S. xiv/xv. The texts are all in one hand, the English in Anglicana Formata, and an enlarged and somewhat formalised version of this as the display script for Latin lines, Latin words within English lines and for the Latin incipits in red. George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson compare the hand of the Ellesmere manuscript,1 and A. I. Doyle adds that the script "in certain respects resembles that of a prolific Staffordshire scribe of the same period and in others that of the scribe of the Hengwrt and Ellesmere manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales."2 Doyle further remarks that its opening illuminated capital "I" is "of late fourteenth century style, not with those features which appear in metropolitan work very soon after 1400."
147 vellum leaves (with two paper leaves at head and two at end). On iir (the second paper leaf) is written in a hand of the 17th century:
In this volume are:
The first of these titles is repeated on iiv and the second at the top of 131r.
There are two booklets, as follows:
Doyle4 notes that the last two items on fols. 131r-147v are an addition, their texts found together also in Huntington Library HM 127, and Ralph Hanna explores this further.5 Editors have shown that the versions of these items as recorded in the two manuscripts are closely related.6
The binding is tight, but there are thick binding stubs of about six leaves dividing the two booklets (between fols. 130 and 131) and after fols. 16, 40, 64, 88 and 112 to gather groups of quires. The collation can be determined from the catchwords at the ends of quires 1-16 and 18, thus on the versos of fols. 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128, 138, boxed in red with some highlighting in red. Modern quire and folio numbers are in pencil.
1-167, 172 (ending at fol. 130, a booklet boundary), 188, 1910 (lacks 10).
Quires, folios and divisions of text correspond as follows:
Overall 290 x 190mm. The leaves have been cropped with some loss of marginalia (e.g. fols. 24v, 25v, 26v) and occasionally text (e.g. fols. 67v, 78r, 115r). There is no loss in the gutter, notwithstanding the apparent loss in a few of the photographs. Fol. 1r has dark stains at the edges from binding and is rubbed in the left margin leaving some text very faint but legible. Fols. 3-4 are creased down the centre. Otherwise the manuscript is in excellent condition.
Arrangement of Page:
Fols. 1r-130v (Piers) written in long lines, ruled (often very faintly, but for a clear example see fols. 53v-54r) for 33-35 lines per page, with a written space of 225-235 x 145-165mm. The prose text on fols. 131r-147r is written in double columns, with a written space of 235 x 135mm, with 34 lines per column.
The main body of English text is written in Anglicana Formata similar in its features to that of the Hengwrt-Ellesmere scribe.8 The hand is expert, well formed, and generally uniform.
For headings and Latin lines the scribe uses a larger and bolder version of this script, with more or less of the broken minims and angled strokes characteristic of Bastard Anglicana.9 The same enlarged Anglicana (which we have for convenience regularly tagged as Bastard Anglicana) is used for some individual words within English lines. In most cases, but not always, the enlarged script is surrounded by a red box.10 Since there is some variety in size in his normal script, there are instances of words, both boxed and unboxed, where it is impossible to be certain that the scribe intended enlarged characters and where we have tagged according to our own judgment.
The <a> nearly always has a double compartment, and the single-compartment secretary version is very rarely used (fol. 24r, W5.64 "garte").11 There are three forms of <A>: much the most common is an enlarged version of the double-compartment <a>, but there is also a single-compartment form with a curved head and angular bowl (e.g. fol. 47v, W9.16 "Anima"), and a straight two-legged form used for various types of elaboration at the top of the page (e.g. fols. 10v, 100v). All three forms can be seen on fol. 11v.
<D> may be an enlargement of the small letter (fol. 5v, W1.28 "Dide"), or with a rounded back (fol. 4v, WP.209 "Deuyne"), or with an open headstroke and a line through the bowl (fol. 4v, WP.224 "Dieu", fol. 5v, W1.29 "Delited"), or the form resembling the modern capital (fol. 9v, W2.40 "Domine"). The round form of <e> is occasionally used at the end of a word (fol. 51v, W10.18 "wolle", W10.27 "ille").
<H> is usually distinguished from <h> by a loop through the ascender and sometimes a looped tail (fol. 18v, W3.319 "Huntynge"), but the distinction is not always clear (e.g. fol. 93v, W15.408, "He"). <I> has a pronounced loop or hook; <i> has a curved tick when in proximity to other minims.
<M> is quite often used within the line. It is distinguished from <m> by a final tail curving to the left, though there may be no distinction in size. For several clear examples, see fol. 22v, e.g. W4.162 and W4.181.
Long <s> is used medially, the sigma-shaped <s> at the beginning of words, and 8-shaped <s> at the end. The last two appear in normal distribution on fol. 1r, WP.8 "bournes syde". <S> is a more-or-less enlarged form of sigma-shaped <s>.
<T> is variable in form and often quite complex; the loop often circles back to the top stroke enclosing the whole letter (see fol. 1v for examples). There are two forms of <v> with the first stroke curving backward or forward. The form of <w> is often elaborate and indistinguishable from <W>.
The forms of <y> and <þ> are quite distinct, since the descender of <y> has a pronounced curve, so that the dot often written above it is unnecessary. The dot over <y> may take the form of a large curl (e.g. on fol. 56r "gilty" W10.271, "worþy" W10.273, "ywar" W10.287). On the top line of fol. 4r the scribe has dotted <þ> in error (WP.167 "sheweþ"). There are only two examples of the littera notabilior <Þ>, both on fol. 61v (W11.103 and 112). Otherwise the scribe uses <Th>.
There are often flourishes on final <-c>, <-d>, <-g>, <-k>, <-p>, <-r>, <-t>, and bars through <-h> and <-ll>; for further description of these and the interpretation of them see "Transcription of the Manuscript."
There is very little correction by the scribe. A few miswritten words are neatly erased with corrections overwritten, and missing words are occasionally inserted, see e.g. W20.60, W20.146. There is no subpunction, and there are no words crossed through, although at W19.156 a wrongly placed punctus has a line through it.
The largest textual division of Piers is the passus, clearly marked with a centred Bastard Anglicana Latin incipit in red enclosed in a decorative box and usually completed with a tremolo-like flourish with a knot.12 The passus headings include the division of the poem into "Visio" (passus I-VII), "Dowel" (VIII-XIV), "Dobet" (XV-XVIII) and "Dobest" (XIX-XX). On the model of the Visio with its prologue, Dobet and Dobest are each allotted a preliminary passus, so that XV is headed "Passus xvus &c finit do wel & incipit do bet," and XVI follows with ". . . primus de Dobet"; XIX has ". . . incipit dobest," and ". . . primus de Dobest." This is also the scheme in L and Cr, though not in M. However, Dowel begins in confusion in W, with VIII as "viijus de visione & primus de Dowel," IX as ". . . primus de Dobet," and X as ". . . iius de Dowel," after which the scheme is dropped until XV. This probably reflects confusion in W's exemplar. L and M have similar headings for VIII and X, but they have nothing other than the passus number for IX (with an illegible guide for the rubricator in L). Cr makes only superficial sense, with VIII as ". . . inquisicio prima de dowell," IX as ". . . primus de dowel," and X as ". . . "secundus de dowel."13
Each passus begins with a large ornamental capital. On fol. 1r is a fine illuminated capital "I" of 10 lines (70mm) with a vinet. The initials at the head of each passus are in blue ink on a red background, typically measuring between 25mm x 25mm, but up to 32mm x 30mm (passus 8 on fol. 45r). There are eight slightly smaller initials, typically measuring 20mm x 18mm, but up to 25mm x 25mm on fol. 4v, at the following points: WP.208 (fol. 4v), W2.117 (fol. 10v), W7.158 (fol. 43v), W8.62 (fol. 46r), W10.383 (fol. 58r), W11.324 (fol. 65v), W16.184 (fol. 99v), W20.50 (fol. 124v). Each of these marks a major turning point, usually relating to the dreamer's comments about his own experience, but in two cases, W2.117 and W16.184, introducing important new speakers. Ascenders at the top of the page are extended often with tremolo strokes as decoration. There are particularly elaborate versions of this top-of-page ornamentation with touches in red at, for example, fol. 40v (W6.310), fol. 66v (W11.378), fol. 112v (W18.264), and fol. 116r (W19.20). There are in a few cases similar decorations on letters at line-end, generally on <-s> at the end of a line of Latin, e.g. W7.42 (fol. 41v), W8.21 (fol. 45r), W9.196 (fol. 50v), W11.185 (fol. 63r), W11.230 (fol. 63v), W11.313 (fol. 65r), W14.227 (fol. 84r), W16.254 (fol. 101r), but there are also examples in English contexts, on "hungry" W6.197 (fol. 38v), "clerkes" and "Iesus" W15.88 and 93 (fol. 87v).
Piers is divided into verse paragraphs, with paraphs of blue and red, generally alternating though all blue on fols. 1r and 9r. Blank spaces are left between marked verse paragraphs and before and after Latin lines.14 Doyle compares L, R, M, and Y, B-Text manuscripts that may come from a commercial London workshop but have west midland dialect characteristics.15 Double virgule guidemarks appear beside paraphs on top lines (e.g. on fols. 2v, 60v, 98r, 116v,) because in this position there was no preceding blank space to act as a guide. Rarely the double virgule appears with a paraph after a space (e.g. WP.11 (fol. 1r), W2.160 (fol. 11v)). On a few occasions it appears at the top of a page with a coloured letter instead of a paraph; e.g. fol. 4v (WP.198), fol. 22r (W4.130), fol. 34r (W5.602).
The Latin lines or words are enlarged and usually enclosed in a box of red ink (W13.252 and 259 on fol. 77r are exceptions to this), and frequently the first letter of the Latin is highlighted with a fleck of red. The boxed text is often completed with a flourish in the text ink, and the box itself flourished in red ink; there is a good example of both on fol. 23v (W5.40), and on fol. 24r (W5.58) where a final flourished <-s> is followed by a brown tremolo line-filler with a knot and a knotted red tremolo to complete the box.
The prose Form of Living is written in double columns. It begins on fol. 131r with a 3-line "I" (25mm x 20mm) in blue with red and blue flourishes extending the length of the top and left border. There is some use of top-of-page ornamentation. There are 2-line flourished initial letters to indicate major sections throughout the work, and smaller divisions are marked by paraphs alternating in red and blue. The double virgule to guide the paraph usually remains, with clear examples on fol. 132v col. 2, and fol. 140v col. 2. Letters following paraph signs are flecked in red. Some words and phrases are in enlarged Anglicana and are boxed in red; these may be Latin expressions (e.g. "Aue maria" on fol. 134r col. 1), or words highlighted as guides to the ensuing argument (e.g. fol. 140r foot of col. 2, fol. 142r col. 1-2). The scribe has written names and other significant items in the margin and boxed them in red: e.g. "Ierome" and "Bernard" on fol. 132r.
The lyric "Crist made to man a fair present" begins a third of the way down the second column of fol. 147r, with a space between it and the end of the Form of Living. It starts with a 2-line flourished initial "C." Coloured capitals in alternating red and blue have been added over the letters in text-ink at lines 5, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 33, 37 and 41, and the first letter of each line is touched in red. Rhyming groups are indicated by braces on the right.
Each line of Piers Plowman begins with a littera notabilior, and we have so interpreted those that are not distinct in shape from the small form of the letter. The caesura of Piers is regularly marked with a punctus. Occasionally the punctus is repeated in the line (W11.304), sometimes because the scribe has placed the first too early (e.g. in W19.156 where the first punctus is crossed through). Occasionally, also, the punctus is omitted (e.g. W11.6) or insufficient space is left for it, presumably because the scribe has forgotten it and inserted it afterwards. The same form of punctuation is used for the Latin lines more inconsistently, sometimes with a mid-line punctus and sometimes without (see W1.32-3). The punctus elevatus is occasionally used to punctuate the longer Latin quotations, e.g. W15.40 (fol. 86v). It is only twice used to mark the caesura, once after a boxed Latin quotation, W7.140 (fol. 43v), and once in a wholly English context, W6.146 (fol. 37v). The virgule is occasionally used to punctuate a list, more often in Latin, but sometimes also in English text, e.g. W12.34-5 (fol. 68r). On fol. 1r every line ends with a punctus, but thereafter the final punctus is found only very sporadically.
In the prose Form of Living the punctus is used for syntactic pauses. There is very occasional use of the virgule (fol. 140v col. 1). The medial punctus is used in some lines of the lyric "Crist made to man a fair present."
A number of different hands contribute marginalia and other additions.
(i) In the right margin of fol. 1r a fifteenth-century scribe has written names which are partly legible, of which "vont" or "bont," "John" and "Rychard" are clear. The same hand has written "Jon Ryc" on fol. 87r between W15.44-5. At least some of the many scribbles at the end of the manuscript (fol. 147v) may be in the same hand, trying out different scripts, some quoting the text on that page, including "Sum be <...> and fyn," "loue thy nebur loue," "And loue in loue shal (or shill) make fyn Amen," "Soo muhe," and finally "low wher y ly my mother ys schilde and lytyll or nothyng y ywe."
(iii) At the foot of fol. 1v a contemporary hand has written "And heppyd stanys" (smudged), prompted by the last words on that page. What is probably the same hand writes "haue m(er)cy" at the foot of fol. 28r, repeating the first words of W5.290.
(v) On fol. 56r a hand perhaps of the later fifteenth century has written an underlined "no(ta)" against W10.274 and 280. Perhaps the same hand wrote similar notae on fol. 88r (W15.124) and fol. 92r (W15.348), and a boxed Latin note, "no(ta) q(uod) a(n)i(m)a h(ab)et ix no(m)i(n)a," in the lower left margin of fol. 86v. On fol. 132v in the Form of Living is a Latin note probably in the same hand.
(vii) Other unidentifiable marginalia are on fol. 37v to the left of W6.154 a post-medieval "no(ta)," on fol. 57r a "no," and fol. 59v a faint "no(ta)," and on fol. 86v a smudged copy of the beginning of W15.22.
(viii) Also unidentifiable is the hand (or hands) responsible for the numerous notae symbols in the margins usually to the right of the text line. The sign shows considerable variation in shape: it appears as a punctus elevatus without its point, an "n" followed by a horizontal stroke or loop (compare W5.200 with W5.204 on fol. 26v) or a 7-shaped arrow (fol. 39v).16 Occasionally these mark sententiae, but more often there seems no obvious motivation for these notae. On a few leaves (e.g. fol. 45v) almost every line is so marked. It seems unlikely that these were written by the main scribe; if so he was using a darker ink and wrote them at a later stage. They are distinct in shape from the main scribe's end-of-line fillers in the boxed Latin lines and the decoration of the red boxes themselves with their "n"-shapes with or without knots. These are in the brown ink of the text or in the red ink of the boxes. Whoever added the notae began on fol. 6v and finally gave up the practice after thus marking six of the first seven lines of fol. 72r (W12.262-7). The few marks on later folios are quite distinct and in the brown ink of the scribal hand (e.g. on fol. 116v against W19.60, on fol. 120v a punctus elevatus without its point against W19.282).
The binding is seventeenth-century leather, with on the front and back the arms of George Willmer, viz. between a chevron three eagles' heads between two wings expanded, surmounted by a crest of an eagle's head as in the arms, and the motto "Expertus Credo." The binding has five stations, with a bookplate of the arms of Trinity College on the inside front cover. The endleaves ii and 147b have a chalice watermark. There is a parchment binding stub inside the front and back cover from a fourteenth-century Latin document mentioning the name "Huysshe" frequently, as well as "Elizabeth vx<..>," "Johannem Eynsshe," and the place-names "Ludwell" and "Gaynsford." On the stubs bound in between fols. 130-1 is a fragment of a fifteenth-century English text in a hand of the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century, of which "towards the said Mr Fellowes & <...>ollen the said Samuell" can be read.
The manuscript was given to the college by George Willmer, JP for Middlesex, a major benefactor to Trinity College, who died in 1626.17 Nothing is known of its earlier history.
We have expanded the scribe's regular abbreviations and suspensions. Resolved abbreviations appear in italics, or as roman characters where italics are used for Bastard Anglicana script. In English words the scribe uses a superscript <t> in þ(a)t and w(i)t(h), and indicates with a superscript vowel the omission of <r> before the vowel, as in c(ri)stene or t(ra)uaille.18 At the end and within a word, <er> is indicated by a loop, as in þ(er)to or v(er)tue, and <ur> by a superscript, as in faito(ur)s. A bar through the descender of <p> represents either <per> or <par>, as in p(er)ils and P(ar)doners; a loop through the descender indicates <pro>, as in p(ro)phetes, while <re> is represented by either a backward or a forward loop after the <p>, as in P(re)ntices (W3.226), and p(re)sent (W4.97). A slanting line through long <s> represents <ser> as in s(er)uen. A curved stroke over a vowel represents a nasal as in virtutu(m), wo(m)men, or felou(n). The abbreviation of l(ett)res is indicated by a bar through <l> (W4.134); the abbreviation of sp(irit)ualte is marked by a tilde over <u> (W5.150).
It is not always easy to distinguish between meaningful abbreviations and meaningless ornamentation. Loops and curls on final letters are notoriously difficult to interpret. In particular, there are the flourishes on final <-c>, <-d>, <-g>, <-k>, <-p>, <-r>, <-t>, and the bars through <-h> and <-ll>. Each of these needs to be considered separately.
We have taken final <r> with a curl to represent <re>, as often in your(e) (which is elsewhere youre, only once your-self (W2.39)), or in nouns with <-er> suffix which are elsewhere spelt <-ere>, such as leder(e),lyer(e),maker(e),Robber(e).
Final <g> sometimes has a short horizontal stroke, and sometimes, especially after the ending <-yng>, it has a loop that is often quite pronounced, and even bigger than the <g> itself (e.g. W4.182 on fol. 22v). But it may be very small (e.g. W4.131 on fol. 22r) and difficult to distinguish from the simple horizontal stroke that sometimes completes the letter. The evidence on its significance is mixed. Gerunds and present participles may end in <-yng> without loop, but just as often in <-yng> with loop or in <-ynge>. There are two cases where the loop certainly represents <-e>: in brugg(e) (W5.611) and segg(e) (W20.309), since <-gg->, whether it represents the plosive or the fricative, is always followed by <-e> (as in the ten other cases of segge both noun and verb, iugge, ligge, sigge, etc.).19 On this basis we initially determined always to expand looped <-g> to <-g(e)>. However, it became apparent that these two cases are exceptions and in all other cases where the scribe wanted final <-e> after <g>, he wrote it out. The scribe's use of final <-e> is highly patterned.20 Thus the adjective and adverb long is never written with looped <-g>. In the indefinite singular declension it is written long;21 in all other cases it is written longe. Similarly, monosyllabic nouns ending in a consonant may have an inflexional ending <-e> for a dative singular.22 The usage of the non-inflected form is inconsistent, but the inflected form in such cases always represents a dative. One of the nouns that follows this pattern is kyng. It is written 89x with <-g> without loop, and on several of these occasions it is dependent on a preposition so that a dative <-e> would be an option. There are five examples of kynge with final <-e> (W3.171, 3.189, 4.45, 4.100, 4.187), and on every occasion the ending can be accounted for as a dative. The fifteen examples of kyng with looped <-g> follow exactly the same pattern as if the <-g> were not looped; it is prepositional in six cases (W3.2, 3.121, 3.231, 4.131, 5.12, 7.167), and non-prepositional in nine cases (W1.49, 2.37, 3.105, 3.188, 4.3, 4.46, 4.190, 7.169, 15.455). The spelling of þyng is never with <-e>, 35 times with <-g> without loop, and three times with looped <-g>, two of them explicable as datives (W15.113, 17.287; contrast W10.219). On fol. 18r the name Agag is first written with a final <-g> that has a horizontal stroke rather than a loop (W3.267), but on the second occasion the name ends in a <-g> with a small loop (W3.291), where <-e> can hardly be intended. On the basis of these instances we finally decided not to expand looped <-g> except on the two occasions where it is necessary: brugg(e) in W5.611 and segg(e) in W20.309.
We can find no significance in the loops and downward strokes on final <-c>, <-d>, <-k> and <-t>. Looped <-t> often occurs at the end of Latin words, for example in third-person endings of verbs, such as facit on fol. 9r (W2.28) or nutriuit on fol. 81v (W14.85) where it can be nothing other than a flourish to end the line, and expansion is never required when it is used at the end of English words such as Baptist (W10.427). The downward stroke on <-c> is used for Marc on all six occasions; it is used for Luc on three out of five; in neither case, or in other cases where the stroke is used, are there occasions where the scribe has also written <-ce>.
And yet ship (OE scip) occurs twice with a tilde where it is historically otiose and four times without. Bisshop (OE biscop) is never spelt with <-pe>, but twelve times with a tilde, and three times without. The <-p> with tilde is found once on sharp (W20.305) where the <-e> is not wanted since the adjective is indefinite sg.; of the two appearances of sharpe, the first (W18.41) is adverbial and the second (W18.424) is plural. It seems, therefore, unlikely that the tilde over <-p> was a meaningful sign on any occasion, and so it has not been marked in the text.23
There are twelve instances of final <-ll>, which is always written with a bar through it. That might suggest that this is merely a scribal flourish at the end of a word. However, of 362 instances of plural "all," 361 are spelt alle and one all with barred <-ll>, indicating that in this instance at least the bar signifies <-e>; there are three examples of apparaill with barred <-ll> against five of apparaille, while the other eight instances of barred <-ll> are of words that are not found with <-lle>. We have expanded to <-ll(e)> in all cases.
Barred <-h> is used frequently in the ending <-ssh>, and sometimes in the endings <-ch> and <-gh>. The scribe is highly patterned in his use of <-e>, and so it is significant that there is no occasion where it is necessary to expand to <-h(e)>. For example, the monosyllabic adjective fressh would be expected to end in <-e> in the definite declension, as indeed it does in wiþ þi fresshe blood (W5.507); the three other examples are all of the indefinite adjective, of a fressh ryuer where the <-h> is not barred (W15.342), if it be fressh flessh, where the first <-h> is barred (W6.317), and For fressh flessh ouþer fissh, where the <-h> of fressh is not barred but the other two are (W15.442). The bar on englissh might indicate the old dative in phrases like on englissh(e); however, when the phrase occurs twice in a row: on englissh / In englissh (W14.281-2), the <-h> is barred on the first occasion and unbarred on the second. We conclude that when the scribe needs the <-e> he writes it out; thus all cases of plural "such" and "which" are written as swiche and whiche. We have therefore not expanded barred final <-h>, but medially we have interpreted it as an abbreviation in Ioh(a)n and in the standard brevigraphs for Iesu and Iesus.24
Common Latin words are often radically abbreviated. Thus Christus,contra,dominus,fratre, forms of habeo,omnis,quod,quoque,similis and others are all abbreviated in the standard forms. For a good range of examples in one line see W10.304.
For a somewhat fuller and less discursive list of abbreviations and suspensions used by the scribe, click here
We have not distinguished allographic forms, such as the three forms of <s>, or the rarely used single-lobed <a> (fol. 24r, W5.64 "garte") from the double-lobed form. On the other hand, we have distinguished between <u> and <n> although the scribe does not always do so clearly, and we have noted occasions where there is a possibility of a different choice, such as lene instead of leue. The letter <z> has been printed for yogh in words such as artz, baptize and dozeyne, though the scribe has only one form for both values.
Our capitalisation follows the scribal use of litterae notabiliores, although there are some letters, in particular <w> and sigma-shaped <s>, where there is no clear distinction. We have interpreted such letters according to their context: thus they are capitalised at the beginning of the line, but printed as lower case within the line unless their enlarged size suggests otherwise. The use of an initial littera notabilior on some nouns is a feature of manuscripts of the Ellesmere-Hengwrt group.25
We have recorded the marginal notae with a "nota" icon visible in the Scribal style sheet. These need to be distinguished from the main scribe's much more regular "n"-shapes that do not represent "n(ota)" at all, but are purely decorative, as part of the top-of-page decoration and as end-of-line fillers in the boxed Latin lines (in the text ink), and the decoration of the red boxes themselves (in which case they are in the same red ink); good examples of these may be seen on fol. 13r, and in the passus heading on fol. 8v. Since these are decoration, we have not recorded them.
The word-division of the manuscript is followed as far as practicable, though no attempt is made to represent the variety of spacing between words and letters. The interpretation of the scribe's word division, though it is generally unambiguous, is occasionally a matter of fine judgment. The scribe has a category of half-way house, in which a single word is written in two sections, with what might be interpreted as a very small space between them. This is usually the case with one-letter prefixes such as <a-> and the <y-> of the past participle. There is an example of this ambiguous division in ywroȝt in the last line of fol. 49r, contrasting with the same word written three lines previously with an unambiguous space following the <y-> prefix. The same ambiguity occurs in the writing of dowel, dobet and dobest (see W8.122-4, fol. 47r). In our transcription we have ignored the tiny space. A hyphen in the transcription indicates a space in the manuscript within a word, or a compound or phrase conventionally hyphenated today; we have consulted OED in doubtful cases. Conversely, some phrases, in particular an heiȝ, at ese and at ones, are written as one word, anheiȝ, atese, atones. The scribal form appears in the Scribal and Diplomatic style sheets, the regularised form in the Critical style sheet.
Scribal punctuation is retained. For the most part this is entirely regular, consisting of a punctus to mark the half-line, with the occasional virgule or punctus elevatus, particularly in Latin lines.
The few insertions are recorded as such (e.g. W10.102, W13.259). Erasures made by scraping the parchment are recorded where they are certain (e.g. W1.27 and W19.445). Annotations by later hands are marked with a codicological note.
The boxing and enlarged script of a word within an English line is often an indication that the scribe (or, of course, his exemplar) took the word or phrase to be non-English, and we have been able to use this as a guide in the very imprecise process of determining whether to insert a "FOREIGN" tag. But it is only a guide.26 Clearly WP.224 (fol. 4v) Dieu saue dame Emme should be tagged as "foreign", especially as the phrase is in enlarged script and boxed. But if dame Emme had occurred on its own, even if boxed and enlarged, we would not have described it as "foreign". The boxing of transgressores in W1.97 suggests that the word was still regarded as Latin, and MED with citations only from the fifteenth century gives support to this. Rather oddly, MED does not cite Langland's use, presumably on the grounds that it is not English, even though there are many words whose earliest forms are cited by MED from Latin or French documents. The scribe sometimes gives proper names this display treatment, especially if they have a non-English form such as Troianus (e.g. W11.145), or Diues (W17.267), but also thoroughly English names such as Douere (W4.133) are occasionally boxed. English words used as allegorical names may be highlighted in this way; this is particularly the case with Conscience, e.g. in W3.111-21, W3.175-289, but not in e.g. W2.141. The decisions involved in tagging as "FOREIGN" have caused us considerable uncertainty: one initial principle was that a word would be classed as English if given an English inflexion, so that Mnames (W6.248) was declared to be English, with the backing of MED, even though boxed in red and enlarged. But even this principle had to be jettisoned when we came to the two instances of beatus vir with a genitive inflexion, Beatus virres (W10.328, W13.55), which we decided to tag as Latin despite its English ending. Langland's linguistic inventiveness overturns every principle that the solemn editor attempts to establish. In the end we have been obliged to take eclectic decisions in each instance; we have taken account of the treatment in OED and MED, and we have been influenced by the scribal boxing and highlighting, but not bound by it, since that treatment in any case shows up in the textual display. Proper names have been treated as English unless they have a Latin inflexion: thus genitive Cesares is not tagged in W1.52, but both instances of Cesari with a Latin dative ending are marked as Latin in W1.53.
Using SGML markup and four different style sheets in the Multidoc Pro browser, we offer four different views of the text of W. The Scribal style sheet represents as closely as possible the readings and features of the manuscript text. Changes of script are reflected by changes in font. The Middle English text's Anglicana Formata is represented in roman letters while the Bastard Anglicana of the Latin and emphasized text is printed in italics. Changes of ink color in the original are reflected in the displayed text. We represent the scribe's habit of accentuating various bits of text by enclosing it in a red box by printing the text so enclosed in red ink inside a black box. The browser does not permit us to display the text in black and the box in red. Scribal lapses are noted by means of purple ink. We have used <SIC> tags to indicate those instances in which we take the scribe not to have written what he intended to write, but we have ignored readings the scribe might reasonably be interpreted as having intended. For instance, at W5.264, the scribe wrote nonsensical bu where he intended to write but. We print bu, but flag it with purple. However, the probably erroneous lection, at least in relation to the B archetype, prechede for prayed is not so marked in W5.43, though a textual note calls attention to this unique reading in W. Eccentric word divisions, e. g. atones for at ones, or anhundred for an hundred are spelled out as written but in lime to call attention to them. We have represented the marginal notae added by an unidentified hand with this icon: 35(n).
The Critical style sheet is designed to indicate what we believe the scribe intended to have written. Emendations displayed in the Critical style sheet appear in the conventional square brackets. Since the text displayed in the Critical style sheet is a reconstructed, putative text, it lacks the color features that appear in the more nearly diplomatic transcriptions of the manuscript. We conventionally use italics for Latin and French words and phrases in this style sheet. We have supplied line references to the Athlone B-text both for the convenience of readers and to provide a basis for later machine collation of documentary texts. Eccentric word divisions are silently, at least in the surface display, corrected in this style sheet. That is, atones appears as at ones, though a scholar who wishes to find all such divisions can still search for them in the browser as well as in the underlying SGML text.
In addition to the Scribal and Critical style sheets, we have included a Diplomatic style sheet that suppresses all notes, marginalia, and indications of error or eccentric word division. Its text is otherwise identical to that presented in the Scribal style sheet. The AllTags style sheet, as its name implies, is intended to display the full content of markup in SGML tags. In this style sheet alone, deleted text (where it is legible) appears within curly brackets. The brackets contain a dash for illegible material. In this style sheet alone, deleted text (where it is legible) appears within curly brackets. The brackets contain a dash for illegible material. For a key to our use of color in each style sheet, see Instructions for first-time users.
Three sets of annotations are provided—codicological, paleographic and textual:
(a) Codicological: These draw attention to physical features of the manuscript, especially those which can not be clearly interpreted from the images, and also to later additions in the margins such as names, pointing hands and other drawings. Codicological notes are marked by a red superscripted "C."
(b) Paleographic: These comment on letter forms, in particular ambiguous abbreviations, curls and other features. Paleographic notes are marked by a red superscripted "P."
(c) Textual: These notes recording unique readings in W require more justification and explanation. Since W is a close copy of a good witness of the beta tradition, its unique readings are few, and they are worth recording, firstly to indicate how generally faithful the W scribe is to his exemplar, and secondly as an aid to understanding the text on those relatively rare occasions when W has misread or corrupted it. Formal variants are not misreadings and are therefore not noted. In general the test of a formal variant is that the standard dictionaries recognise the different forms as one word. Thus the reading at WP.24 is degised as against disgised in all other manuscripts, but both forms of the verb are recorded in MED s.v. disgisen, and so the variants are not noted. This is the practice even where there may be a difference in syllabic value, as in WP.154 where W alone reads infinitive clawen against the majority reading clawe, or where, as is quite often the case, W has a past participle with <y-> prefix while other manuscripts are without it, as in W19.1 ydremed versus dremed. On the other hand MED recognises ywar and war as separate words, so this variation is recorded in W10.287. Variation in number or tense is also recorded. It must be emphasised that these notes are no more than an aid to the reader of W's text as it is presented at this stage. They do not in any sense constitute a listing of variant readings or a first step in establishing the relationship of W to other manuscripts. They may imply that W's reading is not that of the B archetype, though whether that is in fact the case in an individual instance and which of the recorded variants best represents Bx are matters that can be firmly established only at a later stage. The notes are, then, an interim statement that will be of no use once the B Archive is complete and the variant listings can be mechanically generated. The information for them is drawn from the listing of variants in the Kane-Donaldson edition (including the list of WS and WCrS agreements on p. 43 and p. 49 note 73), which we have checked against those transcripts that are already available in the Archive. Since it is not at this stage relevant which of the witnesses share the majority reading against W's unique variant, the majority readings are where possible presented in very simplified form, usually with the designation "other B witnesses" or "most other manuscripts" or "all others." It is true that in most cases this means "Bx," but it is important not to prejudge the issue. Readings shared with one or two other witnesses (most commonly Hm and Cr) are often indicative of genetic affiliation, and since this relationship will be tested when the Archive is sufficiently advanced, such group variation is not noted here, except in cases of particular interest, for example where a word or line essential to the sense has been lost. Textual notes are marked with an icon of a gray dog-eared manuscript leaf.
The digital facsimile images were made from 35mm slides. Using a Nikon LS-3510 Slide Scanner attached to a Macintosh Quadra 800 running Adobe PhotoShop, we experimented with scans at input resolutions varying from 635 to 3175 dpi and output resolutions between 72 and 1000 dpi. The resulting JPEG and TIFF files varied in size from a low of 168 KB to just over 35 megabytes. It should go without saying that the largest of these files are expensive to store and slow to call to the screen and to manipulate. We found that a rational compromise between the highest and lowest grades, producing facsimiles more than adequate for most manuscript leaves, involved input resolutions of 1587 dpi, output resolutions of 500 dpi, and JPEG files of 750-1000KB.
Though the quality of most of our images represents a considerable improvement over microfilm and other traditional means of photoduplication, the images presented here reflect their creation six years ago in the spring of 1994. Readers will perhaps notice some differences in size and quality of various leaves. Some of the 1994 images were less crisp than others, and we rescanned in the fall of 1999 about two dozen slides, producing in each case both crisper images with better contrast and resolution. We considered rescanning the entire set of images, but the expense of doing so is considerable, and since the original slides lacked a means of calibration — we expect with future digital images to provide both Kodak color strips and gray scale references — we have left the original images.
A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English (LALME) does not map the forms of Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.15.17 (W), no doubt because the editors thought that the analysis of other texts in the same dialect was sufficient to show the features of its language. M. L. Samuels published in 1963 an analysis of the development of early written standard forms of English.28 He classified the language of the Wycliffite manuscripts, centred on the central midland counties, as Type I, and London English as Types II-IV. The earliest of these is Type II, the language of the main hand in the Auchinleck Manuscript. Type IV is "Chancery Standard," the language of government documents from 1430 onwards. In between the two is Type III, the language of earlier London documents, of Chaucer and of Hoccleve, and also the language of Piers Plowman as recorded in W. In a later study Samuels commented that the language of W is "very similar to that of the Hengwrt and Ellesmere MSS of The Canterbury Tales."29 In a further discussion of the spellings of the scribe of the Hengwrt and Ellesmere manuscripts, Samuels listed "eleven variational criteria" for thirteen texts which he classified as Types II and III, that is to say representing respectively London English up to about 1380 and from about 1380 to 1420.30 These are the forms Samuels lists for the Hengwrt-Ellesmere scribe, to which we have supplied the forms in W for comparison: 31
The distributions of the spellings of the first four items are closely parallel in the work of the two scribes, but there are considerable differences in the other seven items. The influence of W's exemplar may have prompted the scribe to use spellings that were not his own preferential forms but were part of his "passive repertoire," that is to say forms that were acceptable to him.33 Against this, however, it should be noted that the scribe of W was evidently a highly practised and professional scrivener with a remarkably consistent spelling system which he must have been taught to impose upon the language of his exemplars. If he was indeed from the same workshop as the Hengwrt-Ellesmere scribe, then that workshop admitted considerable variety in spelling.
The text of Piers is thoroughly "translated" into London English, with few obvious relict forms. Those that indicate a Western dialect representing Langland's own are as follows: 34
Vowel length of <a>, <e> and <o> is often marked by doubling in closed syllables. Final <-e> and <-es> are alternative signs of length.
caas (3x) ~ cas (1x); debaat (1x) ~ debate (1x); made (83x) ~ maad (16x); saaf (9x); waast (1x) ~ waste (1x).
breed (26x) ~ bred (1x); deeþ (52x) ~ deþe (8x); feet (8x); heed "head" (17x)35; kepe (34x) ~ keep (1x); preest (25x) ~ preestes (30x).
blood (23x); flood (8x) ~ flodes (1x); foode (10x); goon (7x).
caste; hap; lappe.
fram (13x) ~ from (20x); kan (67x); man (198x); wan 5.466.
hand(e) (19x) ~ hond (4x); handes (6x) ~ hondes (5x); hange (6x) ~ honge 17.6; long(e) (58x) ~ lang (only in the technical expression lang cart) 2.184; lomb 5.570 ~ pl. lambren 15.214; stande (3x) ~ stonde (11x).
bank P.8; drank 13.6436; sank 18.69; stank; þanked (1x) 17.88 ~ þonked (1x) 8.108; þonkyng 2.151.
The spelling is always <a> except in þonk-.
abrood 2.179; foo 9.214; fro (61x); hole "whole" 6.61; hoot 17.208 ~ hote P.225; lore 10.116; lowe 20.36; Ropere 5.326; soore 5.98 ~ sore 18.51; stoon 15.567 ~ stones 2.16; wroot 10.179.
blowyng 16.27; knowe (54x); soule (85x).
box; cros (25x)37; folk; god ~ goddes "God" (never gode); lok "lock" 1.204; mosse; pecokkes; spottes.
bold(e) (8x) ~ boold (3x); borde; gold(e); molde (6x) ~ moolde (8x); word ~ wordes.
book (29x) ~ boke (3x) ~ bokes (22x); broþer 5.475; coom(e); doom (8x) ~ doome (1x) ~ dome (8x) ~ domes (6x); dooþ (37x); foot 5.6 ~ foote 17.106 (not fote); good(e) "good" (135x) (never gode); roote (10x) ~ rootes (1x) ~ rotes (1x); tooles 10.187; tooþaches 20.81.
The spelling <oo> is usual in closed syllables; with <o> before stems followed by <-e> and <-es>.
biswonke pa. t. pl. 20.292; buttre 5.446; dronke (pa. t. pl.) 14.86; flux 5.180; ful (93x); fulle (n.) (3x); pulle 16.76; sonne "sun" (22x); þoruȝ / Thoruȝ (156x); wolle "wool" (2x).
The <o> spelling is used predominantly in proximity to minims.
dombe (1x) ~ doumb(e) (2x); dore (8x); ground(e) (16x); hound (3x); mourne (1x) ~ moorne (1x) ~ morned; torne (2x) ~ turne (8x); wode (3x).
The <ou> spelling is an indication of length, as below.
aboute (49x); adoun (14x) ~ adown (4x); cloude 3.194; how (90x); mous (2x); now (84x); þow (231x) ~ Thow (22x) ~ þou (2x) ~ Thou (1x).
bigge(n) "buy" (2x) ~ bugge(n) (8x) ~ buggere (1x) ~ buggynge (1x); brugges; dide; filled; 38fulle (n.) 16.11; gilt; hilles (4x) ~ hulles (2x); kyn; murie; synne.
The <y> spellings replace <i> in the proximity of minims. The <u> ~ <uy> spellings are Western and did not survive before nasals.39
burde 3.14; kynde (115x); mynde (11x).
fir (11x) ~ fuyr (1x); fust (10x) (never fist);40hyre (3x) ~ huyre (1x); kyen "kine" 6.143; wisshe 5.112.
The <u> ~ <uy> spellings are Western.41
bitter; nyme; widewe; wight.
blithe; chide; knyf; lif (99x + compounds) ~ lyf (7x); ryde(n) (9x) ~ ride(n) (5x); wis(e) (36x) ~ wys (3x); wyn "wine" (13x).42
dowel; feþere; rekene; web(be); wrecched.
beest (6x) ~ beestes (33x) ~ bestes (3x); elde; feeste (4x) ~ feste (3x) ~ festes (3x); feld (6x) ~ feeld (2x); selde.
bedeman; beches; contree (12x) ~ contre (1x); deme; fede (9x) ~ feede (1x); feet; grene; hede "heed"; kene; kepe (34x) ~ keep (1x); mede; swete.
apples; bak; blak; hadde; masse; wasshen; water.
breeþ; clene; drede; er; leet (11x) ~ lete (12x); neddres (with shortening of the vowel); slepe ~ sleep; seed ~ sedes; teche.
breed (26x) ~ bred (1x); deed (8x) ~ ded (2x) "dead"; deef; leef; rede ~ reed "red."
burn "man" 11.366 ~ buyrn 16.188, 16.276 ~ Burnes 3.272, 12.70; cherl; crepe; depe (8x) ~ deep (2x); frend; heo "she" (2x); herte; leode (7x) ~ lede (1x) "man"; leme; swerd; tree; þef (4x) ~ þeef (3x).
The three words of Western distribution, bu(y)rn, leode and heo, retain Western rounding at least in spelling, presumably because there was no London spelling convention for them. For the <eo> forms see Samuels, "Langland's Dialect," 241-3.43 Before dentals and <l> the short /e/ arising from various OE sources including /ēo/ goes to /i/ in fille "fell" (14.197, 16.111), ȝit (13x) vs. yet (40x), togid(e)re(s) (50x), etc. This is a feature of London English.
OF /ue/ gives rise to a few <oe> spellings:
doel (4x); moebles (2x) ~ mebles (9.87); meue (6x) ~ moeue (19.287) ~ moeuen (15.75); peple (91x) poeple (1x).
The spelling is consistent: whan, what, where, while, etc. There are no examples of <qu> or <w>. Two examples of <wh> for <w>, where "were" 12.81,44 and whasshen "wash" 13.436, are therefore likely to be errors rather than reverse spellings.
The scribe uses <þ> for the small letter and <Th> for the littera notabilior. There are only two examples of <Þ>, both on fol. 61v (W11.103 and 112). There are only a few cases of <th>, for example: fryth (3x); hath (1x); north (1x); othere (1x); south (1x); with (5x); and in proper names of foreign origin: Astroth; Makometh; Nazareth.
The spelling is <sh>, with <ssh> medially and finally after a short vowel: bisshop; childissh; englissh; fissh; flessh; punysshe; shame; shaft; sheep; ship; sholde (never scholde).
asked (11x) ~ axed (1x); buskes; scole; skipte; skile; skynnes.
Spellings with initial <sc> are mainly from OF; e.g. scorne; scrippe.
The spelling with <ȝt> predominates: almyȝty (12x) ~ almyghty (4x); briȝt(e) (3x) ~ bright(e) (3x); fiȝte (5x) ~ fight(e) (5x); noȝt(e) (334x) ~ noght (1x); riȝt(e) (76x) ~ right(e) (31x).
As a general rule the scribe prefers <ȝ> to <gh> for the velar spirant: eiȝen (20x) ~ eighen (6x); heiȝ(e) (32x) ~ heigh(e) (10x); seiȝ(e) (36x) ~ seigh(e) (4x).
The scribe's writing of final <-e> is not random, but in words that are spelt with or without it the usage is motivated by etymology or analogical developments. So final <-e> can be used to mark the dative singular noun (2.2.3), the plural of the possessive pronouns myne, thyne, hise (2.3.3), and the definite and plural inflection of adjectives (2.4).45 The infinitive verb ending varies between <-e> and <-en>; the covered form offers the option of preventing the assimilation of <-e> before a following vowel or <h> (see 2.5.1). Both these phenomena resulting in <-e> or <-en> therefore have metrical consequences which have been analysed by Duggan, who discusses to what extent these features of the scribal language are also features of Langland's dialect.46
Abrahames 16.185; Adames 11.201; broþeres 10.279; Caymes 9.137; disours 13.174; doweles 9.12 ~ dowelis 14.335; fadres 9.123 (cf. fader 16.91); Gabrielis 16.93; Hostilers 17.116; Iustices 16.95;47ladies 20.344 (cf. lady 18.344); mannes; Pharaoes 7.179.
The usual ending is <-es>; the <-is> spelling is only after <l> and <r>.
With <-e>: heuene 14.165; soule 11.226.
Without ending: fader 16.91; lady 18.344; Marie 2.2;48moder 19.121.
With apocope: Iesus 18.103; 19.121; Piers 6.81 etc.; Prioresse 5.158.
to bedde (vs. bed elsewhere) 6.102; wiþ childe (vs. child) 7.110; at home (vs. hom) 7.5; in-to house (vs. hous) 2.221; by my lyue (vs. lif) 6.104; bi his firste wyue (vs. wif) 9.19.
The ten examples of grounde all follow the prepositions a, aboue, by, of, on, to. Only in 10.236 is the uninflected form used with a preposition: vp-on þis ground. This illustrates the following general pattern: when a noun has alternative spellings, one without final <-e> and the other with, the former is the general form used in all circumstances except as a genitive, while the latter is used only after prepositions. Other nouns that follow this pattern are, for example: boke, breste, daye, hande, kynge.
abbotes; artz (2x); beggeris (17x); bodies; brawleris; cardinals; clerkes; colours; eiȝes (6x) (cf. eighen and eiȝen); eris; Experimentz 10.224; foes 13.326 (cf. foon); lolleris; lond-leperis heremytes 15.221; Monyals 10.326; Religiouses 10.324; shoes 20.218 (cf. shoon); sustres 18.206 (cf. sustren); werkes, wordes; yeres.
The <-is> plural is used only after <r> and three times after <l>; thus gerlis 18.8 (beside gerles 1.35); foolis 10.41, 20.61.
With <-en> ~ <-n>: children; eighen and eiȝen (26x); foon 5.97; lambren 15.214; shoon 14.344; sustren 5.638.
Mutated: gees P.226; men; teeþ 15.13.
beggeris 4.126; losels 10.52; mennes; harlottes.
With <-ene> ~ <-en>: childrene 4.119; clerkene 4.121; Iewene 18.263; kyngene 1.106; wyuen 5.29.
The form ich occurs 15x, always before <h->, vowel or semivowel (e.g. ich yede 7.157). Archetypal ik occurs in the phrase so thee ik (5.229), where Langland's joke is at the expense of the Norfolk dialect of Sir Hervey, as in Chaucer's Reeve's Tale.
The predominant forms are þow (231x) and Thow (22x); the spelling is þou in 7.148 (twice), and Thou in 14.195.
The two occurrences of heo (3.29, 5.644) are in alliterating positions.49
Myn (42x) occurs as a dependent possessive with singular nouns before vowel or <h>, or disjunctively in 13.365. Its plural form is myne (16x), used before vowel or <h>, disjunctively in 18.285, 18.336, or in absolute use to mean "my possessions" (6.151) or "my people" (18.359).
The standard spelling is þi, with þy 5x. Thi is found at 2.124 only. The usage of the forms ending in <-n(e)> is as with the 1st person: þyn (21x) ~ Thyn (3x) ~ þin (1.42 only) occurs as a dependent possessive with singular nouns before vowel or <h>, or disjunctively. Its plural form is þyne (7x), used before vowel or <h>, or in absolute use to mean "thy possessions" in 13.158.
The general form is his used with singular and plural nouns: his cofres 11.192. The inflected form hise, developed by analogy with myne and þyne, is used only with plural nouns and also 4x in absolute use to mean "his people" (13.255, 17.271, 19.218, 20.60).
As in the accusative and dative, the forms with and without <-e> are used in free variation.
The form is is found in 17.248 (perhaps in error for his).
The three occurrences of hij (P.66, 1.58, 1.193) are in alliterating positions.50
The form is never found without <-e>.
The form without <-e> is found only once, in your-self (2.39).
The forms with and without <-e> are used in free variation. There are no oblique plural forms beginning with <þ->.
Forms are: my-self (-selue); þi-selue (-self, -seluen); hym-self (-selfe, -selue, -seluen); hir-selue ~ hire-self (-selue); oure-selue 13.36 ~ vs-selue 7.141; ye-self (subject) 16.128 ~ yow-self (object) 16.129 ~ yow-selue (object and prepositional) P.200, 5.44, 10.290, 10.302 ~ your-self 2.39. Lines 16.128-9 offer an instructive example. For line-terminal position the -selue(n) forms are always used. There are no -sulf forms.
Monosyllabic adjectives ending in a consonant follow definite and indefinite inflexions; i.e. <-e> is added in the plural, and also in the singular when used with the definite article, a demonstrative adjective or a possessive pronoun. The practice may be observed by looking at all the examples of "great":
The only exception is 8.9 men of grete witte, perhaps influenced by the preceding plural noun.
Polysyllabic adjectives of French derivation ending in <-ous> generally follow the same pattern: lecherous (sg.) 6.273 ~ lecherouse (pl.) 2.127; likerous (2x) ~ likerouse (pl.) 10.174 (though it is sg. in 10.171); precious (3x) ~ preciouse (pl.) 19.93. As a noun used adjectivally, religious observes the same pattern, with <-e> always indicating the plural. However, no such regular pattern accounts for the alternation between cristen and cristene.
"All" has the following inflexions: sg. al, pl. alle, gen. pl. aller (16.213). "Both" as an adjective is always boþe, with gen. boþer (2.68) and boþeres (18.39). As a correlative conjunction, "both ... and," it is once Boþ (5.446).
bettre 11.255; blesseder 11.255; bolder 7.199; clenner 19.251; douȝtier 5.103; hyere 2.29.
Boldest 13.299 ~ boldeste 18.418; brunneste 6.313; clennest 14.48; douȝtieste 10.464; hyeste 12.142.
The ending <-ly> varies with <-lich> and <-liche> (there are no examples of <-lye> or <-lie>). There seems to be no clear pattern of usage. The spelling louely (8x) is always used for the attributive adjective, and loueliche (3x), louelich (1x), vnlovelich (1x), vnloveliche (1x) indiscriminately with or without <-e> for the predicative before of: cf. 5.570 with 11.237. But dedliche and dedly are both used before pl. synnes (9.220, 14.97). While flesshliche precedes herte (19.168), comely and comly are also used attributively.
The same endings <-ly>, <-lich> and <-liche> are used as in adjectives, and are equally unpatterned.52 Comparative endings are <-lier> and <-loker>: frendlier 10.237; lightlier 15.501; liȝtloker 5.588; rapelier 17.69; wisloker 13.343. Superlatives end in <-lokest>: hastilokest 19.474; wikkedlokest 10.437.
to kepe 17.5; knowe 17.9; laste 17.8; to louye 17.129; To rule 17.3; see 17.4; siggen 17.31; to techen 17.42; vndertaken 17.17.
When the infinitive verb is followed by a vowel or <h->, the <-en> is common; thus all examples of kepen (8x), sitten (3x), and reden (2x) precede vowels or <h->. However there are many exceptions to this. (Sometimes W has the ending against all other manuscripts; e.g. W18.416 abyen it vs. abye it.)
Endings derived from OE <-ian> verbs are quite well preserved; thus the following infinitive forms with <-i-> or <-y->: erie 6.4; hatien 10.100; louyen 19.111; prikye 18.11; swerye 14.39; tilien 7.2; wanye 7.58; werien 14.343; wonye 2.109. This is a feature of southwestern dialects.53
In both the gerund and the pres. ppl. the ending is <-yng> with or without final <-e> or looped <g> (on which see Transcription of the Manuscript above). The forms appear in free variation.
drynkynge 11.340; etynge 14.60; laughynge 18.429; slepyng P.10; slepynge 5.6; Wenynge 20.33.
There are the following examples of the ending of the verbal noun with the spelling <-ing(e)> after <y>:
buryinge 11.80; deyinge 11.170, 13.418; deying 7.34, 18.219; Lyinge 13.321; seying 8.109; tulying 14.71.
The only other example of <-ing> is ingoing 5.649.
abidynge 19.295; dryuynge 20.99; etynge 10.108; hangyng 5.136; hippynge 17.61; Lurkynge 2.218; sittynge 3.352; slepynge 7.159; waggyng 8.31.
The only example of pres. ppl. <-inge> is after <y> in pleyinge 16.269, 18.172. There are no examples of other forms such as <-ande>, <-ende>, <-inde> or <-enge>.
be 2.140; com 18.57 ~ come 5.591; Coueite 5.592; et 14.55 ~ Ete 6.268; Go 1.47; hold 18.150; keep 6.270; lakke 2.49; Lat 6.272; rys 6.271 sitte 6.270; Tak 12.158; tel 1.46.
Beþ 10.457; claweþ 10.302; comeþ 20.73; correcteþ 10.302; fareþ 13.182; gyueþ 17.270; hareweþ 19.318; Holdeþ 20.245; kenneþ 6.14; Makeþ 6.14; spynneþ 6.13; Wadeþ 5.587.
The form with <-e> (without ending in stems in <-e>) is used before a subject pronoun:
be 3.87; Deuyne P.209; Loke 5.594; stynte 5.595;54wasshe 5.587.
hailse 5.102; holde 5.421; leeue P.34; seye P.201; shonye 5.170; swere 5.229; walke 5.148; warne P.207; wisse 1.43.
As in OE, stems ending in a vowel have no inflexion: do 5.115; se P.201.
beest 5.608; coueitest 11.11; Getest 18.364; greuest 14.121; lernest 4.11; lyuest 2.127; lixt 5.164;55mayst 19.484; myȝtest P.214; myȝt 6.227; seest 12.174; woost 3.181.
The usual ending is <-(e)st>. The only example of <-ist> is seist 6.236, 18.435.
akeþ 6.263; bereþ 11.160; bit (< bidden) 7.72; brekeþ 4.59; falleþ 8.38; fareþ 13.53; fyndeþ 15.185 ~ fynt (6x); forfreteþ 16.30; gooþ 17.38; halt 17.106 ~ holdeþ 13.405; pleieþ 19.296; putteþ 12.229; rest P.170; ryt (< ryden) 4.13; seiþ 18.32 ~ seith 7.135; sheweth 17.157; smyt 11.429; smyþeþ 3.330; stant 18.45; strengþeþ 8.47; wanyeþ 8.39.56
For "tells lies" (OE lȳhþ) the forms are lieþ and lyeþ (1.70, 10.116); for "lies down" (OE līþ) the forms are lith, liþ, and lyþ (12.258, 1.126, 4.61).
OE preterite-present verbs without inflexion in the present 1st and 3rd sg. are, e.g.: dar P.209; kan P.199; May 1.63; Shal 2.34; woot 5.182.
abiden 15.317; abite "bite" 16.27; aren (7x) ~ arn (29x) ~ beþ (16x); aske (1x) ~ asken (3x) ~ askeþ (1x); borweþ 20.285; burioneþ 15.79; crauen (2x) ~ craueþ (1x); dwelle (3x) ~ dwelleþ (1x); fecche 9.182; fynde (2x) ~ fynden (4x) ~ fyndeþ (3x); folweþ 3.355; holdeþ 1.45; smyteþ 17.327; teche (2x) ~ techen (2x) ~ techeþ (2x); writeþ 14.211.
The minority form is <-eþ>, yet it is not uncommon. Samuels points out that this plural form is very rare in the London English of Chaucer, but is retained in Southern and Southwestern areas until after Langland's death. He also comments on the form aren in alliterating position as evidence for Langland's west midland dialect.57 Some of the <-e> ~ <-en> forms will historically be subjunctives since they occur in contexts where a subjunctive is to be expected.
The plural forms of preterite-present verbs are, for example: kan ~ konne ~ konneþ; may ~ mowe ~ mowen; shul; wite.
carpe 17.136; do 3.312; gladie 18.261; Iangle 4.157; folwe 3.7; gyue 2.123; like 11.24; rede 4.5; werche 3.7.
The forms are the same as those of the 1st indic. sg.
affrayned 16.287; awakede 14.346; bablede 5.8; boldede 3.200; courbed 1.80; deide 18.375; dwelde 20.343; lokede 14.53; makede 9.139; paide 6.96; waitede 13.343; Wente P.4.
The forms with <-ed> and <-ede> are in free variation. The endings <-id(e)> ~ <-yd> do not occur.
a-resonedest 12.220; brouȝtest 1.78; conseiledest 3.207; deidest 19.172; graddest 19.430; laddest 7.205; Lakkedest 11.416; madest 5.233; robbedest 18.345; tauȝtest 14.195.
abosted 6.157; armede 20.115; asked 5.310 ~ askede 20.330; baptised 16.262; beknede 10.426; blessede 11.233; deide 10.364; demed 10.393; dremed 8.69; folwede 11.26; mamelede 11.413; paied 5.218; wailede 14.346; wente 13.222; wepte 2.238.
The forms are of course the same as those for the 1st singular.
amendeden 15.115; amortisede 15.325; apposede 1.48; awaiteden 16.145; blustreden 5.531; cared 2.164; cryden P.225; deyden 18.367; demede 19.145; digged 6.110; eriede 19.268; hateden 18.308; herde (1x) ~ herden (3x); made 20.300 ~ maden 10.420 ~ maked 6.192; parceyued 18.248; pleiden P.20; sente (2x) ~ senten (1x); tendeden 18.245; vsede 20.65 ~ vseden 12.127; went (9x) ~ wenten (10x); wepten 7.37; woundede 20.301.
abasshed 10.305; acombred 1.34; ascaped 6.80; ybarred 19.164; called (13x) ~ ycalled (3x); cloþed (1x) ~ ycloþed (6x);58demed 3.312; diademed 3.293; yentred 10.386; yglosed 17.11; yhated 9.107; maked 5.405 ~ ymaked 6.190 ~ maad 5.279; vsed 18.389 ~ yvsed 16.155; went 3.287.
The W scribe is more conservative than others in the preservation of the <y-> prefix, retaining it even on verb-stems of more than one syllable; e.g.: yherberwed 5.234 (against all other manuscripts); yperissed 17.190; even yrebuked 14.173 (where it is necessary for the metre, but against all other manuscripts).
cam 15.14 ~ com 13.24; gat 4.81; knew 19.418; song 19.210; sauȝ 5.9 ~ seiȝ "saw" P.50; spak 19.377.
breke 18.293; gete 18.341; knewe 11.32; leighe "lied" 18.415; speke 19.77; toke 20.7.
brak 1.113; cam P.114 ~ com 2.192 ~ Coom 20.343; gaf 2.71; gat 1.35; knew 2.228; song 18.438; spak 5.217; stood P.182.
The forms are of course the same as those for the 1st singular.
cam 13.34 ~ come 4.45 ~ coome 19.343 ~ comen P.24; dronke 14.86; geten 20.156; knew 12.227 ~ knewe 11.235 ~ knewen 12.151; seiȝe "saw" 17.50; stode 18.86 ~ stoode 14.256; Songen 18.331; toke 19.39 ~ token 4.79.
come 5.542 ~ coome 19.425; dronke 20.19; stode 19.366.
The forms are the same as the 2nd singular.
bake (1x) ~ ybake (4x) ~ ybaken (1x); comen 16.96; dronke (1x) ~ dronken (3x, twice attributively) ~ ydronke (3x); founde (4x) ~ yfound (2x) ~ yfounden (1x); geten 5.298; gyuen (1x) ~ ygyue (1x); holden (14x) ~ yholde (2x) ~ yholden (2x); yholpe 17.62; knowen P.56 ~ yknowe 11.229 ~ yknowen 11.401; taken 1.155 ~ ytake 11.260; wonne (4x) ~ ywonne (3x).
For comments on the retention of the <y-> prefix, see weak verbs, paragraph 2.5.15.
The following list of sigils of the manuscripts of Piers Plowman differs in some respects from the traditional sigils used since Skeat's edition. To a degree the inconsistencies in the sigils reflect the sequence of discovery of the relationships among them. If we were to use the traditional sigils, we would court ambiguity in an electronic text with identical sigils representing different manuscripts and different sigils identifying single manuscripts. British Library Additional 10574, for instance, has no sigil for A, is B's Bm, and C's L. We have, therefore, chosen to represent each manuscript with its unique identifying sigil.
For descriptions of the B manuscripts see George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds., Piers Plowman: The B-Version, 2d ed. (London: Athlone; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 1-14, and A. I. Doyle, "Remarks on Surviving Manuscripts of Piers Plowman," in Medieval English Religious and Ethical Literature: Essays in Honour of G. H. Russell, ed. G. Kratzmann and James Simpson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1986), 35-48, and C. David Benson and Lynne Blanchfield, The Manuscripts of Piers Plowman: The B-Version (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1997).
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