William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
Thus I awaked and wroot what I hadde ydremed,
And dighte me derely, and dide me to chirche,
To here holly the masse and to be housled after.
In myddes of the masse, tho men yede to offryng,
I fel eftsoones aslepe--and sodeynly me mette
That Piers the Plowman was peynted al blody,
And com in with a cros bifore the comune peple,
And right lik in alle lymes to Oure Lord Jesu.
And thanne called I Conscience to kenne me the sothe:
"Is this Jesus the justere,' quod I, "that Jewes dide to dethe?
Or it is Piers the Plowman! Who peynted hym so rede?'
Quod Conscience, and kneled tho, " Thise arn Piers armes--
Hise colours and his cote armure; ac he that cometh so blody
Is Crist with his cros, conquerour of Cristene.'
"Why calle ye hym Crist?' quod l, "sithen Jewes called hym Jesus?
Patriarkes and prophetes prophecied bifore
That alle kynne creatures sholden knelen and bowen
Anoon as men nempned the name of God Jesu.
Ergo is no name to the name of Jesus,
Ne noon so nedeful to nempne by nyghte ne by daye.
For alle derke develes arn adrad to heren it,
And synfulle aren solaced and saved by that name;
And ye callen hym Crist; for what cause, telleth me?
Is Crist moore of myght and moore worthi name
Than Jesu or Jesus, that al oure joye com of?'
"Thow knowest wel,' quod Conscience, "and thow konne reson,
That knyght, kyng, conquerour may be o persone.
To be called a knyght is fair, for men shul knele to hym;
To be called a kyng is fairer, for he may knyghtes make;
Ac to be conquerour called, that cometh of special grace,
And of hardynesse of herte and of hendemesse--
To make lordes of laddes, of lond that he wynneth,
And fre men foule thralles, that folwen noght hise lawes. Page 236
'The Jewes, that were gentil men, Jesu thei despised--
Bothe his loore and his lawe; now are thei lowe cherles.
As wide as the world is, wonyeth ther noon
But under tribut and taillage as tikes and cherles;
And tho that bicome Cristene bi counseil of the Baptiste
Aren frankeleyns, free men thorugh fullynge that thei toke
And gentil men with Jesu--for Jesus was yfulled
And upon Calvarie on cros ycrouned kyng of Jewes.
" lt bicometh to a kyng to kepe and to defende,
And conqueror of his conquest hise lawes and his large.
And so dide Jesus the Jewes--he justified and taughte hem
The lawe of lif that laste shal evere,
And fended from foule yveles, feveres and fiuxes,
And from fendes that in hem was, and false bileve.
Tho was he Jesus of Jewes called, gentile prophete,
And kyng of hir kyngdom, and croune bar of thornes.
"And tho conquered he on cros as conquerour noble;
Mighte no deeth hym fordo, ne adoun brynge,
That he n'aroos and regnede and ravysshed helle.
And tho was he conquerour called of quyke and of dede.
For he yaf Adam and Eve and othere mo blisse
That longe hadde yleyen bifore as Luciferis cherles.
And took [Lucifer the lothly], that lord was of helle,
And bond [hym] as [he is bounde], with bondes of yrene.
Who was hardiere than he? His herte blood he shadde
To maken alle folk free that folwen his lawe.
And sith he yeveth largely al his lele liges
Places in Paradis at hir partynge hennes,
He my wel be called conquerour--and that is " Crist ' to mene.
"Ac the cause that he cometh thus with cros of his passion
Is to wissen us therwith, that whan we ben tempted, Page 237
Therwith to fighte and fenden us fro fallynge into synne,
And se bi his sorve that whoso loveth joye,
To penaunce and to poverte he moste puten hymselven,
And muche wo in this world wilnen and suffren.
"Ac to carpe moore of Crist, and how he com to that name,
Faithly for to speke, his firste name was jesus.
Tho he was born in Bethleem, as the Book telleth,
And cam to take mankynde, kynges and aungeles
Reverenced hym right faire with richesses of erthe.
Aungeles out of hevene come knelynge and songe,
Gloria in excelsis Deo &c.
"Kynges come after, knelede and offrede sense,
Mirre and muche gold withouten mercy askynge
Or any kynnes catel, but knoweliched[en] hym sovereyn
Both of sond, sonne and see, and sithenes thei wente
Into hir kyngene kith by counseil of aungeles.
And there was that word fulfilled the which thow of speke--
Omnia celestia, terrestria, flectantur in hoc nomine Iesu.
" For alle the aungeles of hevene at his burthe knelede,
And al the wit of the world was in tho thre kynges.
Reson and Rightwisnesse and Ruthe thei offrede,
Wherfore and why wise men that tyme
Maistres and lettred men, Magi hem callede.
" That o kyng cam with Reson, covered under sense.
The seconde kyng siththe soothliche offrede
Rightwisnesse under reed gold, Resones felawe.
Gold is likned to Leautee that laste shal evere,
And Reson to riche[ls]--to right and to truthe.
"The thridde kyng tho kam, and knelede to Jesu,
And presented hym with Pitee, apperynge by mirre;
For mirre is mercy to mene, and mylde speche of tonge.
Ertheliche honeste thynges was offred thus at ones Page 238
Thorugh thre kynne kynges knelynge to Jesu.
"Ac for alle thise preciouse presents Oure Lord Prynce Jesus
Was neither kyng ne conquerour til he [comsede] wexe
In the manere of a man, and that by muchel sleighte--
As it bicometh a conquerour to konne manye sleightes,
And manye wiles and wit, that wole ben a ledere;
And so dide Jesu in hise dayes, whoso hadde tyme to telle it.
"Som tyme he suffrede, and som tyme he hidde hym,
And som tyme he faught faste, and fleigh outherwhile,
And som tyme he gaf good and grauntede heele bothe,
Lif and lyme--as hym liste he wroghte.
As kynde is of a conquerour, so comsede Jesu
Til he hadde alle hem that he for bledde.
" ln his juventee this Jesus at Jewene feeste
Water into wyn turnede, as Holy Writ telleth,
And there bigan God of his grace to do wel.
For wyn is likned to lawe and lifholynesse;
And lawe lakkede tho, for men lovede noght hir enemys;
And Crist counseileth thus--and comaundeth bothe--
Bothe to lered and to lewede, to lovyen oure enemys.
So at that feeste first, as I bifore tolde,
Bigan God of his grace and goodnesse to dowel:
And tho was he cleped and called noght oonly Crist but Jesu--
A fauntekyn ful of wit, filius Marie.
For bifore his moder Marie made he that wonder,
That she first and formest sholde ferme bileve
That he thorugh Grace was gete, and of no gome ellis.
He wroghte that by no wit but thorugh word one,
After the kynde that he cam of; there comsede he Dowel.
"And whan he was woxen moore, in his moder absence,
He made lame to lepe and yaf light to blynde,
And fedde with two fisshes and with fyve lowes
Sore afyngred folk, mo than fyve thousand.
Thus he confortede carefulle and caughte a gretter name,
The which was Dobet, where that he wente. Page 239
For deve thorugh hise doynges and dombe speke and herde,
And alle he heeled and halp that hym of grace askede.
And tho was he called in contre of the comune peple,
For the dedes that he dide, Fili David, lhesus.
For David was doghtiest of dedes in his tyme,
The burdes tho songe, Saul interfecit mille et David decem milia.
Forthi the contree ther Jesu cam called hym fili David,
And nempned hym of Nazareth--and no man so worthi
To be kaiser or kyng of the kyngdom of Juda,
Ne over Jewes justice, as Jesus was, hem thoughte.
"Wherof hadde Cayphas envye, and othere of the Jewes,
And for to doon hym to dethe day and nyght thei casten;
And killeden hym on cros wise at Calvarie on Friday,
And sithen buriede his body, and beden that men sholde
Kepen it fro nyghtcomeris with knyghtes yarmed,
For no frend sholde it fecche; for prophetes hem tolde
That that blissede body of burieles sholde risen,
And goon into Galilee and gladen hise Apostles
And his moder Marie--thus men bifore demede.
"The knyghtes that kepten it biknewe hemselven
That aungeles and archaungeles er the day spronge
Come knelynge to that corps and songen
Christus resurgens--and it aroos after,
Verray man bifore hem alle, and forth with hem he yede.
"The Jewes preide hem of pees, and [pre-ide] the knyghtes
Telle the comune that ther cam a compaignie of hise Apostles
And biwicched hem as thei woke, and awey stolen it. Page 240
"Ac Marie Maudeleyne mette hym by the weye
Goynge toward Galilee in godhede and manhede,
And lyves and lokynge--and she aloud cride
In ech a compaignie ther she cam, "" Christus resurgens!''
Thus cam it out that Crist overcoom, recoverede and lyvede:
Sic oportet Christum pati et intrare &c.
For that wommen witeth may noght wel be counseille!
"Peter parceyved al this and pursued after,
Bothe James and Johan, Jesu for to seke.
Thaddee and ten mo. with Thomas of Inde.
And as alle thise wise wyes weren togideres
In an hous al bishet and hir dore ybarred,
Crist cam in--and al closed both dore and yates--
To Peter and to hise Apostles, and seide, "" Pax vobis;'
And took Thomas by the hind and taughte hym to grope.
And feele with hise fyngres his flesshliche herte.
"Thomas touched it, and with his tonge seide,
" Dominus meus et Deus meus.
Thow art my lord, I bileve, God Lord Jesu!
Thow deidest and deeth tholedest and deme shalt us alle,
And now art lyvynge and lokynge, and laste shalt evere!'
"Crist carpede thanne, and curteisliche seide,
""Thomas, for thow trowest this and treweliche bilevest it,
Blessed mote thow be, and be shalt for evere.
And blessed mote thei be, in body and in soule,
That nevere shul se me in sighte as thow seest nowthe,
And lelliche bileve al this I love hem and blesse hem:
Beati qui non viderunt et crediderunt.''
"And whan this dede was doon, Dobest he [thou]ghte,
And yaf Piers power, and pardon he grauntede:
To alle maner men, mercy and foryifnesse;
[To] hym, myghte men to assoille of alle manere synnes. Page 241
In covenaunt that thei come and kneweliche to paye
To Piers pardon the Plowman--Redde quod debes.
"Thus hath Piers power, be his pardon paied,
To bynde and unbynde bothe here and ellis,
And assoille men of alle synnes save of dette one.
"Anoon after an heigh up into hevene
He wente, and wonyeth there, and wol come at the laste,
And rewarde hym right wel that reddit quod debet--
Paieth parfitly, as pure truthe wolde.
And what persone paieth it nought, punysshen he thenketh,
And demen hem at domesday, bothe quyke and dede--
The goode to the Godhede and to greet joye,
And wikkede to wonye in wo withouten ende.'
Thus Conscience of Crist and of the cros carpede,
And counseiled me to knele therto; and thanne cam, me thoughte,
Oon Spiritus Paraclitus to Piers and to hise felawes.
In liknesse of a lightnynge he lighte on hem alle
And made hem konne and knowe alle kynne langages.
I wondred what that was, and waggede Conscience,
And was afered of the light, for in fires liknesse
Spiritus Paraclitus overspradde hem alle.
Quod Conscience, and knelede, "This is Cristes messager,
And cometh fro the grete God--Grace is his name.
Knele now,' quod Conscience, "and if thow kanst synge,
Welcome hym and worshipe hym with Veni Creator Spiritus !'
Thanne song I that song, and so dide manye hundred,
And cride with Conscience, " Help us, God of grace!'
And thanne bigan Grace to go with Piers Plowman,
And counseillede hym and Conscience the comune to sompne:
"For I wole dele today and dyvyde grace
To alle kynne creatures that kan hise fyve wittes--
Tresour to lyve by to hir lyves ende. Page 242
And wepne to fighte with that wole nevere faille.
For Antecrist and hise al the world shul greve,
And acombre thee, Conscience, but if Crist thee helpe.
"And false prophetes fele, flatereris and gloseris,
Shullen come and be curatours over kynges and erles.
And thanne shal Pride be Pope and prynce of Holy Chirche,
Coveitise and Unkyndenesse Cardinals hym to lede.
Forthi,' quod Grace, "er I go, I wol gyve yow tresor,
And wepne to fighte with whan Antecrist yow assailleth.'
And gaf ech man a grace to gye with hymselven,
That Ydelnesse encombre hym noght, ne Envye ne Pride:
Divisiones graciarum sunt.
Some [wyes] he yaf wit, with wordes to shewe--
Wit to wynne hir liflode with, as the world asketh,
As prechours and preestes, and prentices of lawe--
They lelly to lyve by labour of tonge,
And by wit to wissen othere is grace hem wolde teche.
And some he kennede craft and konnynge of sighte.
With sellynge and [by] buggynge hir bilyve to wynne.
And some he lered to laboure on lond and on watre,
And lyve by that labour--a lele lif and a trewe.
And some he taughte to tilie, to dyche and to thecche,
To wynne with hir liflode bi loore of his techynge.
And some to devyne and divide, [diverse] noumbres to kenne:
And some to compace craftily, and colours to make;
And some to se and to seye whit sholde bifalle,
Bothe of wele and of wo, telle it [wel] er it felle--
As astronomyens thorugh astronomye, and philosofres wise.
And some to ryde and to recovere that unrightfully was wonne:
He wissed hem wynne it ayein thorugh wightnesse of handes, Page 243
And fecchen it fro false men with Folvyles lawes.
And some he lered to lyve in longynge to ben hennes,
In poverte and in pacience to preie for alle Cristene.
And alle he lered to be lele, and ech a craft love oother,
And forbad hem alle debat--that noon [be] among hem.
"Though some be clenner than some, ye se wel," quod Grace,
"That he that useth the faireste craft, to the fouleste I kouthe have put hym.
Thynketh [that alle craftes, quod Grace]. "cometh of my yifte;
Loketh that noon lakke oother, but loveth alle as bretheren.
"And who that moost maistries kan, be myldest of berynge;
And crouneth Conscience kyng, and maketh Craft youre stiward,
And after Craftes conseil clotheth yow and fede.
For I make Piers the Plowman my procuratour and my reve,
And registrer to receyve redde quod debes.
My prowor and my plowman Piers shal ben on erthe,
And for to tilie truthe a teeme shal he have.'
Grace gaf Piers a teeme--foure grete oxen.
That oon was Luk, a large beest and a lowe chered,
And Mark, and Mathew the thridde--myghty beestes bothe;
And joyned to hem oon Johan, moost gentil of alle,
The pris neet of Piers plow, passynge alle othere.
And yit Grace of his goodnesse gaf Piers foure stottes--
Al that hise oxen eriede, thei to harewen after.
Oon highte Austyn, and Ambrose another,
Gregori the grete clerk, and [the goode Jerom].
Thise foure, the feith to teche, folweth Piers teme,
And harewede in an handwhile al Holy Scripture
With two [aithes] that thei hadde, an oold and a newe,
Id est, Vetus Testamentum et Novum.
And Grace gaf Piers greynes--cardynales vertues,
And sew it in mannes soule, and sithen he tolde hir names.
Spiritus Prudencie the firste seed highte; Page 244
And whoso ete that, ymagynen he sholde,
Er he dide any dede, devyse wel the ende;
And lerned men a ladel bugge with a long stele
That caste for to kepe a crokke, and save the fatte above.
The seconde seed highte Spiritus Temperancie.
He that etc of that seed hadde swich a kynde,
Sholde nevere mete ne meschief make hym to swelle;
Ne sholde no scornere out of skile hym brynge;
Ne wynnynge ne wele of worldliche richesse,
Waste word of ydelnesse ne wikked speche moeve;
Sholde no curious clooth comen on his rugge,
Ne no mete in his mouth that Maister Johan spicede.
The thridde seed that Piers sew was Spiritus Fortitudinis;
And whoso ete of that seed hardy was evere
To suffren al that God sente, siknesse and angres.
Mighte no lesynges, ne lyere, ne los of worldly catel.
Maken hym, for any mournynge, that he nas murie in soule,
And bold and abidynge bismares to suffre,
And pletede al with pacience and Parce michi, Domine,
And covered hym under conseille of Caton the wise:
Esto forti animo cum sis dampnatus inique.
The ferthe seed that Piers sew was Spiritus Iusticie,
And he that ete of that seed sholde be evere trewe
With God, and naught agast but of gile one.
For gile gooth so pryvely that geod feith outher while
May nought ben espied [thorugh] Spiritus Iusticie. Page 245
Spiritus Iusticie spareth noght to spille hem that ben gilty,
And for to correcte the kyng if he falle in [any kynnes] gilt.
For counteth he no kynges wrathe whan he in court sitteth
To demen as a domesman--adrad was he nevere
Neither of duc ne of deeth, that he ne dide the lawe;
For present or for preiere or any prynces lettres,
He dide equyte to alle eveneforth his power.
Thise foure sedes Piers sex, and siththe he dide hem harewe
With Olde Lawe and Newe Lawe, that love myghte wexe
Among thise foure vertues, and vices destruye.
" For comunliche in contrees cammokes and wedes
Foulen the fruyt in the feld ther thei growen togideres;
And so doon vices vertues--[f]orthi,' quod Piers,
"Hareweth alle that konneth kynde wit by conseil of thise doctours,
And tilieth after hir techynge the cardynale vertues.'
"Ayeins thi greynes,' quod Grace, " bigynneth for to ripe,
Ordeigne thee an hous, Piers, to herberwe inne thi cornes.
"By God! Grace,' quod Piers, 'ye moten gyve tymber,
And ordeigne that hous er ye hennes wende.'
And Grace gaf hym the cros, with the croune of thornes,
That Crist upon Calvarie for mankynde on pyned;
And of his baptisme and blood that he bledde on roode
He made a manere morter, and mercy it highte.
And therwith Grace bigan to make a good foundement,
And watlede it and walled it with hise peynes and his passion,
And of al Holy Writ he made a roof after,
And called that hous Unite--Holy Chirche on Englissh.
And whan this dede was doon, Grace devysede
A cart highte Cristendom, to carie home Piers sheves,
And gaf hym caples to his carte, Contricion and Confession;
And made Preesthod hayward, the while hymself wente Page 246
As wide as the world is, with Piers to tilie truthe
And the lo[nd] of bileve, the lawe of Holy Chirche.
Now is Piers to the plow. Pride it aspide
And gadered hym a greet oost: greven he thynketh
Conscience and alle Cristene and Cardinale Vertues--
Blowe hem doun and breke hem and bite atwo the mores;
And sente forth Surquidous, his sergeaunt of armes,
And his spye Spille-Love, oon Spek-yvel-bihynde.
Thise two coome to Conscience and to Cristen peple,
And tolde hem tidynges--that tyne thei sholde
The sedes that [Sire] Piers sew, the Cardynale Vertues:
"And Piers bern worth ybroke, and thei that ben in Unitee
Shulle come out, and Conscience; and youre [caples two],
Confession and Contricion, and youre carte the Bileeve
Shal be coloured so queyntely and covered under oure sophistrie,
That Conscience shal noght knowe by Contricion
Ne by Confession who is Cristene or hethene;
Ne no manere marchaunt that with moneye deleth
Wheither he wynne with right, with wrong or with usure.'
With swiche colours and queyntise cometh Pride y-armed,
With the lord that lyveth after the lust of his body--
"To wasten on welfare and on wikked kepynge
Al the world in a while thorugh oure wit!' quod Pryde.
Quod Conseience to alle Cristene tho, " My counseil is to wende
Hastiliche into Unitee and holde we us there,
And praye we that a pees weere in Piers berne the Plowman.
For witterly, I woot wel, we beth noght of strengthe
To goon agayn Pride, but Grace weere with us.'
And thanne kam Kynde Wit Conscience to teche,
And cryde, and comaundede alle Cristene peple Page 247
For to delven and dyche depe aboute Unitee
That Holy Chirche stode in [holynesse], as it a pyl weere.
Conscience comaundede tho alle Cristene to delve,
And make a muche moot that myghte ben a strengthe
To helpe Holy Chirche and hem that it kepeth.
Thanne alle kynne Cristene--save comune wommen--
Repenteden and refusede synne, [right] save thei one,
And [a sisour and a somonour] that were forsworen ofte;
Witynge and wilfully with the false [thei] helden,
And for silver were forswore--soothly thei wiste it!
Ther nas no Cristene creature that kynde wit hadde--
Save sherewes one swiche as I spak of--
That he ne halp a quantite holynesse to wexe:
Some by bedes biddynge and some by pilgrymage
And other pryve penaunce, and somme thorugh penyes delynge.
And thanne wellede water for wikkede werkes,
Egreliche ernynge out of mennes eighen.
Clennesse of the comune and clerkes clene lyvynge
Made Unitee Holy Chirche in holynesse stonde.
" I care noght,' quod Conscience, " though Pride come nouthe;
The lord of lust shal be letted al this Lente, I hope.
Cometh,' quod Conscience, "ye Cristene, and dyneth,
That han laboured lelly al this Lenten tyme.
Here is breed yblessed, and Goddes body therunder.
Grace, thorugh Goddes word, gaf Piers power,
Myght to maken it, and men to ete it after
In helpe of hir heele ones in a monthe,
Or as ofte as thei hadde nede, tho that hadde ypaied
To Piers pardon the Plowman, redde quod debes.'
" How?' quod al the comune. "Thow conseillest us to yelde Page 248
Al that we owen any wight er we go to housel?'
"That is my conseil,' quod Conscience, "and Cardinale Vertues;
That ech man foryyve oother, and that wole the Paternoster--
Et dimitte nobis debita nostra &c--
And so to ben assoilled, and siththen ben houseled.'
" Ye? Baw!' quod a brewere, " I wol noght be ruled,
By Jesu! for al youre janglynge, with Spiritus Iusticie,
Ne after Conscience, by Crist! while I kan selle
Bothe dregges and draf, and drawe at oon hole
Thikke ale and thynne ale; that is my kynde,
And noght hakke after holynesse--hold thi tonge, Conscience!
Of Spiritus Iusticie thow spekest muche on ydel.'
" Caytif! ' quod Conscience, "cursede wrecche!
Unblessed artow, brewere, but if thee God helpe.
But thow lyve by loore of Spiritus Iusticie,
The chief seed that Piers sew, ysaved worstow nevere.
But Conscience be the comune fode, and Cardinale Vertues,
Leve it wel, thei ben lost, bothe lif and soule.'
"Thanne is many [leode] lost!" quod a lewed vicory.
"I am a curatour of Holy Kirke, and cam nevere in my tyme
Man to me that me kouthe telle of Cardinale Vertues,
Or that acountede Conscience at a cokkes fethere!
I knew nevere Cardynal that he ne cam fro the Pope:
And we clerkes, whan thei come, for hir comunes paieth,
For hir pelure and hir palfreyes mete and pilours that hem folweth.
The comune clamat cotidie, ech a man til oother,
""The contree is the corseder that cardinals come inne,
And ther thei ligge and lenge moost lecherie there regneth!"'
" Forthi,' quod this vicory, " by verray God! I wolde
That no cardynal coome among the comune peple, Page 249
But in hir holynesse helden hem stille
At Avynoun among Jewes--Cum sancto sanctus eris &c--
Or in Rome, as hir rule wole, the relikes to kepe;
And thow Conscience in kynges court, and sholdest nevere come thennes;
And Grace, that thow gredest so of, gyour of alle clerkes ;
And Piers with his newe plough and ek with his olde
Emperour of al the world--that alle men were Cristene.
"Inparfit is that Pope, that al peple sholde helpe,
And s[ou]deth hem that sleeth swiche as he sholde save.
A[c] wel worthe Piers the Plowman, that pursueth God in doynge,
Qui pluit super iustos et iniustos at ones,
And sent the sonne to save a cursed mannes tilthe
As brighte as to the beste man or to the beste womman.
Right so Piers the Plowrnan peyneth hym to tilye
As wel for a wastour and wenches of the stewes
As for hymself and hise servaunts, save he is first yserved.
[So blessed be Piers Plowman, that peyneth hym to tilye],
And travailleth and tilieth for a tretour also soore
As for a trewe tidy man, alle tymes ylike.
And worshiped be He that wroghte al, bothe good and wikke,
And suffreth that synfulle be til som tyme that thei repente.
And God [the Pope amende], that pileth Holy Kirke,
And cleymeth bifore the kyng to be kepere over Cristene,
And counteth noght though Cristene ben killed and robbed,
And fynt folk to fighte and Cristen blood to spille
Ayein the Olde Lawe and Newe Lawe, as Luc bereth witnesse:
Non occides : mihi vindictam &c.
It semeth, bi so hymself hadde his wille,
That he ne reccheth right noght of al the remenaunt.
"And Crist of his curtesie the cardinals save, Page 250
And torne hir wit to wisdom and to welthe of soule!
For the comune,' quod this curatour, "counten ful litel
The counseil of Conscience or Cardinale Vertues
But if thei sowne, as by sighte, somwhat to wynnyng.
Of gile ne of gabbyng gyve thei nevere tale,
For Spiritus Prudencie among the peple is gyle,
And alle tho faire vertues, as vices thei semeth.
Ech man subtileth a sleighte synne to hide,
And coloureth it for a konnynge and a clene lyvynge.'
Thanne lough ther a lord, and "By this light! seide,
I holde it right and reson of my reve to take
Al that myn auditour or ellis my styward
Counseilleth me bi hir acounte and my clerkes writynge.
With Spiritus Intellectus thei toke the reves rolles,
And with Spiritus Fortitudinis fecche it--wole [he, nel he]."
And thanne cam ther a kyng and by his croune seide,
"I am kyng with croune the comune to rule,
And Holy Kirke and clergie fro cursed men to defende.
And if me lakketh to lyve by, the lawe wole I take it
Ther I may hastilokest it have--for I am heed of lawe:
For ye ben but membres and I above alle.
And sith I am youre aller heed, I am youre aller heele,
And Holy Chirches chief help and chieftayn of the comune.
And what I take of yow two, I take it at the techynge
Of Spiritus Iusticie--for I jugge yow alle.
So I may boldely be housled, for I borwe nevere,
Ne crave of my comune but as my kynde asketh.'
"In condicion,' quod Conscience, "that thow [the comune] defende,
And rule thi reaume in reson, right wol and truthe Page 251
That thow [have thyn askyng], as the lawe asketh:
Omnia sunt tua ad defendendum set non ad deprehendendum.'
The viker hadde fer hoom, and faire took his leeve--
And I awakned therwith, and wroot as me mette.