Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Likeness appears in every lineament;
But likeness in thy work is eloquent.
Though Nature there her true resemblance bears,
A nobler beauty in thy piece appears.
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame,
Flesh looks less living in the lovely dame.
Thou paint'st as we describe, improving still,
When on wild Nature we ingraft our skill;
But not creating beauties at our will.

But poets are confin'd in narrower space, To speak the language of their native place: The painter widely stretches his command; Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land. From hence, my friend, all climates are your own, Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none. All nations all immunities will give To make you theirs, where'er you please to live; And not seven cities, but the world would strive.

Sure some propitious planet then did smile, When first you were conducted to this isle : Our genius brought you here, t' enlarge our fame: For your good stars are everywhere the same. Thy matchless hand, of every region free, Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.

Great Rome and Venice early did impart
To thee the examples of their wondrous art.
Those masters then, but seen, not understood,
With generous emulation fir'd thy blood:
For what in Nature's dawn the child admir'd,
The youth endeavor'd, and the man acquir'd.

If yet thou hast not reach'd their high degree,
"Tis only wanting to this age, not thee.
Thy genius, bounded by the times, like mine,
Drudges on petty draughts, nor dare design
A more exalted work, and more divine.
For what a song, or senseless opera,
Is to the living labor of a play;

Or what a play to Virgil's work would be,
Such is a single piece to history.

But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live:
Kings cannot reign, unless their subjects give:
And they, who pay the taxes, bear the rule:
Thus, thou, sometimes, art forc'd to draw a fool:
But so his follies in thy posture sink,
The senseless idiot seems at last to think.

THE COCK AND THE FOX:

OR. THE TALE OF THE NUN'S PRIEST. 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.

To wish their vile resemblance may remain!
And stand recorded, at their own request,
To future days, a libel or a jest!

Else should we see your noble pencil trace
Our unities of action, time, and place:
A whole compos'd of parts, and those the best,
With every various character exprest;
Heroes at large, and at a nearer view:
Less, and at distance, an ignobler crew.
While all the figures in one action join,
As tending to complete the main design.

More cannot be by mortal art exprest; But venerable age shall add the rest, For Time shall with his ready pencil stand; Retouch your figures with his ripening hand; Mellow your colors, and embrown the teint; Add every grace, which Time alone can grant; To future ages shall your fame convey, And give more beauties than he takes away.

The cattle in her homestead were three sows,
An ewe call'd Mallie, and three brinded cows.
Her parlor-window stuck with herbs around,
Of savory 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 humors out,
Her dancing was not hinder'd by the gout.
Her poverty was glad; her heart content;
Nor knew she what the spleen or vapors 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 skimm'd her

bowls)

And rashers of sing'd bacon on the coals.
On holy-days 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

Good Heaven! that sots and knaves should be so The merry notes of organs at the mass.

vain,

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 clapp'd 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.
This gentle cock, for solace of his life,
Six misses had, besides his lawful wife;
Scandal, that spares no king, though ne'er so good,
Says, they were all of his own flesh and blood,
His sisters both by sire and mother's side;
And sure their likeness show'd them near allied.
But make the worst, the monarch did no more
Than all the Ptolemys had done before:
When incest is for interest of a nation,
Tis made no sin by holy dispensation.
Some lines have been maintain'd by this alone,
Which by their common ugliness are known.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

But passing this, as from our tale apart,
Dame Partlet was the sovereign of his heart:
Ardent in love, outrageous in his play,
He feather'd her a hundred times a day:
And she, that was not only passing fair,
But was withal discreet, and debonnaire,
Resolv'd the passive doctrine to fulfil,
Though loth; and let him work his wicked will:
At board and bed was affable and kind,
According as their marriage vow did bind,
And as the church's precept had enjoin'd:
Ev'n since she was a se'nnight old, they say,
Was chaste and humble to her dying day,
Nor chick nor hen was known to disobey.

By this her husband's heart she did obtain;
What cannot beauty, join'd with virtue, gain!
She was his only joy, and he her pride,
She, when he walk'd, went pecking by his side;
If, spurning up the ground, he sprung a corn,
The tribute in his bill to her was borne.
But, Oh! what joy it was to hear him sing
In summer, when the day began to spring,
Stretching his neck, and warbling in his throat,
66 Solus cum sola," then was all his note.
For in the days of yore, the birds of parts
Were bred to speak, and sing, and learn the liberal The dominating humor makes the dream.

arts.

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 humors that abound.
I should be loth 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."

46

It happ'd, that, perching on the parlor-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 lothesome 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 color 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 fy 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 honor 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 fight?

[ocr errors]

44

How dar'st thou tell thy dame thou art affear'd?
Hast thou no manly heart, and hast a beard?

"If aught 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 humors 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 humors 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,

[ocr errors]

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 forebode;
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' event of things, and future weal or woe: Some truths are not by reason to be tried, But we have sure experience for our guide. An ancient author, equal with the best, Relates this tale of dreams among the rest.

"Two friends or brothers, with devout intent,
On some far pilgrimage together went.
It happen'd so, that, when the Sun was down,
They just arriv'd by twilight at a town:
That day had been the baiting of a bull,
"Twas at a feast, and every inn so full,
That no void room in chamber, or on ground,
And but one sorry bed, was to be found:
And that so little it would hold but one,
Though till this hour they never lay alone.

"So were they forc'd to part; one stay'd behind, His fellow sought what lodging he could find: At last he found a stall where oxen stood, And that he rather chose than lie abroad. "Twas in a farther yard without a door; But, for his ease, well litter'd was the floor.

46

'His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept, Was weary, and without a rocker slept: Supine he snor'd; but in the dead of night, He dreamt his friend appear'd before his sight, Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry, Said, Help me, brother, or this night I die : Arise, and help, before all help be vain, Or in an ox's stall I shall be slain.'

"Rous'd from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Shivering with horror, and with aching heart. At length to cure himself by reason tries; "Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies? So thinking, chang'd his side, and clos'd his eyes. His dream returns; his friend appears again:

The murderers come, now help, or I am slain :' "Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain. He dreamt the third: but now his friend appear'd, Pale, naked, pierc'd with wounds, with blood besmear'd: Thrice warn'd, Awake,' said he; relief is late, The deed is done; but thou revenge my fate: Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes, Awake, and with the dawning day arise: Take to the western gate thy ready way, For by that passage they my corpse convey: My corpse is in a tumbril laid, among The filth and ordure, and inclos'd with dung: That cart arrest, and raise a common cry; For sacred hunger of my gold, I die :' Then show'd his grisly wound; and last he drew A piteous sigh, and took a long adieu.

"The frighted friend arose by break of day, And found the stall where late his fellow lay. Then of his impious host inquiring more, Was answer'd that his guest was gone before: Muttering, he went,' said he, by morning light, And much complain'd of his ill rest by night.' This rais'd suspicion in the pilgrim's mind; Because all hosts are of an evil kind, And oft to share the spoils with robbers join'd. "His dream confirm'd his thought: with troubled look

[ocr errors]

Straight to the western gate his way he took;
There, as his dream foretold, a cart he found,
That carried compost forth to dung the ground.
This when the pilgrim saw, he stretch'd his throat,
And cried out murder with a yelling note.
'My murder'd fellow in this cart lies dead,
Vengeance and justice on the villain's head.

Ye magistrates, who sacred laws dispense,
On you I call, to punish this offence.'

"The word thus given, within a little space, The mob came roaring out, and throng'd the place, All in a trice they cast the cart to ground, And in the dung the murder'd body found; Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the wound.

Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find
Is boundless grace, and mercy to mankind,
Abhors the cruel; and the deeds of night
By wondrous ways reveals in open light:
Murder may pass unpunish'd for a time,
But tardy Justice will o'ertake the crime.
And oft a speedier pain the guilty feels:
The hue and cry of Heaven pursues him at the heels:
Fresh from the fact, as in the present case,
The criminals are seiz'd upon the place :
Carter and host confronted face to face.
Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,

On engines they distend their tortur'd joints:
So was confession forc'd, th' offence was known,
And public justice on th' offenders done.

46

Here may you see that visions are to dread; And in the page that follows this, I read

Of two young merchants, whom the hope of gain
Induc'd in partnership to cross the main.
Waiting till willing winds their sails supplied,
Within a trading town they long abide,
Full fairly situate on a haven's side;
One evening it befell, that looking out,

The wind they long had wish'd was come about:
Well pleas'd they went to rest; and if the gale
Till morn continued, both resolv'd to sail.
But as together in a bed they lay,"

The younger had a dream at break of day.
A man he thought stood frowning at his side;
Who warn'd him for his safety to provide,
Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide.

I come, thy genius, to command thy stay;
Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day,
And Death unhop'd attends the watery way.'

"The vision said: and vanish'd from his sight:
The dreamer waken'd in a mortal fright:
Then pull'd his drowsy neighbor, and declar'd
What in his slumber he had seen and heard.

His friend smil'd scornful, and with proud contempt

Rejects as idle what his fellow dreamt.

Stay, who will stay: for me no fears restrain,

Who follow Mercury the god of gain;

Let each man do as to his fancy seems,

I wait not, I, till you have better dreams.
Dreams are but interludes which Fancy makes;
When monarch Reason sleeps, this mimic wakes
Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
A mob of cobblers, and a court of kings:
Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad:
Both are the reasonable soul run mad:
And many monstrous forms in sleep we see,
That neither were, nor are, nor e'er can be.
Sometimes forgotten things long cast behind
Rush forward in the brain, and come to mind.
The nurse's legends are for truths receiv'd,
And the man dreams but what the boy believ'd.
Sometimes we but rehearse a former play,
The night restores our actions done by day;
As hounds in sleep will open for their prey.
In short, the farce of dreams is of a piece,
Chimeras all; and more absurd, or less:
You, who believe in tales, abide alone;
Whate'er I get this voyage is my own.'

[ocr errors]

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.

Thus while he spoke, he heard the shouting crew While thou art constant to thy own true knight,
That call'd aboard, and took his last adieu.
The vessel went before a merry gale,
And for quick passage put on every sail :
But when least fear'd, and ev'n in open day,
The mischief overtook her in the way:
Whether she sprung a leak, I cannot find,
Or whether she was overset with wind,
Or that some rock below her bottom rent;
But down at once with all her crew she went:
Her fellow-ships from far her loss descried :
But only she was sunk, and all were safe beside.

"By this example you are taught again, That dreams and visions are not always vain: But if, dear Partlet, you are still in doubt, Another tale shall make the former out.

"Kenelm the son of Kenulph, Mercia's king,
Whose holy life the legends loudly sing,
Warn'd in a dream, his murder did foretell
From point to point as after it befell;
All circumstances to his nurse he told
(A wonder from a child of seven years old :)
The dream with horror heard, the good old wife
From treason counsel'd him to guard his life;
But close to keep the secret in his mind,
For a boy's vision small belief would find.
The pious child, by promise bound, obey'd,
Nor was the fatal murder long delay'd
By Quenda slain, he fell before his time,
Made a young martyr by his sister's crime.
The tale is told by venerable Bede,
Which at your better leisure you may read.
"Macrobius too relates the vision sent
To the great Scipio, with the fam'd event:
Objections makes, but after makes replies,
And adds, that dreams are often prophecies.

"Of Daniel you may read in holy writ,
Who, when the king his vision did forget,
Could word for word the wondrous dream repeat.
Not less of patriarch Joseph understand,
Who by a dream enslav'd th' Egyptian land,
The years of plenty and of dearth foretold,
When, for their bread, their liberty they sold.
Nor must th' exalted butler be forgot,
Nor he whose dream presag'd his hanging lot.

"And did not Croesus same death foresee, Rais'd in his vision on a lofty tree? The wife of Hector, in his utmost pride, Dreamt of his death the night before he died ; Well was he warn'd from battle to refrain, But men to death decreed are warn'd in vain : He dar'd the dream, and by his fatal foe was slain. "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,

Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.
For when by night I feel your tender side,
Though for the narrow perch I cannot ride,
Yet I have such a solace in my mind,
That all my boding cares are cast behind;
And ev'n already I forget my dream :"

He said, and downward flew from off the beam.
For daylight 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.
Then often feather'd her with wanton play,
And trod her twenty times ere prime of day:
And took by turns and gave so much delight,
Her sisters pin'd with envy at the sight.
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 dames sit scouring 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 masterpiece below; And learn the latter end of joy is woe. The vessel of his bliss to dregs is run, And Heaven will have him taste his other tun.

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 Tristran 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 neighboring wood:
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.

(As murderers use) to perpetrate his crime.

O hypocrite, ingenious to destroy,

The plot contriv'd, before the break of day,
Saint Reynard through the hedge had made his way;
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, In other authors you may find enough,

For women, with a mischief to their kind,
Pervert, with bad advice, our better mind.
A woman's counsel brought us first to woe,
And made her man his Paradise forego,
Where at heart's ease he lived; and might have

been

As free from sorrow as he was from sin.
For what the devil had their sex to do,
That, born to folly, they presum'd to know,
And could not see the serpent in the grass?
But I myself presume, and let it pass.

Silence in times of suffering is the best,
"Tis dangerous to disturb an hornet's nest.

The first so binds the will, that things foreknown
By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar,
Content to work, in prospect of the shore;
But would not work at all, if not constrain'd before.
That other does not liberty constrain,
But man may either act, or may refrain.
Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
And forc'd it not, though he foresaw the will.
Freedom was first bestow'd on human race,
And prescience only held the second place.

If he could make such agents wholly free,
I not dispute, the point's too high for me; [sound,
For Heaven's unfathom'd power what man can
Or put to his Omnipotence a bound?
He made us to his image, all agree;
That image is the soul, and that must be,
Or not the Maker's image, or be free.
But whether it were better man had been
By nature bound to good, not free to sin,
I waive, for fear of splitting on a rock.
The tale I tell is only of a cock,
Who had not run the hazard of his life,
Had he believ'd his dream, and not his wife:

But all they say of dames is idle stuff.
Legends of lying wits together bound,
The Wife of Bath would throw them to the ground;
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine,

O traitor, worse than Sinon was to Troy!
O vile subverter of the Gallic reign,
More false than Gano was to Charlemain!
O Chanticleer, in an unhappy hour
Didst thou forsake the safety of thy bower:
Better for thee thou hadst believ'd thy dream,
And not that day descended from the beam!
But here the doctors eagerly dispute:
Some hold predestination absolute :

I honor dames, and think their sex divine.
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:

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:

Some clerks maintain, that Heaven at first foresees, And so befell, that as he cast his eye,
And in the virtue of foresight decrees.
If this be so, then prescience binds the will,
And mortals are not free to good or ill:
For what he first foresaw, he must ordain,
Or its eternal prescience may be vain:
As bad for us as prescience had not been,
For first, or last, he's author of the sin.
And who says that, let the blaspheming man
Say worse ev'n of the Devil, if he can.
For how can that eternal Power be just
To punish man, who sins because he must?
Or, how can he reward a virtuous deed,
Which is not done by us; but first decreed?

I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
As Bradwardin and holy Austin can;
If prescience can determine actions so
That we must do, because he did foreknow,
Or that, foreknowing, yet our choice is free,
Not forc'd to sin by strict necessity;
This strict necessity they simple call,
Another sort there is conditional.

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 honor'd you so long:
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
For, on my soul, I never meant you harm.
I come no 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 neighbor in the wood;
And in my cottage should be proud to see
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

« PoprzedniaDalej »