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That earst us held in love of lingring life ;
Then hopelesse, hartlesse, gan the cunning thiefe
Perswade us dye, to stint all further strife :
To me he lent this rope, to him a rusty knife :
“With which sad instrument of hasty death,
That wofull lover, loathing lenger light,
A wyde way made to let forth living breath.
But I, more fearfull or more lucky wight,
Dismayd with that deformed dismall sight,
Fledd fast away, halfe dead with dying feare ;
Ne yet assur'd of life by you, sir Knight,
Whose like infirmity like chaunce may beare:
But God you never let his charmed speaches heare!"
“How many a man,” said he,
“ with idle speach Be wonne to spoyle the castle of his health ??” “I wote,” quoth he, “ whom tryall late did teach, That like would not for all this worldës wealth. His subtile tong, like dropping honny, mealth Into the hart, and searcheth every vaine ; That, ere one be aware, by secret stealth His powre is reft, and weaknes doth remaine. O never, sir, desire to try his guilefull traine !!!
“Certes,” sayd he, “ hence shall I never rest,
Till I that treachours art have heard and tryde:
And you, sir Knight, whose name mote I request,
Of grace do me unto his cabin guyde.”
“I, that hight Trevisan,” quoth he, “ will ryde,
Against my liking, backe to doe you grace:
But not for gold nor glee will I abyde
By you, when ye arrive in that same place;
For lever had I die then see his deadly face.”.
Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight.
His dwelling has, low in an hollow cave,
Far underneath a craggy cliff ypigbt,
Darke, dolefull, dreary, like a greedy grave,
That still for carrion carcases doth crave :
On top whereof ay dwelt the ghastly owle,
Shrieking his balefull note, which ever drave
Far from that haunt all other chearefull fowle;
And all about it wandring ghostes did wayle and
And all about old stockes and stubs of trees,
Whereon nor fruit nor leafe was ever seen,
Did hang upon the ragged rocky knees ;
On which had many wretches hanged beene,
Whose carcases were scattred on the greene,
And throwne about the cliffs. Arrived there,
That bare-head knight, for dread and doleful teene,
Would faine have fled, ne durst approchen neare ;
But th’ other forst him staye, and comforted in feare.
That darksome cave they enter, where they find
That cursed man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullein mind :
His griesle lockes, long growen and unbound,
Disordered hong about his shoulders round,
And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne
Lookt deadly dull, and stared as astound;
His raw-bone cheekes, though penurie and pine,
Were shronke into his iawes, as he did never dine.
His garment, nought but many ragged clouts,
With thornes together pind and patched was,
The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts :
And him beside there lay upon the gras
A dreary corse, whose life away did pas,
All wallowed in his own yet luke-warme blood,
That from his wound yet welled fresh, alas!
In which a rusty knife fast fixed stood,
And made an open passage for the gushing flood.
Which piteous spectacle, approving trew
T'he wofull tale that Trevisan had told,
Whenas the gentle Redcrosse knight did vew,
With firie zeale he burnt in courage bold
Him to avenge, before his blood were cold;
And to the villein sayd; “ Thou damned wight,
The author of this fact we here behold,
What iustice can but iudge against thee right,
With thine owne blood to price his blood, here
shed in sight?”
“What franticke fit,” quoth he, “bath thus dis
Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give?
What iustice ever other iudgement taught,
But he should dye, who merites not to live?
None els to death this man despayring drive
But his owne guiltie mind, deserving death.
Is then uniust to each his dew to give ?
Or let him dye, that loatheth living breath?
Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?
“Who travailes by the wearie wandring way,
To come unto his wished home in haste,
And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay;
Is not great grace to helpe him over past,
Or free his feet that in the myre sticke fast ?
Most envious man, that grieves at neighbours good;
And fond, that ioyest in the woe thou hast ;
Why wilt not let him passe, that long hath stood
Upon the bancke, yet wilt thy selfe not pas the flood ?
“ He there does now enioy eternall rest
And happy ease, which thou doest want and crave,
And further from it daily wanderest :
What if some little payne the passage have,
That makes frayle flesh to feare the bitter wave ;
Is not short payne well borne, that bringes long ease,
And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet grave?
Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly
The knight much wondred at his suddeine wit,
And sayd; “The terme of life is limited,
Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten, it:
The souldier may not move from watchfull sted,
Nor leave his stand untill his captaine bed.”
“Who life did limit by Almightie doome,”
Quoth he, “knowes best the termes established;
And he, that points the centonell his roome,
Doth license him depart at sound of morning droome,
“Is not his deed, what ever thing in donne
In Heaven and Earth? Did not he all create
To die againe ? All ends, that was begonne :
Their times in his eternall booke of fate
Are written sure, and have their certein date,
Who then can strive with strong necessitie,
That holds the world in his still chaunging state;
Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?
When houre of death is come, let none aske whence,
“ The lenger life, I wote the greater sin ;
The greater sin, the greater punishment:
All those great battels, which thou boasts to win
Through strife, and blood-shed, and avengëment,
Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent :
For life must life, and blood must blood, repay.
Is not enough thy evill life forespent ?
For he that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.
“ Then doe no further goe, no further stray;
But here ly downe, and to thy rest betake,
Th’ill to prevent, that life ensewen may.
For what hath life, that may it loved make,
And gives not rather cause it to forsake ?
Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,
Payne, hunger, cold that makes the hart to quake;
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife ;
[life. All which, and thousands mo, do make a loathsome
“ 'Thou, wretched man, of death hast greatest need,
If in true ballauncce thou wilt weigh thy state ;
For never knight, that dared warlike deed,
More luckless dissaventures did amate:
Witnes the dungeon deepe, wherein of late
Thy life shutt up for death so oft did call;
And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date,