REYNARD THE FOX.
A BURLESQUE POEM
LOW-GERMAN ORIGINAL OF THK FIFTEENTH CENTURY.
To show what th' adage says of old :
That Wit is better far than Gold.
DE VRIES, IBARRA & CO.
NEW YORK: CHARLES SCRIBXEK. .
Knterrd arcordinir to Act of CngreK, in the year IHfH, lijr
I)K VRIKS, IRAKKA AND CO.
In the Clerk'* Offlco of the Iii-iri, t Court of tlie I ii-iri,-i of Mauadi
THE Fable of the Fox is of a very ancient origin ;
for it may be traced in several languages, particu-
larly in the German and French, up to the thir-
teenth Century, and probably it existed even before
that period. For it is reported that a certain Earl
Reynard, or Reginard, a vassal of King Sveiitebold
of Lorraine, who lived in the tenth Century of our
Era, being outlawed and persecuted by his Sover-
eign, found means, by dint of his slyness, to elude
all the persecutions of his King, insomuch that his
name had become proverbial, as denoting a sly and
cunning person ; and it is supposed by many, that
the adventures of this Earl furnished the first ma-
terials for the fable.
The names of Tsegrim and Reynard, applied to
the Wolf and Fox by the German and French
writers, being originally German, seem to indicate
that the fable first of all was composed by a Ger-
man author, although we do not know at present of
any production of that kind in German, of so early
Towards the latter end of the fifteenth Century
the fable of the Wolf and Fox became the vehicle
of several poignant satires against the vices and
corruptions of those times, and the following works
of that tendency have been mentioned by Hearne,
Flogel, Marchand and other philologists :
Reynard the Fox, printed for Wm. Caxton.
Westminster 1481. Folio.
De Historic van Reynaert de Vos. Delft. 1485.
Le Livre de Maistre Reynard & de sa femme
Hereante. 1478. Quarto.
Last of all a Poem, written in the Low- German
dialect, and entitled Reyneke de Vbs, was published
at Lubeck in the year 1498. Only a single Copy
of this edition remains extant in the library of the
Duke of Brunswick.
A second edition of this work was published at
Rostock in 1515, and a third in 1517 at the same
place. The former is lost, but of the latter a Copy
PREFACE. t VH
is said to exist in the library of the King of Saxony.
The fourth edition, published by Nicholas Bauman
and printed for Ludwig Dietz at Rostock in 1522,
seems likewise to be lost ; but a fifth edition was
published in 1539 by the same bookseller at Ros-
tock. A Copy of this edition which is very
rare is deposited in the library of the city of
The Author of the Low-German Original, in
his preface to the first edition of his Work, called
himself Hinrek van Alkmer, tutor and preceptor to
the Duke of Lorraine, and said that he translated it
from the French and Walloon languages ; but it
has been long since the opinion of Philologists, that
the name of Hinrek van Alkmer was only a ficti-
tious one, assumed by the real author Nicholas
Bauman for political reasons ; for he lived at first
as secretary with the Duke of Juliers ; but having
incurred the displeasure of the Duke, he entered as
secretary into the service of Magnus, Duke of Meck-
lenburg, whose favorite he became, and in whose
service he continued till his death, which happened
at Rostock in 1526. All these circumstances have
been also confirmed by the descendants of Bauman.
In fact no such name, as Hinrek van Alkmer is
to be found upon record any where among the
names of the Literati of the middle age ; excepting
the mention made of it in the preface to the first
edition of Reyneke de Vos of 1498 ; and it is .to
be observed, that in the numerous subsequent edi-
tions, which have been published by Ludwig Dietz
at Rostock, down to the year 1549, only the name
of the editor Bauman is mentioned, and not a word
said about Hinrek van Alkmer.
Moreover it is hardly to be conceived, that a
work, which was at first published at Lubeck, and
afterwards at Rostock, should have been composed
by an author residing in Lorraine ; or that an in-
habitant of that Country should have wrote a poem
in a dialect, which is peculiar to Low-Germany,
and particularly to the province of East-Frisia, the
native country of Bauman.
But be this as it may, it is certain at least, that
whosoever was the author of Reyneke de Vos,
he was a man of much wit, learning, humour and
knowledge of mankind, and that his work is a val-
uable specimen of ancient Low-German poetry,
full of poignant satire against the vices and abuses
of his time, and that it contributed no less, than the
works of Erasmus, Rabelais and Boccaccio, to pave
the way for the Reformation. It was one of the
first works printed in Germany, and it was at that
time very popular.
Like the Don Quixote of Cervantes, it has ever
since preserved its popularity. From the fifteenth
down to the end of the eighteenth Century no less
than twenty two editions of the Original have been
published, and at the same time it has been trans-
lated into almost every language of Europe, nay
even into Latin verse by Herrman Schopper in
1567, and into Hebrew by Rabbi Barachias Ben
Natronai in 1557. Goethe, the great German
Poet, translated it into German Hexameters ; and
a second edition of the translation in German Dog-
gerel-Rhymes (the same metre, in which the Orig-
inal is written), has been published with success.
The Consanguinity of the languages has sug-
gested the attempt at English Paraphrase, which is
now offered to the Public.
Hypercritics may possibly find fault with some
passages in the poem, which savor a little of the
indelicate taste of the middle age. They could not
be expunged entirely, without deviating from the
plan of the fable, with which they are so closely
interwoven, that, without them, much of the comical
effect of the poem would be lost; but the en-
deavor has been made to mitigate them as much
!as possible. Besides, none of them, even in the
rude style of the original, contain such indelicacies
as Butler's ffudibras, which still meets with ad-
mirers (and in many respects not undeservedly) in
our polite age.
It has been thought expedient to transplant the
scene of action from Germany to England, imagin-
ing that this would adapt the subject more to the
taste of the English reader.
Another alteration, which has been adopted, re-
spects the outward form of the work. The Original
is divided into four Books, of which the first con-
tains thirty nine Chapters, the second only nine, the
third fourteen and the last thirteen. The dispro-
portion appeared to be too great between the first
Book and the three others. The same disproportion
also prevailed in the subdivision of the Chapters,
some of which contained upwards of two hundred
lines, and others only twenty. Instead of this, the
whole Poem has been divided into four Parts, and
each Part into three Cantos.
Finally, Philologists express the opinion, that
the first book of the Original (which compre-
hends the first and second part of the present
Paraphrase) contains in fact a translation, or an
imitation of some other, more ancient work, and
that the rest was composed by the Poet himself.
Beside the passages alluded to above, several
other abridgments have been made, in order to
avoid the pleonasms and tautologies which fre-
quently occur in the Original, and in most of the
other works of the middle age.
P A E T I.
CANTO I. THE ACCUSATION 17
II. THE FIRST SUMMONS 31
III. THE SECOND SUMMONS 45
CANTO I. THE TRIAL 64
II. THE PARDON 76
III. THE RELAPSE . 88
CANTO I. THE OUTLAWRY 108
II. THE JOURNEY 120
III. THE ADVOCACY 135
CANTO I. THE SECOND PARDON 152
II. THE DEFIANCE 173
III. THE BATTLE 190
APPLIED TO THE ANIMALS, WHICH APPEAR IN THIS POEM.
NOBLE the Lion.
REYNARD (also Rankey) . . . the Fox.
ERMINET the She-Fox.
RANKEY and RUSSET . . . their Whelps.
GROWLER the Wolf.
SURLY the She -Wolf.
GIB the Cat.
FRISKY the Lap-Dog.
GRAY the Badger.
CHANTICLEER the Cock.
SIMPLE the Ram.
CASTOR the Beaver.
PUG the Monkey.
PRY the She-Ape.
Puss : the Hare.
BROWN the Bear.
CANTO I. THE ACCUSATION.
King Noble orders public feasts
For all his Subjects, birds and beasts.
Reynard, accus'd of knavish art,
Gray, his relative, takes his part ;
When, lo ! the Cock, Sir Chanticleer
And all his family appear
With fresh complaints. The King, by warrant,
Sends for the Fox. Brown goes the errand.
IT happen'd on a Whitsunday,
When woods and fields look'd green and gay,
When balmy flow'rs and herbs were springing,
And feather'd folks were sweetly singing ;
The Morn was fine, the weather clear,
And fragrant odours fill'd the air,
When Noble, sov'reign King of Beasts,
Proclaim'd a Court and public feasts.
His loyal Subjects, Lords and Commons,
Obey'd their Master's royal summons,
(8 REYNARD THE FOX. fPAKT I
And many a valiant Knight and Squire
To Court repair'd in grand attire
With their attendants, great and small ;
'T was difficult to count them all.
E'en Crane and Jackdaw, Rook and Jay, 15
Buzzard and Owl, came forth that day;
For Noble to this sumptuous feast
Had summon'd every bird and beast,
Save crafty Reynard, who alone,
For vilest mischief he had done, 20
Was holden in such ill report,
He durst not show his face at Court.
As deeds of darkness shun the light,
So Rankey did ; that treach'rous wight,
Convinc'd, he would not be commended 25
By those, he had so oft offended.
No one was found on that dread day,
Except his friend, the Badger Gray,
But who, when Sessions did begin,
Brought against him some Action in. 30
Growler, the Wolf and his relations
Presented first their accusations.
Growler the royal Throne approach'd,
And thus his doleful tale he broach'd :
' May't please Your Majesty, for Pity 3.)
And Justice' sake I do intreat Ye
To listen to the rueful story
Of wrongs, which I must lay before Ye ;
CANTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 19
For Reynard, vilest of his race,
Hath overwhelm'd me with disgrace. 40
My wife, alas! he has beguil'd,
My children too he hath defil'd,
For with his ordure, out of spite,
He robb'd them of their precious sight.
When tried for this his foul offence, 45
Instead of making a defence,
Away the sneaking rascal stole,
And basely fled into his hole.
I should not finish in a week,
Of all his knavish tricks to speak ; 50
Nay, if the greatest Linen-draper
Had all his stock made into paper,
'T were not sufficient to contain
The wrongs, of which I might complain.
Then grant me but this one request : 55
Revenge my wife ; I waive the rest."
When Growler thus his speech had ended,
Frisky, a Lap-dog, much offended,
Began a tale in French, and swore :
" Parbleu ! " that when he had no more, 60
Than one poor sausage, in a wood
Vile Rankey robb'd him of his food.
Him Gib, the Cat, did hastily
Cut short. " In troth, Your Majesty
(Quoth he) may well on Reynard frown ; 65
'T is felt by all, to All 't is known,
20 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART I.
We stand of him iii greater fear,
Than of Yourself. This Frisky here,
However, tells a pretty story,
But lame, as I shall prove before Ye. 70
The sausage, Sir, in fact was wn'ne,
Although to claim it, I decline.
One night, in close pursuit of game,
By chance into a mill I came ;
The miller, who sat in the passage, 75
Was fast asleep ; I took the sausage,
And therefore Frisky must admit,
That he had no pretence to it."
" Gib (said the Leopard), 't is in vain,
Of such small matter to complain. 80
We know full well, that Reynard's tricks
Are more provoking, than Old Nick's ;
He robs and steals like any thief
And footpad, and he would as lief
Sell King and Country for a pullet, 85
As you catch mice, to fill your gullet.
To prove the truth of what I say,
Hear what hath happen'd yesterday
To tim'rous Puss, the harmless hare :
To cozen her into a snare, 90
With promises the wretch begun :
He swore, she should become a nun,
And he would teach her to sing mass,
As naturally, as eat grass.
CANTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 21
But when upon her Knees she fell 95
(Convinc'd that Reynard meant it well),
To sing the Creed, the villain seiz'd her,
And between both his knees he squeez'd her,
And would have kill'd her, if her cry
Had not struck me, as I pass'd by. 100
I heard the noise, and going in,
I found him plucking Pussey's skin.
The wounds, which on her neck appear,
Confirm the truth of what you hear.
If you, My Lords, would now defer 105
To punish this fell murderer,
You would encourage him, to break
The King's peace, nay in time his neck ;
For those, who suffer from him, would
Seek their revenge, on whom they could, 110
And you and your descendants may
Be made to rue it some fine day."
Quoth Growler : " Very true, My Lord ;
The Leopard spoke a well-tim'd word.
All peaceful Creatures, Sir, will thank Ye 115
If you will hang this rascal Rankey ;
But if you spare him on this score,
He'll rob and murder hundreds more."
The badger Gray, nephew to Reynard,
To plead his uncle's cause did strain hard, 120
And thus he did the Wolf address :
" Sir Growler, an old proverb says,
22 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART I.
No Praise comes from an enemy.
This shows your bitter calumny
Against my uncle Reynard here, 125
Who, if in Court he should appear,
Would make some busy folks, I wot,
Right fain, Sir Wolf, to change their note.
You speak of faults, long since committed ; .
But why, good Sir, have you omitted 130
The cruelties and actions vile,
Which your own character defile ? +
You probably have not forgot
Your ent'ring once into a plot
With him, to stroll about for booty, 135
And that my uncle, true t' his duty,
Was nearly kill'd on your account,
Which, with your leave, I must recount :
A Clown they met once, with his Cart,
Bringing new mackerel to mart ; 140
Growler was eager to devour them,
But lacking money to pay for them,
Reynard had pity on his hard case
And ventur'd for his friend his carcase ;
For in the track he did lay down 145
With counterfeited death ; the Clown
To kill my uncle, drew his knife,
But as he show'd no sign of life,
He careless on the cart did lay him,
Drove on again, and meant to flay him. 150
CANTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 23
Reynard flung down the mackerel,
Which Growler pick'd up, as they fell,
Who wisely follow'd at some distance,
And came not near, for fear of mischance.
Reynard at length was tir'd of keeping 155
His place, and from the carriage leaping,
He for his share of th' fish did call ;
But Growler had devour'd them all,
And he got nothing for his pain,
But the bare bones, which did remain. 1 60
Soon after this a Butcher kill'd
A fine fat Hog. . Sly Reynard, fill'd
With hopes of meeting with nice fare,
To Growler made haste to repair.
To share the booty they agreed, 165
When Reynard, eager to succeed,
Rush'd boldly in, and flung the meat
Out of the shop into the street,
But was attack'd by Dogs, who curried
His hide, till he was almost worried. 170
All bleeding he to Growler came,
His mess of pork from him to claim.
Quoth Growler : " Yes, come here and eat
This fine fat morsel of hog's meat,"
And with a sneer to him he flung 1 75
The Crook, on which the sow had hung.
Reynard, for usage so unfair,
Was mad with rage and with despair.
24 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART I.
Nay, many other tricks I could
Report like this, Sir, if I would ; 180
But I'll be silent on the rest,
Reynard himself can tell them best.
I only shall observe, My Lord,
That Growler spoke a foolish word,
And brought great scandal on his wife, 185
Whom at the peril of his life
He ought to screen from defamation.
But to refute his accusation,
Some years ago Reynard by chance
Met "with Dame Surly at a dance 190
In Growler's absence ; he was ready
To show attention to the lady,
And (as report says) she no less
Was pleas'd with Reynard's courteousness ;
At least we never heard her mention 195
That he abus'd her condescension ;
Nor can it add to Growler's honour.
To bring disgrace and blame upon her.
The Leopard's tale of Puss is nought ;
For if she sung not as she ought, 200
Reynard, her teacher and director
Did right, to punish and correct her.
Young folks are petulant and wild ;
To spare the rod, would spoil the child.
Beau Frisky too had best refrain, 205
Of loss of sausage to complain.
CANTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 25
You heard, My Lord, that in the woods
Reynard took from him stolen goods.
What on the devil's back is got,
Under his belly goes to pot. 210
Reynard, for acting as he did,
Deserves more to be prais'd, than chid.
The duty of men in high trust is,
To bring such sneaking rogues to Justice ;
If he had hang'd the Cur, 't is true, 215
The devil had but got his due ;
But Reynard modestly refrain'd ;
Because it is by law ordain'd,
That Kings alone should have the sway,
To take a Subject's life away. 220
Reynard with so much loyalty
Respects the rights of Royalty,
That, since Your Majesty proclaim'd
A general peace, he never maim'd,
Nor hurt a single peaceful creature ; 225
For he is of such sober nature,
That he makes but one meal a day,
And like an hermit, his array
Is a coarse, rugged frock of hair ;
Meat he abhorreth for his fare, 230
Nay those, who saw him last, will tell
He left his house, and built a cell,
And was grown pale with everlasting
Contrition, penance, pray'rs and fasting.
26 EEYNARD THE FOX. [PABT I
My uncle thus, in spite of railings 235
And slander, expiates his failings,
And if for his defence you call,
He will confute his sland'rers all."
Gray scarce had done, when Chanticleer
The Cock, in mourning did appear, 240
Two Sons accompanied their Sire,
Like him in funeral attire,
With hoods of crape and torches lighted,
And doleful lays they both recited ;
Two others follow'd with a bier ; 245
Mournful and slowly they drew near,
With heartfelt sighs and deepest groan,
Their fav'rite sister to bemoan.
The Cock in tears the Throne approach'd,
And thus his sad harangue he broach'd : 250
" My Liege, have pity on a man,
The most distressed of his clan.
Who, with his children here before You,
Is come, for vengeance to implore You
On Reynard, who with fell design 255
Hath done great harm to me and mine.
When hoary winter left the plain,
And Spring smil'd on the World again,
When leaves were budding, daisies springing
And tuneful birds in thickets singing, 260
The Sun at dawn of morning found me
With my young family around me ;
CAKTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 27
Ten Sons and fourteen Daughters fair,
Breathing with joy the genial air,
All of one breed, and full of life, 265
Brought up by my good prudent wife.
Protected by a massy wall
And six bold mastiffs, stout and tall,
They liv'd, in spite of Reynard crafty,
Within a Cloister-yard in safety. 270
Reynard lurk'd oft, the wall around,
But ne'er a cranny there he found ;
Our mastiffs too, who were awake,
Wonld force him to his heels to take ;
For when within reach they espied him, 275
With claws and teeth so well they ply'd him,
That narrowly he saved his fleece,
And for some time left us in peace.
But lo ! our enemy contriv'd,
Our joy, alas ! should be short-liv'd. 280
In hermit's garb the traitor came,
With letters, written in Your name,
Where strictest orders were express'd,
To keep peace between bird and beast.
He said, he scoru'd the joys of sense, 285
And led a life of penitence,
To expiate his former guilt,
And, streams of blood, which he had spilt ;
He vow'd, in future he would eat
No poultry, nor forbidden meat.. 290
28 RETNARD THE FOX. [PART I
A hood lie wore, and scapulary,
And next t' his skin a frock ; all hairy ;
And testimonies from his Prior
Shovv'd that he was become a friar.
At parting he said : " Well, my friend, 293
I to the Lord thee recommend,
For I must look to ray affairs,
And go, to say my evening pray'rs."
Thus canting he went off; but laid
For us a treach'rous ambuscade. 300
All joyful to my little crew,
To tell the happy news I flew,
That Reynard friar's garments wore,
And was our enemy no more.
Now for the first time we did venture 305
Out of our gate. A dire adventure
Awaited us ; for whilst we stray'd
And sported on a sunny glade,
Reynard, conceal'd below a bush,
Upon us suddenly did rush; 310
One of my hopeful Sons he slew,
And of my fairest daughters two,
And since, where'er he can detect them,
Nor walls, nor mastiffs can protect them ;
By main force, or by cunning sleight, 315
He picks them up by day and night.
Five only out of twenty-four
Are left ; the rest he did devour.
CAlfTO I.] THE ACCUSATION. 29
My daughter Rake-up on this bier,
Slain by the murderer, lies here ; 320
He bit her neck off yesterday.
Revenge her death, my Liege, I pray."
" Sir Gray (quoth Noble) did you hear ?
Fine things of th' hermit-fox appear.
Was 't thus, that with his fasts he meant it ? 325
Sure as I live, he shall repent it!
Good Cock, we Ve heard your mournful tale,
And we your daughter's fate bewail ;
Thus, first of all, we'll see the honour
Of funeral rites bestow'd upon her ; 330
Next with our Council we shall further
Consult, how to revenge this murder."
The King then order'd young and old,
Vigils for the dead hen to hold ;
But how Placebo Domino, 335
Psalm, Lesson and Response, or so,
Was sung, what Chapter and which verse,
Would be full tedious to rehearse ;
We therefore cut that matter short,
And hope, the Reader thanks us for't. 340
Soon as the body was interr'd,
A marble tomb-stone was prepar'd,
On whose smooth surface, (as we've hear*d),
The following epitaph appear'd :
80 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART L
RAKE-UP, BEGOT BY CHANTICLEER,
IN THE COLD GRAVE LIES BURIED HERE.
SHE WAS OP HENS THE VERY BEST,
AND FULL OF EGGS SHE LAID HER NEST.
SHE '8 BIT TO DEATH BY REYNARD BASE.
WAND'RER, HAVE PITY WITH HER CASE. 350
This done, King Noble to his hall
A Jury of wise men did call,
To whom he signified his will,
Against the Fox to find a Bill ;
Which being found, it was decreed 355
To summon him with all due speed,
To come to Court, and not to tarry.
This message Brown was bid to carry.
King Noble, calling forth the Bear,
Quoth he : " Be cautious, and take care 360
How you proceed on this nice errand ;
For Reynard is a Knave, so arrant,
So full of wily tricks and lies,
He'll make you disbelieve your eyes."
"No, no, (quoth Brown) upon my oath. 365
My Liege, I should be very loth,
To have it thought, that Reynard could
Cheat me with tricks ; nay, if he would,
I'd make him smart for it so cruelly,
He never should forget it, truly. 370
CANTO H. THE FIRST SUMMONS.
BROWN, eager for the Honey-mart,
Is sorely dubb'd through Reynard's art.
Caught in a Cleft by head and paws,
He loses bQth his ears and claws,
Of which fell Reynard makes a sport.
The wounded Bear limps back to Court.
King Noble and his Lords and Commons
Send to the Fox a second summons.
IN highest spirits Brown, that stout
And mighty man of war, set out.
O'er hills and mountains he with speed
Through woods and thickets did proceed,
Until he came to Malpertouse ; -^ 5
For this was Reynard's fav'rite house,
To which he gave a preference,
As being fittest for defence.
When Brown came there, he loudly knock'd
At th'outer-gate, which he found lock'd. 10
32 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT I.
He bawl'd out with a dreadful din :
" I'm Brown, your cousin ; let me in,
A message from the King I bear
Of great importance, as you'll hear.
You are to come to Court with speed, 15
Your cause before the Lords to plead.
He vow'd that, if you disobey'd,
You should be either hang'd or flay'd.
Make haste to follow my advice."
Reynard thought, that a case so nice 20
Requir'd before determination.
First a mature consideration.
" This bear (thought he) speaks in a strain
So proud and bold, that I would fain
Bring down his pride." Sly Rankey then 25
Went to a back-room in his den ;
For Malpertouse, a war-like place,
Had many casemates, cover'd ways
And other strong-holds, which he could
Or shut, or open, as he would. 30
'T was there he used to skulk away
From danger, and to hide his prey,
And beasts, which sometimes by foul hap
Came in, were caught there in a trap.
He first consider'd at full leisure 35
Brown's speech, which did not give him pleasure ;
For he at first was much afraid
Of stratagem, or ambush laid ;
CANTO II.] THE FIRST SUMMONS. 33
But when he was assur'd, that none
Were at the gate, but Brown alone, 40
He banish'd all concern and fear,
Unlock'd, and thus address'd the Bear :
"My worthy cousin, welcome here!
I'm glad to see you; pray, what clreer?
Excuse my loit'ring above stairs-; . 45
I just was at my evening pray'rs.
My joy I scarcely can restrain ;
Welcome my dear friend, once again !
But those, who sent you, Sir, did wrong ;
To you such service can't belong. 50
Was there no messenger at hand,
That our dread Sov'reign must command
The Lord Chief Baron of his Court,
A person of such high report,
On journeys of such length to go? 55
To me 't will be worth much, I trow,
That You vouchsaf 'd to take that pain ;
Your kind advice will be a gain ;
And when I plead my cause at Court,
I much depend on your support. 60
Nay, had you not been sent this way,
I had resolv'd this very day,
To take a trip to Court to-morrow.
Mean time, I can not (to my sorrow)
Depart immediately with you ; 65
For, meeting with some food, quite new,
34 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT I.
It so much swell'd my stomach, Sir,
That I have not the power to stir."
" Pray, friend (quoth Brown) what was your meat ?
" What signifies, what poor folks eat ? 70
(Quoth Reynard), small fare, take my word;
You know, a beggar is no Lord.
When pantry nothing yields, nor churn,
A honey-comb must serve our turn.
On such I dined, the truth to tell ye, 75
And it is like to burst my belly.
I could not, but in case of need,
Resolve to eat such fare indeed.
At other times, for love or money,
I would not touch a bit of honey." 80
" Nay friend, (quoth Brown), pray have a care,
How you call honey poor men's fare.
Honey for Kings would be a treat,
In preference to any meat.
Get me a mess on't, and I'll strain 85
A nerve or two for you again."
" Friend Brown, you take me for a fool."
"Not I, (quoth Brown), upon my soul."
" Well then, (quoth Reynard with a smile),
We'll call on neighbor Rustyfile, 90
And since you are so fond of honey,
We'll get some, or for love, or money."
These tempting words much pleas'd the Bear,
And hit his palate to a hair.
CANTO II.] THE FIRST SUMMONS. 35
" Let us make haste (quoth he), I pray, 95
And show me to the hives the way."
Quoth Reynard : " You shall have your will,
And freely own, You've got your fill ;
For though I can not walk with ease,
I'll do my best, a friend to please. 100
Of all relatives, Sir, to you
I wish to prove myself most true,
Convinc'd, that in return you'll grant
Your kind support, which I shall want.
Then let us here no longer tarry ; 105
You shall get more, than you can carry."
" I'll bring thee to a honey-mart
(Thought Rankey), which shall make thee smart."
With such lies he the Bear deceiv'd,
Who like a simpleton believ'd, 110
And who was highly overjoy'd
When he the farmer's yard descry'd.
When they came there, the day was fled,
And Rustyfile was gone to bed.
He was a Carpenter by trade ; 115
An Oak-tree he on beams had laid,
And to split it he did intend
With wedges, driven in at th'end ;
The timber gap'd near half an ell,
Whieh Reynard had observ'd full well. 120
" Friend Brown, the gap here in this tree
Contains a swarm of bees, (quoth he).
36 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART I.
T is full of honey ; come, be speedy,
Pop in your head, but don't l>e greedy,
Lest you should get the belly-ache" 125
" No fear of that, (quoth Brown) ; don't take
Me, Sir, for such a silly creature ;
I know the pow'rs of my own' nature."
With both his fore-paws he stept in,
And over head and ears crept in, 130
Which Reynard watching, he pull'd out
In haste the Wedges. Brown, the stout,
With head and paws, by foul mishap,
Was thus caught in a wooden trap,
And could not, though he took much pain, 135
His forehand disengage again.
He tugg'd and pull'd, and tore the ground,
And fill'd the air with yelling sound ;
He rav'd and roar'd in tone so deep,
That Rustyfile shook off his sleep, 140
And from the floor in haste up snatched
For his defence a sharp-edg'd hatchet,
And sallied forth. Brown tried again
To pull his head out; but in vain,
And when the Carpenter appear'd, 145
His instant death he sadly fear'd.
The crafty Fox rail'd at him too.
" Pray friend, (he ask'd him), how d'ye do?
I hope you find the honey sweet ;
Be cautious, not too much to eat. 150
CANTO II.] THE FIRST SUMMONS. 37
Here's Rustyfile ; I guess, he'll fill
A bumper for you, if you will."
So Reynard, in a jeering strain,
Laugh'd at him, aud ran off again.
When Rustyfile approach'd, and found 155
The Bear confin'd in wooden pound,
He to his neighbors ran about,
And in a hurry he call'd out :
" A Bear, my Lads, sits in my yard
Entrapt ; come, let us tan his sward." 1 60
They readily obey'd his call,
Took up their arms, and join'd him all.
One seiz'd a prong, the next a stake,
The third a flail, the fourth a rake.
The parish-clerk and sexton too . 1 65
Came out, and join'd the war-like Crew.
E'en black-eyed Moll, the Curate's maid
(Who the best marrow-puddings made),
Snatch'd up her distaff, and away
She ran in haste, to join the fray. 170
When Brown their mighty pother heard,
He certain death most sadly fear'd,
And mad with anguish and with pain,
One vig'rous pull he tried again,
And at the cost of ears and claws 175
His head he rescued and his paws ;
But found by loss of blood and skin,
He came not out, as he got in.
88 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT I.
His head did ache, his paws were sore,
And his face all bedaub'd with gore. 180
In short, the honey, which he got,
Was far from being sweet, I wot.
Rustyfile in the front attack'd him
And many valiant Warriors back'd him ;
The Blacksmith, arm'd with iron crow, 185
Dealt out to him a heavy blow ;
The villagers, with clubs and prongs,
Their wives with broomsticks, rakes and tongs,
The Curate too, with poker heavy,
Came forth, and join'd the general levy ; 190
But most of all a man of high
Descent and rank, hight Cucklerigh,
Did gall him much ; he was well known
To fight best, when he was alone.
Trulla, a lady of known fame, 195
His mother was ; his father's name
We can not tell, but people prate
Of th' ostler at the Bull and Gate.
The Women too fell on his rear,
Nor means to save him did appear, 200
When, lo ! an awkward, clumsy clown
Struck but too wide, to bring him down.
This blow so luckily escap'd,
He straight among the Women leapt,
And such a dreadful rout he .made, 205
That four of them, and Curate's maid
CASTO n.] THE FIRST SUMMONS. 39
Headlong into the river fell,
And piteously for help did yell.
The frighten'd priest began to bawl :
" Good folks, pray save my housemaid Moll ; 210
Two Casks of Ale I promise you,
And twenty years indulgence too.
Make haste, help, help, she's going down. "
On this the Crowd abandon'd Brown,
To save the Women, whom all five 215
They brought on shore again alive.
Whilst thus he saw all hands employ'd,
A fit occasion Brown espy'd,
To get off to the river's brim.
He little thought, that he could swim ; 220
But to escape more dreadful slaughter,
A gentler death he sought in water.
But better luck him there befell ;
He found, he could swim pretty well.
When this the busy Crowd perceiv'd, 225
They fretted, and were sorely griev'd.
" It is (they cried) the greatest shame,
That without hurt away he came.
'T is all these meddling Women's fault,
Who wantonly would wage th' assault." 230
But when they found, that in the cleft
His ~ear and claws the Bear had left,
They call'd out : " Earless thief, come here,
You left in pawn your gloves and ear. "
40 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT I.
Brown, with the damage and the scoff, 235
Meantime was eager to get off,
He curs'd the tree, which took him in,
And robb'd him of his claws and skin ;
Fell Reynard too, his foul betrayer,
II' included in his morning-prayer. 240
He with the current for a while
Dropt down the river, near a mile,
And on the further bank, with pain
And toil, he limp'd on shore again,
Where he with heavy sigh and groan 245
His sad dry-basting did bemoan.
When Reynard him by subtle thought
Had to the Honey-market brought,
He to a hen-roost took his way,
And carried a fat fowl away, 250
With which he to the river bent
His course, and while along he went,
He said : " It was a lucky thought,
That I this huffing braggard brought
To Rustyfile's. I'm sure, he will 255
Salute him with his sharp-edg'd bill.
He was my foeman ; but at last
He lies for it in durance fast.
He went for honey ; but ere now
The Axe has done for him, I trow. " 260
Thus musing, he was walking down
Along the river-side, where Brown
CAMTO II.] THE FIUST SUMMONS. 41
Lay coucb'd. The unexpected sight
Of him did not give him delight.
" Oh Rustyfile, thou silly tool, 265
(Thought he), thou art a mere Tom -fool.
Didst thou not care for such nice meat,
Which Dukes and Lords would wish to eat,
When straight into thy mouth it ran ?
Thou arrant dolt and simpleton ! " 270
So Reynard thought ; but when he saw
That Brown was lacking ear and claw,
It pleas'd him well, and with a sneer
He ask'd : " Pray friend, how came you here ?
If you 've left something with your host, 275
I straight away to him shall post,
And tell him, where with you to meet.
Pray, did you find his honey sweet ?
And did you handsomely pay for it? .
But where have you bedaub'd your forehead ? 280
What doth the purple bonnet mean ?
Are you an Abbot, or a Dean ?
The bungler, who hath shav'd your crown,
Was surely a most clumsy clown ;
For down your cheeks the red drops trickle. 286
Faith you are in the strangest pickle. "
Brown could no longer bear, to hear
The railing rogue's provoking sneer,
Nor could he speak a word, for pain,
Much less return the jeer again. 290
42 REYNARD THE FOX. fPABT I.
He therefore, rather than to stay,
Resolv'd to take himself away,
And trusting to the wave once more,
He swam across to th' other shore.
There, being out of breath, and spent, 295
His grief and sorrow he did vent :
" I could not, for the life of me,
Stir from this place an inch, (thought he) ;
And yet I must jog on to Court,
Where my mischance will be the sport 300
Of every bant'ring ragamuffin,
Who will be rallying me and huffing.
That Caitiff too, who did betray me,
Seem'd sorry, that they did not slay me. "
So saying, he did limp away, 305
And came to Court in great dismay.
When Noble saw the crippled Bear
In such a dismal plight appear,
He said : "For heaven's sake, is this Brown ?
What makes him look so much cast down ? " 310
" Cast down, indeed ! (quoth Brown), You see.
Reynard, that traitor, cheated me ;
Most basely have I been betray'd."
Quoth Noble : " Never be it said,
That such a man, as you, was shent, 315
Without severest punishment.
No, by this sceptre, which I bear,
And by my royal crown I swear,
CASTO II.] THE FIRST SUMMONS. 48
All damages the wretch shall pay
As high, as ever you them lay ; 320
Aud if I don't make good my word,
My spurs I'll forfeit and my sword."
This said, his Council he did call,
Enjoining strictly to them all,
To try the Fox for this offence, 325
Which seem'd to admit of no defence.
They all agreed, the best would be,
(Not to neglect formality),
To summon him once more t'appear,
And that Gib should the message bear. 330
The King gave his assent to it ;
For Gib did not want sense and wit.
This measure being fix'd upon,
Gib was call'd into Court anon.
" Mind (quoth King Noble) what we say, 335
And to the Fox go straight away.
Tefl him, this is the second summons,
Sent by Us, and our Lords and Commons,
Which, if he slights, We'll make him smart,
In spite of his malicious art. 340
On You We fix'd, because we knew
That he hath some regard for you."
Quoth Gib : " What purpose can it answer,
To send me to that crafty man, Sir ?
I must obey, but still, to send 345
Some abler man, I'd recommend.
44 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT I.
You see, of person I'm but small :
If Brown, who is so stout and tall,
Could nor respect, nor favour gain,
Pray, what can / from him obtain?" 350
Quoth Noble : " ' T is not by their size,
That numsculls differ from the Wise ;
For oft a dwarf is found as clever,
As any Giant, whosoever.
And though you are not strong, nor tall, 355
Your good sense is allow'd by All."
"My Liege, (quoth Gib), your will be done!
If I -discover, when I'm gone,
Some token on my right-hand side,
Good luck my journey may betide." 360
CANTO in. THE SECOND SUMMONS.
foor Gib into a trap is cheated,
And by the Curate rudely treated.
An Eye he loses in the fray.
The King is wroth. The badger Gray,
To calm his anger, service proffers,
And to fetch Reynard, boldly offers.
Reynard sets out, and by the way
Confesses all his sins to Gray.
GIB sallied forth, and in a grove
He chanc'd to meet a cooing dove.
" All hail! (quoth he), pray, take your flight,
My gentle bird, here to my right."
The dove .took wing, alas ! but she 5
Perch'd on his left upon a tree.
Poor Gib for fear began to quake,
As if -his life was at the stake ;
But soon recov'ring from his fright,
To Malpertouse he came at night, 10
46 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT I.
And putting on his fairest face,
He said : " The King, out of his Grace,
Greets you a second time, my friend ;
But you must straight-ways condescend,
Unto his palace to repair ; 15
Else he doth solemnly declare
That you shall die, and all your race
Shall suffer pain, and dire disgrace."
Quoth Reynard : " Welcome, friend ! I burn
With Zeal, your. Kindness to return." 20
The rogue was thinking in his heart
How he could act his knavish part,
And give to Gib the same sad fare,
With which he had regal'd the bear.
Smiling he ask'd : " What kind of meat 25
Would you for supper like to eat ?
It is full late, me thinks, to start ;
But in the morning we'll depart.
On you with confidence I rest,
In such a friend supremely blest. 30
That braggart Brown came here in vain ;
For he talk'd in a blust'ring strain,
And 't was impossible to go
With such a bully, sir, you know ;
But with you at first dawn of day 35
I readily will go away."
Gib answer'd : " No, I dare not waste
Much time, let us set out in haste ;
CANTO HI.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 47
'T is moonlight, and my great delight
Is walking in the cool of night." 40
" To walk so late at night (quoth he)
Too dangerous for us would be.
The man, who civilly would greet us *
If he by day should chance to meet us,
Would give us quite a different treat, 45
Were we at midnight him to meet. '
Well then, (said Gib,) if I must stay,
What shall we have for supper, pray ? "
Quoth Reynard : " We can't offer much,
A poor man's fare, you know, is such 50
As he can get. We could contrive
To get some honey, fresh from th' hive :
I'm sure, you'll find it good and sweet."
" Honey (said Gib) I never eat.
What else have you in your house ? 55
If you could give me a fat mouse,
I should best like it for my fare ;
But for your honey I don't care."
" Are you in earnest, friend ? (quoth he.)
'T will be an easy thing for me, 60
To show a place, where in a trice
You'll get a belly-full of mice.
Our Curate sorely doth complain,
That they destroy all his grain.
He lives just by ; I'll show the way." 65
" Then let 's make haste, and go, I pray,
48 REYNARD THK FOX. [PART I.
(Quoth Gib) ; no venison more nice
For me, was ever found, than mice."
Quoth Reynard : " If such is your will,
Of mice you soon shall get your fill ; 70
Come, let us go without delay."
Poor silly Gib was glad t' obey.
On mice his appetite was bent,
And to the Curate's barn they went.
Reynard had lately broke a hole 75
Into the Curate's roost, and stole
His finest Cock. Young Robinet,
The Curate's son, a snare had set,
To catch the wily thief; but he
Had smelt a rat. " Come, Gib, you see 80
This hole (he said) ; whilst you creep through,
I shall here keep strict watch for you,
And ere your sport is fairly ended,
You'll find how much you've been befriended."
Quoth Gib : " Is there no danger near ? 85
I feel a strange degree of fear,
These priests are deep ones, Sir, you know."
" Why, then (said Reynard) let us go ;
For if you are so very shy,
Our wants at home we can supply. 90
We shall find something in my house,
Though not, perhaps, a nice fat mouse."
Gib, being half abash'd, to hear
The railing rogue's malicious sneer,
CANTO TIT.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 49
Headlong he leapt into the snare. 95
(So Reynard's guests did always fare.)
When Gib perceiv'd that he was taken,
His courage terribly was shaken.
He pull'd and tore, and took much pain
To break the string, but all in vain ; 100
The more he labor'd, to get loose,
The tighter he but drew the noose.
Most piteously he mew'd with fear;
Which Rankey was rejoic'd to hear.
He ask'd him : " How d'ye like the mice, 105
Good Cousin ? Are they fat and nice ?
If this the priest knew, or his son,
That you feast on their venison,
Some pepper they would surely bring.
Is this your way at Court, to sing 110
At supper ? Then, upon my soul !
I should be glad, if in this hole
I saw the Wolf clapt up with thee,
For all the harm, he did to me."
This said, in haste he ran away, 115
His wonted knavish tricks to play.
To Surly's den he did intend,
For wicked ends his course to bend.
From her he wanted to pump out
What Growler had complain'd about ; 1 20
Her old affection too he would
Avail himself of, if he could.
50 REYNARD THE FOX. IP ART I.
But when he to the place was come,
He only found her Whelps at home.
" Tell Surly, (said he with a jeer), 125
Your daddy Reynard hath been here."
Surly at dawn of day return'd,
When Reynard scarce his back had turn'd.
She ask'd : " Did any body call ? "
Her brats said : " Nobody at all, 130
But Gaffer Reynard, who would tell
He was our Dad." " The dev'l in hell !
(Said she) ; woe shall the wretch betide,
I'll run, and tan the rascal's hide."
With furious ire and rage she ranted; 135
She knew the ways, which Reynard haunted,
And coming up with him, she said :
" You wretch, how durst you to upbraid
A mother in her children's face,
By utt'ring of her things so base ? " 140
Whilst this she said, with visage grim
She in a fury flew at him.
He ran away in hasty flight ;
She follow'd him with all her miht,
Till they came to a ruin'd castle. 145
There, in a wall of th' ancient bastil
Reynard a crevice did espy,
Through which he slipt. Surly did try
To follow him ; but being tall
And fat, she stuck fast in the wall, 150
CANTO HI.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 51
And could not, though she took much pain,
Push forward, or get back again,
And ere she disengag'd her head,
The daring ravisher was fled.
We leave him for a while, to tell 155
What in the mean time Gib befell :
When he was caught (as we have said),
And piteously call'd out for aid,
Out of his bed leapt Robinet,
The youngster, who the snare had set. 160
He all the servants in the house
With joyful clamor went to rouse,
And striking fire, he made a pother,
To wake his father and his mother.
" Get up, the thief is caught (he said), 165
. And for our Cock we'll now be paid."
In haste they got up, great and small,
And round the Lad they gather'd all :
The Priest himself from couch of Molly,
His trusty housemaid, forth did sally, 1 70
Put on his night-gown, and amain
He headed all the war-like train.
Robin with pikestaff led the van,
And to belabour Gib began ;
The housemaid with her distaff gall'd him ; 175
The fest with diff'rent weapons maul'd him ;
The Curate too him rashly ply'd,
And with his poker him annoy'd
52 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT I.
Till he almost beat out his eye.
When Gib saw, he was doom'd to die, 180
He in a rage flew at the Priest,
And getting in between his twist,
He bit and tore, and tugg'd and scratch'd,
And at his very vitals snatch'd.
The Priest set up a horrid yell, 185
And down in a deep swoon he fell.
The housemaid loud began to roar,
And with a solemn Oath she swore,
She would have giv'n her best cap,
To have prevented this foul hap. 190
With doleful waitings they all led
The wounded Curate to his bed.
Gib watch'd this lucky circumstance,
Which offer'd for his life a chance,
And though his hide was sadly taw'd, 195
With tooth and nail he bit and claw'd,
Until he cut the string in twain.
He was glad to come off again,
And, creeping through the crevice : " Marry !
(Thought he), 't is dang'rous here to tarry." 200
Without congee he went away,
And to the Court he bent his way.
When he appear'd half blind and maim'd,
The King in a great rage exclaim'd ;
" We'll punish that atrocious traitor, 205
And every aider and abettor."
CANTO m.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 53
A Crowd of new Complainants came,
His wrath and anger to inflame ;
But Gray got up, and said : " My Lords,
We've had enough here of high words; 210
But Reynard must not be debarr'd
Of his due right of being heard.
You know, the law is very nice ;
A Freeman should be summon'd thrice.
If Reynard doth not then appear, 215
He is outlaw'd ; the case is clear."
Quoth Noble : " Pray, where will you find
A person in his sober mind,
Who'll venture on so vile an errand,
And carry to this rogue our warrant ? " 220
Quoth Gray: " Sir, I myself am here,
All ready to go without fear."
"'T is well, (quoth Noble), you may go.
The matters of complaint you know ;
But have a care how you behave 225
In dealing with the crafty knave."
" It is (said Gray) a nice affair ;
But of success I don't despair."
Proceeding straight to Rankey's house
He found him sitting with his spouse 230
And children. After civil greeting,
And courteous talk at their first meeting,
Quoth Gray : " My friend, your great renown
For wit and conduct is well known.
54 RETNAKD THE FOX. [PART I.
I'm therefore much surpris'd to find 235
How little you your int'rest mind.
To summon you; our sov'reign Lord
Already twice hath sent you word.
While y'are charg'd with a heavy crime,
Do not you think 't is highest time 240
To come and plead your cause at Court,
And thus to quell each bad report ?
What can you gain by tarrying ?
If you are besieg'd by the King,
You know well, that you and your wife 246
And children risk your goods and life ;
But if in open Court you meet
Your foes, you are of sly conceit,
And know so well to make your words,
That you will captivate the Lords. 250
Your conduct is so sly and wary,
That you'll confound your adversary ;
I've seen you in the knottiest ca^es
Defy your foes to show their faces." 255
When Reynard had with much attention
Weigh'd every word, which Gray did mention.
Quoth he: "You 're right in what you say;
I'll go with you at break of day.
I hope, my services are not
At Court yet totally forgot ; 2RO
If I obtain an audience,
The King will pardon my offence ;
CASTO HI.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 55
For oft, when with his num'rous set
Of Privy-CounseHors he met,
In cases critical and nice 265
He always follow'd my advice ;
For 't is allowed, in politics
Nothing will serve, but Reynard's tricks.
On that account the Courtiers all
Endeavour to contrive my fall ; 270
I know that there are more than ten
Lords of great note and pow'rful men,
Who wish to ruin me ; but still
Proceed to Court with you, I will.
I think it better to surrender, 275
Than wait, till I'm condemn'd b'attainder,
And bring my children and my wife
In danger too of loss of life.
To sue for peace, is better far,
Than to wage an unequal war " 280
Reynard at parting told his spouse :
" Pray, mind our children and our house.
Before all let me recommend,
To little Rankey to attend ;
The whiskers round his little snout 285
Right prettily begin to sprout.
There's Russet, too, a cunning boy,
Whose antic tricks oft give me joy.
No sort of kindness let them lack ;
I'll thank you for't when I come back." 290
56 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAST L
So saying, Reynard did depart,
And left her with a broken heart,
Quite destitute and left alone,
Her sad condition to bemoan.
When he had walk'd about a mile, 295
He said : " My friend, pray stop awhile.
I'm seiz'd with fear and anxious sorrow,
Lest I shall meet my death to-morrow,
And many sins my mind oppress,
Which I'm desirous to confess, 300
And since no other Priest is near,
I wish that you would shrive me here."
" It is (said Gray) a pious thought ;
But your confession goes for nought,
Unless, determin'd to amend, 305
You of your thieving make an end."
Reynard replied : " I know this well ;
Let me begin my sins to tell :
Confaeor tibi, Domine Pater,
Sum felo, nebulo, peccator 310
" What brogue is this (quoth Gray) you speak in?
It sounds to me like a pig's squeaking :
Speak English with me, if you please,
That I may understand with ease."
"Well, I confess to you (quoth he) 315
That many have been wrong'd by me.
First, I induc'd my cousin Brown
To go for honey to a Clown,
CANTO m.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 57
Who with a broken head did treat him,
And almost to a jelly beat him. 320
To Gib I promis'd a fat mouse,
And show'd him to the Curate's house ;
But being taken in a snare.
They of an eye bereft him there.
The Cock, too, hath the greatest reason 325
To charge me with felonious treason.
In spite of Dogs and Cloister-wall
I kill'd his children almost all.
Nay, e'en against the King and Queen
A great offender I have been. 330
Were I to tell you how much wrong
I did to Growler, 't would be long.
(I call him Cousin, Sir, but he
Hath never been a-kin to me.)
Some years ago, when I turn'd friar, 335
He begg'd of me to tell our Prior
He likewise wish'd t'increase our flock,
And to put on a friar's frock,
Which, as he thought, would suit him well.
I sent the fool to toll the bell, 340
And with delight he toll'd so loud,
That he rais'd all the village-crowd, ,
Who thought the dev'l himself from hell
Was" come, to toll their parish-bell ;
And though he strove to let them know, 345
That he was come to make his vow,
58 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT I.
They fell with cudgels on the sot,
And nearly kill'd him on the spot.
When he was to receive his tonsure,
He begg'd me to become his sponsor ; 350
I singed his noddle till the skin
Did crack, and broil'd his brains within.
A number of such tricks I play'd him ;
For to a fish-pond once I led him,
But there, instead of catching trout, 355
He was serv'd with a cudgel-bout.
Soon after this, he in a village
The parson's larder meant to pillage,
Which was well stor'd with butcher's meat.
I promis'd him a dainty treat ; 360
But my intent was to betray him,
And make the country-people slay him.
Through a small cranny in the wall
I made him slip into the stall,
Where, getting at a trough of meat, 365
He so voraciously did eat,
That he could not, though he would fain,
Get through the cranny out again.
The Curate in his parlor sat ;
A roasted capon, nice and fat, 370
Was plac'd before him, which to snatch
From him th' occasion I did watch,
And ran off with in a hurry.
The priest, all in a rage and flurry,
CANTO HI.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 59
Got up as fast as he was able, 375
And, oversetting chair and table,
And drink and victuals on the floor,
In haste he ran up to the door.
To his domestics loud he call'd,
And : " Stop the daring thief," he bawl'd, 380
Who, whilst I sat, to eat my meal,
My supper hath presum'd to steal."
I ran off with my prey apace
Till I came to the very place,
Where Growler panted in his coop ; 385
And there my booty I did drop.
The Curate, stooping for the fowl
PerceivM him, scowling like an Owl.
" Look here, my trusty lads (he cried) :
Another thief I have descried ; 390
In troth, we should be made the scoff
Of all the Shire, if he got off."
In short, he set up such a rout,
That all his villagers came out
And charg'd the Wolf with blows severe. 395
The Curate's bacon cost him dear,
And were a limner to depict
The scene, how he was taw'd and lick'd,
Till he befoul'd himself with fright,
It would afford a curious sight. 400
But when their fury did subside,
They flung the mangled wretch aside.
60 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART I.
I wonder how he could escape,
And get alive out of the scrape.
A twelvemonth since, he came to call 405
And court my friendship after all,
And his request he did express,
To get him of young fowl a mess.
I seiz'd th'occasion by the lock,
And told him, that a fine young Cock 410
And six hens on a roost I knew,
(But not a word of this was true).
'T was midnight when I led him on,
And through a trap-door I anon
To a high beam did show him up. 415
When he was got up to the top,
And found no fowl, he call'd to me :
" Friend, not a feather do I see ;
I fear that we have been betray'd."
u No, get but farther on (I said) ; 420
You know, that those, who want to gain,
No labor ought to shun, nor pain ;
Therefore let not your faith be shaken ;
The foremost fowl I've long since taken."
Whilst he crept on, I did slide back, 425
And dropp'd the trap-door with a clack.
Growler was frightened with the sound,
And down he tumbled to the ground.
The servants, who slept in the hall,
Were waken'd by the sudden fall ; 430
CANTO III.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 61
They ran together in a flurry,
And lighting candles in a hurry,
They came to see, what was the matter,
And what had caused the noise and clatter ;
And you may judge, that many a wound 435
And bruise he got, when he was found.
On Surly likewise, his fair Dame,
Great scandal I have brought, and shame,
Which to redress, I fear, she will
Find it full hard and difficile. 440
Of all these misdeeds I repent
With feelings truly penitent,
And will do penance with contrition,
If you'll absolve me from perdition."
Gray from a willow cut a wand, 445
And gave it into Rankey's hand.
" Take this, and dropping on your knee,
Strike yourself with it thrice (quoth he) ;
Then laying on the ground the rod,
Across it skip three times unshod, 450
And kiss the rod with resignation,
To witness your humiliation.
This done, your conscience stands acquitted
Of all the sins you have committed."
When Reynard had his penance done, 455
Gray" thus exhorted him anon :
" Take care in all your future days,
To leave your former wicked ways.
62 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT I.
Hear mass, keep fast and holiday ;
Bring those to right, who go astray ; 460
Be kind to all the sick and poor,
And you'll get in at heaven's door."
" I shall (quoth Reynard) night and day
Look to my conduct, as you say."
This bus'ness being brought about, 465
Again together they set out.
At some small distance from their way
A Convent of fair virgins lay.
These pious sisters pray'd and sung
All day, and eke the night along, 470
To save their souls ; but to sustain
Their bodies too, did not disdain.
Cock, hen and turkey, goose and rabbit
With them the cloister did inhabit,
Which crafty Reynard knew full well, 475
Who, therefore, to his friend did tell,
That passing by the Cloister-wall
'Was not out of their way at all.
The cunning rogue the poultry ey'd,
And a fat capon he espied, 480
On whom he suddenly did rush,
And all his feathers made to flush.
Gray said to him with angry flout :
" You sinner, what are you about ?
When, after making your confession, 485
To mend your life you made profession,
CANTO HI.] THE SECOND SUMMONS. 63
Is 't meet, that for a paltry fowl
You risk again to damn your soul ? "
" It was a sad mistake (said he)
From an old habit. Pardon me, 490
And henceforth I shall evermore
Be careful, to do so no more."
Into the road again they struck ;
But Reynard could not help, to look
On the fine fowl with wistful eye, 495
As long, as he could them descry ;
Nay, if one had cut off his head,
It to the poultry would have fled.
Gray, who observ'd his greedy yearning,
Exclaim'd by way of past'ral warning : 500
"What means this eager, craving look?"
"My meaning, Sir, you much mistook;
And thus to interrupt (said Reynard)
My pious thoughts, good sir, is main hard.
Just now I for the souls was praying 505
Of all the fowl I have been slaying,
And of those Geese which I way-laid,
When from the Cloister-yard they stray'd."
Gray said no more ; but on the fowl
Reynard continued still to scowl; 510
Although he fear'd his journey's end
Would not much good to him portend.
CANTO L THE TRIAL.
Reynard his enemies confutes,
And all their arguments refutes. '
At last, however, he's convicted,
And death, of course, to be inflicted.
Leave for to shrive him, being got,
He throws out hints about a plot;
Of which full notice to receive,
King Noble grants him a reprieve.
WHEN fame had spread the report,
That Reynard was arriv'd at Court,
All folks, to see him, flock'd together.
And Great and Small did round him gather.
Crowds of accusers he did find, 5
But did not seem them much to mind ;
For with his nephew he walk'd on
As proudly as a Nabob's son,
And without showing marks of fear,
"When in the Court he did appear. 1C
CANTO I.] THE TRIAL. 65
Among the Lords he took his place,
And, putting on a better face,
Than his bad conscience would befit,
He thus began the case to split :
" My Liege (he said), a more observant, 15
Faithful, and trusty humble servant
You have not in the world than me ;
And although some folks there may be,
Who of your favor would bereave me,
You are too wise not to believe me, 20
That all they said behind my back,
Was nought but sheer malicious clack.
They hate me, Sir, for being true
And faithfully attach'd to you."
u Avaunt with your vile flattery ! 25
(Quoth Noble), 't will not do with me.
How you have kept my, peace we know,
And you shall pay for it, I vow.
There 's Chanticleer, whom you bereft
Of all his children by your theft. 30
You say you love me ? 'T is a lie ;
To hurt me' you would rather try,
Which by your late exploits appears ;
Gib lost an eye, and Brown his ears,
I'll not waste time now, to harangue you ; 35
We shall have proof enough to hang you."
Am I (quoth Reynard J to be blam'd,
Because Brown hath been bruis'd and maim'd ?
06 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
Who bade the glutton, without money,
To go to Rustyfile's for honey ? . 40
Why did he suffer him to maul
His limbs?' Is he not stout and tall?
And could he not defend his hide
Ere he skulk'd to the river-side ?
Gib, too, was by me well receiv'd ; 4f>
If my advice he had believ'd,
He would not for a paltry mouse
Have ventur'd to the Curate's house.
If for his gluttony he paid,
The fault should not to me be laid. 50
I know, sir, you can punish me,
However guiltless I may be,
For you have pow'r and I am weak ;
But (if so boldly I may speak)
You would not, by inflicting pain 55
On th' Innocent, much honor gain.
Let my accusers now appear ;
To answer them I'm ready here."
Simple, the Ram, Clerk of the hall,
For the complainants now did call. 60
In came Sir Growler, Brown the bear,
The wild cat Gib, and Puss the hare ;
The Ox, the Goat, and all their kin.
Beau Frisky too came wheedling in.
From woods and forests Stag and Deer, 65
Martin and Rabbit did appear.
CAHTO I.] THE TRIAL. 67
E'en feather'd folk's made no delay,
The Goose, the Duck, the Rook, and Jay,
While Chanticleer, before them all,
For vengeance loud began to call. 70
Great was the noise and great the pother ;
One would be heard before the other,
All striving to be first that day
To take fell Reynard's life away.
Much able pleading one might hear 75
From birds and beasts and fallow-deer ;
But Reynard in his turn no less,
By cross-exam'ning witnesses,
By artful speech, by nice exception,
And many other sly conceptions, 80
To the surprise of all the Court,
Did on his enemies retort.
He had well nigh with his comments
Confuted, all their arguments,
When, lo ! a witness did appear, 85
Who made at once the case so clear,
That he left Reynard no defence.
On summing up the evidence,
Forthwith the Jury with one breath
Brought in their verdict : Guilty, death. 90
The Judge then, with a solemn face,
Pronounc'd the sentence : " With disgrace,
You, Reynard, to the gallows led,
Shall hang, till you are dead, dead, dead."
68 REYNARD THE VOX. [PART IT.
Now his proud heart began to fail him, 95
And cunning speech did not avail him :
For Noble sign'd the sentence straight,
And certain death did him await.
The news of Reynard's condemnation
Fill'd every Kinsman and relation 100
(Whose number at the Court was great)
With grief and sorrow for his fate.
The monkey Pug, the Badger Gray
(Great Law- and Church- men till that day)
And others, could not help to fret, 105
That Reynard, a Knight-banneret,
Should be doom'd, by the hangman's noose
His honor and his life to lose ;
They took his case so much to heart;
That from the Court they did depart. 1 !
To find that many a valiaut Squire
And trusty Yeoman did retire,
Caus'd to King Noble much regret ;
He told his Courtiers in a pet :
" Though Reynard is a rogue ; 't is true, 115
That his friends still deserve their due ;
A set of able hands they are,
Whom we in Council ill can spare."
Meantime the Wolf and his relations
To hang the Fox made preparations, 120
Quoth Gib to Growler : " Well you may
Your thirst for vengeance now allay.
CANTO I.] THE TRIAL. 69
Remember how he did with joy
Assist, your brethren to destroy,
When those, who hang'd them, he did join; 125
Pay him now in his own false coin.
You too, friend Brown, were made to smart,
When brought by him to th'horiey-mart.
Take your revenge now, while you may,
And do ndt let him steal away." 130
Quoth Growler : " Without loitering
Get me a rope, and he shall swing."
Reynard said nothing, while they spoke.
At last his silence thus he broke :
" You all are mighty fond of words. 135
Instead of talking about cords,
If you thirst for revenge, depend on't
The best way is, to make an end on't.
Gib, I am sure, hath not forgot
Where a good rope is to be got, 140
If he'll think of the Curate's barn.
You, Brown and Growler, think you'll earn
Much honor and great consolation
By bringing shame on your relation."
The King and Queen with all their train 145
Meanwhile appear'd upon the plain,
Where gaping crowds were met, to see
His Exit on the fatal tree.
Growler bade all his Friends stand fast,
And watch the culprit to the last. 150
70 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART U.
He therefore call'd out to his wife :
" Hold him fast, if you love your life ;
For if the rogue could get away,
He'd ruin all of us one day."
To Brown he did enjoin the same, 155
While Gib, who with a ladder came,
Climb'd in a trice up to the top,
With rope in hand, to tuck him up.
When Brown and Surly held him fast,
Reynard saw, he must breathe his last ; 1 60
But he could not forbear to scoff.
He said : " You never will leave off
Helping to death your near relation,
Though you should have commiseration,
And not bring me into disgrace. 165
Nay, I could almost ask for grace ;
But Growler hates me to the last.
He bids his wife, to hold me' fast,
Who, if old friendship she would mind.
Would surely be to me more kind. 170
But since with me 't is so far gone,
I wish, the whole affair was done.
My father died a violent death ;
But in a trice he spent his breath,
And had not such a copious train, 175
To view his agony and pain.
Make haste, and let me take the swing ;
Shame on you for your loitering ! "
CANTO I.] THE TRIAL. 71
" Hear, how the caitiff rails, (quoth Brown).
We'll take the daring huffer down." 1 180
Reynard, howe'er, thought in his mind :
" I'll not despair, some means to find,
From an untimely death t'escape,
And bring my foes into the scrape.
The King ('t is true) is not my friend ; 185
And many, whom I did offend,
Are wishing for my death ; but still,
Be they as clever, as they will,
I shall contrive to overreach
Them all, by dint of subtle speech, 190
And if a hearing I can gain,
My pardon I hope to obtain."
Much grief and sorrow he express'd,
And thus the gaping crowd address'd :
u Having the Lord's commands contemn'd, 195
To death I justly am condemn'd.
I meet my death with heart contrite,
And wish but for a short respite,
That I my conscience may appease,
Confess my sins, and die with ease, 200
Because such misdeeds I committed,
That, if to tell them I omitted,
The Innocent in future times
Might chance to suffer for my crimes.
For this last mercy at death's door 205
I wish you would the King implore."
72 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAST II.
Those, who his canting speech did hear
To pity him could not forbear, .
And thinking it a trifling thing,
They interceded with the King, 210
Who their request benignly granted.
Reynard, obtaining what he wanted,
His spirits quickly rose again
And speaking in his whining strain,
" Spirit us Domini be with me ! 21 a
(He said) ; for those, whom here I see,
Both poor and rich, both great and small,
Too frequently I've injured all.
Since I was wean'd from mother's breast,
The craft of thieving I profess'd. 220
With lambs and Kids I used to play,
Because I found their bleats so gay ;
But when their blood I once had lapt,
I often at their throats have snapt,
And growing by degrees more daring, 22")
Nor fowl, nor beast have I been sparing ;
Nay frequently I did kill more,
Than I was able to devour.
Growler likewise, in course of time,
Inur'd me in the art sublime 230
Of wholesale-theft and robbery.
W 7 e were together constantly ;
He stole the great, and I the small,
And we were to go snacks in all ;
CANTO I.] THE TRIAL. 73
But when he caught a Calf, or Kid, 235
Or something else, as nice and tid,
I seldom got my share from him ;
For straight at me with visage grim
He snarl'd and frighten'd me away,
And to himself he kept his prey, 240
Nay, when a bullock, or a horse
We chanc'd to kill, it was still worse ;
For then his wife and children came,
Who each of them a share did claim,
And I was left to vex and fret, 245
Ere I a bone from them could get.
A lucky thing it was indeed,
That I stood not of them in need,
Because the treasure I possess,
From want secur'd me and distress. 250
" What treasure (ask'd the King) was this ? "
" My Liege, I'll tell you what it is,
(Quoth Reynard) ; for what treasure can
Yield comfort to a dying man ?
Ten wagons would not, I dare say, 255
Suffice, to carry them away ;
But howsoever great they be,
I can not take them now with me.
I stole these treasures with my wife ;
By stealing them, we sav'd your life ; 260
For this great hoard was made by those,
Who would against your life have rose,
74 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART H.
Now you are safe, while I must smart,
Because it broke my father's heart."
The Queen was very much astonish'd, 265
And earnestly she him admonish'd.
" Reynard, (she said), I conjure you,
In your confession to be true,
And as you wish to save your soul,
Minutely to declare the whole, 270
Which on these matters can throw light."
The King straight granted a respite ;
For he wish'd very much, to learn
How far these things him might concern.
His matters now in better train, 275
Reynard began to breathe again ;
His foes were forc'd to let him loose
From vile embrace of fatal noose.
The King and Queen took him apart,
And he made use of all his art, 280
Their good opinion to regain,
And get out of the scrape again.
With matchless art his tale he told,
And gave his foes the bag to hold.
The Queen exhorted him again, 285
All matters fully to explain.
Quoth he : " I'm doom'd to die, you know.
Why should I charge my conscience now
With lies, and foul prevarication,
And bring my soul into damnation ? 290
CASTO I.] THE* TRIAL. 75
I'm loth, to speak ill of my Kin ;
But rather, than commit a sin
And go with lie in mouth to hell,
The truth, and all the truth I'll tell."
" A thief and murd'rer (quoth the King) 295
Will tell a lie, and take the swing."
" Dread sov'reign, your reproach is hard
For a poor dying man (said Reynard).
That I've a sinner been before,
I have great reason to deplore ; 300
But being now condemn'd to die,
What would it serve, to tell a lie ? "
While thus with counterfeited fear
He spoke, the Queen did interfere.
" Grant him this mercy, for may be 305
It will prevent mischief, (said she).
Bid all the noisy crowd be still,
And let him speak now what he will."
CANTO II. THE PARDON.
The crafty Fox can not refrain
From fibs, his Kinsmen to arraign.
Vast treasures he pretends to show
At Quarrelpit and Hufferslow.
When pardon'd he by dint of lies
For leave to go to Rome applies.
The King commends his resolution
To go, and beg for absolution.
AS soon as silence was obtain'd
Much Grief and sorrow Reynard feign'd,
That his own Kin he durst not spare,
A shocking treason to declare ;
Nor did the wicked rogue disdain, 5
His father in the grave t'arraign ;
Nay, his best friend, the badger Gray,
Who took his part that very day,
He did not scruple to accuse :
For while his friends he did abuse, 10
CANTO II-l THE PARDON. 77
To hurt his fetes, the wily thief
The sooner hop'd to gain belief.
He said : " My father heretofore
A hidden treasure did explore,
Which was left by a Saxon King, 15
(I think 't was Edgar Atheling). > .
When all at once he got such riches,
His head was fill'd with proud caprices,
And he assum'd a haughty air
With all those, who about him were. 20
By Gib he sent up word to Brown,
Straight from the Highlands to come down,
If Be wish'd to become our King.
Brown, well pleased with his offering,
Made as much haste, as e'er he could, 25
To meet my father in a Wood.
To Growler they sent word that day,
And to our learned cousin Gray.
Gib was the fifth, who join'd the set,
And in the dark of night they met. 30
There, at the devil's instigation
They enter'd into conjuration.
To murder You they all did swear
And for their King to choose the bear."
My father hinted his intent. 35
To purchase votes in Parliament,
And with his gold to silence those, '
Who might their trait'rous plan oppose.
78 REYNARD THE POX. [PABT H.
Some notice of their plot one day ',
I got by chance. My nephew Gray, 40
Too freely having drank his glass,
Told his wife what would come to pass ;
But bade her, as she lov'd her life,
Not to tell .tales. But soon my wife
Did pump her out, and told me all ; 45
And by some tokens I withal
Was soon convinc'd, it was too true,
That plots were making against You.
This did remind me of the Frogs,
Who peaceably liv'd in their bogs ; 50
But while they had a gentle King,
They could not leave off murmuring,
And praying Jove, to send them down
A King, more worthy of the Crown.
He sent the Stork, who much annoys them, 55
And daily murders and destroys them.
Now they complain, and sore repent;
But Jove is deaf to their complaint.
I was afraid, that after all
No better lot would us befall ; 60
And most for Your sake I did fret,
Though little thanks I'm like to get.
My Liege, I knew your gentle mood ;
You are as pow'rful, as Y'are good ;
On th'other hand I knew that Brown 65
Was a proud, craving, blust'ring Clown ;
CANTO H.] THE PARDON. / 9
It therefore did occur to me,
How ruinous such change would be,
For 't is a cruel, cutting thing,
When a proud Knave is made a King ; 70
I therefore studied night and day,
A counterplot for them to lay.
Henceforth I ponder'd on a measure,
To rob my father of his treasure,
In order to prevent all strife, 75
And save your crown and precious life.
Wherever my old wicked Sire
Did stroll about, through mud and mire,
Through heat and frost, with all my might
I at his heels was day and night. 80
One day, spent with fatigue and sorrow,
While I was laying in a burrow,
I saw my father, who did creep
Out of a cavern, dark and deep. -
He look'd about with cautious fear, 85
But did not see that I was near,
When, thinking he was quite alone,
The cleft he cover'd with a stone ;
His footsteps too he did not fail
To smoothe again with snout and tail. 90
Old slyboots was no sooner gone,
Than I did fall to work anon,
Convinc'd that this must be the place,
Where all his riches I should trace ;
80 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
And sure, when I slipt in, I found 95
Of pure gold many a thousand-pound.
Not one here present is so old,
As to have seen such heaps of gold
And precious stones. I did not tarry
For carts ; my wife help'd me to carry, 100
Until the whole jof it we got
In safety to a distant spot.
My father to the Continent
For mercenary troops was sent;
For you must know, brave men were sold 105
Like cattle, in those times, for gold.
Whilst he went on this toilsome job,
He little thought, that thieves would rob
What of his bus'ness was the nerve ;
But if he could have made it serve 1 10
To ease him in his dying-stound,
He not a farthing would have found.
When, after trudging up and down
From land to land, from town to town,
Between the Weser and the Mayne, 115
My father did return again
And join'd the Leaders of the plot,
He said : that soldiers he had got,
But that much pain to him it cost,
And sufFrings great from heat and frost, 120
Whilst huntsmen with their yelping pack
Had often made his sward to crack.
CAWTO IT] THE PARDON. 81
He show'd them letters, which he brought,
With promises and offers fraught
From Growler's friends, who would not fail 1 25
To fight for him with tooth and nail,
In concert with the cats and bears,
Ready t'engage in his affairs,
And to assist their Kinsman Brown ;
If three months wages were paid down. 130
(But you may thank your lucky star,
That I their deep-laid plots did mar.)
When all these matters were concerted,
My father to his hoard reverted ;
But what above, what under ground, 135
The more he sought, the less he found.
He fill'd Avith loud laments the air,
And hang'd himself from mere despair.
Thanks to my cunning, at one blow
I all their schemes did overthrow ; 1 40
Then pray, consider my disgrace ;
Whilst Brown stands high in your good grace,
And Growler too, and their abettors,
Poor Reynard here stands bound in fetters.
Sir, to give up my Sire, was hard, 145
But harder, to get such reward."
The King and Queen, who both to fish
In troubled water much did wish,
Took him aside, and he was bid
To tell them where his gold was hid. 150
82 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
Quoth he : " What would it help me now,
My treasures to the King to show,
Who wants to hang me, and believes
What traitors tell of me and thieves ? "
" No, (said the Queen), pray, cease your care, 155
I'm sure, the King your life will spare,
And if you promise to be good,
He will forgive, and change his mood,
And will restore to you his Grace."
"If this (said Reynard) be the case, 1GO
That I my pardou shall obtain
And win the King's good Grace again,
With greater riches I shall store him,
Than any King possess'd before him."
" Do not believe him, (said the King), 165
'T is nought, but wicked bantering,
He is a lying, scoffing thief,
Who never did deserve belief."
" I grant, he hath been so before
(Said she) ; but he will lie no more ; 1 70
For when this plot he did reveal,
His father's name he might conceal,
As well as that of his friend Gray,
If he had wish'd, the blame to lay
On those alone, by whom he's hated." 175
The King, whose anger was abated,
Replied : " Although the case is nice,
I will for once take your advice.
CANTO H.] THE PARDON.
His fine and trespass I'll forgive him,
And on your word I will believe him. 180
But on my Crown and life I swear,
If he takes not the greatest care
How he behaves in future times,
He shall pay doubly for his crimes,
And all his kin, as well as he, 185
Shall suffer till the tenth degree."
Reynard was highly glad, to find
The King so soon had chang'd his mind.
" I should act foolishly, My Lord,
(Said he) if I but spoke one word, 190
Which I could not by act and deed
Make good, as soon as there is need."
The King, who thought that he spoke true,
Forgave him, and his father too ;
And thus from a most dang'rous scrape 195
He through his cunning did escape.
" God save Your Majesty ! (said he).
To serve You well, my aim shall be,
As well as your most gracious Consort,
Who hath procur'd me so much comfort ; 200
And therefore none with greater pleasure
I would invest with my vast treasure.
You shall possess it as entire,
As I have stole it from my Sire,
And I will now, as I am bid, 205
Tell you the place, where it is hid :
84 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT II.
JFarJnJhe North, Sir, please to know,
A -desert lies, call'd Hufferslow.
None but the Rook, the Owl and Jay
Inhabit there. Nor beasts of prey, 210
Nor human-kind, did ever trace
The way to this wild, dreary place.
A miry swamp, hight Quarrelpit,
Is in the very midst of it.
For further token please t' observe, 215
(That from your path you may not swerve ;
For to yourself I would advise
To set out on this enterprise,
And not to trust to messengers
For managing such nice affairs.) 220
Just after you pass Quarrelpit,
A little to the left of it
You will find two young lofty pines ;
Beneath them I have sunk the mines,
Where I my treasure hoarded up. 225
There many a bracelet, ring and cup
You'll find, as well as ^.th'ling's crown,
Which was to have been worn by Brown,
If he his wicked will had got,
And I had not blown up his plot. 230
You'll eke see many jewels there
Of precious stones and Goldsmith's ware,
Worth many thousand pounds to you.
My Liege, when all these things you view,
CAMTO D.] THE PARDON. 85
They will rejoice your very heart. 2.'} 5
" Reynard (you'll say), indeed thou art
As shrewd and true, as Fox can be,
Hoarding such treasures up for me."
" Come with us then, and show the way,
(Said Noble), and full well you may, 2-10
Unless this story, with intent
To trick and cheat us, you invent.
We've read in our Geography
Of Brentford, Staines and Coventry ;
But Quarrelpit and Hufferslow 245
Are names of which we nothing know."
" My Liege (quoth Reynard), your surmise v
Fills me, indeed, with much surprise.
Think not, that to some outland place
I'd send you on a wild-goose chase. 250
No Sir, the spot is near at hand,
Not far beyond Northumberland."
ForTEwTth for Pussey Reynard call'd
Who came all trembling and appall'd.
" Nay, Puss (quoth he), you need not fear ; 255
Our gracious King doth want you here.
Confirm to him (what well you know),
That Quarrelpit and Hufferslow
Are situate in brakes and fens,
About a hundred miles from hence." 260
"Why, yes, (quoth Puss), for ought I know,
Near Quarrelpit lies Hufferslow,
86 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
Where humpback'd Simon with his Croney
Liv'd in the woods, and coin'd base money.
I oft was there in great distress, 265
When hunger, frost and hounds did press
" Enough ! (said Reynard) you may go ;
The King wants nothing more to know."
" 'T is well, (quoth Noble), be content ;
A word in haste is not ill meant ; 270
Then come away with us, and show
The nearest way tq HufferslowT 7 ""^
I would (said Reynard) wish t'obey ;
But for my sins I here must stay.
You would not take with you a man, 275
On whom the Pope pronounc'd his ban.
Once, at the devil's instigation,
Growler express'd an inclination
To slip into a friar's gown ;
But after they had shav'd his crown, 280
The glutton was not satisfied
When six lay-brothers him supplied
With meat and drink ; but he again
Of thirst and hunger would complain.
I thought he was in great dismay, 285
And help'd the wretch to run away.
For this the Pope his ban inflicted,
And to this hour I'm interdicted.
With your permission I would now
To Rome for pardon wish to go. 290
CANTO II.] THE PARDON. 87
From thence, if I your leave may crave,
I'll wander to the holy grave,
And plenary indulgence bring,
Both for myself and for my King.
Were I with you to go away, 295
I'm sure, malicious tongues would say :
" A fine companion for a King,
This fox, who just escap'd the string,
And who is interdicted too ! "
No, no, my Liege, 't will never do." 300
" If this (said Noble) is the case,
It surely would be a disgrace,
To take you with me, and I must
Some other with this job intrust.
I will not mar a good intent, 305
And since to Rome your course is bent, k
I hope your pilgrimage will mend you.
Heav'ns blessing on the way attend you ! " '
CANTO in. THE RELAPSE.
Reynard makes the wolves their shoes,
And Brown part of his fur-coat lose.
The Ram gives him his benison
And puts the rogue his Knapsack on.
He kills poor Puss, and with the Ram
Sends to the King her head for sham.
The guiltless Ram and all his kin
Are made to pay for Rankey's sin.
KING Noble, mounted on a stone,
Which serv'd him for a royal Throne,
Made every bird and beast around
Perch on trees, or squat on the ground,
Save Reynard, who with courtly grace 5
Behind the Queen's seat took his place ;
And with a voice distinct and loud
He thus harangued the num'rous crowd :
" Be't known to all assembled here,
To Bird and Beast, to Fowl and Deer, 10
CASTO HI.] THE RELAPSE. 89
To poor and rich, to great and small,
And to our loyal subjects all,
That by our sovereign pow'r and sway
We our free pardon grant to-day
To Reynard, whom the law did sentence 15
To death ; but having show'd repentance,
And faithfully disclos'd a thing
Of great importance to his King,
We, for the sake of this confession,
And of our Consort's intercession, 20
All punishment and fine forgive him,
And at our Court again receive him.
Besides, it is our royal will,
That all of you respect him still,
Himself, his children and his wife, 25
And as you love your limbs and life,
Let every one of you refrain,
Of past offences to complain.
He hath done wrong, but he'll repent.
To go to Rome is his intent, 30
And on his pilgrimage to-morrow
He will set out with pious sorrow.
From Rome he'll go, with staff in hand,
A Palmer, to the holy land,
And won't return to us again, 35
Till full indulgence he obtain."
Gib now cried out : " W are all forlorn
I wish, I never had been born.
90 REYNARD THE POX. [PAST H.
If into favour he again
Hath stole, the rogue with might and main 40
Will strive to ruin us all three,
Growler as well, as Brown and me.
Of one eye he did last bereave me ;
I fear, the other he won't leave me."
Growler said : " Good advice is dear." 45
" So 't is indeed, (said Brown) I fear."
With Grief and terror much oppress'd
These two the King and Queen address'd,
And made of Reynard strange report.
King Noble sternly cut them short, 50
" Were not you plainly told by me,
That I have pardon'd him ? " said he ;
And forthwith, in an angry mind
He order'd them to be confm'd ;
For Reynard's slandrous information 55
Had drawn on them his indignation.
The rogue, perceiving that his art
Serv'd him so well, pluck'd up a heart,
And fell designs he plann'd 'amain,
To give his enemies new pain. . 60
" Most kind and gracious Queen (quoth he),
Your pilgrim I shall shortly be ;
But for my long and toilsome jaunt
I shall of shoes be much in want ;
A Knapsack too would be of use, 65
All which I hope you'll not refuse.
CANTO HI.] THE RELAPSE. 91
To Growler, who sits now so warm,
To lend his gloves can do no harm.
His wife is not much wont to roam ;
She without shoes can sit at home. 70
Brown too could for a travelling-sack
Spare me some leather from his back,"
" Of all those things you shan't be stinted
(Said she) ; We'll get them, as you hinted,
Although it were to cost the life 75
Of Brown, and Growler and his wife."
" Gramercy, you are very kind
(Said he), and with a grateful jnind
I shall bring home (as 't is your due)
_JPalms and indulgences to you." v s 80
Thus the false palmer made a shift,
To lend his foes a deadly lift.
Growler was forc'd, his gloves to lose,
And Surly her best pair of shoes ;
They were oblig'd to lend their paws, 85
To have them stript of skin and claws.
Poor Brown did no ways better fare,
Whose back was of its fur laid bare,
The wily traitor to provide
With a tight Knapsack from his hide. 90
You never saw more wretched creatures
Rankey with pity-mocking features
Did Surly in her dumps approach.
" I hope, you'll think it no reproach
92 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART n.
(Quoth he), that I your shoes shall wear, 95
A pledge, to me extremely dear,
Although, forgetting old affection,
You lately caus'd me much affliction.
'T is true, I had some little share
In thus arranging the affair; 100
(For who, when fortune him enables,
Would not turn on his foes the tables ?)
But as I'm going now to Rome,
Be sure, that on my coming home
You shall be welcome to a share 105
Of all the pardons I can spare."
Surly, was laying in great pain
And was scarce able to complain.
At last with a deep sigh she said :
" Oh, Reynard! One day you'll be paid 110
For having now your wicked will."
Growler and Brown did both lie still
And chew'd the Cud in dumb despair,
When Reynard with a jeering air
Rail'd at them, as he went along, 115
And let them feel his cutting tongue.
If Gib had not in time sheer'd off,
He likewise would have felt his scoff.
Next morning at first dawn of day
Reynard came forth in full array ; 1 20
He greas'd his shoes, and put them on,
And to the King he went anon.
CAHTO m.J THE RELAPSE. 93
" My Liege (he said), your servant now
Is going to fulfil his vow ;
But ere my journey*! begin, 125
Pray, let your Chaplain be call'd in,
That I, before I take my leave,
His benison may first receive."
The Ram, a Clerk of mighty merit,
Well vers'd in matters of the spirit, 1 30
Was Chaplain ; Simple was his name ;
The King sent for him, and he came.
" Here's Reynard (said the King) ; come, read
Some prayers for him with due speed ;
With staff and Knapsack, and the rest 135
Of Palmer's garb him straight invest ;
For on a journey he's to go."
" My Liege, (quoth Simple) don't you know
That Reynard hath been interdicted ?
Hard punishment would be inflicted 140
On me, if Bishop Surface knew
That such a thing I dared to do.
But if th'affair you so could manage,
That I might come off without damage
From him and Ruddyface, our Dean " 145
" Pray, (said the King), what do you mean?
D'ye think I care a whit for you,
Or for your Bishop and his crew ?
Read, or read not, as you think fit ;
I do not care a straw for it. 150
94 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAHT II.
You hear, to Rome he goes away ;
If you will hinder him, you may."
Poor Simple with submissive look
PulFd out in haste his prayer-book,
And over Rankey read a lesson, 1 55
Which he thought neither more, nor less on,
Than if 't had been some tale, or song,
(As we, perhaps, 'may see ere long).
When he receiv'd his benison,
And had his pilgrim's-dress put on, 160
Reynard, with palmer-staff in hand,
Feign'd to go to the holy land ;
Though he had no more mind for it,
Than for a jaunt to Quarrelpit.
The cunning hypocrite did now 165
His tears profusely cause to flow,
As if his heart with pain was rent ;
And though his mind was only bent
On hurting all those, who were there,
Just as he used the Wolf and Bear, 170
He did intreat them much, to pray
To heav'n for blessing on his way
And for his safe return. This done,
He was in great haste, to be gone ;
For still his heart was in a flurry. 175
" Reynard (said Noble), I am sorry ^
To see you go in such a haste."
" No, Sir, I have no time to waste
CANTO III.] THE RELAPSE. 05
(Said he) ; a pious resolution
Should straight be put in execution, 180
And with your leave I shall depart."
" I grant it you with all ray heart "
Quoth Noble ; and his Courtiers all
He call'd together, great and small,
And earnestly did recommend them, 185
Part of his journey to attend him.
Reynard, ere his last leave he took,
Said to the King : " My Liege, pray look
To those two felons, whom you order'd
To prison; lest by them y'are-murder'd. 190
They are two dang'rous rogues, who would
Contrive your ruin, if they could."
Thus he departed from the Court,
Attended by a great escort
Of those, who curs'd him in their heart. 195
He was right glad, that through his art
He led the King, as well as those,
Who were his haters, by the nose.
When he was gone a little way,
With feign'd reluctance and dismay 200
He from th'escorting train took leave.
For Pussey he seem'd much to grieve ;
" Are we indeed (said he) to part,
Dear Puss ? It wounds my very heart,
To part with Simple and with thee, 2i>">
Who never gave offence to me.
96 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
Come further on with me a while ;
Your manners are so void of guile,
You are so modest in your ways,
That all folks speak of you with praise. 210
Like me (when once a monk I was)
You live on greens, and herbs and grass,
And never care for fish, or meat,
Or other victuals, nice to eat."
With this gross flatt'ry he at once 215
Prevail'd on both the simpletons,
To travel with him to his house,
And on they jogg'd to Malpertouse. ^
When they came to the castle-gate,
Reynard said : " Pray, friend Simple, wait ; 220
I for some minutes will step in
With Puss, who is one of our Kin.
Commend to her, if you'll be kind,
To bid my wife to ease her mind ;
For she is apt to take a fright, 225
As at this juncture well she might,
When I shall let her understand
That I go to the holy land."
Thus by fair words the cunning thief
Gain'd with the silly ram belief; 230
With Puss he went into his burrow,
And found his wife oppress'd with sorrow.
She never thought he would escape ;
But seeing him in pilgrim's shape
CANTO HI.] THE RELAPSE. 97
She, what with wonder and surprise, 235
Could hardly trust to her own eyes.
" For heav'ns sake (cried she), Reynard, tell
What strange adventures thee befell."
" I have been sent to jail, (said he) ;
But soon the King did set me free. 240
Growler and Brown for me gave bail,
On which I was let out of jail,
And sent on a long pilgrimage.
The King, our hardship to assuage,
Kindly presents us with this hare, 245
Whom he desires us, not to spare ;
For this malicious, sneaking thing
Has much belied me, says the King."
Poor Pussey, struck with sad dismay
On hearing this, would run away ; 250
But Reynard, seiz'd her by her thigh.
Puss call'd out with a piteous cry :
"JJelp, friend, the pilgrim and his wife
Take barb'rously away my life ! "
But Reynard quell'd her voice and breath, 255
And in a trice bit her to death.
So he regal'd Iris silly guest.
" Come (said he) and fall to in haste ;
The hare is fat, and nice to eat,
And will yield a delicious treat. 260
She'll now no more complain of me."
His wife and brats fell to with glee,
98 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
And Erminet did oft exclaim :
' God bless the King and his fair Dame !
A happy night to them I wish, 265
For sending us so nice a dish."
When all of them had satisfied
Their appetite, the she-fox cried :
" Tell us now, how you got away."
Quoth he : "I could not in a day 270
Tell all the tricks, that I have been
A playing to the King and Queen.
"Our friendship is but thinly spun,
And thinner 't will become anon,
When soon or late the truth comes out. 275
The King will make a furious rout,
And at my heels he soon will be.
I'm sure he will not pardon me ;
But for a treach'rous, lying wight,
He'll hang me, if he can, outright. 280
To Switzerland, I think, I shall
Hi-tire, where I'm not kmmn at ;tll :
Lord bless me, what a fruitful soil !
There's milk and honey, wine and oil ;
Fine wild-fowl, game of every kin3 285
And fish of all sorts we shall find.
Some of them they call Pullus, Gallus,
Cotumix, Anser, ferdix, Rallus.
At such I always lik'd to snatch,
Because dry-shod you may them catch ; 290
CANTO HI.] THE RELAPSE. 99
They were my food, e'en during fast,
When in the Convent I liv'd last.
To that good country we'll resort,
To live in peace, and t'have good sport.
Besides, to tell thee every thing, 295
I have been pardon'd by the King,
Because I did make him believe
That he a treasure should receive,
Hid at a place, call'd Quarrelpit ;
But little will he see of it. 300
His wrath and fury will be great
When he perceives the barefac'd cheat ;
But I was fain to tell a lie,
To escape the hangman's tie.
Thanks to my wit, I got away; 305
But I would not another day
Try, his good grace again to gain,
Which I might not so cheap obtain."
Quoth Erminet : " 'T is hard, to go
To foreign parts, which we don't know ; 310
For while we can supply at home
Our wants, we have no need to roam.
A (Jhick in hand is worth much more,
Than of Cranes flying half a score.
Of danger there is no great fear, 315
Whilst in bur Castle we live here.
It is well fortified, and strong,
And if besieg'd, 't will hold out long,
100 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
And we have many a secret way,
In case of need to get away. 320
Therefore I'm sorry for your vow
To go on pilgrimage just now."
" Why now, (said Reynard), my good wife,
I'll rather swear, than lose my life ;
But if in bonds I made that vow, 325
Since I am free, I'll break it now ;
For learned Casuists will tell you,
That a forc'd oath doth not compel you.
No bus'ness at the holy grave,
Nor with the Pope of Rome, I have ; 330
Then ease your mind, for I will stay,
And stand the brunt here, as you say.
For may be, I should meet as bad
And worse, were I to go abroad.
To hurt me here, I think, the King 335
Will not find it an easy thing ;
If he hath pow'r, I don't want wit :
We'll see who gets the worst of it."
Meantime the Ram was tir'd, to wait
And kick his heels at Reynard's gate. 340
He call'd out : " Puss, where do you stay ?
Come out, and let us go away."
Reynard stept forth, and told him : " Friend,
Puss doth herself to you commend, '
And as with us she's making merry, 345
A little she would wish to tarry,
CANTO III.] THE RELAPSE. 101
And if you slowly will walk on,
She says, she'll follow you anon."
" Hum ! (said the Ram) ; but pray, what noise
Was heard just now ? 'T was like the voice 350
Of Puss, who cried most piteously,
And for assistance call'd to me."
" No, (said the rogue), 't was no such thing.
My Consort fell a whimpering
When of my journey she did hear. 355
Puss was much for her life in fear,
And call'd out : " Help, our pilgrim's wife
Is like, for grief to lose her life."
" Be this (quoth Simple) as it may ;
She seem'd to call in great dismay." 360
"No (replied Rankey), never fear;
For Puss to me is very dear,
And rather, than to give her pain,
To serve her, every nerve I'd strain.
But I must not forget to say, 365
Before to Court you go away,
That when we parted last, the King
Bade me to write about some thing.
Whilst Puss was, in her sprightly way,
With Erminet all blithe and gay, 370
And both together lik'd to chatter
On this and that, and th'other matter,
To write those letters I had leisure ;
If you'll take them, 't will give me pleasure."
102 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
" Why, yes, (said Simple), very well ; 375
But where to put them, please to tell,
For I have neither pouch, nor sack."
Quoth he : " The Knapsack from Brown's back
Will serve the purpose well enough,
For it is very tight and tough. 380
I'll go and put the letters in,
And straight come back to you again."
Instead of that, he went and made
A parcel up of Pussey's head,
And coming back, he for a sham 385
Thus caution'd the poor silly Ram :
" Pray, take this Knapsack on your neck,
And lest the letter-seals should break,
Refrain from handling the contents.
I've tied it fast at all events, 390
And if the King finds that the Knot
Is as I tied it, well I wot
That he will pay you for your pain.
If his applause you wish to gain,
Tell him, that you, whilst I did write, 395
Help'd me the letters to indite.
You'll surely meet with due reward.".
The Ram for joy leapt up a yard.
" I now perceive indeed (said he)
How much you love and favour me. 400
It will be a delightful sport,
To hear all Gentlemen at Court
CANTO III.] THE RELAPSE. 103
Commend me for my style in writing
And subtlety of my inditing ;
For though the praise to You is due, 405
They know it not. Great thanks to you !
'T is well, I came with you this way.
Doth Pussey, now come with me, pray ? "
" No, she'll stay yet a while with me,
Ere I can part with her, (quoth he) ; 410
But if you slowly will walk on,
She'll overtake you, when we've done."
The Ram took leave, and did not tarry,
The message to the King to carry.
'T was noon-day when he came to Court. 415
The King, who saw him in such port,
And that with Reynard's bag he came,
Ask'd him, what of the Fox became.
Quoth he : "An't please your Majesty,
Reynard besought me earnestly, 420
Some letters straight to you to carry,
And in this bag they are ; but marry !
When Reynard did the letters write,
Great part I help'd him to indite ;
I therefore hope you'll find the writ ' 425
Not destitute of sense and wit."
The Beaver was first notary
And head-clerk to his Majesty,
In foreign tongues he was well versed,
And writs and letters he rehearsed 430
104 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT II.
In Council. Castor was his name,
And he was sent for. When he came,
He was commanded by the King,
To see what news the- Ram did bring,
He op'd the bag, but in a fright 435
He call'd out : " What a shocking sightj
Would any one such thing believe ?
'T is Pussey's head, sure as I live."
This sadly shock'd the King and Queen.
The King exclaim'd with rage and spleen : 440
" Had I this rascal here again,
I'd make him suffer endless pain.
How that base villain cheated me ! "
His wrath rose to such high degree,
That he made all the woods resound, 445
And frighten'd every soul around.
The Leopard, who sat next by him,
Said : " Why, Sir, should you look so grim,
And vex yourself about such thing ?
Such grief doth not become a King, 450
Who ne'er is judg'd to do amiss ? "
" Are you (quoth Noble) sure of this ?
Is't wonderful to see me grieve,
That I this villain could believe,
Who made me my best friends bear down, 455
Stout Growler and his cousin Brown ?.
'T will stab my honour to the quick,
That he induc'd me by his trick,
CANTO HI.] THE RELAPSE. 105
My two first Barons to offend*.
Which 't will be difficult to mend. 460
This all is owing to my wife,
Who begg'd me much to spare his life,
Till I was forc'd to lend an ear ;
Which I'm left to repent, I fear."
Quoth he : " Sir, if you have offended, 465
I'm sure, the matter may be mended.
That your two injur'd Barons must
Have some atonement, is but just,
The Ram hath own'd without disguise,
That he did Pussey's death advise, 470
By which he forfeited his life.
Give him to Growler and his wife
And to their wounded cousin Brown,
And they'll be thankful for the boon.
Then we'll of Reynard go in quest; 475
I hope to catch him in his nest.
To try him, is not worth a straw ;
We'll hang him straight by martial law,
For if he's suffer'd to harangue,
We ne'er shall live to see him hang. 480
The King approving this advice,
There was no need to give it twice.
" Go, (he replied), without delay,
And fetch th' imprison'd Barons, pray.
Tell them : We from our royal Grace 485
Restore to them their rank and place ;
106 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART II.
Henceforth the same respect to Brown
And Growler shall again be show'n,
Which hath in former time been paid them
Before the wicked fox betray'd them. 490
You'll let them know how he contriv'd,
That Pussey was of life depriv'd,
And that, abetted by the Ram,
Her head he sent us for a sham.
To make the Ram pay for his sin, 495
They shall have him and all his Kin."
The Leopard to the pris'ners went,
To whom his mind he thus unbent :
" Good news I bring to you (quoth he).
The King- sets you at liberty, 500
And very sorry, Sirs, he is,
If any thing was done amiss.
Therefore he order'd me to proffer
The Ram to you, by way of offer.
Him and his Kin and friends you may 505
At any time destroy and slay.
He further grants you his permission
To waylay without intermission
Rankey the Fox, your enemy,
His wife and all his family. 510
You may detain, imprison, kill
And slay them, when and where you will.
These grants he will bestow on you
And on all your descendants too,
ONTO TIT.] THE RELAPSE. 107
Provided you forget the past, 515
And will be loyal to the last."
This offer being by the Bear
And Wolf thought honorable and fair,
Poor Simple did with all his Kin
Pay for the bargain with their skin. 520
No treaty after long contention
Was ever kept with more attention ;
For Wolves and Bears devour and slay
Poor harmless sheep until this day.
CANTO I. THE OUTLAWRY.
The King prolongs the feasts at Court,
To which all beasts and birds resort.
. The Rabbit and the Crow complain
Of Reynard's treachery again ;
Of which his friend, the badger Gray,
Gives him a hint that very day.
Him Reynard gaily doth invite
To sup with him, and spend the night.
THE King, desirous to confer
More honour on the Wolf and Bear,
For twelve days more prolong'd the feasts,
To the great joy of birds and beasts ;
But greater joy did Reynard's fall 5
And new disgrace give to them all,
And they resolv'd, of him again
In a joint body to complain.
New messengers to every end
Of his great realm the King did send. 10
CAXTO T.] THE OUTLAWRY. 109
Beasts of all Kind, Birds of all feather
Came flocking from all parts together ;
But in the mean time, night and day,
Reynard in waiting for them lay,
And not a few he made repent, 15
That on such pastime they were bent.
Great was the merriment and sport
With balls and tournament* at CYmrt ;
Trumpets did sound, and bells were rung;
Some danc'd, some fought, some drank and sung, 20
While King and Queen did look about
With pleasure on the merry rout.
But when the eighth day scarce was past,
And Noble sat at his repast,
The Rabbit came with mournful mien, 25
And thus address'd the King and Queen :
" With pain and sorrow I appear,
My Liege and Queen, before You here.
You never saw such treachery,
As Reynard practis'd against me. 30
At dawn of morning yesterday,
As I came travelling this way,
I saw him sitting at his door.
A pilgrim's dress and hood he wore.
I thought he read his morning pray'r, 35
And without caution I drew near.
He got up from his seat, to meet me ;
I thought, he friendly meant to greet me ;
110 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT in.
But of a sudden with his claw
He gave me such a horrid paw, 40
That, what with fright, what with the wound,
It brought me nearly to the ground.
Thanks to my legs, I got away,
Or I should not have liv'd this day ;
But still I lost part of my ear, 4">
And was almost half dead with fear.
Whoever ventures o'er the plain,
Risks, by him basely to be slain."
Whilst thus the Rabbit told his story,
The Crow came in, cast down and sorry. 50
"My Liege, (quoth he), I scarce can speak,
And my poor heart is like to break.
The loss, which I have undergone,
Would be enough to move a stone.
My wife and I this morning early 55
Were coming through a field of barley,
Where Reynard in a path did lie,
With eyes askance, and head awry,
Like a dead dog ; his tongue uncouth
Did hang out of his gaping mouth. 60
I call'd for help in great dismay,
But dead like any stone he lay.
Mj wife his belly strok'd, and chin,
To try if life was still within.
But while she thought, he was quite dead, 65
He seiz'd her, and bit off her head.
CANTO I.] THE OUTLAWRY. Ill
At me the traitor likewise snapp'd,
And I but narrowly escap'd ;
Then, perching on a neighb'ring tree,
I with my eyes was doom'd to see 70
How my poor wife he did devour ;
Nay, if there had been half a score,
He'd have devour'd them all together.
He scarcely left of her this feather,
Which, when the murderer was gone, 75
I came to gather up anon.
My Liege, it is of highest need,
To punish this atrocious deed ;
For those, who would the guilty spare,
Are justly deem'd, the guilt to share." 80
The King, who heard these new complaints.
And weigh'd the plaintiff's arguments,
Was vex'd with anger and with grief,
And breathing wrath against the thief,
He said : " Well, by the faith We owe 85
T'our loving Consort, we do vow,
This breach of peace shall cost him dear.
I have done wrong, to lend an ear
To his lies, and to let him loose.
The villain us'd me like a goose, 90
When I a palmer made of him,
And sent him to Jerusalem.
But I may thank my wife for it;
For all is owing to her wit ;
112 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III-
Though I am not the only fool, 95
Who hath been made a woman's tool.
This Rankey is a lying thief,
Who thinks of nothing but mischief.
It is high time to mar his plots,
Lest all the world think, we are sots. 100
Then let us find out means, to get him,
And when we have him, we will sweat him."
Growler, as well as Brown the Bear,
We re 'glad to hear King Noble swear ;
They wish'd much to stir up his rage, 105
And yet to speak they durst not wage,
Because so furious was his look,
Their noise he might not calmly brook.
At last the Queen put in a word.
" Don't be so wroth, (she said), My Lord, 110
And don't so lightly vow and swear,
If you will of reproach beware.
We can not fairly weigh the case,
Before we hear what Reynard says.
The Proverb : Alteram partem audi 115
Is a good rule for any body,
And may be, if the fox was here,
A diff'rent story we might hear ;
For every one (we all know well)
In his own way his tale will tell. 120
He may be bad, for aught I know,
But that he's clever, you'll allow.
CANTO I.] THE OUTLAWRY. 113
The number of his friends is great,
And they are useful to the State.
I thought his tale was void of art, 125
And on that ground I took his part :
If I'm mistaken, time will show it ;
If you will hang him, you may do it ;
But don't condemn him hastily,
Lest you repent it leisurely." 130
" Sir, (said the Leopard), it is true,
To wait, can draw no blame on you.
The Queen's opinion I think wise,
And if these Lords the same advise,
Let Reynard be allow'd to speak, 135
Before your wrath on him you wreak."
Quoth Growler: "'T will not be amiss,
To take a fool's advice on this.
Sir Leopard, if the fox was here,
And would attempt, himself to clear 140
Of all the matter, which the Crow
And Rabbit have advanc'd just now,
I have in store some other thing,
Which to the gallows him must bring ;
But I'll be silent now, and let him, 145
Until before the bar we get him.
Was 't not enough, the wily thief
Durst impose on the King's belief,
And tell him in his lying fit
Of treasures hid at Quarrelpit? 150
114 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
And have not Brown and I been shent,
And for his lies to prison sent?
I'll lay my life, he would be flay'd,
Ere but one word of truth he said ;
For since his birth his whole intent loo
On mischief and deceit is bent.
My Lords, you'll do what you think fit.
And I must be content with it ;
But if he ventur'd to appear,
Ere now you would have seen him here." 160
Quoth Noble : " It is as you say ;
What serves it then, for him to stay ?
We'll have an end of his affair,
And I command you, to repair
In six days time, arm'd Cap-a-pie, 1 65
To this spot, and to follow me.
Let every one be in his gear
With bow and arrows, sword and spear,
And when Y'are rang'd, each to his banner.
Behave yourselves in such a manner, 1 70
That I with honour may call Sir
Him, on whom knighthood I confer.
We will proceed to Malpertouse,
And take him up at his own house."
This measure being fix'd upon 175
By all the Council, Gray anon
In greatest hurry did depart,
The news to Reynard to impart.
CANTO I.] THE OUTLAWRY. 115
Whilst pensive o'er the plain he walk'd,
Thus to himself in dumps he talk'd: 180
" Poor Reynard ! Now it is indeed
A question, how at last you'll speed.
Of all your clan you are the head,
For whom we now are left to dread ;
Else, when for us you us'd to plead, 185
In all concerns we did succeed."
With this and such like lamentation,
Gray finish'd his pei*egrination.
When he arriv'd at Malpertouse,
Reynard met him before his house. 190
Two fine young pigeons, which to leave
Their nest had ventur'd in the eve,
And meant, their little wings to try,
H' had caught, because they could not fly.
When he saw Gray, he came to meet him, 195
And friendly did receive and greet him.
" Be welcome here, my friend, (said he) ;
You always mean it well with me.
You seem to be in wondrous flurry ;
What news d' ye bring in sudh a hurry ? " 200
" News I have got indeed, (quoth Gray) ;
But not the best, I'm griev'd to say.
I am much for your life afraid,
For e'en the King himself hath said
That you a shameful death shall die, 205
And orders he did notify
116 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART m.
To his troops, to attend him here
In six days time, with sword and spear.
This wears a very dang'rous face ;
For Brown stands high in his good grace, 210
And Growler is in favour too
With him, as much as I'm with you,
And it is said that out of hand
He'll get a general command.
In short, I fear some ill design 215
Is form'd, which you must countermine.
The number of your friends is small,
While crowds of foes contrive your fall.
Of late the Crow and Rabbit too
Have grievously complain'd of you. 220
If you are caught, your life will be
(I fear) in greatest jeopardy."
"And is this all? (ask'd Reynard), Pshaw!
I do rtot value it a straw.
The King and all his Court may swear 225
Whate'er they please ; I do not care.
If I advise myself, you'll see,
United they won't injure me.
Come, take a "bit of supper, pray,
And let us send all cares away. 230
Two fat young pigeons I just now
Have caught ; they are nice food, I trow,
And you may eat them, bones and all,
For suppers should be light and small.
CAHTO I.] THE OUTLAWRY. 117
My wife will strive to treat us well ; 235
But pray, be cautious, not to tell
The matter, which has brought you here ;
For smallest things put her in fear.
To morrow we will go to Court,
Where I depend on your support." 240
" I shall (quoth Gray) be staunch and true,
And lay down goods and life for you."
" 'T is comfort (Rankey said) you give ;
I'll thank you for it, if I live."
" For your advice, friend, I can say 245
That you may safely come, (said Gray).
The Leopard mov'd to-day the Court,
(The Queen his motion did support),
That full permission should be granted
To you, to speak all that you wanted, 250
And that, until you had been heard,
Your life by all means should be spar'd." , .
Quoth Reynrfrd : " To obtain this grant,
Will be as much, as I shall want ;
For if I get but leave to chatter, 255
I soon shall twist about the matter."
This said, they stept into the hall,
Where Gray was well receiv'd by all ;
And Erminet serv'd up the dish,
On which they feasted at their wish. 260
Whilst they were sitting at their mess
Reynard said : " Pray my friend, confess,
118 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
What think you of our little crew,
And how appear my brats to you ?
They are two little cunning elves, 265
Who begin to exert themselves.
They'll catch a gosling, or a pullet,
To fill their pretty little gullet ;
The one will lurk, the other dive ;
Faith, I'm in hopes, they both will thrive. 270
But ere I send them out, to hunt,
They first shall learn, to stand the brunt
Of yelping hounds, and to beware
Of baited trap and hidden snare.
Already after me they take ; 275
They know the leap, the snatch, the shake ;
For oft in play I do impart
To the young mimics all my art."
Quoth Gray : " 'T is happiness indeed
And pride, to see one's children speed, 280
And young lads should be early rmtde
Acquainted with their parent's trade.
I'm very glad, to hear you tell,
My pretty cousins promise well."
" Thank you ! we'll now leave that alone 285
(Quoth Reynard), and to bed be gone ;
You must be tir'd, and 't is the best
For us, to take a little rest."
This said, the floor was strew'd with hay,
And all about the hall they lay ; 290
CANTO I.] THE OUTLAWRY. 119
Though Reynard was not free from fright,
And hardly closed an eye that night.
When in the morn he left his bed,
He call'd his wife, to whom he said :
" Do not be frighten'd ; I with Gray 295
To Court again must go away.
If idle tales are told of me,
Let them by no means trouble thee, '
But hoping always for the best,
Be careful of our little nest." 300
" Reynard (said she), pray mind what pass'd
When you to Court were summon d last."
" If I was last in danger there,
(Quoth he), I now may better fare.
Wise men grope often in the dark, 305
And ablest shots may miss the mark.
I can't avoid to go, you hear ;
Then be content, and banish fear.
In five days I come back to you,
If all goes well. Mean time adieu!" 310
CANTO IL THE JOURNEY.
Reynard sets out, and by the way
Once more he doth confess to Gray.
To palliate his guilt and shame,
He on the Clergy casts the blame. '
His friend reproves his vain quotations,
Though he admits his observations.
Pug makes an offer, to proceed
To Rome, his cause for him to plead.
WHILE. Reynard walk'd along with Gray
He told his nephew by the way :
" 'T is difficult to guess (you know)
What fate at Court awaits me now.
At any rate I think it best, 5
Once more by you to be confess'd :
Therefore my sins, both great and small,
I am resolv'd to tell you all.
It was a great and heinous sin,
That I mad.e Brown part with his skin. 10
CAXTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 121
Growler and Surly too did lose
Their claws, lo get me gloves and shoes ;
For rancour against them, and spite,
Made me the Kings ill-will excite.
I much abus'd his royal ear, 15
By telling him of jewels dear,
Of treasures, hid at Quarrelpit,
And Goldsmith's work ; which was not fit.
Poor Puss I kill'd with fell intent,
And to the King her head I sent ; 20
Which cost the harmless Ram his life.
The Crow complains, I kill'd his wife ;
The Rabbit says, I cropt his ear ;
All which is but too true, I fear.
One thing, besides, I last forgot, 25
With which my conscience I did blot ;
A trick, which to the Wolf I play'd,
Which I don't wish to get repaid :
Once, while we saunter'd o'er a plain,
Growler of hunger did complain ; 30
A fine foal-mare we there espied,
Whose Colt was skipping by her side.
Growler sent me, to ask the Mare,
If she to us her Colt would spare,
And how dear it was to be sold. 35
I went, and by the Mare was told,
That if I wish'd to know the price,
She'd let me read it in a trice.
122 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT HI.
Her words were follow'd" by a motion,
Which made me tell her : " I've no notion 40
Of letters, and I am not bent
On Colts-flesh ; but I have been sent
By Growler, who is with me here."
" Then (said she) tell him to draw near."
I went, and told him : " If you'll eat 45
A copious mess of nice Colt's-meat,
The Mare will sell her Foal to you.
The price is mark'd below her shoe.
She would have shovv'd it me, indeed,
But I was never taught to read. 50
You had best go, and try to spell it."
" It were strange, if I could not tell it,
(Said he), who am so deeply read
In languages, both quick and dead,
In which I often have disputed,- 55
And many learned Clerks confuted.
Nay, writings, which to few are known,
I read as glibly, as my own.
If you'll but wait a little bit,
I'll go, and read this -curious writ." 60
He ran, and ask'd the Mare, how dear
She'd sell her Colt. She said : " Look here,
The price is noted on my shoe."
" Lei's see," quoth he. She said : ' Pray do."
This said, she lifted up her heel, 65
And with a kick she made him reel ;
CANTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 123
For she had got an iron shoe
"With six sharp nails, put on quite new,
Which she imprinted on his head,
And near an hour he lay for dead. 70
Whilst both the Mare and Colt ran off,
I came and ask'd him, for a scoff:
" Pray Sir, how did you like the Foal ?
Have you alone eat up the Whole,
And not left me the smallest share 75
For bringing answer from the Mare ?
Pray tell, what on her Shoe was writ ;
For surely you've decipher'd it.
Have you been napping after dinner ? "
" Don't banter a poor, hapless sinner, 80
(Quoth he) ; that longshank'd Jade just now
(Damn her!) hath hit me such a blow,
As laid me senseless on the Clod.
She was with iron newly shod,
And 't was no writing, which I read, 85
But nails of steel, which broke my head."
He s,carce got cur'd in three weeks time.
Thus, friend, I have own'd every crime,
Which* I can call to recollection.
I'm ready to receive correction 90
And clear my conscience, that I may
With easy mind appear to-day,
And with your good advice, I fain
Will seek the way to Grace again."
124 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III
" Your sins are great indeed, (quoth Gray) ; 95
But since the Dead are gone away,
And many things with cures involve you,
Of past offences I'll absolve you.
If you have any thing to dread,
It is for sending Pussey's head; 100
Indeed, it was a daring thing,
That you durst send it to the King."
" Why now, (quoth Reynard), for my part
I do not take this much to heart.
Who through this World must fight his way, 105
Can't mind his conscience every day.
I saw, the hare was fat and good,
And fit, to yield the nicest food.
The Rarn's blood out of spleen I spilt.
Theirs was the damage; mine the guilt. 110
I just from Court came in a pet ;
What wonder then, that I did fret?
Though, to confess the truth to Ye,
It savour'd not of charity.
But very properly You say : .115
Those, who are dead, are gone away ;
Then let us drop this odious matter,
And on some other subject chatter :
Our present times abound with vices,
Witness, our Clergymen's devices, 120
Who, whilst for models they should serve,
Too often from their duty swerve.
CANTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 125
Nay, even our liege Lord, the King,
Doth not refrain from pilfering,
And though not openly himself, 125
He comes, to take away our pelf,
Yet Wolves and Bears with loaves and fishes
Know mighty well to meet his wishes.
But still he thinks, this all is fair ;
For none to him the truth declare. 130
Confessors, Chaplains and. their crew
Make him believe, 't is all his due,
And basely they neglect their duty,
Because they all share in the booty ^
"ThougE 't were but for a hood, or gown. 135
Poor Commoners are thus kept down,
Unheard, unjudg'd, they must refrain,
Of their oppressors to complain.
For since the Lion hath the sway,
And Bears and Wolves have won the day, 140
'T is honour thought by them to steal
And prey upon the Common -weal.
But if poor Reynard lifts a Goose,
The hounds of Justice are let loose,
And : " Hang the thief," and: " Crucify," 145
Becomes the universal cry.
For small thieves are hang'd out of hand/
Whilst wholesale robbers rule the land. /
Such bad examples have seduc'd me,
And to foul play they have induc'd me, 150
126 REYNARD THE FOX. , [PABT in.
Because I thought, what others did,
Was not to me alone forbid ;
And though my conscience would at times,
Awake, and tell me of my crimes,
Yet, when I saw, that Churchmen did 155
Not always live, as they were bid,
Confirm'd in guilt, no more afraid,
I carried on my wonted trade ;
For e'en great Prelates now-a-day
Pon't always walk the narrow way. 160
But difference must be always made
'Twixt men and men of every trade ;
And so 't is with the Clergy too.
That some are bad, is but too true,
But others, by their conduct, teach 165
The same good maxims, which they preach.
But is it not a cruel thing,
That there's no end of censuring ?
What's good, we don't enquire about;
But what is bad, we soon find out, 1 70
And our delight is, to descry
The splinter in our neighbour's eye.
Of this we like to say and sing,
But not to praise a handsome thing.
Is 't wondrous then, that on our scurvy 175
Ant's hill, all things go topsy-turvy ?
Bad habits (th' adage says) are catching,
And are caught, like the Itch, by scratching.
CANTO n.] THE JOURNEY. 127
Just so the poor, unthinking crowd,
To their own damage, rail aloud 180
Against the morals of their teachers.
" If 't were all sin (they say), what preachers
Condemn in pulpits, and exclaim
Against, they would not do the same."
Thus, like the silly, mocking Apes, 185
By mocking they get into scrapes.
'T is said, that on the Continent
Priests- are on fornication bent,
Because they r re not allow'd to wed ;
But, to supply the nuptial bed, 190
They scrape together alms and scantlings,
To keep their wenches, and get bantlings.
(If 't is the same with our's, or no,
Is more, than I pretend to know).
Their brats they always to some place 195
Of trust and profit strive to raise,
And there those puny bastard-elves
Are seen to strut, and pride themselves,
And of their betters to take place,
As if they were of noblest race. 200
In former times they made less show,
But are call'd Lordp and Ladies now ;
For money is the paramount,
And Priests at present keep account
In many Realms, without control, 205
Of land-tax, poor's fund, mint and toll.
128 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART m.
When Priests and Clerks themselves exert,
Thus the poor lay-men to pervert,
The Blind show to the Blind the way,
And both of course must go astray ; 210
For good examples now by few
Are minded, and the heedless crew
On wicked ways are most intent,
And seldom on good morals bent.
But after all, this is not said, 215
All bastard-children to degrade.
Their parent's sin is not their own ;
But those, who are for bastards known,
Should not behave presumptuously,
But always show great modesty. 220
If then they 're slander'd after all,
The shame will on the sland'rer fall :
I It is not birth, we are to scan,
For virtue only makes the man.
A Clergyman of gentle mood 225
And conduct wise, can do much good,
Whilst others, who are bent on vices,
Mislead their flock to bad devices,
And though they preach the purest lore,
T will be as ba'd, as 't was before. 230
" What means their preaching (Laymen say),
If all their deeds their words unsay ?
Before their sermon they conclude,
To Charity they oft allude,
CANTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 129
By telling us, that money, spent 235
In good works, to the Lord is lent ;
But they will be the last of any,
To lend the Lord a single penny,
And ere a doit they give the poor,
They'll see them starving at their door. 240
Soft clothes, nice victuals and hard drinking,
On such they are forever thinking ;_
A' bumper and a buxom Lass
They will prefer to saying Mass."
A pious and devout Divine '-^5
Won't deck himself with outward shine ;
Righteous and meek he'll walk before,
And lead his flock to heaven's door.
Not so the lazy brotherhood,
Who wear a chaplet, frock and hood, 250
And go from house to house about,
The richest shriving to find out.
They'll cringe and fawn, and pray and whine,
Till somebody ask them to dine ;
Nay, if you ask one, he'll bring in more. 2oo
There are besides full half a score.,
Who in each Convent take the lead,
And on the nicest morsels feed.
These are preferr'd before all Friars,
As Guardians, Lecturers and Priors, 2 GO
And when in hall they dine, or sup,
To them the choicest is serv'd up,
130 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
Whilst others must, both night and day,
Read matins, bury, sing and pray.
It is the same with the Pope's Legates, 2-G5
With. Bishops, Deans and other Prelates.
E'en simp'ring Nuns like to receive,
But would be very loth to give.
In short, not two in ten there are,
Who to fulfil their vows will care." 270
Quoth Gray : " My friend, you do not well,
Your neighbor's faults to me to tell ;
For 't is not worth to you a pin,
To speak of ought, but your own sin.
Wh'at bus'ness have we here, to ask 27 o
How monks and nuns perform their task ?
Let them for all such matters answer
To their Superiors, as they can, Sir.
Meantime I freely will confess
That many things you shrewdly guess ; 280
And all your observations show
How^welljthe ways of men you know.
It might not be at all amiss,
If we to you were to confess ;
For many Clerks, as well as I, 28 >
Might for advice to you apply."
When of the Court they now got sight,
Reynard Was seiz'd with sudden fright.
But Pug the monkey met him there,
And in great part reliev'd his care. 20U
CANTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 131
Something of Reynard's case he knew ;
To help him further to the clue,
Reynard said : " Fortune hath of late
Show'd me the bald part of her pate.
Some rogues, whoever they may be, 295
Have grievously complain'd of me :
The Crow hath lost his wife I hear ;
The Rabbit says I cropt his ear.
But if I could approach the King ;
It should not avail them any thing. 300
I am however much afflicted,
That by the Pope I'm interdicted ;
For on that score, I know the Dean
Traduc'd me before the King and Queen.
All this for Growler's sake I suffer ; 305
For I help'd that ungrateful buffer
When to his heels the vagrant took,
And wantonly his cell forsook.
'T was I, who set the ruffian free,
When tir'd of fasts and chastity ; 310
And now, for payment of my pain,
The wretch with all his might and main,
Decries me, and tries every thing,
To make me odious to the King.
If I'm oblig'd to go to Rome, 315
I much fear for my wife at home,
To whom he will, with all his clan,
Do as much mischief, as he can.
132 REYXARD THE FOX. [PART III.
But if, from th' interdict releas'd
My mind and conscience were appeas'd, 320
In better spirits I, to plead
My cause at Court, could now proceed."
Quoth Pug : " I'm going straight to Rome ;
Then, if you wish to stay at home,
Intrust your bus'ness but to me, 32-~>
And in the best hands it shall be.
You know, our Bishop's clerk I was,
And all things through my hands did pass :
In spite of Bishops and of Deans,
To serve you well, I have the means. 330
My worthy friend and uncle Simon,
Whqjs a pow'rful and a sly man,
Hath every thing at his command,
And will help those, who fill his hand.
Nay, he i.s not the only friend, 330
On whom at Rome I can depend ;
There's Doctor Wrest, and bach'lor Civil,
Who'll gain a supper from the devil,
And both will follow, while we've money,
As busily, as flies do honey. 3 40
The proverb says, and all men know :
' T is money makes the Mare go.
Whilst of your job I shall take care,
To Court meantime you may repair.
There mistress Pry, my wife, you'll find, 340
To whom the King and Queen are kind,
CAXTO II.] THE JOURNEY. 133
Because she's of a gay deport.
Apply to her but for support,
And readily she'll grant it you.
Her sisters, and our children too, 350
And many of. your own relations
Will strive, to screen you from vexations.
If after all you don't succeed,
Let me but know of it with speed,
And the Pope's ban shall be inflicted, 355
And King and Country interdicted.
The Pope is old and sick, and cares
But little about all affairs ;
But there 's a jolly Cardinal,
Hight Bonnyblade, who governs all. 3 GO
I know a pretty, buxom Lass,
With whom his evenings he doth pass :
To all requests, which she presents,
He always readily consents.
Sir Pinchpenny and Doctor Hoard 3G5
Sit both at the spiritual board,
And those, who do not grease their paw,
Are sure to be denied the law.
These are the men, who shall forgive you,
And from the interdict relieve you. 370
The King will shortly be aware,
That I'm befriending your affair.
He knows that I negotiate
All matters well in Church, or State.
134 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART m.
Consid'ring that, he'll not oppress you ; 375
Therefore have courage friend. God bless you !
This said, they pai'ted on the spot,
And each his different way did trot.
CANTO III THE ADVOCACY.
Reynard, when question'd by the King,
Denies with boldness every thing.
The King is wroth ; but mistress Pry,
The monkey's wife, of conduct sly,
Tells him, to bring his anger down,
A story of a Snake and Clown;
On which the King, returning back,
Grants Reynard leave again to clack.
WHEN Reynard came again to Court,
He did affect a steady port,
And through the crowd he made his way,
Attended by his nephew Gray ;
But seeing, to his great regret, a
That all around he was beset
By those, who wish'd to see him fall,
His courage fail'd him after all ;
When Gray, his friend, him thus admonish'd :
" Reynard, (he said), be not astonish'd. 10
136 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART HI.
Fortune's a woman, then be steady,
For faint heart never won fair lady."
Reynard thank'd him, and looking round
Once more, he to his comfort found,
That though his foes did crowd the hall, In
The number likewise was not small
Of those, on whom he could depend,
His cause and int'rest to befriend.
He then advanc'd, and bending knee,
" God save the King and Queen ! (quoth he), 20
And send them wisdom, to determine
'Twixt trusty folks and lying vermin ;
For it is difficult, to trace
Low minds below a fawning face.
I wish, all hearts were made of glass, '25
That one might see what there doth pass ;
You then would be convinc'd, liege Lord, .
That I speak truth in every word.
You'd see how faithful and how true
I have been all along to you. 30
Here I by many am abus'd,
And have been slandrously accus'd,
Because to hurt me, they endeavour,
And to deprive me of your favour.
But I am sure, you are too wise, 3">
Not to discern what they devise.
My cause I'm ready to. defend,
And on your Justice I depend."
CASTO III.] THE ADVOCACY. 137
" Your fawning speeches (quoth the King)
Shall not avail you any thing. 40
You have put many tricks on me,
But of no use they now shall be ;
For though you play your pranks with art,
You are a villain in your heart.
We daily hear complaints of you ; 45
What with the old, what with the new,
(Witness the Rabbit and the Crow)
Your rogueries too well we know."
Quoth Reynard : " Nay, upon my word,
You have been mis-inform'd, My Lorfl. 50
Hear me, and if you can deny
That I am guiltless, let me die.
You know that I with rede * and deed
Have serv'd you oft in time of need ;
Nay, I have oft kept watch for you 55
(Of which your Highness little knew),
Whilst you were basely left by those,
Who now between us interpose.
Nay, if my conscience bade me fear,
Before my Judges to appear, 60
I might have staid in peace at home,
And should not now to Court have come.
* Rede ( Sax. reed) Counsel, advice. The word is obsolete;
but like many other quaint expressfons it suits the humour of
the comic poem.
138 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
For when my worthy cousin Gray
Came to inform me yesterday,
That to this place I must repair, f>;">
I was just going to prepare
For goiug to the holy See.
But Pug, my cousin, met with me,
And told me, he himself with speed
To Rome was going to proceed, 7*'
And If I wish'd to come to Court,
My case at Rome he would report.
As soon as I was here arriv'd,
I heard, my eifemies contriv'd,
My reputation to attack, 7>~)
And slander me behind my back ;
For to the Rabbit and the Crow
Much friendship I did always show.
Instead of thanks, they now traduced me,
And falsely of great crimes accused me. 80
Be pleas'd to know, that some days past,
Whilst I, just after breaking fast,
Read morning-pray'r before my burrow.
The Rabbit came, and said : " Good morrow ! "
I friendly ask'd, which way he went. 8">
" To Court (said he) my course is bent."
I saw, that he did pant and sweat,
And ask'd, if he would take a whet.
He gladly did accept my offer,
And I as readily did proffer i)0
CANTO HI.] THE ADVOCACY. 139
New bread and fish, and fruit and curds,
Such as a country-house affords.
When he had eat his fill of fish,
My youngest boy long'd for the dish,
(You know, at any time of day 95
Young brats are fond of food and play) ;
But with a blow th' ungrateful clown
Knock'd the poor harmless infant down.
When this my eldest son perceiv'd,
His little brother he reliev'd, 100
And pull'd the bumpkin by his beard.
To quell their fray, I interfer'd ;
Or else the blockhead in the strife
Deserv'dly might have lost his life.
Now he would fain make it appear, 105
That I on purpose cropt his ear.
The Crow came on another day,
And in a seeming great dismay
He told me, he had lost his wife.
" A fish (he said) hath cost her life ; 1 K>
For with the bones she swallow'd it,
And suddenly died in a fit."
He must know best, how this befell her,
The rascal says that I did kill her ;
But, -may be, if the truth was known, 115
These were some doings of his own.
If I had leave, the rogue to question,
He soon should make a full confession.
140 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
What means to catch a Crow, have I,
While I'm a-foot and Crows can fly ? 1 20
If any body else is here,
Who by witnesses makes it appear,
That I have wrong'd him, I'm his man ;
Let him convict me, if he can ;
Or else I'll meet him in the field 125
With lance and target, sword and shield ;
There let it be by single figfiP
Determin'd, who is wrong, who right.
Such is the ancient, standing Law,
In which I will not make a flaw." 130
All those, who in the hall stood near him,
Were very much surpris'd to hear him.
The Crow and Rabbit stood amaz'd,
And on the daring liar gaz'd.
'The devil take this treach'rous wight 135
(Said they) ; he calls us out, to fight ;
. But ten of us durst not attack him,
And as to witnesses, (plague rack him !)
He knows, that none we can produce ;
Therefore to plead, is of no use, 140
For the arch rogue would overreach
Us all, by dint of subtle speech."
Thus their lost labour they did rue,
And forthwith from the Court withdrew.
Growler and Brown were very loth 145
To see these plaintiffs sheer off both ;
CAHTO m.] THE ADVOCACY. 141
For now the King call'd out aloud :
" Pray, what's become of all the crowd,
Who against Reynard did appear?
Why don't they speak, while he is here ? " 150
" I will explain it, Sir, to you
(Said Reynard) ; for 't is nothing new,
Those, who set up the loudest clack
* Against you, while you turn your back,
Will sneak off, when your face you show, 155
Just*like the Rabbit and the Crow,
Who absent brought me into blame,
But tamely sheer'd off, when I came.
'T is not on my account, My Lord,
- That I dare to put in a word, 160
(For I'm worth little to the State) :
But if such rogues were left to prate,
They'd slander many, who are true,
And faithfully attach'd to you."
" May be 't is so, (said the King) ; 1 65
But answer me another thing,
Vile thief and felon, as you are !
What made you kill poor Puss, the Hare ?
When last I granted you my pardon,
And made you put a pilgrim's garb on, 170
Did not you promise, out of hand
To travel to the holy land,
And coming back, to go to Rome,
Palms and indulgence to bring home ?
142 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT III.
It was in hopes to see you mend, 175
That I your purpose did befriend.
How durst you then that very day,
To take my servant's life away ?
For my own Chaplain Simple, marry !
The message of her death did carry. 180
Her head he brought me in a bag,
And had the impudence, to brag,
Of letters, which, though you did write them,
He had assisted, to indite them.
Thus by your daring insolence 185
You both have heigh ten'd your offence,
For which the Ram receiv'd his due ;
He lost his life, and so shall you."
" Is't possible, that Puss is dead
(Cried Reynard, lifting up his head), 190
And Simple too ? Then I'm forlorn,
And wish, I never had been born ;
For I have lost the greatest treasure,
And am left to repent at leisure,
That by him, whom I thought my friend, 195
The rarest jewels I did send.
'T is clear, that for the sake of gain
Poor Pussey by the Ram was slain."
The King did not pay much attention
To any thing, the Fox did mention ; 200
For on revenge his mind was bent,
And to his rooms away he went.
CANTO m.] THE ADVOCACY. 143
The Queen was sitting there with Pry,
Who in her favour did stand high ;
And with her parts and ready Wit 205
The King too was a little smit ;
To whom, as soon as he came in,
She said with a submissive mien :
" Don't be to Reynard so unkind,
My Liege. If you'll recall to mind 21 <
What services you have receiv'd
From his late father, while he liv'd,
And that to me he's near a-kin,
You'll overlook some trifling sin.
You see, he doth not shun the Law, 215
And heretofore we often saw,
That he is better skill'd in it,
Than Wolves and Bears, with all their wit."
" Pray, is it then a trifling thing,
Which stirs my anger ? (said the King). '2'20
Did he not lately kill the Hare,
And draw the Ram into his snare ?
Are not his crimes the general cry ? "
"May be, not all is true, (said Pry).
Reynard is very shrewd and smart ; 225
Which many envy in their heart.
You must remember, I dare say,
How a poor hind complain'd one day,
That a snake did attempt his, life.
Nobody then could quell their strife, 2o<>
144 BEYNARD THE FOX. [PART III.
Till Reynard came, and judg'd the cause,
And met from you with great applause."
" Yes, I remember such a thing,
But not exactly, (said the King).
I wish, you would the case relate, 235
"Which, I believe, was intricate."
Quoth Pry : " 'T is now about a year,
That the said Serpent did appear,
And brought a Countryman before you.
The Snake for justice did implore you, 240
Because the man was obstinate,
A Jury's verdict to debate.
The Snake, in creeping through a gap,
Fell, as it seems, into a trap,
And loud for help began to cry. 2-i")
The Countryman by chance pass'd by,
To whom he call'd: " Have pity, pray,
Nor take a harmless life away."
The man replied : " I'll set you free,
If on your oath you promise me, 2/>0
On all occasions to refrain
From hurting me." The Snake was fain
To swear ; on which the man untied him ;
But soon great ill-luck did betide him.
Whilst they together walk'd along, 25.1
The Snake, with hunger being stung,
With fury at the man did snap,
But he escap'd him by good hap.
CANTO III.] THE ADVOCACY. 145
" Is this (quoth he) an honest way,
Men for good services to pay ? 260
Was it for this, I made you swear,
To injure me, you would forbear?"
" I'm faint with hunger (said the Snake) ;
Necessity all Laws will break."
The man then begg'd for a respite, 265
Till they could both the case recite
To some impartial Judge. The Snake
To this did no objection make.
Together they again walk'd on,
And met the Raven and his son, 270
To whom the Snake did his debate
With the poor Countryman relate.
They hoped to come in for a share,
And said : " You need not him to spare."
" You can not (said the Snake) dispute 275
My right now, and I'vfe gain'd the suit."
" No, 't is not so far gone, (said he),
That thieves should judge 'twixt you and me,
Besides, there should at least be four
To weigh the matter, if not' more." 280
" 'T is very well," the Snake replied,
Who straight the Wolf and Bear espied,
And- said that umpires they should be.
The Countryman thought : " Woe on me !
Four greedy rogues I see before me, 285
143 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT 1IL
Who all are eager to devour me,
Two Ravens, and the Wolf and Bear."
And too well founded was his fear ;
For they declar'd, all in one breath,
The Snake might put the man to death, 290
Making necessity a Law, ,
In which this murder made no flaw.
The Snake now like an arrow shot
At him, to kill him on the spot ;
But he escap'd a second time, 29o
And cried : " It is a heinous crime,
That you by dint of foulest play,
Attempt to take my life away,
To which you have no sort of right."
" Who says so? (quoth the Snake), base wight ! 300
Have not you twice been sentenc'd, Sir ? "
" Yes, (said he), by the Wolf and Bear,
Who like to murder and to steal ;
But to the King I do appeal.
Come with me, and let him decide, 305
And by his sentence I'll abide';
Be't right or wrong, I will not mind^
And to my fate I'll be resign'd."
" To this the Snake will not object,"
Quoth Growler; for he did expect 310
That you, my Liege, would cook the dish
For them, according to their wish.
CANTO in.] THE ADVOCACY. 147
They all before you did appear,
The Snake, the Ravens, Wolf and Bear,
And some of them brought all their Clan, 315
In hopes of feasting on the man ;
But Growler's whelps made such a rout,
That from the Court you drove them out.
The Man for Justice did implore you,
And laid his cruel case before you : 320
That, whilst from death he sav'd the snake,
His life he now away would take.
The Snake the truth of this confess'd ;
But said, he was by hunger press'd.
You weigh'd the Case of both maturely : 325
To doom the Man to death, was surely
For a kind act a bad reward.
To starve (you thought) was likewise hard.
This to your Barons you did state,
Who went, the matter to debate. 330
Most of them were too much inclin'd
To condemn and devour the hind ;
But you for Reynard sent at last,
And telling him all, that had pass'd,
You left the Case to his decision. 335
He said : " To judge with due precision,
I first must see the Serpent bound
At the same place, where he was found."
This done, quoth Reynard : " Now they are
On the same footing, as they were. 340
148 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART III
The Man hath now the choice, to take
An oath from him, and save the Snake ;
But if he leaves him where he is,
He likewise will not do amiss.
This, (with all def'rence for a better) 345
Is my opinion of the matter."
You with this judgment were contented,
And all your Barons too assented
The Man was set at liberty,
And humbly thank'd your Majesty." 350
The Queen was glad, to second Pry.
" Reynard (she said) is shrewd and sly ;
Growler and Brown are blust'ring bullies,
But as to sense, they are mere cullies ;
They'll be the first at every feast, 355
But in the field they're last and least,
And though like champions they appear,
In fight they tarry in the rear.
These Wolves and Bears are fierce and savage,
And only like to sack and ravage. 360
To warm themselves, they would desire
To see their neighbor's house on fire,
And if they can but fill their gullet,
They will not leave the poor a pullet.
But Reynard and his kin are true, 365
And faithfully attach'd to you.
If any thing he hath misdone,
Consider, he's not made of stone ;
CANTO III.] THE ADVOCACY. 149
And at the same time you will grant,
That his advice we often want. 370
Then please to show him mercy, p^ay." .
The King replied : " I'll not say nay.
'T is true, he did decide the cause,
Which you related, with applause ;
But he 's a deep one in his heart, 375
And often makes those people smart,
Who deal with him ; the Wolf, the Bear,
The Crow, the Cat, the Ram, the Hare
And many more. One lost his life,.
One lacks an ear, and one his wife. 380
Then tell me pray, on what pretence
T am to pardon his offence."
" 'T is not his innocence we plead ;
(Said she) ; as friends we intercede."
The King stept back into the hall, 385
Where Reynard's Kinsmen, great and small,
Their cousin to support, were met.
He found, they were a num'rous set ;
But full as many in the hall
Did not befriend the Fox at all. 390
" Reynard, (said he), how did you dare,
To kill my messenger, the Hare ?
And to induce the silly Ram,
To bring her head here for a sham ?
For nothing else was in the sack, 395
Which Simple carried on his back."
150 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT III.
"Alas ! (said Reynard), woe betide me!
I wish the grave did long since hide me.
But if .to hear me you consent,
I trust you'll find me innocent. 400
The Ram, that thief and murderer,
Hath robb'd me of a treasure, Sir,
The like of which could not be found,
If you walk'd all the World around.
These treasures, which I did intend 40')
To send to you, caus'd Pussy's end,
Whom Simple on the road did slay.
And with the jewels made away.
Oh ! that we could but find them out ;
But this I have no hopes about." 410
" If they are but above the ground
(Said Pry), I hope they will be found.
Pray tell us of what kind they were,
And we'll search for them every where."
" All labor will in vain be spent, 415
(Quoth he) ; they are so excellent.
That their possessors for their heart,
Would not consent with them to part.
If this affair is told my wife,
It will occasion endless strife ; 420
For she by no means would consent,
That by the Ram they should be sent.
Here I am doom'd to lose my time,
Though innocent of any crime;
CANTO III.] THZ ADVOCACY. 151
But if from hence I get away, 425
Through every Country I will stray,
And though my life it were to cost,
I'll try to find what I have lost."
CANTO I. THE SECOND PARDOX.
A long account we now shall hear,
Which Reynard gave of jewels dear,
A precious Mirror, Comb and King,
Sent by him to the Queen anil King.
The Kins to him his p-.irdon grants,
At which the angry Growler rants.
He will not hear of a discharge,
Till Keynard answers to his charge.
T)ERMIT me, for my consolation.
JL (Quoth Reynard), in a short relation,
To tell my friends how rich and dear
The jewels were which I sent hereVV
And which you never did receive." ">
" Make haste, (said Noble) you have leave."
" The first (quoth Reynard) was a Ring,
To be presented to the King.
Of precious things it was compos'd,
And hidden powers it inclos'd ; 10
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 153
For on the inside (please to know)
Some words enamel'd it did show,
Which to explain nobody knew,
But Abram Treves, a German Jew,
Who could all foreign Lingo's prate 15
From Gravesend up to Billingsgate ;
And beside that, he was expert
In every deep and magic art.
To him this Ring I once did show.
' Maishter, (quoth he), I let you know, 20
Dis is a varry vondrous Ring ;
I never saw more curioush ting,
Be vords which are in lashure set,
Were brought from Paradise by Sheth.
Tree names are dere in Hebrew written ; 25
Deir owner never can be shmitten
Vith foul disease ; from magic spell
And tuuder it secures him well ;
He can't be shtarv'd by heat or cold.
And tousaud yearsh he may grow old." 30
The Ring inclos'd a curious stone,
Which bright like any lantern shone ;
Carbuncle I believe, 't is hight,
It blaz'd like flaming coal at night,
And -strangest virtues it possess'd : 35
Those who by sickness were oppress'd,
If they but touch'd this wondrous stone,
Their pain was in a moment gone.
154 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART TV.
Whoever wore it on his hand,
Could walk on seas as on dry land ; 40
From fire he nothing had to fear ;
His enemies durst not come near,
For like the Gorgon shield in fight,
It screen'd him by its dazzling light ;
And if attack'd by whole battalions, 45
He could drub them like tatterdemalions,
Nor pois'nous draft, nor magic charm
Could kill him, nor could do him harm.
If any one to hurt him strove,
It chang'd his hatred into love. 50
In short I never should have done,
Telling the virtues of this stone.
I did select it from my treasure,
Because I thought 't would give you pleasure,
And that nobody but our King, 55
Deserv'd to wear this precious thing.
You are the Noblest of us all,
And so may good luck you befall,
As it was with a pure intent,
That I to you this jewel sent. GO
A^Comb_ And Mirror should have been
Delivered to our gracious Queen.
My Liege, I am asham'd to say,
That with my wife I had a fray,
Because it griev'd her very heart, 65
With those two fav'rite toys to part.
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 155
Xow they are lost to all intent,
And what I'm left most to lament,
Is that they were not even seen,
Or heard of by our noble Queen, 70
Who, whilst you were so much offended,
To plead for me hath condescended.
The Comb, with golden wire inlaid,
Of bone of Civet-cat was made.
This wild Cat of a curious kind 75
On Indian plains we only find.
All other Creatures love it well,
On account of its balmy smell.
This odour, when the beast expires,
Into the bones of it retires, 80
"Which from corruption it preserves ;
Its dung too for perfume oft serves.
Of such a bone (as I have said)
The Comb was beautifully made,
And with amazing art and cost 85
With half-rais'd work it was emboss'd.
There you could see the famous story
Of Paris, in his days of glory,
When three Goddesses for a whim,
Came down to be review'd by him. 90
For Juno, Jove's majestic Dame,
Pallas, his daughter of known fame,
And sea-born Venus, Queen of love,
To claim a golden Apple strove ;
156 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
But as they never could agree, 95
They now to him repair'd all three. . ,
The Fairest was to have the fruit,
And he was to decide their suit.
Sir Paris thought the case too nice,
To be determin'd in a trice, 100
And ere he ventur'd to decide,
He took them one by one aside.
" I'm sure (said Juno with an air),
Your eyes must see that I'm most fair ;
But to reward you for your pain, 105
Great riches you for me shall gain."
" Give me the apple with" good grace,
(Quoth Pallas with a prudish face).
You know, 't is not a haughty air,
But prudence, which adorns the Fair. 110
Then if to me you give my due,
Wisdom and pow'r I'll grant to you."
" Let not (said Venus with a smile)
Or pow'r, or riches you beguile.
Your father Priam is a King, 115
Who hath enough of every thing;
And as to warfare and such pother,
You have got Hector for a brother,
On whom in wars you can rely,
And all your enemies defy. 120
If in my favour you decide,
I shall present you with a bride
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 157
Most lovely, Menelaus's Dame
Of Greece ; fair Helen is her name.
She's handsome, of the noblest race, 125
Endow'd with beauty and with grace ;
And you'll allow that such a wife
Will be the blessing of your life.
Take her and give the prize to me"
" Here 't is with all my heart," said he. 130
\[enus_made good to him her word,
And help'd him, from her Grecian Lord
To steal fair Helen, and with joy
He carried off his bride to Troy.
All this did on my Comb appear, 135
And was with labels made more clear ;
For at the foot of each fair Dame
You read her speech, and eke her name.
The Mirror was the last and best,
By much excelling all the rest. 140
A Beryl serv'd instead of glass.
It show'd all things which came to pass,
Within a dozen miles around.
Besides, if any one was found,
Who on his eye a speck had got, 145
Or in his face a pimpled spot,
\ peep into this glass was sure
To prove an instantaneous cure.
The frame, in which the. Mirror stood,
Was of the choicest Shittim-wood. 150
158 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
No worms this fragrant wood attack,
Nor is it apt to warp and crack,
Aiid therefore 't is not to be sold
For less, than its own weight in gold.
Like Ebony 't is black and bright, loo
Solid and firm bnt wondrous light,
And of the same wood, (so 't is said)
That famous saddle-horse was made,
On which with Magellona fair
Count Peter canter'd through the air. 160
This frame was carv'd most curiously :
Each part displayed some history,
Or fable, which below was told,
In letters cast of purest gold.
The first partition show'd a Nag, 165
Who to a Hind betray'd a Stag.
It was the swiftness of the Hart,
Which kindled envy in his heart ;
He therefore went and told the Hind :
" Get on my back, and we shall find 170
A mighty Stag in yonder grounds,
As fat, as e'er was chas'd by hounds.
I'll take you to the copse anon,
And you shall get nice venison."
The Hind did mount and off they went, 175
And of the Stag they soon got scent ;
The hounds him follow'd in full cry ;
The Stag o'er hill and dale did fly.
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PAKDON. 159
And being vigorous and strong,
The chase was troublesome and long. 180
The horse was almost tir'd to death.
" Pray, let me take a little breath,
(He said), or else you'll break my wind."
"Not I, forsooth, (replied the Hind).
T was you, who led me on this chase ; 185
Then feel my spurs, and mend your pace."
So Envy, while on harm 't is bent,
Contrives oft its own punishment.
The fable of the Dog and Ass
Stood next upon my Looking- Glass. 190
One Master they serv'd both together;
The Lap-Dog slept on beds of feather ;
At dinner with his Lord he sat,
And fed on nicest meat and fat ;
His master on his lap oft took liim, 195
And there he'd feed and kiss and stroke him ;
For which the Dog did never fail
To lick his hand, and wag his tail.
The Ass, who oft of this took notice,
Thought to himself : " I don't know how 't is, 200
This little, lazy, puny whelp
Hath leave to wheedle, fawn and yelp,
And teaze his master, while poor I
Am left to fret and mortify.
I'm sure, my master, with a score 205
Of whelps like this, could do no more
160 REYNARD THK FOX. [PART IV.
In twelve months time, than I alone
In single weeks have often done.
He feasts on sweetbreads and on gristles,
While I must live on fern and thistles, 210
And whilst he snores in sloth secure,
The beating tempest I endure ;
Nay, saucy boys around me flock,
And make of me a laughing-stock.
In troth, this will no longer do; 215
I'll win my master's favour too."
By chance his master came along ;
Jack Ass inton'd his fav'rite song,
And with a loud : " Y-aw, y-aw,"
lie leapt on him and lick'd his jaw, 220
And wagg'd his tail about his ears,
Till from his eyes he drew the tears.
The master, all in ra"ge and pain,
Call'd out, to have the bumpkin slain ;
On which the servants came out all, 225
And cudgel'd him into his stall,
Where he remain'd just what he was.
And so sometimes a two-legg'd Ass
Men of high rank and manners apes,
By awkward bows and lowly scrapes, 230
Till, by meanness or by chance,
To place or pension he advance ;
But then the dignity he wears,
As sows would jewels in their ears.
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDOX. 161
Then let all Asses drudge away, 235
And feed on thistles and on hay ;
For when they 're rais'd to rank and place.
Their Country faces it disgrace.
If y'are not tir'd to hear me prate,
Another^story I'll relate, 240
Which on the mirror was engrav'd
How "Gfi5 once to my Sire behav'd.
They both together took a walk,
And after various friendly talk
They made a solemn league, and swore 245
That they would separate no more,
And that, if huntsmen came to chase them,
Together they would stand, and face them.
Too soon they heard the dreadful whoop
Of hunters, coming in a troop, 250
, And as the hounds did louder yelp,
Gib, all aghast, cried out for help.
My father told him : " Take a heart,
And my whole budget I'll impart ;
But mind your promise to be true, 255
And stand by me, as I'll by you."
Gib said : " Be all that as it may,
I know but of one single way,
Which from the hounds can rescue me."
He nimbly climb'd upon a tree, 260
And left my Sire, to stand the brunt
Of hounds in cry and whooping hunt,
1 62 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
While lie look'd on and said : " To ope
Your budget, you have now full scope."
The hunt came up and horns did sound, 265
To cheer the rider, horse and hound.
My father for his life did run,
The greedy beagles for to shun ;
He eas'd himself by breaking wind
And shooting ballast from behind, 270
Until his den with great effort
He reach'd, and got safe into port.
Thus by the friend he was betray'd,
On whom he most relied for aid ;
And many people in that way 275
A friend in danger will betray.
The fourth partition did contain
A story of the Wolf and Crane.
It show'd, how meanly Growler paid
A surgeon for his timely aid. * 280
Whilst he was roving o'er a ground,
The carcase of a horse he found ;
The Ravens had not left him much,
But still his appetite was such,
That he the very bones would suck, 285
Of which one in his gullet stuck.
He was much for his life in fear,
And sent for surgeons far and near.
If any body could relieve him
(Said he), great treasures he would give him. 290
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 163
The Crane to him his service proffer'd,
To whom a great reward he offer'd.
He thrust his bill into his throat,
And with some pain the bone came out.
" You bungler, (cried the Wolf), how sore 295
You've made my throat ! Do so no more,
Or else be sure, I'll make you rue ;
For oncf., Sir, I will pardon you."
" Nay, I've achiev'd the cure, (said he),
And should be glad to touch my fee." 300
"Your fee ! (cried Growler) ; are you mad?
'T is I, who all the pain have had ;
If one of us can claim a fee,
'T is due to nobody but me,
For calmly letting you withdraw 305
Your head unhurt out of my jaw."
AH rogues in this ungrateful way
Past services are wont to pay.
These stories, which I have related,
Were on the Mirror amply stated 310
In words and figures. I confess,
I was not worthy to possess
This precious jewel. When I sent it,
I to the Queen wish'd to present it.
It griv'd my little Rankey's heart, 315
When with it he was forc'd to part ;
For he before it skipp'd about,
And wagg'd his tail, and primm'd his snout.
1 64 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
I never thought, that Pussy's end
The sending of it should portend; 320
For better friends, I do declare,
I knew not, than the Ram and Hare,
Or else I would not by them both
Have sent such precious things, in troth.
But I'm determined, Sir, to know 325
What is become of them, I vow ;
For theft and murder will come out,
However they may lurk about ;
And may be, some here present are,
Wflo could best tell, who kill'd the Hare. 330
My Liege, I don't pretend, a King
Should recollect each trifling thing ;
Or else you possibly might know
What zeal my father once did show
To yours, when he was very ill, 335
And got well, through my father's skill ;
For although you are pleas'd to say,
We serv'd you ne'er in any way,
My father in his time was known
To be with yours in great renown. 340
He vied with any Leech, for curing
Men's ills, by looking at their urine.
May be, you never have been told
(For you were 'then but few months old)
How your Sire lay so sick a-bed, 345
That with a tea-spoon he was fed.
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 165
Physicians from all parts were come,
From Berlin, Edinburgh and Rome ;
But howsoe'er they cupp'd and blister'd,
And purg'd and vomited and clyster'd, 35t)
It grew worse with him every day,
Until my father came this way,
Who found him almost without breath,
Complaining, he was sick to death.
" My Liege, to save you (said my Sire) 355
I should be ready to expire ;
Pray, make your water in a Glass."
The King did so, weak as he was.
His head at first my father shook,
When at the urine he did look. 360
One thing (he said at last) we'll try ;
But it must be done instantly,
Else in a few hours you'll be dead,
Because your water looks quite red.
But a Wolf's liver, six years old, 365
May save you, if you eat it cold."
The Wolf, who was standing near, .
Was much perplex'd. " Pray, did you hear
(Your father said) what here we want ?
Your liver you to us must grant." 370
The Wolf exclaim'd : " Upon my word,
I'm not yet five years old, My Lord."
" That will appear (my Sire replied)
Soon as your liver we have tried."
166 REYNARD THE POX. [PART IV.
In short, however he did quiver 375
And quake, he could not save his liver,
Your father ate it, and anon
He felt that all his pain was gone.
The King then call'd my father Sir
And did great praise on him confer ; 380
He made him wear a Doctor's hood,
And high in his esteem he stood.
Past services are now forgot,
Since Knaves have trust and favour got,
Who nought for right and justice care, 385
But only mind their own affair,
Nay, King and Country, for the sake
Of interest, they will forsake,
Just like the Wolf, who did not care,
His liver to the King to spare ; 390
For what 's begot of sordid seed,
Nfer aims at an heroic deed"
" This tale (said Noble), which you tell
Of your late Sire, sounds mighty well.
But if such service he hath done, 395
It must be many years agone ;
Past my remembrance it must be,
Nor was it ever told to me ;
But as to your exploits, I own,
Much less of them I wish were known. 400
If it is all -a false report,
For- your sake I am sorry for 't ;
CAHTO I.} THE SECOXD PARDON. 167
But little good we hear of you."
" Report doth not of me speak true,
(Quoth Reynard), and I hope you '11 own, 405
That to Yourself my zeal I 've shown ;
Nor do I, Sir, presume to boast :
AH merit is in duty lost.
You '11 recollect that heretofore
Growler and I once caught a boar. 410
Perchance, as You were passing by
Whilst we kill'd him, you heard his cry ;
You came and said, that with the Queen
A hunting you had likewise been,
But having had a wretched day, 415
You wish'd to share with us our prey.
Growler, who was not fond of this,
Between his teeth did mumble : " Ye s " ;
But I with hearty glee call'd out :
" My Liege, pi'ay, who shall help about ? 420
Though we have but this single Boar,
You are as welcome, as if 't were more."
" Let Growler cut up," You replied.
With this he seem'd well satisfied ;
A quarter he dealt out to You, 425
And to the Queen a quarter too,
The rest he all devour'd alone,
And scarcely left for me a bone.
When you your pittance of the Boar
Had eat, you wish'd for something more, 430
168 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
But Growler little minded it,
And did not offer you a bit ;
For which you hit him such a blow,
That down his cheeks the gore did flow.
" Henceforth learn better to divide 435
(You said), or I shall taw your hide.
Be gone, and get us more to eat."
" I'll go with Kim, if you think 't meet,"
Said I, and you said : " Yes, you may."
Growler had rather wish'd to stay, 440
For full of blood was all his face,
And howling be began the chase;
But soon a fine fat fawn we caught,
Which made you smile, when it was brought.
You told me, that in case of need 445
I knew well, how to hunt with speed,
And you bade me divide the booty.
" One half (said I) is Yours in duty,
The other to the Queen belongs,
And to your young-ones heart and lungs ; 450
The head to Growler, (for 't is sweet),
And I'm contented with the feet."
You ask'd : " Who taught you this, sly varlet ? "
u Yon Doctor with his cap of scarlet,
(Said I) ; from him I learn'd to know, 455
How to distribute Fawn, or Sow."
So Growler's gluttony brought shame
On him. With all Wolves 't is the same ;
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 169
If their advantage they can find,
Nor law, nor justice they will mind. 460
Woe to the City and the Land,
Where Wolves have got the upperhand !
This single case I'll only mention,
My Liege, to prove my good intention,
And that I can with truth profess, 465
That all is Yours, which I possess.
If you think of the Fawn and Boar,
You'll judge, which of us loves you more ;
And yet to Growler and to Brown
The greatest honours now are shown, 470
And Reynard guilty must appeal',
While You his plea refuse to hear.
I am accus'd, but I repeat it,
Whate'er my fate may be, I'll meet it.
If I deserve to be reprov'd. 475
Let it by witnesses be prov'd,
Or else let my antagonists
Meet me, like Men, in open lists,
And let each party for the sake
Of justice, life and honour stake. 480
This, Sir, is what the Laws command,
And, what in justice I denland."
Quoth Noble : " Never be it said,
That I the course of Justice stay'd.
Reynard hath been accus'd ('t is true), 485
That Puss feloniously he slew,
170 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT IV.
And when the Ram brought us her head,
It griev'd me much, that she was dead.
But since none of us here can tell
Through whom this hard fate her befell, 490
To Reynard We forgive the past,
In hopes, that he'll prove true at last.
If other people will complain,
Redress by Law they shall obtain,
If witnesses of good report 495
Can prove the' facts in open Court."
Quoth Reynard : " Many thanks to You,
My Liege, for giving me my due.
For I declare upon my oath,
To part with Pussey, I was loth, 500
Though I did not suspect at all,
That such a fate would her befall."
Thus Reynard did with artful speech
All who were present, overreach ;
He made them swallow every thing 505
About his Mirror, Comb and Ringi_
And thinking that his tale was true,
They pitied and consol'd him too.
The King, desirous to obtain
These precious toys, could not refrain 510
From telling him : " Pray, do not fret ;
Your jewels you again may get ;
You have my leave, to range about
Through all my Realm, to find them out,
CANTO I.] THE SECOND PARDON. 171
And -my support shall not be wanting." 515
You are too kind, (said Reynard, canting) ;
If you'll take vengeance for the theft
And mimler, to me be it left,
To use all diligence and care,
At once t' explore this dark affair. 520
To You I shall but for support
In case of greatest need resort,
Although it is my firm intent,
To you those jewels to present,
And if by good luck I succeed, 525
It will give joy to me, indeed."
The King, much pleas'd, gave full belief
To the intriguing, lying thief,
Who free permission did obtain,
To stroll about through his domain. 530
But Growler grew exceeding wroth.
" I am (said he) surpris'd in troth,
That you this wicked rogue believ'd,
By whom you've been so oft deceiv'd.
He is made up of tricks and lies, 535
And cheats you still before your eyes.
But ere he goes you'll hear and see,
He'll not come off so cheap with me.
Three* things I have against him still ;
Let him deny them if he will, 540
But he shall not go out of Court,
Though I must even fight him for 't.
172 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT IT.
" There should be witnesses," you say ;
But where is oue to take them, pray ?
The artful Knave is much too sly, 545
T* offend, when witnesses are by ;
And when he talks, there is no scope
For any one, his mouth to ope.
His friendship hath done good to none;
For he hates you and every one ; 550
But he shall not stir from the spot,
Till I revenge on him have got."
CANTO II. THE DEFIANCE.
Growler complains, that once his wife
For Reynard's sake near lost her life.
Surly relates, how in a well
For him a sacrifice she fell.
Reynard these charges both denies,
And calls them calumnies and lies.
The wolf declares, that they must fight,
To try, who 's wrong, and who is right.
' ri^HIS fox (quoth Growler), I protest,
-- Is an arch villain, at the best.
He oft hath wroug'd me in my life,
And brought disgrace upon my wife.
Once to a mill-pond he did lead her, 5
And through the mud to wade, he .bid her.
He told her : " If you'll get a pail
Of finest trout, hang out your tail,
And you'll get more in half an hour,
Than in six meals you can devour." 10
174 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
When she had waded through the mud,
Till in the deepest mire she stood,
The villain bade her, to hang out
Her tail, to catch her dish of trout.
It was just in the winter-season, 15
And by degrees the ice did freeze on
Her tail, until she felt at last,
That in the ice it stuck quite fast ;
But thinking it was with the weight
Of th' fish, she pull'd with all her might. 20
Reynard perceiving this, alas !
I'm loth to tell what next did pass :
The rascal came and ravish'd her,
While she, poor creature, could not stir.
This I defy him to deny ; 25
For while I happen'd to pass by,
I caught him in the flagrant act,
Which almost made me run distract.
I cried : " Vile rogue, what dost thou there ? "
The villain, seeing I was near, 30
Took to his heels and ran away ;
I came in hurry and dismay,
And was forc'd, through the mud to wade,
And in cold water long to bathe,
Ere I my suff'ring wife could rescue, 35
And free from bondage her distress'd cue ;
Nor did I quite succeed at last,
For near one third of it stuck fast
CANTO H.] THE DEFIANCE. 175
In th' ice. My wife began to bawl,
And rais'd the peasants, great and small, 40
Who in the mill-pond soon espied us,
And most unmercifully plied us.
'T was at great hazard, that my wife
And I at last could save our life,
For, what with cudgels, prongs and flails, 45
With broomsticks, pokers, tongs and pails,
Both men and women charg'd us home.
' Look here, (they said), these thieves are come,
To steal our Ewes and Lambs away ;
Let us the daring robbers slay." 50
'T was our good luck that night came on,
Or else we should have been undone.
We to the pond again did brush,
And hid ourselves among the rush ;
On which the peasants ceas'd th' attack, 55
And cursing us, they all fell back.
My Liege, he must not for this rape
A severe punishment escape."
" We heard you, (quoth King Noble) pray
Let's see what Reynard hath to say." 60
" My Liege, (quoth he), if this was true,
I durst not show my face to You..
I to a pond have show'd her once,
But, what with th' dulness of her sconce,
What with her eagerness, the route 65
She kept not, which I pointed out.
176 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT IT
Besides, she loiter'd, till at last
Her tail did in the ice stick fast.
If she in time had pull'd it out,
She would have got her fill of trout. 70
To him, who drinks till the last sip,
The cruse-lid on his nose will slip,
And those, who are for ever craving,
Are apt to lose, by dint of saving.
So Surly with her covetousness 75
Did bring herself into distress.
Look now, what thanks from them I got,
That to assist her, I did trot.
I did my best to drag her out ;
But she's so heavy and so stout, 80
That all my labour was in vain.
Then Growler came and bawl'd amain ;
A thief and ravisher he call'd me,
And I must own, his wrath appall'd me ;
He rav'd and ranted, curs'd and swore, 85
And with his claws the ground he tore.
When two dogs fight about their prey,
One of them must give up the fray ;
Therefore I had no mind to stay,
And wisely took myself away. 90
His fury did not even cease,
When he his wife came to release,
And till this very day You see
What spiteful grudge he bears to me.
CANTO II.] THE DEFIANCE. 177
If by the Clowns they were pursued, 95
I'm apt to think it did them good,
Because it kept them both in breath,
Or else they had been chill'd to death.
This is however their affair,
And little for it do I care ; 100
But Growler ought to be asham'd,
On his own wife to cast a blame.
Ask her ; she can best answer You,
And would complain, if he spoke true."
" Reynard (said Surly), you are sly ; 105
You scruple not to tell a lie,
And to turn matters with such art,
As to make other people smart.
Of this a story I can tell :
One night I found you in a well ; 110
The rope had buckets at each end,
In one of which you did descend,
But never could get up again.
I heard you cry with fear and pain,
And came to ask, what was the matter. 115
You soon began to feign and flatter ;
" If you are fond of eating fish
' (You said), here you can have your wish.
A bucket you above will find,
If to come down you have a mind. 120
I such a copious meal did make,
That I have got the belly-ache."
178 REYNARD THE FOX. [PABT IV.
I stept in, and to my surprise,
As I went down, I saw you rise.
I ask'd you how this came to pass. 125
You answer'd : " So it always was,
When fools are going down, the wise
At their expence are seen to rise"
When you got out, you ran away,
And I was left there all the day ; 130
A Clown descried me in the well,
And to his friends he ran, to tell :
" The Wolf, who steals our lambs and sheep,
Is got into a draw-well deep ;
If you will come and pull him out, 135
We'll treat him with a cudgel-bout."
It was most pityful to see,
How they did taw and curry me ;
I never felt so hot a day,
And narrowly I got away."- 140
Quoth Reynard : " 'T was, because I knew,
It would be better to leave you,
Than get myself into the scrape ;
Because we could not both escape.
Besides it serv'd to caution you, 145
Well to discern, what's false or true,
And to beware with whom you treat.
The world is full of sly deceit."
Quoth Growler : " This is but too true ;
I've been so oft deceiv'd by you, 150
CANTO II.] THE DEFIANCE. 179
That I can not relate it all.
The foulest hap did me befall,
When to the monkies once you led me,
Who worried and almost flay'd me.
The she-ape was a monstrous beast, 155
And foul and filthy was her nest.
You call'd her Aunt, to take me in,
And make the monster tear my skin.
I thought, I was got into hell,
And made all haste, to come off well." 1 60
Here Reynard interrupted him
And said : " It is a curious whim,
Or Growler is a Jackanapes,
To talk of monkies and of apes.
It may be now three years ago, 165
When on his grand-tour he would go ;
I was with him when he did prance
And play._the Nobleman in France,
Till his last guinea he had spent.
One day to the Baboons we went. 170
Those Baboons are not of our Kin,
Nor was it to take Growler in,
That I the She-Baboon call'd Aunt;
But knowing that she lik'd to vaunt,
I thus my speech chose to preface 175
Merely to captivate her Grace ;
Or else she might be hang'd for me,
For a most ugly bitch is she.
180 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT IV.
Along a by-road we did stroll,
When we discover'd a deep hole. 180
Growler began his old complaint,
That he with hunger was quite faint ;
I said : " The Owner of this cave
Some store of meat, perhaps may have ;
If that's the case, we of his fare 185
Should try to come in for a share."
Quoth he: "Well Reynard, go in, pray;
Meantime below this tree I'll stay.
You are more elocfuent than I,
And you know best how to apply. 190
If you find that there is good cheer,
Come back and let me know it here."
I went, although I plainly saw
That he used me for a Cat's paw ;
But when I came in, I must own, 195
I almost fell into a swoon ;
For there I with a hideous set
Of fierce and ugly monsters met,
And I was forc'd to creep along
At bo-peep through the filthy throng, 200
Till I came to their dam at last.
I found her laying in her nest ;
Wide was her mouth, her tooth and nail
Were sharp, and long her daggling tail.
I thought she was the devil's dam, 205
And all aghast, I call'd her Ma'am.
CANTO II.] THE DEFIANCE. 181
And Aunt, and any thing, for fear ;
For her young black-guards too drew near ;
They were as uncouth as their mother,
And chatter'd loud and made a pother; 210
Up to their ears in rotten hay
And in their own dung they did lay ;
She was as tall as Growler is ; ,
Some of her whelps were not much less.
I was alone among this crew, 215
And to tell truths there, would not do.
I therefore feign'd as if I knew her,
And very courtly went up to her.
" Dear Aunt, (said I), I'm glad to see
You and your pretty family. 220
What sprightly children you have got !
They look like a King's sons, I wot,
And very much like you they are.
If I had known that here you Avere,
Long since I should have call'd on you, 225
To see how my young cousins do."
She readily took up the cue,
And feign'd, as if full well she knew
That I a nephew was to her.
" Be welcome here (said she), good Sir. 230
To see my nephew, gives me pleasure,
And for my children 't is a treasure ;
For with your kind advice, they will
In manners be improving still."
182 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
So I was for a well-tim'd word, 235
Receiv'd with open arms, My Lord,
And yet I long'd to get away ;
But she said : " No Sir, you must stay,
And of pot-luck must take a part,
Ere we allow you to depart." 240
This said, the table soon was fraught
With choicest victuals, which she brought,
Of wild-fowl, venison and cake ;
God knows where she all this did take.
Thus I sat down and eat my fill, 245
And she at parting, gave me still
A dainty haunch, and told me : " Pray,
Take this for luncheon on your way,
And let us see you soon again."
I promis'd it, but I was fain 250
To take my leave, for with the smell
Her den, I thought, was worse than hell.
To Growler I ran back apace,
And found him laying in the place,
Where I had left him. " Pray, what cheer ? " 255
Said I. Quoth he : " 'T goes very queer ;
I am with hunger fairly spent."
My Knapsack I of course unbent,
And with the haunch I had receiv'd,
I from his hunger him reliev'd. 260
He thank'd me then for the boon ;
But he forgot my kindness soon.
CANTO 11.] THE DEFIANCE. 183
When he had done, he said : " Pray, now
I wish that you would let me know
Who 't is, that lives beneath this hill, 265
And how you found it, well or ill."
I told him plainly, that the nest
Was foul and filthy, at the best ;
But that there was good store of meat,
And if he would go in and eat, 270
Above all things I would advise,
To hold his tongue, if he was wise.
For those, who are for ever bent
On censuring, must oft repent,
And they are oft obliged to fast, 275
While others get a good repast.
This I exhorted him to mind,
If he a dinner wish'd to find.
I caution'd him, to take great care,
Of illtim'd meddling to beware ; 280
If he, neglecting what I said,
Hath for his petulance been paid,
I'm sure it was his fault, not mine,
At which he was left to repine.
But fools are known, to have this vice, 285
That they will never take advice,
And" Growler, in his stubborn way,
Scorn'd to take mine and trudg'd away.
When to the Baboon's nest he came,
And saw the young-ones and the Dame, 290
184 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
lie, startled at their ugly features,
Call'd out : " Lorx^what hideous creatures !
Do they belong to you ? pray tell ;
Or were these imps spit out by hell ?
If they were mine, I would not own them, 295
But rather tuck them up, or drown them."
" Pray, who the devil sent you here,
(Cried the baboon), to interfere ?
What bus'ness, you rude clown, have you, .
Thus to rail at my little crew ? 300
Reynard, Sir, I can let you know,
Thinks well of them. He said just now
That they were well behav'd, and fit,
At a King's table for to sit.
He call'd them cousins, and did love them ; 305
If you 've a meaner notion of them,
Nobody, Sir, call'd for you here,
Nor your opinion wants to hear."
He still call'd rudely for some meat.
"Make haste, (he said), I want to eat. 310
'T is better, you give it to me,
Than to these Elves, whoso they be."
He of their victuals would lay hold,
But they seiz'd on him, young and old ;
They bit and scratch'd, and tore his skin, 315
Till he in haste ran out again.
In a sad plight he did appear,
For in the fray he lost an ear,
CANTO II.] THE DEFIANCE. 185
And look'd all bloody and uncouth.
I ask'd : " Didjrou_blab_outhe trutkL" .-- 32
He said: "I spoke just as I found it,
And for this I was sorely wounded ;
But if the cursed bitch was here,
She should pay for it very dear.
Her brats look'd like some imps from hell, 325
Which I could not forbear to tell,
When in such fury they seiz'd on me,
That they had very nigh undone me."
" How foolishly (said I) you did !
Was 't this, you had by me been bid ? 330
I told you, you should strive to cozen
The beldam, and should call her Cousin,
And friendly ask her : " How d'ye do
With all your charming little crew ? "
" The dev'l I would say so, (quoth he) ; 335
They are no Cousins, fit for me,
And ere for such they shall be own'd,
I'll sooner see them hang'd or drown'd."
Thus all was owing, as You see,
To his misconduct, not to me. 340
The truth of this, he best can tell,
For he must recollect it well."
The Wolf at last to him replied :
" Reynard, it matters not to chide ;
W_e^mustjlecide by_single fight^ 345
Which of us two is wrong, or right.
186 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
You talk about the monkey's nest,
Pretending that by hunger press'd,
By you I kindly was reliev'd.
A bone was all that I receiv'd, 350
From which the meat was all gnaw'd off.
You only say this for a scoff;
You oft have slanderM and abus'd me,
And have before the King accus'd me
Of trait' rous schemes against his life. 355
You 'ye ravish'd and betray/d my wife;.
You told the King a heap of lies
Of treasures hid, and precious toys.
With all those misdeeds old and new,
I charge you and will fight with you. 360
A battle you with me must wage,
And life for life we must engage.
My glove I here throw on the ground :
To take it up, Sir, you are bound.
My Liege, and Lords, before you all 365
To single Combat I him call.
Don't suffer him to sneak away,
Till you decide, who wins the day."
Reynard was in no pleasant mood,
To go and venture life and good. 370
This Wolf (thought he) is stout and tall,
And I, though nimble, am but small ;
But one advantage I have got,
Else all my tricks would go to pot ;
CANTO EL] THE DEFIANCE. 187
He can not hurt me with his claws, 375
Of which I lately stripp'd his paws,
And though he may pluck up a heart,
I think he still must feel the smart.
" Growler, (said he), you tell a lie,
And all your charges I deny ; 380
To meet you I am not afraid ;
I only for your challenge stay'd.
A pledge I will deposit here,
That I to-morrow -shall appear."
The King the pledges did receive, 385
And granting to the Parties leave,
He order'd them both to give bail,
To meet next moi-ning without fail.
For Growler, Gib and Brown the bear
Were sureties, that he should appear, 390
And Gray the badger, .did with Maynard
The monkey's son, give bail for Reynard.
Now mistress Pry to Reynard said :
" My friend, you need not be afraid ;
My husband, ere he went to Rome, 395
Left me his pocket-book at home,
In which a prayer he did write
For those, who are about to fight.
An" Abbot, who esteem'd him much,
Gave it to him ; its pow'r is such, 400
That any one, for whom 't is read
Ere breakfast, (so the Abbot said),
188 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
Is sure that nobody can slay,
Or deadly wound him on that day.
This pray'r I'll say for you to-morrow ; 405
Then send away all care and sorrow."
He thank'd her, and she made him shear
From back and belly all his hair ;
This done, she carefully rubb'd in
Much grease and oil into his skin. 410
" To-morrow morning, when you rise
(Said she), to tirink much, I advise;
But keep your water, while you are here,
And when before the lists you appear,
Void all of it into your tail, 415
And it will serve you without fail.
First you must run against the wind,
And where the thickest dust you find ;
He will pursue you ; then you mu.*
Endeavor to kick up the dust, 420
And with your tail his eyes must hit,
And you will blind him soon with it.
Meantime you now should go to sleep,
And we strict watch for you shall keep ;
But first of all I will with speed 425
The holy prayer for you read :
Gaude, Abra Cadabara,
Hocus pocus, Beth Abara.
Now Reynard, with this pow'rful spell
You are from hurt secur'd full well.". 430
CANTO n.] THE DEFIANCE. 189
Reynard lay down, and was next day
Wak'd by the Otter and by Gray.
A goose they brought for his repast,
And cheerfully he broke his fast.
This done, all those who did befriend him, 435
Came into the lists t' attend him.
CANTO III. THE BATTLE.
A bloody battle now ensues ;
The Wolf at first the Fox pursues,
Who teases him with cunning flight,
And almost rob's him of his sight.
Stout Growler next, wlien nearly slain,
Gets th' upperhnnd of him again.
Reynard at last once more assails him,
And Growler's prowess nought avails him.
"YYTHEN Reynard came along, the King
' T Could not refrain from simpering.
Reynard, (thought he), thou artful Knave,
Who taught thee thus to grease and shave ?
Thou art a cunning rogue indeed ; 5
I long to see how thou wilt speed.
Reynard now bent to him his knee,
And paid the Queen his courtesy ;
With seeming unconcerned face,
Before the lists he took his place, 10
CANTO IH.] THE BATTLE. 191
Where Growler and his friends he found.
The trumpets then began to sound,
And next the Wardens did appear,
And call'd the Champions forth to swear.
Growler advauc'd ; his oath to take ; 15
He swore that Reynard was a rake,
A murd'rer and a treach'rous wight,
For. which assertion he would fight.
Then Reynard in his turn did swear,
That Growler was a perjurer; 20
To prove his charge he did defy him,
Because he basely did belie him.
The Wardens then admonish'd both,
To fight with honour and good troth.
This being done, the lists were clear'd, 25
Where both the Combatants appear'd.
Once more did Pry the Fox remind
Of what she erst to him enjoin'd.
" I know (said he) you mean it well,
And for your comfort let me tell 30
That this is not the first adventure,
In which my limbs and neck I venture ;
And as to this vile caitiff here,
I am not much of him in fear ;
I shall come off with victory 35
And honour to my family."
The Combatants with equal rage
And fury now began t' engage.
192 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
The Wolf, by dint of strength and art,
Attack'd the Fox with leap and start; 40
But Reynard, being shrewd and light,
Avoided him by cunning flight,
And while he ran he did not fail
To water well his rugged tail.
When Growler meant to hold him fast, 45
He nimbly veer'd about at last,
And with his tail the dust and dirt
He full into his face did flirt.
Whilst Growler rubb'd his eyes with pain,
Reynard his flirts renew'd again, 50
Till Growler was quite spent at last,
And by the throat he held him fast.
" Sir Wolf, (he said), if heretofore
Poor lambs and kids you oft have tore,
It is high time now to repent, 55
Before your last breath you have spent,
And with contrition to behave,
If you would wish your soul to save."
In this provoking style he spoke,
Striving his enemy to choke ; 60
But Growler was for him too strong,
And broke loose from his hold ere long ;
Though ere he got out of his jaws,
Reynard gall'd him with teeth and claws ;
One of his eyes was almost out, 65
And streams of blood ran down his snout.
CANTO HI.] THE BATTLE. 193
As soon as he his blood did view,
At Reynard in a rage he flew ;
He got him under, and his paw
He seiz'd, and held it in his jaw. 70
" You caitiff, your last hour is come, .
(Said he), and you'll meet with your doom.
It shall not avail you now, to shear,
To flirt, kick up a dust and smear.
I'll make you pay for all your lies, 75
And for the damage of my eyes."
Now .Reynard was in great distress ;
He thought t' himself: If I confess,
I am a dead man ; and if not,
Death ne'ertheless will be my Lot. 80
But howsoever this may fall,
I have deserv'd it after all.
" Dear Cousin, (said he), be not wroth,
For what hath pass'd, I'm very loth ;
Take for your fine all that I have ; 85
Nay, send me to the holy grave,
Or if you bid me I will roam
For you to Compostell and Rome ;
I'll take my oath that I'll be true
In all eternity to you ; 90
Your slave and vassal I will be,
And so shall all my clan with me.
Whatever I may catch of game,
I'll bring to you and to your Dame ;
194: REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
Of geese and ducks of fowl and fish, 95
You'll daily get the nicest dish ;
I'll watch for you and for your wife,
That no one shall attempt your life.
I am deem'd shrewd and you are stout ;
So we can help each other out ; 100
For with your strength and with my skill,
Wo must prevail where'er we will.
Besides, we are so near a-kin,
That hurting me would be great sin.
Nay, if I could have waiv'd this fight, * 105
It would have been my great delight.
But although forc'd against my will,
I in the battle spar'd you still.
You would have been much worse annoy'd,
If all my skill I had employ'd. 110
Great harm as yet hath not been done ;
I hope your eye is not quite gone,
And if I can I do assure you,
I'll do my very best to cure you.
Nay, if it turns out otherwise, 115
Some good of it will still arise ;
For 't will be saving pains to you,
To shut one window and not two,
I offer you another thing :
Here, in the presence of the King, 120
My wife and both my sons shall pay
Obeisance to you, and shall pray,
CAXTO III.] THE BATTLE. 1 95
That for their sake you would forgive
Their Sire, and suffer him to live.
I'm ready also to declare, 125
That basely I the truth did spare ;
That I belied and cheated you,
Though nothing bad of you I knew.
I do not know what greater offer,
I to the King himself could proffer. 130
My life is in your hands, 't is true,
But pray, what good will 't do to you,
To kill me ? You 'd have cause to fear
All my relations, far and near.
You are too prudent and too wise, 135
And know too well yourself t' advise,
While you can gain for better ends,
A set of true and constant friends.
To me 't is much the same, God wot,
If you will kill me now or not." 140
" Don't take me, Sir, for such a goose
(Quoth Growler), as to let you loose.
If you could give a World of gold,
I would not now let go my hold.
Too oft you 've broke your oath before, 145
And I shall trust your words no more.
I should not get from you a straw
If I was to release your paw.
As to your friends, I do not care ;
Let them offend me, if they dare. 150
196 REYNARD THE FOX. [PART IV.
Look out pray, for some other fool,
You thief, to make of him your tool.
You say you spar'd me ? 'T is a lie.
Have you not robb'd me of an eye ?
Aud did you leave me but to fetch 155
Your breath, a moment's time, you wretch ?
No, 't were the greatest blame for me
To grant you life and liberty ;
For more than once you to my wife
And me have forfeited your life." 160
Whilst Growler kept hold of the paw,
Sly Reynard with his other claw
Seiz'd him in such a tender part,
That it made Growler howl with smart,
And forc'd him soon to ope his jaw, 1 65
And to let go th' imprison'd paw.
Reynard now tugg'd and pull'd and tore,
And made the Wolf spit blood and gore ;
He brought him senseless to the ground,
And dragg'd him through the lists around. 170
When this his wife and friends perceiv'd,
They were much terrified and griev'd ;
They pray'd the King to use his right,
And to suspend the bloody fight.
The King took their request to heart, 175
And bade the Champions straight to part,
To whom the Leopard and the Ounce,
As Wardens, did his will announce.
CANTO III.] THE BATTLE. 197
" Reynard, (they said), the King has sent,
To let you know 't is his intent 180
To put an end to all your strife.
He bids you to spare Growler's life ;
For 't would be pity 'after all,
If either of you both should fall.
Meantime all who are present say, 185
That you at last have won the day."
" I'm glad, you tell me 'this ; I thank ye
And will obey the King, (quoth Rankey).
To win the day was all I wanted.
I only beg, that leave be granted 190
To all my friends here, to declare
What they may think about th' affair."
They all call'd out with one accord :
" We wish that you obey our Lord."
And straight about him they did crowd, 195
And came to wish him joy aloud.
E'en those, who lately did complain,
Strove most, his favour now to gain,
And brought their wives and daughters in,
To claim the honour of his Kin. 200
While fortune smiles, the World is kind.
And friends and flatterers we find;
But soon, as wealth and pow'r decay,
Both friends and flatterers skulk away.
So Reynard's friends, when he had won 205
The day, their fairest face put on ;
198 REYNARD Til 3 FOX. [PART IV.
With fifes and drums they made a levy,
And call'd upon him to be merry.
" In troth you fought it well (they said) ;
At first we rather were afraid, 210
You would be worsted ; but with glee
We saw you gain the victory,
And we admir'd your skill and wit."
" It was indeed a lucky hit,"
Said he. The Wardens of the Ring 215
Came to present him to the King.
" Reynard, (quoth Noble), We must say
That in the end you won the day.
You stand acquitted of the Charge,
And from all fines We you discharge ; 220
The rest we shall consult about,
As soon as Growler can go out ;
Meantime it ought to satisfy ye,
That We adjourn it sine die"
" My Liege, (quoth Reynard), I abide 225
By what You graciously decide.
I've been accus'd by many here,
With whom I ne'er did interfere ;
But they would call out : " Crucify ! "
As soon as Growler rais'd a cry. 230
They knew he held a better place,
Than I of late in your good Grace ;
No one durst venture to control him,
But all were eager to cajole him,
CANTO III.l THE BATTLE. 1 99
And therefore, whether right or wrong, 235
They with the current went along.
They those hungry Dogs resembled,
Who at a kitchen-door assembled
In hopes of meeting with a treat.
A Cur had stole a joint of meat, 240
And though the scullion with a pail
Of boiling lees bedew'd his tail,
He did not lose hold of his prey,
Which in his mouth he brought away.
When this his comrades saw, they all 245
With one accord began to call :
" What joint this Cur hath got, pray look !
He must have made friends with the Cook."
" Yes, (said the Cur), fine friends indeed!
You talk so while you see the meat ; 250
But if you look at me behind,
May be you soon will change your mind."
They look'd, and when they saw how bald
His back and tail were with the scald,
Away they hurried every one, 255
And left the scalded Cur alone.
Just so at last the Greedy speed ;
They don't want friends whilst they succeed,
For every one looks for a share,
Or pittance of the dainty fare, 260
While those who dare t' oppose their wishes,
Get nothing of the loaves and fishes ;
200 RETXARD THE FOX. [PART IT.
But to the tail they never look,
Till they are scalded by the Cook ;
For seldom they maintain their place, 265
But are turn'd out with great disgrace.
This, Sir, shall never be my case ;
I'll strive to merit your good Grace,
And use my wit for noble ends,
To gain applause from foes and friends." 270
" No more of this, (the King replied) ;
I'm with your promise satisfied,
And therefore I again restore
A Baron's rights t' you as before ;
But while with pow'r We you invest, 27o
Take care to use it for the best.
If you are wise in your deport,
You will be useful to the Court ;
For with the keenness of your wit,
The nicest points you know to hit. 280
I will hear no complaints of you,
As long as you are good and true ;
You shall be Chancellor of State,
And shall preside at each debate ;
And all our Subjects shall abide 28o
By what you order and decide."
Thus Reynard first became so great
In Court and City, Church and State,
That whatsoe'er he doth, in spite
Of rhyme or reason, must be right. 290
CAXTO III-l THE BATTLE. 201
Meantime poor wounded Growler lay
Stretch 'd on. the ground in great dismay.
His Wife and Children, Gib and Brown,
Came forth in dumps, and much cast down,
And on a barrow strew'd with hay, 295
They gently carried him away.
The Surgeons came, his wounds to see,
Of which they counted twenty three,
Which having dress'd, they rubb'd a dose
Of powder'd herbs into his nose, 300
To make him sneeze, and with a draught
They made him purge, both fore and aft.
This done they did assure his Wife,
There was no danger for his life.
He tried to take a little rest, ' 305
35ut was with grief too much oppress'd ;
For Reynard had so sorely gall'd him,
That pain and anguish quite appall'd him.
Reynard now went, and begg'd the King,
To grant him leave for travelling, 310
His Wife and Children to relieve,
Who for his absence much would grieve.
King Noble granted his request,
And only bid him do his best
Soon to return to Court again. 315
He promis'd it, and with a train
Of friends and clients he set out,
And proudly wagg'd his tail about.
202 REYNARD THE FOX. [PAKT IV.
Full many there are now-a-days,
Who get preferr'd by Reynard's ways. 320
Red beards they do not always show ;
But that they 're deep ones all Men know.
He now return'd to Malpertouse,
Where we shall leave him with his Spouse,
Relating to her what had pass'd : 325
How he had beat the Wolf at last,
And had regain'd the Kings good grace,
Who rais'd him to the highest place.
Here ends the Fable. Our intent
Was to amuse you, while we meant 330
To show, what th' adage says of old :
That, Wit is better far than Gold.
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