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CHAPTER I.: THE ACCUSATION. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 3.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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THE pleasant feast of Whitsuntide was come;
The woods and hills were clad in vernal bloom;
The full-awakened birds, from every tree,
Made the air ring with cheerful melody;
Sweet were the meadows after passing showers;
Brilliant the heaven with light, the earth with flowers.
Noble, the king of beasts, now holds his court;
Thither his summoned vassals all resort;
From north and south they troop, from east and west,
Of birds and quadrupeds the first and best.
The royal will had been proclaimed, that all
Of ev’ry class should come, both great and small,
To grace the pomp of that high festival:
Not one should fail; and yet there did fail one;
Reynard the Fox, the rogue, was seen of none;
His many crimes from court kept him away;
An evil conscience shuns the light of day.
To face that grave assembly much he feared,
For all accused him; no one had he spared;
Graybeard, the Badger, stood his friend alone,
The Badger, who was Reynard’s brother’s son.
Begirt with many a relative and friend,
Who aid in war, in peace might counsel lend,
Sir Isegrim, the Wolf, approached the throne,
And with due rev’rence bowing humbly down,
His suit in plaintive accents he began,
And thus his wrathful accusation ran:—
“Most gracious lord and king! in pity hear!
Let my complaint find favor in your ear.
Happy the subjects of your glorious reign;
Here none who seek for justice seek in vain.
Vouchsafe, then, to commis’rate my distress;
For Reynard’s malice grant me some redress.
Me in all ways the wretch hath wronged and shamed,
My spouse dishonored and my children maimed;
Three lie at home, the youngest born of six,
Befouled and blinded by his filthy tricks.
“ ’Tis long ago my plaint in court was filed,
Showing by Reynard how I’d been beguiled:
The cunning Fox knew well a plea to draw,
And boldly he presumed to wage his law:
He dared not come at the appointed day;
So I had judgment—and my costs to pay.
All present here can vouch this tale is true;
But none can tell such things as I can do.
Had I the tongues of angels, lungs of brass,
Whole days and weeks—nay, months and years would pass
Ere I could mention all my injuries,
Or tell one half his crimes and tricks and lies.
If all the Sheep on earth were killed and flayed,
And all their skins were into parchment made,
Not half sufficient were they to contain
The wrongs whereof I justly would complain:
The worst is the dishonor of my wife;
That eats away my heart, and sours my life;
Desire of vengeance haunts me night and day,
And vengeance I will have, come what come may.”
He ceased, and stood in silent mood apart,
Gloom on his brow and anger in his heart.
Up jumped a Poodle from a neighboring bench.
Hight Frizpate, who addressed the kind in French.
And he complained, it was not long ago,
In winter, when the ground was deep in snow,
That not a single beast could hunt his prey,
He’d given much in charity away,
And for himself had but one sausage left;
By the false Fox of this he was bereft:
A foul and almost sacrilegious theft!
Scant had he spoken, when with fiery eyes
Tybalt, the Cat, sprang forth in angry wise.
And kneeling cried—“My august and gracious king.
Reynard must answer many a grievous thing:
Most dreaded of all living beasts is he;
Ay, more than e’en your sacred majesty.
Grant me your patience, though; and hear me out:
Frizpate hath little to complain about:
The thing he speaks of happened years bygone:
That sausage ne’er was his; it was my own,
My all, my only remaining sustenance;
I stumbled on it by the merest chance.
I happened once into a mill to creep;
It was deep night: the miller fast asleep:
Being at that time stinted in my diet,
I took the sausage: why should I deny it?
But Frizpate filched it from me; so that he
Should be the last to speak of robbery.”
The Panther then—“These jars are little use:
Reynard’s misdeeds admit of no excuse:
He is a robber and a murderer;
That in this presence, boldly I aver.
No kind of crime but he doth exercise;
Naught sacred is there in his impious eyes:
His soul is fixed upon ungodly pelf;
Although the noble, nay, the king himself
Should suffer loss of health and wealth and all,
And the whole state to hopeless rum fall
So he could get the leg of a fat capon, he
Would never care the value of a half-penny.
“Let me relate the trick he tried to play
To Puss, the gentle Hare, but yesterday;—
Poor Puss, who lives just like an anchoret,
And never injured moral being yet.
Reynard, who latterly has given out
That he has turned ascetic and devout,
Promised he’d teach him at the quickest rate,
How he, as chaplain, might officiate;
‘The service you shall chant;’ quoth he, ‘as we do;
And we’ll begin our lesson with the Credo!’
So down they sat together and began;
For he had no misgivings, the good man.
But not long time continued they to sing;
For, ’gainst the peace of our dread lord, the king,
And setting at defiance all his laws,
He seized on Puss with his pernicious claws.
I heard their song as I was passing by,
And wondered that it stopped so suddenly;
I’d scarce proceeded though a dozen span, ere
I took the felon Reynard with the mamour.
Fast hold had he of Pussy by the throat,
That he could scarce articulate one note.
Certes, at that time had I not come up,
He’d gone that night in Paradise to sup.
You stands our timid friend; and in his flesh
You still may see his wounds all raw and fresh.
“Will not our sov’reign lord these ills abate?
Will you, brave peers and pillars of the State,
Such daily breaches of the peace permit,
Such violations of the royal writ?
If there no stop be put to these foul crimes,
Much do I fear me, that in future times
Frequent reproach the king will have to hear
From all to whom justice and right are dear.”
Again spoke Isegrim; “’Tis even so,
Reynard has ever been the common foe;
’Twere better he had perished long ago.
For while that wretch shall live, no rest will be
For honest, loyal, peaceful folk like me.
Albeit, according to the present fashion,
The felon ever meets with most compassion;
If such crimes pass unpunished, not a year hence
We all shall rue our most unwise forbearance.”
Undaunted by this host of angry foes,
The Badger, Reynard’s nephew, now uprose;
Boldly prepared to plead his uncle’s cause,
All stained with crime and falsehood as he was.
“Now fair and soft, Sir Isegrim,” said he;
“Your words smack less of truth than enmity.
’Tis known you hate my uncle; and, in sooth,
A fair word had he ne’er from your foul mouth.
Yet from your malice hath he naught to fear:
In the king’s favor stood he now but here,
He’d give you ample reason to repent
Stirring in these stale subjects of complaint.
You take good care too not to say one word
Of ills that he for your sake hath incurred.
Yet many of the barons here well know
What happened not so very long ago;
When you and he a solemn cov’nant sware,
That friendship each should to the other bear,
And, like true comrades, good and evil share.
I must relate, it is not long to tell,
The strange adventure which that time befell,
When you and he, in the cold winter weather,
Went through the country travelling together.
“It chanced a Carter, on the king’s high road,
Was driving homeward with a heavy load;
Your subtle nostrils soon sniffed out ’twas fish,
You’d soon have had them if you’d had your wish:
But they were closely packed; and what was worse,
You’d not a single stiver in your purse.
What then did my kind-hearted uncle do?
Ah! what indeed hath he not done for you?
Down in the road he laid himself for dead:
’Twas a bold thought to come into his head!
And when the Carter saw him lying there,
To kill him out-an-end did he prepare;
But, cunning Reynard still held in his breath,
Stiff’ning his limbs and counterfeiting death;
’Twas a consummate masterpiece of art,
That showed him cool of head as brave of heart;
The Carter picked him up and pitched him in his cart.
A cap he thought to make out of his skin,
And a bag too to keep his dollars in.
This did my uncle do for Isegrim:
When would he venture such a risk for him?
While onward went the Carter with his load,
Reynard kept throwing fish down in the road;
And Isegrim, who was in haste to sup,
Fast as he threw them down, gobbled them up.
Reynard grew weary of this sport at last,
And thought ’twas his turn now to break his fast;
So down he sprang; but with disgust and wonder
Found Isegrim had pilfered all the plunder:
He’d stuffed till he was nigh to burst in sunder.
He told my uncle he had left his share—
But nothing but the heads and bones were there.
“Another of his tricks I must narrate;
And so Heaven help me, as I truth relate.
A countryman had lately killed a swine;
Large were its hams and noble was its chine.
Reynard had found out where the carcass hung.
And told it Isegrim with truthful tongue.
And they agreed in common they would toil.
Would share the danger and divide the spoil
To Reynard’s share the danger fell alone.
But of the spoil, forsooth, he’d next to none.
The larder-walls were strong and steep and high;
My uncle climb’d them, though, right skillfully:
True to his word, did he the Porker throw
Out of the window to the Wolf below.
Now, by bad fortune, there were in the grounds
A couple of most ill-conditioned Hounds:
They chased my uncle with appalling din.
He got away, but not with a whole skin:
And straight unto the Wolf his way did make.
To show what he had suffered for his sake,
And claim his lawful share: then Isegrim
Said he’d reserved the prime tit-bit for him:
And thrusting in his cheek his lying tongue,
Produced the hook by which the Pig had hung.
His feelings Reynard had no words t’express.
But what he felt all present here may guess.
“Scores of such pranks I might remember well,
Were you inclined to hear, and I to tell:
But ’Tis enough: were Reynard summoned here,
Soon would he make his innocence appear.
“As for the other charge, ’tis most absurd
You, my dread liege, and you, my lords, have heard
What Isegrim has said about his wife.
Whom ’twas his duty ti protect with life.
In all its details that affair I know,
It happened now just seven years ago.
That Reynard’s bosom first received a wound
From the soft eyes of Lady Gieremund.
My uncle is not to be blamed at all
They met together at a fancy hall
Isegrim had gone upon a tour to Rome:
Husbands, if wise, would always stay at home.
My uncle proffered her his farb and troth.
She sanctioned his attentions, nothing foil
Is it not, therefore, a most crying shame,
That her own lord should sully not fair dame?
What any man of honor would conceal,
He seems to take a pleasure to reveal.
“What have we next? This trumpery affair.
The Panther has brought up about the Hare
Such utter trash’ what’ shall a master scruple
To chastise a perverse or sluggish pupil?
If this be so, how are out youth to be
Trained up in learning and morality?
The wisest book that ever was compiled
Says, if you spare the rod you spoil the child
“Then we have Monsieur Frizpate, who complains
He was deprived of his ill-gotten gains.
A pretty fuss, forsooth, about a sausage!
’Twere better he said nothing of that passage.
For it turns out ’twas stolen; and the thief
Has the assurance now to ask relief.
The evil on his own head has recoiled:
’Tis only just the spoiler should be spoiled.
Is Reynard blamed, that from a robber he
Has wrung the fruits of his dishonesty?
He did his duty, that deny who can,
Like a true Fox and loyal gentleman.
Why, had he hanged him on the spot, I ween,
He must assuredly have pardoned been:
But he respects the king’s prerogative,
And therefore spared the thief and let him live.
“But little justice can my uncle get;
At least, but little hath he got as yet;
Since the king’s peace was publicly made known,
No one hath led the life that he hath done,
With books he passes half his time away,
And takes but one abstemious meal a day.
Water his only drink, and roots his food;
Poultry and butchers’ meat he hath eschewed,
And cannot bear the very thought of blood;
With whips doth mortify his flesh, and wear
Next to his very skin a shirt of hair.
I heard it mentioned only yesterday.
By one who happened to have passed that way;
His castle, Malepartus, he hath shut.
And in the desert built a hermit’s hut.
So lean and pale and haggard he hath grown,
By his best friends he scarcely would be known.
But ’tis the burden of a good old song,
That absent folks are ever in the wrong.
I only wish to heav’n that he were here;
From all these scandals he would soon be clear.”
Scarce had he ceased, when from a neighb’ring hill
A cry resounded, like a clarion shrill.
The voice it was of honest Chanticleer,
Who with his wives and concubines drew near;
A dead Hen borne behind him on a bier.
It was the headless corpse of young Grayleg,
As good a fowl as ever laid an egg;
His fav’rite daughter of a num’rous brood;
And impious Reynard now had shed her blood.
Foremost the sad and mourning sire doth stride,
His dappled wings low trailing by his side:
While after him two youthful Cock’rels march,
Each bearing in his grasp a burning torch;
Cantart of one, Cryart the other’s name;
’Twixt France and Holland none more known to fame;
They were the brothers of the murdered dame.
Four tender Pullets bore their mother’s bier,
Clucking so loud ’twas pitiful to hear;
Dire was the clatter, awful were the cries,
And the shrill clamor pierced the startled skies.
Soon as the Heralds silence had restored,
Unto the throne stepped up the martial bird;
O’erwhelmed with woe he thrice essayed to speak,
And thrice the words died choking in his beak.
Ashamed so chicken-hearted to appear,
He gave one vig’rous crow his voice to clear,
And thus began:—“My liege and sov’reign, hail!
With pity listen to my grievous tale;
Before you stands the wretchedest of Cocks,
A hapless victim of that cruel Fox.
“Whenas stern winter fled on stormy wing,
And the glad earth welcomed the cheery spring,
How pleased was my paternal heart and proud,
As I surveyed my young and hopeful brood:
Ten gallant sons and fourteen daughters fair
Partlett had hatched me, with parental care;
Partlett, the best and most submissive wife
That ever solaced a poor husband’s life.
How joyed was I with her and them to rove,
And watch my offspring full of life and love.
That time no terrors for their lot I felt,
For in complete security we dwelt:
Our home was in a convent’s spacious yard,
Whose lofty walls its inmates safely guard;
And six stout Dogs belonging to the farm,
Who loved us well, protected us from harm.
“Reynard, it seems, that lawless reprobate,
Like Satan, envying our happy state,
Around our Eden often lay in wait.
Stealthily round the walls by night he’d creep.
And through the crannies of the gates would peep.
The trusty guardians of myself and wife
Oft made the ruffian scamper for dear life;
Once they did catch him, and well tanned his hide,
He got away, though sorely scarified;
And for a good while after let us bide.
“But ah, sire! now begins my tale of woe:
Again he came, and that not long ago;
Within our convent walls he slyly slunk
Clad in the vestments of a holy monk.
Wore a long frock, and sandals ’stead of shoes,
And looked for all the world like a recluse.
He brought a writ: ’twas sealed with the great seal;
’Twas genuine; I know the impress well:
This writ proclaimed, in unambiguous words,
Peace should be kept between all beasts and birds.
As for himself, he’d vowed his ways to mend,
And think of nothing but his latter end;
He’d quite reformed, he said, his mode of life,
Had e’en forsworn the embraces of his wife;
Water his only drink and roots his food;
All flesh of ev’ry kind he had eschewed,
And could not bear the very thought of blood.
But that my wife and daughters present were,
He said he would have shown the shirt of hair,
Which he for penance next his skin must wear:
And, on the word and honor of a fowl,
I myself saw the tonsure ’neath his cowl.
Tow’rds him I own I felt my heart relent,
He seemed so really, truly penitent;
He spoke of his past sins with such compunction,
And of the heav’nly grace with so much unction.
‘Farewell!’ at length he cried, ‘I needs must go;
I still have many pious deeds to do;
I have the nones and vespers yet to say,
And by a dying Vulture’s bed to pray;
He too was a sad sinner in his day.
Bless you, my children, may you ever thrive
In the calm peace which this world cannot give.’
And saying thus, the odious hypocrite
Crossing himself departed from our sight.
He left us, all his soul on mischief bent;
While ours were filled with happiest content.
“We ventured forth; and habit, more than fear,
Kept us at first to the old convent near.
Reynard we daily saw near our abode;
It seemed some bus’ness led him oft that road;
His looks were ever bent upon the ground,
As though his mind were lost in thought profound;
Or, if he chanced our family to see,
It was ‘Goode’n’ and ‘Benedicite;’
And he would tell his beads and seem to pray,
And smite his breast, and so pass on his way.
“Now, bolder grown, we farther went abroad,
In search of pleasure and our daily food.
Ah! fatal error! from behind a bush
Reynard among us made a sudden rush.
Scatt’ring and squand’ring to the left and right,
Tow’rds our old home we took our screaming flight,
In vain, alas! our foe was there before;
In threatening guise he barred us from the door:
With surer aim this time he bore away
Of all my sons the fairest as his prey:
And I was there, and impotent to save!
My son! my son! my beautiful, my brave!
“And now he once had tasted of our blood,
It seemed as he disdained all other food:
At all times came he on us—night and day—
Nor Dogs, nor men, nor gates kept him away.
Of all mine offspring I’m well nigh bereft;
Five, out of twenty, all that now are left:
With grief and terror I am all but wild;
Soon will he leave me neither chick nor child.
Oh, give me justice! ’twas but yesterday
He tore my daughter from my side away;
Villain! without or pity or remorse:
The Dogs were but in time to save her corpse.
See, there she lies! my child whom Reynard slew!
Help me, or he will have the others too!
Oh! Cock-a-doodle, cock-a-doodle doo!”
Fierce was the fire that in the king’s eye burned,
As to the Badger wrathfully he turned,
And thus began: “Come hither, sir, and see
This sample of your uncle’s piety!
Now by my royal mane I make a vow,
This miscreant shall not pass unpunished so,
If Heaven preserve my life another year.
But words avail not. Honest Chanticleer,
I claim the right your inj’ries to redress,
To share, if not to lessen, your distress.
Entombed shall your fair daughter be, with all
The pomp befits a royal funeral:
A vigil shall be sung, a mass be said,
The more to honor the illustrious dead:
We with our council will the while take thought
How may the murd’rer be to justice brought.”
In sable was the Chapel Royal hung;
The mass was duly said, the vigil sung:
The people, joining with the choristers,
Sang Domino placebo, verse by verse.
I could relate who gave each versicle,
Who the responses; but ’twere long to tell;
And so I pass it by: ’tis just as well.
Deep in a grave they laid the honored dead,
And placed a marble tablet at her head;
’Twas thick, and square, and polished bright as glass,
With this inscription graven on its face:
grayleg the speckled one lies buried here
the dear-loved daughter of brave chanticleer
throughout the earth ’twere vain to seek her match
no hen could oft’ner lay or featlier scratch
in reynard’s clutch she drew her latest breath
and passed untimely to the realms of death
[Editor: illegible text] all good men her murd’rer execrate
and shed a tear of pity for her fate
Meanwhile the king in solemn council sate,
Discussing with the wisest in his state,
How they the culprit might to justice draw
And vindicate the majesty of law.
At length it was resolved, by one and all,
To send a summons to the criminal,
Commanding him, all bus’ness laid aside,
He should to court repair, and there his doom abide.
The summons writ and sealed, Bruin, the Bear,
Selected they to be the messenger;
And him the king addressed: “Sir Bruin, see
That you perform your mission faithfully.
We know you stout of limb and brave of heart;
Yet would we counsel caution on your part;
Courage is oft but a poor match for art.
Reynard, remember, speaks but to deceive;
Neither his lies nor flattery believe,
Or you may soon have too good cause to grieve.”
“Fear not, my liege,” the trusty Bear replied,
Confident in his strength and shaggy hide;
“Reynard, however tricksy he may be.
Will not, I wager, try his tricks on me.
Me or my mission an he treat with scorn,
I’ll make him rue the hour that he was born.”