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Prosopopoia, Or Mother Hubberds Tale
by [?]

“Now sure, and by my hallidome,” quoth he 545
“Yea 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: 550
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 owne faire handling wisely wroght,
That they a benefice twixt them obtained, 555
And craftie Reynold was a priest ordained,
And th’Ape his parish clarke procur’d to bee:
Then made they revell route and goodly glee.
But, ere long time had passed, they so ill
Did order their affaires, that th’evill will 560
Of all their parishners they had constraind;
Who to the ordinarie of them complain’d,
How fowlie they their offices abusd,
And them of crimes and heresies accusd;
That pursivants he often for them sent. 565
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; 570
What did they then, but made a composition
With their next neighbor priest for light condition,
To whom their living they resigned quight
For a few pence, and ran away by night.
So passing through the countrey in disguize, 575
They fled farre off, where none might them surprize,
And after that long straied here and there,
Through everie field and forrest farre and nere;
Yet never found occasion for their tourne,
But, almost sterv’d, did much lament and mourne. 580
At last they chaunst to meete upon 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; 585
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 590
In your attyres, and eke your silken hyde
Fil’d with round flesh, that everie bone doth hide.
Seemes that in fruitfull pastures ye doo live,
Or fortune doth you secret favour give.”
“Foolish Foxe!” said the Mule, “thy wretched need
Praiseth the thing that doth thy sorrow breed. 596
For well I weene thou canst not but envie
My wealth, compar’d to thine owne miserie,
That art so leane and meagre waxen late
That scarse thy legs uphold thy feeble gate.” 600
“Ay me!” said then the Foxe, “whom evill hap
Unworthy 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; 605
Newes may perhaps some good unweeting beare.”
“From royall court I lately came,” said he,
“Where all the braverie that eye may see,
And all the happinesse that heart desire,
Is to be found; he nothing can admire, 610
That hath not seene that heavens portracture.
But tidings there is none, I you assure,
Save that which common is, and knowne to all,
That courtiers as the tide doo rise and fall.”
“But tell us,” said the Ape, “we doo you pray, 615
Who now in court doth beare the greatest sway:
That, if such fortune doo to us befall,
We may seeke favour of the best of all.”
“Marie,” said he, “the highest now in grace,
Be the wilde beasts, that swiftest are in chase; 620
For in their speedie course and nimble flight
The Lyon now doth take the most delight:
But chieflie ioyes on foote them to beholde,
Enchaste with chaine and circulet of golde:
[Enchaste, adorned.]
So wilde a beaste so tame ytaught to bee, 625
And buxome to his bands, is ioy to see;
[Buxome, obedient.]
So well his golden circlet him beseemeth.
But his late chayne his Liege unmeete esteemeth;
For so brave beasts she loveth best to see
[She: I.e. the queen.]
In the wilde forrest raunging fresh and free. 630
Therefore if fortune thee in court to live,
In case thou ever there wilt hope to thrive,
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, 635
And loose thy labour and thy fruitles cost.
And yet full few which follow them I see
For vertues bare regard advaunced bee,
But either for some gainfull benefit,
Or that they may for their owne turnes be fit. 640
Nath’les, perhaps ye things may handle soe,
That ye may better thrive than thousands moe.”
“But,” said the Ape, “how shall we first come in,
That after we may favour seeke to win?”
“How els,” said he, “but with a good bold face, 645
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 at all:
For not by that which is the world now deemeth,
(As it was wont) but by that same that seemeth. 650
Ne do I doubt but that ye well can fashion
Your selves theretoo, according to occasion.
So fare ye well: good courtiers may ye bee!”
So, proudlie neighing, from them parted hee.
Then gan this craftie couple to devize, 655
How for the court themselves they might aguize:
[Aguize, decorate.]
For thither they themselves meant to addresse,
In hope to finde there happier successe.
So well they shifted, that the Ape anon
Himselfe had cloathed like a gentleman, 660
And the slie Foxe as like to be his groome;
That to the court in seemly sort they come.
Where the fond Ape, himselfe uprearing by
Upon his tiptoes, stalketh stately by,
As if he were some great magnifico, 665
And boldlie doth amongst the boldest go;
And his man Reynold, with fine counterfesaunce,
[Counterfesaunce, counterfeiting.]
Supports his credite and his countenaunce.
Then gan the courtiers gaze on everie side,
And stare on him with big looks basen wide, 670
[Basen, swelled.]
Wondring what mister wight he was, and whence;
[Mister wight, sort of creature.]
For he was clad in strange accoustrements,
Fashion’d with queint devises never seene
In court before, yet there all fashions beene;
Yet he them in newfanglenesse did pas. 675
But his behaviour altogether was
Alla Turchesca, much the more admyr’d;
[Alla Turchesca, in the Turkish fashion.]
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 680
By secrete meanes gan of his state enquire,
And privily his servant thereto hire:
Who, throughly arm’d against such coverture,
[Coverture, underhand dealing.]
Reported unto all that he was sure
A noble gentleman of high regard, 685
Which through the world had with long travel far’d,
And seene the manners of all beasts on ground,
Now here arriv’d to see if like he found.
Thus did the Ape at first him credit gaine,
Which afterwards he wisely did maintaine 690
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 all that els pertaines to reveling.
Onely through kindly aptnes of his ioynts. 695
[Kindly, natural.]
Besides he could doo manie other poynts,
The which in court him served 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. 700
But he so light was at legierdemaine,
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 mockcrie, 705
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. 710
But the right gentle minde woulde bite his lip,
To heare the iavell so good men to nip:
[Iavell, worthless fellow.]
For, though the vulgar yeeld an open eare,
And common courtiers love to gybe and fleare
At everie thing which they heare spoken ill, 715
And the best speaches with ill meaning spill,
[Spill, spoil.]
Yet the brave courtier, in whose beauteous thought
Regard of honour harbours more than ought,
Doth loath such base condition, to backbite
[Condition, quality.]
Anies good name for envie or despite. 720
He stands on tearmes of honourable minde,
Ne will be carried with the common winde
Of courts inconstant mutabilitie,
Ne after everie tattling fable flie;
But heares and sees the follies of the rest, 725
And thereof gathers for himselfe the best.
He will not creepe, nor crouche with fained face,
But walkes upright with comely stedfast pace,
And unto all doth yeeld due curtesie;
But not with kissed hand belowe the knee, 730
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, 735
The canker worme of everie gentle brest;
The which to banish with faire exercise
Of knightly feates he daylie doth devise:
Now menaging the mouthes of stubborne steedes,
Now practising the proofe of warlike deedes, 740
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
[Casts, plans, makes arrangements.]
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 stiffe armes to stretch with eughen bowe,
[Eughen, made of yew.]
And manly legs, still passing too and fro,
Without a gowned beast him fast beside;
A vaine ensample of the Persian pride, 750
Who after he had wonne th’Assyrian foe,
Did ever after scorne on foote to goe.
Thus when this courtly gentleman with toyle
Himselfe hath wearied, he doth recoyle
Unto his rest, and there with sweete delight 755
Of musicks skill revives his toyled spright;
Or els with loves and ladies gentle sports,
The ioy of youth, himselfe he recomforts:
Or lastly, when the bodie list to pause,
His minde unto the Muses he withdrawes, 760
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 heavens continuall course,
Of forreine lands, of people different, 765
Of kingdomes change, of divers gouvernment,
Of dreadfull battailes of renowmed knights;
With which he kindleth his ambitious sprights
To like desire and praise of noble fame,
The onely upshot whereto he doth ayme. 770
For all his minde on honour fixed is,
To which he levels all his purposis,
And in his Princes service spends his dayes,
Not so much for to game, or for to raise
Himselfe to high degree, as for his grace, 775
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 game him praise.
For he is fit to use in all assayes, 780
Whether for armes and warlike amenaunce,
[Amenaunce, conduct.]
Or else for wise and civill governaunce;
For he is practiz’d well in policie,
And thereto doth his courting most applie:
[Courting, life at court.]
To learne the enterdeale of princes strange, 785
[Enterdeale, dealing together.]
To marke th’intent of counsells, and the change
Of states, and eke of private 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, 790
Which through wise speaches and grave conference
He daylie eekes, and brings to excellence.
[Eekes, increases.]
Such is the rightfull courtier in his kinde:
But unto such the Ape lent not his minde;
Such were for him no fit companions, 795
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, 800
With all the thriftles games that may be found;
With mumming and with masking all around,
With dice, with cards, with balliards farre unfit,
[Balliards, billiards.]
With shuttelcocks, misseeming manlie wit,
[Misseeming, unbecoming.]
With courtizans, and costly riotize, 805
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 loving verses frame,
And play the poet oft. But ah! for shame, 810
Let not sweete poets praise, whose onely pride
Is vertue to advaunce, 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, 815
Maugre the sacred Muses, and it make
A servant to the vile affection
Of such as he depended most upon;
And with the sugrie sweete thereof allure
Chast ladies eares to fantasies impure. 820
To such delights the noble wits he led
Which him reliev’d, and their vaine humours fed
With fruitles folies and unsound delights.
But if perhaps into their noble sprights
Desire of honor or brave thought of armes 825
Did ever creepe, then with his wicked charmes
And strong conceipts he would it drive away,
Ne suffer it to house there halfe a day.
And whenso love of letters did inspire
Their gentle wits, and kindly wise desire, 830
[Kindly: Qu. kindle?]
That chieflie doth each noble minde adorne,
Then he would scoffe at learning, and eke scorne
The sectaries thereof, as people base
[Sectaries, followers.]
And simple men, which never came in place
Of worlds affaires, but, in darke corners mewd, 835
Muttred of matters as their bookes them shewd,
Ne other knowledge ever did attaine,
But with their gownes their gravitie maintaine.
From them he would his impudent lewde speach
Against Gods holie ministers
oft reach, 840
And mocke divines and their profession.
What else 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 advaunce, 845
And to uphold his courtly countenaunce
By all the cunning meanes he could devise;
“Were it by honest wayes, or otherwise,
He made small choyce: yet sure his honestie
Got him small gaines, but shameles flatterie, 850
And filthie brocage, and unseemly shifts,
[Brocage, pimping.]
And borowe base, and some good ladies gifts.
[Borowe, pledging.]
But the best helpe, which chiefly him sustain’d,
Was his man Raynolds purchase which he gain’d:
[Purchase, booty.]
For he was school’d by kinde in all the skill 855
[Kinde, nature.]
Of close conveyance, and each practise ill
Of coosinage and cleanly knaverie,
[Cleanly, neat, skillful.]
Which oft maintain’d his masters braverie.
Besides, he usde another slipprie slight,
In taking on himselfe, in common sight, 860
False personages fit for everie sted,
With which he thousands cleanly coosined:
Now like a merchant, merchants to deceave,
With whom his credite he did often leave
In gage for his gay masters hopelesse dett: 865
Now like a lawyer, when he land would lett,
Or sell fee-simples in his masters name,
Which he had never, nor ought like the same;
Then would he be a broker, and draw in
Both wares and money, by exchange to win: 870
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 875
To th’Ape, that he his countenaunce might bee.
Besides all this, he us’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, 880
That he by meanes might cast them to prevent,
[Prevent, anticipate.]
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 885
In court, to compas anie sute not hard,
In case his paines were recompenst with reason:
So would he worke the silly man by treason
To buy his masters frivolous good will,
That had not power to doo him good or ill. 890
So pitifull a thing is suters state!
Most miserable man, whom wicked fate
Hath brought to court, to sue for had-ywist,
That few have found, and manie one hath mist!
Full little knowest thou that hast not tride, 895
What hell it is in suing long to bide:
To loose good dayes, that might be better spent;
To wast long nights in pensive discontent;
To speed to day, to be put back to morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow; 900
To have thy Princes grace, yet want her Peeres;
To have 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, 905
To spend, to give, to want, to be undonne.
Unhappie wight, borne to desastrous end,
That doth his life in so long tendance spend!
Who ever leaves sweete home, where meane estate
In safe assurance, without strife or hate, 910
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 unto mine enemie!
For none but such as this bold Ape unblest 915
Can ever thrive in that unluckie 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 920
At length by such as sate in iustice seate,
Who for the same him fowlie did entreate;
And, having worthily him punished,
Out of the court for ever banished.
And now the Ape, wanting his huckster man, 925
That wont provide his necessaries, gan
To growe into great lacke, ne could upholde
His countenaunce in those his garments olde;
Ne new ones could he easily provide,
Though all men him uncased gan deride, 930
Like as a puppit placed in a play,
Whose part once past all men bid take away:
So that he driven was to great distresse,
And shortly brought to hopelesse wretchednesse.
Then closely as he might he cast to leave 935
The court, not asking any passe or leave;
But ran away in his rent rags by night,
Ne ever stayd in place, ne spake to wight,
Till that the Foxe, his copesmate, he had found;
[Copesmate, partner in trade.]
To whome complayning his unhappie stound, 940
[Stound, plight, exigency.]
At last againe with him in travell ioynd,
And with him far’d some better chaunee to fynde.
So in the world long time they wandered,
And mickle want and hardnesse suffered;
That them repented much so foolishly 945
To come so farre to seeke for misery,
And leave the sweetnes of contented home,
Though eating hipps and drinking watry fome.
[Hipps, dog-rose berries.]
Thus as they them complayned too and fro,
Whilst through the forest rechlesse they did goe, 950
[Rechlesse, reckless.]
Lo! where they spide how in a gloomy glade
The Lyon sleeping lay in secret shade,
His crowne and scepter lying him beside,
And having doft for heate his dreadfull hide:
Which when they saw, the Ape was sore afrayde, 955
And would have 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 ever they would hope,
To ayme their counsels to the fairest scope, 960
And them for ever highly to advaunce,
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 965
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 selves, if we thinke good, 970
Make kings of beasts, and lords of forests all
Subiect unto 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, 975
To be a thousand deathes, and shame beside?”
“Fond Ape!” sayd then the Foxe, “into whose brest
Never crept thought of honor nor brave gest,
[Gest, deed.]
Who will not venture life a king to be,
And rather rule and raigne in soveraign see, 980
Than dwell in dust inglorious and bace,
Where none shall name the number of his place?
One ioyous howre in blisfull happines,
I chose before a life of wretchednes.
Be therefore counselled herein by me, 985
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, 990
And I creepe under ground; both from his reach:
Therefore be rul’d to doo as I doo teach.”
The Ape, that earst did nought but chill and quake,
Now gan some courage unto him to take,
And was content to attempt that enterprise, 995
Tickled with glorie and rash covetise.
But first gan question, whether should assay
[Whether, which of the two.]
Those royall ornaments to steale away?
“Marie, that shall your selfe,” quoth he theretoo,
“For ye be fine and nimble it to doo; 1000
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 ever thinke a kingdome is your part.”
Loath was the Ape, though praised, to adventer, 1005
Yet faintly gan into his worke to enter,
Afraid of everie leafe that stir’d him by,
And everie stick that underneath did ly:
Upon his tiptoes nicely he up went,
For making noyse, and still his eare he lent 1010
To everie sound that under heaven blew;
Now went, now stopt, now crept, now backward drew,
That it good sport had been him to have eyde.
Yet at the last, so well he him applyde,
Through his fine handling and cleanly play 1015
He all those royall signes had stolne away,
And with the Foxes helpe them borne aside
Into a secret corner unespide.
Whither whenas they came they fell at words,
Whether of them should be the lords of lords: 1020
For th’Ape was stryfull and ambicious,
And the Foxe guilefull and most covetous;
That neither pleased was to have the rayne
Twixt them divided into even twaine,
But either algates would be lords alone: 1025
[Algates, by all means.]
For love and lordship bide no paragone.
[Paragone, equal, partner.]
“I am most worthie,” said the Ape, “sith I
For it did put my life in ieopardie:
Thereto I am in person and in stature
Most like a man, the lord of everie creature, 1030
So that it seemeth I was made to raigne,
And borne to be a kingly soveraigne.”
“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 1035
Did first devise 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 government of state
Will without wisedome soone be ruinate. 1040
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, 1045
The title of the kingdome to possesse.
Nath’les, my brother, since we passed are
Unto this point, we will appease our iarre;
And I with reason meete will rest content,
That ye shall have both crowne and government, 1050
Upon condition that ye ruled bee
In all affaires, and counselled by mee;
And that ye let none other ever drawe
Your minde from me, but keepe this as a lawe:
And hereupon an oath unto me plight.” 1055
The Ape was glad to end the strife so light,
And thereto swore: for who would not oft sweare,
And oft unsweare, a diademe to beare?
Then freely up those royall spoyles he tooke,
Yet at the Lyons skin he inly quooke; 1060
But it dissembled, and upon his head
The crowne, and on his backe the skin, he did,
And the false Foxe him helped to array.
Then when he was all dight he tooke his way
Into the forest, that he might be seene 1065
Of the wilde beasts in his new glory sheene.
There the two first whome he encountred were
The Sheepe and th’Asse, who, striken both with feare
At sight of him, gan fast away to flye;
But unto them the Foxe alowd did cry, 1070
And in the kings name bad them both to stay,
Upon 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 needlease feare, 1075
For that the King did favour to them beare;
And therefore dreadles bad them come to corte;
For no wild beasts should do them any torte
[Torte, wrong.]
There or abroad, ne would his Maiestye
Use them but well, with gracious clemencye, 1080
As whome he knew to him both fast and true.
So he perswaded them with homage due
Themselves to humble to the Ape prostrate,
Who, gently to them bowing in his gate,
[Gate, way.]
Receyved them with chearefull entertayne. 1085
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
Upon his fleshly corpse to make invasion: 1090
But soone as they this mock-king did espy,
Their troublous strife they stinted by and by,
[Stinted by and by, stopped at once.]
Thinking indeed that it the Lyon was.
He then, to prove whether his powre would pas
As currant, sent the Foxe to them streight way, 1095
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 upon the King t’attend. 1100
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, 1105
And all the beasts him feared as they ought,
And followed unto 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. 1110
The Ape, thus seized of the regall throne,
Eftsones by counsell of the Foxe alone
Gan to provide for all things in assurance,
That so his rule might lenger have endurance.
First, to his gate be pointed a strong gard, 1115
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; 1120
For tyrannie is with strange ayde supported.
Then unto him all monstrous beasts resorted
Bred of two kindes, as Griffons, Minotaures,
Crocodiles, Dragons, Beavers, and Centaures:
With those himselfe he strengthned mightelie, 1125
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 private treasures.
No care of iustice, nor no rule of reason, 1131
No temperance, nor no regard of season,
Did thenceforth ever enter in his minde;
But crueltie, the signe of currish kinde,
And sdeignfull pride, and wilfull arrogaunce; 1135
Such followes those whom fortune doth advaunce.
But the false Foxe most kindly plaid his part:
[Kindly, according to his nature.]
For whatsoever mother-wit or arte
Could worke, he put in proofe: no practise slie,
No counterpoint of cunning policie, 1140
[Counterpoint, counterplot.]
Ne reach, no breach, tha
t might him profit bring,
But he the same did to his purpose wring.
Nought suffered he the Ape to give or graunt,
But through his hand must passe the fiaunt.
[Fiaunt, fiat.]
All offices, all leases by him lept, 1145
And of them all whatso he likte he kept.
Iustice he solde iniustice for to buy,
And for to purchase for his progeny.
[Purchase, collect spoil.]
Ill might it prosper that ill gotten was,
But, so he got it, little did he pas. 1150
[Pas, care.]
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;
[Malifices, evil deeds.]
He cloathed them with all colours save white, 1155
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,
[Chaffred, bartered.]
And breach of lawes to privie ferme did let. 1160
[Ferme, farm.]
No statute so established might bee,
Nor ordinaunce so needfull, but that hee
Would violate, though not with violence,
Yet under colour of the confidence
The which the Ape repos’d in him alone, 1165
And reckned him the kingdomes corner stone.
And ever, 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, 1170
For to encrease the common treasures store.
But his owne treasure he encreased more,
And lifted up his loftie towres thereby,
That they began to threat the neighbour sky;
The whiles the princes pallaces fell fast 1175
To ruine; for what thing can ever last?
And whilest the other peeres for povertie
Were forst their auncient houses to let lie,
And their olde castles to the ground to fall,
Which their forefathers famous over-all 1180
[Over-all, everywhere.]
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, 1185
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. 1190
For men of learning little he esteemed;
His wisedome he above their learning deemed.
As for the rascall commons, least he cared,
For not so common was his bountie shared: 1194
“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,
[Pill, plunder.]
Yet none durst speake, ne none durst of him plaine;
So great he was in grace, and rich through game.
Ne would he anie let to have accesse 1201
Unto the Prince, but by his owne addresse:
For all that els did come were sure to faile;
Yet would he further none but for availe.
For on a time the Sheepe, to whom of yore 1205
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; 1210
[Sithence, since.]
And therefore crav’d to come unto the King,
To let him knowe the order of the thing.
“Soft, Gooddie Sheepe!” then said the Foxe, “not soe:
Unto the King so rash ye may not goe;
He is with greater matter busied 1215
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: 1220
Therefore surcease, good dame, and hence depart.”
So went the Sheepe away with heavie hart;
So manie moe, so everie one was used,
That to give largely to the boxe refused.