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T was the month in which the righteous
That for disdaine of sinfull worlds up
Fled back to heaven, whence she was first conceived,
Into her silver bowre the Sunne received;
And the hot Syrian Dog on him awayting,
After the chafed 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,
Depriv'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 visite mee
Some friends, who, sorie my sad case to see,
Began to comfort me in chearfull wise,
And meanes of gladsome solace to devise:
But seeing kindly sleep refuse to doe
His office, and my feeble eyes forgoe,
They sought my troubled sense how to deceave
With talke, that might unquiet fancies reave;
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 tolde of Ladies, and their Paramoures;
Some of brave Knights, and their renowned Squires,
Some of the Faeries and their strange attires;
And some of Giaunts, hard to be beleeved;
That the delight thereof me much releeved.
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 adventure, that betided
Betwixt the Foxe and th' Ape by him misguided;
The which, for that my sense it greatly pleased,
All were my spirite heavie and deseased,
Ile write in termes as she the same did say,
So well as I her words remember may.
No Muses aide me needs heretoo to call;
Base is the style, and matter meane withall.
Whilome (said she) before the world was civill,
The Foxe and th' Ape, disliking of their evill
And hard estate, determined to seeke
Their fortunes farre abroad, lyeke with his lyeke,
For both were craftie and unhappie 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 unkinde.
Neighbour Ape, and my Goship eke beside,
(Both two sure bands in friendship to be tide)
To whom may I more trustely complaine
The evill 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 have spent and worne
In meane regard, and basest fortunes scorne,
Dooing my Countrey service as I might,
No lesse, I dare saie, than the prowdest wight;
And still I hoped to be up advaunced,
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 up on 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 privie 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 have wasted much good time,
Still wayting to preferment up to clime,
Whilest others alwayes have before me stept,
And from my beard the fat away have swept;
That now unto 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 then one head."
"Certes (said he) I meane me to disguize
In some straunge habit, after uncouth wize;
Or like a Pilgrim, or a Lymiter,
Or like a Gipsen, or a Juggeler,
And so to wander to the worldes ende,
To seeke my fortune, where I may it mend:
For worse than that I have I cannot meete.
Wide is the world I wote, and everie streete
Is full of fortunes, and adventures straunge,
Continuallie subject unto chaunge.
Say, my faire brother now, if this device
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 adventures chauncefull jeopardie:
For to wexe olde at home in idlenesse
Is disadventrous, and quite fortunelesse ;
Abroad, where change is, good may gotten bee."
The Foxe was glad, and quickly did agree:
So both resolv'd, the morrow next ensuing,
So soone as day appeard to peoples vewing,
On their intended journey to proceede;
And over night whatso theretoo did neede
Each did prepare, in readines to bee.
The morrow next, so soone as one might see
Light out of heavens windowes forth to looke,
Both their habiliments unto them tooke,
And put themselves (a Gods name) on their way;
Whenas the Ape, beginning well to wey
This hard adventure, thus began t' advise.
"Now read, Sir Reynold, as ye be right wise,
What course ye weene is best for us to take,
That for our selves we may a living make.
Whether shall we professe some trade or skill,
Or shall we varie our device at will,
Even as new occasion appeares ?
Or shall we tie our selves for certaine yeares
To anie service, or to anie place?
For it behoves, ere that into the race
We enter, to resolve first hereupon."
"Now surely brother (said the Foxe anon)
Ye have this matter motioned in season;
For everie thing that is begun with reason
Will come by readie meanes unto his end,
But things miscounselled must needs miswend.
Thus therefore I advize upon the case,
That not to anie certaine trade or place,
Nor anie man, we should our selves applie;
For why should he that is at libertie
Make himselfe bond? sith then we are free borne,
Let us all servile base subjection scorne;
And as we bee sonnes of the world so wide,
Let us our fathers heritage divide,
And chalenge to our selves 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 have all, and all have 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 gave like blessing to each creture,
As well of worldly livelode 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 vassalls, borne to base vocation,
Drudge in the world, and for their living droyle,
Which have no wit to live withouten toyle;
But we will walke about the world at pleasure
Like two free men, and make our ease a treasure. 160
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 live like Lords of that which they doo gather,
And yet doo never thanke them for the same,
But as their due by Nature doo it clame.
Such will we fashion both our selves to bee,
Lords of the world; and so will wander free
Where so us listeth, uncontrol'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,