Prologus de visione Petri Plowman
Fols. 77r and 80v are both very faded with considerable bleed-through from their opposite
sides. In a few cases, the midline punctus elevatus must simply be inferred because the fading
makes it indistinct though still visible. Moreover, the bottom and outer margins of all eight
sides bound in Lansdowne 398 (77r-80v) are severely cropped.
More than one hundred lines at the beginning of the Prologue (= KD Prol.1-124) as well as
the end of Passus 1 and the beginning of Passus 2 (= KD1.141 through KD2.40) have been lost
from MS R since the early eighteenth century (at the latest). It is likely, but unproveable,
that the event behind this loss also accounts for the fact that the surviving first few leaves
of MS R (usually referenced as Oxford, Bodleian MS Rawlinson Poetry 38) are now bound into a
completely different codex, London, British Library MS Landsowne 398. For more information,
see Introduction, I.10."
Crist kepe þe sire kynge and þi kyngriche
And lene þe lede þi land so lewete þe louye .
And fore þi riȝtful rewelyng be rewarded in heuene
¶ And sithen in þe heir an hey an aungel of heuene .
Lowede to speke in latyne fore lewede men ne cowede
Iangele ne Iuge þat iustifie hem schulde .
Bute suffren an seruen for-þi seyde þe
Sum rex sum princeps · veutrum[n]eutrumR.P.8:
The form of the <v> in veutrum is slightly blurred, but
there is no possibility of transcribing it as <n>. This is a unique error in
R. fortasse deinceps . A light brown brace in the right margin
links RP.8-14. There is also some evidence of light brown underlining of the a-verses in
RP.9-14, but it may be merely the ruling, which is quite visible on this side.
O qui iura regis christi specialia regis
Hoc quod agas melius iustus es esto pius .
Alpha reads vis. All beta family manuscripts read ius with the C archetype (a few C copies agree with alpha). a te vestireR.P.11:
Alpha is responsible for vestire, though the reading is shared
by H. All authoritative Beta witnesses have vestiri, which is
also the reading of the C version. wltR.P.11: R's wlt is a common English scribal spelling for Latin vult; it appears to have resulted from an association between the customary
phonetic value assigned to Latin initial <v> (= /w/) and a popular sense of the origin
of the <w> graph itself as a "double v." Because many other European languages, as
well as Latin, had no <w> graph, and foundries therefore omitted the form from
standard typographic templates, English printers often resorted to using the digraph
<vv> to represent English <w> till the end of the seventeenth century. Cf. R.7.65: (wltis), R.12.71:, and R.15.43: (both wlt). pietate .
Qualia vis metere talia grana sere .
Alpha reads vis. All beta family manuscripts read ius. nudatur nudo de iure metatur .
Si seritur pietur pietaspietas de pietate metas .
¶ Þanne greuede hym a golyardas a gloton of wordes .
And to þe angel an heiȝ answeresR.P.16:
Only L agrees with R in this reading; F and all other beta manuscripts agree on the preterite
Dum rex a regere dicatur nomen
habere . In both of these cases, the red boxing has
been heavily rubbed.
Nomen habet sine re nisi studet iurea tenere .
And þanne gan alle aR.P.19:
R offers two unique readings in this line: (1) where the beta copies have þe comune(s), R reads a
comoune; (2) where beta attests in vers, R has in a vers. F's reading of this line is completely erratic.
comoune crie in a
vers of latyn .R.P.19: Immediately hereafter, alpha omits a line present in beta:
To þe kynges conseille construe ho-so
Precepta regis sunt nobis vincula legis
¶ With þat ran þere a route of ratones at ones .
And smale mys with hem mo þan a þousand .
And comen to a conseyle fore here comoune
For a cat of a courte com whan hym lykede .
And ouer-leepe hem
liȝthliche and lauȝt hem at his wille .
And pleyedR.P.26: There is a small hole in the parchment here,
causing the <d> of pleyed to be written slightly above the rest of
with hem periliousely and possed hem aboute .
For doute of diuerse dredes we dare nouȝt wel loke
And ȝif we grucchen his
menR.P.28: R's phrase here is unique; beta and the C
version attest of his game(n), while F reads his wille.
greue vs alle .
Cracche vs or clawe vs and in his cloches halde .
Þat vs lothes þe lyf er he lete vs passe .
Miȝt we with any witt his wille with-stonde .
We miȝte be lordes on lofte and lyuen at oure eese
raton of renoun
moste resonableR.P.33: R shares this reading with Hm and with the C
version; beta and F read renable.
of tonge .
The rubricating scribe managed to touch each of the first characters on this side in red, at
least so far as cropping permits us to judge. None of the initials survives in whole, but we
have marked initials as rubricated where sufficient fragments remain to verify that
eyde for a souereyne helpe
to hem alle
.R.P.34: In place of alpha's hem alle, beta reads hym-selue.
I haue I-seyne segges quod hee in þe citee of london .
Beren beȝes ful bryȝtte
abouten here nekkes .
And somme coleres of crafty werke
vncoupled þei wenden .
oþe in warayne and in waste
þaym lef lykeþ .R.P.38: There is considerable variation in attestation for the
final phrase. F reads hem best lykeþ. Some of the beta copies show hem-self liked; others read hem leue liketh.
And other while þei aren elles-where as I here telle .
ere þere abellea
on here bye by IhesusR.P.40:
Beta witnesses have Ihesu. The C manuscripts are
divided, a majority reading with beta but a significant minority, in both major branches,
agreeing with alpha.
as me thenketh .
Men miȝt wite where þei wente
and away renne .
¶ And riȝt so
quod þat raton reson me scheweth .
To bugge a belle of bras or
of briȝt siluer .
And knetten it on a coler
for oure comoune profitte .
nd hangen it vp-
cattes hals þan here we mowen .R.P.45: Alpha lacks the following two lines attested
by beta witnesses and by Cx:
Where he ritt or rest or
renneth to playe
And ȝif him list for to laike þenne loke we
And peren in his presens þere while hym plei
And ȝif hym wraþheth ben y-war and hys wey shonye .
route of þeR.P.48:
The second þe in this line is R's unique addition. The first þe is an alpha variant (beta has þis). The C
manuscripts are divided on this reading, a majority of the X family agreeing with beta, while
a majority of the P family agrees with alpha.
ratones to þis
þei assented .
Ac þo þe belle was I-bouȝte and on þe bey I-hanged .
Þere ne was raton in alle route for alle þe reme of france .
Þat durste haue I-bounde
þe belle aboute þe cattes nekke .
e hangen it aboute his
halsR.P.52: Beta reads þe cattes hals. Alpha's his
hals is also the reading of the C version.
englond to wynne .
And helden hem vn-hardy
and here conseylle feble .
And letun here labour I-lost and alle here longe studie .
¶ A mous þat muche goed couthe as me
Strok forth sternely and stod by-forn hem alle .
And to þe route of ratouns
rehersed þis wordes .
uȝ we had
In place of alpha's (had I-culled), beta
witnesses read either kulled (LMCO) or killen (CrWHmG).
The C version agrees on this reading with alpha.
yut schulde þere
To crachy vs and alle oure kynde
þouȝ we crope vnder benches .
conseille alle þe comoune to late þe catt I-worthe .
d be we neuer so bolde þe belle hym to schewe
note at RP.66.
For I herde my sire seyen is seuen ȝere
Þere þe cat ys a kytoun þe court
is ful elynge .
Þat witnesseth holy writt who-so wile it rede .
Ve terre vbi puer est rex .
For may no renk noR.P.65:
F omits R's double negative and beta reads þer reste
in place of R's no reste.
or ratones by nyȝte . —
is unclear why the scribe's lineation went wrong here (running together the Latin quotation
with half the following English line, so that the b-verse ended up relegated to a line of its
own). It seems likely that the problem is related to a larger problem of textual order
between KDProl.188 and 197 in Bx (See Kane-Donaldson, p. 176, for their
editorial reasoning on re-ordering this passage). However, there is no evidence that the R
scribe had any clue about the source of the problem. The <f> at the head of RP.66 is
not capitalized, but it is touched in red, and the small + in the left margin is probably
irrelevant; similar marks are found beside most lines that were to have been boxed in red
(unnoted in this edition).
Þe while he caccheth conynges he coueyteth nauȝt
But fet hym alle wyth veneson defame we hym neuere .
For better is a litel los þen a longe sorwe
Þe mase a-monge vs alle þeiȝ
we misse a schrewe .
For many mannus malte we muys wolde
And also ȝe route of ratones rende mennes clothes .
Nere þat cat of þe courte þat can ȝow
For hadde ȝe ratones ȝoure wille ȝe
couthe nouȝt rewele ȝoure-selue
R's it is a unique addition to the line as read by the beta witnesses (at
this same point, F uniquely adds þis). However, Cx
agrees on this reading with R.
Beta reads me, a lection also supported by the C
d þe mous I see so muchel after .
Schal neuere þe cat ne þe kyton by my conseil be greued .
Ne carpyng of þis colere þat costed me neuere .
nd þouȝ it costed
meR.P.78: R's it costed me agrees in substance with FG, which also
read a simple preterite. Beta has it had cost(n)e(d) me. The alpha reading
is also that of the C version.
catel beknowen it
ut suffre as hym-
is an ink dot (smaller than a punctus) immediately after hym-self. From
the lack of spacing, it appears to be accidental.
wolde to do as hym liketh
Coupled and vn-coupled to cacche
what þei mowe .
R's For is unique; F has & while beta reads For-þi.
vche a wyse manR.P.81: Cf. beta's wiȝte and
I warne wite wel hys owene .
hat þis meteles by-
Unfortunately, R's hand often fails to distinguish þ from y. As was the judgment of Kane-Donaldson, our guess here, judging by proximate
renderings of both characters, is that R intended þe; if that was, in
fact, the scribe's intention, the resulting reading is unique error; the other B copies read ȝe.
men þat ben myrie .
euyne ye ne dar I nouȝtR.P.83:
F rephrases this a-verse extensively; in place of R's ne dar I nouȝt,
beta reads for I ne dar, a phrase that agrees completely with the reading
of the C version.
by dere god in heuene
¶R.P.84: The paraph marker for this
strophe was either partially erased or badly rubbed.
eet houed þere an hundreth in houues of silke
eriauntz it semede atR.P.85:
R's at (cf. R2.11) is formally unique among the B
witnesses, which uniformly attest the expected þat; one C manuscript (Dc) shows the same clipped form as R's. Otherwise all agree with Bx.
ueden at þe barre .
letedden for penies and pondresR.P.86:
Beta reads poundes (which is also the reading of Ax
and Cx) while F has pownded. R's reading, which was
misconstrued by Kane-Donaldson and Schmidt as poudres, is unique among the
B witnesses (manuscript E in the A tradition also
attests ponderys). MED, s. v.
ponder, defines pondres as "balance scales" or
"weights," but the variant is almost certainly scribal.
þe lawe .
And nouȝt for loue of oure lorde vnlese here lippes ones
Þow miȝteste better mete miste on maluerne
an gete a mum
me of here mouth her
mony hem byR.P.89: In place of alpha's er, beta
copies read til or but. Only R adds hem after mony. Later in this half-line, most B witnesses read be, but LMCY attest were. Among
the C manuscripts, most P family witnesses agree with beta's til, while a majority of the X family agrees with alpha's er. However, at the end of the half-line, the C families fragment
their allegiances, most of the P group (and four of the X group — P2CotLcBo) now aligning with the more widely attested B reading,
be, while some of the best X witnesses read wer(e),
agreeing with LMCY. Both sets of variants were already attested in various A copies.
Barons and burgeis and bonde-men
I seiȝ in þis assemble as ȝe schul here after
Baxsteres and brewsteres and bocheres manye .
Wolle websteres and weueres of lynnen .
Taillours and tynkeres and tolleres in marketes .
Masons and mynours and many other craftes .
libbyngeR.P.96: Beta reads alkin libbyng. The entire line is missing from
the A and C versions, but it is witnessed in Z (MS Bodley 851), where the phrasing in question is identical to that
found in alpha.
laboreres lopen forthe som
s dikares and deluares þat doth here dedes ille .
The entire outer margin is cropped, but as far down as the passus division, all initials are
visible and all are touched in red. After the rubricated heading for Passus 1, the cropping
nd dryueth forth here dayes hereR.P.98:
Cf. R's here dayes here with F's þe fayre day and
beta's þe longe day. Beta's reading agrees with that of the A version, while the reading of R closely parallels that of Cx (= here days).
. with deu vous saue dam
Kokes and here knaues cryeden hote pies hote .
Gode gris and gees gowego we dyne
gowego we .
Tauerneres vntil hem tolde þe same .
hitt wyne of osey and of gascoyneR.P.102:
R's of gascoyne is deficient in length and alliteration to complete a full
half-line, but it is substantively the same as the reading of the P family of C manuscripts. F has wyn of Gaskoyne, which essentially agrees with
both the X family reading in the C tradition and with Ax. Beta reads, more explicitly, red wyn of Gascoigne.
f þe ryn and þe rochelR.P.103: Beta reads and of þe Rochel. This is also the reading of Ax and Cx.
þe rost to defye .
Al þis seyȝIseyȝ I slepynge and
seuen sithes more .