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Then those to whom I had done good,
My gowns beset with pearl and gold,
Thus was I scorn'd of maid and wife,
I could not get one bit of bread,
Thus, weary of my life, at lengthe
The which now since my dying daye,
Is Shoreditch call'd, as writers faye *, Vol. II.
* But it had this name long before ; being so called from its being a common SEWER (vulgarly SHORE) or drain. See Stowu.
Which is a witness of my finne,
You wanton wives, that fall to lust,
If God to me such shame did bring,
You husbands, match not but for love,
Then maids and wives in time amend,
THE END OF THE SECOND BOOK.
THE COMPLAINT OF CONSCIENCE, The following old allegoric satire is printed from the editor's folio Ms. This manner of moralizing, if not first adopted by the author of Pierce Plowman's Visions, was at least chiefly brought into repute by that ancient satirift. It is not so generally known that the kind of verse used in this ballad hath any affinity with the peculiar metre of that writer, for which reason ishall throw together some curfory remarks on that very singular species of versification, the nature of which has been so little understood.
ON THE METRE
PIERCE PLOWMAN'S VISIONS.
We learn from Wormius *, that the ancient Islandic poets used a great variety of measures : he mention 136 different kinds, without including RHYME, or a correspondence of final Syllables : yet this was occasionally used, as appears from the Ode of Egil, which Wormius hath inserted in his book.
He hath analysed the structure of one of these kinds of werse, the harmony of which neither depended on the quantity of the syllables, like that of the ancient Greeks and Romans ; nor on the rhymes at the end, as in modern poetry; but confifted altogether in alliteration, or a certain artful repetition of the sounds in the middle of tbe verses. This was adjusted according to certain rules of their prosody, one of which was that every diffich should contain at least three words beginning avith the same letter or found. Two of these correspondent sounds might be placed either in the first, or second line of the distich, and one in the other : but all three were not regularly to be crowded into one line. This will be best understood by the following examples t.
- Gab ginunga
Enn gras huerge." There were many other little niceties observed by the Islandic poets, who aš they retained their original language and peculiarities longer than the other nations of Gothic race, bad time
* Literatura Runica. Hafniæ 1636. 40. —1651. fol. The ISLANDIC language is of the jume origin as our ANGLO-SAXON, being both diale&ts of the ancient Gothic or TEUTONIC. SEX “ Five pieces of Runic poetry translated from the Islandic language, "1763." RVO.
t'iu. Ilickes Antiq. Literatur. Septentrional. Tom. 1. p. 237.
to cultivate their native poetry more, and to carry it to a higher pitch of refinement, than any of the rest.
Tbeir brethren the Anglo-Saxon poets occasionally used the Same kind of alliteration, and it is common to meet in their writings with similar examples of the foregoing rules. Take an instance or two in modern characters :
Skeop tha and skyrede " Ham and heahsetl
where extant an intire Saxon poem all in this measure. But distichs of this fort perpetually occur in all their poems of any length.
Now, if we examine the versification of Pierce PlowMAN'S VISIONS, we shall find it constructed exactly by these rules ; and therefore each line, as printed, is in reality a diftich of two verses, and will, I believe, be found distinguished as such, by Some mark or other in all the ancient MSS. viz.
" In a somer season, I when: hot t was the funne,
I jhope me into shroubs, 1 as I a szepe were ; “ In habite as an harmet unholy of werkes,
“ Went wyde in thys world, wonders to heare, &c. So that the author of this poem will not be found to have invented any new mode of versification, as some have supposed, but only to have retained that of the old Saxon and Gothic poets; which was probably never wholly laid aside, but occafonally used at different intervals ; tho' the raveges of time will not suffer us now to produce a regular series of poems entirely written in it.
There are some readers, whom it may gratify to mention, that these Visions of Pierce [i. e. Peter] the PlowMAN, are attributed to Robert Langland, a secular priest,
+ So I would read with Mr. Warton, rather than eithers joji' as in MSS, or • set' as in ICC.