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ERLE ROBERT'S MICE,
IN CHAUCER's STYLE.
TwAY mice, full blythe and amicable,
Batten beside Erle Robert's table.
Lies there ne trap their necks to catch,
Ne old black cat their steps to watch,
Their fill they eat of fowl and fish;
Feast lyche as heart of mouse mote wish.
As guests sat jovial at the board,
Forth leaped our mice: eftsoons the lord
Of Boling, whilome John the Saint,
Who maketh oft propos full queint, 10
Laughed jocund, and aloud he cried,
To Matthew seated on t'other side;
To thee, lean bard, it doth pertain
To understand these creatures tweine.
Come frame us now some clean device,
Or playsant rhime on yonder mice:
They seem, God shield me, Mat. and Charles."
Bad as Sir Topaz, or squire Quarles,”
(Matthew did for the nonce reply)
At emblem, or device am I; 20
But could I chaunt, or rhyme, pardie,
Clear as Dan Chaucer, or as thee,
Ne verse from me (so God me shrive)
On mouse, or other beast alive.
Certes, I have these many days
Sent myne poetic herd to graze.
Ne armed knight ydrad in war
With lyon fierce will I compare;
Ne judge unjust, with furred fox,
* Charles Montague, Earl of Halifax.- Francis Quarles.
Harming in secret guise the flocks; 30
Ne priest unworth of goddes coat,
To swine ydrunk, or filthy stoat.
Elk similè farewell for aye,
From elephant, I trow, to flea.
Replied the friendlike peer, I weene,
Matthew is angred on the spleen.
Ne so, quoth Mat, ne shall be e'er,
With wit that falleth all so fair:
Eftsoons, well weet ye, mine intent
Boweth to your commaundement. 40
If by these creatures ye have seen,
Pourtrayed Charles and Matthew been,
Behoveth neet to rack my brain,
The rest in order to explain.
That cup-board, where the mice disport,
I liken to St Stephen's Court;"
Therein is space enough, I trow,
For elke comrade to come and goe:
And therein eke may both be fed
With shiver of the wheaten bread. 50
And when, as these mine eyne survey,
They cease to skip, and squeak, and play;
Return they may to different cells,
Auditing one, whilst t'other tells.
Dear Robert, quoth the Saint, whose mind,
In bounteous deed no mean can bind;
Now as I hope to grow devout,
I deem this matter well made out;
Laugh I, whilst thus I serious pray;
Let that be wrought which Mat, doth say: 60
Yea, quoth the Erle, but not to-day. * The Exchequer.
FULL oft doth Mat, with Topaz dine,
Eateth baked meats, drinketh Greek wine;
But Topaz his own werke rehearseth;
And Mat. mote praise what Topaz verseth.
Now sure as priest did e'er shrive sinner,
Full hardly earneth Mat. his dinner.
FAIR Susan did her wif-hede well menteine:
Algates assaulted sore by letchours tweine:
Now, and I read aright that auncient song,
Old were the paramours, the dame full yong.
Had thilke same tale in other guise been tolde;
Had they been young (pardie) and she been olde;
That, by St Kit, had wrought much sorer tryal;
Full merveillous, I wote, were swilk denyal.
A FLOWER PAINTED BY SIMON WERELST.1
WHEN famed Verelst this little wonder drew,
Flora vouchsafed the growing work to view:
Finding the painter's science at a stand,
The goddess snatched the pencil from his hand;
And finishing the piece, she smiling said,
Behold one work of mine, that ne'er shall fade.
TO THE LADY ELIZABETH HARLEY,
SINCE MARCHIONESS OF CARMARTHEN, ON A COLUMN OF HER DRAWING.
WHEN future ages shall with wonder view
These glorious lines, which Harley's daughter drew,
They shall confess, that Britain could not raise
A fairer column to the father's praise.
WHEN poets wrote, and painters drew,
As nature pointed out the view;
Ere Gothic forms were known in Greece,
To spoil the well-proportioned piece;
And in our verse ere monkish rhymes
Had jangled their fantastic chimes;
Ere on the flowery lands of Rhodes
Those knights had fixed their dull abodes,
Who knew not much to paint or write,
Nor cared to pray, nor dared to fight; 10
Protogenes, historians note,
Lived there, a burgess, scot and lot;
And, as old Pliny's writings show,
Apelles did the same at Co.
Agreed these points of time and place,
Proceed we in the present case.
Piqued by Protogenes's fame,
From Co to Rhodes Apelles came,
To see a rival and a friend,
Prepared to censure, or commend; 20
Here to absolve, and there object,
As art with candour might direct.
He sails, he lands, he comes, he rings, 23
His servants follow with the things;
Appears the governante of the house;
For such in Greece were much in use:
If young or handsome, yea or no,
Concerns not me or thee to know.
Does squire Protogenes live here?
Yes, sir, says she, with gracious air, 30
And courtesy low; but just called out
By lords peculiarly devout,
Who came on purpose, sir, to borrow
Our Venus, for the feast to-morrow,
To grace the church: 'tis Venus' day:
I hope, sir, you intend to stay,
To see our Venus. 'Tis the piece
The most renowned throughout all Greece,
So like the original, they say:
But I have no great skill that way. 40
But, sir, at six ('tis now past three)
Dromo must make my master's tea:
At six, sir, if you please to come,
You'll find my master, sir, at home.
Tea, says a critic, big with laughter,
Was found some twenty ages after;
Authors, before they write, should read;
'Tis very true, but we'll proceed:
And, sir, at present would you please
To leave your name; fair maiden, yes. 50
Reach me that board. No sooner spoke
But done. With one judicious stroke,
On the plain ground Apelles drew
A circle regularly true;
And will you please, sweetheart, said he,
To show your master this from me?