Prologus de visione Petri Plowman
fol. 77rI

R.P.0: 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 angel .
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 .
Nudum visR.P.11: 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 .
Si visR.P.13: 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 form, answerde. after .
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 wolde.
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 profitte .
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 the line. with hem periliousely  and possed hem aboute .
For doute of diuerse dredes  we dare nouȝt wel loke .
And ȝif we grucchen his gammenR.P.28: R's phrase here is unique; beta and the C version attest of his game(n), while F reads his wille.  he 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 .
fol. 77vI
A 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 fact.
Seyde 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 .
Boþe in warayne and in waste  whare 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 .
Were þere abellea belle 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 .
And hangen it vp-on þe 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 mowen.
And peren in his presens  þere while hym plei lyketh .
And ȝif hym wraþheth ben y-war  and hys wey shonye .
¶ Alle þe 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 resoun 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 .
Ne hangen it aboute his halsR.P.52: Beta reads þe cattes hals. Alpha's his hals is also the reading of the C version.  alle 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 thouȝte .
Strok forth sternely  and stod by-forn hem alle .
And to þe route of ratouns  rehersed þis wordes .
¶ Þouȝ we had I-culledR.P.58: 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. þe cat  yut schulde þere cum an-othere .
To crachy vs and alle oure kynde  þouȝ we crope vnder benches .
For-þi I conseille alle þe comoune  to late þe catt I-worthe .
And be we neuer so bolde  þe belle hym to schewe .R.P.61: See note at RP.66.
For I herde my sire seyen  is seuen ȝere I-passed .
Þere þe cat ys a kytoun  þe court is ful elynge .
Þat witnesseth holy writt  who-so wile it rede .
fol. 78rI
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. reste haue 
for ratones by nyȝte . It 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 oure carayne
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 destruye .
And also ȝe route of ratones  rende mennes clothes .
Nere þat cat of þe courte  þat can ȝow ouere-lepe .
For hadde ȝe ratones ȝoure wille  ȝe couthe nouȝt rewele ȝoure-selue
I seye itR.P.75: 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. for my-selfR.P.75: Beta reads me, a lection also supported by the C version. quod 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 .
And 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 InoldeI nolde .
But suffre as hym-selfR.P.79: There 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 .
ForR.P.81: R's For is unique; F has & while beta reads For-þi. vche a wyse manR.P.81: Cf. beta's wiȝte and F's Mows. I warne wite wel hys owene .
What þis meteles by-mene  þeR.P.82: 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 .
Deuyne 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. Ȝeet houed þere an hundreth  in houues of silke 
Seriauntz 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. serueden at þe barre .
Pletedden 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 hulles .
Þan gete a mumme 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. I-shewed
Barons and burgeis  and bonde-men alse .
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 .
Of alle 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 somme .
fol. 78vI
As 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 becomes severe.
And 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 emme .
Kokes and here knaues  cryeden hote pies hote .
Gode gris and gees  gowego we dyne gowego we .
Tauerneres vntil hem  tolde þe same .
Whitt 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. .
Of 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 .