William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
William Langland

Passus 4

" Cesseth!' seide the Kyng, " I suffre yow no lenger.
     4.001
Ye shul saughtne, forsothe, and serve me bothe.
     4.002
Kis hire,' quod the Kyng, "Conscience, I hote!'
     4.003
" Nay, by Crist!' quod Conscience, " congeye me rather!
     4.004
But Reson rede me therto, rather wol I deye.'
     4.005
"And I comaunde thee,' quod the Kyng to Conseience thanne,
     4.006
"Rape thee to ryde, and Reson that thow fecche.
     4.007
Comaunde hym that he come my counseil to here,
     4.008
For he shal rule my reaume and rede me the beste
     4.009
Mede and of mo othere, what man shal hire wedde, Page  36
     4.010
And acounte with thee, Conscience, so me Crist helpe,
     4.011
How thow lernest the peple, the lered and the lewed!'
     4.012
"I am fayn of that foreward,' seide the freke thanne,
     4.013
And ryt right to Reson and rouneth in his ere,
     4.014
And seide hym as the Kyng seide, and sithen took his leve.
     4.015
"I shal arraye me to ryde,' quod Reson, -reste thee a while,'
     4.016
And called Caton his knave, curteis of speche,
     4.017
And also Tomme Trewe-tonge-tel-me-no-tales
     4.018
Ne lesynge-to-laughen-of-for-I-loved-hem-nevere.
     4.019
" Set my sadel upon Suffre-til-l-se-my-tyme,
     4.020
And lat warroke hym wel with witty-wordes gerthes.
     4.021
Hange on hym the hevy brydel to holde his heed lowe,
     4.022
For he wol make ""wehee'' twies er he be there.'
     4.023
Thanne Conscience on his capul caireth forth faste,
     4.024
And Reson with hym ryt, rownynge togideres
     4.025
Whiche maistries Mede maketh on this erthe.
     4.026
Oon Waryn Wisdom and Witty his fere
     4.027
Folwed hem faste, for thei hadde to doone
     4.028
In th'Eseheker and in the Chauncerye, to ben descharged of thynges,
     4.029
And riden faste for Reson sholde rede hem the beste
     4.030
For to save hem for silver from shame and from harmes.
     4.031
A[c] Conscience knew hem wel, thei loved coveitise,
     4.032
And bad Reson ryde faste and recche of hir neither:
     4.033
"Ther are wiles in hire wordes, and with Mede thei dweneth--
     4.034
Ther as wrathe and wranglynge is, ther wynne thei silver;
     4.035
Ac there is love and leautee, thei wol noght come there:
     4.036
Contricio et infelicitas in viis eorum &c.
     4.036
Thei ne gyveth noght of God one goose wynge:
     4.037
Non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum &c.
     4.037
For thei wolde do moore for a dozeyne chiknes
     4.038
Than for the love of Oure Lorde or alle hise leeve seintes! Page  37
     4.039
Forthi, Reson, lat hem ride, tho riche by hemselve--
     4.040
For Conscience knoweth hem noght, ne Crist, as I trowe.'
     4.041
And thanne Reson rood faste the righte heighe gate,
     4.042
As Conscience hym kenned, til thei come to the Kynge.
     4.043
Curteisly the Kyng thanne com ayeins Reson,
     4.044
And bitwene hymsel and his sone sette hym on benche,
     4.045
And wordeden wel wisely a gret while togideres.
     4.046
And thame com Pees into parliment and putte up a bill-
     4.047
How Wrong ayeins his wille hadde his wif taken,
     4.048
Aad how he ravysshede Rose, Reignaldes loove,
     4.049
And Margrete of hir maydenhede maugree hire chekes.
     4.050
" Bothe my gees and my grys hise gadelynges feccheth;
     4.051
I dar noght for fere of hem fighte ne chide.
     4.052
He borwed of me bayard and broughte hym hom nevere
     4.053
Ne no ferthyng therfore, for nought I koude plede.
     4.054
He maynteneth hise men to murthere myne hewen,
     4.055
Forstalleth my feires and fighteth in my chepyng,
     4.056
And breketh up my berne dores and bereth awey my whete,
     4.057
And taketh me but a taille for ten quarters otes.
     4.058
And yet he beteth me therto and lyth by my mayde;
     4.059
I am noght hardy for hym unnethe to loke!'
     4.060
The Kyng knew he seide sooth. for Conscience hym tolde
     4.061
That Wrong was a wikked luft and wroghte muche sorwe.
     4.062
Wrong was afered thanne, and Wisdom he soughte
     4.063
To maken pees with hise pens, and profred hym manye,
     4.064
And seide, "Hadde I love of my lord the Kyng, litel wolde I recche
     4.065
Theigh Pees and his power pleyned hym evere!'
     4.066
Tho wan Wisdom and Sire Waryn the Witty,
     4.067
For that Wrong hadde ywroght so wikked a dede,
     4.068
And warnede Wrong tho with swich a wis tale--
     4.069
"Whoso wereheth by wille, writhe maketh ofte. Page  38
     4.070
I seye it by myself--thow shalt it wel fynde:
     4.071
But if Mede it make, thi meschief is uppe;
     4.072
For bothe thi lif and thi lond lyth in his grace.'
     4.073
Thanne wowede Wrong Wisdom ful yerne
     4.074
To maken his pees with his pens, handy dandy payed.
     4.075
Wisdom and Wit thanne wenten togidres,
     4.076
And token Mede myd hem mercy to wynne.
     4.077
Pees putte forth his heed and his panne blody:
     4.078
"Withouten gilt, God woot, gat I this seathe.'
     4.079
Conseicnce and the commune knowen wel the sothe,
     4.080
Ac Wisdom and Wit were aboute faste
     4.081
To overcomen the Kyng with catel, if thei myghte.
     4.082
The Kyng swor by Crist and by his crowne bothe
     4.083
That Wrong for hise werkes sholde wo tholie,
     4.084
And combundede a eonstable to casten hym in irens,
     4.085
"And lete hym noght this seven yer seen his feet ones.
     4.086
"God woot,' quod Wisdom, "that were noght the beste!
     4.087
And he amendes mowe make, Iat Maynprise hym have
     4.088
And be borgh for his bale, and buggen hym boote,
     4.089
And so amenden that is mysdo, and everemoore the bettre.'
     4.090
Wit acorded therwith, and seide the same,
     4.091
"Bettre is that boote bale adoun brynge
     4.092
Than baIe be ybet, and boote nevere the bettre!'
     4.093
Thanne gan Mede to meken hire, and mercy bisoughte,
     4.094
And profrede Pees a present al of pure golde.
     4.095
"Have this, man, of me,' quod she, "to amenden thi scathe,
     4.096
For I wol wage for Wrong, he woI do so na moore.'
     4.097
Pitously Pees thanne preyde to the Kynge
     4.098
To have mercy on that man that mysdide hym so ofte.
     4.099
"For he hath waged me wel, as Wisdom hym taughte,
     4.100
And I forgyve hym that gilt with a good wille.
     4.101
So that the Kyng assente, I kan seye no bettre, Page  39
     4.102
For Mede hath maad myne amendes--I may na moore axe.'
     4.103
"Nay', quod the Kyng tho, "so me Crist helpe!
     4.104
Wrong wendeth noghtawey er I wite more.
     4.105
Lope he so lightly, laughen he wolde,
     4.106
And eft the boldere be to bete myne hewen.
     4.107
But Reson have ruthe on hym, he shal reste in my stokkes
     4.108
As longe as [I] lyve, but lowenesse hym borwe.'
     4.109
Somme radde Reson tho to have ruthe on that shrewe,
     4.110
And for to counseille the Kyng and Conscience after
     4.111
That Mede moste be maynpernour, Reson thei bisoughte.
     4.112
" Reed me noght,' quod Reson, "no ruthe to have
     4.113
Til lordes and ladies loven alle truthe
     4.114
And haten alle harlotrie, to heren or to mouthen it;
     4.115
Til Pernelles purfill be put in hire hucche
     4.116
And childrene cherissynge be chastised with yerdes,
     4.117
And harlottes holynesse be holden for an hyne;
     4.118
Til clerkene coveitise be to clothe the povere and fede,
     4.119
And religiouse romeris Recordare in hir cloistres
     4.120
As Seynt Beneyt hem bad, Bernard and Fraunceis;
     4.121
And til prechours prechynge be preved on hemselve;
     4.122
Til the Kynges counseil be the commune profit;
     4.123
Til bisshopes bayardes ben beggeris chaumbres,
     4.124
Hire haukes and hire houndes help to povere religious;
     4.125
And til Seint James be sought there I shal assigne--
     4.126
That no man go to Galis but if he go for evere;
     4.127
And alle Rome renneres for robberes of biyonde Page  40
     4.128
Bere no silver over see that signe of kyng sheweth--
     4.129
Neither grave ne ungrave, gold neither silver--
     4.130
Upon forfeture of that fee, who fynt hym at Dovere,
     4.131
But if it be marchaunt or his man, or messager with lettres,
     4.132
Provysour or preest, or penaunt for hise synnes.
     4.133
"And yet,' quod Reson, "by the Rode! I shal no ruthe have
     4.134
Whiff Mede hath the maistrie in this moot-halle.
     4.135
Ac I may shewe ensamples as I se outher.
     4.136
I seye it by myself,' quod he, "and it so were
     4.137
That I were kyng with coroune to kepen a reaume,
     4.138
Sholde nevere Wrong in this world that I wite myghte
     4.139
Ben unpunysshed in my power, for peril of my soule,
     4.140
Ne gete my grace thorugh giftes, so me God save!
     4.141
Ne for no mede have mercy, but mekenesse it made;
     4.142
For ""Nullum molum the man mette with inpunitum
     4.143
And bad Nullum bonum be irremuneratum.''
     4.144
Lat thi confessour, sire Kyng, construe this [E]ngl[ys]sed,
     4.145
And if ye werchen it in werk, I wedde myne eris
     4.146
That Lawe shal ben a laborer and lede afeld donge
     4.147
And Love shal lede thi lond as the leef liketh.'
     4.148
Clerkes that were confessours coupled hem togideres
     4.149
Al to construe this clause, and for the Kynges profit,
     4.150
Ac noght for confort of the cornmune, ne for the Kynges soule,
     4.151
For I seigh Mede in the moot-halle on men of lawe wynke,
     4.152
And thei laughynge lope to hire and lefte Reson manye.
     4.153
Waryn Wisdom wynked upon Mede
     4.154
And seide, " Madame, I am youre man, what so my mouth jangle;
     4.155
I falle in floryns,' quod that freke, "and faile speche ofte.'
     4.156
Alle rightfulle recorded that Reson truthe tolde.
     4.157
[Kynde] Wit acorded therwith and comendede hise wordes,
     4.158
And the mooste peple in the halle and manye of the grete,
     4.159
And leten Mekenesse a maister and Mede a mansed sherewe.
     4.160
Love leet of hire light, and Leaute yet lasse,
     4.161
And seide it so heighc that a1l the halle it herde: Page  41
     4.162
"Whoso wilneth hire to wyve, For welthe of hire goodes--
     4.163
But he be knowe for a cokewold, kut of my nose!'
     4.164
Mede mornede tho, and made hevy chere,
     4.165
For the mooste commune of that court called hire an hore.
     4.166
Ac a sisour and a somonour sued hire faste,
     4.167
And a sherreves clerk bisherewed al the route:
     4.168
" For ofte have I,' quod he, 'holpen yow at the barre,
     4.169
And yet yeve ye me nevere the worth of a risshe!'
     4.170
The Kyng callede Conseience and afterward Reson,
     4.171
And recordede that Reson hadde rightfully shewed ;
     4.172
And modiliche upon Mede with myght the Kyng loked,
     4.173
And gan wexe wroth with Lawe, for Mede almoost hadde shent it,
     4.174
And seide, -Thorugh youre lawe, as I leve, I lese manye chetes;
     4.175
Mede overmaistreth Lawe and muche truthe letteth.
     4.176
Ac Reson shal rekene with yow, if I regne any while, -
     4.177
And deme yow, bi this day, as ye han deserved.
     4.178
Mede shal noght maynprise yow, by the Marie of hevene!
     4.179
I wole have leaute in lawe, and lete be al youre jangling,
     4.180
And as moost folk witnesseth wel, Wrong shal be demed.'
     4.181
Quod Conscience to the Kyng, 'But the commune wole assente,-
     4.182
It is ful hard, by myn heed, herto to brynge it,
     4.183
[And] alle youre lige leodes to lede thus evene.'
     4.184
"By Hym that raughte on the Rood!' quod Reson to the Kynge,
     4.185
But if I rule thus youre reaume, rende out my guttes--
     4.186
If ye bidden buxomnesse be of myn assent.'
     4.187
"And I assente,' seith the Kyng, " by Seinte Marie my lady,
     4.188
Be my Counseil comen of clerkes and of erles.
     4.189
Ac redily, Reson, thow shalt noght ride hennes;
     4.190
For as longe as I lyve, lete thee I nelle.'
     4.191
'I am al redy.' quod Reson, "to reste with yow evere;
     4.192
So Conscience be of oure counceil, I kepe no bettre.'
     4.193
"And I graunte,' quod the Kyng, "Goddes forbode he faile!
     4.194
Als longe as oure lyf lasteth, lyve we togideres!'
     4.195