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But passing this, as from our tale apart,
Dame Partlet was the sovereign of his heart:
Ardent in love, outrageous in his play,
He feather'd her a hundred times a day :
And she, that was not only passing fair,
But was withal discreet, and debonnaire,
Resolv'd the passive doctrine to fulfil,
Though loth; and let him work his wicked will:
At board and bed was affable and kind,
According as their marriage vow did bind,
And as the church's precept had enjoin'd:
Ev'n since she was a se'nnight old, they say,
Was chaste and humble to her dying day,
Nor chick nor hen was known to disobey.
By this her husband's heart she did obtain ;
What cannot beauty, join'd with virtue, gain!
She was his only joy, and he her pride,
She, when he walk'd, went pecking by his side;
If, spurning up the ground, he sprung a corn,
The tribute in his bill to her was borne.
But, Oh! what joy it was to hear him sing
In summer, when the day began to spring,
Stretching his neck, and warbling in his throat,
"Solus cum sola," then was all his note.
For in the days of yore, the birds of parts
How dar'st thou tell thy dame thou art affear'd?
Hast thou no manly heart, and hast a beard?
"If aught from fearful dreams may be divin'd,
They signify a cock of dunghill kind.
All dreams, as in old Galen I have read,
Are from repletion and complexion bred;
From rising fumes of indigested food,
And noxious humors that infect the blood:
And sure, my lord, if I can read aright,
These foolish fancies you have had to-night
Are certain symptoms (in the canting style)
Of boiling choler, and abounding bile;
This yellow gall, that in your stomach floats,
Engenders all these visionary thoughts.
When choler overflows, then dreams are bred
Of flames, and all the family of red;
Red dragons, and red beasts, in sleep we view,
For humors are distinguish'd by their hue.
From hence we dream of wars and warlike things,
And wasps and hornets with their double wings.
Choler adust congeals our blood with fear,
Then black bulls toss us, and black devils tear.
In sanguine airy dreams aloft we bound,
With rheums oppress'd we sink, in rivers drown'd. More I could say, but thus conclude my theme,
Were bred to speak, and sing, and learn the liberal The dominating humor makes the dream.
It happ'd, that, perching on the parlor-beam
Amidst his wives, he had a deadly dream,
Just at the dawn; and sigh'd, and groan'd so fast,
As every breath he drew would be his last.
Dame Partlet, ever nearest to his side,
Heard all his piteous moan, and how he cried
For help from gods and men: and sore aghast
She peck'd and pull'd, and waken'd him at last.
Dear heart," said she, " for love of Heaven, declare
Your pain, and make me partner of your care.
You groan, sir, ever since the morning-light,
As something had disturb'd your noble spright."
"And, madam, well I might," said Chanticleer,
"Never was shrovetide cock in such a fear;
Ev'n still I run all over in a sweat,
My princely senses not recover'd yet.
For such a dream I had of dire portent,
That much I fear my body will be shent:
It bodes I shall have wars and woful strife,
Or in a lothesome dungeon end my life.
Know, dame, I dreamt within my troubled breast,
That in our yard I saw a murderous beast,
That on my body would have made arrest.
With waking eyes I ne'er beheld his fellow;
His color was betwixt a red and yellow :
Tipp'd was his tail, and both his pricking ears
Were black, and much unlike his other hairs:
The rest, in shape a beagle's whelp throughout,
With broader forehead, and a sharper snout:
Deep in his front were sunk his glowing eyes,
That yet methinks I see him with surprise.
Reach out your hand, I drop with clammy sweat,
And lay it to my heart, and feel it beat."
"Now fy for shame," quoth she," by Heaven above,
Thou hast for ever lost thy lady's love;
No woman can endure a recreant knight,
He must be bold by day, and free by night:
Our sex desires a husband or a friend,
Who can our honor and his own defend;
Wise, hardy, secret, liberal of his purse:
A fool is nauseous, but a coward worse:
No bragging coxcomb, yet no baffled knight,
How dar'st thou talk of love, and dar'st not fight?
And both at hand (for in our yard they grow ;)
On peril of my soul shall rid you wholly
Of yellow choler, and of melancholy:
You must both purge and vomit; but obey,
And for the love of Heaven make no delay.
Since hot and dry in your complexion join,
Beware the Sun when in a vernal sign;
For when he mounts exalted in the Ram,
If then he finds your body in a flame,
Replete with choler, I dare lay a groat,
A tertian ague is at least your lot.
Perhaps a fever (which the gods forefend)
May bring your youth to some untimely end:
And therefore, sir, as you desire to live,
A day or two before your laxative,
Take just three worms, nor under nor above,
Because the gods unequal numbers love.
These digestives prepare you for your purge;
Of fumetery, centaury, and spurge,
And of ground-ivy add a leaf or two,
All which within our yard or garden grow.
Eat these, and be, my lord, of better cheer;
Your father's son was never born to fear."
"Madam," quoth he, "gramercy for your care, But Cato, whom you quoted, you may spare: 'Tis true, a wise and worthy man he seems, And (as you say) gave no belief to dreams. But other men of more authority,
And, by th' immortal powers, as wise as he,
Maintain, with sounder sense, that dreams forebode;
For Homer plainly says they come from God.
Nor Cato said it: but some modern fool
Impos'd in Cato's name on boys at school.
"Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow
Th' event of things, and future weal or woe:
Some truths are not by reason to be tried,
But we have sure experience for our guide.
An ancient author, equal with the best,
Relates this tale of dreams among the rest.
"Two friends or brothers, with devout intent, On some far pilgrimage together went.
It happen'd so, that, when the Sun was down,
They just arriv'd by twilight at a town:
That day had been the baiting of a bull,
"Twas at a feast, and every inn so full,
That no void room in chamber, or on ground,
And but one sorry bed, was to be found:
And that so little it would hold but one,
Though till this hour they never lay alone.
"So were they forc'd to part; one stay'd behind,
His fellow sought what lodging he could find:
At last he found a stall where oxen stood,
And that he rather chose than lie abroad.
"Twas in a farther yard without a door;
But, for his ease, well litter'd was the floor.
"His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept,
Was weary, and without a rocker slept:
Supine he snor'd; but in the dead of night,
He dreamt his friend appear'd before his sight,
Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry,
Said, 'Help me, brother, or this night I die:
Arise, and help, before all help be vain,
Or in an ox's stall I shall be slain.'
Rous'd from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Shivering with horror, and with aching heart. At length to cure himself by reason tries;
Ye magistrates, who sacred laws dispense,
On you I call, to punish this offence.'
"The word thus given, within a little space,
The mob came roaring out, and throng'd the place
All in a trice they cast the cart to ground,
And in the dung the murder'd body found;
Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the
Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find
Is boundless grace, and mercy to mankind,
Abhors the cruel; and the deeds of night
By wondrous ways reveals in open light:
Murder may pass unpunish'd for a time,
But tardy Justice will o'ertake the crime.
And oft a speedier pain the guilty feels:
The hue and cry of Heaven pursues him at the heels.
Fresh from the fact, as in the present case,
The criminals are seiz'd upon the place:
Carter and host confronted face to face.
Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,
On engines they distend their tortur'd joints:
So was confession forc'd, th' offence was known,
And public justice on th' offenders done.
"Here may you see that visions are to dread; And in the page that follows this, I read
Of two young merchants, whom the hope of gain
Induc'd in partnership to cross the main.
Waiting till willing winds their sails supplied,
Within a trading town they long abide,
Full fairly situate on a haven's side;
One evening it befell, that looking out,
The wind they long had wish'd was come about:
Well pleas'd they went to rest; and if the gale
Till morn continued, both resolv'd to sail.
But as together in a bed they lay,
The younger had a dream at break of day.
A man he thought stood frowning at his side;
Who warn'd him for his safety to provide,
"Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies?
So thinking, chang'd his side, and clos'd his eyes.
His dream returns; his friend appears again:
The murderers come, now help, or I am slain :'
"Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain.
He dreamt the third: but now his friend appear'd,Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide.
Pale, naked, pierc'd with wounds, with blood be- I come, thy genius, to command thy stay;
Thrice warn'd, Awake,' said he; relief is late,
The deed is done; but thou revenge my fate:
Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes,
Awake, and with the dawning day arise:
Take to the western gate thy ready way,
For by that passage they my corpse convey:
My corpse is in a tumbril laid, among
The filth and ordure, and inclos'd with dung:
That cart arrest, and raise a common cry;
For sacred hunger of my gold, I die :'
Then show'd his grisly wound; and last he drew
A piteous sigh, and took a long adieu.
"The frighted friend arose by break of day,
And found the stall where late his fellow lay.
Then of his impious host inquiring more,
Was answer'd that his guest was gone before:
'Muttering, he went,' said he, by morning light,
And much complain'd of his ill rest by night.'
This rais'd suspicion in the pilgrim's mind;
Because all hosts are of an evil kind,
And oft to share the spoils with robbers join'd.
"His dream confirm'd his thought: with troubled
Straight to the western gate his way he took;
There, as his dream foretold, a cart he found,
That carried compost forth to dung the ground.
This when the pilgrim saw, he stretch'd his throat,
And cried out murder with a yelling note.
My murder'd fellow in this cart lies dead,
Vengeance and justice on the villain's head.
Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day,
And Death unhop'd attends the watery way.'
"The vision said: and vanish'd from his sight:
The dreamer waken'd in a mortal fright:
Then pull'd his drowsy neighbor, and declar'd
What in his slumber he had seen and heard.
His friend smil'd scornful, and with proud contempt
Rejects as idle what his fellow dreamt.
'Stay, who will stay: for me no fears restrain,
Who follow Mercury the god of gain;
Let each man do as to his fancy seems,
I wait not, I, till you have better dreams.
Dreams are but interludes which Fancy makes;
When monarch Reason sleeps, this mimic wakes:
Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
A mob of cobblers, and a court of kings:
Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad:
Both are the reasonable soul run mad:
And many monstrous forms in sleep we see,
That neither were, nor are, nor e'er can be.
Sometimes forgotten things long cast behind
Rush forward in the brain, and come to mind.
The nurse's legends are for truths receiv'd,
And the man dreams but what the boy believ'd.
Sometimes we but rehearse a former play,
The night restores our actions done by day;
As hounds in sleep will open for their prey.
In short, the farce of dreams is of a piece,
Chimeras all; and more absurd, or less:
You, who believe in tales, abide alone;
Whate'er I get this voyage is my own.'
While thou art mine, and I am thy delight,
All sorrows at thy presence take their flight.
For true it is, as in principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio.
"Thus while he spoke, he heard the shouting crew While thou art constant to thy own true knight,
That call'd aboard, and took his last adieu.
The vessel went before a merry gale,
And for quick passage put on every sail :
But when least fear'd, and ev'n in open day,
The mischief overtook her in the way:
Whether she sprung a leak, I cannot find,
Or whether she was overset with wind,
Or that some rock below her bottom rent;
But down at once with all her crew she went:
Her fellow-ships from far her loss descried:
But only she was sunk, and all were safe beside.
"By this example you are taught again,
That dreams and visions are not always vain:
But if, dear Partlet, you are still in doubt,
Another tale shall make the former out.
"Kenelm the son of Kenulph, Mercia's king,. Whose holy life the legends loudly sing, Warn'd in a dream, his murder did foretell From point to point as after it befell; All circumstances to his nurse he told (A wonder from a child of seven years old :) The dream with horror heard, the good old wife From treason counsel'd him to guard his life; But close to keep the secret in his mind, For a boy's vision small belief would find. The pious child, by promise bound, obey'd, Nor was the fatal murder long delay'd: By Quenda slain, he fell before his time, Made a young martyr by his sister's crime. The tale is told by venerable Bede, Which at your better leisure you may read.
Macrobius too relates the vision sent To the great Scipio, with the fam'd event: Objections makes, but after makes replies, And adds, that dreams are often prophecies. "Of Daniel you may read in holy writ, Who, when the king his vision did forget, Could word for word the wondrous dream repeal. Not less of patriarch Joseph understand, Who by a dream enslav'd th' Egyptian land, The years of plenty and of dearth foretold, When, for their bread, their liberty they sold. Nor must th' exalted butler be forgot, Nor he whose dream presag'd his hanging lot. “And did not Croesus the same death foresee, Rais'd in his vision on a lofty tree? The wife of Hector, in his utmost pride, Dreamt of his death the night before he died; Well was he warn'd from battle to refrain, But men to death decreed are warn'd in vain : He dar'd the dream, and by his fatal foe was slain. "Much more I know, which I forbear to speak, For see, the ruddy day begins to break; Let this suffice, that plainly I foresee My dream was bad, and bodes adversity: But neither pills nor laxatives I like, They only serve to make the well-man sick : Of these his gain the sharp physician makes, And often gives a purge, but seldom takes: They not correct, but poison all the blood, And ne'er did any but the doctors good: Their tribe, trade, trinkets, I defy them all, With every work of 'pothecary's hall. These melancholy matters I forbear: But let me tell thee, Partlet mine, and swear, That when I view the beauties of thy face, I fear not death, nor dangers, nor disgrace: So may my soul have bliss, as, when I spy The scarlet red about thy partridge eye,
Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.
For when by night I feel your tender side,
Though for the narrow perch I cannot ride,
Yet I have such a solace in my mind,
That all my boding cares are cast behind;
And ev'n already I forget my dream :"
He said, and downward flew from off the beam.
For daylight now began apace to spring,
The thrush to whistle, and the lark to sing.
Then crowing clapp'd his wings, th' appointed call,
To chuck his wives together in the hall.
By this the widow had unbarr'd the door,
And Chanticleer went strutting out before,
With royal courage, and with heart so light,
As show'd he scorn'd the visions of the night.
Now roaming in the yard he spurn'd the ground,
And gave to Partlet the first grain he found.
Then often feather'd her with wanton play,
And trod her twenty times ere prime of day:
And took by turns and gave so much delight,
Her sisters pin'd with envy at the sight.
He chuck'd again, when other corns he found,
And scarcely deign'd to set a foot to ground;
But swagger'd like a lord about his hall,
And his seven wives came running at his call.
"Twas now the month in which the world began
(If March beheld the first created man :)
And since the vernal equinox, the Sun,
In Aries, twelve degrees, or more, had run;
When casting up his eyes against the light,
Both month, and day, and hour, he measur'd right,
And told more truly than th' Ephemeris:
For Art may err, but Nature cannot miss.
Thus numbering times and seasons in his breast, His second crowing the third hour confess'd. Then turning, said to Partlet, "See, my dear, How lavish Nature has adorn'd the year; How the pale primrose and blue violet spring, And birds essay their throats, disus'd to sing: All these are ours; and I with pleasure see Man strutting on two legs, and aping me: An unfledg'd creature, of a lumpish frame, Endow'd with fewer particles of flame: Our dames sit scouring o'er a kitchen fire, I draw fresh air, and Nature's works admire: And ev'n this day in more delight abound, Than, since I was an egg, I ever found."
The time shall come when Chanticleer shall wish His words unsaid, and hate his boasted bliss: The crested bird shall by experience know, Jove made not him his masterpiece below; And learn the latter end of joy is woe. The vessel of his bliss to dregs is run, And Heaven will have him taste his other tun. Ye wise, draw near, and hearken to my tale, Which proves that oft the proud by flattery fall: The legend is as true, I undertake, As Tristran is, and Launcelot of the lake: Which all our ladies in such reverence hold, As if in book of martyrs it were told.
A fox, full-fraught with seeming sanctity, That fear'd an oath, but, like the Devil, would lie; Who look'd like Lent, and had the holy leer, And durst not sin before he said his prayer;
This pious cheat, that never suck'd the blood,
Nor chew'd the flesh of lambs but when he could;
Had pass'd three summers in the neighboring wood:
And musing long whom next to circumvent,
On Chanticleer his wicked fancy bent:
And in his high imagination cast,
By stratagem to gratify his taste.
The plot contriv'd, before the break of day,
Saint Reynard through the hedge had made his way;
The pale was next, but proudly with a bound
He leapt the fence of the forbidden ground:
Yet, fearing to be seen, within a bed
Of coleworts he conceal'd his wily head:
For women, with a mischief to their kind,
Pervert, with bad advice, our better mind.
A woman's counsel brought us first to woe,
And made her man his Paradise forego,
Where at heart's ease he lived; and might have
As free from sorrow as he was from sin.
For what the devil had their sex to do,
That, born to folly, they presum'd to know,
And could not see the serpent in the grass?
But I myself presume, and let it pass.
Silence in times of suffering is the best,
"Tis dangerous to disturb an hornet's nest.
Then skulk'd till afternoon, and watch'd his time, In other authors you may find enough,
(As murderers use) to perpetrate his crime.
O hypocrite, ingenious to destroy,
O traitor, worse than Sinon was to Troy!
O vile subverter of the Gallic reign,
More false than Gano was to Charlemain!
O Chanticleer, in an unhappy hour
Didst thou forsake the safety of thy bower:
Better for thee thou hadst believ'd thy dream,
And not that day descended from the beam!
But here the doctors eagerly dispute:
Some hold predestination absolute:
But all they say of dames is idle stuff.
Legends of lying wits together bound,
The Wife of Bath would throw them to the ground;
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine,
I honor dames, and think their sex divine.
Now to continue what my tale begun;
Lay madam Partlet basking in the Sun,
Breast-high in sand: her sisters, in a row,
Enjoy'd the beams above, the warmth below.
The cock, that of his flesh was ever free,
Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea:
Among the coleworts, on a butterfly,
Some clerks maintain, that Heaven at first foresees, And so befell, that as he cast his eye,
And in the virtue of foresight decrees.
If this be so, then prescience binds the will,
And mortals are not free to good or ill:
For what he first foresaw, he must ordain,
Or its eternal prescience may be vain:
As bad for us as prescience had not been,
For first, or last, he's author of the sin.
And who says that, let the blaspheming man
Say worse ev'n of the Devil, if he can.
For how can that eternal Power be just
To punish man, who sins because he must?
Or, how can he reward a virtuous deed,
Which is not done by us; but first decreed?
I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
As Bradwardin and holy Austin can;
If prescience can determine actions so
That we must do, because he did foreknow,
Or that, foreknowing, yet our choice is free,
Not forc'd to sin by strict necessity;
This strict necessity they simple call,
Another sort there is conditional.
The first so binds the will, that things foreknown
By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar,
Content to work, in prospect of the shore;
But would not work at all, if not constrain'd before.
That other does not liberty constrain,
But man may either act, or may refrain.
Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
And forc'd it not, though he foresaw the will.
Freedom was first bestow'd on human race,
And prescience only held the second place.
He saw false Reynard where he lay full low:
I need not swear he had no list to crow:
But cried, "Cock, cock!" and gave a sudden start,
As sore dismay'd and frighted at his heart;
For birds and beasts, inform'd by Nature, know
Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe.
So Chanticleer, who never saw a fox,
Yet shunn'd him as a sailor shuns the rocks.
But the false loon, who could not work his will
By open force, employ'd his flattering skill;
I hope, my lord," said he, "I not offend;
Are you afraid of me, that am your friend?
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong,
I, who have lov'd and honor'd you so long:
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
For, on my soul, I never meant you harm.
I come no spy, nor as a traitor press,
To learn the secrets of your soft recess:
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought,
But by the sweetness of your voice was brought:
For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard
The song as of an angel in the yard;
A song that would have charm'd th' infernal gods,
And banish'd horror from the dark abodes;
Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere,
So much the hymn had pleas'd the tyrant's ear,
The wife had been detain'd, to keep the husband
"My lord, your sire familiarly I knew,
A peer deserving such a son as you:
He, with your lady-mother (whom Heaven rest)
Has often grac'd my house, and been my guest :
To view his living features, does me good;
If he could make such agents wholly free,
I not dispute, the point's too high for me;
For Heaven's unfathom'd power what man can For I am your poor neighbor in the wood;
Or put to his Omnipotence a bound?
He made us to his image, all agree;
That image is the soul, and that must be,
Or not the Maker's image, or be free.
But whether it were better man had been
By nature bound to good, not free to sin,
I waive, for fear of splitting on a rock.
The tale I tell is only of a cock,
> had not run the hazard of his life,
d he believ'd his dream, and not his wife:
And in my cottage should be proud to see
The worthy heir of my friend's family.
"But since I speak of singing, let me say,
As with an upright heart I safely may,
That, save yourself, there breathes not on the
One like your father for a silver sound.
So sweetly would he wake the winter-day,
That matrons to the church mistook their way,
And thought they heard the merry organ play
And he, to raise his voice with artful care,
What will not beaux attempt to please the fair?)
On tiptoe stood to sing with greater strength,
And stretch'd his comely neck at all the length:
And while he strain'd his voice to pierce the skies,
As saints in raptures use, would shut his eyes,
That the sound striving through the narrow throat,
Ha winking might avail to mend the note.
By this, in song, he never had his peer,
From sweet Cecilia down to Chanticleer;
Not Maro's Muse, who sung the mighty man,
Nor Pindar's heavenly lyre, nor Horace when a swan.
Your ancestors proceed from race divine:
From Brennus and Belinus is your line;
Who gave to sovereign Rome such loud alarms,
That ev'n the priests were not excus'd from arms.
"Besides, a famous monk of modern times
Has left of cocks recorded in his rhymes,
That of a parish-priest the son and heir,
(When sons of priests were from the proverb clear,) Affronted once a cock of noble kind,
And either lam'd his legs, or struck him blind;
For which the clerk his father was disgrac'd,
And in his benefice another plac'd.
Now sing, my lord, if not for love of me,
Yet for the sake of sweet saint Charity;
Make hills and dales, and Earth and Heaven rejoice,
And emulate your father's angel voice."
The cock was pleas'd to hear him speak so fair,
And proud beside, as solar people are;
Nor could the treason from the truth descry,
So was he ravish'd with this flattery:
So much the more, as, from a little elf,
He had a high opinion of himself;
Though sickly, slender, and not large of limb,
Concluding all the world was made for him.
Ye princes, rais'd by poets to the gods,
And Alexander'd up in lying odes,
Bebeve not every flattering knave's report,
There's many a Reynard lurking in the court;
And he shall be receiv'd with more regard
And listen'd to, than modest Truth is heard.
This Chanticleer, of whom the story sings, Sood high upon his toes, and clapp'd his wings; Then stretch'd his neck, and wink'd with both his
Ambitions, as he sought th' Olympic prize.
But while he pain'd himself to raise his note,
False Reynard rush'd, and caught him by the throat.
Then on his back he laid the precious load,
And sought his wonted shelter of the wood;
Swiftly he made his way, the mischief done,
Of all unheeded, and pursu'd by none.
Alas, what stay is there in human state,
Or who can shun inevitable fate?
The doom was written, the decree was past,
Ere the foundations of the world were cast!
Ir. Aries though the Sun exalted stood,
His patron-planet to procure his good;
Yet Saturn was his mortal foe, and he,
In Libra rais'd, oppos'd the same degree:
The rays both good and bad, of equal power,
ach thwarting other made a mingled hour.
On Friday morn he dreamt this direful dream,
ross to the worthy native, in his scheme!
15, blissful Venus, goddess of delight,
How couldst thou suffer thy devoted knight,
On thy own day, to fall by foe oppress'd,
The wight of all the world who serv'd thee best?
Who, true to love, was all for recreation,
And minded not the work of propagation.
Gaufride, who couldst so well in rhyme complain
The death of Richard with an arrow slain,
Why had not I thy Muse, or thou my heart,
To sing this heavy dirge with equal art!
That I like thee on Friday might complain;
For on that day was Cœur de Lion slain.
Not louder cries, when Ilium was in flames, Were sent to Heaven by woful Trojan dames, When Pyrrhus toss'd on high his burnish'd blade, And offer'd Priam to his father's shade,
Than for the cock the widow'd poultry made.
Fair Partlet first, when he was borne from sight,
With sovereign shrieks bewail'd her captive knight:
Far louder than the Carthaginian wife,
When Asdrubal, her husband, lost his life,
When she beheld the smouldering flames ascend,
And all the Punic glories at an end:
Willing into the fires she plung'd her head,
With greater ease than others seek their bed;
Not more aghast the matrons of renown,
When tyrant Nero burn'd th' imperial town,
Shriek'd for the downfall in a doleful cry,
For which their guiltless lords were doom'd to die.
Now to my story I return again:
The trembling widow, and her daughters twain,
This woful cackling cry with horror heard,
Of those distracted damsels in the yard;
And, starting up, beheld the heavy sight,
How Reynard to the forest took his flight,
And cross his back, as in triumphant scorn,
The hope and pillar of the house was borne.
"The fox, the wicked fox!" was all the cry:
Out from his house ran every neighbor nigh;
The vicar first, and after him the crew
With forks and staves, the felon to pursue.
Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot with the band;
And Malkin, with her distaff in her hand;
Ran cow and calf, and family of hogs,
In panic horror of pursuing dogs;
With many a deadly grunt and doleful squeak,
Poor swine, as if their pretty hearts would break.
The shouts of men, the women in dismay,
With shrieks augment the terror of the day;
The ducks, that heard the proclamation cried,
And fear'd a persecution might betide,
Full twenty miles from town their voyage take,
Obscure in rushes of the liquid lake.
The geese fly o'er the barn; the bees in arms
Drive headlong from their waxen cells in swarms.
Jack Straw at London-stone, with all his rout,
Struck not the city with so loud a shout;
Not when with English hate they did pursue
A Frenchman, or an unbelieving Jew;
Not when the welkin rung with one and all;
And echoes bounded back from Fox's hall;
Earth seem'd to sink beneath, and Heaven above to
With might and main they chas'd the murderous fox,
With brazen trumpets and inflated box,
To kindle Mars with military sounds,
Nor wanted horns t'inspire sagacious hounds.
But see, how Fortune can confound the wise,
And, when they least expect it, turn the dice.
The captive cock, who scarce could draw his breath,
And lay within the very jaws of Death;
Yet in this agony his fancy wrought,
And Fear supplied him with this happy thought: S