And than wold lordes and ladies belothbe loth to agilte ,
And þan walde lordes · and ladies · be loth to agilte
And þanne woldenO.15.312: O alone has the form wolden in place of wolde. lordis & ladies be loþ to agulte
And þanne wolde lordes and ladyes byR.15.338: R's by is unique here; based on the scribe's uniform
spelling of the linking verb elsewhere (= be), this occurrence may be an
error, but it cannot be so designated conclusively. It may represent another example of R's
many relict forms. MED, s. v.
ben, attests to the viability of by in this sense with
citations from both the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, including one from the
Ayenbite of Inwyt (He haþ niede, by hit to þe bodie, by hit to
þe zaule—BL Arundel 57) and The Seven Sages (He
schal dwelle on lyue tyl to morwe day, And by than as hit may—Cam. Dd.1.17).
Moreover, at R16.166, the scribe demonstrates his comfort with the inverse situation,
signifying ModE "by" with be, a form that OED2, s. v.
by (prep., adv.), attests as viable for this period. lothe to