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That darksome cave they enter, where they find
That cursed man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full fadly in his fullen mind;
His griesy locks, long growen, and unbound,
Disordred hung about his shoulders round,
And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne
Lookt deadly dull, and ftared as astound;
His rawbone cheeks, through penury and pine,
Were shrunk into his jaws, as he did never dine.
His garment nought but many ragged clouts,
With thorns together pinn'd and patched was,
The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts ;
And him beside there lay upon the grass
A dreary corse, whose life away did pass,
All wallow'd in his own yet luke-warm blood,
That from his wound yet welled fresh alass;
In which a rusty knife fast fixed stood,
And made an open passage for the gushing flood.
Which pitious spectacle, approving true
The woeful tale that Trevisan had told,
Whenas the gentle Redcross Knighe did view,
With firie zeal he burnt in courage bold,
Him to avenge before his blood were cold,
And to the villain faid, thou damned wight,
The author of this fact we here behold,
What justice can but judge against thee right,
With thine own blood to price his
blood, here shed in light.
What frantick fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught
Thee foolish man, fo rafh a doom to give ?
What justice ever other judgment taught,
But he should dye, who merits not to live?
None else to death this man despairing drive;
But his own guilty mind deserving death.
Is then unjuft to each his due to give ?
Or let him dye, that loatheth living breath?
Or let him dye at ease, that liveth here uneach?
Who travels by the weary wandring way,
To come unto his wilhed home in halte,
And meets a flood that doth his pasage stay,
Is not great grace to help him overpast,
Or free his feet, that in the mire stick fast?
Most envious man, that grieves ac neighbours good,
And fond, that joyest in the woe thou haft,
Why wilt not let him pass, that long hath stood
Upon the bank, yet wilt thyself not pass the food ?
He there does now enjoy eternal rest
And happy ease, which thou dost want and crave,
And further from it daily wanderest:
What if some little pain the passage have,
That makes frail flesh to fear the bitter wave?
Is not short pain well borne, that brings long ease,
And lays the soul to Neep in quiet grave?
Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas,
Ease after war, death after life does greatly please.
The Knight much wondred ac his suddain wit,
And said, the term of life is limited,
Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten it;
The Souldier may not move from watchful sted,
Nor leave his stand, until his Captain bed.
Who life did limit by almighty doom
(Quoth he) knows best the terms established
And he that points the Centinel his room,
Doth license him depart at sound of morning droom,
Is not his deed, what ever thing is done,
In heaven and earth ? did not he all create
To dye again? all ends that was begun.
Their times in his eternal book of fate
Are written sure, and have their certain date.
Who then can strive with strong necessity,
That holds the world in his still changing state,
Or shun the death ordain'd by destiny ?
When hour of death is come, let none ask whence, nor why.
The longer life, I wote the greater sin;
The greater sin, the greater punishment :
All those great battles which thou boasts to win,
Through strife, and bloodshed, and avengëment,
Now prais'd, hereafter dear thou shalt repent :
For life must life, and blood must blood repay.
Is not enough thy evil life forespent ?
For he that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth go, the further he doth stray.
Then do no further go, no further stray,
But here lye down, 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?
Fear, sickness, age, loss, labour, sorrow, strife,
Pain, hunger, cold, that makes the heart to quake ;
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife,
All which, and thousands more, do make a loathsome life,
Thou wretched man, of death hast greatest need,
If in true ballance thou wilt weigh thy state :
For never Knight that dared warlike deed,
More luckless disaventures did amate :
Witness the dungeon deep, wherein of late
Thy life shut up, for death so oft did call;
And though good luck prolonged hath thy date,
Yet death then would the like mishaps forestall,
Into the which hereafter thou mayst happen fall.
Why then dost thou, O man of sin, desire
To draw thy days forth to their last degree?
Is not the measure of thy sinful hire
High heaped up with huge iniquity,
Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?
Is not enough, that to this Lady mild
Thou falsed haft thy faith with perjury,
And sold thyself to serve Dueja vild,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thy self defild?
Is not he just, that all this doth behold
From highest heaven, and bears an equal eye ?
Shall he thy fins up in his knowledge fold,
And guilty be of thine impiety?
Is not his law, ler every sinner dye:
Dye shall all flesh? what then must needs be done,
Is it not better to die willingly,
Than linger till the glass be all out-run?
Death is the end of woes: dye soon, O Fairies fon.
The Knight was much enmoved with his speech,
That as a swords point through his heart did pierce,
And in his conscience made a secret breach,
Well knowing true all that he did reherse,
And to his fresh remembrance did reverse
The ugly view of his deformed crimes,
That all his manly powres it did disperse,
As he were charmed with inchanted rimes,
That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.
In which amazement, when the miscreant
Perceived him to waver weak and frail,
Whiles trembling horror did his conscience dant,
And hellish anguish did his soul affail ;
To drive him to despair, and quite to quail,
He shew'd him painted in a table plain,
The damned ghosts that do in torments wail,
And thousand fiends that do them endless pain
With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remain.
The fight whereof so throughly him dismay’d,
That nought but death before his eyes he saw,
And ever burning wrath before him laid,
By righteous sentence of th' Almighties law :
Than'gan the villain him to overcraw,
And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,
And all that might him to perdition draw;
And bade him chuse what death he would desire :
For death was due to him, that had provokt Gods ire.
But whenas none of them he saw him také,
He to him raught a dagger sharp and keen,
And gave it him in hand : his hand did quake,
And tremble like a leaf of Aspin green,
And troubled blood through his pale face was seen
To come and go with tydings from the heart,
As it a running messenger had been.
At laft, resolv'd to work his final smart,
He lifted up his hand, that back again did start.
Which whenas Una faw, through every vein
The crudled cold ran to her Well of life,
As in a fwoun: but soon reliev'd again,
Out of his hand the snatch the cursed knife,
And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,
And to him said, fie, fie faint hearted Knight,
What meanest thou by this reproachful strife ?
Is this the battle which thou vaunt'st to fight
With that fire-mouthed Dragon, horrible and bright?
Come, come away, frail, filly, fleshly wight,
Ne let vain words bewitch thy manly heart,
Ne divelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright.
In heavenly mercies hast thou not a part?
Why shouldft thou then despair, that chosen art ?
Where justice grows, there grows eke greater grace,
The which doch quench the brond of hellish smart,
And that accurst hand-writing doth deface:
Arise, Sir Knight, arise, and leave this cursed place.
So up he rose, and thence amounted streight.
Which when the carl beheld, and saw his guest
Would safe depart, for all his subtile Neight,
He chose an halter from among the rest,
And with it hung himself, unbid, unbleft.
But death he could not work himself thereby ;
For thousand times he so himself had drest,
Yet natheless it could not do him dye,
Till he should dye his last, that is, eternally.