1796 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Road to Paradise.

Fabliaux or Tales, abridged from French Manuscripts of the XIIth and XIIIth Centuries, by M. Le Grand, selected and translated into English Verse, by the late Gregory Lewis Way, Esq., with a Preface, Notes and Appendix, by G. Ellis, Esq. In Two Volumes. Vol. II.

Gregory Lewis Way


A posthumously published fragment of house-poem allegory in fourteen Spenserians, in which the Dreamer, clad in pilgrim's weeds, encounters a "gorgeous house of Pride": "On a high mound, extending far and wide | Its glittering front magnificently wrought | Rose eminent, as though it heaven defied; | But all behind, surpassing human thought, | In wasteful ruin lay, and crumbling into nought." In addition to Pride, there are verse characters of Choler, Avarice, Envy, Sloth, and Gluttony. The Dreamer travels to a second house, not much better than the first, before catching a glimpse of a House of Candour: "desert grown, and bare; | Faint Liberality's dissolving frame:— | Till, from my shrift as I at last prepare, | Lo, plain in ken the road to Paradise is there!"

The Road to Paradise first appeared in this second volume of Way's tales (1800) edited by the antiquary George Ellis. In later editions it is titled "The Road to Paradise by Rutebeuf. An Extract." Whether such a source existed may be doubtful; to all appearances, in manner and substance The Road to Paradise imitates Thomson's Castle of Indolence. The poet, a country gentleman living in retirement, may even have had some neighboring residences in view.

George Ellis: "Indeed, the peculiarity of Mr. Way's studies suggested his choice of subjects; his taste led him to poetry, and his indolence to translation; and he found, in translating the publications of M. Le Grand and M. de Tressan, an employment perfectly suited to his favourite and habitual modes of expression" 2:290.

John Aikin?: "The second, and we regret to add, the last volume, is now published of Mr. Way's Fabliaux, in English verse. This most elegant and most accomplished writer has paid the debt of nature; and the public is under obligation for the appearance of the present volume to his friend Mr. George Ellis, the gentleman who wrote the preface and notes to the former volume of this work, and to whom the present owes not merely its preface and valuable notes, but an appendix, in which some tales are continued with much spirit, which had been left unfinished by Mr. Way. Mr. Ellis has in the press a work on the history of English poetry; and the editor of these fascinating volumes has displayed so much taste and so much knowledge, that we may be allowed to form high expectations concerning his own original and we understand elaborate performance" "Retrospect of Domestic Literature" Monthly Magazine 10 (Supplement, 1800) 609.

Charles Burney: "The posthumous tale by Mr. Way, inserted in the appendix, and intitled the Paradise of Love, appears to us to be one of the best in the present volume. The description of this paradise, at which the poet arrives with great difficulty, is so animated and pleasing, that we must present it to our readers.... This volume contains 12 or 14 tales; and the notes continue to afford much information respecting this species of writing" Monthly Review NS 36 (November 1801) 276, 278.

Horace Walpole was another antiquary who enjoyed Le Grand's volumes: "I have gotten three comfortably fat volumes in octavo of ancient French Fabliaux, but they look more good-humoured from their corpulancy than from intrinsic gaiety, as many plump men do. The fables are trite as that of Patient Grisel; and the notes, which are the best part, as full of antique usages, are mortally heavy and devoid of taste; but I think you will like to see them, if you will point out a conveyance" to William Mason, 7 April 1780; in Letters, ed. Cunningham (1906) 7:346.



As late in slumber lapt my limbs were laid,
While fantasy held empire o'er my mind,
It seem'd, in pilgrim's russet weed array'd,
Forth from my home I far'd; my steps inclin'd
Those blissful realms of Paradise to find
Whose path is strait, and rude with briar and stone:
Lusty I felt, and young, and left behind
Of feebler wights returning, many a one,
Whose hearts for toil did fail; so I remain'd alone.

Oft to the left, with flowerets gaily dight,
A grassy footway turn'd, and smooth to tread;
And thither, cozen'd by such tempting sight,
My fellow-pilgrim's all were wandered;
Albe the end was full of dole and dread,
A bottomless abyss, the dire abode
Of damned ghosts, and mansion of the dead.
There them I saw on turf with daisies strow'd;
But I right onward hied the narrow toilsome road.

Thus I arriv'd where stood a city fair,
Yet simple sad it seem'd, and desolate:
Celestial Piety resided there;
And forth she came to meet me at the gate:
Kindly she offer'd to become my mate,
And be my sure conductress on the way,
For yet (she told,) my toil might nought abate;
And many deadly foes around there lay
My weary feet to snare, and heedless eyes betray.

So on I pass'd the rugged road along,
Accompanied by her, my heavenly guide,
Till suddenly my gaze, with wonder strong,
Was fix'd upon the gorgeous house of Pride:
On a high mound, extending far and wide
Its glittering front magnificently wrought
Rose eminent, as though it heaven defied;
But all behind, surpassing human thought,
In wasteful ruin lay, and crumbling into nought.

Himself, the owner of this lordly pile,
Would sundry garbs assume, as lik'd him best;
In guise a bishop now, anotherwhile
A sleek archdeacon, or some meaner priest;
Provost anon, or bailiff little bless'd:
And all mankind he did alike disdain,
Nor, humbled oft, he e'er the more surceas'd;
While, all around, the courtiers of his train
Stood, deck'd with costly crowns, and silk of scarlet grain.

Not far beyond I saw where Choler stood,
With sparkling eyes, and visage fiery red,
Gnashing his teeth amain, as he were wood,
And wreaking on himself his purpose dread:
Whether, as seem'd his fated prey were fled,
Or that for ever thus himself he bore;
But still he stamp'd, and rag'd, and smote his head,
And from his scalp his matted locks he tore,
Till all his talons foul were stain'd with spirting gore.

Far in the winding of a sickly vale,
I spied where, in the centre of her hall,
Sat Avarice, with visage marr'd and pale,
Upon a coffer, crouching like a thrall:
With double-bolting lock was fasten'd all.
Her dank abode, nor entrance might you see
Save one small postern in the flinty wall;
And in her clutch she grip'd its massy key.
Her house was roof'd throughout with wondrous masonry—

For all of magnet, or of like rare stone,
Yet steel attracting nought, but only gold,
Its beams were wrought, and girders everichone;
And there her captive vassals she controll'd
In prisons vast of ever-during cold:
On piled ingots sat the meagre crew;
The heap still crumbling from beneath them roll'd;
These grasp, and strive, and mickle toil renew,
Yet evermore the winged metal upward flew.

In the deep bottom of the furthest dell,
Envy abode, encompass'd all with brakes;
And, as mine author Ovid limenth well,
Suck'd up the venom of her deadly snakes;
Nor ever she her privy den forsakes,
Save to espy how all her neighbours speed:
Weep they and groan? for every joy she quakes;
But laugh they, sing they, hands and hearts agreed?
Home hies she, wobegone; her spright is sad indeed.

From her not far apart his sojourn made,
Stretch'd on his bed of down, unsightly Sloth,
All in a canon's vestments misarray'd;
And at the warning chime of matins wroth,
Loudly he rail'd at bell and bellman both;
Ne nathemore would rise, ne deign to look
Up from his couch; for he was passing loath
Thence to be rous'd; but if for call of cook
He to the banquet hied, and off his slumber shook.

And hard beside lay brutish Gluttony,
That wallowing toss'd and sought for ease amain;
He look'd as one that was about to die,
All swoln and bloated with exceeding pain
Of yesternight's debauch, now rued in vain;
Yet still his thoughts were on his tavern feast,
Thither the wretched thrall would wend again,
And cram his maw like to a senseless beast;
Begirt he was with many a monk and many a priest.

Now, right against my view, some way before,
A lordly manor-house, as seem'd, arose;
A churlish porter stood to guard the door;
And empty-handed guests he rudely throws
Back from the wicket, still admitting those
Who bring the wonted tribute for his queen:
So in they fare, yet much their gesture shows
Shame, as the gallants fain would not be seen;
Full soon to vanish quite in dusky shades obscene!

Them greets the dame with goodly-seeming guise,
But 'tis to spoil them of their bravery gay:
Come they as knights? she makes their coursers prize:
Back the dismounted caitiffs slink away,
Sore shent, and chaf'd to be that harlot's prey:
Full seldom won a second course to try:
Or, if by sugar'd base desires astray
Once drawn again, they know repentance nigh!
Such, Wantonness her court doth keep continually.

Thus, pass'd the purlieus of intemperance,
The storehouses and sties of vice and shame,
On, where the Virtues dwell, I straight advance,
Through heavenly guidance sav'd from blot of blame.
O! what I look'd on, thither as I came!—
The house of Candour, desert grown, and bare;
Faint Liberality's dissolving frame:—
Till, from my shrift as I at last prepare,
Lo, plain in ken the road to Paradise is there!

[2:167-74]