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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

I. “Piers the Plowman” and its Sequence

§ 11. The Second Vision

What has just been said of the qualities of the first vision is true in equal degree of the second, The Vision of Piers the Plowman, properly so called, which occupies passus V–VIII. In outline it is a follows:

At the close of the preceding vision, the king and his company went to the church to hear the services. The dreamer saw them enter, and awaked from his dream disappointed and sorrowful that he had not slept more soundly and seen more. But, ere he had gone a furlong, a faintness seized him, and he sat softly down and said his creed; then he fell asleep and saw more than he had seen before. He saw again the field full of folk and Conscience with a cross preaching among them, urging them to have pity on themselves and declaring that the pestilences were caused by their sins, and that the great storm of wind on Saturday at even (15 January 1362) was a punishment for pride. Wasters were warned to go to work; chapmen to cease spoiling their children; Pernel, to give up her purfle; Thomas and Wat, to look after their frail and extravagant wives; priests, to practise what they preached; members of the religious orders, to keep their vows, lest the king and his council should take possession of their property; pilgrims, to cease journeying to St. James, and seek St. Truth. Then ran Repentance and moved the hearts of all; William wept; Pernel Proudheart prostrated herself; Lecher, Envy, Covetousness, Glutton, Sloth, Robert the Robber, all repented. The confessions of the seven deadly sins (an accident has deprived us of the confession of Wrath and of a portion of Envy’s) follow one another with breathless rapidity, and the climax is reached when, in the words of the author, “a thousand of men then thronged together, crying upward to Christ and to His pure Mother to have grace to seek St. Truth—God grant they so may!”