints, lest they fester as an abcess within their hearts and break out in rebellion" (p. 59).
1140a Qui potest . . . peccati. The side-note identifies the quotation as from "Sidrac" but it does not appear in the common extant Sidrac collections (D&S, p. 123).
1147 solve ere thay singe. That is, they would perform complicated musical exercises before they know how to sing at all. The word solve here is the same as modern solfège or solfeggio: "vocal exercises sung to a vowel (a, o, u) or the syllables of solmization (ut [do], re, mi, etc.), which are used instead of a text" (Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. [Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1972], p. 785).
1159 sowe . . . seede. This line (with a glance back to "grounde" and "graffe" in the previous line) inaugurates an extended yet very familiar metaphor about the devil and his "crop," namely weeds (tares). The language is drawn from Christ's parables, especially the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). See also line 1165a and note.
1164 hent . . . hoke. The devil and Christ were both cast as fishers of men in Christian art and iconography. Christ said to Peter and other disciples, who were fishermen, that he would make "fishers of men" (Matthew 4.19, Mark 1.17). The devil would try to hook humans and snare them into hell, but Christ would trap the trapper and rescue souls from the great serpent or whale.
1165a Seminator . . . diaboli. Heretics were said to be zizannia, darnels or cockels - noxious weeds growing up among the orthodox wheat (Matthew 13.25). See, for example, the language of Pope Gregory XI's condemnation of John Wyclif in his Bull directed to Oxford University: "you through a certain sloth and neglect allow tares to spring up amidst the pure wheat in the fields of your glorious University" (as quoted in Jeanne Krochalis and Edward Peters, eds., The World of Piers Plowman [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1975], p. 128). The Bull is recorded in the great collection of anti-Lollard texts known as Fasciculi zizaniorum in the Rolls Series. The Host of the Canterbury Tales takes exception to the Parson's condemnation of his oaths by saying "I smelle a Lollere in the wynd" and "He wolde sowen som difficulte / Or springen cokkel in our clene corn" (Epilogue of The Man of Law's Tale, II[B1]1173, 1182-83). Gower uses the same metaphor in his discussion of Christianity in Book 5.1874-87 ("To sowe cokkel with the corn," line 1881) and in his Latin verse treatise on the evils of Richard's time ("Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia") he exploits the coincidence of the word Lollard and the Latin for "darnel," lollia (line 29). He also speaks of the Lollards as spreading their bad seed among the sacred fields: "Semina perfidie sacros dispersa per agros" (line 22). See The Complete Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay (Oxford: Clarendon, 1902), 4: 347, 346. For a brief discussion of the linguistic history of lollia in a context of English heresy, see Strohm, England's Empty Throne, p. 37.
1173 the contrary. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: be contrary.
1179 An expander has prepared for insertion after this line this declaration: "Iuris consultus / Cicivs debet homo omnia mala pati quam malo consentire" (Sz), or "A man versed in law ought rather to suffer every ill than consent to evil."
1207 quitance . . . been up. A quitance is a release from debt or receipt. When there are no more quarrels - no more struggle between evil and good, Lucifer and Christ, and no more "novellerie that noyeth men ofte" (line 1208) - then the ones who have done well will have their reward in heaven. The language in this section is reminiscent of the famous pardon scene from PP passus VII. For a good introduction to the theological implications of this theme, see James Simpson, Piers Plowman: An Introduction to the B-Text (London: Longman, 1990), pp. 75-87.
1215 thow. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: do.
1216 seasonable. So D&S; MS, B: reasonable.
1223 thee. D&S, B: the; MS: hym.
1225a In corde . . . veritatis. The thought is a medieval commonplace. D&S, p. 123, direct to Proverbs 14.33 ( "In the heart of the prudent resteth wisdom") and to PP: "Thow shalt see in þiselue Treuþe sitte in þyn herte" (B V.606).
1226 feoffed hym. The metaphoric language is legal, with God depicted as a feudal lord bestowing on Adam and his issue (his successors) possession of the earthly Paradise "and hevene afterwardes" (line 1230) as their inheritance as a reward for following truth, which the gardener/beekeeper here equates with truth telling or soothsaying.
1235 Noe-is dayes. According to Matthew 24.37, earthly conditions were similar to the last days before Christ's Second Coming.
1236 while mytres . . . sale. That is, while bishoprics are up for the highest bidder, a reference to the scandal of simony in the Church. See above, note to line 475.
1238a Qui non intrat . . . latro. Based on John 10.1.
1247 And he is. MS: And is.
1303 hit. So D&S (based on a corrector); MS, B: he.
1309-33 swevenes. The author grounds the truth of his dream-vision in spiritual revelations such as Daniel's regarding Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon and Joseph's of his rise to prominence over his older brothers and the years of feast and famine. Medieval literary writings often include discussions of the meaning and truth-claims of dreams. Chaucer features such discussions in the House of Fame and in Chauntecleer and Pertelote's quarrel in The Nun's Priest's Tale. Pertelote, who cites Cato's "Ne do no fors of dremes" (VII [B2]2941), scorns dreams as insignificant. Chauntecleer, who champions dreams as revelations of truth, turns out to be correct in this fiction. In Mum the dream and the gardener's advice in it license the author to compose his narrative.
1336 Forto . . . I passe. So D&S, B (based on a scribal expander); MS omits. A line like this is needed to lead into line 1337.
1343-75 Now forto . . . deedes proveth. For a discussion of the implications of the various documents the author of Mum brings forward in these lines - "the disruptive potential of literacy itself" - see Richard Firth Green, A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), pp. 280-81. He concludes: "The material solidity of his actual documents, reminiscent of the reassuringly solid weds [symbolic tokens] of the old trothplight, supplies an ironic counterpoint to this depiction of universal faithlessness" (p. 281).
1343-47 Now forto conseille . . . half wintre. The author in these lines stresses the perils of trying to relate true aspects of good government to a sovereign and his court. As he characterizes the situation, the relevant writings have existed in unopened boxes and bags which he now intends to bring to light.
1353 There is . . . leves. The bishop or archdeacon would visit dioceses or parishes and record what he found in a book. But sometimes, according to the narrator, the bishop would accept bribes in return for not setting down abuses ("prestes been ypassid over," line 1354), such as a priest's abandoning his parish to go to London and live a life of ease and luxury in the court of a nobleman (line 1356). Chaucer's narrator praises the Parson for staying at home, with his parish, and not running off to London and St. Paul's.
1354 prestes. D&S, B: prestis.
1357 lille for lalle. This phrase was used to translate Exodus 21.25, livorem pro livore, "stripe for stripe" (Rheims). The charge here is that priests are engaging in sexual hanky-panky with uneducated, uncaring sluts rather than tending to their home congregations - and, worse, the archdeacon is turning a deaf ear to it.
kitte. So D&S and B, based on a reading suggested by a corrector. MS: light.
1360 Pernelle. See RiR III.156 and note.
1373 Poperyng. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: Properyng. "Palefrays" were fine riding horses. Chaucer's pilgrim Monk rides a palfrey (General Prologue I [A]207).
1374-77 And lernen . . . seye other. "The higher clergy vie with the common people in immorality, as we see by their deeds. They justify themselves by arguments, declaring, in their own support, that all are the children of Adam, as is certain" (D&S, p. 126).
1377 man. So D&S, B; MS: may.
1383a Ve pastoribus. From Jeremiah 23.1, which reads, "Woe to the pastors, that destroy and tear the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord."
1404a Rumores . . . haberi. This is the first line of Cato's Distichs 1.12, whose second verse was quoted at line 291a. A commentator in the margin says of this: "but caton is al contra, and his consail bothe."
1414 Changwys. Or Genghis (Jenghiz) Khan (died 1227), Mongol conqueror. Mention of Genghis Khan in this line begins an exemplum on this great ruler drawn largely or entirely from chapter 24 of John Mandeville's Travels (the "cronicle" mentioned in line 1429), an immensely popular "travel book" composed in the mid-fourteenth century and quickly translated into many languages. Of the so-called Ysya Chan - the "many statutes and ordynances" that Changuys or the "Grete Chane" ordained partly in order to test his subjects from the seven nations - Mandeville writes:
After he [Changuys] commanded to the princypales of the vii. lynages that thei scholde leuen and forsaken alle that thei hadden in godes and heritage and fro thensforth to holden hem payd of that that he wolde yeue hem of his grace. And thei diden so anon. After he commaunded to the princypales of the vii. lynages that euery of hem scholde brynge his eldest sone before him and with here owne handes smyten of here hedes withouten taryenge. And anon his commandement was performed. (p. 162)The point of the Genghis Khan exemplum is similar to that of the drone-squashing beekeeper of lines 954-1287: it is sometimes necessary to take harsh measures against those who would subvert the common profit. For a description and account of the manuscripts and bibliographical references to Mandeville's Travels, see Christian K. Zacher, Curiosity and Pilgrimage: The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth-Century England (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), chapter 6; and Zacher, "Travel Literature," in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, Vol. 7, pp. 2239-41, 2452-57.
1420a Omne . . . desolabitur. Luke 11.17; Matthew 12.25. This quotation is a favorite with political and theological writers. See, e.g., RiR II.52 and Dante's De monarchia 1.5. Gower in the Prologue to Confessio Amantis establishes division - in the human psyche and in the political world - as the cause of the world's decline from earlier times. He especially focuses on the Schism and Lollardy. See WGO, chapter 6, esp. pp. 250-55.
1424 principalz. So B; MS, D&S: principal. Principal should agree in number with "souvrayns" of line 1422.
1425 in vision. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: by nightes.
1437 sese hym in hire lande. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: þaym in his handes.
1446 peuple. So D&S, B; MS: pleuple.
1448 whenne he. So D&S, B; MS omits.
1470 tayl. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: tale.
1472 hond. MS: hoode, stricken, with hond in right margin. D&S amend to [honde]. Perhaps no emendation is necessary in that hoode makes sense.
1482a Potencioribus . . . non possumus. B, p. 356, directs to Ecclesiasticus 8.1, "Non litiges cum homine potente, ne forte incidas in manus illius" ("Strive not with a powerful man, lest thou fall into his hands"). The MS is torn away here; I follow Sz's reconstruction, which is based on D&S. B reads Potencioribus pares non esse non possumus. Sapiencia.
1483 labbing. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: babling.
1503 mene. So D&S, B; MS: more.
1504-11 For whenne . . . or elles. D&S paraphrase these lines: "Even in a trifling matter, they will waste their estates in legal proceedings. Their neighbors will be involved, because a friend will believe in and help his friend's cause" (p. 70).
1505 hertz. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: herg.
1513 breggurdelle. An Old English word for waist, loins, or things connected with these (loin-cloth, for example), from brec-gyrdle. See MED s.v. brech-girdel (n.)2. The idea in these lines 1513-14 seems to be that one may safely venture into water (that is, enter into arguments with powerful men) to a certain point - the breggurdelle - but venturing further may result in being over one's head.
1514a Ira . . . amorem, from Cato's Distichs 1.36. The Vernon MS English version of this line reads, "Wraþþe gedereþ gret hate, / Loue norisscheþ sau3tynge [reconciliation]."
1515 I. So D&S, B; MS omits.
1523 And. So D&S, B; MS: A.
1524 eschewid. So D&S, B; MS: so thewid.
1528 wilde and. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS omits and.
1530a Ira . . . ac corporis. Paraphrasing Ecclesiastes 7.10, "ne velox sis ad irascendum quia ira in sinu stulti requiescit" ("Be not quickly angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of a fool"). The book of Ecclesiastes was attributed to Solomon in the Middle Ages. Parts of this left-hand marginal quotation are "torn away." "Less appears legible now" (Sz).
1534 hande. So MS, B; D&S emend to lande but mar the alliteration in so doing. The general idea, as D&S suggest in a side margin, is that "It is foolish to waste money thus where nothing material is at stake" (p. 71).
1538a Superbia . . . ad mortem. B, p. 358, cites Ecclesiasticus 10.5: "for pride is the beginning of all sin: he that holdeth it, shall be filled with maledictions, and it shall ruin him in the end." The notion that radix malorum est cupiditas (money is the root of all evil, I Timothy 6.10) was a medieval commonplace, providing the theme for Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale.
1545 aretted. So D&S, B; MS: sette, perhaps in anticipation of "ysette" in line 1546.
1547 peuple. So D&S, B; MS: pleuple.
1557-58 For yf . . . thou hatis. D&S paraphrase these lines: "If you stop before you are defeated, then the report will be spread concerning you that, unless your story is a good one, you will refuse to go to law" (p. 128).
1563 mote. So B; MS, D&S: more. Mote meaning discussion, debate, issue, or case in law (OE mot, moot) has been used in lines 278 and 1138. See also "motyng" (litigation), in line 1566.
1565 raggeman rolle. A legal document, with ragged edges, containing accusations. The term "rigmarole" or "rigamarole" derives from the alleged petty legalisms of these rolled-up parchment documents.
Ragenelle is the name of a devil or demon.
1568 hockerope. D&S explain: "Hock-tide is the Monday and Tuesday following the second Sunday after Easter. 'On Hock-Monday, the women "hocked" the men; that is to say, they went abroad with ropes, caught and bound any man they came across, and exacted a forfeit. On Hock-Tuesday, the men retaliated in similar fashion upon the women. Bishop Carpenter of Worcester forbade this practice in his diocese in 1450.' (Sir E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, i.155, q.v. for further descriptions of Hock-tide customs.) The description here, however, more resembles a tug-of-war" (p. 129).
1569-73 Til the strong . . . there nomore. The syntax of these lines is difficult, and scribes and modern editors have been busy trying to sort out their complexities. The sense of the lines is that legal wranglings and tugs-or-war - rigmaroles - develop in district courts of assize such that householders, because of the intimate connections between money and property (line 1571), lose their dwellings: "they dine no longer in their houses" (line 1573). D&S rearrange lines and phrases but without improvement of the sense. I have kept the words and lines as they appear in the MS.
1582 goky. This rare word means a fool or here specifically a hapless poor man at a great disadvantage when pitted against influential, powerful men in courts of law. In PP a goky is someone who commits errors in mass offices (see MED s.v. goki and the reference to PP B XI.299-300: "Þe gome þat gloseth so chartres for a goky [vr. gooky; C: goky; vr. gouky] is holden; So is it a goky, by god, þat in his gospel failleth, Or in masse or in matynes maketh any defaute.)
1585a Munera . . . non accipies. Adapted from Psalm 14.5: "he that hath not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent."
1587 fleuble. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: peuple.
1593 strength. So D&S, B (based on a corrector's strenght); MS: lawe, which is followed by a blank space. A corrector has emended MS status to statutz.
1594-97 For though . . . hurle ever. D&S paraphrase these lines as referring to the powerful: "For the great, if defeated once, will go on again without feeling any loss" (p. 73).
1595 nonsuytes. So D&S, B; MS: nonsuyte. Non-suits were suits that were never brought to conclusion, either because the plaintiff failed to proceed with his case or because he was unable to bring sufficient evidence.
1619 Civile. Civil Law is comprised of statutes created for the secular government and courts, based on the Roman Law.
1621 Cristis . . . Canon. Canon Law is the officially established rules governing the faith and practices of Christians, formulated by and ratified in church councils. The narrator observes in line 1622 that the Bible is the basis for all law, civil and canon. D&S and B place a hyphen between lawe and is, but is is a verb not a possessive.
1623 A corrector has added next to this line a phrase from Pope Innocent III's De miseria humane conditionis: "nullum malum impunitum. euangelium." That is, "No evil shall go unpunished (Gospel)."
1624 my credo. "My personal belief." The narrator brings inward resources to bear on issues of law that he knows intimately.
1626 librarie of lordes. "There is a collection of books concerning lords who infringe on the king's revenue" (D&S, p. 74).
1640 th'olde . . . newe. Because of encroachments on the king's revenues, the crown is deprived of both its regular sources of revenue ("th'olde") and the monies levied by Parliament ("the newe").
1641 Notwithstanding. So D&S, B; MS: Not wistanding.
1648-53 Thees knightz . . . halfendele and more. These lines represent criticism of Henry's "temporal and spiritual lords who had got into their hands by brants or leases or other methods the endowed revenues of the crown" (E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century 1399-1485), p. 79, citing B. P. Wolffe, "Acts of Resumption in the Lancastrian Parliaments," English Historical Review 73 , 587).
1650 kepe . . . peuple. This phrase echoes the opening of the poem (as we have it). See note to line 1.
1660-62 The right-hand margin is torn away at these lines. I follow D&S's reconstruction of the words.
1664-68 For nedis . . . long indure. D&S paraphrase these lines in the margin: "The king must have money to support his household. It should come from his own estate, not from taxes, or the people will suffer" (p. 75).
1665 haynous werres. The MS is blank after for his. A corrector supplies "haynous werres."
1666 other. The right-hand margin is torn away at this word and "bringge" in line 1667. I follow D&S's reconstruction of the words.
1670 To you . . . tyme. "To you who owe money it would then be time to pay up" (D&S, p. 130).
1671-82 For trusteth . . . he have oughte. The sense is: "For trust well, despite what men may say, twisting and turning twice in a week, calling clerics and others to the council and complaining at Parliament, unless it happens that the crown is brought back into the picture (?) - clear as it should (?), little by little as is required by law - then may we want and wish what we please, our profit and praise will be the less with knights and with the commons until the king has in his hands all [the revenues] that he should have."
1684 hath. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS omits.
1687 maisons deu. "Houses of God," were hospitals. The complaint in lines 1683-88 is that some people make a great deal of money dishonestly and live lavishly but without giving any of their ill-gotten gains to the poor until the very end of their lives, when they donate money for the building of hospitals. The end of line 1687 is torn away in the MS; I follow D&S's reconstruction of them.
1697 lite. D&S and B needlessly emend to [title]. "Little" designates a portion.
1702 wordes. This word and the last words of lines 1703-05 have been torn away in the MS. I follow D&S's reconstructions.
1704-05 For though . . . never. "Even if a whole fifteenth is bequeathed and a receipt given, the executors keep the donations for themselves" (B, p. 366).
1706-12 Ne do noght for . . . oure tale. The left-hand margin is torn at these lines. I follow D&S's reconstructions.
1724 mervailles that Merlyn dide devyse. These refer to the many prophecies - retrospective predictions in verse - attributed to Merlin, the magician of King Arthur legends. See, for example, the three "Merlin" prophecies included in the section "Poems of Political Prophecy," in MEPW, pp. 9-10. For a discussion of Merlin prophecies and contemporary English politics, see Paul Strohm, England's Empty Throne, chapter 1 ("Prophecy and Kingship"), esp. pp. 6-9. For general information on the Merlin prophecies, see R. H. Robbins, "Poems on Contemporary Conditions: The Merlin Prophecies," in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, Vol. 5, pp. 1519-22; 1714-16.
1731-33 on mone . . . thaire workes. Eckhardt interprets this as an allusion to the Percies, who wore a crescent moon on their badge. She adduces Adam Usk, who speaks of the "horns of the moon" meaning Hotspur and his uncle. See "Another Historical Allusion," p. 496.
1741 ought. So D&S, B (based on a corrector); MS: shuld.
1746 How . . . . The left-hand margin is torn away at this line and through line 1751. I follow D&S's reconstruction.
Hough the coroune moste be kepte fro covetous peuple
Al hoole in his hande and at his heeste eke,
That every knotte of the coroune close with other,
And not departid for prayer ne profit of grete,
Leste uncunnyng come yn and caste up the halter
And crie on your cunseil for coigne that ye lacke,
For thay shal smaicche of the smoke and smerte thereafter
Whenne collectours comen to caicche what thay habben. 1
And though your tresorier be trewe and tymbre not to high, 2
Hit wil be nere the worse atte wyke-is ende,
For two yere a tresorier twenty wyntre aftre
May lyve a lordis life, as leued men tellen.
Now your chanchellier that chief is to chaste the peuple
With conscience of your cunseil that the coroune kepith,
And alle the scribes and clercz that to the court longen,
Bothe justice and juges yjoyned and other,
Sergeantz that serven for soulde atte barre,
And the prentys of court, prisist of alle,
Loke ye reeche not of the riche and rewe on the poure 3
That for faute of your fees fallen in thaire pleyntes.
Have pitie on the penylees and thaire pleynte harkeneth,
And hire thaym as hertly as though ye hure had, 4
For the love of Hym that your life weldeth;
And graunteth thaym for Godis sake and with a good chiere
The writing of writtz and the waxe eke;
And thay wil love you for the lawe as liege men aughte,
More thenne for mayntenance that any man useth,
Or for any frounting for faute of the coigne.
Now ye have yherde of the haselle names
Of officiers withynne and withoute eke,
But yit of alle the burnes the beste is behinde
Forto serve a souvrayn in somer and in wintre,
And most nedeful at eve and at morowe eke,
And a profitable page for princes or for ducz
Or for any lay lord, lettrid or elles,
That litel is ytake fourth or his tale lyeved.
And yf ye willeth to wite what the wight hatte, 5
Hit is a Sothesigger that seilde is yseye
To be cherisshid of chief in chambre or in halle,
But for his rathe reasons is rebukid ofte,
And yf he fable to ferre, the foote he goeth undre. 6
There is no clerc with the king that clothid hym ones,
But clothid hym at Cristmasse and al the yere after. 7
"Saunder the serviselees" shuld be his name,
For he abideth in no houshold half a yere to th'ende
But the lord and the lady been loeth of his wordes,
And the meyny and he mowe not accorde,
But al to-teereth his toppe for his trewe tales.
He can not speke in termes ne in tyme nother,
But bablith fourth bustusely as barn un-ylerid; 8
But ever he hitteth on the heed of the nayle-is ende,
That the pure poynt pricketh on the sothe
Til the foule flessh vomy for attre.
Thenne is this freeke afrountid for his feithful tale,
And yfulled undre foote while falsenes goeth aboute
With cautelle and with coigne forto caste deceiptz 9
Hough trouthe might be traverssid and tournid of the weye. 10
Thenne fareth fals fourth and flatereth atte beste,
And lightly is ylyved withoute long tale,
And every gome of hym glad, so glorieusely he loketh
Thorough the peynture of the preynte that in the palme hongeth. 11
Right as the cockil cometh fourth ere the corne ripe,
With a cleer colour, as cristal hit semeth,
Among the grayne that is grene and not ful growe,
Right so fareth falsnesse that so freysh loketh
Thorough the colour of the crosse that many men incumbreth.
But whenne trouthe aftre tornement hath tyme forto kerne
And to growe fro the grounde anone to th'ende,
Thenne fadeth the flour of the fals cockil.
That lykne I to lyers, for atte the long goyng,
Of every segge-is sawe the sothe wol be knowe. 12
Yit is hit not my cunseil to clatre what me knoweth
In sclaundre ne scathe ne scorne of thy brother,
For though thy tale be trewe, thyn tente might be noyous,
For whiche thou mighte be harmed and have that thou serves. 13
For go to the Gospel, that ground is of lore,
And there shal thou see thyself, yf thou can rede,
Whethir I wisse thee wel wisely or elles.
He seith that thou shuldes the synne of thy brother
Telle hym by tyme and til hymsilf oon,
Yn ful wil to amende hym of his myssedeedes.
Si peccauerit in te frater tuus corrige etc. 14
And yf he chargeth not thy charité but chideth thee agaynes,
Yit leve hym not so lightly though he loure oones,
But funde hym to freyne efte of the newe,
And have wittenes thee with that thou wel knowes,
And spare not to speke, spede yf thou mowe,
And he that moost is of might thy mede shal quite
For suche soeth sawes that sounen into good,
And of a reasonable man rewarde to have.
For whenne thy tente and thy tale been temprid in oone,
And menys no malice to man that thou spekys,
But forto mende hym mukely of his missedeedes,
Sory for his synne and his shrewed taicches,
And the burne be yblessid and balys cunne eschewe
And thrifty and towarde, thou shal thanke gete.
Were I a lord of a lande that lawe aughte gouverne,
Suche a siker servant shuld have robes,
Though he seide ever sothe and servyd of noon other.
But now wolde I wite of a wise burne,
What kynnes creature that me couthe telle
Where to finde this freek, yf the king wolde
Have hym in housholde, as holsum were.
"By Crist," cothe a clerc that conceipte he had,
"There is no wiseman, I wene, wolde be yweddid
To suche a simple service, asay where the liketh, 15
For no maniere mede that thereto belongeth,
Ne ferthryng ne frendship while flatryng helpeth.
For alle the greet clercz that with the king lendith
Knoweth this as kindely as clerc doeth his bokes:
Hit is no siker service but for a somer saison,
But yf hit were for a fool that wold not be ferthred.
He might sey sothe sum while among thaym
And shuld be holde fooly though hit feul after."
But muche now I mervaille, and so mowen other,
That oure corouned king is kepte fro tho ludes -
Et nunc reges intelligite erudimini qui iudicate terram, etc. David 16
Forto saye hym the sothe sum while among
Hough he shuld grece the griefz er the woundz gunne festre
And so to leede his life in love of the royaulme.
For the poure peuple hath prece of thaym many
Forto telle thaym thaire toyes twyes a woke;
And any neighebourgh be nigh on eve or a morowe,
Hit wold not long be lefte, my life durste I wedde;
And that is grace and thaire good happe to gouverne thaym better
And in welthe to be ware, ere that woo falle.
But the king ne his cunseil cunne not mete with thaym,
But cleerly the cause I knowe not for sothe,
But dreede of the deeth dryveth thaym thens,
Or elles looste of thaire likerous life uppon erthe.
Thus is the court accumbrid and knoweth not thaire happes
Ne God neither goodman ne thaymself nothir,
Til fortune for foolie falle atte laste,
And al the world wondre on thaire wilde deedes.
But yf the king might knowe that the comune talketh
Hough grotz been ygadrid and no grief amendid
And hough the lawe is ylad whenne poure men pleyne,
I bilieve loyally oure liege lord wolde
Have pitie on his peuple for his owen profit
And amende that were amysse into more ease.
But the cause why the king knoweth not the mischief
Is for faute of a fabuler that I bifore tolde of,
Forto telle hym the texte, and touche not the glose,
How the worde walketh with oon and with other.
But whenne oure comely king came furst to londe,
Tho was eche burne bolde to bable what hym aylid
And to fable ferther of fautz and of wrongz,
And romansid of the missereule that in the royaulme groved, 17
And were behote high helpe, I herde hit myself
Ycried at the crosse, and was the kingis wille
Of custume and of coylaige the comunes shuld be easid.
But how the covenant is ykepte I can not discryve,
For with the kingis cunseil I come but silde.
But piez with a papegeay parlid of oones,
And were yplumed and ypullid and put into a caige.
Sith the briddes were ybete the beke is undre whinge,
But yf thay parle privyly to thaire owen peeris.
But the king ne his cunseil may hit not knowe
What is the comune clamour ne the crye nother,
For there is no man of the meeyné, more nother lasse, 18
That wol wisse thaym any worde but yf his witte faille,
Ne telle thaym the trouthe ne the texte nothir,
But shony forto shewe what the shire meneth,
And beguile thaym with glose, so me God helpe,
And speke of thaire owen spede and spie no ferther,
But ever kepe thaym cloos for caicching of wordes.
And yf a burne bolde hym to bable the sothe
And mynde hym of mischief that missereule asketh,
He may lose his life and laugh here no more,
Or yputte into prisone or ypyned to deeth
Or yblent or yshent or sum sorowe have,
That fro scorne other scathe scape shal he nevre.
Thus is trouthe doune ytroode and tenyd ful ofte,
Ybete and ybounde in bourghes and in shires,
And principaly of princes ypyned thenne of other,
Yhaulid and yhuntid and yhoote trusse,
That he shoneth to be seye forto shewe his harmes,
But ever hideth his heede fro the haylstones,
And is overwoxe with wrong and wickid wedes,
And tenyd with tares and al amisse temprid.
Yit wole he growe fro greve and his grayne bere,
And after sowe his seede whenne he seeth tyme.
For alle the gomes undre God, goyng uppon erthe,
Were never so slygh yit forto sle trouthe:
Though thay batre hym with battz and bete on hym ever,
Trouthe is so tough and loeth forto teere
And so pryvy with the prince that paradis made
That he hath graunt of his lyfe while God is in hevene;
For though men brenne the borough there the burne loiggeth, 19
Or elles hewe of the heede there he a hows had,
Or do hym al the disease that men devise cunne,
Yit wol he quyke agayne and quite alle his foes
And treede over the tares that over his toppe groued,
And al wickid wede into waste tourne.
And therefore my cunseil - though the king knowe hit
And alle the lordz of this londe, right lite is my charge -
Ys to be at oone with trouthe and tarre hym nomore,
Leste he tucke at your tabart ere two yere been endid,
But ye suffre his servant to be seye oones
Among you in a moneth (but yf ye more wil)
Forto saye you the sothe, though ye shame thenke.
For hit wol savere your mouthe swetely withynne short after
Whenne fortune you fleeth and falleth elleswhere;
And yf ye savere on his sawe and serve thereafter
And eke wirche by his worde, the whele wol tourne
And eke chaunge his cours of care and of sorowe,
And tourne into tidewel, terme of your lifes. 20
Here bigynneth the disputacion bitwyne Mum and the Sothsigger
Now is Henryis hous holsumly ymade
And a meritable meyny of the moste greet,
And next I have ynamed as nygh as I couthe,
And the condicions declarid of alle,
Rehershing no rascaille ne riders aboute.
But he hymsilf is souvrayn, and so mote he longe,
And the graciousist guyer goyng uppon erthe,
Witti and wise, worthy of deedes,
Ykidde and yknowe and cunnyng of werre, 21
Feers forto fighte, the felde ever kepith,
And trusteth on the Trinité that trouthe shal hym helpe;
A doughtful doer in deedes of armes
And a comely knight ycome of the grettist,
Ful of al vertue that to a king longeth,
Of age and of al thing as hym best semeth.
But hit be wel in his dayes we mowe dreede aftre
Lest feerelees falle withynne fewe yeres.
But God of His goodnes that gouvernith alle thingz
Hym graunte of His grace to guye wel the peuple
And to reule this royaume in pees and in reste,
And stable hit to stonde stille for oure dayes.
But I dreed me sore, so me God helpe,
Leste covetise of cunseil that knoweth not hymself
(Of sum and of certayn, I seye not of alle)
That of profitable pourpos putteth the king ofte,
There his witte and his wil wolde wirche to the beste -
"Nomore of this matiere," cothe Mum thenne,
"For I mervaille of thy momeling more thenne thou wenys.
Saides not thou thyself, and sothe as me thoughte,
That thees sothesiggers serven noon thankes?"
And thou knowes this by clergie, how cans thou thee excuse
That thou ne art nycier than a nunne nyne-folde tyme,
Forto wite that thy wil thy witte shal passe?"
I blussid for his bablyng and abode stille
And knytte there a knotte and construed no ferther;
But yit I thoughte ere he wente, and he wold abide,
To have a disputeson with hym and spie what he hatte.
"I am Mum thy maister," cothe he, "in alle maniere places
That sittith with souverayns and servyd with greete.
Thaire wille ne thaire wordes I withseye never,
But folowe thaym in thaire folie and fare muche the bettre,
Easily for oyle, sire, and elles were I nyce.
Thus leede I my life in luste of my herte,
And for my wisedame and witte wone I with the beste,
While sergeantz the sechith to saise by the lappe
For thy wilde wordes that maken wretthe ofte. 22
Thow were better folowe me foure score wynter
Thenne be a soethsigger, so me God helpe,
Oon myle and nomore waye, I Mum wol avowe.
And therefore I rede, yf thou reste wilnest,
Cumpaignye with no contra yn no kynnes wise, 23
But parle for thy profit and plaise more hereaftre.
For there nys lord of this londe ne lady, I wene,
Prince nether prelat ne peer of the royaulme,
Bachillier ne bourgoys ne no barne elles
That yf thay wite what thou arte, that wil thee desire
Or coveite to his cumpaignie while contra thee foloweth."
"Now to this altercacion," cothe I, "an answere behoveth,
For I fele by thy fabelyng thou art felle of werkes 24
And right worldly wise of wordes and deedes,
And ever kepis thee cloos for casting bihinde. 25
Thou wol not putte thee in prees but profit be the more 26
To thy propre persone; thou passes not the bondes
Forto gete any grucche for glaunsyng of boltes.
Thus me semeth that thou serves thyself and no man elles,
And has housholde and hire to holde up thy oyles,
And eke bouche of court for colte and for cnave.
And yit thou suffris thy souvrayn to shame hymself
There thou mightes amende hym many tyme and ofte.
ffacientis culpam habet qui quod potest corrigere negligit
emendare in secretis etc. 27
Now suche anothir servant, the same and noon other,
Mote dwelle with the deveil, til Do Bette hym helpe."
Thus after talkyng we twynned asundre,
Bothe Mum and I, and oure mote endid;
But muche mervailled I, whenne Mum was passid,
Of his opinion that he heulde ever,
And provyd hit by profitable poyntz ynowe
That better was a burne to abide stille
Thanne the soeth to seye that sitteth in his herte,
Forto warne the wy that he with dwellith,
Or mynne hym of mischief that misserewle askith.
And ever he concludid with colorable wordes
That whoso mellid muche more than hit nedeth
Shuld rather wynne weping watre thenne robes.
And cleerly Caton construeth the same,
And seyth soethly, I saw hit in youthe,
That of "bable" cometh blame and of "be stille" never -
Nam nulli tacuisse nocet, nocet esse locutum - 28
And a wise worldly worde, as me thenketh,
Of the whiche I was hevy and highly abawyd,
And for the double doute as dul as an asse,
And troublid for the travers, and amisse temprid,
That I wente in a wyre a grete while after.
For woo I ne wiste who had the better
Of Mum and of me, and musid faste,
Rehershyng the reasons of bothe two sides,
The pro and the contra as clergie askith.
But for witte that I wanne I wolde that he knewe
I was never the nyre, but as newe to begynne
As clerc is to construe that can not reede.
Thenne thoughte I on Sidrac and Salomonis termes,
And Seneca the sage I soughte for the nones,
That whilom were the wisest wies uppon erthe
Forto wise any wighte, whatso hym grieved.
I bablid on thoo bokes that thoo barnes made,
And waitid on thaire wordes aswel as I couthe,
But of the matiere of Mum might I nought finde,
Ne no maniere nyceté of the newe jette,
But al homely usage of the olde date,
How that good gouvernance gracieusely endith.
But glymsyng on the glose, a general reule
Of al maniere mischief I merkid and radde:
That whoso were in wire and wold be y-easid
Moste shewe the sore there the salve were.
Thenne was I wel ware what he wolde meene,
That I shulde cunne of clergie to knowe the sothe,
Forto deme the doute that me so dul made.
I was wilful of wil and wandrid aboute,
Til I came to Cambrigge couthe I not stynte,
To Oxenford and Orleance and many other places
There the congregacion of clercz in scole
Were stablid to stonde in strengthe of bilieve.
I moeved my matiere of Mum, as ye knowe,
And of the Soethsigger in fewe shorte wordes.
To alle the vij sciences I shewed as I couthe,
And how we dwellid in dome, for doute of the better.
Sire Grumbald the grammier tho glowed for anger
That he couthe not congruly knytte thaym togedre.
Music and Mum mighte not accorde,
For thay been contrary of kynde, whoso canne spie.
Phisic diffied al the bothe sides,
Bothe Mum and me and the Soethsiggre;
He was accumbrid of oure cumpaignye, by Crist that me bought,
And as fayn of oure voiding as foul of his make.
Astronomyis argumentz were alle of the skyes,
He-is touche no twynte of terrene thinges.
Rethoricis reasons me luste not reherce,
For he conceyved not the caas, I knewe by his wordes;
But a subtile shophister with many sharpe wordes
Sette the Soethsigger as shorte as he couthe. 29
But he wolde melle with Mum ner more ner lasse,
So chiding and chatering as choghe was ever.
Jeometrie the joynour jablid faste,
And caste many cumpas, as the crafte askith, 30
And laide level and lyne along by the squyre.
But I was not the wiser by a Walsh note
Of the matiere of Mum that marrid me ofte,
And stoode al astonyed and starid for angre
That clergie couthe not my cares amende,
And was in pourpoos to passe fourth right in pure wreth.
But a semely sage that satte al abouve,
Ychose to the chaire forto chaste fooles, 31
Whom alle the seven sciences servyd at wille,
Bothe in werke and in worde weren at his heste,
And more bunne at his bede than boy til his maister, 32
He satte as a souvrayn on a high siege.
A doctour of doutz, by dere God he semyd,
For he had loked al that lay to the .vij. artz;
He was as ful of philosophie and vertues bothe
As man uppon molde mighte perceyve.
This comely clerc me called agaynes,
And cunseillid me so cleerly that I caughte ease,
And seide, "Soon, seest thou this semblé of clercz,
How thay bisien thaym on thaire bokes and beten thaire wittz,
And how thay loken on the levis the letter to knowe?
For whenne thay knowen the scripture thay construen no ferther
Forto soutille ne to siche no side-wayes. 33
But as long as I have lerned and lokid in bokes,
And alle the seven sciences ysoughte to th'ende,
Yit knewe I never suche a caas, ne no clerc here,
As thou has ymoeved among us alle.
Hit is sum noyous nyceté of the newe jette, 34
For the texte truly telleth us nomore
But how that goode gouvernance graciousely endith.
But and thou woldes be wise and wirche as I telle,
I wolde wisse thee to wite where that thou shuldest
Have knowlaiche of thy caas cleere to thyn intent,
And thy cumberouse question quycly be assoiled.
Now harke and holde and hye to th'ende.
Sum of this semblé that thou sees here,
Whenne thay have loked the lettre and the lyfez over
Of alle the seven sciences, or sum as thaym liketh,
Thay walken fourth in the worlde and wonen with lordes,
And with a covetous croke Saynt Nicholas thay throwen,
And travaillen nomore on the texte, but tournen to the glose,
And putten thaym to practike and plaisance of wordes.
But thay cunne deme thy doute, by dere God in hevene,
I can not knowe of thy caas who couthe elles."
Thenne ferkid I to freres, alle the foure ordres,
There the fundament of feith and felnesse of workes
Hath ydwellid many day, no doute, as thay telle.
I frayned thaym faire to fele of thaire wittes,
And moevyd my matiere of Mum, as ye knowe,
And of the Soethsigger in fewe shorte wordes.
To every couple I construed my caas for the nones,
Til the cloistre and the quyre were so accorded
To geve Mum the maistrie withoute mo wordes,
And shewid me exemples, the sothest uppon erthe,
N'ad Mum be a more frende to making of thaire houses
Thenne the Sothesigger, so God shuld thaym helpe,
Hit had be unhelid half a yere after.
Now ne were thre skiles and scantly the ferthe,
I wolde love as litel thaire life and thaire deedes
As man uppon molde, til Amendes me prayed.
The furst is a faire poynt forto wynne hevene,
Whenne thay stirid a statute in strengthe of bilieve
That no preste shuld preche save seely poure freres. 35
But this deede dide thay not, I do you to wite,
For no maniere mede that mighte thaym befalle.
Ne forto gete the more good, God wote the sothe,
But for good herte that thay have to hele manis soules.
The secund is a pryvy poynt, I pray hit be helid:
Thay cunne not reede redelles aright, as me thenketh;
For furst folowid freres Lollardz manieres,
And sith hath be shewed the same on thaymself,
That thaire lesingz have lad thaym to lolle by the necke;
At Tibourne for traison ytwyght up thay were.
Patere legem quam ipse tuleris - 36
For as hit is yseide by eldryn dawes -
"That the churle gafe a dome whiche came by hym aftre." 37
The thrid is no lesing ne no long tale:
Thees good grey freres that mouche love geten
For keping of thaire conscience clenner than other,
Thay goon al bare abouve the foote and bynethe double
With smale semyd sockes and of softe wolle,
For the love of oure Lord harde life induren.
Thay mellen with no monaye more nother lasse,
But stiren hit with a sticke and staren on hit ofte,
And doon thaire bisynes therewith by obedience of th'ordre;
But in the herte ne in the hande ne may hit not come,
For thenne thay shuld bee shent of the subpriour.
The fourthe poynt is fructuous and fundid al in love:
Whenne freres goon to chapitre for charite-is sake,
They casten there the cuntrey and coostz aboute,
And parten the provynce in parcelle-mele.
And maken limitacions in lengthe and in breede,
Til eche hous have his owen as hym aughte.
Thenne hath the limitour leve to lerne where he cometh 38
To lye and to licke or elles lose his office.
But sum been so courtoys and kinde of thaire deedes
That with thaire charité thay chaungen a knyfe for a peyre,
But he wol pille ere he passe a parcelle of whete
And choise of the chese the chief and the beste.
He is so cunnyng in the crafte that whereso he cometh
He leveth the lasse for the more deele. 39
Thus with thaire charité and with thaire fayre chere
Thees good Godis men gadren al to thaym 40
And kepen hit to thaire owen croppe clene fro other.
For though a frere be fatt and have a ful coffre
Of gold and of good, thou getys but a lite
Forto bete thy bale, though thou begge ever.
But that is no mervail, by Marie of hevene,
For to begge of a begger what bote is hit
But who wolde balle his heede to breke harde stones?
Thus thaire conscience is yknowe and thaire crafte eeke,
That hath be kepte cunseil and cloos many dayes,
Til al the world wote what thay wolde meene;
And that is this treuly, tende whoso wil,
Thorough crafte of confession to knowe men intentz:
Of lordz and ladies that lustes desiren,
And with thaire wyly wittz wirchen on ever
And mulden up the matiere to make thaym fatte,
And gouvernen the grete and guilen the poure.
Now take my tale as my intent demeth,
And ye shal wel wite I wil thaym no mischief
By my worde ne by my wille as wissely forsothe 41
As God that is oure gouvernour me gye at my nede.
Honora dominum de tua substancia. Propheta. 42
For whenne thay come to your cote to crave that thaym nedeth, 43
Gyfe thaym, for Godis sake and with a good wille,
Mete or monaye as ye mowe indure,
And gefe thaym sauce therewith of the Sothesigger
Forto preche the peuple the peril of synne,
How symonie shendith al hooly churche,
And not forbere bisshop ne baron that lyveth
That thay teche treuly the texte as hit standeth,
And abide thereby with a bolde herte,
And spare for no spicerie ne no speche elles,
But telle oute the trouthe and tourne not aside
How Covetise hath caste the knyght on the grene,
And woneth at Westmynstre to wynne newe spores,
And cannot crepe thens while the crosse walketh.
He multiplieth monaye in the mote-halle
More for his mayntenance and manasshing of wordes
Thenne with draughte of his swerde or deedes of armes.
And telle the frere a toquen, that trouthe wote the sothe
Why men mervaillen more on thaym thanne on othir -
That suche a cumpaignye of confessours cunne not yelde
Oon martir among thaym in seven score wynter.
Thay prechen alle of penanche as though thay parfite were,
But thay prove hit in no poynt there thaire peril shuld arise.
Thaire clothing is of conscience, and of Caym thaire werkes,
That fadre was and fundre of alle the foure ordres,
Of deedes thay doon deceipuyng the peuple,
As Armacanes argumentz, that thaire actes knewe,
Provyn hit apertly in a poysie-wise;
For of Caym alle came, as this clerc tolde.
For who writeth wel this worde and withoute titil,
Shal finde of the figures but evene foure lettres:
C. for hit is crokid, thees Carmes thou mos take, 44
A. for thees Augustines that amoreux been ever,
I. for thees Iacobynes that been of Iudas kynne,
M. for thees Menours that monsyd been thaire werkes. 45
I seye of thaym that suche been and cesse agaynes other,
But wel I wote that wilful and worldly thay been sum,
And eeke spracke and spitous, and spices wel thay loven,
For Symonis sermons thay setten al to taske,
And feele other fautz fourtene hunthrid
Thay lepen over lightly, and lyen woundre thicke. 46
I cannot deme deuely of what degré thay bee;
Thay been not weddid, wel I wote, though thay wifes have;
But knightz yit of conscience I couthe of thaym make,
For thay have joygned in justes agayns Jhesus werkes; 47
And forto prove thaym prestes thees poyntz been agayne thaym.
I cannot reede redily of what reule thay been,
For hooly churche ne hevene hath not thaym in mynde,
Save in oon place thaire office and ordre is declarid:
I sawe hit in a ympne and is a sentence trewe,
And elleswhere in hooly writte I herde thaym ynempnyd.
Auferte gentem perfidam. Credentium de finibus;
Deleantur de libro vivencium, et cum iustis non scribantur. 48
But of the matiere of Mum ne of the Sothesigger,
This is not to pourpoos the pare of oon pere,
And therfore my wil is to walke more at large
Forto fynde sum freeke that of feith were
Not double, but indifferent to deme the sothe,
Whether Mum is more better or Melle-sumtyme
Forto amende that were amysse into more ease.
And for the fikelle freres were fully witholde
And alied to Mum in many maniere wises,
And eeke ful partie, as provyd by thaire wordes,
I lyeved wel the lasse thaire lore and thaire deedes,
And forto eschewe chiding I chalanged thaym alle,
And lepte lightly fro thaym, leste I laught were;
For thaire curtesie is crokid there thay caste ille,
And that witen thay wel that han wrastlid with thaym.
Thenne passid I to priories and personages many,
To abbeys of Augustyn and many hooly places,
There prestz and prelatz were parfitely yclosid
To singe and to reede for alle Cristen soules.
But for I was a meen man I might not entre;
For though the place were ypighte for poure men sake
And eeke funded therefore, yit faillen thay ofte
That thay doon not eche day do beste of alle.
For the fundacions of the fundours ment
Was groundid for Godis men, though hit grete serve.
Mutauerunt caritatem in cupiditatem. Sapientia 49
Thay koveiten no comers but yf thay cunne helpe
Forto amende thaire mynstre and to maynteyne thaire rente, 50
Or in worke or in worde waite thaire profit,
Or elles entreth he not til thay have ysopid.
Thus thaire portier for my povreté putt me thens,
And grauntid me of his goodnesse to go where me luste
And to wandry where I wolde withoute the gates.
Thenne raughte I fro religion, redelees of wittes,
And caried to closes and cathedralle churches
There that pluralité was prisely ystablid. 51
I queyntid me with the quyre for my questions sake,
And moevid of Mum more thenne thaym liked.
I was as wise whenne I wente as whenne I came to thaym,
Thay wolde not intremitte of ner nother side,
But ever kepte thaym cloos to cracche and to mangier, 52
And fedde so the foule flesh that the velle ne might
Unethe kepe the caroigne but yf hit cleve shuld; 53
And n'ad the gutte groned there thay gurde were, 54
Thay had bee sike of swete mete, so me God helpe,
For piking of provendre passing th'assise; 55
And n'adde thay partid with the poure as prestz doon thaire offryng,
That putten alle thaire masse penyes in thaire purses,
Thay had be blamyd of Belial for thaire bolde riding
Yn gurdellz of good gold or gilte atte leste.
Nolite possidere aurum neque argentum in zonis vestris. 56
Thenne woxe I wondre wery of wandring aboute
Thorough the wilde weyes that I wente had,
Ful woo for I ne wiste what was my beste
Reed - forto reste or rome more at large,
Til I wiste wittrely who shulde have
The maistrie, Mum or the Sothesigger.
And every man that I mette mad for my wordes
Wende that I were, wisten thay non other. 57
And as I stoode staring, stonyd of this matiere,
Mum with his myter manachid me ever,
And cunseilled me to cusky and care for myself,
And leste I soughte sorowe, cesse by tyme. 58
I doutid of his deedes, for his delectacion
Was more in his mynde thenne the masse-bokes,
And boode til a baron, blessid be he ever -
His name is ynempnyd among the seven ordres -
Sente a saufconduyt so that I wolde
Maynteyne no matiere to amende myself,
Ne caicche no colour that came of my wittes,
But showe for a souvrayn to shewe hit forth after. 59
This boldid me to bisynes to bringe hit to ende
Thorough grace of this good lord that gouverneth al thing.
Thenne sought I forth sevenyght and slepte ful silde,
And cessid on a Saterday til sunne roose amorowe,
And burnys and belles ballid togedre,
Momeling on thaire matyns and to the masse after.
I satte in a siege my service to hire,
Til the prest in a pulpite began forto preche
The peuple to pees and the peril of synne,
And also t'offre as ofte as thaym likid.
He taughte thaym by tyme thaire tithing to bringe
Of al manier grene that groweth uppon erthe
Of fructe and of floxe in felde and in homes,
Of polaille and of peris, of apples and of plummes,
Of grapes and of garlik, of gees and of pigges,
Of chibollz and of chiries and of thaire chese eeke,
Herbaige and oygnons and alle suche thinges
That growen in thaire gardynes, lete God his parte have,
Of hony in your hyves and of your honycombes,
Of malte and of monaye and of al that multiplieth,
Of wolle and of wexe and what-so yow increceth
Or newith yow, the nine partie nymeth to your self,
And trewly the tithing taketh hooly churche.
And ever I waitid whenne he wolde sum worde moeve
How hooly churche goodes shuld be yspendid.
And declare the deedes what thay do shulde
To have suche a harveste and helpe not to erie.
But sorowe on the sillable he shewed of that matiere, 60
For Mum was a meen and made hym to leve.
And as wery as I was, yit was I wrothe eeke
With Mum, for he made the moppe so lewed
To leve men to lerne the lawe sith he knewe hit.
Thenne ferkid I forth as faste as I mighte
Sevene yere Sunnedayes and solempne festes, 61
Yf prest or prelat or prechour wolde
Sey sothe of hymself and serve thereafter
And teche how the tithinge shuld trewly be departid.
But as wide as I wente, was noon of thaym alle
Wolde moeve of that matiere more nother lasse.
And why that thay wolde not wol ye gladly wite,
Thay have a memoire of Mum among alle other,
Ys more in thaire mynde thenne martires of hevene
That token the deeth for trouthe of tirantz handes.
But here a querele or a question quyk mighte thou make:
Martires had more might and more mynde eeke,
And couthe more on clergie thenne cunne now a thousand.
But thereto I answere as I am lerid:
Thou, lewed laudate, litel witte has.
Hit was for no cunnyng ne clergie nother
That thay chosid the deeth, but for derve love
And kindenes to oure Creatour that creed us alle,
And for pure trouthe that thay taught ever.
Propter veritatem dimittam omnes familiaritatem etc. 62
This made thaym martires more thanne ought elles,
For clercz were not knowe by thaire clothing that tyme,
Ne by royal raye ne riding aboute,
Ne by service of souverayns, so me God helpe,
Ne by revel ne riot ne by rente nothir,
Ne by thaire double dees, ne thaire deupe hoodes,
Ne by drynkyng of dollid wyne ne by datz at eve,
Ne by worldly workes of writtes ne seelyng,
Ne by no maniere niceté that thay now usen,
But by the deedes that thay dide, I do you to wite.
For I am but lewed and lettrid ful lite,
And yit me semeth the sentence that I shewe couthe
And teche how the tithing shuld trewly be departid,
For in thre lynes hit lith and not oon lettre more.
Now hendely hireth how I begynne:
That ye clepe Godis parte, lete Godis men have hit, 63
Reservyng for yourself sustenance for your foode,
And the overplus over that for ornementz of the churche.
Though this be shortly yseide, yit so me God helpe,
Whoso had cunnyng and a clerc were,
Might make a long sermon of thees fewe wordes;
And though he toke to his theme "the tresour is among thaym
And the revyllé of the royaulme and the richesse bothe,"
He shuld not wende of the waye two whete cornes.
For thay have tollid so the tithing thay han the two dooles,
And been so usid to ease erly and late
That thay cunne no crafte save kepe thaym warme.
Thay bisien more for benefices thenne Bibles to reede,
And been as worldly wise and wynners eeke
As man uppon molde, and as muche loven
Mum and the monaye, by Marie of hevene,
For mayntenance and mede been thaire two mates.
"Yit wil thou melle more," cothe Mum, "thenne hit nedeth.
Be stille lest thou stumble, for thou stondes ful slidre,
And thou moeve any more suche maniere wordes.
Thay been not holsum for thy heed ne for thy herte nother,
For thou mos holde with thee mo yf thou thy helthe willes; 64
And so I have ytolde thee twyes and oones.
Thou art mad of thy mynde, and amysse levis
That Mum hath a maister there men been of goode;
For Mum maketh mo men at a moneth ende
Thanne the Sothesigger in sevene score winter;
For he is privy with the pruttist and there the price caicchet, 65
As is ydrawe to the deys with deyntées yservyd
Whenne the Sothsigger dar not be seye.
For and a matier be moeved at mete or at eve
Or in pryvy places there peeris assemblen,
Mum musith thereon and maketh many cautelles
With a locke on his lippe and loketh aboute.
He spendith no speche but spices hit make,
Til he wite whitherward that wil doo drawe. 66
But thenne he knittith a knotte and cometh al at ones
And getith hym a greet thanke to go among the beste.
Fle fooly therefore, and frendes thee make,
And arete, I thee rede, and rome no ferther
For thou walkis of the weye forto wynne silver.
And carpe no more of clergie but yf thou cunne leepe,
For and thou come on thaire clouche, thou crepis not thens 67
Til thou wite right wel with whom that thou mellys."
"Iwis I wil not," cothe I, "til I wite more.
For prestz been not perillous but pacient of thaire werkes,
And eeke the plantz of pees and ful of pitie ever,
And chief of al charité ychose afore other.
Forto fighte ne to flite hit falleth not to thaire ordre,
Ne to prece to no place there peril shuld be ynne.
That proveth wel by parlement, for prelatz shuld be voidid
Whenne any dome of deeth shal be do there,
Al for cause thaire conscience to kepe unywemmyd.
A man may saye thaym the sothe sonest of alle,
Withoute grucche other groyn, but gete many thankes.
Thay moste bowe for the beste, God forbede hit elles,
To shewe us exemple of suffrance ever."
Sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus vt videant opera vestra bona etc. 68
"Yee, yit be ware of wiles and waite wel aboute,
For me semeth that thy sight is sumdele a-dasid
And al myndelees," cothe Mum, "and al amysse demys;
For though thou shuldes thysilf be a sothesigger,
Thou has no cleere conceypt to knowe alle thaire werkes.
And that I pryved by a poynt thou perceipues never,
Al a-twart thy intent and thy tale eeke,
For Pilat in the Passion among al the peuple
Wilned aftre watre to waisshe with his handes. 69
To shewe hym, by that signe, of the bloode-sheding
Of Crist that us creed and on the Crosse deyed,
His conscience was clensid as clene as his handes.
Yit was he ground of the grame and moste guilty eeke,
For every man that mynde hath may wel wite
That prelatz aughten have pité when princz bee moeved,
And reede thaym so that rancune roote not in hert,
And ere the grame growe ferre, the ground so to wede
And amende that were mysse ere any moore caicche
Of manslaughter or mourdre, as hath many dayes.
For who hath knowlache of a cloude by cours of abouve,
And wil stande stille til the storme falle,
And wende not of the waye, the wite is his owen.
Though hit heelde on his heede, who is to blame?
For who hath sight of a showre that sharpely ariseth,
And wil not caste hym to kepe with covryng abouve
Til hit droppe al adoune and dung-wete hym make,
And eeke falle on his frende, in feith as me thenketh,
He is auctor of al the harme and th'ache
And so pryvy to the peynes that peeres induren.
And also in cuntrey hit is a comune speche
And is ywrite in Latyne, lerne hit whoso wil:
The reason is "qui tacet consentire videtur."
And whoso hath insight of silde-couthe thingz,
Of synne or of shame or of shonde outher,
And luste not to lette hit, but leteth hit forth passe
As clercz doon construe that knowen alle bokes,
He shal be demyd doer of the same deede.
And eeke in londis lawe I lernyd by anothir:
Yf a freeke for felonye is frayned atte barre
For traison or for trespas, and he a tunge have
And wil not answere to the deede he is of indited,
But stont stille as a stoone and no worde stire,
But he be deef or dum, to deeth shal he wende,
As atteynt for the trespas, and is a trewe lawe.
This cursid custume hath cumbrid us alle;
The grucching of grete that shuld us gouverne
Han yshourid sharpely thorough suffrance of clercz,
That lightly with labour ylettid thay mighte,
The conseil of clergie yf thay had caste for hit.
For there the heede aketh alle the lymes after
Pynen, whenne the principal is put to unease -
Dum caput infirmum cetera membra dolent - 70
(Of sum and certayn, I saye not of alle,
But of the same seurely that suche maniere usen)."
"Now treuly," cothe I, "thy talking me pleasith,
For thou has saide as sothe, so me God helpe,
As ever sage saide sith Crist was in erthe;
For thou has rubbid on the rote of the rede galle
And eeke yserchid the sore and sought alle the woundz.
And yf thou woldes do wel, wende to thaym alle
And telle the same tale that thou has tolde here;
Thou might be man made and mensshid for ever."
"Nay, there I leve thee, Lucas, go loke for an othir,
For I wil wende no waie but wit go bifore, 71
Ne telle no tales for teryng of hodes,
So taughte me the trusty techer on erthe,
My maister and maker, Mum, that I serve.
Go walke where thy wil is and waite wel aboute,
For thou has sought al aside sith thou begunne
With clercz of Cambrigge and cathedralle churches.
Fare forth therefore to finde that thou sechis,
And come not with clergie leste thou a-croke walke,
But tourne now to tounes and temporal lordz,
There prece is of peuple, and pray thaym to telle
Yf any sothesigger serve thaym long."
Thenne ferkid I to fre men and frankeleyns mony,
To bondemen and bourgois and many other barnes,
To knightz and to comunes and craftzmen eeke,
To citezeyns and souvrayns and to many grete sires,
To bachilliers, to banerettz, to barons and erles,
To princes and peris and alle maniere estatz;
But in every court there I came or cumpaigny outhir
I fonde mo mummers atte moneth-ende
Than of sothesiggerz by sevene score thousand.
For alle the knyghtz of the court that with the king dwellen,
For the more partie - yee, mo than an hunthrid -
Heulden Mum for a maister, and more do mighte
With king and his cunseil and al the court aftre.
And every toune that I trade twelfe moneth togedre,
Mum was a maister and with the maire ever,
And al of oon lyvraye and looke so togedre
That a poure manis prayer departe thaym ne mighte.
There was no maner man the maire had levir
Bydde of the burnes in benche there he satte
As Mum to the mete among al the rewe;
For he couthe lye and laugh and leepe over the balkes
There any grucche or groyne or grame shuld arise. 72
He was ful couchant and coy and curtoys of speche,
And parlid for the partie and the playnte lefte. 73
The maire preisid hym apert for his plaisant wordes;
He was a blessid barne and beste couthe suffre
Whenne souvrayns were assemblid to saye what thaym liked.
He toke no manere travers tenne yere togedre,
Among the comun conseil lest he caste were,
But ever shewid his seel to sitte among other.
But whoso mummeth a mayre to maynteyne his rente,
Maniere were that the mayre shuld mumme hym agaynes
And yelde hym with a yere-is gifte ere the yere passed.
Mum with the mayre to the mete wente,
And ever I after, al unaspied,
For to knowe of my caas couthe I not stynte.
There shuldrid sergeantz to serve atte mete
For a male ful of missedeedz that Mum had in keping.
I stoode stille as a stoone and starid aboute
And lokid lightly along by the bordes,
Yf any sothesigger were sette in the halle.
But sorowe on the shyne I sawe of hym there,
But yf he were a soleyn and servyd aloon,
For alle was huyst in the halle sauf "holde up the oyles."
And forto saye sothe and shone long tale,
The sunne and the sergeantz my sight so dasid
That I might not eche messe merke as me luste.
I askid of a eldryn man as I beste couthe
Yf any sothesigger sate in the halle,
And he answerid sharply that "the Sothesigger
Dyneth this day with Dreede in a chambre,
And hath ydrunke dum-seede, and dar not be seye
Sith Mum and the mayer were made suche frendes."
Thenne waxe I woundre wrothe, as I wel might,
And drowe me to the doreward and dwelled no lenger, 74
But romed forth reedelees, remembring ofte
That Mum was suche a maister among men of good.
And as I lokid the loigges along by the streetz,
I sawe a sothesigger, in sothe as me thought,
Sitte in a shoppe and salwyn his woundes.
Beati qui persecucionem paciuntur propter iusticiam. Euaungelium. 75
Thenne was I ful-come and knewe wel the sothe
That Mum uppon molde myrier life had
Thenne the Sothesigger, asay whoso wol;
But the better barne to abide stille
And to lyve with a lord to his life-is ende
Ys the Sothesigger, asay whoso wol.
Yit was I not the wiser for waye that I wente;
This made me al madde as I most nede,
And wel fleuble and faynt, and feulle to the grounde,
And lay doune on a lynche to lithe my boones,
Rolling in remembrance my rennyng aboute
And alle the perillous patthes that I passid had,
As priories and personagz and pluralités,
Abbayes of Augustyn and other hooly places,
To knightes courtz and crafty men many,
To mayers and maisters, men of high wittes,
And to the felle freris, alle the foure ordres,
And other hobbes a heepe, as ye herde have -
And nought the neer by a note, this noyed me ofte
That thorough construyng of clercz that knewe alle bokes
That Mum shuld be maister moste uppon erthe.
And ere I were ware, a wynke me assailled,
That I slepte sadly sevene houres large.
Thenne mette I mervailles mo thanne me luste
To telle or to talke of, til I se tyme;
But sum of the silde-couthes I wol shewe hereafter,
For dreme is no dwele by Danyelis wordes,
Though Caton of the contrarye carpe in his bokes.
Me thought I was in wildernesse walking aloon,
There bestes were and briddes and no barne elles,
Yn a cumbe cressing on a creste wise,
Al gras grene that gladid my herte,
By a cliffe unyknowe of Cristis owen makyng.
I lepte forth lightly along by the heigges
And movid forth myrily to maistrie the hilles,
For til I came to the coppe couthe I not stynte
Of the highest hille by halfe alle other.
I tournyd me twyes and totid aboute,
Beholding heigges and holtz so grene,
The mansions and medues mowen al newe,
For suche was the saison of the same yere.
I lifte up my eyeledes and lokid ferther
And sawe many swete sightz, so me God helpe,
The wodes and the waters and the welle-springes
And trees ytraylid fro toppe to th'erthe,
Coriously ycovrid with curtelle of grene,
The flours on feeldes flavryng swete,
The corne on the croftes ycroppid ful faire,
The rennyng rivyere russhing faste,
Ful of fyssh and of frie of felefold kinde,
The breris with thaire beries bent over the wayes,
As honysoucles hongyng uppon eche half,
Chesteynes and chiries that children desiren
Were loigged undre leves ful lusty to seen.
The hauthorne so holsum I beheulde eeke,
And hough the benes blowid and the brome floures;
Peris and plummes and pesecoddes grene,
That ladies lusty loken muche after,
Were gadrid for gomes ere thay gunne ripe.
The grapes grouid agrete in gardyns aboute,
And other fruytz felefold in feldes and closes;
To nempne alle the names hit nedith not here.
The conyngz fro covert covrid the bankes
And raughte oute a raundon and retournyd agaynes,
Pleyed forth on the playne, and to the pitte after,
But any hound hente thaym, or the hay-nettes.
The hare hied hym faste and the houndes after;
For kisshing of his croupe acauntwise he wente,
For n'ad he tournyd twies his tail had be licked,
So ernestly Ector ycchid hym after.
The shepe fro the sunne shadued thaymself,
While the lambes laikid along by the heigges.
The cow with hire calfe and coltes ful faire
And high hors in haras hurtelid togedre,
And preisid the pasture that prime-saute thaym made.
The dere on the dale drowe to thaire dennes,
Ferkid forth to the ferne and feulle doune amyddes.
Hertz and hyndes, a hunthrid togedre,
With rayndeer and roobuc runne to the wodes,
For the kenettz on the cleere were unycouplid;
And buckes ful burnysshid that baren good grece,
Foure hunthrid on a herde yheedid ful faire,
Layen lowe in a launde along by the pale,
A swete sight for souvrayns, so me God helpe.
I moved doune fro the mote to the midwardz
And so adoune to the dale, dwelled I no longer,
But suche a noise of nestlingz ne so swete notz
I herde not this halfe yere, ne so hevenely
As I dide on that dale adoune among the heigges,
For in every bussh was a brid that in his beste wise
Bablid with his bile, that blisse was to hire.
So cheerly thay chirmed and chaunged thaire notes,
That what for flavour of the fruyte and of the somer floures,
The smellyng smote as spices, me thought,
That of my travail treuly toke I no kepe,
For al was vanesshid me fro thorough the fresshe sightes.
Thenne lepte I forth lightly and lokid aboute,
And I beheulde a faire hous with halles and chambres,
A frankeleynis freholde al fresshe newe.
I bente me aboute and bode atte dore
Of the gladdest gardyn that gome ever had.
I have no tyme treuly to telle alle the names
Of ympes and herbes and other feele thinges
That growed on that gardyn, the grounde was so noble.
I passid ynne pryvely and pulled of the fruytes
And romed th'aleys rounde al aboute;
But so semely a sage as I sawe there
I sawe not sothely sith I was bore:
An olde auncyen man of a hunthrid wintre,
Ywedid in white clothe and wisely ymade,
With hore heres on his heede more thanne half white,
A faire visaige and a vresse and vertuous to sene.
His eyen were al ernest, eggid to noon ille,
With a broode besmet berde, ballid a lite, 76
As comely a creature as ever kinde wrought.
He was sad of his semblant, softe of his speche,
Proporcioned at alle poyntes and pithy in his tyme, 77
And by his stature right stronge, and stalworth on his dayes.
He hoved over a hyve, the hony forto kepe
Fro dranes that destrued hit and dide not elles;
He thraste thaym with his thumbe as thicke as thay come,
He lafte noon alive for thaire lither taicches.
I wondrid on his workes, as I wel might,
And ever I neyed hym nere as ney as me ought, 78
And halsid hym hendily as I had lernyd;
And he me grete agayne right in a goode wise,
And askid what I wolde, and anone I tolde
My wil was to wite what man he were.
"I am gardyner of this garth," cothe he, "the grounde is myn owen,
Forto digge and to delve and to do suche deedes
As longeth to this leyghttone, the lawe wol I doo,
And wrote up the wedes that wyrwen my plantes;
And wormes that worchen not but wasten my herbes,
I daisshe thaym to deeth and delve oute thaire dennes.
But the dranes doon worste, deye mote thay alle;
Thay haunten the hyve for hony that is ynne,
And lurken and licken the liquor that is swete,
And travelyn no twynte, but taken of the beste
Of that the bees bryngen fro blossomes and floures.
Qui non laborat non manducet. Bernardus. 79
For of alle the bestes that breden uppon erthe
For qualité ne quantité, ne question, I trowe
The bee in his bisynes beste is allowed,
And provyd in his proprieté passing alle other,
And pretiest in his wirching to profite of the peuple."
"Swete sire," sayde I, in slepe as me thoughte,
"The proprieté of bees I pray that ye wolde
Declare with thaire deedes, and of the drane eeke."
"Blethely, burne, thy beede shal bee doo 80
Yf thou wil tende treuly my tale to th'ende
The bee of alle bestz beste is ygouverned
Yn lowlynes and labour and in lawe eeke.
Thay have a king by kinde that the coroune bereth,
Whom thay doo sue and serve as souvrayn to thaym alle,
And obeyen to his biddyng, or elles the boke lieth.
The highest hoole in the hyve, he holdeth hit hymself,
For there thay setten hym in his see by hymself oone,
And maken mansions bynethe, that mervail hit is to knowe
The bilding of the boures that the bees maken.
For the curiousiste carpintier undre cope of hevene
Couthe not caste thaire coples ne cuntrefete thare workes. 81
Thaire tymbre and thaire tile stones and al that to thaym longeth,
Thay feycchen hit of floures in feldes and in croftes.
Thayr dwellingz been dyvyded, I do hit on thaire combes, 82
And many a queynt cave been cumpassid wythynne.
And eche a place hath a principal that peesith al his quarter, 83
That reuleth thaym to reste and rise whenne hit nedith,
And alle the principallz to the prince ful prest thay been at nede, 84
To rere thaire retenue to righte alle the fautes;
For thay knowen as kindely as clerc doeth his bokes
Wastours that wyrchen not but wombes forto fille.
Thaire workes been right wondreful, wite thou for sothe,
For sum, as thou sees, thay shape thaym to the feldes
To souke oute the swettenes of the somer floures,
And sum abiden at home to bigge up the loigges,
And helpen to make hony of that thay home bringen,
And doon other deedes thorough dome that is among thaym;
And sum waiten the wedre, the wynde and the skyes,
Yf hit be temperate tyme to travaylle or to leve.
Thay eten alle at oones, and never oon by hymsilf,
Thorough warnyng of thaire wauthour, leste waste were among thaym.
The bomelyng of the bees, as Bartholomew us telleth,
Thair noyse and thaire notz at eve and eeke at morowe,
Lyve hit wel, thair lydene the leste of thaym hit knoweth. 85
The moste merciful among thaym and meukest of his deedes
Ys king of bees comunely, as clergie us telleth,
And sperelees, and in wil to spare that been hym under,
Or yf he have oon, he harmeth ne hurteth noon in sothe.
For venym doeth not folowe hym, but vertue in alle workes,
To reule thaym by reason and by rightful domes,
Thorough contente of the cumpaignie that closeth alle in oone.
And yf the king coveite the colours to beholde
Of the fressh floures that on the feldes growen
Evermore amyddes as maister of thaym alle
His place is yproperid for peril that mighte falle;
And yf he fleuble or feynte or funder douneward,
The bees wollen bere hym til he be better amended.
But of the drane is al the doute, the deveil hym quelle,
For in thaire wide wombes thay wol hide more
Thenne twenty bees, and travaillen not no tyme of the day -
But gaderyn al to the gutte and growen grete and fatte
And fillen thaire bagges bredeful of that the bees wyrchen.
Quorum deus venter est et gloria in confusione. paulus - 86
But hire hough thay ende with al thaire hole cropping: 87
Whenne thay have soope the swete, the soure cometh aftre,
For whenne the bee-is bisynes is bribed fro the hyve
Thorough dranes that deceipuen thaym and doon no thing elles,
Thenne seen the bees thair subtilité and serven thaym thereafter
As Bartholomew the Bestiary bablith on his bokes,
And of other pryvy poyntz, but I wol passe over."
"By this skile," cothe I, "there shuld scant hony
Yf every hyve hurle thus and have suche a ende."
"Be certayne," he seide, "that is a sothe tale
But yf the gardyner have grace and gouverne hym the bettre
And wisely awaite whenne dranes furste entren,
And nape thaym on the nolle ere thay thaire neste caicche;
For been they oones ynned, his eyen shal be dasid
Fro al kinde knowlache, so covert thaym helpeth."
"Yit wolde I wite," cothe I, "yf your wil be,
Hough to knowe kindely, thorough craft of your scole,
The drane that devoureth that deue is to other,
By colour or by cursidnesse or crie that he maketh.
Kenneth me the cunnyng, that I may knowe after."
"Thay been long and lene," cothe he, "and of a lither hue,
And as bare as a bord, and bringen nought with thaym;
But have thay hauntid the hyve half yere to th'ende,
Thay growen under gurdel greeter than other,
And noon so sharpe to stinge ne so sterne nother."
Nichil asperius paupero cum surget in altum. Gregorius. 88
"Yit I mervaille," cothe I, "and so mowen other,
Why the bees wollen not wirwe thaym by tyme,
And falle on thaym fersly furst whanne thay entre,
For so shuld thay save thaymsilf and thaire goodes."
"The bees been so bisi," cothe he, "aboute comune profit,
And tendeth al to travail while the tyme dureth
Of the somer saison and of the swete floures;
Thayr wittes been in wirching and in no wile elles
Forto waite any waste til winter approche,
That licour thaym lacke thair lyfe to susteyne.
But as sone as thay see thaire swynke is ystole
Thenne flocken thay to fighte, thair fautes to amende,
And quellen the dranes quicly and quiten alle thaire wrongz."
"Now wol mote ye worthe," cothe I, "for your wise tale,
For hit hath muche menyng, whoso muse couthe,
But hit is to mistike for me, by Marie of hevene,
So wol I leve lightly withoute long tale.
But and ye dwelle, as I dar, derve I you preye
Oone question to construe that I come fore:
For I have soughte sevene yere and sum dele more,
And mette I never man yit that me wise couthe
Cleere to my knowing, clerc nother lewed,
Of the matiere of Mum that moste me angrith,
That he shuld have maisters mor than oon hunthrid,
Whenne the Sothesigger shuld siche his mete.
I have travailled tenne yere to temporal estatz,
And spied of spirituel and sparid for no wreth 89
Forto wite witterly who shuld have
The maistry, Mum or the Sothesigger.
For alle the foure ordres agayne thaire fundacion
Provyd hit ofte by prechement, for peril that myght falle,
That Mum shuld be maister and maynteyne th'ordre;
And alle other estatz every after other
Heulden muche more with Mum thenne with the Sothesigger.
And yf ye deme as thay doon, by dere God in hevene,
By no witte that I wote I wol go no ferther
Forto seke shadue there no sunne apperith."
"Swete soon, thy seching," seide the freke thenne,
"And thy travail for thy trouthe shal tourne thee to profit,
For I wol go as nygh the grounde as Gospel us techeth
Forto wise thee wisely to thy waie-is ende.
For of al the mischief and myssereule that in the royaulme groweth
Mum hath be maker alle thees many yeres,
And eek more and moulde, I may wel advowe;
And principally by parlement to prove hit I thenke,
When knightz for the comune been come for that deede,
And semblid forto shewe the sores of the royaulme
And spare no speche though thay spille shuld,
But berste oute alle the boicches and blaynes of the hert
And lete the rancune renne oute arusshe al at oones,
Leste the fals felon festre withynne;
For as I herde have, thay helen wel the rather
Whanne th'anger and th'attre is al oute yrenne,
For better were to breste oute there bote might falle
Thenne rise agayne regalie and the royaulme trouble.
The voiding of this vertue doeth venym forto growe
And sores to be salvelees in many sundry places,
Sith souvrayns and the shire-men the sothe have eschewed
Yn place that is proprid to parle for the royaulme
And fable of thoo fautes and founde thaym to amende.
For alle the perillous poyntz of prelatz and of other,
As peres that have pouaire to pulle and to leve, 90
Thay wollen not parle of thoo poyntz for peril that might falle,
But hiden alle the hevynes and halten echone
And maken Mum thaire messaigier thaire mote to determyne,
And bringen home a bagge ful of boicches un-ycurid,
That nedis most by nature ennoye thaym thereafter.
Qui potest contradicere peccato & non contradicit actor est peccati. Sidrac 91
And in al the kingis court there coiphes been and other
Mum is maister there more thenne men wenen,
For sum of tho segges wolle siche sidewayes,
Whenne thay witen wel ynow where the hare walketh.
Thay leden men the long waye and love-dayes breken 92
And maken moppes wel myry with thaire madde tales,
Forto sowe silver seede, and solve ere thay singe, 93
To have ynne thaire harveste while the hete dureth.
ffauor & premium timor & odium peruertunt verum iudicium. Canon. 94
Now feithfully, my ful frende, I wol not feyne to thee:
There is no wronge on this world wrought, as I wene -
Treason nother trespas ne trouble that falleth,
Felonye ne falshede ne no faute elles,
Rancune ne riotte ne revyng of peuple,
Courshidnes ne cumbrance ne no caste of guile - 95
That Mum n'ys the maker and moste cause eeke.
And that shal I shewe thee by exemples ynowe;
For Lucifer the lyer that lurketh aboute
Forto gete hym a grounde that he may graffe on
And to sowe of his seede suche as he usith,
That groweth al to grevance and gurdyng of heedes,
He leyeth his lynes along that luste may be clepid 96
Of oure foule flessh that foundrith ful ofte,
And of gloire of this grounde his griefz been ymade,
That who be hent in his hoke he shal be holde faste
Til he be caste with covetise or sum croke elles.
Seminator zizannie & agricola diaboli.
Thenne fareth he forth felaship to gete,
To holde his opinion over alle thingz.
Whenne he is laught on the lyne he can not lepe thens,
So the cursid covetise cleveth on his herte,
Or elles dreede forto do wel dulleth his wittz.
But seche what he seche wol and asaye eeke,
There is no sothesigger that wol assent to hym,
But conseilleth hym the contrary and construeth the doutes
And poynteth hym the perillz and pleynely telleth
As a sicour servant, and sheweth hym the happes.
He shoneth for no salaire ne soulde that he fangeth, 97
Ne for no likerous lyvelode ne loising of his office,
That he ne telleth the tirant how hit tourne wol
Hamward by his hows, and harme most hymself.
Thenne fleeth he fro his frend and to his foo tourneth,
For til he mete with Mum may he never reste.
He wol abide with no burne that botene hym wolde
Ne arayne hym arere with reasonis bridel,
So loveth he go large to lepe where hym liketh,
And kiketh faste as a colte that casteth downe hymsilf,
And fondeth forto finde this freeke I have nempnyd,
That fayne is to folowe hym for fees and robes.
Thenne meteth he with Mum and his matiere sheweth,
That shortly assentith as a shrewed hyne,
And spareth for no spurnyng, but spedith the matiere,
And wircheth up with wiles a walle of deceiptes,
Til the fals fundement falle atte laste,
That thay stumblen after stroutyng and stappen no ferther,
But lyen doune on the diche, as wel nygh ydolven,
Bothe the maister and his man ymurid at oones.
Suche maniere medes Mum can deserve
Forto mende his maister for meete and for hure
But by the feith that I finge atte vantstone
Shal no Mum be my man and I may aspie,
And namely nygh me, but next shal he never.
And therefore I fende thee, by feith that thou awes,
That thou lieve in no lore of suche lewed gomes
That fikelly fablen and fals been withynne,
But sue the Sothesigger and seche thou no ferther.
And though hit tene for a tyme, hit tideth wel after,
And He that made the molde and man with His handes
Shal quite thee with a quitance whenne querellz been up
Of this newe novellerie that noyeth men ofte.
Hit is the holsemyst hyne for halle and for chambre
To bringe boldely abedde the best of the royaulme
And arise with the renke, rehershing agaynes
Salomon and Seneca and Sidrac the noble.
Hit is a sicour servant forto serve lordes,
And to knightz of the cuntré his conseil availleth;
And thow he dwelle with a duc and dide not elles
But forto seye hym the sothe in seasonable tymes,
He might serve sum day sevene yeres wages."
"Grand mercy, gardiner," cothe I, "and God thee foryelde, 98
For thou has demed deuely the doute I was ynne;
But yit wote I not in sothe, ne am not infourmed,
How to come to the court there the kempe dwellith."
"His dwellyng to discryve," cothe he, "I do hit on alle clercz
That I shal teche thee treuly the tournyng to his place.
Yn manis herte his housing is, as hooly writte techet,
And mynde is his mansion that made alle th'estres.
In corde fidelis est habitacio veritatis.
There feoffed hym his Fadre freely forto dwelle,
And put him in possession in paradise terrestre
Yn Adam oure auncetre and al his issue after.
He spirith hym with His spirite that sprange of Hymself
To holde that habitacion and hevene afterwardes,
To serve Hym in sothenes and no souvrayn eschewe
For dreede of deyeng ne no disease elles.
As wold God that eche gome that gre hath take in scoles 99
Wolde holde that opinion and overlepe hit never,
For hit was never so nedeful as now sith Noe-is dayes.
But Mum wol be no martir while mytres been in sale
And but the Sothesigger sey the same wordes
Whenne thou comys to his court, kutte of myn eres.
Qui non intrat per ostium in ouile sed aliunde / fur est et latro. / Euangelium. 100
Now I have ywised thee the weye to his place,
Hye thee hens to his hows and hippe evene amyddes; 101
For though his loigge be lite, hit is unloke ever,
That thou mays intre eche day bothe erly and late,
Forto walke where thou wolt wythynne and withoute
And to moeve of his mote in mesurable tyme
And have concours to Criste and come yn agaynes.
For thay been brethern by baptesme, as the boke telleth,
And he is ysibbe to the Sire abouve the sevene sterres,
For trouthe and the Trinité been two nygh frendes.
Yf thou wol folowe this fode, thou mos be faire of speche
And soft of thy sawys, but souvrayneté hit helpe;
For poverté hath a pressonere whenne he doeth passe bondes. 102
And be wel ware of wiles, the world is ful of mases;
And loke wel a-leehalf lest thou be beguilid,
For Mum hath a man there, and is a muche shrewe,
Antecristis angel that eche day us ennoyeth.
He dwellith faste by the dore and droppeth many wiles
Yf he might wynne over the walle with a wronge entré.
He debateth eche day with Do-welle withynne,
And the maistrie among and the mote wynneth,
And shoveth the Sothesigger into a syde-herne,
And taketh Covetise the keye to come ynne when hym liketh.
Thenne Dreede with a dore-barre dryveth oute the beste, 103
And maketh the Sothesigger seche a newe place,
And to walke where he wol withoute on the grene
Til sorowe for his synnes seese hym agaynes
And the tenaunt atourne to treuthe al his life.
Though thou slepe now, my soon, yit whenne thou seis tyme,
Loke thou write wisely my wordes echone;
Hit wol be exemple to sum men sevene yere hereafter.
And loke thou seye ever sothe, but shame not thy brother,
For yf thou telle hym trouthe in tirantis wise,
He wol rather wexe wrother thenne forto wirche after. 104
But in a muke maniere thou mos hym asaye,
And not eche day to egge hym, but in a deue tyme.
Do thus, my dere soon, for I may dwelle no longer,
But fare to my good frend that I fro come.
I have infourmed thee faire, loke thou folowe after
And make up thy matiere, thou mays do no better.
Hit may amende many men of thaire misdeedes.
Sith thou felys the fressh, lete no feynt herte
Abate thy blessid bisynes of thy boke-making
Til hit be complete to clapsyng, caste aweye doutes
And lete the sentence be sothe, and sue to th'ende;
And furst feoffe thou therewith the freyst of the royaulme,
For yf thy lord liege allone hit begynne,
Care thou not though knyghtz copie hit echone,
And do write eche word, and wirche thereafter."
Thenne soudaynly of swevene and slepe I abrayed
And woke of my wynke and waitid aboute,
Wondring on my wittz, as I wel aughte,
Where the gome and the gardyn and the gaye sportz
And alle the sightz that I sawe were so sone voidid.
Hit ferde as a fairye, but feithfully the wordes
Were ful wise of the wye in the white clothes,
And eeke nedeful and notable for this newe world,
And eeke plaisant to my pay, for thay putten me to reste
Of my long labour and loitryng aboute.
For he provid by profitable poyntz and fele
That the Sothesigger shuld have the better
Of Mum, and the maistrie, malgré his chekes.
He made Mum a man-sleer and amys thewed
And likenyd hym to a lorel atte long goyng.
And shortly hit sheweth right so by thayr werkes
To clercz of conceipte that construen thaire workes.
He chargid me cleerly to change not myn intent
Til the matire of Mum were made to th'ende,
And that I shuld seye sothe and sette no dreede
Of no creature of clay, for Criste so hym taughte.
And though sum men of swevenes savery but lite,
Yit the lore of the lude shal like me ever,
For Daniel in his dayes declarid ful ofte
Dreemes, and undide thaym, as deede provid after;
And Joseph the gentil, Genesis thou saye
(The Bible bereth witnesse, a boke of bilieve),
He mette that the mone and elleven sterres
With the shynant sunne soudaynely at oones
Abowid to his bidding bonairely, hym thought,
And dide hym worship therewith, that wroth made after
His brethern that bisied thaym to bringe hym of dawe.
Hit semyd by his swevene thay sayden tho among thaym
Shuld falle that thayr fadre and thay been fayne eeke
To mete hym with thayre modre in a muke wise,
And pray hym in his pouaire pité forto have
Of thaym, and thaym helpe fro hungre and elles.
And so it feulle sothely, thay sought hym therafter
Ernestly in Egipte, or elles the boke lieth,
For hunger that thay hadde, and helpe couthe thay none
But lowely to loute, his lordship to sike,
Forto graunt of his grayn what hym good likid
That for faute of thayr fode famyne long durid.
And so hit semeth in certayne, that sum bee right trewe
And sothe of thees swevenes of sobre men wittes,
And proven ofte to the poynt of pourpoos in deede.
And therefore my doute and dreede is the lasse
To do that the burne bade that the bees kepte
Forto saye sumwhat of suth er I passe
How the greete of this ground been ygouverned.
Thenne softe I the soores to serche thaym withynne,
And seurely to salve thaym, and with a newe salve
That the Sothesigger hath sought many yeres
And mighte not mete therewith for Mum and his ferys
That bare aweye the bagges and many a boxe eeke.
Now forto conseille the king unknytte I a bagge
Where many a pryvé poyse is preyntid withynne
Yn bokes unbredid in balade-wise made,
Of vice and of vertue fulle to the margyn,
That was not y-openyd this other half wintre.
There is a quayer of quitances of quethyn goodes,
That bisshoppz han begged to binde al newe,
And a penyworth of papir of penys that thay fongen
For lemmans and lotebies in thees late dayes,
And lien on the lettrure, for lawe was hit never.
Ve illis qui vendunt peccatum propter pecuniam. Lincolniensis. 105
There is a volume of visitacion of viftene leves 106
How persones and prestes been ypassid over
Thorough favour of fangyng and no faute amendid,
But liggen at London in lorden courtz
And pleyen lille for lalle with many leude kitte.
Thay lusten for to lerne of lettrure no ferther
Thenne to the lesson of laudate al thaire life-dayes,
Forto preche thaire parroisshe how Pernelle is arayed
And with the tolle of the tithing fetisly atired.
Thay been losers of the lawe, and lewde men maken
The bolder for thaire badnes and breke the Tenne Hestes.
There is a rolle of religion, how thay thaire rentz hadde
Forto parte with the poure a parcelle otherwhile,
But thay been rotid in a rewe to refresshe greete, 107
To maynteyne thayre manhode, and matieres thay have to doo
For pleding and for pourchas, to pasture thaym the swetter,
So poure thay been and penylees sith the pestilence tyme.
Yit is there a paire of pamphilettz of prelatz of the royaulme
Yn the bottume of the bagge, how boldely thay ride,
Thees persones and thees prebendiers pluralité that haven, 108
Poperyng on thaire palefrays fro oone place to another,
And lernen to lede ladies, and lewed men envien
To do al thing as thay do, as by thaire deedes proveth.
Thay autorisen with argumentz, and allegen for thaym
That of oon kinde alle came, there can no man seye other.
Thus leden thay thaire lyves in lustes and in sportes,
And spenden on thaire speciales that thay spare shuld
For pouraile of thaire parroishens, and present to be among thaym
Forto salve thaire shepe whenne thay sike were. 109
But how shuld a surgean serve wel his hyre
That cometh not in sevene yere to se the sore oones -
Ve pastoribus -
That thay shal not se oon shyne how soutelly thay wirchen.
I say not but of sum that suche manieres usen,
For every wyman that is wise, she wircheth to the beste,
And conseilleth al to conscience, leste there come happes.
Yit is there a copie for comunes of culmes foure and twenty
How sum tellen tidingz at home uppon thaire benches,
Or elles at eve after souper, or erely atte nale,
And lyen on the lordz - lorelles and noon other.
Thaire tales been so troublé that tournen men thoughtz
The more that men musen on thaym, the madder thay been after.
I mervail but thay mette so, how hit might be
That thay finde fables and been so ferre fro thens
That though thou ride rennyng, and reste but a lite -
Fro London forth the long waye to the landis ende,
And comes right fro the kingis courte and his cunseil bothe,
Fro prelatz unto peris in pryveté or elles -
Yit shal tidingz bee ytolde tenne dayes ere thou come,
That never was of worde spoke ne wroughte, as thou shal hire.
Lesingz been so light of fote, thay lepen by the skyes,
And as swifte as a swalue sheutyng oute at oones
As falsly forgid as though a frere had made thaym.
Rumores fuge ne incipias nouus auctor haberi. 110
That harde happes mote thay have that Henry so appeiren, 111
Or any lord of this lande that loveth pees and reste,
Though the burne my brother were, I bid hit with my herte.
Yit wol thay carpe of the coroune as thay of cunseil were,
And ordeyne more in oon houre than other half wintre
Al the kingis cunseil couthe wel bringe aboute.
Thus mellen thay with matieres to moustre thaire wittes,
And grucchen whenne the gadryng is that goeth for us alle. 112
I seye yf hit be sette so and in suche thinges, 113
Ful ille couthe thay corde with Changwys-is deedes,
That conquerid many a cuntré as king withynne hymself;
And how he came to his coroune I shal you kenne sone.
The greete God of goodnes that gouverneth alle thingz,
He nempned furst his name to the sevene nacions
That were wel nygh destrued and disware of thaire lives
And in disease and desperat thorough thaire double intentz.
Omne regnum in se diuisum desolabitur. 114
Thaire division dide thaym harme (and so hit doeth elleswhere),
That thay were sette in servitute by souvrayns of the marches 115
That had ywonne and ywastid wel nygh alle the landz.
The principalz of this peuple pryvyly by nightz
A voice thaym folowed in vision in fourthering of thaymself,
And bade thaym coroune Changwys king of al thaire peuple,
A eildren man of aunsetrie that aged was a lite.
And so the deede was ydo when day and tyme came after,
And when this Changwys was ycorouned, as cronicle of hym telleth,
And sette in his se with sceptre on his handes,
He stablid two statutz, as storie of hym writeth,
I herde never harder, and yit thay holde were: 116
The furst that he funded to fele trewe hertz
And his principal peuple to prove and asaye
Was that the souvrayns of the sevene nacions
Shuld sle thayre soones, th'eldest and thaire hoires;
The secund that thay shuld eeke sese hym in hire lande,
And yelde hit up in erniste, and geve hit hym for ever,
To have and to holde in his high grace.
And as the king commandid accordid thay were,
Consentyng to his covetise with crie alle at oones.
Thay sparid not to spille blode that spronge of thaymself, 117
Ne to lose thayre lordship and lande at his wille.
Now forto telle trouthe, I trowe hit be no lesing,
Who wolde have griefed for a grote, he wold have grucched there. 118
Thus proved this prince his peuple and thaire hertz,
And to feil of thaire fiance ful felly he wroughte.
And whenne he wiste that his wil was not encountrid,
But that he had thaire hertz al hoole at his wil,
He forgafe thaym thaire graunt and goodely thaym thanked.
Thenne clepid he to cunseil knightz and other,
And wroughte alle with oon wil as wise men shuld,
And wanne wisely agen withynne a while after
The lande and the lordship that thay loste had,
And conquerid cuntrées, as Cathayis lande,
That is the richeste royaulme that reyne over hoveth.
Ecce quam bonum & quam iocundum habitare fratres in vnum. 119
Now by Crist that me creed, I cannot bethenke
A kindely cause why the comun shuld
Contre the kingis wil ne construe his werkes.
I carpe not of knightz that cometh for the shires,
That the king clepith to cunseil with other;
But hit longeth to no laborier the lawe is agayne thaym.
And yit hit is y-usid with unwise peuple
And availleth not a ferthing, but vireth the hertz;
And tournen with thaire tales the tente of the lordes,
That thay leven the labour the londe to defende,
To bisye thaym on the bordures to bete oute oure foes,
And maynteyne the marches fro myschief and elles.
Thus clappeth the comun and knocketh thaymself,
For the tayl of thaire talking teneth thaym ofte.
Thou mays lerne that lesson in the nexte lyne,
For and thy heede be hurte, thy hond wol apeire;
And whoso hewe over heede, though his hoode be on,
The spones wol springe oute and spare not the eye.
Thay finde many fautes and faillen moste thaymself
Of deedes of deueté that thay do shuld.
Thay shulde love loyally the lordz aboute,
That thay mighte lerne a lesson of thaire lowe hertz
To reule thaym by reason and by right lawe.
Thay shuld be reedy to ride and renne at thayre heste
For soulde and for silver as thay might aserve,
And obeye to thayre bidding and bable no ferther -
Potencioribus pares esse non possumus. Sapiencia - 120
For suche lewed labbing the lande doeth apeire.
But God of His goodnes graunt thaym to amende,
To knowe what thaire kinde is and commenche bityme
The cunseille of Changwys and construe no ferther,
But love so oure liege al oure life-dayes
That he may leede us with love as hymself liketh.
There is a scrowe for squyers that asquare walken
Whenne a tale is ytolde, yf hit touche greete 121
That piled han poure men of penys and of goodes.
Thay wol neghen no neer but yf thay noye thenke 122
And alleigge for the lord and lawe doune bere,
Leste soulde and thaire service cesse al at ones,
Thus poure men pleyntz been pledid ful ofte,
For reasonis retenue moste reste nedis
There robes rehercyn the rightz of the parties.
There is a writte of high wil ywrite al newe,
Yknytte in a cornier of the bagge-ende,
And is a courssid couraige and costeful bothe
That serveth al for souvrayns of semblable pouaire;
For ever egalité errith and stryveth
More thanne the mene man with his more heigher.
For whenne a matiere is ymoeved among men of goode,
Though there happe no harme save hertz aggreiggid, 123
Thay stele into strivyng and strien thaymself
And stiren so that stuffure and store doon apeire, 124
And eeke losen thaire good loos with thaire lewed pride,
And annoyen thaire neighborowes nyne myle aboute.
For every feithful frend wol funde to helpe
And leve there he loveth, for lothe or elles;
Suche wilfulnes and wisedame wonen asunder.
Thou mays baathe on a brooke to the breggurdelle,
But passe not the polle forther for peril that foloweth.
Ira odium generat concordia nutrit amorem. 125
"Thus" - seyeth that oon side - "shule I obeye
Or make amendes or mukyn myself?
Nay, are I worke suche a worke, but my witte faille,
Hit shuld stande right straite with stoone of my houses,
For lever thenne to lowe me while my life dureth
I wol do a deede that I dide never:
Sille for silver my sherte and my clothes,
Or borowe til I begge thenne bowe oones.
And I were caste in my cuntré and hit knowe were
I shuld be eschewid and oversette ofte.
Ney, I wol maynteyne my manhoode, maulgré that gruccheth, 126
And spare swete spices and spende on my foes."
That other side seyeth right so and the same wordes,
As wilde and as wode and as wrothe eeke,
And braggeth and bosteth and wol brenne watiers
And rather renne in rede blode thenne arere oones.
Ira requiescit / non in sanitas mentis / ac corporis / Salomon. 127
Thus thay blowe as a bore til bothe repente.
Hit is no witte, as I wene, to waste so silver
For a woode wil and wretthe in thy herte,
And no harme on thy heede in hande ne in goodes,
But yhurte on the hert with a high pride.
For suche maniere medling al to many tymes,
Though hit gaine in the bigynnyng, hit groweth so aftre
That lymes been yloste and lyfes ful ofte.
Superbia generat omnem maliciam vsque ad mortem. Salomon. 128
And eeke hit is no worldly witte, as me thenketh,
To toille there no trespas is do to acountz. 129
But hit semeth to a souvrayn that ynnesight lacketh,
Whenne his mynde is ymoevid to medle in his ire,
That though his grounde be not goode and he gaste were
Or feynte forto folowe but fersse to th'ende, 130
Hit shuld be aretted for reprouf whenne hit were rehercyd,
And he ysette the shorter at shire and aboute. 131
Suche cursid construyng accombreth the peuple.
For cuntrey that conceipt I can make a reason,
And a trewe, as I trowe, whoso taketh hede:
Whenne rancune thee redeth to reere debatz,
Or angre at attre arteth thy herte
Forto commenche a cause not cleere in the winde, 132
Bowe ere thou breste whenne thou arte bette yfourmyd,
And reule thee by reason and renne not to faste,
But gife hit up with good wille whenne thy grounde failleth,
And falle of with fayrenes leste fors thee assaille. 133
For yf thou leve are thou ligge thenne wol thy loos springe, 134
But yf thy tale be trewe, to toylle thou hatis.
So wol the worde walke with oon and with other
And cumforte thy cuntré in cumpas aboute
To be nere at thy nede another tyme after,
And bilieve loyally, in lawe yf thou were,
Or medlist with a matiere, thy mote were trewe,
Elles woldes thou not worche on hit longe.
There is a raggeman rolle that Ragenelle hymself
Hath made of mayntennance and motyng of the peuple,
Hough thay sheve at sises and sessions aboute,
And halen so the hockerope, oon halfe agayne other,
Til the strong steriers and styvest on the heedes
Strifen so and streicchen streight adoune the poure.
Gold and good thaym glewith so, thay wol not go asundre, 135
Til thay have haled the houslord oute atte halle-dore
And drawen hym clene fro his dees; he dysneth there nomore.
This same cursid custume the coroune doeth apeyre
And bringeth a bitter byworde abrode among the peuple,
And is in every cuntré but a comune tale
That yf the pouer playne, though he plede ever
And hurleth with his higher, hit happeth ofte-tyme
That he wircheth al in waste and wynneth but a lite.
Thus laboreth the loos among the comune peuple
That the wacker in the writte wol have the wors ende;
Hit wol not gayne a goky a grete man forto plede,
For lawe lieth muche in lordship sith loyauté was exiled,
And poure men pleyntes penylees abateth.
But David demed not so, I do hit on his bokes.
Munera super innocentem non accipies.
Yit is there a forelle that I forgate that frayed is a lite,
How the fleuble fareth that folowed bee in shires
Whenne thay griefen greete, though the guilte be lite.
And he have any hors or elles hedid bestes,
He shal be hourled so in high courte and holde so agogge
That hym were bettre lose his lande thenne long so be toylid; 136
Suche crokes been ycovrid and coloured under lawe,
To strue a man with strength the statutz been so made.
For though men pleede and poursuye and in thaire playntz falle
And newe thaym aftre nonsuytes nynetene hunthred,
Withoute grounde or guilte, but forto gete a bribe,
Yit shal thay have no harme though thay hurle ever.
But shuld thay picche and paye at eche pleynte-is ende
And compte alle the costz of men of court and elles,
And taske al the trespas, as trouthe wolde and reason,
Thay wolde cesse sum tyme for sheding of thaire silver.
I seye as wel of simple men that suen agenst grete,
And of the poure proute that peyren ofte thaire better,
That causelees accusen thaym to king and to the lordz,
As I doo of ducz that suche deedes usen;
For lordz and laborers been not like in costes.
Hit wold pese the peuple and many pleyntes bate
And chaunge al the chauncellerie and chevallerie amende
And ease be to every man that been of evene states,
And solas be to souvrayns and to thaire servantz alle,
And a miracle to meen men that mote lite cunne, 137
Were this oon yere y-usid as I have declarid -
That of every writte withoute wronge there were amendes made,
And paye for alle the costes at every pleynte-is ende,
And tolle for the trespas as trouthe wolde and reason -
The lawe wold like us wel, and ever the lenger the bettre.
But pouaire of prerogatife that poynt hath reservyd
That every fode have fredome to folowe unypunysshid.
But Civile seith us not so, that serveth for al peuple
That habiteth undre hevene, hethen men and other.
And Cristis lawe is ycanonized Canon, yf thou loke,
And eeke the glorious Gospelle, grounde of alle lawes,
Techeth us a trewe texte that toucheth this ilke matiere.
For in my conscience ne in my credo yit couthe I never vele
But that oure lawe leneth there a lite, as me thenketh.
There is a librarie of lordes that losen ofte thaymself
Thorough lickyng of the lordship that to the coroune longeth,
And weneth hit be wel ydo; but wors dide thay never
Thenne sith thay gunne that game, I grounde me on reason.
For every wighte wote wel, but yf his witte faille,
That hit is holsum forto have a heede of us alle,
That is a king ycorouned to kepe us under lawe,
To put us into prisone whenne we passe boundes.
For but we had a souvrayn to sette us into reste,
Thees rechelees renkes wolde renne on eche other.
Thenne of fyne fors hit foloweth, as me thenketh,
That a certayne substance shuld be ordeynid
To susteyne this souvrayn that shuld us governe.
And so I wote wel hit was atte furst tyme,
But now hit is bynome hym th'olde and the newe,
Notwithstanding statutz ful strattely ymade
To stable many statutz and strong lawes make.
But execucion falle, what may hit availle 138
Ne more thenne the mose may or the Maij floures
To breke doune bastiles that beste is ymade?
Hit is as dede as a dore nayle, though the dome come after,
Withoute execucion thees wise men hit knoweth.
Thees knightz of the conseil that nygh the king dwellen,
And eeke lordz ylettred of oone lawe and other,
Forto kepe his coroune fro covetous peuple,
Han pulled thaymself the peres right to the pere stalke,
And lickid so the leves he hath the leste dele,
For thay holden of his honour halfendele and more.
This was grounde and bigynnyng of gurdyng of heedes,
And eeke more, and mourdre, and manyfolde wronges
That han yfalle for foly withynne thees fourty wintre.
For th'egre envye that eche had to other
Dide thaym preece to be pryvy and put aweye the beste,
But muche more for the mede to make thaymself riche
Thenne to cunseille the king of the comune wele,
Or for any deue dome or defence of the royaulme
This same cursid custume oure coroune hath apeyred,
And cause is most that comunes collectours haten,
For nedis moste oure liege lord like his estat
Have for his houshold and for his haynous werres
To maynteyne his manhoode, there may no man seye other,
But of his owen were the beste, whoso couthe hit bringge;
To lyve uppon his laboriers, hit may not long indure.
Whenne hit is haled al awey, thenne is wo the nexte
To you that shullen silver to solve thenne were tyme.
For trusteth right treuly, talke what men liketh,
And wendith and trendith twys in oon wike,
And clepith to your cunseil copes and other,
And pleyne atte parlement, but yf the deede prouve
That the coroune in his kinde come ynne agaynes,
Clene in his cumpas with croppes and braunches,
Lite and a lite, right as the lawe asketh,
Wel mowe we wilne and wisshe what us liketh
And eeke waite after welthe but as my witte demeth,
Oure wynnyng and worship wol be the lasse
With knight and with comune til the king have
Alle hoole in his hande that he have oughte.
There is a copie of covetise, how conscience is reuled
Whenne he hath gadrid a greete bagge and good at his wil,
And wrongfully ywonne hit thorough wiles of his hert,
And is yrunne in riches thorough ryfling of the peuple,
He maketh maisons deu therewith whenne he may live no lenger;
But while he had power of the penyes, the poure had but lite.
Hit is a high holynes and grete helth to the soule
A man to lyve in lustes alle his life-dayes
And have no pitie on the poure, ne parte with thaym nother,
But holde hit ever in his hande til the herte breke.
But thenne he shapeth for the soule whenne the sunne is doune, 139
But while the day durid he delte but a lite;
Now muche moste his merite be that mendeth so the poure,
That gifeth his goode for Godis sake whenne his goste is passed. 140
There is a lite of a testament that I tolde never,
How pryvyly thay been provid and yput aside,
For so the silver be ysolvid for the seel of th'office
And the feis alle yfunge, thay folden thaym togedre
And casten thaym in a coffre leste thay copied were,
And sith thay seure thaym by thaymself and seyen thees wordes:
"Hit is no wisedame forto wake Warrok while he slepeth."
For though a quynzieme were yquethe, oon quitance shal be geven 141
Though executours afterwarde execute hit never,
Ne do noght for the dede, as I do whenne I slepe.
And yit thay seyen for thaymsilf right a subtile reason:
"Why shuld we dele for the dede? He dide not while he mighte.
He made us in his mynde among alle his frendes
To be his trewe attourneys and treete for his debtes,
For so that thay have halfendele, thay mowe thaym holde content. 142
Yit wol not the good go so ferre, so mote we grounde oure tale,
For I wol seye for myself, seye thou whenne thee liketh,
Yf we do as he dude, may no man deme us yvel,
Ne rightfully by reason reprove us hereafter.
He was bothe ware and wise while he was on live,
And me lust not be lewed leste I fare the wors.
His custume was to kepe his good, so lete us kepe hit eeke,
And thenne after oure deeth day lete dele for us alle,
For oure executours aftre us shal have the same charge."
Thus thay chiden with charité and chacheth eche other,
That til the Day of Dome the dele is not parfourmid.
Yit is there a poynt of prophecie how the peuple construeth
And museth on the mervailles that Merlyn dide devyse,
And redith as right as the Ram is hornyd, 143
And helpe me the high God, I holde thaym halfe amasid.
For there nys wight in this world that wote bifore eve
How the winde and the wedre wol wirche on the morowe,
Ne noon so cunnyng a clerc that construe wel couthe
Ere Sunneday a sevenyght what shal falle. 144
Thus thay muse on the mase on mone and on sterres
Til heedes been hewe of and hoppe on the grene,
And al the wide world wondre on thaire workes.
Yit sawe I there a cedule soutelly indited
With tuly silke intachid right atte rolle-is ende,
Ywrite ful of wordes of woundres that han falle,
And fele-folde ferlees wythynne thees fewe yeris,
By cause that the clergie and knighthoode togedre
Been not knytte in conscience as Crist dide thaym stable.
For who so loketh on the lawe may lerne, yf hym like,
Thayre ordre and office and how thay ought wyrche.
For thay folowe no foote of thaire forne-fadres,
I do hit on thaire deeth-day, and deme no ferther,
For seurly sumtyme I sawe hit not late
Yn cronicle of clercz and kingz lygnées
How prelatz of provinces pride moste hatid
For the theme that thay taughte was tachid on thaire hertz.
Thay preched the peuple and provyd hit thaymself
And were lanternes to lewed men to lyve thaym after.
Thay pourchachid no prelacies with prince nother elles 145
Thorough preyer ne poundes but thorough proufe of thayre workes.
How; crown must; (see note)
whole; command also
distributed; the nobility; (see note)
ignorant folk; cast off restraint; (see note)
demand; funds; (see note)
taste; have pain; (see note)
It; never; at the week's
lord's; as common folk say
clerks; are attached
appointed and otherwise
serve; money at the bar; (see note)
junior barrister, best; (see note)
lack; fail; legal pleas
complaint listen to
God's; will; (see note)
legal writs; wax seals also; (see note)
than; maintenance (see note)
insulting; lack of money
heard about; retainers'; (see note)
outside [of court] also
men; yet to come
court official; dukes
educated or not
Soothsayer; seldom; seen; (see note)
honored above all
"Alexander without livery"
the end [of the year]
do not like
household; do not agree
[the household] tears out its hair
i.e., hits the nail on the head
truth; (see note)
bold man impugned
stomped; roams abroad
grain; green; fully grown
ensnares; (see note)
reversal; grow seed
basis; teaching; (see note)
direct you; or not
quickly; to; alone
credit; berates you
abandon; glower once
strive to question him again in a new way
hold your purpose with what
reward; bestow; (see note)
truthful speech; contribute to; (see note)
brought into accord
you intend; speak
troubles can shun
law should govern
said; clerk; understanding
manner reward comes with [the post](see note)
Nor for promotion
secure; that lasts only
speak; for a while
foolish; proved true later; (see note)
might others; (see note)
crowned; those men
How; salve; began to
trifles twice a week; (see note)
misfortune befall (them); (see note)
can not meet
fear of death; away
groats; gathered; (see note)
a better situation
commentary (see note)
landed (see note)
what troubled him
Proclaimed; king's; (see note)
customs; taxation; relieved; (see note)
magpies; parrot disputed; (see note)
feathered; plucked; cage
Since; beaten; beak; wing
Unless; speak; peers
shun; shire folk are saying
is so bold as to blurt out
remind; causes; (see note)
be put; tortured
blinded; ruined; (see note)
injury escape; never
Beaten; enslaved; towns
tortured; by others
Cried after; sent packing
shuns; seen; injuries
head; hailstones (see note)
choked; wholly discordant
grief; (see note)
people; alive; (see note)
batter; clubs; beat
chop off; house
revive; pay back
tread; head grew
pull; tabard; (see note)
relish his speech
work according to; wheel
away from distress
Henry's house fittingly
meritorious company; noblest
Rehearsing no riffraff
[be for] long
most gracious leader
Fierce; battlefield; dominating
manly qualities; belongs
stabilize it; remain peaceful
itself; (see note)
Did you yourself not say; (see note)
receive no thanks
know; will; surpass; (see note)
blushed; words; waited quietly
paused; pondered; (see note)
see; was called
flattery; or; foolish; (see note)
at my own pleasure
wisdom; discretion dwell
You would do better
For twenty minutes (see note); testify
advise; wish to rest
is not; think
Bachelor-knight nor burgess; man
reproach; shooting of arrows; (see note)
it seems to me
food allowance; servant; (see note)
allow; (see note)
While you could
Do Better (see note)
person to remain quiet
warn; misrule arouses
spoke; was required
Cato explains; (see note)
"idle chatter"; "be quiet"
very great doubt
legal denial; out of sorts
Sydrac (see note)
at that time; (see note)
read aloud from
studied; as best
kind of subtlety; style; (see note)
ends favorably; (see note)
consult learned men
stop; (see note)
seven arts (Liberal Arts); (see note)
judgment; uncertainty; (see note)
grammarian then glowered; (see note)
by nature; discern
defied both sides; (see note)
glad; leaving; bird; mate; (see note)
His conversation; no jot; earthly
Rhetoric's arguments I do not care to
sophister (Logic); (see note)
speak; neither; nor
chough (see note)
Geometry; joiner; gabbled
astonished; stared in
the academic clerisy
seemly; (see note)
seven Liberal Arts
expert in logical difficulties
called me to him
scan; pages; meaning; (see note)
looked into books
investigated to the end
situation; (see note)
Than how; beneficially
troublesome; quickly be resolved
crook; leave (see note)
labor; turn; gloss
went; friars; (see note)
questioned; politely; sound out
pair (see note)
choir; agreed; (see note)
If Mum had not been
It (their houses); unroofed
logical reasons; fourth
fitting; gain heaven
urged; (see note)
tell you; (see note)
subtle; kept hidden
ways; (see note)
Tyburn hill; strung
from the old days
double layers beneath; (see note)
stir; (see note)
business; (see note)
divide; district; regions; (see note)
divide up; piecemeal
begging districts; breadth
lie; flatter [for money]
store separate from
material goods; little
wonder; Mary; (see note)
strike; head; break; (see note)
men's inner thoughts; (see note)
control; powerful; hoodwink
Food; can afford
"sauce" (see note)
simony; ruins; (see note)
the [literal] text
hold to it
thrown down; greensward; (see note)
spurs (conquests); (see note)
[venerated] cross (see note)
menacing words; (see note)
token; (see note)
One martyr; (see note)
penance; perfect; (see note)
Cain (see note)
founder (see note)
FitzRalph's (see note)
Prove; patently; poetry
abbreviation mark (see note)
acrostic shapes; only; (see note)
are ever amorous
Jacobins (Dominicans); Judas' kin
cease to criticize; (see note)
some (of them)
Simony's; take up earnestly
many other faults; hundred
hymn; true statement
purpose the paring of a pear
wrong; something better
believed; less; teachings
wrestled; (see note)
monasteries; parsonages; (see note)
houses of Austin canons
intended; (see note)
welcome no visitors unless
dined; (see note)
porter; drove me away
went away; at my wits' end
acquainted myself; choir
intervene on either
shared; (see note)
mass pennies; (see note)
i.e., the devil
grew; wondrously weary
had gone through
Woeful; did not know
mastery (upper hand)
seize on any figment; (see note)
men; bells beat; (see note)
to give money
poultry; pears; (see note)
wool; wax; increases; (see note)
is renewed; ninth part take for
intermediary; break off
allow; (see note)
[Which] is; martyrs
suffered death; tyrants'
knew; about; know
have been taught
foolish dimwit; (see note)
bold; (see note)
known; at that time
array; (see note)
dais; deep; (see note)
warmed; dates in the evening
writs; sealing wax
lies; (see note)
taxed; both portions; (see note)
speak; is required
at great peril
If; words of that kind
twice and again
insane; wrongly believe
men are wealthy
in a month
drawn; dais; dainties; (see note)
at supper or in the evening
pauses a moment; comes on
receives; reward; (see note)
Flee folly; make friends
stop; advise; roam
stray out of the way; gain
chosen before others
crowd into any
dismissed; (see note)
grousing or complaint
proved; perceive; (see note)
contrary to; (see note)
ought to; angered
damage; far; weed
moves not to shelter; blame
to protect himself; shelter
party to; pains; comrades
"he who is silent is seen to consent"; (see note)
prevent; allows; happen
interrogated; bar; (see note)
quarreling; nobility who
easily; prevented; (see note)
head aches; limbs
root; red gall
leave you, Luke (see note)
tearing of hoods (i.e., for quarreling)
in the wrong places
what you seek
Where there are crowds
bachelor-knights (see note)
peers; classes of persons
livery; (see note)
poor man's; separate
lie; overleap hurdles
offered no contradiction
seal on a document
reward; year's gift; (see note)
shouldered; (see note)
[To see] if
not a glimpse
solitary person; alone
avoid (shun) a
meal course mark
"silence drink"; seen
roamed around confused
putting salve on
man to remain constant
chaps a heap (see note)
nearer; at all; vexed
Cato; speaks; (see note)
valley broadening; crest shape
turned around twice; looked
houses; meadows newly mown
season that very year
wheat; fields cut
spawn of diverse sorts
briars; berries; paths
beans blossomed; broom
Pears; plums; peascods
spirited greatly desire
rabbits from shelter covered
seized; animal traps
nipping; rump zigzag
Hector (hound) ran
sheep; sun shaded
stallions in corral
hunting dogs; clearing; unleashed
burnished (see note); fat
clearing; edge of the forest
hill; middle slopes
young birds; notes
sang; (see note)
vanished from me
freehold (see note)
turned aside; stopped
saplings; many other
fresh; (see note)
tended; hive; honey
drones; nothing else
know who he was
garden; (see note)
pertains; garden; (see note)
may they all die; (see note)
frequent; within it
toil not a bit
most skillful; vault; (see note)
curious room; enclosed; (see note)
raise up; faults
the right time; work; stop
without a stinger
in the middle
grows weak; sinks
peril; kill; (see note)
stomachs; (see note)
reason; be little
strike; head; reach
inside; dazed; (see note)
what is due
been present in
no other scheme
look out for
their labor has been stolen
losses to make up
can ponder it
too mystical (i.e., obscure); (see note)
explain to me
So I could understand; untutored
Whereas; seek; food
know with certainty
against; founding principles
son; searching; man
To instruct you wisely; way's end
has been the maker
avow; (see note)
should die [for it]
rise up [in rebellion]; royalty
knights of the shire
seriousness; hesitate each one
envoy; suit to judge
must needs; vex
men; seek crooked ways
i.e., what is what
foundation; graft on to
glory; earth; ills
caught; hook; (see note)
cast down; crook
Sower of weeds and the devil's farmer; (see note)
pleasant food; losing
Homeward; house; (see note)
rein; backwards; reason's
freely to roam (i.e., do)
received at font-stone
if I may be on guard
near; next [to me]; never be
troubles; turns out
reward; quittance (see note)
though; duke; (see note)
the way to; (see note)
Truth's dwelling is in the faithful heart; (see note)
granted; (see note)
never transgress it
Noah's; (see note)
for sale; (see note)
house; always unlocked
advance; case in due
kin; i.e., God; stars; (see note)
Be sure to
Slacken; activity; book-making
suddenly; dream; awoke
i.e., in spite of him
have no fear
i.e., no human
little appreciate dreams; (see note)
dreamed; moon; stars
Bowed down; graciously
to slay him
humbly to bow; seek
what he pleased [to spare]
truth; conclude; (see note)
opened; (see note)
secret verse is printed
quire; receipts; bequeathed
parsons; overlooked; (see note)
tit for tat; i.e., minxes; (see note)
Lauds (first lesson)
parish; dressed; (see note)
tax; elegantly clothed
share; poor; portion sometimes
"poor"; Great Plague
Gallivanting; palfreys; (see note)
escort; (see note)
a single nature; (see note)
Woe to the pastors (see note)
tell lies about; scoundrels
confused; [they] turn men's
Lies; i.e., insubstantial
interfere; show off
accord; Genghis's; (see note)
destroyed in despair
elderly; noble lineage
established to investigate loyal
cede their lands to him; (see note)
(the lords) were agreed
knew; thwarted; (see note)
rain hovers over
borders; beat back
conclusion; oppresses; (see note)
hand will be harmed; (see note)
chattering; injure; (see note)
give evidence; bear down
must needs rest
When justices; sum up
cursed irritant; costly
equality errs; contends
humble; superior; (see note)
property; (see note)
steal; contention; destroy
wisdom dwell apart from one another
bathe; waist; (see note)
rather; abase myself
defeated; region; (see note)
shunned; disgraced; (see note)
grows to such an extent
[legal] cause; if; fearful
set down; reproach; (see note)
against; notion; argument
Yield; burst; informed
case; just; contend; hate
case; (see note)
legal document; i.e., the Devil; (see note)
shove; courts of assizes
pull; hock-rope (see note)
inciters; i.e., most bull-headed; (see note)
Contend; pull down
spreads the report
benefit a poor man; (see note)
complaints conclude penniless
prove it by
Do not take bribes against the innocent; (see note)
book cover; (see note)
vex the powerful
horses; beasts with horns
assaulted; in expectation
tricks; covered; cloaked
destroy; statutes; (see note)
prosecute; withdraw; (see note)
re-open; failures (see note)
pay ready money
the same; sue
proud folk; injure
i.e., what they can spend
Civil Law; (see note)
Canon Law; (see note)
concerns; same; (see note)
feel; (see note)
a whole history; (see note)
amount of revenue
taken away from him (see note)
strictly; (see note)
i.e., civil and canon law
sampled; (the king) has; least part
i.e., more than half
commons hate tax collectors
heinous wars; (see note)
dignity; otherwise; (see note)
owe; time [to pay up] (see note)
And twist and turn twice in one week
i.e., clerics and others
Little by little
gains; praise; less
writing on greed; ruled
hospitals; (see note)
it breaks one's heart
gave [to charity]
section; will; (see note)
paid; seal [on the will]
assure; (see note)
i.e., a ferocious dog
nothing; (see note)
(the testator) did; badly
censure according to law
Judgment; dole; distributed
in confusion on moon; (see note)
schedule; subtly written
many different marvels
i.e., examples for
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