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The fiend remounts his courser, mends his pace,
And all the vision vanish'd from the place.
Long stood the noble youth oppress'd with awe,
And stupid at the wondrous things he saw,
Surpassing common faith, transgressing nature's law.
He would have been asleep, and wish'd to wake,
But dreams, he knew, no long impression make,
Though strong at first; if vision, to what end,
But such as must his future state portend?
His love the damsel, and himself the fiend.
But yet, reflecting that it could not be
From heaven, which cannot impious acts decrec,
Resolv'd within himself to shun the snare
Which hell for his destruction did prepare;
And, as his better genius should direct,
From an ill cause to draw a good effect.
Inspir'd from heaven, he homeward took his way, Nor pall'd his new design with long delay: But of his train a trusty servant sent
To call his friends together at his tent.
They came, and, usual salutations paid,
With words premeditated thus he said:
What you have often counsell'd, to remove
My vain pursuit of unregarded love,
By thrift my sinking fortune to repair,
Though late, yet is at last become my care:
My heart shall be my own; my vast expense
Reduc'd to bounds by timely providence;
This only I require; invite for me
Honoria, with her father's family,
Her friends, and mine; the cause I shall display
On Friday next, for that's th' appointed day.
Well pleased were all his friends, the task was light;
The father, mother, daughter, they invite;
Hardly the dame was drawn to this repast;
But yet resolv'd, because it was the last.
The day was come, the guests invited came,
And, with the rest, th' inexorable dame:
A feast prepar'd with riotous expense,
Much cost, more care, and most magnificence.
The place ordain'd was in that haunted grove
Where the revenging ghost pursu'd his love:
The tables in a proud pavilion spread,
With flowers below, and tissue overhead:
The rest in rank, Honoria chief in place,
Was artfully contriv'd to set her face
To front the thicket, and behold the chase.
The feast was serv'd, the time so well forecast,
That just when the dessert and fruits were plac'd,
The fiend's alarm began; the hollow sound
Sung in the leaves, the forest shook around,
Air blacken'd, roll'd the thunder, groan'd the ground.
Nor long before the loud laments arise
Of one distress'd, and mastiffs' mingled cries;
And first the dame came rushing through the wood,
And next the famish'd hounds that sought their food,
And grip'd her flanks, and oft essay'd their jaws in
She ran, and cried, her flight directly bent (A guest unbidden) to the fatal tent,
The scene of death, and place ordain'd for punishment.
Loud was the noise, aghast was every guest.
The women shriek'd, the men forsook the feast;
The hounds at nearer distance hoarsely bay'd;
The hunter close pursu'd the visionary maid;
She rent the heaven with loud laments, imploring aid.
The gallants, to protect the lady's right,
Their falchions brandish'd at the grisly sprite;
High on his stirrups he provok'd the fight.
Then on the crowd he cast a furious look,
And wither'd all their strength before he spoke :
Back, on your lives; let be, said he, my prey,
And let my vengeance take the destin'd way:
Vain are your arms, and vainer your defence,
Against th' eternal doom of Providence:
Mine is th' ungrateful maid by heaven design'd:
Mercy she would not give, nor mercy shall she find.
At this the former tale again he told
With thundering tone, and dreadful to behold: Sunk were their hearts with horror of the crime, Nor needed to be warn'd a second time,
But bore each other back: some knew the face, And all had heard the much lamented case
Of him who fell for love, and this the fatal place.
And now th' infernal minister advanc'd, Seiz'd the due victim, and with fury launch'd Her back, and, piercing through her inmost heart, Drew backward, as before, th' offending part. The reeking entrails next he tore away, And to his meagre mastiffs made a prey. The pale assistants on each other star'd, With gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd; The still-born sounds upon the palate hung, And died imperfect on the faltering tongue. The fright was general; but the female band (A helpless train) in more confusion stand: With horror shuddering, on a heap they run, Sick at the sight of hateful justice done; For conscience rung th' alarm, and made the case
So, spread upon a lake with upward eye, A plump of fowl behold their foe on high; They close their trembling troop; and all attend On whom the sousing eagle will descend.
Last came the felon on his sable steed,
Arm'd with his naked sword, and urg'd his dogs to Their courteous host, saluting all the crew,
But most the proud Honoria fear'd th' event, And thought to her alone the vision sent. Her guilt presents to her distracted mind Heaven's justice, Theodore's revengeful kind, And the same fate to the same sin assign'd; Already sees herself the monster's prey, And feels her heart and entrails torn away. 'Twas a mute scene of sorrow, mix'd with fear; Still on the table lay th' unfinish'd cheer: The knight and hungry mastiffs stood around; The mangled dame lay breathless on the ground: When on a sudden, re-inspir'd with breath, Again she rose, again to suffer death;
Nor staid the hell-hounds, nor the hunter staid,
But follow'd, as before, the flying maid:
Th' avenger took from earth th' avenging sword,
And mounting light as air, his sable steed he spurr'd:
The clouds dispell'd, the sky resum'd her light,
And nature stood recover'd of her fright.
But fear, the last of ills, remain'd behind,
And horror heavy sat on every mind.
Nor Theodore encourag'd more the feast,
But sternly look'd, as hatching in his breast
Some deep designs; which, when Honoria view'd,
The fresh impulse her former fright renew'd;
She thought herself the trembling dame who fled,
And him the grisly ghost that spurr'd th' infernal steed:
The more dismay'd, for when the guests withdrew,
Regardless pass'd her o'er ; nor grac'd with kind adieu;
That sting infix'd within her haughty mind
The downfall of her empire she divin'd,
And her proud heart with secret sorrow pin'd.
Home as they went, the sad discourse renew'd
Of the relentless dame to death pursu❜d,
And of the sight obscene so lately view'd.
None dost arraign the righteous doom she bore;
Ev'n they who pitied most, yet blam'd her more;
The parallel they needed not to name,
But in the dead they damn'd the living dame.
At every little noise she look'd behind,
For still the knight was present to her mind :
And anxious oft she started on the way,
And thought the horseman ghost came thundering for his prey.
Return'd, she took her bed with little rest,
But in short slumbers dreamt the funeral feast:
Awak'd, she turn'd her side, and slept again;
The same black vapours mounted in her brain,
And the same dreams return'd with double pain.
Now forc'd to wake, because afraid to sleep,
Her blood all fever'd, with a furious leap
She sprang from bed, distracted in her mind,
And fear'd, at every step, a twitching sprite behind.
Darkling and desperate, with a staggering pace,
Of death afraid, and conscious of disgrace;
Fear, pride, remorse, at once her heart assail'd;
Pride put remorse to flight, but fear prevail'd.
Friday, the fatal day, when next it came,
Her soul forethought the fiend would change his game,
And her pursue, or Theodore be slain,
And two ghosts join their packs to hunt her o'er the
This dreadful image so possess'd her mind,
That, desperate any succour else to find,
She ceas'd all farther hope; and now began
To make reflection on th' unhappy man.
Rich, brave, and young, who past expression lov'd;
Proof to disdain, and not to be remov'd:
Of all the men respected and admir'd;
Of all the dames, except herself, desir'd:
Why not of her? preferr'd above the rest
By him with knightly deeds, and open love profess'd?
So had another been, where he his vows address'd.
This quell'd her pride, yet other doubts remain'd,
That, once disdaining, she might be disdain'd.
The fear was just, but greater fear prevail'd;
Fear of her life by hellish hounds assail'd:
He took a lowering leave; but who can tell
What outward hate might inward love conceal?
Her sex's arts she knew; and why not, then,
Might deep dissembling have a place in men?
Here hope began to dawn; resolv'd to try,
She fix'd on this her utmost remedy:
Death was behind, but hard it was to die.
"Twas time enough at last on death to call,
The precipice in sight: a shrub was all
That kindly stood betwixt to break the fatal fall.
One maid she had, belov'd above the rest; Secure of her, the secret she confess'd; And now the cheerful light her fears dispell'd; She with no winding turns the truth conceal'd, But put the woman off, and stood reveal'd: With faults confess'd commission'd her to go, If pity yet had place, and reconcile her foe; The welcome message made, was soon receiv'd; 'Twas to be wish'd, and hop'd, but scarce believ'd; Fate seem'd a fair occasion to present; He knew the sex, and fear'd she might repent, Should he delay the moment of consent. There yet remain'd to gain her friends (a care The modesty of maidens well might spare); But she with such a zeal the cause embrac'd (As women, where they will, are all in haste), The father, mother, and the kin beside, Were overborne by fury of the tide; With full consent of all, she chang'd her state; Resistless in her love, as in her hate. By her example warn'd, the rest beware; More easy, less imperious, were the fair; And that one hunting, which the devil design'd For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
The Cock and the Fox,
[Being the Nun's Priest's Tale, from Chaucer.] There liv'd, as authors tell, in days of yore, A widow somewhat old, and very poor: Deep in her cell her cottage lonely stood, Well thatch'd, and under covert of a wood.
This dowager, on whom my tale I found,
Since last she laid her husband in the ground,
A simple sober life, in patience, led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread:
But huswifing the little Heaven had lent,
She duly paid a groat for quarter rent;
And pinch'd her belly, with her daughters two,
To bring the year about with much ado.
The cattle in her homestead were three sows,
A ewe call'd Molly, and three brinded cows.
Her parlour window stuck with herbs around,
Of savoury smell; and rushes strew'd the ground.
A maple-dresser in her hall she had,
On which full many a slender meal she made;
For no delicious morsel pass'd her throat;
According to her cloth she cut her coat;
No poignant sauce she knew, nor costly treat;
Her hunger gave a relish to her meat:
A sparing diet did her health assure;
Or, sick, a pepper posset was her cure.
Before the day was done, her work she sped,
And never went by candle-light to bed:
With exercise she sweat ill humours out;
Her dancing was not hinder'd by the gout.
Her poverty was glad; her heart content;
Nor knew she what the spleen or vapours meant.
Of wine she never tasted through the year,
But white and black was all her homely cheer:
Brown bread and milk (but first she skim'd her
And rashers of sing'd bacon on the coals,
On holidays, an egg, or two at most;
But her ambition never reach'd to roast.
A yard she had with pales inclos'd about, Some high, some low, and a dry ditch without. Within this homestead liv'd, without a peer For crowing loud, the noble Chanticleer; So hight her cock, whose singing did surpass The merry notes of organs at the mass. More certain was the crowing of the cock To number hours, than is an abbey-clock; And sooner than the matin-bell was rung, He clapt his wings upon his roost, and sung: For when degrees fifteen ascended right, By sure instinct he knew 'twas one at night, High was his comb, and coral-red withal, In dents embattled like a castle wall; His bill was raven-black, and shone like jet; Blue were his legs, and orient were his feet: White were his nails, like silver to behold; His body glittering like the burnish'd gold.
It happ'd that, perching on the parlour-beam Amidst his wives, he had a deadly dream, Just at the dawn; and sigh'd, and groan'd so fast, As every breath he drew would be his last. Dame Partlet, ever nearest to his side, Heard all his piteous moan, and how he cried For help from gods and men; and sore aghast She peck'd and pull'd, and waken'd him at last. Dear heart, said she, for love of Heaven, declare Your pain, and make me partner of your care. You groan, sir, ever since the morning-light, As something had disturb'd your noble spright.
And, madam, well I might, said Chanticleer; Never was shrovetide cock in such a fear; Ev'n still I run all over in a sweat, My princely senses not recover'd yet. For such a dream I had of dire portent, That much I fear my body will be shent: It bodes I shall have wars and woful strife, Or in a loathsome dungeon end my life. Know, dame, I dreamt within my troubled breast, That in our yard I saw a murderous beast, That on my body would have made arrest; With waking eyes I ne'er beheld his fellow; His colour was betwixt a red and yellow :
Tipp'd was his tail, and both his pricking ears
Were black, and much unlike his other hairs:
The rest, in shape a beagle's whelp throughout,
With broader forehead, and a sharper snout:
Deep in his front were sunk his glowing eyes,
That yet methinks I see him with surprise.
Reach out your hand, I drop with clammy sweat,
And lay it to my heart, and feel it beat.
Now, fie for shame, quoth she, by Heaven above,
Thou hast for ever lost thy lady's love;
No woman can endure a recreant knight;
He must be bold by day, and free by night:
Our sex desires a husband or a friend,
Who can our honour and his own defend;
Wise, hardy, secret, liberal of his purse;
A fool is nauseous, but a coward worse:
No bragging coxcomb, yet no baffled knight.
How dar'st thou talk of love, and dar'st not
How dar'st thou tell thy dame thou art affear'd?
Hast thou no manly heart, and hast a beard?
If ought from fearful dreams may be divin'd,
They signify a cock of dunghill kind.
All dreams, as in old Galen I have read,
Are from repletion and complexion bred;
From rising fumes of indigested food,
And noxious humours that infect the blood:
And sure, my lord, if I can read aright,
These foolish fancies you have had to-night
Are certain symptoms (in the canting style)
Of boiling choler, and abounding bile;
This yellow gall that in your stomach floats,
Engenders all these visionary thoughts.
When choler overflows, then dreams are bred
Of flames, and all the family of red;
Red dragons and red beasts in sleep we view, For humours are distinguish'd by their hue. From hence we dream of wars and warlike things, And wasps and hornets with their double wings. Choler adust congeals our blood with fear, Then black bulls toss us, and black devils tear. In sanguine airy dreams aloft we bound, With rheums oppress'd we sink in rivers drown'd. More I could say, but thus conclude my theme, The dominating humour makes the dream. Cato was in his time accounted wise, And he condemns them all for empty lies. Take my advice, and when we fly to ground, With laxatives preserve your body sound, And purge the peccant humours that abound. I should be loath to lay you on a bier; And though there lives no 'pothecary near, I dare for once prescribe for your disease, And save long bills, and a damn'd doctor's fees. Two sovereign herbs which I by practice know, And both at hand (for in our yard they grow), On peril of my soul, shall rid you wholly Of yellow choler and of melancholy: You must both purge and vomit; but obey, And for the love of heaven make no delay. Since hot and dry in your complexion join, Beware the sun when in a vernal sign; For when he mounts exalted in the ram, If then he finds your body in a flame, Replete with choler, I dare lay a groat, A tertian ague is at least your lot. Perhaps a fever (which the gods forefend) May bring your youth to some untimely end: And therefore, sir, as you desire to live, A day or two before your laxative, Take just three worms, nor under nor above, Because the gods unequal numbers love. These digestives prepare you for your purge; Of fumetery, centaury, and spurge, And of ground-ivy, add a leaf or two, All which within our yard or garden grow.
Eat these, and be, my lord, of better cheer; Your father's son was never born to fear.
Madam, quoth he, gramercy for your care, But Cato, whom you quoted, you may spare: 'Tis true, a wise and worthy man he seems, And, as you say, gave no belief to dreams: But other men of more authority,
And, by th' immortal powers, as wise as he,
Maintain, with sounder sense, that dreams forbode;
For Homer plainly says they come from God.
Nor Cato said it: but some modern fool
Impos'd in Cato's name on boys at school.
Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow
Th' events of things, and future weal or wo:
Some truths are not by reason to be tried,
But we have sure experience for our guide.
Much more I know, which I forbear to speak,
For see the ruddy day begins to break;
Let this suffice, that plainly I foresee
My dream was bad, and bodes adversity:
But neither pills nor laxatives I like,
They only serve to make the well man sick;
Of these his gain the sharp physician makes,
And often gives a purge, but seldom takes:
They not correct, but poison all the blood,
And ne'er did any but the doctors good.
Their tribe, trade, trinkets, I defy them all;
With every work of 'pothecary's hall.
These melancholy matters I forbear:
But let me tell thee, Partlet mine, and swear,
That when I view the beauties of thy face,
I fear not death, nor dangers, nor disgrace:
So may my soul have bliss, as when I spy
The scarlet red about thy partridge eye.
While thou art constant to thy own true knight,
While thou art mine, and I am thy delight,
All sorrows at thy presence take their flight.
For true it is, as in principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio.'
Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.
He said, and downward flew from off the beam,
For day-light now began apace to spring,
The thrush to whistle, and the lark to sing.
Then crowing clapp'd his wings, th' appointed call,
To chuck his wives together in the hall.
By this the widow had unbarr'd the door, And Chanticleer went strutting out before, With royal courage, and with heart so light, As show'd he scorn'd the visions of the night. Now roaming in the yard he spurn'd the ground, And gave to Partlet the first grain he found. He chuck'd again, when other corns he found, And scarcely deign'd to set a foot to ground; But swagger'd like a lord about his hall, And his seven wives came running at his call.
'Twas now the month in which the world began (If March beheld the first created man): And since the vernal equinox, the sun, In Aries twelve degrees, or more, had run; When casting up his eyes against the light, Both month, and day, and hour, he measur'd right; And told more truly than th' Ephemeris: For art may err, but nature cannot miss. Thus numbering times and seasons in his breast, His second crowing the third hour confess'd. Then turning, said to Partlet, See, my dear, How lavish nature has adorn'd the year; How the pale primrose and blue violet spring, And birds essay their throats disus'd to sing: All these are ours; and I with pleasure see Man strutting on two legs, and aping me: An unfledg'd creature, of a lumpish frame, Endow'd with fewer particles of flame: Our dame sits cow'ring o'er a kitchen fire; I draw fresh air, and nature's works admire:
And ev'n this day in more delight abound,
Than, since I was an egg, I ever found.
The time shall come when Chanticleer shall wish
His words unsaid, and hate his boasted bliss:
The crested bird shall by experience know
Jove made not him his master-piece below,
And learn the latter end of joy is wo.
The vessel of his bliss to dregs is run,
And Heaven will have him taste his other tun.
And in my cottage should be proud to sce
The worthy heir of my friend's family.
But since I speak of singing, let me say,
As with an upright heart I safely may,
That, save yourself, there breathes not on the ground
One like your father for a silver sound.
So sweetly would he wake the winter day,
That matrons to the church mistook their way,
And thought they heard the merry organ play.
And he, to raise his voice with artful care,
(What will not beaux attempt to please the fair?)
On tiptoe stood to sing with greater strength,
And stretch'd his comely neck at all the length:
And while he strain'd his voice to pierce the skies,
As saints in raptures use, would shut his eyes,
That the sound striving through the narrow throat,
His winking might avail to mend the note.
By this, in song, he never had his peer,
From sweet Cecilia down to Chanticleer;
Not Maro's muse, who sung the mighty man,
Nor Pindar's heavenly lyre, nor Horace when a swan.
Your ancestors proceed from race divine :
From Brennus and Belinus is your line;
And musing long whom next to circumvent,
On Chanticleer his wicked fancy bent;
And in his high imagination cast,
By stratagem to gratify his taste.
Who gave to sovereign Rome such loud alarms,
That ev'n the priests were not excus'd from arms.
Besides, a famous monk of modern times
Has left of cocks recorded in his rhymes,
That of a parish priest the son and heir
The plot contriv'd, before the break of day
Affronted once a cock of noble kind,
Saint Reynard through the hedge had made his way: (When sons of priests were from the proverb clear)
The pale was next, but proudly with a bound
He leapt the fence of the forbidden ground:
Yet, fearing to be seen, within a bed
Of coleworts he conceal'd his wily head;
Then skulk'd till afternoon, and watch'd his time
(As murderers use) to perpetrate his crime.
Now to continue what my tale begun :
Lay Madam Partlet basking in the sun,
Breast-high in sand: her sisters, in a row,
Enjoy'd the beams above, the warmth below;
The cock, that of his flesh was ever free,
Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea:
And so befell, that as he cast his eye
Among the coleworts on a butterfly,
He saw false Reynard where he lay full low:
I need not swear he had no list to crow:
But cried, cock, cock, and gave a sudden start,
As sore dismay'd and frighted at his heart;
For birds and beasts, inform'd by nature, know
Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe;
So Chanticleer, who never saw a fox,
Yet shunn'd him as a sailor shuns the rocks.
But the false loon, who could not work his will
By open force, employ'd his flattering skill:
I hope, my lord, said he, I not offend;
Are you afraid of me that am your friend?
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong,
I, who have lov'd and honour'd you so long:
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
For on my soul I never meant you hari.
I come to spy, nor as a traitor press,
To learn the secrets of your soft recess :
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought,
But by the sweetness of your voice was brought:
For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard
The song as of an angel in the yard;
A song that would have charm'd th' infernal gods,
And banish'd horror from the dark abodes;
Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere,
So much the hymn had pleas'd the tyrant's ear,
The wife had been detain'd, to keep the husband there.
My lord, your sire familiarly I knew,
A peer deserving such a son as you:
He, with your lady mother (whom Heaven rest)
Has often grac'd my house, and been my guest:
To view his living features does me good;
For I am your poor neighbour in the wood;
Ye wise, draw near, and hearken to my tale,
Which proves, that oft the proud by flattery fall:
The legend is as true, I undertake,
As Tristram is, and Launcelot of the Lake;
Which all our ladies in such reverence hold,
As if in book of martyrs it were told.
A fox full fraught with seeming sanctity,
That fear'd an oath, but, like the devil, would lie;
Who look'd like Lent, and had the holy leer,
And durst not sin before he said his prayer;
This pious cheat, that never suck'd the blood,
Nor chew'd the flesh of lambs, but when he could,
Had pass'd three summers in the neighbouring
And either lam'd his legs, or struck him blind;
For which the clerk, his father, was disgrac'd,
And in his benefice another plac'd.
Now sing, my lord, if not for love of me,
Yet for the sake of sweet Saint Charity;
Make hills and dales, and earth and heaven rejoice,
And emulate your father's angel voice.
The cock was pleas'd to hear him speak so fair,
And proud, beside, as solar people are;
Nor could the treason from the truth descry,
So was he ravish'd with this flattery:
So much the more, as from a little elf,
He had a high opinion of himself;
Though sickly, slender, and not large of limb,
Concluding all the world was made for him.
Ye princes rais'd by poets to the gods,
And Alexander'd up in lying odes,
Believe not every flattering knave's report,
There's many a Reynard lurking in the court;
And he shall be receiv'd with more regard,
And listened to, than modest truth is heard.
This Chanticleer, of whom the story sings,
Stood high upon his toes, and clapp'd his wings;
Then stretch'd his neck, and wink'd with both his eyes,
Ambitious, as he sought th' Olympic prize.
But while he pain'd himself to raise his note,
False Reynard rush'd, and caught him by the throat.
Then on his back he laid the precious load,
And sought his wonted shelter of the wood;
Swiftly he made his way, the mischief done,
Of all unheeded, and pursued by none.
Not louder cries, when Ilium was in flames,
Were sent to heaven by woful Trojan dames,
When Pyrrhus toss'd on high his burnish'd blade,
And offer'd Priam to his father's shade,
Than for the cock the widow'd poultry made.
Fair Partlet first, when he was borne from sight,
With sovereign shrieks bewail'd her captive knight:
Far louder than the Carthaginian wife,
When Asdrubal, her husband, lost his life,
When she beheld the smouldering flames ascend,
And all the Punic glories at an end :
Willing into the fires she plung'd her head,
With greater ease than others seek their bed.
Not more aghast the matrons of renown,
When tyrant Nero burnt th' imperial town,
Shriek'd for the downfall in a doleful cry,
For which their guiltless lords were doom'd to die.
Now to my story I return again :
The trembling widow, and her daughters twain,
This woful cackling cry with horror heard,
Of those distracted damsels in the yard;
And starting up, beheld the heavy sight,
How Reynard to the forest took his flight;
And, cross his back, as in triumphant scorn,
The hope and pillar of the house was borne.
The fox, the wicked fox, was all the cry;
Out from his house ran every neighbour nigh;
The vicar first, and after him the crew
With forks and staves, the felon to pursue.
Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot with the band,"
And Malkin with her distaff in her hand;
Ran cow and calf, and family of hogs,
In panic horror of pursuing dogs;
With many a deadly grunt and doleful squeak,
Poor swine, as if their pretty hearts would break.
The shouts of men, the women in dismay,
With shrieks augment the horror of the day.
The ducks, that heard the proclamation cried,
And fear'd a persecution might betide,
Full twenty mile from town their voyage take,
Obscure in rushes of the liquid lake;
The geese fly o'er the barn; the bees in arms,
Drive headlong from their waxen cells in swarms.
Jack Straw at London-stone, with all his rout,
Struck not the city with so loud a shout;
Not when with English hate they did pursue
A Frenchman, or an unbelieving Jew:
Not when the welkin rung with one and all,
And echoes bounded back from Fox's hall,
Earth seem'd to sink beneath, and heaven above to fall.
With might and main they chas'd the murderous fox,
With brazen trumpets, and inflated box,
To kindle Mars with military sounds;
Nor wanted horns t' inspire sagacious hounds.
But see how fortune can confound the wise,
And, when they least expect it, turn the dice.
The captive cock, who scarce could draw his breath,
And lay within the very jaws of death,
Yet in this agony his fancy wrought,
And fear supplied him with this happy thought:
Yours is the prize, victorious prince, said he;
The vicar my defeat, and all the village see;
Enjoy your friendly fortune while you may,
And bid the churls that envy you the prey
Call back their mongrel curs, and cease their cry;
See, fools, the shelter of the wood is nigh,
And Chanticleer in your despite shall die;
He shall be pluck'd and eaten to the bone.
"Tis well advis'd, in faith it shall be done. This Reynard said; but, as the word he spoke, The prisoner with a spring from prison broke; Then stretch'd his feather'd fans with all his might, And to the neighbouring maple wing'd his flight. Whom when the traitor safe on tree beheld, He curs'd the gods, with shame and sorrow fill'd; Shame for his folly, sorrow out of time, For plotting an unprofitable crime; Yet, mastering both, th' artificer of lies Renews th' assault, and his last battery tries. Though I, said he, did ne'er in thought offend, How justly may my lord suspect his friend! Th' appearance is against me, I confess, Who seemingly have put you in distress: You, if your goodness does not plead my cause, May think I broke all hospitable laws, To bear you from your palace-yard by might, And put your noble person in a fright: This, since you take it ill, I must repent, Though, Heaven can witness, with no bad intent; I practis'd it, to make you taste your cheer With double pleasure, first prepar'd by fear.
So loyal subjects often seize their prince,
Forc'd (for his good) to seeming violence,
Yet mean his sacred person not the least offence.
Descend; so help me Jove, as you shall find
That Reynard comes of no dissembling kind.
Nay, quoth the cock; but I beshrew us both, If I believe a saint upon his oath : An honest man may take a knave's advice, But idiots only may be cozen'd twice: Once warn'd is well bewar'd; not flattering lies Shall soothe me more to sing with winking eyes And open mouth, for fear of catching flies. Who blindfold walks upon a river's brim, When he should see, has he deserv'd to swim? Better, sir cock, let all contention cease. Come down, said Reynard, let us treat of peace. A peace with all my soul, said Chanticleer, But, with your favour, I will treat it here: And, lest the truce with treason should be mixt, 'Tis my concern to have the tree betwixt.
In this plain fable you th' effect may see Of negligence and fond credulity: And learn, besides, of flatterers to beware, Then most pernicious when they speak too fair. The cock and fox the fool and knave imply; The truth is moral, though the tale a lie. Who spoke in parables, I dare not say; But sure he knew it was a pleasing way, Sound sense, by plain example, to convey. And in a heathen author we may find, That pleasure with instruction should be join'd: So take the corn, and leave the chaff behind.
[Inconveniences of Life in Rome.]
Who fears in country towns a house's fall,
Or to be caught betwixt a riven wall?
But we inhabit a weak city here,
Which buttresses and props but scarcely bear:
And 'tis the village mason's daily calling,
To keep the world's metropolis from falling;
To cleanse the gutters, and the chinks to close;
And, for one night, secure his lord's repose.
At Cuma we can sleep quite round the year,
Nor falls, nor fires, nor nightly dangers fear;
While rolling flames from Roman turrets fly,
And the pale citizens for buckets cry.
Thy neighbour has remov'd his wretched store,
(Few hands will rid the lumber of the poor)
Thy own third storey smokes, while thou, supine,
Art drench'd in fumes of undigested wine.
For if the lowest floors already burn,
Cock-loft and garrets soon will take the turn.
Where thy tame pigeons next the tiles were bred,
Which, in their nests unsafe, are timely fled,
Codrus had but one bed, so short to boot,
That his short wife's short legs hung dangling out;
His cupboard's head six earthen pitchers grac'd,
Beneath them was his trusty tankard plac'd.
And, to support this noble plate, there lay
A bended Chiron cast from honest clay;
His few Greek books a rotten chest contain'd,
Whose covers much of mouldiness complain'd;
Where mice and rats devour'd poetic bread,
And with heroic verse luxuriously were fed.
'Tis true poor Codrus nothing had to boast,
And yet poor Codrus all that nothing lost,
Begg'd naked through the streets of wealthy Rome,
And found not one to feed, or take him home.
But if the palace of Arturius burn,
The nobles change their clothes, the matrons mourn;
The city prætor will no pleadings hear;
The very name of fire we hate and fear,
And look aghast, as if the Gauls were here.