1627
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Moone-Calfe.

The Battaile of Agincourt. Fought by Henry the Fift of that Name, King of England, against the whole Power of the French: under the Raigne of their Charles the Sixt, Anno Dom. 1415. The Miseries of Queene Margarite, the infortunate Wife, of that most infortunate King Henry the Sixt. Nimphidia, the Court of Fayrie. The Quest of Cinthia. The Shepheards Sirena. The Moone-Calfe. Elegies upon sundry Occasions. By Michaell Drayton Esquire.

Michael Drayton


Michael Drayton's beast fable is written in "elaborate imitation of Mother Hubberds Tale" Herbert E. Cory, "Spenserian Pastoral" (1910) 246.

1748 editor: "A Satire in which surely there wants not either Wit, Spirit, or that warm Poetic Madness, which himself has elsewhere celebrated as that which distinguishes the true Genius, and can never be either counterfeited or imitated. He Feigns that the WORLD was in Labour, and brought forth by the EVIL FIEND an Androgynous Monster, which being divided, produced an effeminate Man, and a masculine Woman. He takes Occasion from thence to inveigh bitterly against the Manners of the Age in which he liv'd, and to lay open its Vices, not with Freedom barely, but with Fury. In short, his Indignation, or to speak plainly, his Resentment is very conspicuous and we cannot help discerning how much his Spleen is gratified, while he seems to be intent only on the great Work of Reformation" Works of Drayton (1748) 9.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "The excellent fable of the maddening rain I have found in Drayton's Moon Calf, most miserably marred in the telling! vastly inferior to Benedict Fay's Latin exposition of it, and that is no great thing. Vide his Lucretian Poem on the Newtonian System. Never was a finer tale for a satire, or, rather, to conclude a long satirical poem of five or six hundred lines" "Animae Poetae" (1805) 130; in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 1:706.

Oliver Elton: "The Mooncalf is Drayton's contribution to the censorious school of Hall and Marston, with its affectation, its distorted bloodshot vision of society. It is rank satire of the conventional stamp, containing amidst its splutter of avarice and luxury some quaint documents of frivolous or corrupt manners. The Mooncalf, a bastard son of the world and the devil, represents the ignorant sot, who in youth is a wanton, but who rises on the strength of his vices to place and consideration above the good" Michael Drayton, a Critical Study (1905) 132-33.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "It has affinities with Spenser, Hall, Marston, and Guilpin on the one hand, and Wither, Ben Jonson, Fitzgeffrey and Brathwait on the other. But in both groups satire usually took the more or less classical form of monologue or epistle; whereas Drayton's poem is a fantastic narrative, deriving in type from Mother Hubberds Tale. The influence of Spenser is less obvious here than in The Owle, but it may be evident in the introduction of the 'foure good olde women' telling 'merry tales' — tales which, like Spenser's, use the mediaeval beast-fable for allegorical satire" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:210.



Helpe Neighbours helpe, for Gods sake come with speede,
For of your helpe there never was such neede:
Midwives make hast, and dresse yee as yee runne;
Either come quickly, or w'are all undone;
The World's in labour, her throwes come so thick,
That with the Pangues she's waxt starke lunatick:
But whither, whither, one was heard to crie:
She that call'd thus, doth presently replie;
Doe yee not see in ev'ry Streete and place,
The generall world now in a piteous case.

Up got the Gossips, and for very hast,
Some came without Shooes, some came all unlac'd,
As she had first appointed them, and found
The World in labour, dropt into a swound:
Wallowing she lay, like to a boystrous hulke,
Dropsied with Ryots, and her big-swolne bulke
Stuff'd with infection, rottennesse, and stench;
Her blood so fierd, that nothing might it quench
But the Aspes poyson, which stood by her still,
That in her drought she often us'd to swill;
Clothed she was in a Fooles coate, and cap,
Of rich imbroydered Silks, and in her lap
A sort of paper Puppets, Gawdes, and Toyes,
Trifles scarce good enough for Girles and Boyes,
Which she had dandled, and with them had playd,
And of this trash her onely God had made.

Out and alasse (quoth one) the rest among,
I doubt me Neighbours, we have stay'd too long:
Pluck off your Rings, lay me your Bracelets by;
Fall to your bus'nesse, and that speedily,
Or else I doubt, her spirits consume so fast,
That e're the birth, her strength will quite be past:
But when more wistly they did her behold,
There was not one (that once) durst be so bold
As to come neere her, but stood all amaz'd,
Each upon other silently and gaz'd:
When as her belly they so bigge doe see,
As if a Tunne within the same should be,
And heard a noyse and rumbling in her wombe,
As at the instant of the generall doome:
Thunder and Earthquakes raging, and the Rocks
Tumbling downe from their scytes, like mighty blocks,
Rowl'd from huge mountaines, such a noyse they make,
As though in sunder heav'ns huge Axtree brake,
They either Poles their heads together pasht,
And all againe into the Chaos dasht.
Some of slight judgement that were standing by,
Sayd, it was nothing but a Timpany:
Others said, sure she humane helpe did want,
And had conceived by an Elephant;
Or some Sea-monster, of a horrid shape,
Committed with her by some violent rape:
Others more wise, and noting very well,
How her huge wombe did past all compasse swell,
Said certainly (if that they might confesse her)
It would be found some Divell did possesse her.

Thus while they stood, and knew not what to doe;
Women (quoth one) why doe you trifle so:
I pray you thinke, but wherefore yee came hether,
Shall wombe, and burthen, perish both together:
Bring forth the Birth-stoole, no, let it alone,
She is so farre beyond all compasse growne:
Some other new devise us needs must sted,
Or else she never can be brought to bed.
Let one that hath some execrable spell,
Make presently her entrance into hell:
Call Hecate, and the damn'd Furies hether,
And try if they will undertake together
To helpe the sicke World; one is out of hand
Dispatch'd for hell, who by the dread command
Of powerfull Charmes brought Hecate away,
Who knowing her bus'nesse, from her selfe doth lay
That sad aspect, she wont to put on there,
In that blacke Empire; and doth now appeare,
As shees Lucina giving strength and ayde
In birth to women; mild as any mayde,
Full of sweet hope her brow seemd, and her eyes
Darting fresh comfort, like the morning skies.

Then came the Furies with their bosomes bare,
Save somewhat covered with their Snaky hayre,
In wreathes contorted, mumbling hellish Charmes,
Up to the elbowes naked were there Armes.
Megera, eld'st of this damn'd Femall Fiends,
Gnawing her wrists, biting her fingers ends,
Entred the first; Tysiphone the next,
As to revenge her Sister throughly vext:
In one hand bare a whip, and in the other
A long shape knife; the third, which seeme to smoother,
Her manner of revenge, cast such an eye,
As well neare turnd to stone all that stood by,
Her name Alecto, which no plague doth rue,
Nor never leaves them, whom she doth pursue.

The women pray the Goddesse now to stand
Auspicious to them, and to lend her hand
To the sick World, which willingly she granted;
But at the sight as altogether danted,
From her cleare face the sprightly vigour fled,
And but she sawe the Women hard bested,
Out she had gone, nor one glance back had shot,
Till heaven or hell she o'r her head had got,
Yet she her selfe retires, next to the dore.
The Gossips worse then e'r they were before
At their wits end, know not which way to take,
At length the World beginning to awake
Out of the Trance, in which she lay as dead,
And somewhat raising her unweeldy head,
To bright Lucina call'd for helpe, that shee,
Now in her travell would propitious be.
The Goddesse not from feeling of her woe,
Onely to see with what the World might goe,
As she is draded Hecate, having power
Of all that keepe Hels ugly balefull Bower,
Commands the Furies to step in and ayde her,
And be the Midwives, till they safe had layd her.
To do whose pleasure as they were about,
A sturdy Huswife pertly stepping out,
Cryes hold a while, and let the queane alone;
It is no matter, let her lye and groane:
Hold her still to't, wee'll doe the best we can
To get out of her, certainly the man
Which ownes the Bastard: for there's not a Nation
But hath with her committed fornication:
And by her base and common prostitution,
She came by this unnaturall polution;
There is a meane for women thus abus'd,
Which at this time may very well be us'd:
That in this case when people doe desire,
To know the truth, yet doubtfull of the Sire,
When as the woman most of life doth doubt her
In greevous throwes; to those that are about her;
He that is then at the last cast disclos'd,
The naturall Father is to be suppos'd:
And the just Law doth faithfully decide,
That for the nursing he is to provide:
Therefore let's see, what in her pangues she'll say,
Lest that this Bastard on the Land we lay:
They lik'd her counsell, and their helpe denide,
But bad her lye and languish till she dide;
Unlesse to them she truly would confesse,
Who fill'd her belly with this foule excesse.

Alas (quoth she) the Divell drest me thus,
Amidst my Ryot, whilst that Incubus
Wrought on my weakenesse, and by him beguilde,
He onely is the Father of the childe.
His Instrument my Apish imitation,
Of ev'ry monstrous and prodigious fashion,
Abus'd my weaknesse: women it was she,
Who was the Bawd betwixt the Fiend and me:
That this is true, it on my death I take,
Then helpe me women even for pitties sake.

When ominous signes to showe themselves began,
That now at hand this monstrous birth fore-ran:
About at noone flewe the affrighted Owle,
And dogs in corners set them downe to howle:
Bitches and Wolves these fatall signes among,
Brought forth most monstrous and prodigious young.
And from his hight the earth refreshing Sunne,
Before his houre his golden head doth runne,
Farre under us, in doubt his glorious eye,
Should be polluted with this Prodigye.
A Panique feare upon the people grew,
But yet the cause, there was not one that knewe,
When they had heard this; a short tale to tell,
The Furies straight upon their bus'nesse fell,
And long it was not ere there came to light,
The most abhorrid, the most fearefull sight
That ever eye beheld, a birth so strange,
That at the view, it made their lookes to change;
Women (quoth one) stand of, and come not neere it,
The Devill if he saw it, sure would feare it;
For by the shape, for ought that I can gather,
The Childe is able to affright the Father;
Out cries another, now for Gods sake hide it,
It is so ugly we may not abide it:
The birth is double, and growes side to side
That humane hand it never can divide;
And in this wondrous sort as they be Twins
Like Male and Female they be Androgines,
The Man is partly Woman, likewise shee
Is partly Man, and yet in face they be
Full as prodigious, as in parts; the Twinne
That is most man, yet in the face and skinne,
Is all meere Woman, that which most doth take
From weaker woman: Nature seemes to make
A man in show, thereby as to define,
A Fem'nine man, a woman Masculine;
Before bred, nor begott: a more strange thing,
Then ever Nile, yet into light could bring,
Made as Creation meerely to dispight,
Nor man, nor woman, scarse Hermophradite.
Affricke thats said, Mother of Monsters is,
Let her but shew me such a one as this
And then I will subscribe (to doe her due,)
And sweare, that what is said of her is true.
Quoth one, tis monstrous, and for nothing fitt,
And for a Monster, quicke lets bury it;
Nay quoth another, rather make provision,
If possibly, to part it by incision,
For were it parted, for ought I can see,
Both man, and woman it may seeme to be:
Nay, quoth a third that must be done with cost,
And were it done, our labour is but lost,
For when w' have wrought the utmost that we can,
Hee's too much woman, and shee's too much man;
Therefore, as 'tis a most prodigious birth,
Let it not live here to polute the earth:
Gossip (quoth th' last) your reason I denie,
Tis more by law, then we can justifie;
For Syer, and Dam, have certainly decreed,
That they will have more comfort of their seed:
For he begot it, and t'was borne of her,
And out of doubt they will their owne prefer:
Therefore good women better be advis'd,
"For precious things should not be lightly priz'd."
This Moone-Calfe borne under a lucky Fate,
May powerfull prove in many a wealthy State,
And taught the tongues about some fewe yeares hence,
As now w' are all tongue, and but little sence:
It may fall out for any thing you knowe,
This Moone-Calfe may on great imployments goe:
When learned men for noble action fit,
Idly at home (unthought of once) may sit;
A Bawd, or a Projector he may prove,
And by his purse so purchasing him love,
May be exalted to some thriving roome,
Where sildome good men suffred are to come:
What will you say, hereafter when you see;
The times so gracelesse and so mad to be;
That men their perfect humane shape shall flie,
To imitate this Beasts deformitie:
Nay, when you see this Monster, which you now
Will hardly breath upon the earth alowe;
In his Caroch with foure white Frizelands drawne,
And he as pyde and garish as the Pawne,
With a set face; in which as in a booke,
He thinks the World for grounds of State should looke,
When to some greater one, whose might doth awe him,
Hee's knowne a verier Jade, then those that drawe him.
Nay at the last, the very killing sight,
To see this Calfe (as vertue to dispight)
Above just honest men his head to reare,
Nor to his greatnesse may they once come neere.
Each ignorant Sott to Honour seekes to rise;
But as for vertue who did first devise
That title, a reward for hers to be,
As most contemned and dispised shee,
Goes unregarded, that they who should owne her,
Dare not take notice ever to have knowne her;
And but that vertue, when she seemeth throwne
Lower then Hell, hath power to raise her owne,
Above the World, and this her monstrous birth,
She long e're this had perish'd from the earth;
Her Fautors banish'd by her foes so hie,
Which looke so bigge as they would scale the skie:
But seeing no helpe, why should I thus complaine,
Then to my Moone-Calfe I returne againe,
By his deare Dam the World, so choysely bred,
To whom there is such greatnesse promised;
For it might well a perfect man amaze,
To see what meanes the Syer and Dam will raise,
T' exalt their Moone-Calfe, and him so to cherish,
That he shall thrive, when vertuous men shall perish.
The Drunkard, Glutton, or who doth apply,
Himselfe to beastly sensuality,
Shall get him many friends, for that there be,
Many in ev'ry place just such as he;
The evill, love them that delight in ill,
Like have cleav'd to their like, and ever will:
But the true vertuous man (God knowes) hath fewe,
They that his straite and harder steps pursue,
Are a small number, scarsely knowne of any;
"God hath fewe friends, the devill hath so many."

But to returne, that yee may plainly see,
That such a one he likely is to be,
And that my words for truth that yee may trie,
Of the Worlds Babe thus doe I prophecie:
Marke but the more man of these monstrous Twins,
From his first youth, how tow'rdly he begins,
When he should learne, being learn'd to leave the Schoole,
This arrant Moone-Calfe, this most beastly foole,
Just to our English Proverbe shall be seene,
"Scarcely so wise at fifty, as fifteene:"
And when himselfe he of his home can free,
He to the Citie comes, where then if he,
And the familiar Butterflye his Page,
Can passe the Street, the Ord'nary, and Stage,
It is enough, and he himselfe thinkes then,
To be the onely absolut'st of men.
Then in his Cups you shall not see him shrinke,
To the grand Divell a Carouse to drinke.
Next to his Whore he doth himselfe apply,
And to maintaine his gotish luxurie,
Eates Capons Cookt at fifteene crownes a peece,
With their fat bellies, stuff'd with Amber greece;
And being to travell, he sticks not to lay,
His Post Caroches still upon his way:
And in some sixe dayes journey doth consume
Ten pounds in Suckets and the Indian Fume:
For his Attire, then Forraigne parts are sought,
He holds all vile in England that is wrought,
And into Flanders sendeth for the nonce,
Twelve dozen of Shirts providing him at once,
Layd in the seames with costly Lace that be,
Of the Smock fashion, whole belowe the knee,
Then bathes in milke, in which when he hath bin,
He lookes like one for the preposterous sin,
Put by the wicked and rebellious Jewes,
To be a Pathique in their Malekind Stewes.
With the ball of's foot the ground he may not feele,
But he must tread upon his toe and heele:
Dublet, and Cloke, with Plush and Velvet linde,
Onely his head peece, that is fill'd with winde;
Rags, running Horses, Dogs, Drabs, Drinke, and Dice,
The onely things that he doth hold in price:
Yet more then these, naught doth him so delight,
As doth his smooth-chind, plump-thigh'd, Catamite.
Sodome for her great sinne that burning sanke,
Which at one draught the pit infernall dranke,
Which that just God on earth could not abide,
Hath she so much the Divels terifide:
As from their seate, them well-neere to exile,
Hath Hell new spew'd her up after this while:
Is she new risen, and her sinne agen
Imbrac'd by beastly and outragious men.
Nay more he jests at Incest, as therein
There were no fault, counts sacriledge no sin:
His blasphemies he useth for his grace;
Wherewith, he truth doth often times out-face:
He termeth vertue madnesse, or meere folly,
He hates all high things, and prophanes all holy.
Where is thy thunder god, art thou a sleepe?
Or to what suff'ring hand giv'st thou to keepe
Thy wrath and vengeance; where is now the strength
Of thy Almighty arme, failes it at length?
Turne all the Starres to Comets, to out-stare
The Sunne at noone-tide, that he shall not dare
To looke but like a Gloworme, for that he
Can without melting these damnations see.

But this Ile leave, lest I my pen defile;
Yet to my Moone-Calfe keepe I close the while,
Who by some Knave, perswaded he hath wit,
When like a brave Foole, he to utter it,
Dare with a desperate boldnesse roughly passe
His censure on those Bookes, which the poore Asse
Can never reach to, things from darknesse sought,
That to the light with blood and sweat were brought:
And takes upon him those things to controle,
Which should the brainelesse Ideot sell his soule,
All his dull race, and he, can never buy
With their base pelfe, his glorious industry;
Knowledge with him is idle, if it straine
Above the compasse of his yestie braine:
Nor knowes mens worthes but by a second hand,
For he himselfe doth nothing understand;
He would have some thing, but what tis he showes not,
What he would speake, nay what to thinke he knowes not:
He nothing more then truth and knowledge loathes,
And nothing he admires of mans, but cloathes.
Now for that I thy dotage dare mislike,
And seeme so deepe, into thy soule to strike;
Because I am so plaine thou lik'st not me,
Why know, poore Slave, I no more thinke of thee,
Then of the Ordure that is cast abroad,
I hate thy vice more then I doe a Toade.
Poore is the spirit that fawnes on thy applause;
Or seekes for suffrage from thy barbarous jawes.
Misfortune light on him, that ought doth way,
Yee sonnes of Beliall, what yee thinke or say.
Who would have thought, whilst wit sought to advance,
It selfe so high, damn'd beastly ignorance;
Under the cloake of knowledge should creepe in,
And from desert should so much credite win;
But all this poysonous froth Hell hath let flie,
In these last dayes, at noble Poesie,
That which hath had both in all times and places,
For her much worth, so sundry soveraigne graces;
The language, which the Spheares and Angels speake,
In which their minde they to poore Mortalls breake
By Gods great power, into rich soules infus'd,
By every Moone-Calfe lately thus abus'd:
Should all hells blacke inhabitants conspire,
And more unheard of mischiefe, to them hyer;
Such as high Heav'n were able to affright,
And on the noone-sted bring a double night:
Then they have done, they could not more disgrace her,
As from the earth (even) utterly to race her:
What Princes lov'd, by Pesants now made hatefull,
In this our age so damnably ingratefull:
And to give open passage to her fall,
It is devis'd to blemish her withall;
That th' hideous braying of each barbarous Asse,
In Printed Letters freely now must passe.
In Accents so untuneable and vile,
With other Nations as might damne our Ile,
If so our tongue they truly understood,
And make them thinke our braines were meerely mud.
To make her vile, and ugly, to appeare,
Whose naturall beauty is Divinely cleare;
That on the Stationers Stall, who passing lookes,
To see the multiplicity of Bookes,
That pester it, may well beleeve the Presse,
Sicke of a surfet, spu'd with the excesse:
Which breedeth such a dulnesse through the Land,
Mongst those one tongue which onely understand,
Which did they reade those sinewie Poems writ,
That are materiall relishing of wit:
Wise pollicie, Morallity, or Story,
Well purtraying the Ancients and their glory,
These blinded Fooles, on their base Carion feeding,
Which are (in truth) made ignorant by reading,
In little time would growe to be asham'd,
And blush to heare those lowzie Pamphlets nam'd,
Which now they studie, naught but folly learning,
Which is the cause that they have no discerning,
The good from bad, this ill, that well to know,
Because in ignorance they are nourish'd so;
Who for this hatefull trash should I condemne
They that doe utter, or Authorize them:
O that the Ancients should so carefull be,
Of what they did impresse, and onely we
Loosely at randome, should let all things flie,
Though gainst the Muses it be blasphemie:
But yet to happy spirits, and to the wise,
All is but foolish that they can devise,
For when contempt of Poesie is proudest,
Then have the Muses ever sung the loudest.

But to my Calfe, who to be counted prime,
According to the fashion of the time,
Him to associate some Buffoon doth get,
Whose braines he still, with much expence must whet,
And ever beare about him as his guest,
Who comming out with some ridiculous jest,
Of one (perhaps) a god that well might be,
If but compar'd with such an Asse as he,
His Patron rores with laughter, and doth crye,
Take him away, or presently I dye.
Whilst that Knave-foole which well himselfe doth knowe,
Smiles at the Coxcombe, which admires him so:
His time and wealth, thus lewdly that doth spend,
As it were lent him to no other end:
Untill this Moone-Calfe, this most drunken puffe,
Even like a Candle burnt into the snuffe:
Fierd with surfet, in his owne greace fries,
Sparkles a little, and then stinking dies.
The wealth his Father by extortion wonne,
Thus in the spending helps to damne the Sonne,
And so falls out indifferently to either,
Whereby in hell they justly meete together;
And yet the World much joyes in her behalfe,
And takes no little pleasure in her Calfe,
Had this declining time the Freedome now,
Which the brave Romane once did it alowe:
With Wyer and Whipcord yee should see her payde,
Till the luxurious Whore should be afrayde
Of prostitution, and such lashes given,
To make her blood spirt in the face of Heaven;
That men by looking upward as they goe,
Should see the plagues layd on her here belowe.

But now proceede we with the other Twin
Which is most woman who shall soone begin
To shew her selfe; no sooner got the Teenes,
But her owne naturall beauty she disdaines,
With Oyles and Broathes most venomous and base,
Shee plaisters over her well-favoured face;
And those sweet veynes by nature rightly plac'd,
Wherewith she seem'd that white skin to have lac'd,
Shee soone doth alter; and with fading blewe,
Blanching her bosome, she makes others newe;
Blotting the curious workmanship of nature;
That e're she be arriv'd at her full stature,
E're she be drest, she seemeth aged growne,
And to have nothing on her of her owne:
Her black, browne, aburne or her yellow hayre,
Naturally lovely, she doth scorne to weare;
It must be white to make it fresh to show,
And with compounded meale she makes it so:
With fumes and powdrings raising such a smoke,
That a whole Region able were to choke:
Whose stench might fright a Dragon from his den,
The Sunne yet ne're exhal'd from any Fen;
Such pestilencious vapours as arise,
From their French Powdrings, and their Mercuries.
Ireland, if thou wilt able be alone,
Of thine owne power to drive out thy Tyrone:
By heaping up a masse of Coyne together,
Sheere thy olde Wolves, and send their Fleeces hether.
Thy white Goates hayre, Wales, dearer will be solde
Then silke of Naples, or then Thred of golde.
Our Water-dogs, and Islands here are shorne;
White haire so much of women here is worne.
Nay more then this, they'll any thing endure,
And with large summes they stick not to procure:
Hayre from the dead, yea and the most uncleane,
To helpe their pride they nothing will disdaine.
Then in attiring her, and in her sleepe,
The dayes three parts she exercis'd doth keepe,
And in ridiculous visits she doth spend
The other fourth part, to no other end;
But to take note how such a Lady lies,
And to gleane from her some deformities,
Which for a grace she holds, and till she get,
She thinkes her selfe to be but counterfet.
Our Merchants from all parts twixt either Inde,
Cannot get Silke to satisfie her minde:
Nor Natures perfect'st patternes can suffise,
The curious draughts for her imbroyderies:
She thinks her honour utterly is lost,
Except those things doe infinitely cost
Which she doth weare; nor thinke they can her dresse,
Except she have them in most strange excesse.
And in her fashion she is likewise thus,
In every thing she must be monstrous:
Her Picadell above her crowne up-beares;
Her Fardingale is set above her eares:
Which like a broad sayle with the winde doth swell,
To drive this faire Hulke headlong into Hell.
After againe, note, and you shall her see,
Shorne like a man, and for that she will be
Like him in all, her congies she will make,
With the mans curtsie, and her Hat off take,
Of the French fashion, and weare by her side
Her sharpe Stillato in a Ryband tide,
Then gird her selfe close to the paps she shall,
Shap'd, breast, and buttock, but no waste at all.

But of this she Calfe now, to cease all strife;
Ile by example lim her to the life.
Not long agone it was my chance to meete
With such a Fury, such a female spright;
As never man sawe yet, except twere shee,
And such a one as I may never see
Againe I pray: but where I will not name,
For that the place might so pertake her shame:
But when I sawe her rampant to transcend
All womenhead, I thought her (sure) a friend,
And to my selfe my thoughts suggested thus,
That she was gotten by some Incubus,
And so remembring an olde womans tale,
As she sate dreaming o'r a pot of Ale,
That on a time she did the Devill meete,
And knew him onely by his cloven feete:
So did I looke at hers, where she did goe,
To see if her feete, were not cloven so.
Ten long-tongu'd Tapsters in a common In,
When as the Guests to flock apace begin,
When up-stayre one, down-stayre another hies,
With squeaking clamours, and confused cries;
Never did yet make such a noyse as she,
That I dare boldly justifie, that he,
Who but one houre her lowd clack can endure,
May undisturbed, safely, and secure
Sleepe under any Bells, and never heare
Though they were rung, the clappers at his eare,
And the long'st night with one sweet sleepe beguile,
As though he dreamt of Musick all the while.
The very sight of her when she doth rore,
Is able to strike dumbe the boldest Whore
That ever traded: shee'll not stick to tell,
All in her life that ever her befell;
How she hath layne, with all degrees, and ages,
Her Plow-Boyes, Scullians, Lackies, and some Pages,
And sweare when we have said all that we can,
That there is nothing worth a pin in man,
And that there's nothing doth so please her minde,
As to see Mares, and Horses, doe their kinde;
And when she's Tipsey, how so e're t' offend,
Then all her speech to Bawdry doth intend:
In Womens secrets, and shee'll name yee all
Red to the Midwives at the Surgeons Hall.
Were the poore Coxcomb, her dull Husband dead,
He that durst then this female Moone-Calfe wed,
Should quite put downe the Roman which once leepe,
Into the burning Gulfe, thereby to keepe
His Country from devouring with the flame:
Thus leave we her, of all her sex the shame.

Amongst the rest, at the Worlds labour there,
Foure good olde women, most especiall were,
Which had beene jolly Wenches in their dayes,
Through all the Parish, and had borne the praise,
For merry Tales: one Mother Red-Cap hight,
And mother Howlet, somewhat ill of sight,
For she had hurt her eyes with watching late;
Then mother Bumby a mad jocound Mate
As ever Gossipt, and with her there came
Olde Gammer Gurton, a right pleasant Dame,
As the best of them; being thus together,
The businesse done for which they had come thither:
Quoth jolly mother Red-Cap at the last,
I see the night is quickly like to waste;
And since the World so kindly now is layde,
And the childe safe, which made us all afraide:
Let's have a night on't wenches, hang up sorrow,
And what sleepe wants now, take it up to morrow.
Stirre up the fire, and let us have our Ale,
And o'r our Cups, let's each one tell her Tale:
My honest Gossips, and to put you in,
Ile breake the Ice, and thus doth mine begin.
There was a certaine Prophesie of olde,
Which to an Ile had anciently beene tolde,
That after many yeares were com'n and gone,
Which then came out, and the set time came on;
Nay, more it told, the very day and howre,
Wherein should fall so violent a showre;
That it new Rivers in the earth should weare,
And Dorps, and Bridges quite away should beare:
But where this Ile is, that I cannot showe,
Let them enquire that have desire to knowe:
The Story leaves out that, let it alone;
And Gossip with my Tale I will goe on:
Yet what was worse the Prophecie this spake,
(As to warne men defence for it to make)
That upon whom one drop should chance to light,
They should of reason be deprived quite.
This Prophecie had many an Age beene heard,
But not a man did it one pin reguard;
For all to folly did themselves dispose,
(On veryer Calves the Sunne yet never rose)
And of their laughter made it all the Theame,
By terming it, the drunken Wizards Dreame.
There was one honest man amongst the rest,
That bare more perfect knowledge in his breast;
And to himselfe his private houres had kept,
To talke with God, whilst others drunke or slept,
Who in his mercy to this man reveal'd,
That which in Justice he had long conceal'd
From the rude Heard, but let them still runne on
The ready way to their destruction.

This honest man the Prophecie that noted,
And things therein more curiously had quoted,
Found all those signes were truly come to passe,
That should fore-showe this raine, and that it was
Neerely at hand; and from his depth of skill,
Had many a time fore-warn'd them of their ill,
And Preach'd to them this Deluge (for their good)
As to th' olde World Noe did before the Flood;
But lost his labour, and since t'was in vaine,
To talke more to those Idiots of the raine;
He let them rest: and silent sought about,
Where he might finde some place of safety out,
To shroud himselfe in, for right well he knewe,
That from this shower, which then began to brewe,
No roofe of Tyle, or Thatch he could come in,
Could serve him from being wet to the bare skin.
At length this man bethought him of a Cave
In a huge Rock, which likely was to save
Him from th' shower, upon a hill so steepe,
As up the same a man could hardly creepe,
So that except Noahs Flood should come againe,
He never could be raught by any raine;
Thither at length, though with much toyle he clome,
Listning to heare what would thereof become.

It was not long e're he perceiv'd the skies
Setled to raine, and a black cloud arise,
Whose foggy grosnesse so oppos'd the light,
As it would turne the noone-sted into night.
When the winde came about with all his power,
Into the tayle of this approching shower,
And it to lighten presently began;
Quicker then thought, from East to West that ran:
The Thunder following did so fiercely rave,
And through the thick clouds with such fury drave,
As Hell had been set open for the nonce,
And all the Divels heard to rore at once:
And soone the Tempest so outragious grew,
That it whole hedgerowes by the roots up threw,
So wondrously prodigious was the weather,
As heaven and earth had meant to goe together:
And downe the shower impetuously doth fall,
Like that which men the Hurricano call:
As the grand Deluge had beene come againe,
And all the World should perish by the raine.

And long it lasted; all which time this man
Hid in the Cave doth in his judgement scan,
What of this inundation would ensue,
For he knew well the Prophecie was true:
And when the shower was somwhat over-past,
And that the skies began to cleare at last:
To the Caves mouth he softly put his eare,
To listen if he any thing could heare:
What harme this storme had done, and what became
Of those that had beene sowsed in the same.
No sooner he that nimble Organ lent
To the Caves mouth; but that incontinent
There was a noyse as if the Garden Beares,
And all the Dogs together by the eares,
And those of Bedlam had enlarged bin,
And to behold the Bayting had come in:
Which when he heard, he knew too well alasse,
That what had beene fore-told, was come to passe;
Within himselfe good man, he reasoned thus:
Tis for our sinnes, this plague is falne on us.
Of all the rest, though in my wits I be,
(I thanke my Maker) yet it greeveth me,
To see my Country in this piteous case;
Woe's me that ever they so wanted grace:
But when as man once casts off vertue quite,
And doth in sinne and beastlinesse delight,
We see how soone God turnes him to a Sot:
To showe my selfe yet a true Patriot,
Ile in amongst them, and if so, that they
Be not accurst of God, yet, yet I may,
By wholesome counsell (if they can but heare)
Make them as perfect as at first they were,
And thus resolv'd goes this good poore man downe;
When at the entrance of the Neighbouring Towne,
He meetes a woman, with her Buttocks bare,
Got up a stride upon a wall-eyde Mare,
To runne a Horse-race, and was like to ride
Over the good man: but he stept aside;
And after her, another that bestroad
A Horse of Service, with a Lance she rode
Arm'd, and behinde her on a Pillian satt
Her frantique Husband, in a broad-brim'd Hatt,
A Maske and Safeguard; and had in his hand
His mad Wifes Distaffe for a ryding Wand:
Scarse from these mad folke, had he gone so farre,
As a strong man, will eas'ly pitch a Barre:
But that he found a Youth in Tissue brave,
(A daintier man one would not wish to have)
Was courting of a loathsome mezzeld Sowe,
And in his judgement, swore he must alowe
Hers, the prime Beauty, that he ever sawe,
Thus was she sued to (by that prating Dawe)
Who, on a dunghill in the loathsome gore,
Had farrowed ten Pigs scarce an houre before.
At which this man in melancholly deepe,
Burst into laughter, like before to weepe.
Another foole, to fit him for the weather,
Had arm'd his heeles with Cork, his head with feather;
And in more strange and sundry colours clad,
Then in the Raine-bowe ever can be had:
Stalk'd through the Streets, preparing him to flie,
Up to the Moone upon an Embassie.
Another seeing his drunken Wife disgorge
Her pamperd stomack, got her to a Forge,
And in her throat the Feverous heat to quench
With the Smiths horne, was giving her a Drench:
One his next Neighbour haltred had by force,
So frantique, that he tooke him for a Horse,
And to a Pond was leading him to drinke;
It went beyond the wit of man to thinke,
The sundry frenzies that he there might see,
One man would to another married be:
And for a Curate taking the Towne Bull,
Would have him knit the knot: another Gull
Had found an Ape was chained to a Stall,
Which he to worship on his knees doth fall;
To doe the like and doth his Neighbours get,
Who in a Chaire this ill-fac'd Munky set,
And on their shoulders lifting him on hie,
They in Procession beare him with a crie;
And him a Lord will have at least, if not,
A greater man: another sort had got
About a Pedlar, who had lately heard,
How with the mad men of this Ile it far'd:
And having nothing in his Pack but toyes,
Which none except meere mad men, and fond boyes
Would ever touch; thought verily that he
Amongst these Bedlams, would a gayner be,
Or else loose all; scarce had he pitch'd his Pack,
E're he could scarcely say, what doe yee lack:
But that they throng'd about him with their mony,
As thick as Flyes about a Pot of hony;
Some of these Lunaticks, these frantique Asses,
Gave him Spurryalls for his farthing Glasses:
There should you see another of these Cattell,
Give him a pound of silver for a Rattle;
And there another that would needsly scorse,
A costly Jewell for a Hobby-Horse:
For Bells, and Babies, such as children small,
Are ever us'd to solace them withall:
Those they did buy at such a costly rate,
That it was able to subvert a State;
Which when this wise and sober man beheld,
For very griefe his eyes with teares were sweld.
Alas, that e're I sawe this day (quoth he)
That I my Native Country-men should see
In this estate; when out of very zeale
Both to his native earth, and common-weale,
He thrust amongst them, and thus frames his speech.

Deare Country-men, I humbly yee beseech
Heare me a little, and but marke me well.
Alas, it is not long, since first yee fell
Into this frenzie, these outragious fits,
Be not I pray yee so out of your wits:
But call to minde th' inevitable ill
Must fall on yee, if yee continue still
Thus mad and frantique; therefore be not worse
Then your brute beasts to bring thereby a Curse
Upon your Nephewes, so to taynt their blood,
That twenty Generations shall be woo'd;
And this brave Land for wit, that hath been fam'd,
The Ile of Ideots after shall be nam'd:
Your braines are not so craz'd, but leave this Ryot,
And tis no question, but with temperate Dyet,
And counsaile of wise men, when they shall see
The desperate estate wherein you be:
But with such med'cines as they will apply,
They'll quickly cure your greevous malady.
And as he would proceed with his Oration,
One of the chiefest of this Bedlam Nation;
Layes hold on him, and askes who he should be.
Thou fellow (quoth this Lord) where had we thee,
Com'st thou to Preach to us that be so wise,
What wilt thou take upon thee to advise
Us, of whom all now underneath the skie,
May well be seene to learne frugality:
Why surely honest fellow thou art mad.
Another standing by, swore that he had
Seene him in Bedlam, foureteene yeeres agoe:
O quoth a third this fellow doe I knowe.
This is an arrant Coxcomb, a meere Dizard,
If yee remember, this is the same Wizard,
Which tooke upon him wisely to fore-tell,
The shower so many yeares before it fell:
Whose strong effects being so strange and rare,
Hath made us such brave creatures as we are:
When of this Nation all the frantique Route,
Fell into laughter the poore man about.
Some made mouthes at him, others as in scorne
With their forkt fingers poynted him the horne:
They call'd him Asse, and Dolt, and bad him goe
Amongst such Fooles, as he himselfe was, who
Could not teach them: at which this honest man,
Finding that naught, but hate and scorne he wan
Amongst these Ideots, and their beastly kinde,
The poore small remnant of his life behinde,
Determineth to solitude to give,
And a true Hermite afterward to live.

The tale thus ended, Gossip by your leave;
Quoth mother Bumby, I doe well perceive
The morrall of your Story, which is this;
(Correct me Dame, if I doe judge amisse)
But first Ile tell you by this honest Ale,
In my conceite this is a prety tale;
And if some hansome Players would it take,
It (sure) a pretty Interlude would make.
But to the Morrall, this same mighty shower
Is a plague sent by supernaturall power
Upon the wicked, for when God intends
To lay a curse on mens ungodly ends:
Of understanding he doth them deprive;
Which taken from them, up themselves they give
To beastlinesse, nor will he let them see
The miserable estate wherein they be.
The Rock to which this man for safety climes,
The contemplation is of the sad times
Of the declining World; his counsailes tolde
To the mad Route, to spoyle and basenesse solde,
Showes that from such no goodnesse can proceede,
Who counsailes fooles, shall never better speede.
Quoth mother Red-Cap, you have hit it right:
(Quoth she) I know it Gossip, and to quite
Your tale; another you of me shall have,
Therefore a while your patience let me crave.

Out in the North tow'rds Groneland farre away,
There was a Witch (as ancient Stories say)
As in those parts there many Witches be:
Yet in her craft above all other, shee
Was the most expert, dwelling in an Ile,
Which was in compasse scarce an English mile;
Which by her cunning she could make to floate
Whether she list, as though it were a Boate:
And where againe she meant to have it stay,
There could she fixe it in the deepest Sea:
She could sell windes to any one that would,
Buy them for money, forcing them to hold
What time she listed, tye them in a thrid,
Which ever as the Sea-farer undid
They rose or scantled, as his Sayles would drive,
To the same Port whereas he would arive:
She by her Spels could make the Moone to stay,
And from the East, she could keepe back the day,
Raise Mists and Fogs that could Ecclipse the light:
And with the noone-sted she could mixe the night.
Upon this Ile whereas she had aboad,
Nature (God knowes) but little cost bestow'd:
Yet in the same, some Bastard creature were
Seldome yet seene in any place but there;
Halfe men, halfe Goate, there was a certaine kinde,
Such as we Satyres purtray'd out doe finde.
Another sort of a most ugly shape;
A Beare in body, and in face an Ape:
Other like Beasts yet had the feete of Fowles,
That Demy-Urchins weare, and Demy-Owles:
Besides there were of sundry other sorts,
But wee'll not stand too long on these reports.

Of all the rest that most resembled man,
Was an o'r-worne ill-favoured Babian;
Which of all other, for that onely he,
Was full of tricks, as they are us'd to be:
Him in her Craft, so seriously she taught,
As that in little time she had him brought,
That nothing could before this Ape be set,
That presently he could not counterfet;
She learnt him med'cines instantly to make;
Him any thing whose shape he pleas'd to take:
And when this skill she had on him bestow'd,
She sent him for intelligence abroad.
Thus fully furnish'd, and by her sent out,
Hee went to practise all the World about.
He like a Jipsey oftentimes would goe,
All kinde of Gibb'rish he had learnt to knowe,
And with a stick, a short string, and a noose,
Would showe the people tricks at fast and loose:
Tell folkes their Fortunes, for he would finde out
By slye enquirie, as he went about:
What chance this one he, or that she had prov'd
Whom they most hated, or whom most they lov'd,
And looking in their hands, as there he knew it,
Out of his skill would counterfet to shew it:
Sometimes he for a Mountebanke would passe,
And shew you in a Crusible, or Glasse:
Some rare extraction, presently and runne,
Through all the Cures that he therewith had done,
An Aspick still he caried in a poke,
Which he to bite him often would provoke,
And with an oyle when it began to swell,
The deadly poyson quickly could expell:
And many times a Jugler he would be,
(A craftier Knave there never was then he;)
And by a mist deceiving of the sight,
(As knavery ever falsifies the light)
He by his active nimblenesse of hand,
Into a Serpent would transforme a Wand
As those Egyptians, which by Magick thought,
Farre beyond Moyses wonders to have wrought,
There never was a subtility devis'd,
In which this villaine was not exercis'd.

Now from this Region where they dwelt, not far
There was a wise and learn'd Astronomer,
Who skilfull in the Planetary howres,
The working knew of the Celestiall powers.
And by their ill, or by their good aspect,
Men in their actions wisely could direct,
And in the black and gloomy Arts so skild,
That he (even) Hell in his subjection hild;
He could command the Spirits up from belowe,
And binde them strongly, till they let him knowe
All the drad secrets that belong'd them to,
And what those did, with whom they had to do.

This Wizard in his knowledge most profound,
Sitting one day the depth of things to sound;
For that the World was brought to such a passe,
That it well-neere in a confusion was;
For things set right, ranne quickly out of frame,
And those a wry to rare perfection came:
And matters in such sort about were brought,
That States were pusled, almost beyond thought,
Which made him think (as he might very well)
There were more Divels then he knew in hell.
And thus resolves that he would cast about
In his best skill, to find the Engine out
That wrought all this, and put himselfe therein:
When in this bus'nesse long he had not bin,
But by the Spirits which he had sent abroad,
And in this worke, had every way bestow'd;
He came to know this foule Witch, and her Factor,
The one the Plotter, and the other th' Actor
Of all these stirres, which many a State had spoyl'd,
Whereby the World so long had beene turmoyl'd,
Wherefore he thought it much did him behove,
Out of the way this couple to remove;
Or (out of question) halfe the World e're long
Would be divided, hers, and his among.
When turning over his most mistique bookes,
Into the secrets of his Art he lookes;
And th' earth and th' ayre doth with such Magiques fill
That every place was troubled by his skill;
Whilst in his minde he many a thing revolves,
Till at the last, he with himselfe resolves;
One Spirit of his should take the Witches shape,
Another in the person of the Ape,
Should be joyn'd with him, so to prove by this,
Whether their power were lesse, or more then his;
Which he performes, and to their taske them sets,
When soon that Spirit, the Witch that counterfets,
Watch'd till he found her farre abroad to be,
Into the place, then of her home gets he:
And when the Babian came the newes to bring
What he had done abroad, and ev'ry thing
Which he had plotted, how their bus'nesse went,
And in the rest to know her drad intent,
Where she was wont to call him her deare sonne,
Her little Play-feere, and her pretty Bun:
Hug him, and sweare he was her onely joy;
Her very Hermes, her most dainty Boy,
O most strange thing: she chang'd her wonted cheare,
And doth to him most terrible appeare:
And in most fearefull shapes she doth him threaten
With eager lookes, as him she would have eaten,
That from her presence he was forc'd to flye,
As from his death, or deadly enemie.
When now the second which the shape doth take
Of the Baboon, determining to make
The like sport with him, his best time doth watch,
When he alone the cursed Witch might catch;
And when her Factor farthest was remote,
Then he began to change his former note,
And where he wont to tell her pleasing stories
Full of their Conquests, Triumphes, and their glories,
He turnes his Tale, and to the Witch relates
The strange revolts of Tributary States,
Things gotten backe, which late they had for prize,
With new discoveries of their pollicies;
Disgusts and dangers that had crost their cunning,
With sad portents, their ruine still forrunning;
That thus the Witch and the Baboon deceiv'd
Of all their hopes, of all their joyes bereav'd,
As in dispaire doe bid the world adue.
When as the Ape which weake and sickely grew,
On the cold earth his scurvy caryon layes,
And worne to nothing, endes his wretched dayes:
The filthy Hagg abhorring of the light,
Into the North past Thule takes her flight,
And in those deepes, past which no Land is found,
Her wretched selfe she miserably drownd.

The tale thus ended, mother Owle doth take
Her turne, and thus to mother Bumby spake;
The tale our Gossip Red-cap told before
You so well ridled that there can no more
Be said of it; and therefore as your due,
What you have done for her, Ile doe for you.

And thus it is, that same notorious Witch,
Is the ambition men have to be rich,
And Great, for which all faith aside they lay,
And to the Devill give themselves away,
The floating Ile where she is said to wonne,
The various courses are through which they ronne,
To get their endes, and by the Ape is ment,
Those damned Villaines, made the Instrument
To their disignes, that wondrous man of skill,
Sound counsell is, or rather if you will,
The Divine Justice, which doth bring to light,
Their wicked plotts not raught by common sight
For though they never have so closely wrought,
Yet to confusion lastly they are brought.
Gossip, indeede, you have hit it to a haire,
And surely your Moralitie is rare,
Quoth Mother Bumby; Mother Owle replide,
Come, come, I know I was not very wide,
Wherefore to quit your Tales, and make them three,
My honest Gossips listen now to me.

There was a man, not long since dead, but hee
Rather a Devill might accounted be:
For Judgement at her best could hardly scan,
Whether he were more Devill, or more man;
And as he was, he did himselfe apply
T' all kind of Witchcraft, and blacke Sorcery:
And for his humor naturally stood,
To Theft, to Rapine, and to shedding blood.
By those damn'd Hags with whom he was in grace,
And usd to meet in many a secret place;
He learnt an hearb of such a wondrous power,
That were it gather'd at a certaine howre,
(For Nature for the same did so provide,
As though from knowledge gladly it to hide,
For at Sunset it selfe it did disclose,
And shutt it selfe up, as the Morning rose)
That with thrice saying a strange Magique spell,
Which but to him, to no man they would tell,
When as so e'r that simple he would take,
It him a war-wolfe instantly would make,
Which put in practise he most certaine prov'd,
When to a Forrest he himselfe remov'd,
Through which there lay a plaine and common Roade,
Which he the place chose for his chiefe abode,
And there this Monster set him downe to theeve,
Nothing but stolne goods might this Fiend releeve;
No silly woman, by that way could passe,
But by this Woolfe she surely ravisht was,
And if he found her flesh were soft and good,
What serv'd for Lust, must also serve for foode.
Into a Village he sometime would gett,
And watching there (as for the purpose sett)
For little Children when they came to play,
The fattst he ever bore with him away;
And as the people oft were wont to rise,
Following with Hubbubs and confused cries:
Yet was he so well breathed, and so light,
That he would still outstrip them by his flight;
And making straight to the tall Forrest neare,
Of the sweet Flesh would have his Junkets there.
And let the Shepheards doe the best they could;
Yet would he venter oft upon the Fold:
And taking the fatt'st Sheepe he there could finde:
Beare him away, and leave the Dogs behinde:
Nor could men keepe, so much as Pig, or Lamb,
But it no sooner, could drop from the Dam,
By hooke or crooke, but he would surely catch,
Though with their weapons all the Towne should watch.
Amongst the rest there was a silly Asse,
That on the way by Fortune chanc'd to passe,
Yet (it was true) he in his time had bin
A very perfect man, in shape, and skin:
But by a Witch envying (his estate)
That had borne to him a most deadly hate,
Into this shape he was transform'd, and so,
From place to place, he wandred to and fro;
And often times was taken for a stray,
And in the Pinfold many a time he lay;
Yet held he still the reason that he had
When he was man, although he thus was clad
In a poore Asses shape, wherein he goes,
And must endure what Fortune will impose.
Him on his way this cruell Woolfe doth take,
His present prey, determining to make.
He bray'd, and ror'd, to make the people heare:
But it fell out, no creature being neare,
The silly Asse when he had done his best,
Must walke the common way amongst the rest:
When tow'rds his den the cruell Woolfe him tugs,
And by the eares most terribly him lugs:
But as God would, he had no list to feed,
Wherefore to keepe him till he should have need,
The silly creature utterly forlorne,
He brings into a Brake of Bryers and Thorne,
And so entangles by the mane and tayle,
That he might pluck, and struggle there, and hale,
Till his breath left him, unlesse by great chance
Some one might come for his deliverance.

At length the people grievously annoy'd
By this vile Woolfe, so many that destroy'd,
Determined a Hunting they would make,
To see if they by any meanes could take
This ravenous War-Woolfe: and with them they bring
Mastiffes, and Mungrells, all that in a string
Could be gott out, or could but lugg a Hogg,
Ball, Eateall, Cuttaile, Blackfoot, Bitch, and Dogg,
Bills, Batts, and Clubs, the Angry men doe beare,
The women eager as their husbands were
With Spits, and Fireforkes, sware if they could catch him,
It should goe hard, but they would soone dispatch him.
This subtile Woolfe by Passengers that heard,
What Forces thus against him were prepar'd,
And by the noyse, that they were neere at hand,
Thinking this Asse did nothing understand,
Goes downe into a Spring that was hard by,
(Which the Asse noted) and immediatly
He came out perfect man, his Wolves shape left,
In which so long he had committed theft.
The silly Asse, so wistly then did view him,
And in his fancie so exactly drew him,
That he was sure to owne this Theefe agen,
If he should see him mongst a thousand men.
This Woolfe turn'd man, him instantly doth shrowd,
In a neere thicket, till the boystrous crowd,
Had somewhat past him, then he in doth fall
Upon the Reare, not any of them all,
Makes greater stirre, nor seemes to them to be,
More diligent to finde the Woolfe then he:
They beate each brake, and tuft o'r all the ground,
But yet the War-Woolfe was not to be found:
But a poore Asse entangled in the Bryers,
In such strange sort, as every one desires
To see the manner, and each one doth gather
How he was fastned so, how he came thither.
The silly Asse yet being still in holde,
Makes all the meanes, that possibly he could,
To be let loose, he hummes, he kneeles, and cryes,
Shaketh his head, and turneth up his eyes,
To move their pitty: that some said, t'was sure
This Asse had sence of what he did endure:
And at the last amongst themselves decreed
To let him loose; the Asse no sooner freed,
But out he goes the company among,
And where he sawe the people thick'st to throng:
There he thrusts in, and looketh round about:
Here he runnes in, and there he rusheth out;
That he was likely to have throwne to ground
Those in the way, which when the people found,
Though the poore Asse they seemed to disdaine,
Follow'd him yet, to finde what he should meane,
Untill by chance that he this Villaine mett;
When he upon him furiously doth sett,
Fastning his teeth upon him with such strength
That he could not be loosed, till at the length
Railing them in, the people make a ring,
Strooke with the wonder of so strange a thing;
Whilst they are cadg'd, contending whether can
Conquer, the Asse some cry, some cry the man;
Yet the Asse drag'd him, and still forward drue,
Towards the strange Spring, which yet they never knewe:
Yet to what part the strugling seem'd to sway,
The people made a lane, and gave them way.
At length the Asse, had tug'd him neere thereto,
The people wondring what he meant to doe;
He seem'd to show them with his foote the Well,
Then with an Asse-like noise he seem'd to tell
The Story, now by pointing to the men,
Then to the Theefe, then to the Spring agen;
At length wext angry, growing into passion,
Because they could not finde his demonstration,
T' expresse it more, he leapes into the Spring,
When on the suddaine, O most wondrous thing,
To change his shape he presently began,
And at an instant became perfect man,
Recovering speech; and comming forth, accus'd
The bloody murtherer, who had so abus'd
The honest people, and such harme had done;
Before them all, and presently begunne
To shew them, in what danger he had beene,
And of this Woolfe the cruelty and sinne;
How he came chang'd agen as he had prov'd:
Whereat the people being strangely moov'd,
Some on the head, some one the backe doe clape him,
And in their armes, with shoutes and kisses hap him:
Then all at once, upon the Warre-woolfe flue,
And up and downe him on the earth they drewe;
Then from his bones the flesh in Collops cut,
And on their weapons points in Triumph put;
Returning backe with a victorious song,
Bearing the man aloft with them along.

Quoth Gammer Gurton, on my honest word,
You have told a Tale doth much conceit afford:
Good neighbour Howlet, and as ye have done,
Each one for other, since our tales begun,
And since our Stand of Ale, so well endures,
As you have moral'd Bumbyes, I will yours.
The fable of the War-woolfe I apply,
To a man, given to blood, and cruelty,
And upon spoile doth only set his rest;
Which by a wolfes shape livelyest is exprest.
The spring by which he gets his former shape,
Is the evasion after every rape,
He hath to start by; and the silly Asse,
Which unregarded, every where doth passe,
Is some just soule, who though the world disdaine,
Yet he by God is strangely made the meane,
To bring his damned practises to light.
Quoth mother Howlet you have hit the white,

I thought as much quoth Gammer Gurton, then,
My turne comes next, have with you once agen.
A mighty Waste there in a countrey was,
Yet not so great as it was poore of grasse;
T'was said of old, a Saint once curst the soyle,
So barren, and so hungry, that no toyle,
Could ever make it any thing to beare;
Nor would ought prosper, that was planted there.
Upon the earth, the spring was seldome seene,
T'was winter there, when each place else was green;
When Summer did, her most aboundance yeild,
That still lay browne, as any fallow field,
Upon the same, some few trees scattering stood,
But it was Autumne, ere they us'd to bud;
And they were crookt, and knotty, and the leaves,
The niggard sap, so utterly deceives,
That sprouting forth, they drouping hung the head
And were neere withered, ere yet fully spread,
No mirthfull Birds, the boughes did ever grace,
Nor could be wonne to stay upon that place,
Onely the night-Crow sometimes, you might see,
Croking to sit upon some Ranpick-tree,
Which was but very seldome too, and then
It boded great mortality to men;
As were the trees, which on that common grew,
So were the Cattell starvelings, and a few,
Asses, and Mules, and they were us'd to gnaw,
The very earth to fill the hungry mawe;
When they far'd best, they fed on Fearne and brack,
Their leane shrunke bellyes cleav'd up to their backe,
Of all the rest, in that great Waste that went,
Of those quicke caryons, the most eminent,
Was a poore Mule, upon that common bred,
And from his foling further never fed,
The Summer well-neare every yeare was past,
Ere he his ragged winter coate could cast,
And then the Jade would get him to a tree,
That had a rough Barke, purposely, where he
Rubbing his Buttocks, and his either side
Would get the old hayre, from his starved hyde,
And though he were as naked as my naile,
Yet he would whinny then, and wag the tayle,
In this short pasture one day as he stood,
Ready to faint amongst the rest for food;
Yet the poore Beast according to his kinde,
Bearing his nostrill up into the winde,
A sweet fresh feeding thought that he did vent,
"(Nothing as hunger sharpeneth so the sent)"
For that not far there was a goodly ground,
Which with sweet grasse, so greatly did abound,
That the fat soyle seem'd to be over fraught
Nor could bestow the Burthen that it brought,
Besides that bounteous nature did it stick,
With sundry sorts of fragrant flowers so thick,
That when the warme, and Baulmy southwinde blew
The lushyous smells ore all the region flew.
Led by his sence at length this poore Jade found,
This pasture, (fenc'd though with a mighty Mound)
A pale and quickeset, Cercling it about,
That nothing could get in, nor nothing out)
And with himselfe thus wittily doth caste,
Well, I have found good pasture yet at last,
If by some meanes accomplisht it might be,
Round with the ditch imediatly walks he;
(And long though 'twas, good luck nere comes too late,)
It was his chance to light upon a gate
That led into it, (though his hap were good)
Yet was it made of so sufficient wood,
And every barre that did to it belong,
Was so well joynted, and so wondrous strong
Besides a great locke, with a double ward,
That he thereby of entrance was debar'd
And thereby hard beset, yet thought at length,
"T'was done by sleight, that was not done by strength;"
Fast in the ground his two fore-feete doth get,
Then his hard Buttockes to the gate he set,
And thrust, and shooke, and laboured till at last,
The two great posts, that held the same so fast,
Began to loosen, when againe he takes,
Fresh foot-hould, and a fresh he shakes and shakes,
Till the great Hindges to fly off he feeles;
And heard the Gate, fall clattering at his heeles,
Then nayes, and brayes, with such an open throat,
That all the Waste resounded with his note;
The rest that did his language understand,
Knew well there was, some good to them in hand,
And tag, and rag, through thick and thin came running,
Nor dale, nor ditch, nor banke nor bushes shunning;
And so desirous to see their good hap,
That with their thrunging they stucke in the gap.
Now they bestir their teeth, and doe devoure,
More sweetnesse in the compasse of one hower,
Then twice so many could in twice the time,
For now the spring was in the very prime,
Till prickt with plenty eas'd of all their lackes
Their Pampred bellies swolne above their backes
They tread and waddle all the goodly grasse,
That in the field there scarse a corner was,
Left free by them, and what they had not swallow'd
There they had dung'd, and layd them down and wallow'd;
One with another they would ly and play,
And in the deepe fog batten all the day,
Thus along while, this mery life they led
Till (even) like Lard their thickned sides were fed;
But on a time the weather being fayre,
And season fit to take the pleasant ayre,
To view his pasture the rich owner went,
And see what grasse the fruitfull yeare had sent,
Finding, the feeding for which he had toyld,
To have kept safe, by these vile cattell spoil'd,
He in a rage upon them sets his Cur,
But for his bawling, not a beast would stir;

Then whoots, and shouts, and claps his hands, but he
Might as well move the dull earth, or a tree,
As once but stir them, when all would not doe,
Last, with his goad amongst them he doth goe,
And some of them he girdeth in the Hanches;
Some in the flanks, that prickt their very panches;
But when they felt that they began to smart,
Up on a suddaine they together start,
And drive at him as fast as they could ding,
They flirt, they yerk, they backward fluce, and fling,
As though the Devill in their heeles had bin,
That to escape the danger he was in,
He back and back, into a quagmire by,
Though with much perill, forced was to flye:
But lightly treading there-upon doth shift,
Out of the bog his cumbred feete to lift,
When they the perill that doe not fore-cast,
In the stiffe mud, are quickly stabled fast:
When to the Towne he presently doth flie,
Raising the Neighbours with a suddaine crie:
With Cords and Halters that came all at once,
For now the Jades were fitted for the nonce:
For by that time th' had sunke themselves so deepe,
That scarce their heads above ground they could keepe.
When presently they by the necks them bound,
And so they led them to the common pound.
Quoth mother Red-Cap, right well have you done
Good Gammer Gurton, and as we begun,
So you conclude: tis time we parted now;
But first of my morallity alowe.
The common that you speake of here, say I,
Is nothing else but want and beggerie;
In the World common, and the beasts that goe
Upon the same, which oft are famish'd so:
Are the poore bred in scarcitie; the Mule
The other Cattell that doth seeme to rule,
Some crafty fellow that hath slily found
A way to thrive by; and the fruitfull ground
Is wealth, which he by subtilty doth win,
In his possession which not long hath bin;
But he with Ryot and excesse doth waste,
"For goods ill gotten doe consume as fast;
And with the law they lastly doe contend,
Till at the last the Prison is the end.
Quoth Gammer Gurton, well your selfe you quite,
By this the dawne usurpt upon the night;
And at the windowe biddeth them good day
When they departed each their severall way.

[pp. 153-83]