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CHAPTER VII.: THE OUTLAWRY. - 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 court was for the festival prepared;
And all who came, the banquet freely shared;
By day and night succeeded endless feasts;
Was never such a gathering of beasts;
All to do homage to the Wolf and Bear,
Who in their present joy forgot past care.
Nor did the guests do naught but feed like brutes;
The scene was varied with refined pursuits;
The charms of music lent their soothing aid;
The big drums thundered and the trumpets bray’d;
The dance enlivened the convivial hall,
The courtly minuet and the common brawl;
While day by day the sports afresh begin,
And day by day new guests come trooping in.
To name them all would too much time engross;
There came the erudite Rhinoceros:
Thick-skinned himself, he flayed the thin-skinned tribe,
A savage critic, though himself a scribe;
In all the gossip versed of former times,
He fashioned hist’ry into nurs’ry rhymes;
Or, told in prose, made it seem all a sham,
By cooking up his facts à l’épigramme.
Next the Hyena, the good bishop, came,
His restless zeal forever in a flame;
With his devices the whole kingdom rang,
So mixed they were of piety and slang:
No Bloodhound e’er so quick a scent as he
To track the tainted sons of heresy;
Not Gaul by Roman, nor by Spartan Helot,
Were used as they were by the reverend prelate:
Them with his pen he mangled sore, and would
Have had them burnt by inches, if he could.
He came; but not in over-cheerful mood,
For at this time his thoughts could naught but brood
On that accursed and deadly schism which taught
That in, and not by, baptism grace was caught.
There was Sir Nibble, too, the long-haired Rat,
Haggard and grim and sworn foe to the Cat;
Though he at one time, unless Rumor lied,
Had wished to ’list himself on Tybalt’s side;
Hoped all past differences to efface,
And in his favor to obtain a place.
But when he found his fawning flatt’ry spurned,
His sembled friendship into hate was turned;
Where once he slavered, now he spat his spite,
And showed his rodent teeth and strove to bite;
But Tybalt thought it prudent to determine
To bide his time till he might crush the vermin.
There too was Jocko seen, the long-armed Ape,
Who was in mind ungainly as in shape;
Malice and fun in him so nicely blent,
When playful most, then most he mischief meant;
He chattered nonsense with look so demure,
Most folks would think—he must mean something sure;
His very talents he would twist to ill,
For he could limn and draw with ease and skill;
But, just to prove his power at grimaces,
Caricatured his best friends to their faces.
To count them all, for ages would endure;
But Reynard was not one of them, be sure.
In watchful idleness he lurked at home,
That false pretended Palmer, bound for Rome.
To visit court he was too circumspect;
He knew what welcome he might there expect.
Safely at home himself he might applaud;
But not so safely could appear abroad.
Meanwhile was held high junketing at court;
There all was mirth and jollity and sport;
Feasting and gambling were there, night and day;
And those who came to stuff remained to play.
Full was the royal palace as Noah’s ark;
Jousts were there held, and tourneys, in the park.
From his high place the king surveyed the whole,
And the vast tumult filled his mighty soul.
’Twas now the eighth day of the festival;
The king was set at table in his hall,
His peers around, and by his side his queen;
When lo! the Rabbit rushed upon the scene!
Bunny the Mild, his face all smeared with blood;
And thus he spake, as panting there he stood:
“Ah, sire! ah, hear me! lords and gentles all!
Or some such fate may some of you befall;
What murderous wrongs from Reynard I’ve received;
Too scandalous almost to be believed!
I passed by Malepartus yesterday;
My road in coming hither led that way;
Dressed out in pilgrim’s habits there he sate,
Seemed to be reading matins at his gate.
I hurried on, in haste to reach this court,
Deeming your summons, sire, a safe escort.
When Reynard saw me, up he rose to meet me,
Intending as I deemed, to come and greet me:
When lo! he seizes me behind my ears,
And my soft skin with his sharp talons tears;
While to the earth with force he pressed me down;
I verily believed my head was gone.
I struggled hard, and, thanks to Heav’n! being light,
Just managed to get off by speed of flight.
I heard his curses sailing down the wind;
But on I sped and never looked behind;
And here I am, all mangled as you see;
Ah, gracious lord! have pity on poor me!
If thus from court we all may be debarr’d,
Of what avail shall be the king’s safeguard?
Oh! on the common ill in time reflect,
Nor let this robber’s crimes remain uncheck’d.”
Scarce had he ended, when the noisy Crow,
Entering the court, began his tale of woe;
And thus he spake: “Ah, gracious lord and king!
Most melancholy news to you I bring;
For grief and sorrow scarcely can I speak;
For grief and sorrow sure my heart will break.
This morn, my wife and I—my wife, I say;
Alas! my wife that was but yesterday!—
In search of food abroad prepared to fly,
Just as the dawn lit up the watchet sky;—
For scarce need I your majesty inform,
The early bird picks up the morning worm;—
Crossing, near Reynard’s home, that blasted heath,
I saw a sight that took away my breath:
Himself lay there to all appearance dead;
Stiff were his limbs, his eyes turned in his head;
His tongue protruded from his open jaws;
Awe-struck I called aloud, with ample cause;
‘Alack!’ I cried, ‘alack! and well-a-day!
He’s dead and’—scarcely knew I what to say;
Loud did we both in lamentations join,
For my wife mixed her clamorings with mine.
The body then I cautiously approached,
And with my beak the back and belly touched;
While she, poor soul, perched boldly on his chin,
And, stooping down, his mouth she peered within;
Trusting some trace of life she might detect;
For little did she aught of ill expect:
But the base wretch soon proved he was not dead;
For in a moment off he snapped her head!
With horror rooted to the spot was I;
And deemed upon the instant I should die.
Quick starts he up and makes a dash at me;
I ’scaped, I know not how, into a tree;
Unconscious terror must have winged my flight:
And thence I saw, O heavens! what a sight!
Sooner, alas! would I have lost my life!
I saw the murderer mangle my dear wife;
Her tender flesh I saw his talons tear,
The crunching of her bones too could I hear.
So mad with hunger seemed the cannibal,
That he devoured flesh, feathers, bones and all!
That hour of anguish ne’er will be forgot!
The wretch now satiated left the spot;
And I alighted on that cursed ground,
But nothing there save drops of gore I found,
And these few feathers from my poor wife’s wing,
Which here in court, to prove my case, I bring.
“My tale is ended, sire! my talk is done:
I’ve humbly laid my griefs before the throne.
From his misdoings, all the realm complains
’Tis Reynard rules, and not the king that reigns.
For those who have the pow’r such crimes to stem,
And yet repress them not, encourage them.
Forgive me if too bold in what I say;
But grief is voluble and will have way.”
Now all the court had heard these tales of woe,
Both from the gentle Rabbit and the Crow.
And much incensed was Noble, King of Beasts,
Who liked not this disturbance in his feasts,
Thus then he spake in angry tones though sad:
“Much have I borne with; but this is too bad!
In vain it seems that my beliests are spoken;
My laws are outraged and my peace is broken.
This traitor has deceived me once before,
But never, never, shall deceive me more!
Nor my fault is’t that such a criminal
Is still at large; the queen has done it all.
I shall not be the last, as not the first,
By woman’s idle counsels to be curst.
But if this rebel thief go longer free,
The name of justice will a mock’ry be.
Take counsel then, my lords, and do your best
To rid our kingdom of this common pest.”
Pleased were the Bear and Wolf this speech to hear;
And thought their hour of vengeance now was near;
But prudently were silent, seeing both
The king so much disturbed and deeply wroth.
At length the queen in gentle accents spake:
“Do not, dear lord, your plans too rashly make;
Calm dignity will best assert the right;
Of angry words th’ effect is oft but slight.
Men oft blame others their own guilt to hide;
Justice demands to hear the other side;
Of those who’re loudest in his absence, some,
If he were present, would perchance be dumb.
For Reynard; skilful, wise and wary still
I knew him, and suspected naught of ill.
All I advised was with the best intent,
Though the result has proved so different.
From all I ever heard or understood,
If bad his deeds, yet his advice was good.
Behoves us to remember in this case
His num’rous followers and powerful race.
With over-haste affairs but badly speed;
But what your royal will shall have decreed,
That shall your faithful subjects execute;
And thus ripe counsels yield their proper fruit.”
Then spake the royal Libbard thus: “My lord,
Permit me humbly to throw in a word;
I own I think that Reynard should be heard.
With ease you can your objects carry out,
When he comes hither, as he will, no doubt.
I think this is the general view; I mean,
We all would take the same view as the queen.”
Then Isegrim spake out: “Forgive me, prince,
Your words, though wise, do not my mind convince.
Put case that Reynard now were present here,
And from this double charge himself could clear;
Yet would I undertake to show good cause
His worthless life lies forfeit to the laws.
But of such matters better silent be
Until we have him safe in custody.
Have you forgot the wondrous tale he told
About King Emmerick’s hidden store of gold?
At Husterlow, near Krekelburn, he swore
It would be found, and fifty falsehoods more.
Both me and Bruin hath he brought to shame;
And life we hold less dear than our good name.
And yet at freedom roams the rebel still,
And steals and murders whom and what he will.
If to the king and council this seem fit,
We, howsoever wronged, must needs submit.
Prince Libbard though suggests he may appear
E’en yet at court; but why is he not here?
The royal missive bade all lieges come;
But he, the skulking thief! remains at home.”
Then said the King of Beasts: “Why more delay?
Why for the traitor’s coming longer stay?
My royal will is, ye all ready be
On the sixth day from this to follow me.
Unless our pow’r shall quite be set at naught,
These ills, my lords, must to a close be brought.
Prepare yourselves at once for battle’s din;
Come armed with sword and bow and javelin;
Let each right worthily his weapons wield,
So he may merit knighthood on the field.
My subjects I expect will aid their liege;
The fortress Malepartus we’ll besiege;
And all its myst’ries into daylight bring.”
Then cried they all aloud: “Long live the king!”
Thus were the monarch and the peers agreed;
And Reynard’s certain doom now seemed decreed.
But Graybeard, at the banquet who had been,
In secret left the gay and festive scene.
He hastened off the wary Fox to find.
And let him know what now was in the wind.
And as alone his weary way he sped,
Thus to himself the grieving Badger said:
“Ah! uncle dear! how I deplore thy case!
Thou prop and ornament of all our race!
With thee to aid us and to plead our cause
We never feared the rigor of the laws.”
Thus he arrived at Malepartus’ gate,
Where in the open air Sir Reynard sate.
Two youthful Pigeons he his prey had made,
Who their first flight that morning had essay’d;
But ill-supported by their new-fledged wings,
They fell, and he pounced on the poor weak things.
Soon as he saw the Badger drawing near
He rose and said: “Ah, welcome, nephew dear!—
For dear you are to me ’fore all my kin;—
But what a mortal hurry you seem in!
How hot you are! and how you puff and blow!
You bring some cheerful news for me, I know.”
“Alas!” said Graybeard, panting, “anything
But cheerful, uncle, are the news I bring.
For all, excepting honor, now is lost:
Ne’er have I known King Noble seem so crost;
Deep hath he vowed a shameful death shall be
The doom of Reynard and his family.
He and his barons bold, a doughty band,
Armed at all points,—for such is his command,—
With bow and sword and javelin and spear,
On the sixth day from this will all be here.
Bethink you then in time; for what can you,
’Gainst such an army, single-handed do?
Bruin and Isegrim are with the king
Quite reconciled; their will is everything.
The Wolf of crimes of ev’ry sort and kind
Accuses you, and sways the royal mind.
He has,—as you will but too shortly see,—
Been raised to a field-marshal’s dignity.
The Crow and Rabbit have been both at court,
And of your doings made a sad report.
Should the king this time get you in his pow’r,
Your life’s not worth the purchase of an hour.”
“That all? Your story moves me,” quoth the Fox,
“As summer breezes do primeval rocks.
As for the king and all his council too,
I’ll warrant me they’ll have enough to do;
At least to talk about; because, in fact,
They’ll prate and prate forever, and not act.
About such trifles, nephew, do not fret;
But just step in and see what we can get.
You see these nice young Pigeons I’ve just caught;
They are the best of eating, to my thought;
Their bones and flesh like jellied milk and blood:
So light; and I’m compelled to take light food;
My wife too is of the same taste as I;
Come in; she’ll welcome you right heartily.
She is not well though, so I would not let her
Know why you come; for trifles quite upset her.
We’ll start to-morrow; and I’m naught afraid
But you’ll afford me kind and kindred aid.”
Quoth Graybeard, “I would die for you with pleasure.”
Quoth Reynard, “You oblige me past all measure.
And if I live. as well I trust I may,
Be sure that I your kindness will repay.”
“Go,” said the other, “go before your peers,
With that brave honest heart, devoid of fears;
At least a hearing you’ll obtain from them.
Even Prince Libbard says they can’t condemn,
Until they’ve heard all you may have to say;
And the queen thinks precisely the same way.
This hint to your advantage you may guide.”
“Be sure I will,” the crafty Fox replied;
“Howe’er the king may storm; in his despight,
I have no doubt to make the matter right;
I know the bait at which he’ll surely bite.”
So into Reynard’s dwelling now they went;
The housewife welcomed them with kind intent;
The hospitable board was quickly spread,
And on the Pigeons daintily they fed;
Duly divided each one had his share;
Much were they relished and was naught to spare.
They could, for it was but a scanty feast,
Have eaten half a dozen more at least.
The meal concluded, they to chat begin;
And the fond father has the children in;
And as they climb and cling about his knees,
They waken his parental sympathies:
“Are they not charming little rogues?” he said,
“So frolic, yet so thoroughly well-bred.
Russell is such a scamp; and his young brother,
Graykin, will one day prove just such another.
Never will they their lineage disgrace;
Their principles do honor to their race.
One a young straggling Bantam up shall pick,
The other pounce upon a Guinea-chick;
Nor do they rest contented on dry ground,
But plunge for Ducklings in the parson’s pond.
To hunt I’d send them oft’ner, if I durst;
But care and prudence they must study first;
Learn never to be taken unawares,
And to avoid all hunters, Dogs and snares.
And when by habit they expert shall grow,
And courage, tempered with due caution, show,
In search of prey then daily shall they roam,
And never shall we want for food at home.
Slow stealthy step, low crouch and steadfast aim,
Sure spring and firm grip; that is Reynard’s game;
Thus have we still upheld the credit of our name.”
“Ay, children are in truth great blessings, sir;”
Said Graybeard, who was still a bachelor.
“Pledges of holy and of lawful love,
A constant joy and solace must they prove;
Centred in them, the happy parents see
The pleasures both of hope and memory;
And if sometimes they prove a source of trouble,
That makes, no doubt, the latter pleasure double.
Nor are your joys confined to you alone;
I love your children as they were my own.”
“Suffice it for to-day,” then Reynard said;
“We all are sleepy; let us now to bed.”
Then on the floor, soft strewn with leaves and hay,
Their weary limbs adown to rest they lay.
But Reynard could not sleep for haunting cares,
So grave appeared the posture of affairs.
He tossed and tumbled all the livelong night,
With aching eyes he met the morning light.
Then to the partner of his joys and woes
Thus did he speak, as from his couch he rose:
“Be not alarmed; to court I go again
At Graybeard’s wish; at home you’ll safe remain.
That no one know where I am gone ’twere best;
Be of good cheer and leave to Heav’n the rest.”
“What!” cried Dame Ermelyne, “again to court!
Methinks your foes would wish no better sport.
Are you obliged to go? Bethink you well
Of what on your last visit there befell.”
“Indeed,” quoth Reynard, “it was past a jest,
I ne’er remember to have been so prest.
But nothing certain is beneath the sun;
No matter how a thing may be begun,
None can say how ’twill finish, till ’tis done.
Albeit ’tis needful that to court I go,—
For I have much that’s weighty there to do,—
Be calm, I beg you; there is naught to fear;
A week at furthest I’ll again be here.
Adieu then, for a time, dear love!” he cried;
Then off he starts with Graybeard at his side.