1607 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Beggars Ape.

The Beggars Ape.

Richard Niccols


A beast fable belatedly published in 1627 after the death of James I (the Lion King). Richard Niccols refers to the Beggars Ape in his 1610 continuation of The Mirror for Magistrates.

John Payne Collier: "This production reminds us much of Spenser's Mother Hubberds Tale, and, perhaps, but for that satirical apologue, The Beggars Ape might never have been written. The opening by Niccols is extremely like that of Spenser, and he fixes upon exactly the same season of the year, when, as Spenser says, — 'the hot Syrian Dog on him awayting, | After the chafed Lyons cruell bayting,' &c.; and Niccols, — 'When the fierce Dog of Heaven begun to rise | To bait the Lyon in th' Olympian skies.' Of course the merit of the two poems is not at all equal; and Spenser's Tale, besides, was the original; but Niccols was a considerable master of versification, and his thoughts, if not striking from their novelty, are natural, and happily expressed.... The measure and method adopted by Spenser were also employed by Niccols, and he was further an imitator by a proneness to the introduction of antiquated words and forms.... While Niccols is walking in the neighborhood of London, overcome by the heat, he takes shelter under some trees. He hears voices not far off, and discovers (without being discovered) that they proceed from a company of beggars, who are resting under the side of a small hill. He creeps quietly towards them, and, keeping a little rising ground between himself and them, overhears an old mendicant tell the tale of an Ape and a Fox, and the tricks and frauds they committed at the Court of the Lion.... The latter half of The Beggars Ape aims at higher game, and enters into the field of politics equally offensively; for there we are shown how the poor were oppressed by the rich, and how the innocent, in the persons of the Ox and the Sheep, by the cunning of the Fox and the Ape, were accused of the most heinous crimes against state and government" Bibliographical and Critical Account (1866) 3:44-47.

Thomas Corser: "This last work, which was not published until 1627, and then anonymously, has not hitherto been generally included in the list of this author's writings, but we know it to be the production of Niccols from his own allusion to it in the Induction to his Winter Night's Vision. It was most probably posthumous work, as no acknowledged production of his is known after 1616" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 9 (1879) 77.

Hoyt H. Hudson: "With less of the diction of Spenser (at least of The Faerie Queene) than The Cuckow, it suggests ... an immediate connection with Mother Hubbards Tale; for its principle characters, the Fox and the Ape, are borrowed from that poem and remain much as Spenser created them. In effect, The Beggars Ape is a sequel to Spenser's satire" "Hepwith's Spenserian Satire" (1934) 67.

Brice Harris identifies the Ape and the Fox as Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Northampton, the Horse as the earl of Nottingham, the Elephant as Thomas Sackville, earl of Dorset; the Goat and Ass he identifies as Philip and Edward Herbert, and the Sheep and Ox as Walter Raleigh and Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. If the last identification is correct, the poem would not have been written "about 1603" when Raleigh was imprisoned (as in Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 91) but after 1606, when Percy was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot.



About that Moneth whose name at first begun
From great AUGUSTUS, that Romes Empire wonne:
When the fierce Dog of Heaven, begun to rise
To baite the Lyon in th' Olympian skies.
Whose hot fire-breathing influence did cracke
With too much heate our aged Grandames backe,
Lapping up Rivers with his blaring tongue
T' allay the thirst which his proud stomacke stung.
Then did each Creature languish pant and beate
Under the influence of this horrid heate,
And I that oft in my low seated Cell
Had felt the burning of his fury fell:
Upon a time Aurora shining faire
Went forth to take the solace of the ayre.
And in those Meades beyond the lofty Towers
Of that white Pallace, where the nightly houres
Have oft bin spent in sounds of Musicke sweet
And active motion of the nimble feet:
Where earthly sonnes by night were seene to move,
Whilest many hearts were fir'd with flames of Love.
There I made choyse to walke before the Sunne
Had shewne his face, within our Horizon;
But on those bankes by which each turning tide
Thames lovely Isis with calme streames doth glide,
I had not walked long ere Dayes bright King
T' Olympus top his golden Carre did bring:

Whose Steedes with sting of his free lashes driven
With such swift speed did gallop through the heaven,
That Natures faire productions heere beneath
Did seeme to melt under their burning breath,
The wing'd inhabitants both of earth and skie
That too and fro in th' open ayre did flie
To Thickets, Woods, and Groves, swift concourse made
To shroud themselues under their leavie shade,
The bleating Lambe and little wandring Sheepe
That in the open fields before did keepe,
Forsaking their free laire, all flocking came
To seeke for shelter 'gainst Sol's burning flame.
And I 'mongst the rest compeld by heate
Which on my head did violently beat
To seeke some covert shade straight tooke my way
Unto a Grove which neere confining lay.
Where when I came the lofty trees, I clad
In Summers pride did cast a cooling shade,
Under whose leaves from Phoebus burning rayes
Sweet birds sate singing their Melodious layes,
There sate I downe upon the grassy ground
Amid'st those silent shades encompast round
By leavy trees that Arbour wise did spread
There goodly armes thicke brauncht above my head,
But as I there my selfe did closely shroud
The chearefull voyce of many laughing loude
All suddainely did penetrate myne eare
Which did apall my sence with suddaine feare
And casting round about my rowling eye
Without the wood I chanced to espie
A ragged crue of folke all set around
About a sunny bancke upon the ground
They all were clad in rags of Beggery
Taking no karpe of any faculty
Or honest calling to rely upon,
For trade or true profession had they none;
And now to passe the tedious time away
With pleasant tales as in the Sunne they lay
Each one in course the other did succeed
Which much content 'mongst themselves did breed
And I to be partaker of their mirth
Being closely hidden with a hill of earth
Unheard or seene convey'd my selfe so neare
That all their chat I un-espied did heare;
Some told of battailes and of bloody fights,
And some of Ladies and of loves delights
And some of dire events and Tragicall
And some of Jests and loves sports Comicall:
But 'mongst the rout one well I wot there was
That all the rest in fluent speech did passe
Who with good utterance that became him well
A pretty story of an Ape did tell.
All which for that it seemeth unto mee
Worthy their view whose thoughts delighted bee
In morrall discipline I will unfold it
And in those tearmes in which the Begger told it.

Not many yeares (quoth he) are past and gone
Since heavens faire Virgin in her silver throne
From forth her lap such golden blessings threw
As if th' old Age againe shee would renew,
And at that time the vast worlds Forrest wide
Deckt in the Summers coate of Aestas pride
Did flourish and growe proude in lusty prime
Beneath the Sunne-shine of sweet summers time
There many Joviall trees shoot up on high
With threatning heads did seeme to vaile the skie
Beneath the shade of whose protecting armes
The Birds sate singing free from fearefull harmes,
The Beasts likewise might all securely goe
About the Forrest roaming too and fro,
For with the Eagle that skie climing bird
And his consorts they late had made accord,
And unto peacefull state all things to bring
As meete it was they made the Lyon King;
And at that season many beasts found grace
That liv'd obscure before and in meane place.
'Mongst whome a beast that was of Secrops brood
Whome of a man Jove in his irefull moode,
Detesting his deceitfull guile did make
So foule a beast that no man could him take
T' have bin a man, yet was it with such skill
That being a beast a man he favoured still.
His limbes in lesser space then mans are knit
Beneath his Eyes his Nose more flat doth sit
And like the face which crabbed age doth spill
Deepe wrinkles frowne-like his front did fill;
There to his Apish limbs are every where
Thicke over-growne with sallow coloured haire,
And him in land of Apes Ile, Jove did place
There to abide and never show his face
Amongst us men, where hee not long did stay
Ere 'mongst the beasts lewd prankes hee gan to play;
For in the golden Age the worlds first spring
Even in the pallace of the Forrests King,
His witty wiles he oft in practise put
Them to deceive, for which his taile was cut;
Exiling him for evermore from thence
To the Ape Ile againe for his offence.
But he that long time there liv'd all a mort
His taile being cut, for comming to the Court
Of better fortunes now gan cogitate
And forth he comes to mend his meane estate,
His way unto the Forrest straight he takes
And in his journey this observance makes
Who liv'd disgracefull, who in favour were
And 'bout the Lyon who cheife Place did beare;
The golden fleeced Sheepe he first did spie
Patterne of patience, and simplicitie
Grasing obscurely 'mongst the meaner sort
As being a stranger in the Lyons Court;
"For who so beares simplicities true badge
To live in Princes Courts doe seldome fadge."
And though the silly Sheepe contented were
For that plaine honest life, which he did beare
Yet for his golden Fleece against his will
Hee was acquainted with the Courtiers still.
Fast by the Sheepe the humble Oxe did graise
Who for he sought not his estate to raise,
Was held in base contempt for his meeke minde
"Meekenesse in Greatnesse we so seldome finde.
The Ape being glad to see the Sheepes bad case
And plaine simplicity in such disgrace
Thought with himselfe as true it was indeed
That wily wit would stand him in best steed,
And on his way he forth gan wend a pace
Hoping at Court to finde such future grace;
That in the end he doubted not to bring
Himselfe in favour with the Forrest King.
Where when he came himselfe he did apply
T' observe all fashions with an heedfull eye,
The first on whome he any notice tooke
Was that high horned beast who in his looke
Beares signes apparant of his secret minde
To wit the Goat, a lover borne by kinde
For he the habit had of all cheife sleights
In wanton loves and Ladies Court delights.
On which most Gallants now their wits doe prove
To serve their Ladies and their Lemmons love.
But he surpast them all for he could sing
In chaunting songs, and on the warbling string
Of Vyoll sweet thereto divinely played
The sound of which would charme the chaistest Maide,
For which he was of Females so approv'd
That they 'bove all the rest him chiefely lov'd;
Yet he with whally eyes and shaggy beard
And welked hornes so Satir-like appeard
That such a grim fac't fellow would affright
A lewd Faustinaes selfe in darkest night,
Thereto his body did so ranckly smell
That he himselfe might not abide it well;
But he that fault did hide with pleasing sent
Of sweet perfume when ere abroad he went,
The Ape him oft beheld in passing by
And in his service would his fortune try
By meanes made by the Monkey, his neere friend
Who on the Goate chiefe servant did attend.
But loe not long hee stood thus all a mort,
Ere hee beheld at entring of the Court
A troupe of Gallants, rushing in the way
All proudly clad in strange and rich aray,
With wide-big-bason lookes they all did gape
In passing by upon the silly Ape.
For mickle pride (sull well I wot) they tooke
To daunt a stranger with a scornefull looke;
Thereto, from fullest mouthes they tooke delight
With horrid Oathes, the golden Starres to smite,
Ne gave they due regard, or Reverend love
Unto the King of Gods the thundring Jove,
But all their Paeans consecrated bee
To drunken Bacchus on low bended knee.
The chiefe 'mongst these that bare supreamest sway
Was the fell Bore, who with the least delay
Even for a looke misdeem'd, would hazard life
In any furious broyle or bloody strife,
With him came many Beasts that did delight
In sternefull rage, debate, and bloody fight:
And therefore loved ever for to bee
Together with the Bore in company.
There came the Tyger, who withouten dread
Was into any danger headlong lead.
The wrathfull Beare, whom in his fiery rage
Nought else but blood and vengeance might asswage,
The Bull and Ram, who both couragious were
But wanted wit in fury to forbeare.
Amidst this Crew a simple beast there was
To Court being newly come, to wit, the Asse,
Whom they with fawning speech and threats withall
So wrought unto their will, that at their call
They had both him and his, and sooth to say
Inricht with golden store, hee was fit pray
For such in Court whose credit waxed bare,
So witlesse was hee and so voyd of care;
For he of late had left his Countrey home
His Sire being dead, and now to Court was come,
Where all a flaunt, hee ryots and consumes
In gold, in silver, silke and sweet perfumes
His old Sires, ill-got-goods now goes to wracke,
Farmes, Forrests, Fields, hee beares upon his backe,
And never deemes what Fate will him betide
When all is spent by his unseemely pride.

The Ape that had observ'd with heedfull eye
The stout demeanour of this Company,
Tooke little liking to this kind of life,
For hee ne loved for to bee in strife;
Ne favour would hee with such perill winne,
"But thought best sleeping in the soundest skinne."
Long did hee lurke about the Court in vayne,
Before his close intent hee could obtayne:
"But hee that doth his Fate with heed attend,
Seldome but findes good Fortune in the end."
And at the last good Fortune being his guide,
An old acquaintance he in Court espide;
To wit, the Fox, who found in Court such grace
That he about the King had gotten place.
For the Dread Lyon loathing Luxurie
"The Canker-worme of true Nobilitie,"
T' allay the pride that in the flesh beares sway
And banish loathsome Idlenesse away:
To spend his golden houres did still devise
In Kingly pastime and faire exercise,
There to rich guifts, Prince-like he gave to those,
That did themselves to exercise dispose;
Thereby to purge his Court to ease inclin'd,
And base sloath banish from the Noble mind.
In which the Fox, his Soveraigne did so please,
Seeming the common Enemie of ease:
That hee himselfe in mickle grace did bring
With the bold Lyon, his dread Lord and King.
But hee foule Carle (not as his King) did make
This use of exercise for vertues sake,
But gave himselfe thereto with this intent
To creepe in favour with foule blandishment
To him the Ape in humble manner came
To scrape acquaintance and make knowne his name;
But the proud Fox, though him hee well did know,
Like a true Courtier gan himselfe to show
With Elboe pride, and cast of scornfull eye
Hee stoutly stalk't upon his tiptoes high
Disdaining to th' Apes words to lend his eare
Though hee of yore his old acquaintance were.
And in such proud contempt he passed by,
That the Apes former hopes began to dye;
Being in despaire his meane estate to mend
Forsaken thus of his old fellow friend.

But the slye Fox advising all this while
How the Ape being wittie, prompt, and full of guile,
"And that two working wits will soone prevaile
In any plot when one may chance to faile;"
Straight sends unto the Ape and greets him well,
Bidding him come to him his case to tell.
The forlorne Ape being almost in despaire
With double diligence did make repaire
Unto the Fox, to whom obeysance made
These famous words in humble wise hee said.

All haile (grave Sir) quoth hee, good fates attend
Your steps in Court, still Fortune be your freind
And in sweet showers, th' auspicious heav'ns down-shed
Their bounteous blessings on your reverent head.

The Fox him thanking, answered in this sort,
But say (Sir Ape) what wind brings you to Court?
Seemes you have lived in some barren place
And want lifes needements for to doe you grace;
For you be growne so meager leane and wan,
That scarce your legs your limbs upholden can.
For which, I weene, you want that wonted wit
And judgement sharpe, that seem'd of yore to sit
In th' ilke same head, by which you could at need
Both helpe your selfe and stand your freind in steed.

Ah mee (Sir Reynald) sayd the wretched Ape
Of all the Forrest hardest is my hap
That I unhappy wretch, thus as you see
Am made the scorne of other beasts to bee;
Yet ne'rthelesse Sir, if of your grace you please
You of your bounty may my fortunes ease,
And set my wit in the old working way
"Want of imployment makes best wits decay."

Now certes (said the Fox) yee say right well,
"For custome doth in power so excell;
That vertues selfe in the most liberall minde
For want of it oft times decay'd we find
And use being common made in usefull things
Vice to inseperable habit brings."
Then pitty t'were, so ripe a wit you have
The want of good imploiment should deprave.
Read then, Sir Ape, what course you doe intend
And if in it my helpe may you befriend:
Doubt not to find for old acquaintance sake
My furtherance in any course you take.

To this the Ape, deepe sighing, thus did say
Ah (noble Sir) y blessed be this day,
That with such hap good fortune did me greet
As with your selfe so happily to meet;
For well I weene, I onely hope to rise
By sage instruction of your sound devise.
Then read (faire Sir) of favour I you pray
What custome in the Court now beares cheife sway
To what thing most is that Heroicke mind
Of our dread Soveraigne chiefely now enclind,
"For well I wot the subiect that will bring
Himselfe in favour with his Lord and King,
What his Lord likes at least must seeme to love
And of his fancy must alwayes approve."

Surely, said Reynald, this which you have spoken
Of your grave judgement gives sufficient token,
And know, that now the Lyons chiefe delight
Is to behold those that in nimble fight,
Can best pursue the wilder beasts in chase
And such as they be now in speciall grace;
For he with idle ease may not away
The obstacle to vertues best assay.
And therefore least good dayes may be mispent
To noble exercise he still is bent:
Ne doe I doubt but you by pregnant wit
To any exercise your selfe can fit,
And though of footmanship you be not slow
Yet none amongst the best of beasts I know
In all the woods with you compar'd may bee
For nimblenes and swift Agility.
By which you may in frowning Fates despight
Purchase you favor in your Soveraignes sight.

Ah (deere Sir) said the Ape, yblessed be
Your life with length of dayes for Charitie
To me poore wretch. But say Sir, I you pray
By what step shall I make my best assay
To gaine the Forests King unto my friend
"A good beginning makes a happy end."

To this the Fox replyed, Sir Ape, said hee
Well have you said, yet that my busines bee
Meane while your wits for my imployment frame
For in the Forrest wee will find good game.
"Let Drudges by base toile there living get
The generous borne will onely live by wit;"
This said, the subtle Fox in secret wise
The Ape gan counsell with such sound advise
That in short space in Court he got much grace
When those of more desert could find no place.
"For few there be, that for good guifts of mind
Or vertues bare regard doe favour find
Onely they rise that can by guilefull wit
Serve their owne turne with gainefull benefit,
The honest mind from thence is made to flye
When shamelesse ribaulds are advanced high
The simple-hearted are accounted base,
When bold and impudent are most in grace,
Vaine boasting Thrasoes, soothing Flatterers,
Sly cogging Gnatoes, secret whisperers,
Tale-bearing Fleerers, and false accusing lackes,
There beare best shewes upon their golden backes."
'Mongst whom the Ape did beare himselfe so well
That hee in rich attire did farre excell;
And eke his sides with flesh so filled were,
That not a bone did any where appeare.
Ne, few him knew that knew him well before
T' have bin the wretched Ape he was of yore,
For never more did Proteus change his shape;
For to deceive, then did this wilie Ape
At first with lowly lookes and humble minde,
Himselfe in great States favour he did winde,
With Sycophantlike trickes, hee tooke delight,
With every Jacke to play the Parasite,
To sooth, to cogge, to fawne, to lye, to sweare,
To crouch, to glose, and patiently to beare
All grosse abuse, to take up every word
Falne from the lying lippes of some great Lord:
To laugh, looke sad, to like and dislike both,
To say and unsay, sweare and forsweare troth.
But when by humble service and long suite
In Court hee came to bee of some repute,
Hee many subtle sleights did quickly find
T' exhalt himselfe when others came behind:
Then waxt hee proud, and bent his guilefull wit
To turne all things to his owne benefit;
False of his faith, yet prodigall in word,
Darke in his talke, yet seldome would afford
Poore Suitors hearing; but unlesse they came
With golden warrants signed for the same:
Yet if that Suitors meanes for suites would use,
Whom better, then Sir Ape, could any chuse;
For many a Canker-worme of common state
Some farming Huckster, or Sea runagate,
T' increase their private good by publique ill,
Might through his helpe with ease obtaine their will.
Thus the slye Ape with naturall wit endow'd,
Grew great in wealth, by wealth grew wondrous proud.
"For costly wealth even to the basest wight
Gives golden wings to soare a lofty flight."

Now while the Ape did study more and more
By daily begging to increase his store,
The Fox that idle was, but by his wit
For the Apes turne still layd foundation fit,
And on a time I weene, above the rest,
To th' Ape hee commeth with a merry Jest.
(Sir Ape) quoth hee, if you my friend will stand,
Wee will not want t' have gold at our command;
For I in Court have found a gallant gull
Whom of his gold, (of which hee yet is full)
We well may fleece, if you will lend your ayde
To which in hast, the Ape this answer made.

Say in good sooth, Sir Reynald, I you pray,
In what my word and deed you helpen may
And of what Mister wight make you report
I know him not? spends he his dayes in Court?

Yes, quoth the Fox, to Court he came of late
And well I wot hee is a Jolly mate;
It is to wit, the Asse, whose aged syre
Did toyle himselfe and drudge for daily hyre
And left his thrifty gaine unto his sonne
To gentilize it here when he was gone.

Sayd then the Ape, foule shame such fooles betide
That to maintayne their sonnes unthrifty pride
Will bow their labouring backes and take no pleasure
For all their paines upon their hardrackt treasure.

The Fox reply'd, you seeme to bee a Foe
To gentle kinde; for if it were not so,
How should the Forrest in a moment space,
Breed so much gentle-blood of meaner race,
And sooth to say, this Asse though meanely borne
Yet through much wealth, made wondrous full of scorn.

An humour strange in his conceit doth feed
That by discent hee comes of Noble breed.
It was my chance the other day to be
With th' horned Goate, and him in company,
Who both were clad in goodly rich array:
But in attire, the Asse was farre more gay.
His head with plume of Feathers was bedight,
His trappings all with Bells and Bosses bright
Was richly furnished, which with more pride
Hung downe unto the ground on eyther side.
These lustie Gallants to increase their fame,
In their conceits at Knighthood both doth ayme.
Which if for them wee can by friends obtayne,
Wee shall not fayle for meed t' have double gayne;
For the Asse so vaine appeares, that he will give
His whole estate, ere he unknighted live.
And for the Goate, we shall have golden fee
Of Female kind, that they may Ladyed bee.
Being dub'd by him; Say then (Sir Ape) I pray
Good gaine is oft times lost by long delay.

Sir Reynald, said the Ape, my forward mind
Brookes no delay, where I a meane may find
To worke my will: but know that your intent
Makes me much doubt, the sequell of th' event:
For this high Order is to those assign'd,
That famous be for vertue of the mind,
Or for some high atchivement; for their meed
Have purchas'd it, to glorifie their deed.
How may we then bring such a thing to passe,
As purchase Knighthood for the golden Asse.

Tush, quoth the Fox, the world now doth not see
The thing that is, but that which seemes to bee.
And hee whose tongue the tayle of Greatnesse lickes
If he will thrive, his Conscience never stickes
To overgild, and lift up to the skies
With deepest oathes, inventions blackest lyes;
And that we may our purpose bring to passe,
We must obscure the folly of the Asse.
The vertues rare that beautifie his mind,
Wee must applaud, thereby the world to blind;
And say and sweare, that hee amongst the best
Of all the Forrest is the hopeful'st beast;
So to the world they both shall seeme to bee
For vertues sake, much worthy this degree.

Now certes, said the Ape, this is good leasing
And to the Lyon it will sure bee pleasing:
When in the Forrest hee shall heare the fame,
Which in their high applause wee can proclaime.
Meane time, Sir Reynald, backe returne with speed
Unto them both, and tell them 'tis decreed,
That worthy they shall weare the golden Spurre
Like two true sonnes of Mars, and ne're incurre
The hazard of the Field, but onely this,
To have our fee before, we may not misse.

Tush, quoth the Fox, bee confident in mee,
A foole hee is that will behind hand bee:
If that our purpose have but good event
The gaine is ours, neere thinke your paines mispent.
This said, themselves they both began t' apply
T' effect their purpose, all their friends they try;
And such applauses daily they impute
To the Asse and Goat, for whom they make this suite
That in the end both twaine in pompe and pride
Were dubd Knights errand, of the Forrest wide
Of whom in guerdon of their mickle paines
The begging Ape and Fox had golden gaines,
So both thinke well themselves apayd to bee
They with their Knighthood, th' other with their Fee.
But let not such base Lossels that account
All merit vayne, and onely hope to mount
Themselves with golden wings to such degree
That seeke to purchase it with baser Fee;
And thinke a silver silken vestiment
A gilded Spurre, or strange acoutrement
The fruits of brainsicke fancies fond delight
The onely meanes to make a perfect Knight.
Let not such dunghil brood of Kestrill kinde
That unto honour never cast their minde
Dismay the noble spirit that assayes
Through deeds of Armes his name on high to raise;
For bare degrees that want true vertues merit
Shall in fames golden booke no place inherit.
When Honour, Meede, and noble vertues praise
In Swan-white age findes fresh and youthfull dayes;
Then let not fond Sir Asse, disgracefull seeme
To those that for their worth and high esteeme
In vertues bare regard exalted bee
By Princes grace to place of such degree;
Let boasting Bragadochioes of our time
And golden-handed Churles, that seeke to clime
To places of such high credit, inly burne
And with the vaine Sir Asse, the Begger spurne;
So shall the Ape their follies still deride
And fleece their store for their aspiring pride.
Who tasting once the sweet delights that came
By this his Begging trade, himselfe did frame
With golden fees of dayly Begging base,
Shame light on gaine got with so foule disgrace;
Yet shamelesse hee continued begging still
To glut the gulfe of his unsatiate will.
Which many noble beasts did soone espie
On whome the Lyons safetie did relye,
To whose great wisdome and fore-casting cares
Committed were the Forrests cheife Affaires.
But 'mongst them all, that most illustrate beast
That worthy Counsellor from heav'n yblest,
The noble Elephant tooke speciall heed
That out of Court such Beggers he might weed.
And sooth to say, as Greekes doe well recite
With crooked Trumpet he could truely write,
And by the working of his prudent mind
Could oft obscure the wits of humaine kind;
For on his care the Kingdomes happines
Did most depend, and for her worthines
To him committed was in custodie
The keeping of the common Treasurie.
This worthy Peere, who dayly did behold
The shamelesse begging of these Beggers bold
In wisedome divers wayes did cast about
To finde the wily Apes foule knavery out.
But th' Ape so well him bore that long it was
E're th' Elephant could bring his will to passe;
Meane time like as the Leach upon the store
From greedy sucking ne're desists, before
The place be bloodlesse left exhausted dry
So did th' Ape to th' Asse himselfe apply.

For when the doultish beast ycleped was
Through all the Court (by name of hight Sir Asse)
Puft uppe with pride, he thought himselfe to bee
The fairest beast that ever eye did see,
Hee learned had to praunce with stately pace
To rayne his Asses head with lofty grace
And in each point himselfe so high to beare
As if that hee some noble Palfray were;
Which pride of his, was laughed so to scorne
Of every beast that knew him to bee borne
Of base descent, yet hee through want of wit
Swolne proud by wealth, such folly did commit,
That he their common Gull accounted was
And bore the title of the golden Asse.

Which th' Ape did well perceive, and with vaine showes
Of fained friendship gan with him to glose,
With soothing tongue his folly he did feed
And gave him counsell by some glorious deed
To amplify his name in every place,
Hee knew he was not come of Asses race;
But racher sprung of some such noble breed
As swift wing'd Pegasus that heav'nly Steed.
Hee wisht him therefore in a single race
To chalenge th' Horse, thereby to get him grace
Ne did he doubt but he should win the day
If hee with courage bold but gave th' Assay.

Sir Asse, with selfe conceit being mov'd in minde
To heare his praise, forgot himselfe by kinde
T' have bin an Asse, and in this humour sent
A chalenge to the Horse with this intent,
To runne with him before the Forrest King
In hope himselfe in favour for to bring.
The day was set and chosen was the place
Upon the open Plaine to runne this race;
Where the dread King of beasts stood to behold
The stout Sir Asse, performe his chalenge bold;
The time being come forth came the lustie Horse
With comely grace to runne th' expected course,
Who by his stately gesture gan to show
Stout signes in proud contempt of his base foe.
His crested necke hee often bow'd to ground
With foaming mouth as if he would confound
The earth at once, and from his nosthrils came
A fierie breath as from a furnace flame;
His pricking Eares stood startling on his head
And of a common custome inlye bred,
In jollity of pride which did abound,
His hollow hoofe still played upon the ground;
At last from his strong necke in neighing shrill
With sound thereof the Forrest hee did fill,
Seeming thereby to call upon Sir Asse,
That in this challenge the appellant was.
Who vainely vaunting with a gallant trayne
Came proudly prauncing on the ample Plaine;
Where when hee came beholding well the Horse
His comely grace, brave shape, and wondrous force:
Halfe in despaire hee did himselfe repent
Of his proud challenge and bold hardiment.

Yet with the vayne applause of flattering mates
Being proudly prickt, with Courage bold he waites,
The time appointed to begin the race
Before the Forrest King being then in place;
The signe once given, Sir Asse, began to runne
With greedy hope great fame thereby t' have wonne.
But the brave Horse in pace away did goe
Like winged shaft shot from a Tuscan bowe,
Or like a Swallow in the welkin bright
That sheeres the subtle ayre with nimble flight,
Leaving the sluggish Asse with shame behind
To know himselfe to be an Asse by kind.
With mickle laughter bred in every place
Amongst the beasts that stood to see the race,
Which the Ape did well observe with slye intent
As he that knew, what would be the event;
For when the Asse, amongst the better sort
Was held in base contempt throughout the Court,
And left forlorne for his stupidity
The Ape alone, did keepe him company.
Whose doltish nature by his cunning wit
In all his actions done he did so fit,
That in the end by craft and cousening slye
Hee gull'd the simple beast and suckt him dry.
Who left forlorne returned all a mort
Unto his Country home, from Princes Court.
There helpelesse to bewaile in wofull wise
His lavish will and wanton riotize;
O wretched end of idle vanity,
Of misexpence and Prodigality.
You younger wits that spend your golden houres,
Your selves and substance in great Princes bowers;
That quaffe downe Court delights, and dayly swill
The seeming sugred Nectar of your ill;
That weare your large left patrimonies bare
In Drinke, in Dice, Dauncing and dainty fate.
That up and downe in Antick shapes doe jet,
And on your golden backs doe beare your debt,
And with a vaine bewitching hope struck blind
Of idle fame doe watch to catch the wind,
Yet thinke your selves all others to surpasse
In reaching wit. Behold this forlorne Asse,
Who 'mongst the best, once jolly blithe and trim
In deepest waves of sweet delight did swim;
Now of his golden good he being bereft
And driven home, when scarce no home was left:
In stead of stately bower, where he had bin
An homely Cottage gladly enters in.
Where with sad sighes his wretched eyes doe fill
In stead of Arras and sweet paintings skill,
Upon the broken roofe and slender walls
Sticks smoakie black and Spiders dusty coales,
In stead of sweet perfumes, the bitter smoake
With foggy clouds his tender sight doth choake,
In stead of Silver plate, or purest Glasse
Hee with the Beggers dish now pleased was,
In which for Wine to glad his wofull hart
Hee takes cold Whey and water in good part,
His Courtly dyet fraught with many a dish
Of divers kindes of dainty Flesh and Fish,
Is now become the almes of some good house
Or homely morsell of some hungry Mouse.
The ground his board, greene grasse his Carpet makes
And for his Bed a pad of Straw he takes
In which distresse, by his owne folly bred
Hee weeps, he sighes, and shakes his wofull head;
Blaming his bitter Fate, but all in vaine
Since of his wealthy store naught doth remaine.
Meane time the Ape that liv'd upon his losse
Seeing the wretched fortune of the Asse,
Did laugh to scorne his wofull misery
And pitch'd his nets with fraud and subtilty;
To circumvent the weake and simple sort
That used to frequent the Princes Court.
But thus while th' Ape such things to passe did bring
About the pallace of the Forrest King
The greedy Wolfe his part did also play
In woods abroad t' obtaine his wished pray,
Who was a bloudy beast of wicked brood
And sought to live by spoyle of others good.
Yet had hee large possessions of his owne,
And in the woods was mighty wealthy growne,
Whereby he daily sought in Cruell wise
Upon the poorer Beasts to Tyrannize,
The Woods in Common, and th' adjoyning Plaine
Hee did convert unto his private gaine;
And meaner beasts that nigh his Den did dwell,
Hee from their owne abodes did oft expell.
'Mongst whom the Urchin and the Squirrill hight,
By the Apes helpe, he robbed of their right:
For in close thicket farre from sight of Sunne
Where in his darksome Den the Wolfe did wonne,
The industrious Urchin in his little Cell,
Not farre from thence alone did chance to dwell.
At whose good hap the Wolfe did much repine
And daily did behold with envious eyne,
How he in sharpest Winter did enjoy
The fruites of Sommers toyle without annoy;
For when Pomona did in winters scorne
The Woods greene heads with golden fruit adorne,
When fields doe seem to laugh, when flowers doe spring
When Beasts doe play, and Birds doe sweetly sing;
Then would the Urchin watch with curious eye,
When Boreas blasts did cuffe the Clouds in skye
And shake the Tree when like thicke showers of raine
The Fruit would fall, the which with mickle paine
Upon his brisled backe, the Urchin bore
Home to his Cell to make his winters store,
Whereby from winters thrall hee liv'd secure,
When other Beasts much sorrow did endure.
Now at the entry of the sterne Wolfes denne
The place of his abode had long time bin;
That 'gainst the State nought could be done or sayd,
But by the Urchin it might bee bewrayed.
The Wolfe likewise out of his greedy moode
Did seeke t' inlarge the place of his abode,
By proud incroaching of that little Cell
In which his neighbour, th' Urchin us'd to dwell;
Wherefore hee sought by death or some disgrace,
To dispossesse the Urchin of that place.
And on a time from home as th' Urchin went
Abroad into the Forrest with intent
As was his wont, to get such labours meed,
As Fortune in the Forrest had decreed.
Loe in the way the tavening Wolfe did watch
This silly beast within his pawes to catch,
Whom he did often thinke to make his prey,
Yet durst hee not at that time give th' Assay,
So well the Urchin did his body arme
With coate of proofe, 'gainst all intended harme.
The Wolfe therefore perceiving force to faile
Did seeke by flattering falshood to prevaile.
For in the way finding occasion meet
With fawning words, thus th' Urchin hee did greet.

Now neighbour, quoth the Wolfe, you be well met
Upon what high atchievement be you set,
That you thus armed bee, seemes you doe stand
In dangers doubt, and feare some harme at hand.

Nay certes, quoth the Urchin, nought I feare
Of harme t' ensue, this armed coate I weare
For no such cause; but that with paine I may
Upon my brisled hide, such fruit convay
To my poore home, which in the woods I find,
Least with the sluggard unto ease inclin'd,
On Summers pleasure I doe fondly feed,
And want in Winter to sustaine my need.

The Wolfe replyed, y blessed be thy paine
And labour, that deserves to reape good gaine;
Yet let me now disswade thee to disarme
Thy selfe this once, and feare no future harme,
This day desist from toyle and goe with mee
Unto our friend, where wee will welcome bee;
For to all Beasts, this day is by the Bore
Kept festivall, where we shall finde good store
Of divers dainty Fruits, of which at will
Withouten labour thou mayest have thy fill.
This sayd, he used such kinde courtesie
Mix'd with such friendly Importunitie;
That the poore Urchin, thought his meaning good
And would with him unto the neighbouring Wood,
Whereas the Bore should wonne; but loe at need
A friend was by, to helpe him at that steed.
And sure the silly Urchin that same day
Unto the Ravening Wolfe had beene a prey,
But that the Squirrill from the leavie Tree,
Unseene to them the Wolfes intent did see;
Who to the Urchin, call'd with loude exclaime;
Fond foole said hee, what madnes is this same?
How darest thou credit that same cruell Beast,
That on thy Carkasse seekes to make his Feast.
Take heed, by his seducements bee not led,
If thou disarme thy selfe thou art but dead.
For hence I did behold how in the way
In secret covert hid, hee lurking lay,
And hadst thou not with stiffe quill'd pointed hide
Beene arm'd about; by him thou sure hadst dy'd.

The Urchin hearing this, upon his chin
Did set his feet and drew his brisled skin
About his body round, as any ball
To shield himselfe, and shun his fatall fall.

Which when the Wolfe perceiv'd, hee went his way
Inrag'd in minde, and vow'd without delay
To act a swift revenge upon them both,
And for his cause, unto the Ape he goeth;
To whom, Complaint against them he doth bring
To be preferr'd unto the Forrests King.
Hee told, how th' Urchin like a theevish wight
Did steale abroad in dead of darksome night,
Using to sucke the full-fed Kine unkept,
While the poore Neatheard all securely slept:
And how the Squirrill to augment his store,
Did rob the Forrest of the Fruit it bore;
And to his will, that he might better shape
The greedy fancy of the Begging Ape,
Hee wish'd him begge the forfeit of their Goods,
Since none amongst the Beasts about the woods
There was, with whom such treasure could be found
As with them twaine which chiefly did abound
With Nuts, and Aples, which the Wolfe could tell
Above all things, the Ape lov'd wondrous well.
And sooth to say these tidings did so please
Th' Apes greedy humor, that with little ease
The Wolfe obtain'd his wish for in small space
The Urchin and the Squirrill wanting grace
Of friends to backe their cause were from those Woods
Exil'd for aye, and forfeited there goods;
Whereby the Wolfe possession did obtaine
Of th' Urchins little Cell, and th' Ape did gaine
By begging Nuts and Aples which of yore
By others paines were hoarded up in store.
Thus dayly did the subtile Ape obtaine
Pleasure and profit both withouten paine,
By which I weene compar'd to all the rest
"Amongst all Craftsmen Beggers are the best:"
For ev'n the proud'st that thinkes paines taking's base
To turne oft Begger thinkes it no disgrace.
But whilest the Ape lull'd in security
Did swim in pleasures and felicity
Not wanting ought, for seldome did he crave
The guift of ought but he the same might have,
The noble Elephant that in the Court
Did beare chiefe sway amongst the supreame sort
Like a true Statesman, for the Forrest good
Against the Apes incessant begging stood.
Whereby the Ape did stoope his gallant minde
For though by information he might finde
Ought worthy begging, yet the Princes grant
Hee did not crave; because by th' Elephant
Oft to revoke his grant the King was mov'd
If to the state it prejudiciall stood;
Therefore the Ape that liv'd before secure
And thought his golden begging would endure
For ever certaine: with a heavy cheere
Now hung the head; for well it did appeare
Hee might goe swinke and sweat to get his living
Since that the Forrest Prince did cease from giving,
Sir Reynald likewise that same crafty mate
That did in the Apes beg'd guifts participate
Now wanted meanes, whereby he might support
His bravery 'mongst the gallants of the Court
For long he watched had and cast about
By his fine wit to finde some purchase out
Some ancient Ruine of Antiquitie
Or ought that might be tearm'd inutilie,
But naught he found that in the Forrest stood
That was inutilie for common good,
Which when he did perceive: halfe in despaire
Unto the Ape his friend he made repaire
Who to each other often though in vaine
Their sad mishap in secret did complaine.
Yet in the end the Fox did finde a fetch
"For dire constraint, the wit at large doth stretch,"
Hee well remembred that if any beast
Were found offensive to the Kings beheast
Or did infringe the Law through all the Woods
By penall statutes lost both Lands and goods,
The which without controle, as lawfull gaine
Th' Ape for a boone by begging might obtaine,
This once being thought upon the wily Ape
As carefull of their good this speech shape.

Sir Reynald (said the Ape) wee be in case
To be undone unlesse by Joves good grace
Against the storme, in time we doe provide
"Time runnes away and no man stayes the tide."
You see that wee be needy and in lacke
And in the Court, the eyes of every Jacke
Are fix'd upon us, and these garments old
Cannot in Court our countenance long uphold.
Then say (Sir Reynald) as yee be right wise
What hopefull course for us can you devise
Wee must provide for helpe without delay
Or hopelesse leave the Court and runne away.

The Fox reply'd full little did I weene
That in this case so witlesse you had beene
So long as hope remaines; why should wee doubt
Have wee not working wit to cast about,
Then have good hope, for wee in little space
Will worke our selves againe in Fortunes grace,
We know right well the Oxe and silly Sheepe
Though they themselves from Court in private keepe
As being but rusticke Chuffes of base account
Yet they in wealthy substance farre surmount
Whom if by subtilty we can but draw
Within the compasse of the Princes law
To stop our mouthes we shall have golden fee
So much they feare in danger for to bee.
And if this faile; yet we upon our oath
As loyall subjects can appeach them both
For speaches spoken 'gainst the Government
Or other trespasse, which we can invent,
Which that wee may to better purpose bring
We can disgus'd, talke of the Forrest King
And aske what tydings in the Princes Court
What vice in common they doe most support
And in their speech if we them tripping take
Wee by addition can the matter make
To seeme farre worse; by which if they i' th' end
Convicted bee; then that which we intend,
Wee have obtayn'd; for we their goods have wonne
In recompence of our good service done.
This said, the Ape approving Reynald wit
In that hee at a pinch, could helpe with it
With speed in some strange habit, both disgis'd
Would put in practise what hee had devis'd.
They both agreed themselves forthwith to clad
Like stranger Countrymen of late decayed;
Whose habit and demeanor had you seene
You would have though the wretched Ape t' have been
Some sturdie Clowne that late had left the Carre
And in this strange disguise had come from farre,
Hee was y clad all in a Russet gray
Of coursest stuffe, yet with such meane aray,
He seemed well appay'd as did appeare
Being well contented with his Countrey weare,
His russet Jerkin, many yeares y worne
Was waxen bare, and at the elboes torne:
His Breeches of the same made scanty wise
So close did sit unto his brawny thighes,
That his fat flankes that plumpe and jolly were,
Like two round Balls did through the same appeare;
Thereto, his blew round Cap him well became
With a plume Feather pendant on the same,
Which o' th' one side of his head he ever wore
As if in minde some high conceit hee bore.
A rusty Sword hee carryed by his side
And at his backe a Dagger well ytide,
For many hackes therein made long agoe
Sufficient proofes did of the mettall show,
His woollen Hose were of the purest white
Of thicke strong knit, and yet in open sight
Were broken 'bove the heeles, and both his Shooes
Worne with long travell out about the toes.
And thus he travayl'd with his fellow Foxe
About the Forrest for to finde the Oxe,
And silly Sheepe, whom the Ape had first espide
In Field farre off, fast by the River side,
And said unto the Foxe; Behold I see
In yon same field, where they both grasing bee:
Now prove your wit Sir Reynald, if you can,
Begin you first, you are the graver man.
This sayd, they came where th' Oxe and Sheepe did grase,
Whom thus the Foxe did greet with fawning phrase;
All haile (Sir Oxe) said hee, full glad am I
To see you beare your lofty head so high,
It seemes to us by this your goodly port
You are in favour in the Princes Court,
You can informe us of some tidings there
And 'bout the Lyon who chiefe place doth beare.

"The Oxe reply'd, (good Sir) you deeme amisse
For your conjecture goes astray in this,
Seeing Courtly favour is no cause that I
Seeme thus to beare my branched head so hie,
But humble thoughts, which wounded harts doe heale
In sweet content, is cause of all weale,
Pale envy poyson to the Statesmans good
Nere gnawes my heart ne suckes my vitall blood,
Nor greedy Avarice of others shares
Disturbes my sweet content with boundlesse cares;
These pastures bounds my thoughts doe ever bound,
Ne doe I joy to feed in stranger ground,
But with my Fate suffic'd I still abide
Not fearing any ill that may betide,
Of Musickes rarest skill I take no keepe
At any time to summon timely sleepe,
But sweet voyc'd Birds, and milde Streames gently gushes
My wear, limbes, in restfull quiet Hushes.
The often horrid sounds of Court Alarmes
Ne're startle me from sleepe for feare of harmes,
But sleeping till the morne secure of feares,
The Birds sing sweet Bon-jours about mine eares:
Thus live I happy in content of minde,
Which wee in Courtly greatnesse seldome finde."

Certes, said the Ape, it seemes yee be right wise
That can of worldly weale so well advise,
And yet in this me seemes you have digrest,
For 'mongst the best you being a goodly beast
To great advancement, may your selfe soone bring
And authorize high Service for the King.

"Alas, (quoth th' Oxe) How vulgar is affection
In vainely seeking after fond promotion,
As well th' Ignoble as the Noble blood
Deeme vading pompe the happie mans chiefe good.
Yet view the Court and marke the misery
Of those that swim in Court felicitie,
Whose wretched steps in Princes Court attends
His slavish will on others wills depends,
His turn-coat thoughts more light then lightest feather
Turn'd with the winde and return'd with the weather
Ev'n as his Masters changing humour is,
Must turne and Change to like of that or this
Against his Conscience, praise impietie,
And sooth foule sinne with fawning flatterie.
And yet suppose thou shouldst exalted bee
To some place past Court-crouching with the knee,
And by the helpe of Greatnesse finde such grace
As neere the steps of Maiestie t' have place,
Yet marke (fond foole) and see what unseene woe
Would follow thee though thou in Gold shouldst goe,
To bee a Partner in the Privitie
And close concealement of Authoritie,
Though to thy second selfe thou shew the same
Oft winnes thee Death, and never dying shame;
Yet in thy Conscience to conceale such things
When life is gone, Death worse then death it brings.
Oh then how blest and happy a wight is hee
That lives from Court though nere so base he bee."

T' enlarge this Theame the Sheepe did silence breake,
"Deare neighbor Oxe (quoth he) the truth you speake,
Yet more then this, doe many undergoe
That in the Court doe make a goodly show,
For many there that beare so bold a face
And deeme all vulgars beggerly and base,
That strut on Tiptoe, and with Elboe pride
Aspire to reach the square from side to side,
Oft stoope their gallant mindes and prove I weene,
Worse Beggers farre then those that Beggers beene;
With fawning tongue and Court eclipsing guile
They claw the Great in vices more then vile,
And then of this or that in daily begging,
They still sollicite them with tedious gaping.
But loe alas, what proves this hardracket store
Got by encroaching on the pined poore.
Lifes bitter curse, while heere on Earth wee dwell
And Soules sad burthen bearing downe to Hell.
Why then doe those that tediously importune
The royall Lyon to advance their Fortune,
Thus base and Begger-like sollicite still
T' increase their profit by a generall ill:
They knew the noble Lyons Royall minde
To humble Suitors is by nature kinde,
Nor stearne nor statefull to the Subjects base,
But full of Lenitie and Gentle grace.
They know hee strives by his benignitie
To imitate the Gods in charitie,
Which they will still abuse, being Begger-lipt,
Till from his Court such Beggers base be whipt,"
This speech so toucht the Ape, that with much paine
Hee could himselfe in quiet moode containe.

But Reynald thus reply'd. "Well have you spoken
"In this behalfe, for these your words betoken
Your common care, which nature tyes us to,
Not for our selves being onely borne to doe.
Yet you (me seemes Sir Oxe) without such shift
By merit may your selfe to honour lift,
Seeing every where true merit hath her place
At least it can no where receive disgrace."

The Oxe replay'd. "I would thy words were true
Would merit every where might have her due,
Then should I not behold unto my griefe
The meritorious want without reliefe.
But loe, Ah lasse, behold the noble Horse
That ev'n hath spent the utmost of his force,
'Gainst th' Aegle and the Dragon his proud mate
Who both of late made warre upon our State,
How oft have I beheld him with delight
Preparing of himselfe for bloody fight,
Who never fear'd what might by foes bee done
With Ha, ha, ha, the Battaile hath begun,
The eyes of Gorgon burning in his head
With feare hath made his fainting foes halfe dead.
And proudly prauncing with a side-long pace
Lifting his fetlockes up with nimble grace,
All Rainbow-like hee bore his crest deckt necke
In proud contempt of any Counterchecke,
Then on the hard ground having made some proofe
Of the strong battery of his hardy hoofe,
With nimble Capers in a stately daunce
He towards the battaile bold would proudly praunce,
And being come in sight of th' Armed foes
Hee snuffes, he puffes, he Boggles, snoarts and blowes,
And neighing with shrill voyce, hee seemes to cry
And call for Combate with the Enemy.
Then like the Lightning from the Easterne ayre
Or swiftest whirlewind, in his fierce repayre
To flie 'mongst thickest troupes he hath bin seene
To lose his life, or worthy Conquest winne,
Where in a moment, from the dusty ground
Into the ayre hee up would lightly bound,
And falling downe againe, with sinewie shankes
Would beat and batter downe the thickest rankes,
From whence he oftentimes (though wounded) came
With Conquests high renowne, and endlesse fame.
But now where is the meed of his true merit?
Who now yeelds comfort to his fainting spirit?
Live not the sonnes of Mars in every eye
The perfect maps of Ragged beggery,
As often as their wounds they doe behold
The which they tooke their Countries cause t' uphold,
Their eyes, lippes, hands, and harts, to heav'n doe goe,
Wishing pale Death to end their helplesse woe;
Which being deny'd dire need doth them constraine
To doe the thing their soules did once disdaine,
Ev'n Begger-like one single Mite to crave
Poore life within his halfe-starv'd house, to save."
This said, the Foxe forthwith with winking eyne
To th' Ape was decreed gave privie signe.

Who stepping forth with countenance fell, thus spake
"Friend Foxe quoth hee, your witnesse heere I take
Of their disloyall words, which intimate
Their treacherous thoughts against the Prince and State.

"Sure sayd the Fox, their speeches doe import
As much as Treason, if 'twere heard in Court,
But they perchance will happily repent
Let me disswade you then from your intent,
For if the Councell of the Lyon dread
Bee certified of this, they are but dead.
They shall compound with you, and 'twere not good
For you to seeke the shedding of their blood."
With this intent the Fox thus spake, as hee
That thought thereby to gaine some golden fee
To stop their mouths, but both the Sheepe and Oxe,
Perceiving well the knavery of the Foxe,
As they that guiltlesse were, withouten doubt
Defied both Fox and Ape with courage stout.

The Ape perceiving this swore by his head
For those their words, they should ere long be dead.
And so enrag'd to Court he went againe
With Reynald his slye copesmate to complaine.
Where when they came, such Treason they detect
Which 'gainst the Oxe and Sheepe they did object,
That with swift summoning they cyted were
Before the Lyons Councell to appeare.
The time was set, and loe those Royall Peeres
That on their backes the Forrests burthen beares
Jove-like in Councell, each one tooke his place
To give their judgement in so weightie a case.
The Guard attendant on the Forrest King
The Oxe and Sheepe, unto the Barre did bring;
Then with shrill voyce, the Cryer 'mongst them all
A generall silence through the Court did call,
Which every where advisefull audience bred
While thus th' Inditement by the Clerke was read.

"Come forth Sir Oxe (sayd hee) stand at the Barre,
And thou Sir Sheepe, yee both Indited are
For Treason, 'gainst the Lyon our dread King
Which th' Ape and Foxe of late to light did bring,
And for lewd Speech us'd 'mongst the vulgar sort
Seeking thereby for to defame the Court;
Intitling those by names of Beggers base,
That for desert are in the Princes grace:
And which is worse for your disloyal hate
And treasonable grudging 'gainst the state
Of all which treasons worthy vengefull wreake
If you be guilty or not guilty speake?"

To this, the Oxe not guilty did reply
And therewithall he craved liberty
With humble suite that he might answer shape
'Gainst this Inditement of the Fox and Ape,
Which granted after humble reverence made
Unto the bench, these words he boldly sayd.
"Right honored Lords, Peeres of a peerelesse King
From whose sole care our common good doth spring,
The greatest part of treason urged heere
As by the inditement read may well appeare
Consists in words which as our foes report
By us were spoken 'gainst the King and Court:
But daigne dread Lords, to marke what we have sayd
And what construction thereof they have made;
Naught 'gainst the Court or Courtier did wee say
But 'gainst such Vice as in the Court beares sway.
The Court where wonnes so many a Joviall spring
Made famous by the influence of a noble King,
As like Joves Pallace 'bove the starry skye,
Rather to bee admir'd, then judg'd with mortall eye;
Yet as in a Paradise of sweet delight
With rarest Fruits and fairest Flowers bedight,
Ne'rethelesse the care the cunning Gardener takes
His hookes, his sythes, his pickaxe, spade and rakes,
Some fruitlesse weeds are growing on the ground:
So in our Kings owne Pallace may bee found
Amongst the number that praise-worthy bee
Some wicked Beasts of more then base degree.
And 'gainst such Vice, as they doe there support
Wee did inveigh; and not against the Court:
Ne did we say, that such have Beggers bin
That by desert doe Grace or favour winne:
But such as dayly use with restlesse gaping
With cloaked falsehood and with tedious begging
Of our dread Soveraignes golden guifts to crave
Although no merit in themselves they have;
This is the summe in briefe of what we spake
And this is it which they would treason make."
This said, dumbe silence for a certaine space
Did shut the lips of all that were in place
Till at the last, that great Heroe rose
Who of the Forrests treasure doth dispose
The noble Elephant, who as he stood
From his sweet mouth powr'd forth a fluent flood
Of honied eloquence, which wanting skill
If I expresse the same, soone should I spill
With sharpe invective, first against that sort
Of hungry Beggers that frequent the Court
Hee did inveigh, then by his powerfull wit
Hee shewed since he in Counsels seat did sit;
How many private States had changed bin
Which by observance he had mark't and seene,
Supplanted all by cousenage of the Ape
Or by some falsehood which the Fox did shape.
Then 'gainst the Ape, his speech he gan to frame
Hee shew'd what Beast he was and whence he came
How Jove at first, for his deceiptfull guile
Made him, of man a Beast, and in that Isle
Call'd Ape Isle of his name, alone him put
And how his taile at length for craft was cut.
Then question'd he the Fox, to know if hee
Against the Oxe and Sheepe would witnes bee
And what true depositions he could bring
That they intended treason 'gainst the King.
The Fox though halfe amaz'd with suddaine feare
To heare such words from such a mighty Peere,
Yet that his witnes might seeme more t' have troth
Hee did unbidden seeke to take his oath.
The booke was brought; but loe the Eternall Jove
Who by his power protecteth from above
The cause of Innocence, with dreadfull frowne
From Heav'ns high Palace cast his count'nance downe
And as the Foxe his oath began to take
As Jove but stirr'd, hee made Olympus shake,
And thundring horribly above the skie,
Through the ayre hee made a sulphurie flash to she,
Which fell upon the Foxe, for his foule sinne;
And for his judgement strange, so syng'd his skinne
That since, All Foxes smell of it and beare
A synged colour ever in their haire.
This suddaine change, amaz'd the standers by
Who all with one consent, gan glorifie
The name of Jove, and 's judgement forthwith gave
Against the Ape, who now no wit could save
From punishment; For 'bout the Forrest wide
They whipt him well, and soundly lasht his hide.

So did the Begger bluntly end his Tale,
In which (your pardon I crave) if ought I faile
And if in reading, Beggerly you hold it,
Dislike it not, because a Begger told it.

[sigs A2-E2v]