fol. 1rI
Incipit liber de Petro Plowman
InL.P.1: The twelve-line ornamental capital is written in blue on an elaborately flourished red ground with oak leaves. The flourishes run all the way down the left side of the page forming a demivinet. a somer seson  whan soft was the sonneL.P.1: The old Laudian shelf mark E.64 is written in the right margin. This front leaf is badly rubbed, and we have had in some instances to corroborate our guesses about the reading with Skeat's transcription. For instance, at the top of the leaf, on the very edge of the cropped leaf, Skeat found the following words in red ink: Incipit liber de Petro Plowman. Skeat records that the rubrication was readable in strong sunlight when he worked with the manuscript. However, it is no longer legible, even under ultra-violet light. We can make out Pe... Beneath that is written in a late sixteenth-century hand .... Robart Langeland borne by malbovrne (or perhaps malbourne?)
. . lles.
The first ten lines are boxed with a fine red line.
I shope me in shroudes  as i a shepe were
In habite as an heremite  vnholy of workes
Went wyde in þis world wondres to hereL.P.3-4: Some penmarks in a brown ink are written over these lines. The <v> of vnholy is partially obscured, and there appears to be no punctus elevatus on line 4.
Ac on a May mornyng  on Maluerne hulles
Me byfel a ferly  of fairy me thouȝte
I was wery forwandred · and went me to reste
Vnder a brode banke  bi a bornes side
And as I lay and lened  and loked in þe wateres
I slombred in a slepyng  it sweyued so merye
Thanne gan I to meten  a merueilouse sweuene
That I was in a wildernesse  wist I neuer where
As I bihelde in-to þe est  an hiegh to þe sonne
I seigh a toure on a toft  trielich ymaked
A depe dale binethe  a dongeon þere-Inne
With depe dyches & derke  and dredful of sight
A faire felde ful of folke  fonde I there bytwene
Of alle maner of men  þe mene and þe riche
Worchyng and wandryng  as þe worlde asketh
Some put hem to þe plow  pleyed ful selde
In settyng and in sowyng  swonken ful harde
And wonnen that wastours  with glotonye destruyeth
And some putten hem to pruyde  apparailed hem þere-after
In contenaunce of clothyng comen disgised
In prayers and in penance  putten hem manye
Al for loue of owre lorde · lyueden ful streyte
In hope forto haue · heueneriche blisse
As ancres and heremites · that holden hem in here sellesL.P.28: An illegible erasure appears in the right margin.
And coueiten nought in contre to kairen aboute
For no likerous liflode · her lykam to plese
And somme chosen chaffare · they cheuen the bettere
As it semeth to owre syȝt · that suche men thryueth
And somme murthes to make · as mynstralles conneth
And geten gold with here glee · synneles I leue
Ac iapers & iangelers · Iudas chylderen
Feynen hem fantasies · and foles hem maketh
And han here witte at wille · to worche ȝif þei sholde
That Poule precheth of hem · I nel nought preue it here
Qui turpiloquium loquitur · &cL.P.39: LCCr1HM omit the b-verse, which reads is luciferes hyne.
Bidders and beggeres · fast aboute ȝedeL.P.40: The Laud librarian has added in the bottom margin the following inscription: Liber Guilielmi Laud Archiepiscopi Cantuarij
: et Cancellarij Vniuersitatis Oxoniensis
fol. 1vI
With her bely and her bagge · of bred ful ycrammed
Fayteden for here fode · fouȝten atte ale
In glotonye god it wote · gon hij to bedde
And risen with ribaudye · tho roberdes knaues
Slepe and sori sleuthe · seweth hem eure
Pilgrymes and palmers · pliȝted hem togidere
To seke seynt Iames · and seyntes in rome
Thei went forth in here wey · with many wise tales
And hadden leue to lye · al here lyf after
I seigh somme that seiden · þei had ysouȝt seyntes
To eche a tale þat þei tolde · here tonge was tempred to lye
More þan to sey soth · it semed bi here speche
Heremites on an heep · with hoked staues
Wenten to walsyngham · and here wenches after
Grete lobyes and longe · that loth were to swynke
Clotheden hem in copis · to ben knowen fram othere
And shopen hem heremites · here ese to haue
I fonde þere Freris alle þe foure ordres
Preched þe peple · for profit of hem-seluen
Glosed þe gospel · as hem good lyked
For coueitise of copis · construed it as þei wolde
Many of þis maistres Freris mowe clothen hem at lykyng
For here money and marchandise · marchen togideres
For sith charite haþ be chapman · and chief to shryue lordes
Many ferlis han fallen · in a fewe ȝeris
But holychirche and hij · holde better togideres
The moste mychiefmy[s]chiefL.P.67: A <+> appears in the left margin at the head of this line, marking erroneous mychief. The correction was not made. The scribe also wrote mychief at L.3.178, but he corrected it there. on molde · is mountyng wel faste
Þere preched a Pardonere · as he a prest were
Brouȝte forth a bulle · with bishopes seles
And seide þat hym-self myȝte · assoilen hem alle
Of falshed of fastyng · of vowes ybroken
Lewed men leued hym wel · and lyked his wordes
Comen vp knelyng · to kissen his bulles
He bonched hem with his breuet · & blered here eyes
And rauȝte with his ragman · rynges and broches
Thus þey geuen here golde · glotones to kepe
And lenethL.P.77: The reading could as well be leueth. such loseles · þat lecherye haunten
Were þe bischop yblissed · and worth bothe his eres
His seel shulde nouȝt be sent · to deceyue þe peple
Ac it is nauȝt by þe bischop · þat þe boy precheth
fol. 2rI
For the parisch prest and þe pardonere · parten þe siluer
That þe poraille of þe parisch · sholde haue ȝif þei nere
Persones and parisch prestes · pleyned hem to þe bischop ·
Þat here parisshes were pore · sith þe pestilence tyme
To haue a lycence and a leue · at London to dwelle
And syngen þere for symonye · for siluer is swete
Bischopes and bachelers · bothe maistres and doctours
Þat han cure vnder criste · and crounyng in tokne
And signe þat þei sholden · shryuen here paroschienes
Prechen and prey for hem · and þe pore fede
Liggen in London · in lenten an elles
Somme seruen þe kyng · and his siluer tellen
In cheker and in chancerye · chalengen his dettes
Of wardes and wardmotes · weyues and streyues
And some seruen as seruantz · lordes and ladyes
And in stede of stuwardes · sytten and demen
Here messe and here matynes · and many of here oures
Arn don vndeuoutlych · drede is at þe laste
Lest crist in constorie · acorse ful manye
I parceyued of þe power · þat Peter had to kepe
To bynde and to vnbynde · as þe boke telleth
How he it left wiþ loue · as owre lorde hight
Amonges foure vertues · þe best of alle vertues
Þat cardinales ben called · & closyng ȝatis
Þere crist is in kyngdome · to close and to shutte
And to opne it to hem · and heuene blisse shewe
Ac of þe cardinales atte Courte · þat cauȝt of þat name
And power presumed in hem · a Pope to make
To han þat power þat peter hadde · inpugnen I nelle
For in loue and letterure · þe eleccioun bilongeth
For-þi I can and can nauȝte · of courte speke more
Þanne come þere a kyng · knyȝthod hym ladde
Miȝt of þe comunes · made hym to regne
And þanne cam kynde wytte · and clerkes he made
For to conseille þe kyng · and þe comune saue
The kyng and knyȝthode · and clergye bothe
Casten þat þe comune shulde hem-self fynde
Þe comune contreued · of kynde witte craftes
And for profit of alle þe poeple · plowmen ordeygned
fol. 2vI
To tilie and trauaile · as trewe lyf askeþ
Þe kynge and þe comune · and kynde witte þe thridde
Shope lawe & lewte · eche man to knowe his owne
Þanne loked vp a lunatik · a lene þing with-alle
And knelyng to þe kyng · clergealy he seyde
Crist kepe þe sire kyng · and þi kyngriche
And lene þe lede þi londe · so leute þe louye
And for þi riȝtful rewlyng · be rewarded in heuene
And sithen in þe eyre an hiegh · an angel of heuene
Lowed to speke in latyn · for lewed men ne coude .
Iangle ne iugge · þat iustifie hem shulde
But suffren & seruen · for-thi seyde þe angel
Sum Rex sum Princeps · neutrum fortasse deinceps
O qui iura regis · cristi specialia regis
Hoc quod agas melius · iustus es esto pius
Nudum ius a te · vestiri vult pietate
Qualia vis metere · talia grana sere
Si ius nudatur · nudo de iure metatur ·
Si seritur pietas · de pietate metas ·
L.P.139: A very light <X> appears in the left margin. Thanne greued hym a Goliardeys · a glotoun of wordes
And to þe angel an heiȝ · answeresL.P.140: LR alone read answeres; all other B manuscripts have a preterite form here. after
Dum rex a regere · dicatur nomen habere
Nomen habet sine re · nisi studet iura tenere ·
And þanne gan alle þe comune · crye in vers of latin
To þe kynges conseille · construe ho-so wolde
Precepta Regis · sunt nobis vincula legis ·
Wiþ þat ran þere a route of ratones at ones
And smale mys with hem mo þen a þousande
And comen to a conseille · for here comune profit
For a cat of a courte · cam whan hym lyked
And ouerlepe hem lyȝtlich · and lauȝte hem at his wille
And pleyde wiþ hem perilouslych · and possed aboute
For doute of dyuerse dredes · we dar nouȝte wel loke
And ȝif we grucche of his gamen · he wil greue vs alle
Cracche vs or clowe vs · and in his cloches holde
That vs lotheth þe lyf · or he lete vs passe
Myȝte we wiþ any witte · his wille withstonde
We myȝte be lordes aloft · and lyuen at owre ese
A raton of renon most renable of tonge
fol. 3rI
Seide for a souereygne · help to hym-selue
I haue ysein segges quod he · in þe cite of london
Beren biȝes ful briȝte · abouten here nekkes
And someL.P.162: The correction here--the supralinear addition of some--is probably entered by the original scribe. colers of crafty werk vncoupled þei wenden
L.P.163: The corrector's <+> appears in the left margin, probably intended to note the error in the preceding line. Boþe in wareine & in waste · where hem leue lyketh
And otherwhile þei aren elles-where · as I here telle
Were þere a belle on here beiȝ · bi Ihesu as me thynketh
Men myȝte wite where þei went · and awei renne
L.P.167: An illegible mark appears in the left margin. And riȝt so quod þat ratoun · reson me sheweth
To bugge a belle of brasse · or of briȝte syluer
And knitten on a colere · for owre comune profit
And hangen it vp-on þe cattes hals · þanne here we mowen
Where he ritt or rest · or renneth to playe
And ȝif him list for to laike · þenne loke we mowen
And peren in his presence · þer-while hym plaie liketh
And ȝif him wrattheth be ywar · and his weye shonye
Alle þis route of ratones · to þis reson þei assented
Ac þo þe belle was ybouȝt · and on þe beiȝe hanged
Þere ne was ratoun in alle þe route · for alle þe rewme of Fraunce
Þat dorst haue ybounden þe belle · aboute þe cattis nekke
Ne hangen aboute þe cattes hals · al Engelonde to wynne
And helden hem vnhardy · and here conseille feble
And leten here laboure lost · & alle here longe studye
A mous þat moche good · couthe as me thouȝte
Stroke forth sternly · and stode biforn hem alle
And to þe route of ratones · reherced þese wordes
Thouȝ we culled þe catte · ȝut sholde þer come an-other
To cracchy vs and al owre kynde · þouȝ we croupeL.P.186: LMR alone read cro(u)pe; most other B manuscripts have cropen or crepe. vnder benches
For-þi I conseille alle þe comune · to lat þe catte worthe
And be we neuer so bolde · þe belle hym to shewe
For I herde my sire seyn · is seuene ȝere ypassed
Þere þe catte is a kitoun · þe courte is ful elyng
Þat witnisseth holiwrite · who-so wil it rede
Ve terre vbi puer rex est &cL.P.192: A scribe has written a pointing hand in the left margin and drawn a line over and under the Latin text.
For may no renke þere rest haue · for ratones bi nyȝte
Þe while he caccheþ conynges · he coueiteth nouȝt owre caroyne
But fet hym al with venesoun · defame we hym neuere
For better is a litel losse · þan a longe sorwe
Þe mase amonge vs alle · þouȝ we mysse a schrewe
For many mannusL.P.198: This abbreviation occurs only once in the manuscript as a marker for the genitive singular. See III.3.2.2 in the Linguistic Description above. malt · we mys wolde destruye
And also ȝe route of ratones · rende mennes clothes
Nere þat cat of þat courte · þat can ȝow ouerlepe
For had ȝe rattes ȝowre wille · ȝe couthe nouȝt reule ȝowre-selue
fol. 3vI
I sey for me quod þe mous · I se so mykel after
Shal neuer þe cat ne þe kitoun · bi my conseille be greued
Ne carpyng of þis coler · þat costed me neure
And þouȝ it had coste me catel · biknowen it I nolde
But suffre as hym-self wolde · to do as hym liketh
Coupled & vncoupled · to cacche what thei mowe
For-þi vche a wise wiȝte I warne · wite wel his owne
What þis meteles biemeneth · ȝe men þat be merye
Deuine ȝe for I ne dar · bi dere god in heuene
Ȝit houed þere an hondreth · in houues of selke
Seriauntz it semed · þat serueden atte barre
Plededen for penyes · and poundes þe lawe
And nouȝt for loue of owre lorde · vnleseL.P.214: LR alone read vnlese; most other B manuscripts have vnlose. here lippes onis
Þow myȝtest better mete þe myste · on maluerne hulles
Þan gete a momme of here mouthe · but monoy were shewed
Barones an burgeis · and bonde-men als
I seiȝ in þis assemble · as ȝe shul here after
Baxsteres & brewesteres · and bocheres manye
WollewebsteresL.P.220: L alone reads wollewebsteres as one word, though alpha has wolle websteres. All other B manuscripts have wollen webbesters. · and weueres of lynnen
Taillours and tynkeres · & tolleres in marketes
Masons and mynours · and many other craftes
Of alkin libbyng laboreres · lopen forth somme
As dykers & delueres · þat doth here dedes ille
And dryuen forth þe dereL.P.225: L alone among B witnesses reads dere. Most other manuscripts read longe. day · with dieu vous saue dame Emme ·
Cokes and here knaues · crieden hote pies hote
Gode gris aL.P.227: a, "and." L alone reads a. All other manuscripts of B have and. gees · gowego we dyne gowego we
Tauerners vn-til hem · tolde þe same
White wyn of Oseye · and red wyn of Gascoigne
Of þe Ryne and of þe Rochel · þe roste to defye
Al þis seiȝ I slepyng · and seuene sythes more