William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
William Langland

Passus 2

Yet I courbed on my knees and cried hire of grace,
     2.001
And seide, " Mercy, madame, for Marie love of hevene,
     2.002
That bar that blisful barn that boughte us on the Rode--
     2.003
Kenne me by sorn craft to knowe the false.'
     2.004
Loke upon thi let-t half, and lo where he stondeth--
     2.005
Bothe Fals and Favel, and hire feeres manye!'
     2.006
I loked on my left half as the Lady me taughte,
     2.007
And was war of a womman wonderliche yclothed--
     2.008
Purfiled with pelure, the pureste on erthe,
     2.009
Ycorouned with a coroune, the Kyng hath noon bettre.
     2.010
Fetisliche hire fyngres were fretted with gold wyr,
     2.011
And thereon rede rubies as rede as any gleede,
     2.012
And diamaundes of derrest pris and double manere saphires,
     2.013
Orientals and ewages envenymes to destroye.
     2.014
Hire robe was ful riche, of reed scarlet engreyned,
     2.015
With ribanes of reed gold and of riche stones.
     2.016
Hire array me ravysshed, swich richesse saugh I newere.
     2.017
I hadde wonder what she was and whos wif she were.
     2.018
"What is this womman,' quod I, so worthili atired?'
     2.019
"That is Mede the mayde.' quod she, hath noyed me ful ofte,
     2.020
And ylakked my lemman that Leautee is hoten,
     2.021
And bilowen h[ym] to lordes that lawes han to kepe.
     2.022
In the Popes paleis she is pryvee as myselve,
     2.023
But soothnesse wolde noght so--for she is a bastard,
     2.024
For Fals was hire fader that hath a fikel tonge,
     2.025
And nevere sooth seide sithen he com to erthe;
     2.026
And Mede is manered after hym, right as [asketh kynde]:
     2.027
Qualis pater, talis filius. Bona arbor bonum fructum facit.Page  18
     2.027
"I oughte ben hyere than [heo]--I kam of a bettre.
     2.028
My fader the grete God is and ground of alle graces,
     2.029
Oo God withouten gynnyng, and I his goode doughter,
     2.030
And hath yeven me Mercy to marie with myselve;
     2.031
And what man be merciful and leelly me love
     2.032
Shal be mylord and I his leef in the heighe hevene;
     2.033
And what man taketh Mede. myn heed dar I legge
     2.034
That he shal lese for hire love a lappe of Caritatis.
     2.035
"How construeth David the King of men that [cacch]eth Mede,
     2.036
And men of this moolde that maynteneth truthe,
     2.037
And how ye shul save yourself? The Sauter bereth witnesse:
     2.038
Domine, quis hubitabit in tabernaculo tuo, &c.
     2.038
"And now worth this Mede ymaried to a mansed sherewe,
     2.040
To oon Fals Fikel-tonge, a fendes biyete.
     2.041
Favel thorugh his faire speche hath this folk enchaunted,
     2.042
And al is Lieres ledynge that [lady] is thus ywedded.
     2.043
Tomorwe worth ymaked the maydenes bridale;
     2.044
And there myghtow witen if thow wilt whiche thei ben alle
     2.045
That longen to that lordshipe, the lasse and the moore.
     2.046
Knowe hem there if thow kanst, and kepe [thee from hem alle],
     2.047
And lakke hem noght but lat hem worthe, til Leaute oe Justice
     2.048
And have power to punysshe hem--thanne put forth thi reson.
     2.049
Now I bikenne thee Crist,' quod she, "and his clene moder,
     2.050
And lat no conscience acombre thee for coveitise of Mede.'
     2.051
Thus lefte me that lady liggynge aslepe,
     2.052
And how Mede was ymaried in metels me thoughte--
     2.053
That al the riche retenaunce that regneth with the False
     2.054
Were boden to the bridale on bothe two sides,
     2.055
Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche.
     2.056
To marien this mayde was many man assembled,
     2.057
As of knyghtes and of clerkes and oother commune peple,
     2.058
As sisours and somonours, sherreves and hire clerkes,
     2.059
Bedelles and baillifs and brocours of chaffare, Page  19
     2.060
Forgoers and vitaillers and vokettes of the Arches;
     2.061
I kan noght rekene the route that ran aboute Mede.
     2.062
Ac Symonie and Cyvylle and sisours of courtes
     2.063
Were moost pryvee with Mede of any men, me thoughte.
     2.064
Ac Favel was the firste that fette hire out of boure
     2.065
And as a brocour broughte hire to be with Fals enjoyned.
     2.066
Whan Symonye and Cyvylle seighe hir bother wille,
     2.067
Thei assented for silver to seye as bothe wolde.
     2.068
Thanne leep Liere forth and seide, "Lo! here a chartre
     2.069
That Gile with his grete othes gaf hem togidere,'--
     2.070
And preide Cyvylle to see and Symonye to rede it.
     2.071
Thanne Symonye and Cyvylle stonden forth bothe
     2.072
And unfoldeth the feffement that Fals hath ymaked,
     2.073
And thus bigynnen thise gomes to greden ful heighe:
     2.074
"Sciant presentes & futuri, &c.
     2.074
Witeth and witnesseth, that wonieth upon this erthe,
     2.075
That Mede is ymaried moore for hire goodes
     2.076
Than for any vertue or fairnesse or any free kynde.
     2.077
Falsnesse is fayn of hire for he woot hire riche;
     2.078
And Favel with his fikel speche feffeth by this chartre
     2.079
To be Princes in Pride, and poverte to despise,
     2.080
To bakbite and to bosten and bere fals witnesse,
     2.081
To scorne and to scolde and sclaundre to make,
     2.082
Unbuxome and bolde to breke the ten hestes.
     2.083
And the erldom of Envye and Wrathe togideres,
     2.084
With the chastiIet of cheste and chaterynge out of reson.
     2.085
The countee of Coveitise and alle the costes about--
     2.086
That is usure and avarice--al I hem graunte
     2.087
In bargaynes and in brocages with al the burghe of thefte,
     2.088
And al the lordshipe of Leccherie in lengthe and in brede--
     2.089
As in werkes and in wordes and in waitynges with eighes,
     2.090
And in wedes and in wisshynges and with ydel thoughtes
     2.091
Ther as wil wolde and werkmanshipe faylith.'
     2.092
Glotonye he gaf hem ek and grete othes togidere,
     2.093
And al day to drynken at diverse tavernes, Page  20
     2.094
And there to jangle and jape and jugge hir evencristen,
     2.095
And in fastynge dayes to frete er ful tyme were.
     2.096
And thanne to sitten and soupen til sleep hem assaille,
     2.097
And breden at burgh swyn, and bedden hem esily,
     2.098
Til Sleuthe and sleep sliken hise sydes;
     2.099
And thanne wanhope to awaken hym so with no wil to amende,
     2.100
For he leveth be lost--this is his laste ende.
     2.101
"And thei to have and to holde, and hire heires after,
     2.102
A dwellynge with the devel, and dampned be for evere,
     2.103
With alle the appurtinaunces of Purgatorie into the pyne of helle-
     2.104
Yeldynge for this thyng at one yeres ende
     2.105
Hire soules to Sathan, to suffre with hym peynes,
     2.106
And with hym to wonye with wo while God is in hevene.'
     2.107
In witnesse of which thyng Wrong was the firste,
     2.108
And Piers the Pardoner of Paulynes doctrine,
     2.109
Bette the Bedel of Bokynghamshire,
     2.110
Reynald the Reve of Rutland Sokene,
     2.111
Munde the Millere--and many mo othere.
     2.112
"1n the date of the devel this dede I assele
     2.113
By sighte of Sire Symonie and Cyvyles leeve.'
     2.114
Thanne tened hym Theologie whan he this tale herde, -
     2.115
And seide to Cyvyle, "Now sorwe mote thow have--
     2.116
Swiche weddynges to werche to wrathe with Truthe!
     2.117
And er this weddynge be wroght, wo thee bitide!
     2.118
For Mede is muliere, of Amendes engendred;
     2.119
And God graunted to gyve Mede to truthe,
     2.120
And thow hast gyven hire to a gilour--now God gyve thee sorwe!
     2.121
The text telleth thee noght so, Truthe woot the sothe,
     2.122
For Dignus est operarius his hire to have--
     2.123
And thow hast fest hire to Fals; fy on thi lawe!
     2.124
For al bi lesynges thow lyvest and lecherouse werkes.
     2.125
Symonye and thiself shenden Holi Chirche,
     2.126
The notaries and ye noyen the peple.
     2.127
Ye shul abiggen bothe, by God that me made!
     2.128
" Wel ye witen, wernardes, but if youre wit faille, Page  21
     2.129
That Fals is feithlees and fikel in hise werkes
     2.130
And as a bastarde ybore of Belsabubbes kynne.
     2.131
And Mede is muliere, a maiden of goode,
     2.132
And myghte kisse the Kyng for cosyn and she wolde.
     2.133
Forthi wercheth by wisdom and by wit also,
     2.134
And ledeth hire to Londoun, there lawe is yshewed,
     2.135
If any lawe wol loke thei ligge togideres.
     2.136
And though justices juggen hire to be joyned with Fals,
     2.137
Yet be war of the weddynge--for witty is Truthe,
     2.138
And Conscience is of his counseil and knoweth yow echone,
     2.139
And if he fynde yow in defaute and with the false holde,
     2.140
It shal bisitte youre soules ful soure at the laste.'
     2.141
Herto assenteth Cyvyle, ac Symonye ne wolde,
     2.142
Til he hadde silver for his se[el] and [signes] of notaries.
     2.143
Thanne fette Favel forth floryns ynowe
     2.144
And bad Gile, "Go gyve gold al aboute,
     2.145
And namely to the notaries, that hem noon faille;
     2.146
And feffe Fals-witnesse with floryns ynowe,
     2.147
For he may Mede amaistrye and maken at my wille.'
     2.148
Tho this gold was ygyve, gret was the thonkyng
     2.149
To Fals and to Favel for hire faire yiftes,
     2.150
And comen to conforten from care the- False,
     2.151
And seiden, "Certes, sire, cessen shul we nevere,
     2.152
Til Mede be thi wedded wif thorugh wit of us alle;
     2.153
For we have Mede amaistried with oure murie speche,
     2.154
That she graunteth to goon with a good wille
     2.155
To London, to loken if the lawe wolde
     2.156
Juggen yow joyntly in joie for evere.'
     2.157
Thanne was Falsnesse fayn and Favel as blithe,
     2.158
And leten somone alle segges in shires aboute,
     2.159
And bad hem alle be bown, beggers and othere,
     2.160
To wenden with hem to Westmynstre to witnesse this dede.
     2.161
Ac thanne cared thei for caples to carien hem thider;
     2.162
And Favel fette forth thanne foles ynowe
     2.163
And sette Mede upon a sherreve shoed al newe,
     2.164
And Fals sat on a sisour that softeli trotted
     2.165
And Favel on a flaterere fetisly atired. Page  22
     2.166
Tho hadde notaries none; anoyed thei were
     2.167
For Symonye and Cyvylle sholde on hire feet gange.
     2.168
Ac thanne swoor Symonye and Cyvylle bothe
     2.169
That somonours golde be sadeled and serven hem echone.
     2.170
"And late apparaille thise provisours in palfreyes wise;
     2.171
Sire Symonye hymself shal sitte upon hir bakkes.
     2.172
Denes and southdenes, drawe yow togideres;
     2.173
Erchedekenes and officials and alle youre registrers,
     2.174
Lat sadle hem with silver oure synne to suffre--
     2.175
As devoutrye and divorses and derne usurie--
     2.176
To bere bisshopes aboute abrood in visitynge.
     2.177
Paulynes pryvees for pleintes in consistorie
     2.178
Shul serven myself that Cyvyle is nempned.
     2.179
And cartsadle the commissarie--oure cart shal he [drawe],
     2.180
And fecchen us vitailles at fornicatores,
     2.181
And maketh of Lyere a lang cart to leden alle thise othere,
     2.182
As fobberes and faitours that on hire feet rennen.'
     2.183
And thus Fals and Favel fareth forth togideres,
     2.184
And Mede in the middes and alle thise men after.
     2.185
I have no tome to telle the tail that hem folweth,
     2.186
Of many maner man that on this molde libbeth,
     2.187
Ac Gyle was forgoer and gyed hem alle.
     2.188
Sothnesse seigh hem wel, and seide but litel,
     2.189
A[c] priked his palfrey and passed hem alle,
     2.190
And com to the Kynges court and Conseience it tolde,
     2.191
And Conseience to the Kyng carped it after.
     2.192
" Now, by Cryst!' quod the Kyng, "and I cacche myghte
     2.193
Fals or Favel or any of hise feeris,
     2.194
I wolde be wroken of tho wrecches that wercheth so ille,
     2.195
And doon hem hange by the hals and alle that hem maynteneth.
     2.196
Shal nevere man of this molde meynprise the leeste,
     2.197
But right as the lawe loke[th], lat falle on hem alle!'
     2.198
And comaunded a constable that com at the firste, Page  23
     2.199
To attachen tho tyraunts: "For any [tresor], I hote,
     2.200
Fettreth Falsnesse faste, for any kynnes yiftes,
     2.201
And girdeth of Gyles heed--lat hym go no ferther;
     2.202
And bringeth Mede to me maugree hem alle!
     2.203
And if ye lacche Lyere, lat hym noght ascapen
     2.204
Er he be put on the pillory, for any preyere, I hote.'
     2.205
Drede at the dore stood and the doom herde,
     2.206
And how the Kyng comaunded constables and sergeaunts
     2.207
Falsnesse and his Felawship to fettren and to bynden.
     2.208
Thanne Drede wente wyghtliche and warned the False,
     2.209
And bad hym fle for fere, and hise feeris alle.
     2.210
Falsnesse for fere thanne fleigh to the freres
     2.211
And Gyle dooth hym to go, agast for to dye.
     2.212
Ac marchaunts metten with hym and made hym abyde,
     2.213
And bishetten hym in hire shoppes to shewen hire ware,
     2.214
Apparailed hym as a prentice the peple to serve.
     2.215
Lightliche Lyere leep awey thennes,
     2.216
Lurkynge thorugh lanes, tolugged of manye.
     2.217
He was nowher welcome for his manye tales,
     2.218
Over al yhonted and yhote trusse,
     2.219
Til pardoners hadde pite, and pulled hym into house.
     2.220
They wesshen hym and wiped hym and wounden hym in cloutes,
     2.221
And senten hym [on Sondayes with seles] to chirches,
     2.222
And gaf pardoun for pens poundemele aboute.
     2.223
Thanne lourede leches, and lettres thei sente
     2.224
That he sholde wonye with hem watres to loke.
     2.225
Spycers speken with hym to spien hire ware,
     2.226
For he kouthe on hir craft and knew manye gommes.
     2.227
Ac mynstrales and messagers mette with hym ones,
     2.228
And [with]helden hym an half yeer and ellevene dayes.
     2.229
Freres with fair speche fetten hymthen,
     2.230
And for knowynge of comeres coped hym as a frere;
     2.231
Ac he hath leve to lepen out as ofte as hym liketh, Page  24
     2.232
And is welcome whan he wile, and woneth with hem ofte.
     2.233
Alle fledden for fere and flowen into hernes;
     2.234
Save Mede the mayde na mo dorste abide.
     2.235
Ac trewely to telIe, she trembled for fere,
     2.236
And ek wepte and wrong whan she was attached.
     2.237