fol. 85r (cont.)I
passus xvus
Passus xvjusxv[ij]usquintus decimus[septimus] decimus de visione vt supra . R.17.0: An early user has attempted to correct the scribal passus number (which is now undercounted by two) by adding a single red <j> after the <v> of the heading.

I am spes a spie quod heR.17.1: Beta reverses the alpha phrase, reading quod he a spye; Cx, however, agrees with alpha.R.17.1: R uniquely omits and before spere. The C reading agrees with the B majority. spere after a kniȝte .
Þat toek me a maundement  vp-on þe mont of synay .
To reule alle reumes þere-withR.17.3: In place of alpha's þer(e)-with, the beta copies read with; Cx, however, agrees with alpha.  I bere þe writ here .
R.17.4: There is no cc in the margin because there would have been no space for a paraph marker anyway (the passus initial extends down beyond this line in the left margin). Is it aseled I seyde  may men se þi lettres . Here there is another erased note, in the right margin, written horizontally in a sprawling style that spreads, at its top, over into the ruled area of the page; the note extends for some four lines and appears to be in the same fifteenth-century hand as that found on fol. 94r.
¶ Nay he seyde I seke hym  þat hath þe sel to kepe .
And þat is cros and cristendom  and criste þere-on to hange .
And whan it is aseled so  sathanas power schal last no lenger . Here alpha must have merged two lines from Bx into one. However, as the lines survive in the extant copies, they differ considerably not only between alpha and beta witnesses but between R and F as well. Beta manuscripts read:
And whan it is asseled so I wote wel þe sothe
Þat Lucyferes lordeship laste shal no lenger
RF and beta essentially agree on the initial a-verse of this pair, but then R supplies a unique b-verse followed by a hypometrical line: And þus my lettre meneth. By contrast, F reads these two lines as follows:
& whan it ys / a-selyd soo / sathenas haþ lost his power
& þus myn lettre meneþ / men mowe knowe yt
W. W. Skeat, The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman, EETS, OS 38 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1869): 416, proposed that RF's exemplar must have read:
And when it is aseled so Sathanas power
Schal last no lenger and þus my lettre meneth
And þus my lettre menethR.17.8: Beta omits this line, and R has truncated it. Cf. F, whose b-verse reads men mowe knowe yt alle.R.17.8: Although the line following this one is marked in the margin with cc as a separate paragraph, the scribe does not follow his usual practice of skipping a line between strophes. It is impossible to know why he departed from his custom here, but he may have been troubled by his exemplar's wasteful attitude toward parchment in this part of the poem, where strophes tend to be very short, indicating only a change of speakers in a rapidly shifting dialogue.
¶ Lat se þat lettreR.17.9: In place of alpha's þat lettre, beta reads þi lettres, which agrees with the reading of Cx. quod I  we miȝte þe lawe knowe R.17.9: The blank line following this one was originally written on and later erased by the scribe.
A pluckedR.17.10: A, "he." forthe a patenteR.17.10: R's a-verse is supported by Cx (A pluhte forth a patente), but F begins the line & he while beta attests a reversal (Þanne plokked he).  a pece of a harde roche .
Where-on wasR.17.11: L joins alpha in reading a singular; the other beta copies have were(n). Cx agrees with LRF on this point. writen to wordes  on þis wise Iglosed .
Dilige deum et proximum . tuum &cetera .
Þis was þe tixte treweli  I toke ful gode gomeR.17.13: For R's gome, beta shows ȝeme while F reads keepe. Although both of the latter forms appear in C manuscripts, it seems clear that Cx agrees with R's gome. .
Þe glose was gloriousliche I-writeR.17.14: Cf. F's wrete and beta's writen. Though some C manuscripts show write, it appears that Cx agrees with beta's writen.  with a gulte penne .
In hijs duobus pendet tota lex & prophetia .R.17.15: F reads this citation as In hijs duobus mandatis tota lex pendet & prophete. Most beta copies agree. However, Cx basically agrees with R's form of the citation, though the X family reads (pe)pendit.
Is here alle þi lordes lawes quod I  ȝe lef meR.17.16: After me beta adds wel. However, Cx agrees with alpha in omitting this word. he seyde .
And who-so wercheth after my witR.17.17: R's my wit is unique; F, beta, and Cx agree on þis writte.  I wole vndertaken .
Schal neuere deuel hym dere  ne deth in soule greue .
For þouȝ I seye it my-selue  I haue saued with þis charme .
Of men and of wommen  many score thousendes .
¶ He seith soth seyde þis heraud  I haue I-founde it ofte .
Lo here in my lappe  þat leued ofR.17.22: R's of is unique; the other B manuscripts read on. þat charme .
Iosue and Iudith  and Iudas machabeus .
AndR.17.24: Beta copies begin this line with the phrase Ȝe and. sexti thousand by-side forth  þat be nauȝt senyne here .
fol. 85vI
¶ Ȝoure wordes aren wonderful quod I þo  which of ȝow is treweste.
And lelest to leue on  for lif and for soule 
Abraham seyth þat he seyȝ  holi þe trinite 
Thre persones in parceles  departable fram other .
And alle thre but o god  þus abraham me tauȝte .
And hath saued þat bileuethR.17.30: Here F reads byleve, so alpha presumably had a present-tense form (but the Introduction III.2.2.10 on the pervasively problematic <-th> tense marking of the alpha tradition); beta, on the other hand, reads bileued. Although six C manuscripts (five from the P family) agree with R's reading, Cx supports beta. so  and sori for here synnes .
He can nauȝte segge þe somme  & summe aren in his lappe .
What neded it þanne  a newe lawe to bringeR.17.32: In place of alpha's bringe, beta reads bigynne. Cx's reading agrees with alpha. .
Sitth þe furst sufficeth  to sauacioun and to blisse .
¶ And now cometh spes and speketh  þat hath aspied þe lawe .
And telleth nauȝt of þe trinite  þat toek hym his lettres .
To bileue and louye  in o lorde almiȝty .
And sitth riȝt as my-selue  so louye alle poeple .R.17.37: Following this line, both R and F omit eleven lines of text present in the beta manuscripts:
Þe gome þat goth with o staf he semeth in gretter hele
Þan he þat goth with two staues to syȝte of vs alle
And riȝte so by þe Rode resoun me sheweth
It is lyȝter to lewed men a lessoun to knowe
Þan for to techen hem two and to harde to lerne þe leest
It is ful harde for any man on abraham byleue
And welawey worse ȝit for to loue a shrewe
It is liȝtor to leue in þre louely persones
Þan for to louye and lene as wel lorelles as lele
Go þi gate quod I to spes so me god helpe
Þo þat lerneth þi lawe wil litel while vsen it
¶ And as we wenten þus in þe weye  wordynge to-gyderes .
Þan seye we a samaritan  sittende on a mule .
RydenR.17.40: Cf. F's Rydende and beta's Rydynge. Cx shows the same form as beta. ful rapely  þe riȝt weye we ȝeden 
ComyndeR.17.41: R's Comynde is a unique present-participle form here; most B copies, including F, read Comynge. Cx agrees with the predominant B form. fram a contre  þat men called iherico .
To a iustes in iherusalem  he chased a-weye fast .
Bothe þe heraud and hope  and he mette at ones . id est christus .R.17.43: This Latin phrase is in the scribal hand and appears to have been mistaken by R for part of the poem's text although it is clearly an early gloss. Presumably, it derives from Bx since the Laud scribe also reproduces the same gloss and reacts to it with confusion, placing it very close to his ruled text and only halfway as far to the right as the position usually allocated in his copy for marginal notes. The same gloss and ambiguous placement occurs in M.
Where a man was I-wounded  and with theues taken .
AR.17.45: A, "he." miȝte neyther steppe ne stande  ne stere foet ne handes .
Ne helpe hym-sulue sothly  for semiuif he semed .
And as naked as a nedle  and noen helpe aboute .R.17.47: Alpha's helpe aboute(n) is supported by the best X family copies of the C version, but a majority of C manuscripts agrees with beta's helpe aboute hym.
¶ Faith had furst siȝt onR.17.48: Cf. beta's of. hym  ac he fleiȝ on-syde .
And nolde nauȝte neȝen hym  bi nyne londes lengthe .
¶ Hope cam hippynge after  þat hadde so ybosted .
How he with moyses maundement  had many man yholpe .
Ac whan he had siȝthe of þat segge  a-syde he gan hym drawe .
Dredfully by this day  ads doke doth fram þe faukoun .
¶ Ac so sone so þe samaritan  had siȝt of þis lede .
He liȝtte a-doun of liard  and ladde hym in his handesR.17.55: Beta has hande. Cx's reading, like alpha's, is plural. .
And with þatR.17.56: R's with þat is unique; the other B copies all show to þe. Cx reads to this. weye he wente  his woundes to beholde .
fol. 86rI
And parceyued inR.17.57: R's in is unique; the other B copies read bi. Cx agrees with the B majority. his pous  he was in peril to deye .
And but ȝif he hadde recourereR.17.58: L agrees exactly with R's recourere, but cf. F's recure and the common beta form, recouerer. The majority of C manuscripts agrees with beta.  þe rathere  þat rise schulde he neuere .
And breyde to his boteles  and bothe he atamede .R.17.59: This line is omitted by beta. F's variants for this line include He breyded for R's And breyde and hem tamede for R's atamede. Cx revises the a-verse but agrees with R for the b-verse.
With wyne and with oyle  his woundes he waschede .
Enbaumed hym and bonde his hede  and in his lappe hym leyde .
And ladde hym so forth on liarde  to lex christi a graunge .
Wel six mile or seuene  by-syde þe newe market .
Herberwed hym at an hostrie  and þe hostelere called .
And seyde haue kepe þis man  til I come fro þe iustes .
And lo here siluer he seide  for salue to his woundes .
And he toke hym to pans  to liflode as it were
And seyde what he speneth more  I make þe gode here-after .
For I may nauȝt lette quod þat lede  and liard he bi-strideth .
And raped hym to Ierusalem-warde  þe riȝte weye to ride .
¶ Faith folweth after faste  and fonded to mete hym .
And spes sparklicheR.17.72: Beta reads spaklich. Both the beta and alpha forms are presumably misreadings of Bx's sprakliche, in which the r was inscribed as a superscripted loop. hym spedde  spede ȝif he miȝte .
To ouere-take hym & talke to hym  ar þei to tounne come .
¶ And whan I seiȝ þis I souiorned nauȝte  but schope me to renne .
And sewed þeR.17.75: For alpha's þe beta has þat; Cx agrees with alpha. samaritan  þat was so ful of pite .
And graunted hym to ben his gorme  graunt mercy he seyde .
Ac þi frende and þi felaw quod he  þow fyndest me at nede .
¶ And I thanked hym þo  and sitth I hym tolde .
How þat faith fleȝ away  and spes his felawe bothe .
For siȝte of þe soreful man  þat robbed was with theues .
¶ Haue hem excused quod he  here helpe may litel auayle .
May no medecyn vnderR.17.82: In place of alpha's vnder beta reads on; Cx agrees with alpha. molde  þe man to hele brynge .
Neither feith ne fyne hope  so festred ben his woundes .
With-oute þe blode of a barne  borne of a mayde .
And beR.17.85: Beta manuscripts all add he; LWHm = be he while the others read he be. bathed in þat blode  baptized as it were .
And þanne plastered with penaunce  and þeR.17.86: Beta copies omit þe. The metrics of the beta version, which thus avoids two strong dips in the b-verse, is liklier to be authorial. passion of þat baby .
He schulde stande and steppe  ac stalworth worth he neuere .
Til he haue eten al þe barne  and his blode y-dronken .
For wente neuere wiȝt in þis worlde  þoruȝ þat wildernesse .
fol. 86vI
Þat he ne was robbed neR.17.90: For R's ne, F has & and beta reads or. rifled  rod he there otherR.17.90: R's other is unique; all other B copies show or. Cf. F's eyþer or, which suggests an error in alpha. ȝede .
Saue faith and his felawe  spes and my-selue .
And þi-selue nowe  and suche þatR.17.92: F and nearly all beta manuscripts here read as. sewen oure werkes .
¶ For outlawe is inR.17.93: For alpha's outlawe is in, beta reads outlawes in. þe wode  and vnder banke lotyeth .
And may vche man se  and gode merke taketh .R.17.94: For alpha's taketh, beta has take.
Ho is bihynde and ho bifore  and ho ben an horse .
For he halt hym hardier an horse  þan he þat is a-fote .R.17.96: Only L agrees with R's a-fote; most other B witnesses, including F, attest on foote .
For he seithR.17.97: R's seith is an alpha reading (although a few beta copies concur); beta's reading is seigh . me þat am samaritan  sewen faith and his felawe .
On my capil þat hatte caro  of man-kende I toke it .
He was vn harlotR.17.99: R's vn harlot is obviously defective; cf. F's reading, but an harlot, with the beta reading that almost certainly reflects Bx: vnhardy þat harlot.  & hud hym in inferno .
Ac ar þis day thre dayes  I dar vndertaken .
Þat he worth fettred þat feloun  fast with cheynes .
And neuere eft greue gome  þat goth þis ilke gate .
O mors ero mors tua . &cetera .R.17.103: This line appears only in alpha, and F alone continues the quotation with morsus tuus ero inferne. Alford, Piers Plowman: A Guide to the Quotations, notes that this O antiphon is "sung during Holy Week (e.g. Brev. 1:dcclxxxii, dccci), based on Osee 13:14 (Cf. 1 Cor. 15:55)" (107). Hereafter, alpha omits a dozen lines attested in beta witnesses between R17.103 and 104:
And þanne shal feith be forester here and in þis fritth walke
And kennen out comune men þat knoweth nouȝte þe contre
Which is þe weye þat ich went and wherforth to iherusalem
And hope þe hostelleres man shal be þere þe man lith an helynge
And alle þat fieble and faynt be þat faith may nouȝt teche
Hope shal lede hem forth with loue as his lettre telleth
And hostel hem and hele þorw holicherche bileue
Tyl I haue salue for alle syke and þanne shal I retourne
And come aȝein bi þis contree and confort alle syke
Þat craueth it or coueiteth it and cryeth þereafter
For þe barne was born in bethleem þat with his blode shal saue
Alle þat lyueth in faith and folweth his felawes techynge
¶ A swete sire I seide þo  whether I schal bileue .
As faith and his felawe  enformed me bothe .
In thre persones departable  þat perpetuel were euere .
And al thre but o god  þus abraham me tauȝte .
And hope afterwarde  he bad me to louye .
O god with al my goed  and alle gomes after .
Louye hem like my-suluen  ac oure lorde a-boue alle .
¶ After abraham quod he  þat heraud of armes .
Sette faste þi faith  and ferme bileue 
And as hope behiȝtR.17.113: Cf. beta's hiȝte. þe  I hote þat þow louye .
Þine euene-cristene euermore  euen-forth with thi-selue .
And if consience carpe þere-aȝeine  or kende wit other .
Or eritikes with argumentz  þi hande þow hem schewe .
For god is after an hande  I-here now and knowe it .
¶ Þe fader was furst as a fust  with o fynger folden .R.17.118: In place of RF's folden, beta reads foldynge .
Til hym leuedR.17.119: Cf. F's lyþed and beta's loued. Cx reads likede. and luste  to vnlosen his fynger .
And proferedR.17.120: Beta has the infinitive profre. Though several C manuscripts support beta's reading, Cx agrees with alpha. it forth as with a paume  to what place it schulde .
Þe paume is puirliche þe hande  & profereth forth þe fyngeres .
To minstre and to make  þat miȝt of honde knoweth .
fol. 87rI
And bitokneth treweli telle ho-so liketh .
Þe holy goste of heuene  he is as þe paume .
Þe fyngeres þat fre ben  to folde and to serue .
Bytokneth sothly þe sone  þat sent was til erthe .
AndR.17.127: And (and the rest of this defective line) is almost certainly from alpha; beta more plausibly has Þat toched and tasted atte techynge of þe paume. In attempting to salvage the a-verse, F completely rewrites it as & þorghȝ towchyng & tastyng. Cx reads the entire line as beta does, except for the initial That, which is omitted. touched and tasted  and techynge of þe paume .
Seinte marie a maydenR.17.128: The other B copies read mayde. Although a majority of the C manuscripts also read mayde, the best X family witnesses agree with R on mayden.  and man-kende lauȝte .
Qui conceptus est de spiritu sancto . &cetera .
Þe fader is þanne as fusteR.17.130: The other B manuscripts all read as a fust.  with fynger to thoucheR.17.130: Kane-Donaldson transcribe R's thouche as chouche, but there is no warrant for this transcription—nonsensical in context, as opposed to an idiolectal spelling of the expected word—since the R scribe on this same page frequently executes his t with a negligible ascender indistinct from his c. .
Quia omnia traham ad me ipsum &cetera .
Alle þat þe paume perceyueth  profitable to fele .
Þus ar þei alle but one  as it a fustR.17.133: For alpha's a fust, beta reads an hande. Cx agrees with beta. were .
And thre sundry siȝtes  in oen inR.17.134: R uniquely adds the second in of this b-verse. schewynge .R.17.134: There is a superfluous tilde over the terminal punctus (not a punctus elevatus).
Þe paume for þe paumeR.17.135: The second occurrence of þe paume in this a-verse is unique error in R; cf. F's it and beta's he. putR.17.135: Cf. beta's putteth. forthe  fyngres and þe fuste bothe .
Riȝt so redely  resoun it scheweth 
How he þat is holy goste  sire and sone proueth .
And as þe hande halte harde  and al thynge faste .
Thoruȝ foure fyngres and a thumbe  forth with þe paume .
Riȝt so þe fader and þe sone  and seint spiriȝt þe thridde .
Halt al þe wyde worlde  withR.17.141: In place of alpha's with, beta reads within. hem thre .
Bothe wolkne and þe wynde  water and erthe .
Heuene and helle  and alle þat þere is Inne .
Þus it nedeth no manR.17.144: Though HmCG agree with alpha's version of this a-verse, it appears that beta reads Þus it is nedeth no man.toR.17.144: L agrees with RF, though the other beta copies omit to. trowen non other
Þat thre thynges bylongeth  in oure lorde of heuene .
And aren surleps bi hem-sulue  a-sondry were neuere .R.17.146: L agrees with RF's reading; in the other beta witnesses, the final b-verse phrase reads were þei neuere.
Namore þan may an handR.17.147: For alpha's may an hand, beta reads myn hande may.  meue with-outen fyngres .
¶ And as my fust is ful honde  I-folde to-gyderes .
So is þe fader a ful god  formeoure and scheppere .
Tu fabricator omnium &cetera .
And alle þe miȝte myd hym is  in makynge of thynges .
¶ Þe fyngres formeth a ful honde  to purtreye or peynten .
Keruynge orR.17.153: For alpha's or, beta reads and. cumpassyngeisR.17.153: Among the beta copies, only Cr agrees with alpha's is; the others read as. crafte of þe fyngres .
Riȝt so is þe sone  þe science of þe fader .
And ful god as is þe fader  no feblere ne no bettere .
Þe paume is puirliche þe hande  hath powere bi hym-selue .
Other-wise þan þe writenR.17.157: Y originally shared R's erroneous writen but was corrected. Several C copies also share R's reading. F's wrytynge is probably an attempt to make sense of the alpha error reflected in R. Cf. beta's wrythen, which must have been the reading of Bx. Cx agrees with beta's reading. fuste  or werkman-schepe of fyngres .
fol. 87vI
For þe paume hath powere  to pultR.17.158: R's pult is a rare verb (= ModE thrust ) but is likelier to be the Bx form than is beta's put or F's pittyn. Most C manuscripts agree with the B majority on putte, but the most reliable X family manuscripts agree with R. oute þe ioyntesR.17.158: Where alpha reads þe ioyntes, beta has alle þe ioyntes. Among the C witnesses, only manuscript N (which shows massive evidence throughout of having been proofed—and contaminated—by a beta manuscript) agrees with beta on this phrasing. .
And to vnfolde þe fust  for hym it bilongeth .R.17.159: Cx agrees exactly with R's version of this b-verse, but F renders it as for it to hym longeþ. Beta omits this b-verse (KD17.179b) as well as the next line (KD17.180) and a following half-line (KD17.181a), probably because of eyeskip on fust.
And receyue þat þe fyngres recheth  and refuse bothe .R.17.160: This line, omitted by beta, is rendered with slight differences in F: & to receyve þat þe fyngris reche & to refuse boþe. Cx's version of this line exactly agrees with R until the end of the b-verse, where bothe is replaced by yf hym liketh.
Whan he feleth þe fustand þe fyngres wille .
So is þe holy gost god  nother gretter ne lasse .
Þan is þe sire orR.17.163: Cf. beta's and. Though some C manuscripts agree with with beta, it is clear that Cx agrees with alpha's or. þe sone  and in þe same miȝte .
And alle ar þei but o god  as is myn hande and my fyngres .
Vnfolden or folden  my fust and my paume .
Al is itR.17.166: Beta omits it. Some C manuscripts agree with beta's omission, but the majority, including the best X family copies, agree with alpha in including it. but an hande  how so I turne it .R.17.166: Following this line, for no apparent reason, the R scribe fails to insert his customary blank line between verse strophes.
Ac who is herte in þe honde  euene in þe myddes .
He may reseyue riȝt nauȝt  reson it scheweth .
For þe fyngres þat folde schulde  & þe fust make .
For peyne of þe paume  power hem faileth .
To cluche or to clawe  to cluppe or to holde .
¶ Were þe myddel of myn hand  ymaymed other ypersed .R.17.172: R's other ypersed is unique. F omits the entire line. The other B manuscripts agree in reading or for R's other, but they offer a variety of verb forms: yperissed (WC), peris(s/c)hed (MCrHm), and ypersshed (L).
I schulde reseyue riȝt nauȝt  of þat I reche miȝte .
Ac þouȝ my thombe and my fyngres  bothe were to-swolle .
And þe myddel of myn hande  with-oute male-ese .
In many kynne maneres  I miȝte my-sulue helpe .
Bothe meue and amende  þouȝ alle my fyngres oke .
By this kile[s]kile he seydeR.17.178: For alpha's he seyde, beta reads me þynkeþ, which fails in alliteration. Cx revises skile to simile but agrees with alpha on the following words: he saide.  I se an euydence 
Þat ho-so synneth in þe seynt spiriȝt  assoyled worth he neuere .
Nother here ne elles-where  as I herde telle .
Qui peccat in spiritu sancto numquam &cetera . .R.17.181: F omits this citation, and the beta copies omit numquam. The C manuscripts here agree with beta.
For he priketh god as in þe paume  þat peccat in spiritu sancto
For god þe fader is as a fust  þe sone is as a fynger .
Þe holy goste of heuene  is as it were þe paume .
So ho-so synneth a-ȝeynes þeR.17.185: In place of alpha's a-ȝeynes þe, beta reads in. Cx agrees with alpha. seynt spirit  it semeth þat he greuethR.17.185: The <h> of greueth is nearly lost in the binding, but is still visible in the manuscript, though not in the digital image.
God þat he gripeth with  and wolde his grace quenche .
For to a torche or to a tapereR.17.187: Alpha's a-verse reads For to a . . . or to a . . ., while beta has And to a . . . or a . . .. Cx agrees with alpha.  þe trinite is likned
As wex and a weyke  were twyned to-gyderes
And þanne a fere flawmendeR.17.189: Most beta copies read flawmynge (which is also the reading of Cx in a revised form of this line) and F has flawmeþ, but L agrees with R's form.  forth ouȝtR.17.189: Ouȝt, "out." of bothe .
And as wex and wyke  and warmeR.17.190: R's warme is shared with F alone; cf. the non-alliterating beta variant, hote. Cx agrees with alpha. fere to-gyderes .
Fostren forth a flawme  and a faire leye .
So doth þe sire and þe sone  and al-so spiritus sanctus .
fostren forth amonges folkR.17.192: These boxed catchwords are heavily cropped.
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Fostren forth amonges folk  loue and bileue .
Þat alkynne cristene  clensedeR.17.194: Both F and the beta copies read clenseth. Cx agrees with them. of synnes .
And as þow seste somtyme  sodeyneliche a torche .
Þe blase þere-of I-blowe oute  ȝet brenneth þe weke .
With-oute leye or liȝte  þat þe macche brenneth .
So is the holy gost god  and grace with-oute mercy .
To alle vnkende creatures  þat coueyte to destruye .
Lel loue other lif þat oure lorde schupte .R.17.200: R's schupte is a unique preterite form among the B manuscripts, whose typical form is shapte; but schupte is uniformly attested in C copies.
After this line, R and F omit twenty-seven lines found in the beta manuscripts:
And as glowande gledes gladieth nouȝte þis werkmen
Þat worchen & waken in wyntres niȝtes
As doth a kex or a candel þat cauȝte hath fyre & blaseth
Namore doth sire ne sone ne seynt spirit togyderes
Graunteth no grace ne forȝifnesse of synnes
Til þe holi goste gynne to glowe and to blase
So þat þe holygoste gloweth but as a glede
Tyl þat lele loue ligge on hym & blowe
And þanne flaumbeth he as fyre on fader & on filius
And melteth her myȝte into mercy as men may se in wyntre
Ysekeles in eueses (or euesynges) þorw hete of þe sonne
Melteth in a mynutwhile to myst & to watre
So grace of þe holygoste þe grete myȝte of þe trinite
Melteth into mercy to mercyable & to non other
And as wex withouten more on a warme glede
Wil brennen & blasen be þei togyderes
And solacen hem þat may se þat sitten in derkenesse
So wole þe fader forȝif folke of mylde hertes
Þat reufulliche repenten & restitucioun make
In as moche as þei mowen amenden & payen
And if it suffice nouȝte for assetz þat in suche a wille deyeth
Mercy for his mekenesse wil make good þe remenaunte
And as þe weyke and fyre wil make a warme flaumbe
For to myrthe men with þat in merke sitten
So wil cryst of his curteisye and men crye hym mercy
Bothe forȝiue & forȝete & ȝet bidde for vs
To þe fader of heuene forȝyuenesse to haue
¶ Ac hewe fuyr andR.17.201: For R's and, F reads on a and beta has at a. The P family of C manuscripts reads of a at this point, but the X family agrees with beta. flint  foure hundreth wynter .
But þow haue taccheR.17.202: Beta has towe in place of alpha's tacche. Cx agrees with alpha. to take it  with tunder or broches .
Al þi labour is lost  and al þi longe trauaile .
For may no fuire flaume make  faile it his kende .
So is þe holy gost god  and grace with-oute mercy .
To alle vnkende creatures  crist hym-selue witnesseth .
Amen dico vobis nescio vos  &cetera .
¶ Be vnkende to þin euencristene  and alle þat þow canste bidden .
Delen and do penaunce  daye and niȝt euere .
And purchase al þe pardoun  of paemploen and rome .
And indulgences Inowe  and be ingratR.17.211: R's ingrat is an alpha variant shared with F; cf. beta's ingratus. At the end of this line, kynne is likewise an alpha variant; beta reads kynde. On the first of these variants, the C manuscripts split, with many P family copies supporting alpha while the X family mainly supports beta. On the latter variant, Cx clearly agrees with beta. to þi kynne .
Þe holy gost hereth þe nauȝte  ne helpe may þe be resoun .
For vnkendenesse qwenche hemR.17.213: The other manuscripts all read quencheth hym. The C manuscripts agree with the B majority.  þat he can nauȝt schine .
Ne brenne ne blase clere  for blowyng of vnkendenesse .
Powel þe apostel  proueth where I lye .
Si linguis hominum loquar .
For-thi beth war ȝe wise men  þat with þe worlde deleth .
Þat riche ben and reson knoweth  rewleth wel ȝoure soule .
Beth nauȝt vnkende I consel ȝow  to ȝoure euen-cristene .
For many of ȝow riche men  be my soule men telleth .
Ȝe brennethR.17.221: The other B copies read brenne, but Cx agrees with R. but ȝe blaseth nauȝte  &R.17.221: This occurrence of & at the head of the b-verse is omitted by beta. Once more, Cx agrees with alpha. þat is a blinde bekne .
Non omnis qui dicit domine domine  intrabit &cetera .
¶ Diues deyed Idampned  for his vnkendenesse 
Of his mete and moneR.17.224: R's and mone is shared only with Y (and monoie). F has a rewritten a-verse. LMC agree with the best X family copies of C in reading & his moneye while CrWHmG agree with the C majority in attesting and of his moneie.  to men þat it nedede .
Vche a riche I rede  rewarde at hym take .
And gyueth ȝoure gode to þat god  þat grace of ariseth .
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For þat ben vnkende to hise  hope I non other .
But þei dwelle þere diues is  dayes with-outen ende 
Þus is vnkendenesse þe contrarie  þat quencheth as it were .
Þe grace of þe holy goste  godes owene kendeR.17.230: Cf. R's kende (shared with F) to the beta form kynde. Cx shows the same form as beta. .
For þat kende deth  vnkende fordoth as þese cursed theues .
Vnkende cristene men  for coueytise and enuye .
Sleth a man for his mebles  with mouthe or with handes .
For þat þe holy gost hath to kepe  þo harlotes destruyeth .
Þe whiche is lif and loue  þe leye of mannes body .
For euery maner goed man  may be lickned to a torche .
Or elles to a taper  to reuerence þe trinite .
And ho-so morthereth a goed man  me thenketh be myn in-witt .
He fordoth þe leuest liȝt  þat oure lorde louyeth .
¶ Ac ȝut in many mo maneres  men offenden þe holy gost .
Ac þis is þe worste wise  þat any wiȝt miȝte .
SynegenR.17.242: R's synegen is listed by OED2, s. v. sin (v.) as a variant of the infinitive form of sin for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Cf. R.17.254: below, where the past participle, syneged, is used, and R.18.223:, where synege occurs. MED, s. v. sinnen, offers a number of citations for synegen and its inflected forms, but virtually all are from various Piers Plowman manuscripts of all three versions (e.g., Laud 581, Hm 137, and Vernon). aȝeyne þe seint spiriȝt  assente to destruye .
For coueytise of any kynnes thynge  þat crist dere bouȝte .
How miȝte he aske mercy  or any mercy hym helpe .R.17.244: This line is clearly attested by both R and F and probably descended unaltered from Bx. However, evidence for its attestation in beta is mixed: although it is present in LMCr, it is not found in any other copies of the beta tradition.
Þat wickedlich and wilfulliche  wolde mercy anynte .
Innocense is next god  and niȝt and daye it crieth .
Veniance veniance  for-ȝyue be it neuere .
Þat schentR.17.248: Beta has shent vs. Cx agrees with beta. and schedde oure blode  for-schupte vs as it semedR.17.248: Where R reads semed, F shows semeþ and beta has were. Cx agrees with R. .
Vindica sanguinem iustorum .
Þus veniance veniance  verrey charite asketh .
And sitthe holy cherche and charite  chargeth þis so sore .
Leue I neuere þat oure lorde  wil loue þat charite lakketh .
Ne haue pite for eny preyere  þere þat he pleyneth .
¶ I pose I had syneged so  and schuld nouȝ deye .
And nouȝtR.17.255: This mistake is shared with F. The substitution, in alpha, of nowht for beta's (and Cx's) now probably reflects confusion about a nowth spelling for now. am sori þatR.17.255: Here R and L alone omit I in the a-verse. L leaves the line completely without a pronoun reference while R transposes the syntax by moving the pronoun to the final phrase of the b-verse, uniquely reading I agulte where the other copies all show agulte. Nevertheless, the other B manuscripts also attest uncertainty about the pronoun's placement, and about whether there is one I in the a-verse, or two. The likeliest version of the line (which agrees with Cx) is W's: And now am I sory þat I so . þe Seint Spirit agulte. It seems probable, from the massive confusion over I's placement, and its complete omission from L, that it was a marginal addition in Bx. so  þe seint spiriȝt I agulte .
Confesse me and crie his grace  god þat al made .
And myldelich his mercy aske  miȝt I nauȝt be I-saued .
¶ Ȝus seyde þe samaritan  so þow miȝtestR.17.258: R's þow miȝtest is an alpha variant; cf. beta's wel þow myȝte. repente .
Þat riȝtwisenesse toR.17.259: This is an alpha variant; cf. beta's þorw. Cx agrees with beta. repentance  to reuthe miȝte turne .
Ac it is but selden I-seye  þere sothenesse bereth witnesse .
fol. 89rI
Eny creature beR.17.261: R's be is an alpha reading; cf. beta's þat is. Cx agrees with alpha. coupblecoup[a]bleby-for a kynges iustice .
Be raunsouned for hisR.17.262: After his, R completely lacks the second stave of the a-verse, probably because alpha was already corrupt. Beta reads repentaunce; F's gilt is unique. It is characteristic of F to have attempted to make sense of a defective exemplar. Cx's reading here agrees with beta.  þere al resoun hym dampneth .
For þere þat partie pursueth  þe peelR.17.263: L supports the RF reading here; most beta copies have peple; Cx supports the LRF lection, reading apeel. is so huge .
Þat þe kynge may do no mercy  til bothe men acorde .
And eyther haue equite  as holy writt telleth .
Numquam dimittitur peccatum &cetera .
Þus it fareth bi suche folke  þat falsliche al here lyue .R.17.267: Cf. beta's plural form, lyues.
Euele lyuen and leten nouȝt  til lif hem forsake .
Drede of desperacioundryueth a-weye þanne grace . These lines are attested only in alpha. F's version of these lines differs from R's as follows: (1) for R's Drede, F reads & drede; (2) for R's dryueth a weye þanne, F reads þanne dryveþ a-wey. The P family of C agrees with R on the first of these variants and with F on the second. The X family offers several unique variants, including the opening phrase, Som drede and the omission of away later in the line.
Þat mercy in her mynde  may nauȝt þanne falle .
Goed hope þat helpe schulde  to wanhope turneth .
Nouȝt of þe nounper of god  þat he ne is miȝtful .
To amende al þat amys is  and his mercy grettere .
Þanne al oure wicked werkes  as holy writt telleth .
Misericordia dominiR.17.275: R's domini is attested only by RF; the beta copies have eius. Cx agrees with beta. super omnia opera eius .
Ac ar his riȝtwisnesse to reuthe turne  sum restitucion by-houeth .R.17.276: Hereafter alpha omitted a single line from Bx attested by beta manuscripts:
His sorwe is satisfaccioun for hym þat may nouȝte paye. The C version attests a revised version of this line.
¶ Thre thynges there ben  þat dothR.17.277: L agrees with alpha's doth; the form in the other beta manuscripts is doon. The grammar of this line is substantially revised in C, but Cx reads doth. a man be strengthe .
Forto flen his owene hous  as holy writt scheweth .
Þat on is a wicked wif  þat wil nauȝt be chasted .
Hire fere fleth hireR.17.280: Cf. beta's fleeth fro hyr. The P family of C manuscripts agrees with beta, but the X family mostly supports alpha's reading.  for fere of hire tonge .
And if his hous be vnheled  and reyne on his bedde .
He seketh and seketh til he slepe drie .
¶ And whanne smoke and smolder  smitte in his siȝte .
It doth hym wors þan his wif  or wete to slepe .
For smoke and smolder  smertethR.17.285: In place of alpha's smerteth, beta reads smyteth. Cx supports the alpha verb form. his eyȝes .
Til heR.17.286: Bx reads he be blereighed; R shares the omission of be solely with Bm, whose corrector supplies the missing verb. blereneyed or blinde  and cowȝhe in þe throteR.17.286: R's and cowȝhe in þe throte suggests that alpha had lost an alliterating stave. F has & a bold cowhe after. Beta witnesses make sense but lose the alliterative pattern, reading and hors in þe throte . In place of cowȝhe or hoors, Cx has borre, which probably was the authorial B version of this stave. .
HeR.17.287: F completely revises the a-verse (þan kenely he curseþ) while beta omits the pronoun reference and begins this line with the verb, Cougheth; only G shares R's He, and the pronoun is added in that copy in the margin. Cx reads as beta. kouȝeth and corseth  þat crist ȝeue hym sorwe .
Þat schuld brynge in bettere wode  or blowen it til it brende .
¶ Þise thre þat I telle of  þus benR.17.289: Alpha's þus ben is transposed in beta to ben þus. Cx agrees with alpha. vnderstonde .
Þe wif is oure wikked flesche  wilR.17.290: At the head of this b-verse, R omits þat, which is found in all other B copies. However, Cx agrees with R in this omission. nauȝt be chasted .
For kende cleueth on hym euere  to contrarie þe soule .
And þow it falle it fynt skiles  þat frelte it made .
And þat is liȝtlych for-ȝyue  and for-ȝete bothe .
To man þat mercy asketh  and amende thenketh .
n ijus
fol. 89vI
¶ Þe reyne þat reyneth þere we rest schulde 
Ben siknesses and otherR.17.296: R's other is, among the extant B copies, a unique addition to this line. However, the appearance of this same word at this point in Cx indicates that other was probably authorial in B also. sorwes  þat we suffren ouȝteR.17.296: For alpha's obviously correct ouȝte, beta supplies the easier oft. Many C manuscripts agree with beta's reading, but the most reliable ones of both major families support the alpha reading. .
As poule þe apostel  to þe poeple tauȝte .
Virtus in infirmitate perficitur .
And þouȝ þat men make muche  doel in here angre .
And be inpacient in here penaunce  puir resoun knoweth .
Þat þei han resounR.17.301: For alpha's resoun (deficient in alliteration), beta correctly reads cause. Cx agrees with beta. to contrarie  by kynde of here sikenesse .
And liȝtliche oure lorde  at here liues ende .
Hath mercy on suche men  þat so euele may suffre .
¶ Ac þe smoke and þe smolder  þat smitte in oure eyȝes .
ÞatR.17.305: Here R uniquely omits the verb from the a-verse; other B manuscripts read Þat is. Cx agrees with the B majority. coueitise and vnkendenesse  quenchethR.17.305: Here F has þey qwenche while beta reads þat quencheth. Cx reads whiche quencheth. godes mercy .
For vnkendenesse is þe contrarie  of alle kynne resoun .
For þere nis sike ne sori  ne none so muche wrecche .
Þat he ne may louye and hym like  and lene of his herte .
Goed wille goedR.17.309: Cx agrees with alpha in this lection. worde  both wischen and wilnenR.17.309: R's wilnen is shared with F alone; beta reads willen. Although a number of C copies agree with beta, it seems clear that Cx reads as alpha. .
Alle maner men  mercy and forȝeuenesse 
And louye hem lich hym-sulue  and his lif amende .
I may no lenger lette quod he  and liard he prikede .
And went a-way as wynde  and þere-with I wakede .