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This strict necessity they simple call,
Another sort there is conditional.
The first so binds the will, that things foreknown
By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar,
Consent to work, in prospect of the shore ;
But would not work at all, if not constrain'd be-
That other does not liberty constrain,
But man may either act, or may refrain.
Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
And forced it not, though he foresaw the will.
Freedom was first bestow'd on human race,
And prescience only held the second place.
If he could make such agents wholly free,
I not dispute; the point's too high for me :
For heaven's unfathom'd power what man can
sound, Or put to his omnipotence a bound ? He made us to his image, all agree; That image is the soul, and that must be, Or not the Maker's image, or be free. But whether it were better man had been By nature bound to good, not free to sin, I waive, for fear of splitting on a rock; The tale I tell is only of a cock; Who had not run the hazard of his life, Had he believed his dream, and not his wife : For women, with a mischief to their kind, Pervert, with bad advice, our better mind. A woman's counsel brought us first to woe, And made her man his paradise forego, Where at heart's ease he lived; and might have been As free from sorrow as he was from sin. For what the devil had their sex to do, That, born to folly, they presumed to know,
And could not see the serpent in the grass ?
But I myself presume, and let it pass.
Silence in times of suffering is the best,
'Tis dangerous to disturb a hornet's nest.
In other authors you may find enough,
But all they say of dames is idle stuff.
Legends of lying wits together bound,
The wife of Bath would throw them to the ground:
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine,
I honour dames, and think their sex divine.
Now to continue what my tale begun. Lay Madam Partlet basking in the sun, Breast-high in sand; her sisters, in a row, Enjoy'd the beams above, the warmth below. The cock, that of his flesh was ever free, Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea ; And so befel, that as he cast his eye, Among the colworts, on a butterfly, He saw false Reynard where he lay full low; I need not swear he had no list to crow; But cried, Cock, cock, and gave a sudden start, As sore dismay'd and frighted at his heart. For birds and beasts, inform’d by nature, know Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe. So Chanticleer, who never saw a fox, Yet shunn'd him, as a sailor shuns the rocks.
But the false loon, who could not work his will
By open force, employ'd his flattering skill :
I hope, my lord, said he, I not offend;
you afraid of me, that am your friend?
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong,
I, who have loved and honour'd you so long :
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
For, on my soul, I never meant you harm!
come no spy, nor as a traitor press, To learn the secrets of your soft recess:
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought,
But by the sweetness of your voice was brought :
For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard
The song as of an angel in the yard ;
A song that would have charm'd the infernal gods,
And banish'd horror from the dark abodes :
Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere,
So much the hymn had pleased the tyrant's ear,
The wife had been detain'd, to keep the husband
My lord, your sire familiarly I knew,
A peer deserving such a son as you :
He, with your lady-mother, (whom heaven rest!)
Has often graced my house, and been my guest :
To view his living features does me good,
For I am your poor neighbour in the wood;
And in my cottage should be proud to see
The worthy heir of my friend's family.
But since I speak of singing, let me say, As with an upright heart I safely may, That, save yourself, there breathes not on the ground One like your father for a silver sound. So sweetly would he wake the winter-day, That matrons to the church mistook their way, And thought they heard the merry organ play. And he to raise his voice with artful care, (What will not beaux attempt to please the fair ?) On tiptoe stood to sing with greater strength, And stretch'd his comely neck at all the length: And while he strain'd his voice to pierce the skies, As saints in raptures use, would shut his eyes, That the sound striving through the narrow throat, His winking might avail to mend the note. By this, in song, he never had his
peer, From sweet Cecilia down to Chanticleer; Not Maro's muse, who sung the mighty man, Nor Pindar’s heavenly lyre, nor Horace when a swan.
Your ancestors proceed from race divine :
From Brennus and Belinus is your line;
Who gave to sovereign Rome such loud alarms,
That even the priests were not excused from arms.
Besides, a famous monk of modern times *
Has left of cocks recorded in his rhymes,
That of a parish priest the son and heir,
(When sons of priests were from the proverb clear,)
Affronted once a cock of noble kind,
And either lamed his legs, or struck him blind ;
For which the clerk his father was disgraced,
And in his benefice another placed.
Now sing, my lord, if not for love of me,
Yet for the sake of sweet Saint Charity ;
Make hills and dales, and earth and heaven, rejoice,
And emulate your father's angel-voice.-
The cock was pleased to hear him speak so fair,
And proud beside, as solar people are;
Nor could the treason from the truth descry,
So was he ravish'd with this flattery:
So much the more, as from a little elf,
He had a high opinion of himself;
Though sickly, slender, and not large of limb,
Concluding all the world was made for him.
Ye princes, raised by poets to the gods,
And Alexander'd up in lying odes,
Believe not every flattering knave's report,
There's many a Reynard lurking in the court;
Nigellus Wireker, who, in Richard the First's reign, composed a Book, called “ Burnellus, seu speculum Stultorum.” The story alluded to, is of a cock, who, having been lamed by a priest's son, called Gundulfus, in revenge omitted to crow upon a morning, when his enemy had directed that he should be called very early, in order to go to a distant church, where he was to také orders. By this stratagem, Gundulfus overslept himself, and was disappointed of his ordination.
And he shall be received with more regard,
And listen'd to, than modest truth is heard.
This Chanticleer, of whom the story sings, Stood high upon his toes, and clapp'd his wings; Then stretch'd his neck, and wink'd with both his
Ambitious, as he sought the Olympic prize.
But while he pain’d himself to raise his note,
False Reynard rush'd, and caught him by the throat.
Then on his back he laid the precious load,
And sought his wonted shelter of the wood ;
Swiftly he made his way, the mischief done,
Of all unheeded, and pursued by none.
Alas! what stay is there in human state,
Or who can shun inevitable fate?
The doom was written, the decree was past,
Ere the foundations of the world were cast!
In Aries though the Sun exalted stood,
His patron-planet, to procure his good;
Yet Saturn was his mortal foe, and he,
In Libra raised, opposed the same degree :
The rays both good and bad, of equal power,
Each thwarting other, made a mingled hour.
On Friday-morn he dreamt this direful dream,
Cross to the worthy native,* in his scheme.
Ah blissful Venus ? goddess of delight !
How couldst thou suffer thy devoted knight,
On thy own day, to fall by foe oppress'd,
The wight of all the world who served thee best ?
Who, true to love, was all for recreation,
And minded not the work of propagation ?
Ganfride, who couldst so well in rhyme complain
The death of Richard with an arrow slain,