Mother Hubberds Tale

Edmund Spenser

Note on the Renascence Editions text:

This html etext of Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale was prepared from Ernest de Sélincourt's Spenser's Minor Poems [Oxford, 1910] by Risa S. Bear at the University of Oregon. The text is in the public domain. Coding is copyright © The University of Oregon, March 1996.



Mother Hubberds Tale.

By ED. SP.

Dedicated to the right Honorable
the Ladie Compton and

+ +


Imprinted for VVilliam
Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules

Churchyard at the signe of
the Bishops head.


To the right Honorable

the Ladie Compton and


MOst faire and vertuous Ladie; hauing often sought opportunitie by some good meanes to make knowen to your Ladiship, the humble affection and faithfull duetie, which I haue alwaies professed, and am bound to beare to that House, from whence yee spring, I haue at length found occasion to remember the same, by making a simple present to you of these my idle labours; which hauing long sithens composed in the raw conceipt of my youth, I lately amongst other papers lighted vpon, and was by others, wich liked the same, mooued to set them foorth. Simple in the deuice, and the composition meane, yet carrieth some delight, euen the rather because of the simplicitie and meannesse thus personated. The same I beseech your Ladiship take in good part, as a pledge of that profession which I haue made to you, and keepe with you vntill with some other worthie labour, I do redeeme it out of your hands, and discharge my vtmost dutie. Till then wishing your Ladiship all increase of honour and happinesse, I humblie take leaue.

Your La: euer

Ed. Sp.

Prosopopoia: or

Mother Hubberds Tale.

IT was the month, in which the righteous Maide,
That for disdaine of sinfull worlds vpbraide,
Fled back to heauen, whence she was first conceiued,
Into her siluer bowre the Sunne receiued;
And the hot Syrian Dog on him awayting,
After the chased Lyons cruell bayting,
Corrupted had th' ayre with his noysome breath,
And powr'd on th' earth plague, pestilence, and death.
Emongst the rest a wicked maladie
Raign'd emongst men, that manie did to die,
Depriu'd of sense and ordinarie reason;
That it to Leaches seemed strange and geason.
My fortune was mongst manie others moe,
To be partaker of their common woe;
And my weake bodie set on fire with griefe,
Was rob'd of rest, and naturall reliefe.
In this ill plight, there came to visit mee
Some friends, who sorie my sad case to see,
Began to comfort me in chearfull wise,
And meanes of gladsome solace to deuise.
But seeing kindly sleep refuse to doe
His office, and my feeble eyes forgoe,
They sought my troubled sense how to deceaue
With talke, that might vnquiet fancies reaue;
And sitting all in seates about me round,
With pleasant tales (fit for that idle stound)
They cast in course to waste the wearie howres:
Some told of Ladies, and their Paramoures;
Some of braue Knights, and their renowned Squires;
Some of the Faeries and their strange attires;
And some of Giaunts hard to be beleeued,
That the delight thereof me much releeued.
Amongst the rest a good old woman was,
Hight Mother Hubberd, who did farre surpas
The rest in honest mirth, that seem'd her well:
She when her turne was come her tale to tell,
Tolde of a strange aduenture, that betided
Betwixt the Foxe and th' Ape by him misguided;
The which for that my sense it greatly pleased,
All were my spirite heauie and diseased,
Ile write in termes, as she the same did say,
So well as I her words remember may.
No Muses aide me needes heretoo to call;
Base is the style, and matter meane withall.
    ¶Whilome (said she) before the world was ciuill,
The Fox and th' Ape disliking of their euill
And hard estate, determined to seeke
Their fortunes farre abroad, lyeke with his lyeke:
For both were craftie and vnhappie witted;
Two fellowes might no where be better fitted.
The Foxe, that first this cause of griefe did finde,
Gan first thus plaine his case with words vnkinde.
Neighbour Ape, and my Gossip eke beside,
(Both two sure bands in friendship to be tide,)
To whom may I more trustely complaine
The euill plight, that doth me sore constraine,
And hope thereof to finde due remedie?
Heare then my paine and inward agonie.
Thus manie yeares I now haue spent and worne,
In meane regard, and basest fortunes scorne,
Dooing my Countrey seruice as I might,
No lesse I dare saie than the prowdest wight;
And still I hoped to be vp aduaunced,
For my good parts; but still it hath mischaunced.
Now therefore that no lenger hope I see,
But froward fortune still to follow mee,
And losels lifted high, where I did looke,
I meane to turne the next leafe of the booke.
Yet ere that anie way I doo betake,
I meane my Gossip priuie first to make.
Ah my deare Gossip, (answer'd then the Ape,)
Deeply doo your sad words my wits awhape,
Both for because your griefe doth great appeare,
And eke because my selfe am touched neare:
For I likewise haue wasted much good time,
Still wayting to preferment vp to clime,
Whilest others alwayes haue before me stept,
And from my beard the fat away haue swept;
That now vnto despaire I gin to growe,
And meane for better winde about to throwe.
Therefore to me, my trustie friend, aread
Thy councell: two is better than one head.
Certes (said he) I meane me to disguize
In some straunge habit after vncouth wize,
Or like a Pilgrime, or a Lymiter,
Or like a Gipsen, or a Iuggeler,
And so to wander to the worlds ende,
To seeke my fortune, where I may it mend:
For worse than that I haue, I cannot meete.
Wide is the world I wote and euerie streete
Is full of fortunes, and aduentures straunge,
Continuallie subiect vnto chaunge.
Say my faire brother now, if this deuice
Doth like you, or may you to like entice.
Surely (said th' Ape) it likes me wondrous well;
And would ye not poore fellowship expell,
My selfe would offer you t' accompanie
In this aduentures chauncefull ieopardie.
For to wexe olde at home in idlenesse,
Is disaduentrous, and quite fortunelesse:
Abroad where change is, good may gotten bee.
The Foxe was glad, and quickly did agree:
So both resolu'd, the morrow next ensuing,
So soone as day appeard to peoples vewing,
On their intended iourney to proceede;
And ouer night, whatso theretoo did neede,
Each did prepare, in readines to bee.
The morrow next, so soone as one might see
Light out of heauens windowes forth to looke,
Both their habiliments vnto them tooke,
And put themselues (a Gods name) on their way.
Whenas the Ape beginning well to wey
This hard aduenture, thus began t'aduise;
Now read Sir Reynold, as ye be right wise,
What course ye weene is best for vs to take,
That for our selues we may a liuing make.
Whether shall we professe some trade or skill?
Or shall we varie our deuice at will,
Euen as new occasion appeares?
Or shall we tie our selues for certaine yeares
To anie seruice, Or to anie place?
For it behoues ere that into the race
We enter, to resolue first herevpon.
Now surely brother (said the Foxe anon)
Ye haue this matter motioned in season:
For euerie thing that is begun with reason
Will come by readie meanes vnto his end;
But things miscounselled must needs miswend.
Thus therefore I aduize vpon the case,
That not to anie certaine trade or place,
Nor anie man we should our selues applie:
For why should he that is at libertie
Make himselfe bond? sith then we are free borne,
Let vs all seruile base subiection scorne;
And as we bee sonnes of the world so wide,
Let vs our fathers heritage diuide,
And chalenge to our selues our portions dew
Of all the patrimonie, which a few
Now hold in hugger mugger in their hand,
And all the rest doo rob of good and land.
For now a few haue all and all haue nought,
Yet all be brethren ylike dearly bought:
There is no right in this partition,
Ne was it so by institution
Ordained first, ne by the law of Nature,
But that she gaue like blessing to each creture
As well of worldly liuelode as of life,
That there might be no difference nor strife,
Nor ought cald mine or thine: thrice happie then
Was the condition of mortall men.
That was the golden age of Saturne old,
But this might better be the world of gold:
For without golde now nothing wilbe got.
Therefore (if please you) this shalbe our plot,
We will not be of anie occupation,
Let such vile vassals borne to base vocation
Drudge in the world, and for thier liuing droyle
Which haue no wit to liue withouten toyle.
But we will walk about the world at pleasure
Like two free men, and make our ease a treasure.
Free men some beggers call, but they be free,
And they which call them so more beggers bee:
For they doo swinke and sweate to feed the other,
Who liue like Lords of that which they doo gather,
And yet doo neuer thanke them for the same,
But as their due by Nature doo it clame.
Such will we fashion both our selues to bee,
Lords of the world, and so will wander free
Where so vs listeth, vncontrol'd of anie:
Hard is our hap, if we (emongst so manie)
Light not on some that may our state amend;
Sildome but some good commeth ere the end.
Well seemd the Ape to like this ordinaunce:
Yet well considering of the circumstaunce,
As pausing in great doubt awhile he staid,
And afterwards with grave aduizement said;
I cannot my lief brother like but well
The purpose of the complot which ye tell:
For well I wot (compar'd to all the rest
Of each degree) that Beggers life is best:
And they that thinke themselues the best of all,
Oft-times to begging are content to fall.
But this I wot withall that we shall ronne
Into great daunger like to bee vndonne,
Thus wildly to wander in the worlds eye,
Without pasport or good warrantie,
For fear least we like rogues should be reputed,
And for eare marked beasts abroad be bruted:
Therefore I read, that we our counsells call,
How to preuent this mischiefe ere it fall,
And haow we may with most securitie,
Beg amongst those that beggers doo defie.
Right well deere Gossip ye aduised haue,
(Said then the Foxe) but I this doubt will saue:
For ere we farther passe, I will deuise
A pasport for vs both in fittest wize,
And by the name of Souldiers vs protect;
That now is thought a ciuile begging sect.
Be you the Souldier, for you likest are
For manly semblance, and small skill in warre:
I will but wayte on you, and as occasion
Falls out, my selfe fit for the same will fashion.
The Pasport ended, both they forward went,
The Ape clad Souldierlike, fit for th' intent,
In a blew iacket with a crosse of redd
And manie slits, as if that he had shedd
Much blood throgh may wounds therin receaued,
Which had the vse of his right arme bereaued;
Vpon his head an old Scotch cap he wore,
With a plume feather all to peeces tore:
His breeches were made after the new cut,
Al Portugese, loose like an emptie gut;
And his hose broken high aboue the heeling,
And his shooes beaten out with traueling.
But neither sword nor dagger he did beare,
Seemes that no foes reuengement he did feare;
In stead of them a handsome bat he held,
On which he leaned, as one farre in elde.
Shame light on him, that through so false illusion,
Doth turne the name of Souldiers to abusion,
And that, which is the noblest mysterie,
Brings to reproach and common infamie.
Long they thus trauailed, yet neuer met
Aduenture, which might them a working set:
Yet manie waies they sought, and manie tryed:
Yet for their purposes none fit espyed.
At last they chaunst to meete vpon the way
A simple husbandman in garments gray;
Yet though his vesture were but meane and bace,
A good yeoman he was of honest place,
And more for thrift did care than for gay clothing:
Gay without good, is good hearts greatest loathing.
The Foxe him spying, bad the Ape him dight
To play his part, for loe he was in sight,
That (if her er'd not) should them entertaine,
And yeeld them timely profite for their paine.
Eftsoones the Ape himselfe gan vp to reare,
And on his shoulders high his bat to beare,
As if good seruice her were fit to doo;
But little thrift for him he did it too:
And stoutly fprward he his steps did straine,
That like a handsome swaine it him became:
When as they nigh approached, that good man
Seeing them wander loosly, first began
T' enquire of custome, what and whence they were?
To whom the Ape, I am a Souldiere,
That late in warres haue spent my deerest blood,
And in long seruice lost both limbs and good,
And now constrain'd that trade to ouergiue,
I driuen am to seeke some meanes to liue:
Which might it you in pitie please t' afford,
I would be readie both in deed and word,
To doo you faithfull seruice all my dayes.
This yron world (that same he weeping sayes)
Brings downe the stowtest hearts to lowest state:
For miserie doth brauest mindes abate,
And make them seeke for that they wont to scorne,
Of fortune and of hope at once forlorne.
The honest man, that heard him thus complaine,
Was griu'd, as he had felt part of his paine;
And well dispos'd him some reliefe to showe,
Askt if in husbandrie he ought did knowe,
To plough, to plant, to reap, to rake, to sowe,
To hedge, to ditch, to thrash, to thetch, to mowe;
Or to what labour els he was prepar'd?
For husbands life is labourous and hard.
Whenas the Ape him hard so much to talke
Of labour, that did from his liking balke,
He would haue slipt the coller handsomly,
And to him said; good Sir, full glad am I,
To take what paines may anie liuing wight:
But my late maymed limbs lack wonted might
To doo their kindly seruices, as needeth:
Scarce this right hand the mouth with diet feedeth,
So that it may no painfull worke endure,
Ne to strong labour can it selfe enure.
But if that anie other place you haue,
Which askes small paines, but thriftines to saue,
Or care to ouerlooke, or trust to gather,
Ye may me trust as your owne ghostly father.
With that the hubandman gan him auize
That it for him were fittest exercise
Cattell to keep, or grounds to ouersee;
And asked him, if he could willing bee
To keep his sheep, or to attend his swyne,
Or watch his mares, or take his charge of kyne?
Gladly (said he) what euer such like paine
Ye put on me, I will the same sustaine:
But gladliest I of your fleecie sheepe
(Might it you please) would take on me the keep.
For ere that vnto armes I me betooke,
Vnto my fathers sheepe I vsde to looke,
That yet the skill thereof I haue not loste:
Thereto right well this Curdog by my coste
(meaning the Foxe) will serue, my sheepe to gather,
And driue to follow after their Belwether.
The Husbandman was meanly well content,
Triall to make of his endeauourment,
And home him leading, lent to him the charge
Of all his flocke, with libertie full large,
Giuing accompt of th' annuall increace
Both of their lambes, and of their woolley fleece.
Thus is this Ape become a shepheard swaine
And the false Foxe his dog (God giue them paine)
For ere the yeare haue halfe his course out-run,
And doo returne from whence he first begun,
They shall him make an ill accompt of thrift.
Now whenas Time flying with winges swift,
Expired had the terme, that these two iauels
Should render vp a reckning of their trauels
Vnto their master, which it of them sought,
Exceedingly they troubled were in thought,
Ne wist what answere vnto him to frame,
Ne how to scape great punishment, or shame,
For their false treason and vile theeuerie.
For not a lambe of all their flockes supply
Had they to shew: but euer as they bred,
They slue them, and vpon their fleshes fed:
For that disguised Dog lou'd blood to spill,
And drew the wicked Shepheard to his will.
So twixt them both they not a lambkin left,
And when lambes fail'd, the old sheepes liues they reft;
That how t' acquite themselues vnto their Lord,
They were in doubt, and flatly set abord.
The Foxe then counsel'd th' Ape, for to require
Respite till morrow, t' answere his desire:
For times delay new hope of helpe still breeds.
The goodman granted, doubting nought their deeds,
And bad, next day, that all should readie be.
But they more subtill meaning had than he:
For the next morrowes meed they closely ment,
For feare of afterclaps for to preuent.
And that same euening, when all shrowded were
In careles sleep, they without care or feare,
Cruelly fell vpon their flock in folde,
And of them slew at pleasure what they wolde:
Of which whenas they feasted had their fill,
For a full complement of all their ill,
They stole away, and tooke their hastie flight,
Carried in clowdes of all-concealing night.
So was the husbandman left to his losse,
And they vnto their fortunes change to tosse.
After which sort they wandered long while,
Abusing manie through their cloaked guile;
That at the last they gan to be descryed
Of euerie one, and all their slights espyed.
So as their begging now them failed quyte;
For none would giue, but all men would them wyte:
Yet would they take no paines to get their liuing,
But seeke some other way to gaine by giuing,
Much like to begging but much better named;
For manie beg, which are thereof ashamed.
And now the Foxe had gotten him a gowne,
And th' Ape a cassocke sidelong hanging downe;
For they their occupation meant to change,
And now in other state abroad to range:
For since their souldiers pas no better spedd,
They forg'd another, as for Clerkes booke-redd.
Who passing foorth, as their aduentures fell,
Through manie haps, which needs not here to tell;
At length chaunst with a formall Priest to meete,
Whom they in ciuill manner first did greete,
And after askt an almes for Gods deare loue.
The man straight way his choler vp did moue,
And with reproachfull tearmes gan them reuile,
For following that trade so base and vile;
And askt what license, or what Pas they had?
Ah (said the Ape as sighing wondrous sad)
Its an hard case, when men of good deseruing
Must either driuen be perforce to steruing,
Or asked for their pas by euerie squib,
That list at will them to reuile or snib:
And yet (God wote) small oddes I often see
Twixt them that aske, and them that asked bee.
Natheles because you shall not vs misdeeme,
But that we are as honest as we seeme,
Yee shall our pasport at your pleasure see,
And then ye will (I hope) well mooued bee.
Which when the Priest beheld, he vew'd it nere,
As if therein some text he studying were,
But little els (God wote) could thereof skill:
For read he could not euidence, nor will,
Ne tell a written word, ne write a letter,
Ne make one title worse, ne make one better:
Of such deep learning little had he neede,
Ne yet of Latine, ne of Greeke, that breede
Doubts mongst Diuines, and difference of texts,
From whence arise diuersitie of sects,
And hatefull heresies, of God abhor'd:
But this good Sir did follow the plaine word,
Ne medled with their controuersies vaine.
All his care was, his seruice well to saine,
And to read Homelies vpon holidayes:
When that was done, he might attend his playes;
An easie life, and fit high God to please.
He hauing ouerlookt their pas at ease,
Gan at the length them to rebuke againe,
That no good trade of life did entertaine,
But lost their time in wandring loose abroad,
Seeing the world, in which they bootles boad,
Had wayes enough for all therein to liue;
Such grace did God vnto his creatures giue.
Said then the Foxe; who hath the world not tride,
From the right way full eath may wander wide.
We are but Nouices, new come abroad,
We haue not yet the tract of anie troad,
Nor on vs taken anie state of life,
But readie are of anie to make preife.
Therefore might please you, which the world haue proued,
Vs to aduise, which forth but lately moued,
Of some good course, that we might vndertake;
Ye shall for euer vs your bondmen make.
The Priest gan wexe halfe proud to be so praide,
And thereby willing to affoord them aide;
It seemes (said he) right well that ye be Clerks,
Both by your wittie words, and by your werks.
Is not that name enough to make a liuing
To him that hath a whit of Natures giuing?
How manie honest men see ye arize
Daylie thereby, and grow to goodly prize?
To Deanes, to Archdeacons, to Commissaries,
To Lords, to Principalls, to Prebendaries;
All iolly Prelates, worthie rule to beare,
Who euer them enuie: yet spite bites neare.
Why should ye doubt then, but that ye likewise
Might vnto some of those in time arise?
In the meane time to liue in good estate,
Louing that loue, and hating those that hate;
Being some honest Curate, or some Vicker
Content with little in condition sicker.
Ah but (said th' Ape) the charge is wondrous great,
To feed mens soules, and hath an heauie threat.
To feede mens soules (quoth he) is not in man:
For they must feed themselues, doo what we can.
We are but charg'd to lay the meate before:
Eate they that list, we need to doo no more.
But God it is that feedes them with his grace,
The bread of life powr'd downe from heauenly place.
Therefore, said he, that with the budding rod
Did rule the Iewes, All shalbe taught of God.
That same hath Iesus Christ now to him raught,
By whom the flock is rightly fed, and taught:
He is the Shepherd, and the Priest is hee;
We but his shepheard swaines ordain'd to bee.
Therefore herewith doo not your selfe dismay;
Ne is the paines so great, but beare ye may;
For not so great as it was wont of yore,
It's now a dayes, ne halfe so streight and sore:
They whilome vsed duly euerie day
Their seruice and their holie things to say,
At morne and euen, besides their Anthemes sweete,
Their penie Masses, and their Complynes meete,
Their Diriges, their Trentals, and their shrifts,
Their memories, their singings, and their gifts.
Now all those needlesse works are laid away:
Now once a weeke vpon the Sabbath day,
It is enough to doo our small deuotion,
And then to follow any merrie motion.
Ne are we tyde to fast, but when we list,
Ne to weare garments base of wollen twist,
But with the finest silkes vs to aray,
That before God we may appeare more gay,
Resembling Aarons glorie in his place:
For farre vnfit it is, that person bace
Should with vile cloaths approach Gods maiestie,
Whom no vncleannes may approachen nie:
Or that all men, which anie master serue,
Good garments for their seruice should deserue;
But he that serues the Lord of hoasts most high,
And that in highest place, t' approach him nigh,
And all the peoples prayers to present
Before his throne, as on ambassage sent
Both too and fro, should not deserue to weare
A garment better, than of wooll or heare.
Beside we may haue lying by our sides
Our louely Lasses, or bright shining Brides:
We be not tyde to wilful chastitie,
But haue the Gospell of free libertie.
By that he ended had his ghostly sermon,
The Foxe was well induc'd to be a Parson;
And of the Priest eftsoones gan to enquire,
How to a Benefice he might aspire.
Marie there (said the Priest) is arte indeed.
Much good deep learning one thereout may reed,
For that the ground worke is, and end of all,
How to obtaine a Beneficiall.
First therefore, when ye haue in handsome wise
Your selfe attyred, as you can deuise,
Then to some Noble man your selfe applye,
Or other great one in the worldes eye,
That hath a zealous disposition
To God, and so to his religion:
There must thou fashion eke a godly zeale,
Such as no carpers may contrarye reueale:
For each thing fained, ought more warie bee.
There thou must walke in sober grauitee,
And seeme as Saintlike as Saint Radegund:
Fast much, pray oft, looke lowly on the ground,
And vnto euerie one doo curtesie meeke:
These lookes (nought saying) doo a benefice seeke,
And be thou sure one not to lacke or long.
But if thee list vnto the Court to throng,
And there to hunt after the hoped pray,
Then must thou thee dispose another way:
For there thou needs must learne, to laugh, to lie,
To face, to forge, to scoffe, to companie,
To crouche, to please, to be a beetle stock
Of thy great Masters will, to scorne, or mock:
So maist thou chaunce mock out a Benfice,
Vnlesse thou canst one coniure by deuice,
Or cast a figure for a Bishoprick:
And if one could, it were but a schoole-trick.
These be the wayes, by which without reward
Liuings in Court be gotten, though full hard.
For nothing there is done without a fee:
The Courtier needes must recompenced bee
With a Beneuolence, or haue in gage
The Primitias of your parsonage:
Scarse can a Bishoprick forpas them by,
But that it must be gelt in priuitie.
Doo not therefore seeke a liuing there,
But of more priuate persons seeke elswhere,
Whereas thou maist compound a better penie,
Ne let thy learning question'd be of anie.
For some good Gentleman that hath the right
Vnto his Church for to present a wight,
Will cope with thee in reasonable wise;
That if the liuing yerely doo arise
To fortie pound, that then his yongest sonne
Shall twentie haue, and twentie thou hast wonne:
Thou hast it wonne, for it is of franke gift,
And he will care for all the rest to shift;
Both that the Bishop may admit of thee,
And that therein thou maist maintained bee.
This is the way for one that is vnlern'd
Liuing to get, and not to be discern'd.
But they that are great Clerkes, haue nearer wayes,
For learning sake to liuing them to raise:
Yet manie eke of them (God wote) are driuen,
T'accept a Benefice in peeces riuen.
How saist thou (friend) haue I not well discourst
Vpon this Common place (though plaine, not wourst)?
Better a short tale, than a bad long shriuing.
Needes anie more to learne to get a liuing?
Now sure and by my hallidome (quoth he)
Ye a great master are in your degree:
Great thankes I yeeld you for your discipline,
And doo not doubt, but duly to encline
My wits theretoo, as ye shall shortly heare.
The Priest him wisht good speed, and well to fare.
So parted they, as eithers way them led.
But th' Ape and Foxe ere long so well them sped,
Through the Priests holesome counsell lately tought,
And throgh their own faire handling wisely wroght,
That they a Benefice twixt them obtained;
And craftie Reynold was a Priest ordained;
And th' Ape his Parish Clarke procur'd to bee.
Then made they reuell route and goodly glee.
But ere long time had passed, they so ill
Did order their affaires, that th' euill will
Of all their Parishners they had constraind;
Who to the Ordinarie of them complain'd,
How fowlie they their offices abus'd,
And them of crimes and heresies accus'd;
That Pursiuants he often for them sent:
But they neglected his commaundement.
So long persisted obstinate and bolde,
Till at the length he published to holde
A Visitation, and them cyted thether:
Then was high time their wits about to geather;
What did they then, but made a composition
With their next neighbor Priest for light condition,
To whom their liuing they resigned quight
For a few pence, and ran away by night.
So passing through the Countrey in disguize,
They fled farre off, where none might them surprize,
And after that long straied here and there,
Through euerie field and forrest farre and nere;
Yet neuer found occasion for their tourne,
But almost steru'd, did much lament and mourne.
At last they chaunst to meete vpon the way
The Mule, all deckt in goodly rich aray,
With bells and bosses, that full lowdly rung,
And costly trappings, that to ground downe hung.
Lowly they him saluted in meeke wise,
But he through pride and fatnes gan despise
Their meanesse; scarce vouchsafte them to requite.
Whereat the Foxe deep groning in his sprite,
Said, Ah sir Mule, now blessed be the day,
That I see you so goodly and so gay
In your attyres, and eke your silken hyde
Fil'd with round flesh, that euerie bone doth hide.
Seemes that in fruitfull pastures ye doo liue,
Or fortune doth you secret fauour giue.
Foolish Foxe (said the Mule) thy wretched need
Praiseth the thing that doth thy sorrow breed.
For well I weene, thou canst not but enuie
My wealth, compar'd to thine owne miserie,
That art so leane and meagre waxen late,
That scarse thy legs vphold thy feeble gate.
Ay me (said then the Foxe) whom euill hap
Vnworthy in such wretchednes doth wrap,
And makes the scorne of other beasts to bee:
But read (faire Sir, of grace) from whence come yee?
Or what of tidings you abroad doo heare?
Newes may perhaps some good vnweeting beare.
From royall Court I lately came (said he)
Where all the brauerie that eye may see,
And all the happinesse that heart desire,
Is to be found; he nothing can admire,
That hath not seene that heauens portracture:
But tidings there is none I you assure,
Saue that which common is, and knowne to all,
That Courtiers as the tide doo rise and fall.
But tell vs (said the Ape) we doo you pray,
Who now in Court doth beare the greatest sway.
That if such fortune doo to vs befall,
We may seeke fauour of the best of all.
Marie (said he) the highest now in grace,
Be the wild beasts, that swiftest are in chace;
For in their speedie course and nimble flight
The Lyon now doth take the most delight:
But cheiflie, ioyes on foote them to beholde,
Enchaste with chaine and circulet of golde:
So wilde a beast so tame ytaught to bee,
And buxome to his bands, is ioy to see.
So well his golden Circlet him beseemeth:
But his late chayne his Leige vnmeete esteemeth;
For so braue beasts she loueth best to see,
In the wilde forrest raunging fresh and free.
Therefore if fortune thee in Court to liue,
In case thou euer there wilt hope to thriue,
To some of these thou must thy selfe apply:
Els as a thistle-downe in th' ayre doth flie,
So vainly shalt thou too and fro be tost,
And loose thy labour and thy fruitles cost.
And yet full few, which follow them I see,
For vertues bare regard aduaunced bee,
But either for some gainfull benefit,
Or that they may for their owne turnes be fit.
Nath'les perhaps ye things may handle soe,
That ye may better thriue than thousands moe.
But (said the Ape) how shall we first come in,
That after we may fauour seeke to win?
How els (said he) but with a good bold face,
And with big words, and with a stately pace,
That men may thinke of you in generall,
That to be in you, which is not all:
For not by that which is, the world now deemeth,
(as it was wont) but by that same that seemeth.
Ne do I doubt, but that ye well can fashion
Your selues theretoo, according to occasion:
So fare ye well, good Courtiers may ye bee;
So proudlie neighing from them parted hee.
Then gan this creftie couple to deuize,
How for the Court themselues they might aguize:
For thither they themselues meant to addresse,
In hope to finde there happier successe;
So well they shifted, that the Ape anon
Himselfe had cloathed like a Gentleman,
And the slie Foxe, as like to be his groome,
That to the Court in seemly sort they come.
Where the fond Ape himselfe vprearing hy
Vpon his tipoes, stalketh stately by,
As if he were some great Magnifico,
And boldlie doth amongst the boldest go.
And his man Reynold with fine counterfesaunce
Supports his credite and his countenaunce.
Then gan the Courtiers gaze on euerie side,
And stare on him, with big lookes basen wide,
Wondring what mister wight he was, and whence:
For he was clad in strange accoustrements,
Fashion'd with queint deuises neuer seene
In Court before, yet there all fashions beene:
Yet he them in newfanglenesse did pas:
But his behauiour altogether was
Alla Turchesca much the more admyr'd,
And his lookes loftie, as if he aspyr'd
To dignitie, and sdeign'd the low degree;
That all which did such strangenesse in him see,
By secrete meanes gan of his state enquire,
And priuily his seruant thereto hire:
Who throughly arm'd against such couerture,
Reported vnto all, that he was sure
A noble Gentleman of high regard,
Which through the world had with long trauel far'd,
And seene the manners of all beasts on ground;
Now here arriu'd, to see if like he found.
Thus did the Ape at first him credit gaine,
Which afterwards he wisely did maintaine
With gallant showe, and daylie more augment
Through his fine feates and Courtly complement;
For he could play, and daunce, and vaute, and spring,
And al that els pertaines to reveling,
Onely through kindly aptnes of his ioynts.
Besides he could doo manie other poynts,
The which in Court him serued to good stead:
For he mongst Ladies could their fortunes read
Out of their hands, and merie leasings tell,
And iuggle finely, that became him well:
But he so light was at legier demaine,
That what he toucht, came not to light againe;
Yet would he laugh it out, and proudly looke,
And tell them, that they greatly him mistooke.
So would he scoffe them out with mockerie,
For he therein had great felicitie;
And with sharp quips ioy'd others to deface,
Thinking that their disgracing did him grace:
So whilst that other like vaine wits he pleased,
And made to laugh, his heart was greatly eased.
But the right gentle minde would bite his lip,
To heare the Iauell so good men to nip:
For though the vulgar yeeld an open eare,
And common Courtiers loue to gybe and fleare
At euerie thing, which they heare spoken ill,
And the best speaches with ill meaning spill;
Yet the braue Courtier, in whose beauteous thought
Regard of honour harbours more than ought,
Doth loath such base condition, to backbite
Anies good name for enuie or despite:
He stands on tearmes of honourable minde,
Ne will be carried with the common winde
Of Courts inconstant mutabilitie,
Ne after euerie tattling fable flie;
But heares, and sees the follies of the rest,
And thereof gathers for himselfe the best:
He will not creepe, nor crouche with fained face,
But walkes vpright with comely stedfast pace,
And vnto all doth yeeld due curtesie;
But not with kissed hand belowe the knee,
As that same Apish crue is wont to doo:
For he disdaines himselfe t' embase theretoo.
He hates fowle leasings, and vile flatterie,
Two filthie blots in noble Gentrie;
And lothefull idlenes he doth detest,
The canker worme of euerie gentle brest;
The which to banish with faire exercise
Of knightly feates, he daylie doth deuise:
Now menaging the mouthes of stubborne steedes,
Now practising the proofe of warlike deedes,
Now his bright armes assaying, now his speare,
Now the nigh aymed ring away to beare;
At other times he casts to sew the chace
Of swift wilde beasts, or runne on foote a race,
T' enlarge his breath (large breath in armes most needfull)
Or els by wrestling to wex strong and heedfull,
Or his stiff armes to stretch with Eughen bowe,
And manly legs, still passing too and fro,
Without a gowned beast him fast beside;
A vaine ensample of the Persian pride,
Who after he had wonne th' Assyrian foe,
Did euer after scorne on foote to goe.
Thus when this Courtly Gentleman with toyle
Himselfe hath wearied, he doth recoyle
Vnto his rest, and there with sweete delight
Of Musicks skill reuiues his toyled spright,
Or els with Loues, and Ladies gentle sports,
The ioy of youth, himselfe he recomforts:
Or lastly, when the bodie list to pause,
His minde vnto the Muses he withdrawes;
Sweete Ladie Muses, Ladies of delight,
Delights of life, and ornaments of light:
With whom he close confers with wise discourse,
Of Natures workes, of heauens continuall course,
Of forreine lands, of people different,
Of kingdomes change, of divers gouernment,
Of dreadfull battailes of renowmed Knights;
With which he kindleth his ambitious sprights
To like desire and praise of noble fame,
The onely vpshot whereto he doth ayme:
For all his minde on honour fixed is,
To which he leuels all his purposis,
And in his Princes seruice spends his dayes,
Not so much for to gaine, or for to raise
Himselfe to high degree, as for his grace,
And in his liking to winne worthie place;
Through due deserts and comely carriage,
In whatso please employ his personage,
That may be matter meete to gaine him praise;
For he is fit to vse in all assayes,
Whether fro Armes and warlike amenaunce,
Or else for wise and ciuill gouernaunce.
For he is practiz'd well in policie,
And thereto doth his Courting most applie:
To learne the enterdeale of Princes strange,
To marke th' intent of Counsells, and the change
Of states, and eke of priuate men somewhile,
Supplanted by fine falshood and faire guile;
Of all the which he gathereth, what is fit
T'enrich the storehouse of his powerfull wit,
Which through wise speaches, and graue conference
He daylie eekes, and brings to excellence.
Such is the rightfull Courtier in his kinde:
But vnto such the Ape lent not his minde;
Such were for him no fit companions,
Such would descrie his lewd conditions:
But the yong lustie gallants he did chose
To follow, meete to whom he might disclose
His witlesse pleasance, and ill pleasing vaine.
A thousand wayes he them could entertaine,
With all the thriftles games, that may be found
With mumming and with masking all around,
With dice, with cards, with balliards farre vnfit,
With shuttlecocks, misseeming manlie wit,
With courtizans, and costly riotize,
Whereof still somewhat to his share did rize:
Ne, them to pleasure, would he sometimes scorne
A Pandares coate (so basely was he borne);
Thereto he could fine louing verses frame,
And play the Poet oft. But ah, for shame
Let not sweete Poets praise, whose onely pride
Is vertue to aduaunce, and vice deride,
Be with the worke of losels wit defamed,
Ne let such verses Poetrie be named:
Yet he the name on him would rashly take,
Maugre the sacred Muses, and it make
A seruant to the vile affection
Of such, as he depended most vpon,
And with the sugrie sweete thereof allure
Chast Ladies eares to fantasies impure.
To such delights the noble wits he led
Which him relieu'd, and their vaine humours fed
With fruitles follies, and vnsound delights.
But if perhaps into their noble sprights
Desire of honor, or braue thoughts of armes
Did euer creepe, then with his wicked charmes
And strong conceipts he would it driue away,
Ne suffer it to house there halfe a day.
And whenso loue of letters did inspire
Their gentle wits, and kindly wise desire,
That chiefly doth each noble minde adorne,
Then he would scoffe at learning, and eke scorne
The Sectaries thereof, as people base
And simple men, which neuer came in place
Of worlds affaires, but in darke corners mewd,
Muttred of matters, as their bookes them shewd,
Ne other knowledge euer did attaine,
But with their gownes their grauitie maintaine.
From them he would his impudent lewde speach
Against Gods holie Ministers oft reach,
And mocke Diuines and their profession:
What els then did he by progression,
But mocke high God himselfe, whom they professe?
But what car'd he for God, or godlinesse?
All his care was himselfe, how to aduaunce,
And to vphold his courtly countenaunce
By all the cunning meanes he could deuise;
Were it by honest wayes, or otherwise,
He made small choyce: yet sure his honestie
Got him small gaines, but shameles flatterie,
And filthie brocage, and vnseemly shifts,
And borowe base, and some good Ladies gifts:
But the best helpe, which chiefly him sustain'd,
Was his man Raynolds purchase which he gain'd.
For he was school'd by kinde in all the skill
Of close conueyance, and each practise ill
Of coosinage and cleanly knauerie,
Which oft maintain'd his masters brauerie.
Besides he vsde another slipprie slight,
In taking on himselfe in common sight,
False personages, fit for euerie sted,
With which he thousands cleanly coosined:
Now like a Merchant, Merchants to deceaue,
With whom his credite he did often leaue
In gage, for his gay Masters hopelesse dett:
Now like a Lawyer, when he land would lett,
Or sell fee-simples in his Masters name,
Which he had neuer, nor ought like the same:
Then would he be a Broker, and draw in
Both wares and money, by exchange to win:
Then would he seeme a Farmer, that would sell
Bargaines of woods, which he did lately fell,
Or corne, or cattle, or such other ware,
Thereby to coosin men not well aware;
Of all the which there came a secret fee
To th' Ape, that his countenaunce might bee.
Besides all this, he vs'd oft to beguile
Poore suters, that in Court did haunt some while:
For he would learne their busines secretly,
And then informe his Master hastely,
That he by meanes might cast them to preuent,
And beg the sute, the which the other ment.
Or otherwise false Reynold would abuse
The simple Suter, and wish him to chuse
His Master, being one of great regard
In Court, to compas anie sute not hard,
In case his paines were recompenst with reason:
So would he worke this silly man by treason
To buy his Masters friuolous good will,
That had not power to doo him good or ill.
So pitifull a thing is Suters state.
Most miserable man, whom wicked fate
Hath brought to Court, to sue for had ywist,
That few haue found, and manie one hath mist;
Full little knowest thou that hast not tride,
What hell it is, in suing long to bide:
To loose good dayes, that might be better spent;
To wast long nights in pensiue discontent;
To speed to day, to be put back to morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow;
To haue thy Princes grace, yet want her Peeres;
To haue thy asking, yet waite manie yeeres;
To fret thy soule with crosses and with cares;
To eate thy heart through comfortlesse dispaires;
To fawne, to crowche, to waite, to ride, to ronne,
To spend, to giue, to want, to be vndonne.
Vnhappie wight, borne to desastrous end,
That doth his life in so long tendance spend.
Who euer leaues sweete home, where meane estate
In safe assurance, without strife or hate,
Findes all things needfull for contentment meeke;
And will to Court for shadowes vaine to seeke,
Or hope to gaine, himselfe will a daw trie:
That curse God send vnto mine enemie.
For none but such as this bold Ape vnblest,
Can euer thriue in that vnluckie quest;
Or such as hath a Reynold to his man,
That by his shifts his Master furnish can.
But yet this Foxe could not so closely hide
His craftie feates, but that they were descride
At length, by such as sate in iustice seate,
Who for the same him fowlie did entreate;
And hauing worthily him punished,
Out of the Court for euer banished.
And now the Ape wanting his huckster man,
That wont prouide his necessaries, gan
To growe into great lacke, ne could vpholde
His countanaunce in those his garments olde:
Ne new ones could he easily prouide,
Though all men him vncased gan deride,
Like as a Puppit placed in a play,
Whose part once past all men bid take away:
So that he driuen was to great distresse,
And shortly brought to hopelesse wretchednesse.
The closely as he might, he cast to leaue
The Court, not asking any passe or leaue;
But ran away in his rent rags by night,
Ne euer satyd in place, ne spake to wight,
Till that the Foxe his copesmate he had found,
To whome complayning his vnhappy stound,
At last againe with him in trauell ioynd,
And with him far'd some better chaunce to fynde.
So in the world long time they wandered,
And mickle want and hardnesse suffered;
That them repented much so foolishly
To come so farre to seeke for misery,
And leaue the sweetnes of contented home,
Though eating hipps, and drinking watry fome.
Thus as they them complayned too and fro,
Whilst through the forest rechlesse they did goe,
Lo where they spide, how in a gloomy glade,
The Lyon sleeping lay in secret shade,
His Crowne and Scepter lying him beside,
And hauing doft for heate his dreadfull hide:
Which when they sawe, the Ape was sore afrayde,
And would haue fled with terror all dismayde.
But him the Foxe with hardy words did stay,
And bad him put all cowardize away:
For now was time (if euer they would hope)
To ayme their counsels to the fairest scope,
And them for euer highly to aduaunce,
In case the good which their owne happie chaunce
Them freely offred, they would wisely take.
Scarse could the Ape yet speake, so did he quake,
Yet as he could, he askt how good might growe,
Where nought but dread and death do seeme in show.
Now (sayd he) whiles the Lyon sleepeth sound,
May we his Crowne and Mace take from the ground,
And eke his skinne the terror of the wood,
Wherewith we may our selues (if we thinke good)
Make Kings of Beasts, and Lords of forests all,
Subiect vnto that powre imperiall.
Ah but (sayd the Ape) who is so bold a wretch,
That dare his hardy hand to those outstretch:
When as he knowes his meede, if he be spide,
To be a thousand deathes, and shame beside?
Fond Ape (sayd then the Foxe) into whose brest
Neuer crept thought of honor, nor braue gest,
Who will not venture life a King to be,
And rather rule and raigne in soueraign see,
Than dwell in dust inglorious and bace,
Where none shall name the number of his place?
One ioyous houre in blisfull happines,
I chose before a life of wretchednes.
Be therefore counselled herein by me,
And shake off this vile harted cowardree.
If he awake, yet is not death the next,
For we may colour it with some pretext
Of this, or that, that may excuse the cryme:
Else we may flye; thou to a tree mayst clyme,
And I creepe vnder ground; both from his reach:
Therefore be rul'd to doo as I doo teach.
The Ape, that easrt did nought but chill and quake,
Now gan some courage vnto him to take,
And was content to attempt that enterprise,
Tickled with glorie and rash couetise.
But first gan question, whether should assay
Those royall ornaments to steale away?
Marie that shall your selfe(quoth he theretoo)
For ye be fine and nimble it to doo;
Of all the beasts which in the forrests bee,
Is not a fitter for this turne than yee:
Therefore, mine owne deare brother take good hart,
And euer thinke a Kingdome is your part.
Loath was the Ape, though prasied, to aduenter,
Yet faintly gan into his worke to enter,
Afraid of euerie leafe, that stir'd him by,
And euerie stick, that vnderneath did ly;
Vpon his tiptoes nicely he vp went,
For making noyse, and still his eare he lent
To euerie sound, that vnder heauen blew,
Now went, now stept, now crept, now backward drew,
That it good sport had been him to haue eyde:
Yet at the last (so well he him applyde,)
Through his fine handling, and cleanly play,
He all those royall signes had stolne away,
And with the Foxes helpe them borne aside,
Into a secret corner vnespide.
Whither whenas they came they fell at words,
Whether of them should be the Lord of Lords:
For th' Ape was stryfull, and ambicious;
And the Foxe guilefull, and most couetous,
That neither pleased was, to haue the rayne
Twixt them diuided into euen twaine,
But either (algates) would be Lords alone:
For Loue and Lordship bide no paragone.
I am most worthie (said the Ape) sith I
For it did put my life in iopardie:
Thereto I am in person and in stature
Most like a man, the Lord of euerie creature,
So that it seemeth I was made to raigne,
And borne to be a Kingly soueraigne.
Nay (said the Foxe) Sir Ape you are astray:
For though to steale the Diademe away
Were the worke of your nimble hand, yet I
Did first deuise the plot by pollicie;
So that it wholly springeth from my wit:
For which also I claime my selfe more fit
Than you, to rule: for gouernment of state
Will without wisedome soone be ruinate.
And where ye claime your selfe for outward shape
Most like a man, Man is not like an Ape
In his chiefe parts, that is, in wit and spirite:
But I therein most like to him doo merite
For my slie wyles and subtill craftinesse,
The title of the Kingdome to possesse.
Nath'les (my brother) since we passed are
Vnto this point, we will appease our iarre,
And I with reason meete will rest content,
That ye shall haue both crowne and gouernment,
Vpon condition, that ye ruled bee
In all affaires, and counselled by mee;
And that ye let none other euer drawe
Your minde from me, but keepe this as a lawe:
And herevpon an oath vnto me plight.
The Ape was glad to end the strife so light,
And thereto swore: for who would not oft sweare,
And oft vnsweare, a Diademe to beare?
Then freely vp those royall spoyles he tooke,
Yet at the Lyons skin he inly quooke;
But it dissembled, and vpon his head
The Crowne, and on his backe the skin he did,
And the false Fox him helped to array.
Then when he was dight he tooke his way
Into the forest, that he might be seene
Of the wilde beasts in his new glory sheene.
There the two first, whome he encountred, were
The sheep and th' Asse, who striken both with feare
At sight of him, gan fast away to flye,
But vnto them the Foxe alowd did cry,
And in the Kings name bad them both to stay,
Vpon the payne that thereof follow may.
Hardly naythles were they restrayned so,
Till that the Foxe forth toward them did goe,
And there disswaded them from needlesse feare,
For that the King did fauour to them beare;
And therefore dreadles bad them come to Corte:
For no wild beasts should do them any torte
There or abroad, ne would his maiestye
Vse them but well, with gracious clemencye,
As whome he knew to him both fast and true;
So he perswaded them, with homage due
Themselues to humble to the Ape prostrate,
Who gently to them bowing in his gate,
Recyued them with chearefull entertayne.
Thenceforth proceeding with his princely trayne,
He shortly met the Tygre, and the Bore,
Which with the simple Camell raged sore
In bitter words, seeking to take occasion,
Vpon his fleshly corpse to make inuasion:
But soone as they this mock-King did espy,
Their troublous strife they stinted by and by,
Thinking indeed that it the Lyon was:
He then to proue, whether his powre would pas
As currant, sent the Foxe to them streight way,
Commaunding them their cause of strife bewray;
And if that wrong on eyther side there were,
That he should warne the wronger to appeare
The morrow next at Court, it to defend;
In the meane time vpon the King t' attend.
The subtile Foxe so well his message sayd,
That the proud beasts him readily obayd:
Whereby the Ape in wondrous stomack woxe,
Strongly encorag'd by the crafty Foxe;
That King indeed himselfe he shortly thought,
And all the Beasts him feared as they ought:
And followed vnto his palaice hye,
Where taking Conge, each one by and by
Departed to his home in dreadfull awe,
Full of the feared sight, which late they sawe.
The Ape thus seized of the Regall throne,
Eftsones by counsell of the Foxe alone,
Gan to prouide for all things in assurance,
That so his rule might lenger haue endurance.
First to his Gate he pointed a strong gard,
That none might enter but with issue hard:
Then for the safegard of his personage,
He did appoint a warlike equipage
Of forreine beasts not in the forest bred,
But part by land, and part by water fed;
For tyrannie is with strange ayde supported.
Then vnto him all monstrous beasts resorted
Bred of two kindes, as Griffons, Minotaures,
Crocodiles, Dragons, Beauers, and Centaures:
With those himselfe he strengthned mightelie,
That feare he neede no force of enemie.
Then gan he rule and tyrannize at will,
Like as the Foxe did guide his graceles skill,
And all wylde beasts made vassals of his pleasures,
And with their spoyles enlarg'd his priuate treasures.
No care of iustice, nor no rule of reason,
No temperance, nor no regard of season
Did thenceforth euer enter in his minde,
But crueltie, the signe of currish kinde,
And sdeignfull pride, and wilfull arrogaunce;
Such followes those whom fortune doth aduaunce.
But the false Foxe most knidly plaid his part:
For whatsoeuer mother wit, or arte
Could worke, he put in proofe: no practise slie,
No counterpoint of cunning policie,
No reach, no breach, that might him profit bring,
But he the same did to his purpose wring.
Nought suffered he the Ape to giue or graunt,
But through his hand must passe the Fiaunt.
All offices, all leases by him lept,
And of them all whatso he likte, he kept.
Iustice he solde iniustice for to buy,
And for to purchase for his progeny.
Ill might it prosper, that ill gotten was,
But so he got it, little did he pas.
He fed his cubs with fat of all the soyle,
And with the sweete of others sweating toyle,
He crammed them with crumbs of Benefices,
And fild their mouthes with meeds of malefices,
He cloathed them with all colours saue white,
And loded them with lordships and with might,
So much as they were able well to beare,
That with the weight their backs nigh broken were;
He chaffred Chayres in which Churchmen were set,
And breach of lawes to priuie ferme did let;
No statute so established might bee,
Nor ordinaunce so needfull, but that hee
Would violate, though not with violence,
Yet vnder colour of the confidence
The which the Ape repos'd in him alone,
And reckned him the kingdomes coener stone.
And euer when he ought would bring to pas,
His long experience the platforme was:
And when he ought not pleasing would put by,
The cloke was care of thrift, and husbandry,
For to encrease the common treasures store;
But his owne tresure he encreased more
And lifted vp his loftie towres thereby,
That they began to threat the neighbour sky;
The whiles the Princes pallaces fell fast
To ruine: (for what thing can euer last?)
And whilest the other Peeres for pouertie
Were forst their auncient houses to let lie,
And their olde Castles to the ground to fall,
Which their forefathers famous ouer all
Had founded for the Kingdomes ornament,
And for their memories long moniment.
But he no count made of Nobilitie,
Nor the wilde beasts whom armes did glorifie,
The Realmes chiefe strength and girlond of the crowne,
All these through fained crimes he thrust adowne,
Or made them dwell in darknes of disgrace:
For none, but whom he list might come in place.
Of men of armes he had but small regard,
But kept them lowe, and streigned verie hard.
For men of learning little he esteemed;
His wisedome he aboue their learning deemed.
As for the rascall Commons least he cared;
For not so common was his bountie shared;
Let God (said he) if please, care for the manie,
I for my selfe must care before els anie:
So did he good to none, to manie ill,
So did he all the kingdome rob and pill,
Yet none durst speake, ne none durst of him plaine;
So great he was in grace, and rich through gaine.
Ne would he anie let to haue accesse
Vnto the Prince, but by his owne addresse:
For all that els did come, were sure to faile,
Yet would he further none but for auaile.
For on a time the Sheepe, to whom of yore
The Foxe had promised of friendship store,
What time the Ape the kingdome first did gaine,
Came to the Court, her case there to complaine,
How that the Wolfe her mortall enemie
Had sithence slaine her Lambe most cruellie;
And therefore crau'd to come vnto the King,
To let him knowe the order of the thing.
Soft Gooddie Sheepe (then said the Foxe) not soe:
Vnto the King so rash ye may not goe,
He is with greater matter busied,
Than a Lambe, or the Lambes owne mothers hed.
Ne certes may I take it well in part,
That ye my cousin Wolfe so fowly thwart,
And seeke with slaunder his good name to blot:
For there was cause, els doo it he would not.
Therefore surcease good Dame, and hence depart.
So went the Sheepe away with heauie hart.
So manie moe, so euerie one was vsed,
That to giue largely to the boxe refused.
Now when high Ioue, in whose almightie hand
The care of Kings, and power of Empires stand,
Sitting one day within his turret hye,
From whence he vewes with his backlidded eye,
Whatso the heauen in his wide vawte containes,
And all that in the deepest earth remaines,
The troubled kingdome of wilde beasts behelde,
Whom not their kindly Souereigne did welde,
But an vsurping Ape with guile suborn'd,
Had all subuerst, he sdeignfully it scorn'd
In his great heart, and hardly did refraine,
But that with thunder bolts he had him slaine,
And driuen downe to hell, his dewest meed:
But him auizing, he that dreadfull deed
Forbore, and rather chose with scornfull shame
Him to auenge, and blot his brutish name
Vnto the world, that neuer after anie
Should of his race be voyd of infamie:
And his false counsellor, the cause of all,
To damne to death, or dole perpetuall,
From whence he neuer should be quit, nor stal'd.
Forthwith he Mercurie vnto him cal'd,
And bad him flie with neuer resting speed
Vnto the forrest, where wilde beasts doo breed,
And there enquiring priuily, to learne,
What did of late chaunce to the Lyon stearne,
That he rul'd not the Empire, as he ought;
And whence were all those plaints vnto him brought
Of wrongs and spoyles, by saluage beasts committed;
Which done, he bad the Lyon be remitted
Into his seate, and those same treachours vile
Be punished for their presumptuous guile.
The Sonne of Maia soone as he receiu'd
That word, streight with his azure wings he cleau'd
The liquid clowdes, and lucid firmament;
Ne staid, till that he came with steep descent
Vnto the place, where his prescript did showe.
There stouping like an arrowe from a bowe,
He soft arriued on the grassie plaine,
And fairly paced forth with easie paine,
Till that vnto the Pallace nigh he came.
Then gan he to himselfe new shape to frame,
And that faire face, and that Ambrosiall hew,
Which wonts to decke the Gods immortall crew,
And beautifie the shinie firmament,
He doft, vnfit for that rude rabblement.
So standing by the gates in strange disguize,
He gan enquire of some in secret wize,
Both of the King, and of his gouernment,
And of the Foxe, and his false blandishment:
And euermore he heard each one complaine
Of foule abuses both in realm and raine.
Which yet to proue more true he meant to see,
And an ey-witnes of each thing to bee.
Tho on his head his dreadfull hat he dight,
Which maketh him inuisible in sight,
And mocketh th' eyes of all the lookers on,
Making them thinke it but a vision.
Through power of that, he runnes though enemies swerds;
Through power of that, he passeth through the herds
Of rauenous wilde beasts, and doth beguile
Their greedie mouthes of the expected spoyle;
Through power of that, his cunning theeueries
He wonts to worke, that none the same espies;
And through the power of that, he putteth on
What shape he list in apparition.
That on his head he wore, and in his hand
He tooke Caduceus his snakie wand,
With which the damned ghosts he gouerneth,
And furies rules, and Tartare tempereth.
With that he causeth sleep to seize the eyes,
And feare the harts of all his enemyes;
And when him list, an vniversall night
Throughout the world he makes on euerie wight;
As when his Syre with Alcumena lay.
Thus dight, into the Court he tooke his way,
Both through the gard, which neuer did descride,
And through the watchmen, who him neuer spide:
Thenceforth he past into each secrete part,
Whereas he saw, that sorely grieu'd his hart,
Each place abounding with fowle iniuries,
And fild with treasure rackt with robberies:
Each place defilde with blood of guiltles beasts,
Which had been slaine, to serue the Apes beheasts;
Gluttonie, malice, pride, and couetize,
And lawlesnes raigning with riotize;
Besides the infinite extortions,
Done through the Foxes great oppressions,
That the complaints thereof could not be tolde.
Which when he did with lothfull eyes beholde,
He would no more endure, but came his way,
And cast to seeke the Lion, where he may,
That he might worke the auengement for this shame,
On those two caytiues, which had bred him blame.
And seeking all the forrest busily,
At last he found, where sleeping he did ly:
The wicked weed, which there the Foxe did lay,
From vnderneath his head he tooke away,
And then him waking, forced vp to rize.
The Lion looking vp gan him auize,
As one late in a traunce, what had of long
Become of him: for fantasie is strong.
Arise (said Mercurie) thou sluggish beast,
That here liest senseles, like the corpse deceast,
The whilste thy kingdome from thy head is rent,
And thy throne royall with dishonour blent:
Arise, and doo thy selfe redeeme from shame,
And be aueng'd on those that breed thy blame.
Thereat enraged, soone he gan vpstart,
Grinding his teeth, and grating his great hart,
And rouzing vp himselfe, for his rough hide
He gan to reach, but no where it espide.
Therewith he gan full terribly to rore,
And chafte at that indignitie right sore.
But when his Crowne and scepter both he wanted,
Lord how he fum'd, and sweld, and rag'd, and panted;
And threatned death, and thousand deadly dolours
To them that had purloyn'd his Princely honours.
With that in hast, disroabed as he was,
He toward his owne Pallace forth did pas;
And all the way he roared as he went,
That all the forrest with astonishment
Thereof did tremble, and the beasts therein
Fled fast away from that so dreadfull din.
At last he came vnto his mansion,
Where all the gates he found fast lockt anon,
And manie warders round about them stood:
With that he roar'd alowd, as he were wood,
That all the Pallace quaked at the stound,
As if it quite were riuen from the ground,
And all within were dead and hartles left;
And th' Ape himselfe, as one whose wits were reft,
Fled here and there, and euerie corner sought,
To hide himselfe from his owne feared thought.
But the false Foxe when he the Lion heard,
Fled closely forth, streightway of death afeard,
And to the Lion cmae, full lowly creeping,
With fained face, and watrie eyne halfe weeping,
T' excuse his former treason and abusion,
And turning all vnto the Apes confusion:
Nath'les the royall Beast forbore beleeuing,
But bad him stay at ease till further preeuing.
Then when he saw no entrance to him graunted,
Roaring yet lowder that all harts it daunted,
Vpon those gates with force he fiercely flewe,
And rending them in pieces, felly slewe
Those warders strange, and all that els he met.
But th'Ape still flying, he no where might get:
From rowme to rowme, from beame to beame he fled
All breathles, and for feare now almost ded:
Yet him at last the Lyon spide, and caught,
And forth with shame vnto his iudgement brought.
Then all the beasts he caus'd assembled bee,
To heare their doome, and sad ensample see:
The Foxe, first Author of that treacherie,
He did vncase, and then away let flie.
But th' Apes long taile (which then he had) he quight
Cut off, and both eares pared of their hight;
Since which, all Apes but halfe their eares haue left,
And of their tailes are vtterlie bereft.
    So Mother Hubberdher discourse did end:
Which pardon me, If I amisse haue pend;
For weake was my remembrance it to hold,
And bad her tongue that it so bluntly told.
F I N I S.

Continue on to The Ruines of Rome: by Bellay.

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