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CHAPTER IX.: THE ADVOCACY. - 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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REYNARD had now reached court, and still had hope
With his accusers he might safely cope;
Yet when his num’rous foes he saw arrayed,
All eager for revenge, he felt dismayed;
But, though his heart might tremble, with firm stride
He passed the barons, Graybeard by his side.
Unto the monarch’s throne they both drew near,
When Graybeard whispered thus in Reynard’s ear:
“Take courage, uncle, for the king is gracious;
And, we know, fortune favors the audacious:
The brave love danger on its own account,
And are more pleased the greater its amount.”
And Reynard answered, “What you say is true;
Sage your advice and comfortable too;
Were you in my place I’d so counsel you.”
With searching eye he glanced th’ assembly round,
Where many kinsmen, but few friends, he found;
For at his hands the most but ill had fared;
The Otter nor the Beaver had he spared;
None but he’d played some pranks on, great or small;
Yet with assurance now he greets them all.
And down before the throne he lowly knelt,
And boldly spake, howe’er he may have felt:
“May Heav’n above, from whom no thought or thing
Is hidden, long preserve my lord the king;
And my good lady too and gracious queen,
Whose humblest vassal I am proud t’ have been;
And grant you both sound judgment, clear and strong,
The diff’rence to discern ’tween right and wrong.
For falsehood now is rife in ev’ry spot;
Almost all men appear what they are not.
Would each man’s thoughts were writ upon his brow,
So that his secret soul the king might know;
Then would it plainly to the world appear
How true and loyal is the heart I bear.
I know the wicked rage together still,
And howl against me, as they always will.
In ev’ry way to injure me they strive,
And of your countenance would quite deprive;
As though I were the veriest wretch alive.
But love of justice is a mighty thing;
None own its pow’r more than my lord and king.
Let men seek to mislead him as they may,
From the straight path of right he ne’er will stray.”
While thus he spake the courtiers round him throng,
All wond’ring at the boldness of his tongue.
His crimes so flagrant and notorious were,
That each was anxious his defence to hear.
“Thou rascal Reynard!” thus the monarch said,
“Thy glossing speech thy cause can little aid;
On thy persuasive arts no more depend;
Thy shameless course at length hath reached its end.
Thy truth and loyalty we all well know,
As witness here the Rabbit and the Crow.
Full is the measure of thy wickedness,
And craft can naught avail thee, boldness less.”
Reynard, uneasy at this royal speech,
Feared now the king he might not over-reach,
For he had spoke in terms precise and plain;
Ah! how he wished he were safe home again!
But wishing now could do him little good;
He must get through it the best way he could.
“Noblest and mightiest of kings!” he said,
“Though you decree my life is forfeited,
I fain may hope that you will hear me first;
You’ve heard but one side, and that side the worst.
When clouds and tempests o’er the State were hovering,
Firm have I stood and faithful to my sovereign,
When some, that I could name, have ’fled their post,
Some who are now esteemed and favored most,
Who bravely take each opportunity,
When I am absent, most to slander me.
Hear only my defence and then decide;
My doom, whate’er it be, I must abide.
“Forgotten is my service to the State?
How I have early watched and labored late?
If of all crimes not quite exempt I were,
Of my free will should I now venture here?
I should have shunned your presence conscience-scared,
Nor my accusers thus to meet have dared.
Nay, the world’s treasures, heaped up sevenfold,
Should not have drawn me forth from my stronghold.
Upon my native heather I was free,
And none might touch me with impunity;
But my good Graybeard with the message came
That I was wanted here, and here I am!
I had been counsel holding with the Ape,
How from the papal ban I might escape;
And he had promised to remove the whole
Of that oppressive burden from my soul.
‘I will myself,’ said he, ‘to Rome resort;
Do you, without delay, repair to court;
I’ll undertake your character I’ll clear.’
Such his advice; he’d own it were he here.
Our bishop knows the truth of much I state;
Five years has Martin been his surrogate.
“And here I find complaint upon complaint;
Enough to wear the patience of a saint.
The ogling Rabbit has, I hear, a case;
Let him stand forth and meet me, face to face!
’Tis a light task the absent to accuse;
But none to hear my answer can refuse.
Scurvy companions are they, by my troth!
My guests they’ve been, the Crow and Rabbit both.
“’Twas but the morning before yesterday,
The latter tow’rds my dwelling came his way;
He greeted me in passing, soft and fair;
I’d just begun the form of morning pray’r.
He let me know that he for court was bound;
I said, ‘Heav’n grant you get there safe and sound.’
He spoke of empty stomach, weary feet;
I asked, ‘Will you take anything to eat?’
‘I fear I might intrude;’ was his reply.
‘Oh! not the slightest in the world,’ said I.
I fetched some wheaten bread and cherries fresh;
(On Wedn’sdays ’tis my rule to eat no flesh;)
And Master Bunny seemed contented quite,
And ate his bread and fruit with appetite.
My youngest son, a forward little chap,
Suddenly jumped into the Rabbit’s lap,
To see if he might chance pick up a scrap.
’Twas rude, I own, but the boy meant no ill;
Children you know, sire, will be children still.
But, making no allowance for his youth,
The brutal Rabbit struck him in the mouth.
Poor little Russell! ’twas too bad indeed;
For the blow made his lips and nostrils bleed.
And then my eldest, Graykin, quick as thought,
Leaped up and seized th’ aggressor by the throat;
His game he played and ’venged his brother well!
’Tis thus exactly how the thing befell.
I ran directly that I heard the noise,
Rescued the Rabbit, and chastised the boys.
I do not sympathize with him a jot,
For richly he deserved whate’er he got.
Had I mean ill, I had not interposed;
The young ones his account would soon have closed.
And this is now my thanks! He says, I hear,
’Twas I myself that tore his stupid ear.
A blund’ring tale! I think my pow’rs I know
Rather too well to botch a bus’ness so.
“As for the Crow, he came quite out of breath,
And said his wife had ate herself to death.
Some great fish she had gorged, gills, bones and all,
Had choked her, as her swallow was but small.
The truth he best knows; but the slanderer
Now dares assert that I have murdered her;
May be he did, himself; there’s none can tell;
For my own part, it were impossible;
These dingy devils, when they choose to fly,
No spring of mine could reach, however high.
“Those who bring forward charges such as these
Should prove them by trustworthy witnesses.
This ev’ry freeman may of right demand
And on my right I boldly take my stand.
Are there no proofs; another course is clear;
Lo! ready to do battle am I here!
Let both the day and place be now assign’d;
And if a worthy advers’ry I find,
In birth my equal, I’ll the combat dare;
And he the honor who then wins may wear.
Such ever was the rule of law of yore;
So be it now, for I desire no more.”
All stood and heard and wondered, Beasts and Birds,
At the audacity of Reynard’s words.
The Crow and Rabbit both felt dire dismay,
And secretly from court they stole away;
Nor did they dare another word to say.
They muttered to each other: “’Twere indeed
Unwise against him further to proceed.
Do what we may, no better should we be;
For, after all, what witnesses have we?
The truth unto ourselves is only known,
For with the felon we were each alone.
So in the end the loss on us would fall.
Oh! would the devil seize him, once for all!
And he proposes battle now! To us!
Truly the thought is too preposterous!
So powerful and cunning as he is;
So full of vigor and of trickeries!
’Twould take to face him five as good as we,
And even then he’d beat them easily.”
Both Isegrim and Bruin groaned with ire,
When from the court they saw the twain retire.
“Are any present here,” then said the king,
“Who against Reynard have a charge to bring?
If any such there be, let them advance;
For he stands here on his deliverance.
There were enough to threaten yesterday;
And now their time is come; but where are they?”
Said Reynard, “Ah, ’tis ever the old game;
Those who against the absent most declaim,
Boasting what they could do, would he but come,
When he arrives, stay prudently at home.
These sland’rers vile, the Rabbit and the Crow,
Fain would have brought poor me to shame and woe.
But I forgive, since they are penitent;
Most thoroughly ashamed away they went.
How dangerous it is, you all have seen,
T’ encourage those who slander absent men.
They scruple not the truth aside to wrest,
And victimize the wisest and the best.
To others only do these words apply,
Of little moment to the State am I.”
“Hear me!” exclaimed the king, “thou traitor vile!
Say, where is Puss, the gentle and the mild?
My brave and trusty courier was he,
And treacherously slain hath been by thee.
Had I not pardoned thee thy num’rous crimes?
Equipped thee forth to visit holy climes,
With scrip and staff and other pilgrim gear,
Believing thy repentance was sincere?
And thy first act was my poor Puss to kill!
Bellyn thou mad’st thy messenger of ill:
He in thy wallet brought the mangled head;
And here in open court unblushing said,
He brought despatches which you both had framed,
Though he the larger share of merit claimed:
But in the wallet was the head alone!
To make a mock and gibe at me ’twas done!
One though hath suffered for the base design;
Bellyn hath lost his life; look thou to thine!”
“Great heav’ns! What do I hear?” sly Reynard said,
“Puss murdered! Gracious Pow’rs! and Bellyn dead!
O fatal hour! O cursed love of pelf!
Alas! alas! that I were dead myself!
With them the choicest treasures have I lost!
Jewels, such as the wide world cannot boast!
The rarest things by them I sent for you;
For I believed them loyal both, and true.
Of Bellyn who would credit such a thing,
His friend to murder and to rob his king?
Who on this earth could e’er expect to find
Such craft with such simplicity combin’d?”
To hear him out the monarch would not stay,
He rose and tow’rds his palace took his way;
Nor caught distinctly all that Reynard spake:
Determined was he deep revenge to take.
To his own closet did he straight withdraw,
And found the queen there with Dame Ruckenaw;
A special fav’rite had she ever been,
The sly she-Ape, both with the king and queen;
She haply now might do the Fox some good;
For she was wise and wary, sage and shrewd.
Certain was she, wherever she appeared,
To be by all respected and revered.
Marking the angry flush on the king’s cheek.
With thoughtful words thus gravely did she speak:
“Whenever, gracious sire, at my request,
You have allowed me counsel to suggest,
Ne’er yet have you had reason to repent;
Nor have you deemed me too impertinent,
If, when my liege was in an angered mood,
A word of warning I have dared t’ intrude.
Once more vouchsafe, sire, to extend your grace;
This matter toucheth one of mine own race;
Who would desert a friend in such a case?
Reynard’s my kinsman, be he what he may;
But what I think of him I’ll frankly say;
Now he is here and stands upon his right,
His cause I view in a more hopeful light.
Had not his father, whose fame still endures,
And who was graced and countenanced by yours,
With evil tongues forever to contend,
And from false charges his good name defend;
But still his foes he baffled in the end.
When thoroughly was sifted the affair,
’Twas found what close inspection it would bear.
Although his sland’rers charged him many a time
With incapacity, as well as crime,
Yet he retained his station to the last,
And, as the Bear and Wolf are now, was grac’d.
’Twould be as well if they themselves could clear
From all that ’gainst their characters we hear.
But of the rules of right they nothing know;
Both what they say proves this, as what they do.”
Then the king answered: “Can you wonder, dame,
That Reynard’s conduct should my wrath inflame?
My trusty Hare did he not basely slay?
And lead that simpleton, the Ram, astray?
And now presumes in open court, forsooth,
To boast about his loyalty and truth;
When by the gen’ral voice accused he stands,
Of crimes unnumbered as the ocean sands!
’Tis proved beyond the shadow of a doubt,
He breaks my peace and sets my laws at nought.
With robberies and murders, day and night,
My land and lieges doth he vex and fright!
I’ll bear no more!” Then answered the she-Ape:
“Not ev’ry one his course can wisely shape.
’Tis hard to please all men, and giv’n to few
Both to deserve success and get it too:
And he who prospers, in his path shall find
Honor before, envy and hate behind;
His foes in secret will his ruin scheme,
When open fight too dangerous they deem.
“And many a time has this to Reynard happed.
It cannot have your memory escaped,
How often to your rescue he hath come,
With counsel sage, when all the rest were dumb.
What fine discernment through his judgment ran
In that late leading case of ‘Snake and Man.’
None could decide the issue that was raised,
But he alone: how was his wisdom praised!”
Noble the King reflected a brief space,
Then answered: “Yes, I recollect the case;
But all the details I have quite forgot.
’Twas most confused and tangled; was it not?
I pray you, if you can, the facts relate.”
“Briefly,” said she, “the whole affair I’ll state.
“Two years ago, a Snake of Dragon race
Loudly accused a peasant to your grace.
The man refused her justice, she complained,
Though twice against him she had judgment gained.
The man appearing to defend the wrong,
She entered on her case with eager tongue.
“Through a small op’ning in a hedge one day
The Snake, it seemed, had tried to force her way;
A springe there was before the op’ning plac’d,
Which, as she entered, caught and held her fast.
She must perforce have perished where she lay,
But that a trav’ller chanced to pass that way;
To whom she loudly cried: ‘O pity me!
Let me implore thee, sir! and set me free!’
And the man said: ‘Well, I will let thee loose;
’Tis hard to see thee strangling in that noose.
Yet ere I do it, thou must frankly swear
From ev’ry mischief tow’rds me to forbear.’
A solemn oath the anxious Dragon vowed,
Ne’er to harm him to whom her life she owed.
Then from the snare the man the Snake released;
All gratitude she was, or seemed at least.
“They travelled on together, but ere long
The Dragon felt the pains of hunger strong,
And in a moment on the man she flew,
Thinking to strangle and devour him too.
With fearful energy he sprang aside,
And ‘Oh! is this your gratitude?’ he cried,
‘Is this the way you keep that awful oath?’
Said she, ‘To break it I am truly loath,
But I am positively faint with hunger;
I feel a gnawing I can bear no longer.
I know now shocking is ingratitude;
But cannot perish here for want of food.’
‘Spare me a little yet,’ the man replied;
‘Some people we may meet who shall decide,
Impartial judges betwixt thee and me.’
‘Well!’ tartly said the Snake; ‘so let it be!’
“They journeyed on, till, coming to a pond,
Strongnib, the Raven, with his son they found;
His name was Little Beaky. These the Snake
Begged the abitrement to undertake.
The Raven heard the case with thoughtful care,
And, hoping to himself might fall a share,
Straight gave his judgment that the man be eaten.
‘Now,’ cried the Snake triumphant, ‘I have beaten;
My honest purpose shall no more be crost.’
‘Nay,’ said the man, ‘I have not fairly lost.
How shall a thief on life and death decide?
Or such a case by one sole judge be tried?
I stand upon my right and shall appeal;
A court of four or ten I safe might feel.’
‘Come on then,’ said the Snake; and off they set;
Ere long with both the Wolf and Bear they met.
The poor man now was seized with mortal terror;
Sure five such judges never sat in error;
A Bear, a Wolf, two Ravens and a Snake;
Well might th’ appellant for his safety quake.
The hungry court were soon unanimous;
And the grim Wolf delivered judgment thus:—
‘The Snake beyond all doubt the man might kill,
Yet keep her conscience quite unburdened still;
’Twas plain no law necessity could know,
And hunger would release from any vow.’
“Anxious enough the man was, for the five
Had plain made up their minds he should not live.
Then darting forth her forked and pois’nous tongue,
Again the Snake upon the trav’ller sprung.
He leaped aside with prompt dexterity,
Crying, ‘Who gave thee power over me?’
‘Twice thou thyself hast heard it,’ she replied;
‘Twice has the judgment been upon my side.’
Then said the man, ‘Judges yourselves ye call!
Robbers and murd’rers are ye, one and all!
You and your judgment I repudiate;
King Noble only shall decide my fate;
To him do I appeal; to his decree
Will I submit, though adverse it should be.’
“Then said the Wolf and Bear with jeering grin,
‘You’d better try; the Snake is sure to win.’
They thought no doubt that the assembled peers
Would counsel you, sire, just like Wolves and Bears.
Five pressed against poor one, his life to take;
The Wolf, the Bear, the Ravens and the Snake.
The Wolf indeed put in a triple claim;
His sons, Thinpaunch and Greedyguts by name,
Each hoped to have a share of the poor man;
A terrible disturbance these began;
Howling and clamoring in such a sort,
That both were promptly ordered out of court.
“Humbly imploring justice of your grace,
Then did the man begin to state his case;—
The Snake now wished to kill him, heedless both
Of all his kindness, and her solemn oath.
The facts the Snake knew could not be denied, hence
She pleaded, in confession and avoidance,
Th’ almighty power of hunger was the cause,
Which owns no master and obeys no laws.
“Sore puzzled were you, sire, how to decide;
Solution it appeared the case defied;
Hard to condemn the honest man it seemed;
And hard to bear sharp hunger’s tooth, you deemed.
Your council then you summoned to your aid,
Who only more involved the question made;
Most part gave judgment that the man should die,
But gave their reasons too, unluckily;
And these so bad and inconsistent were,
The more they gave the more they ’broiled th’ affair.
For Reynard, as a last resource, you sent;
He came and heard afresh the argument;
You the decision left to him alone,
And said as he adjudged it should be done.
“Then Reynard said, ‘Ere I decide the case,
’Tis needful I should go and view the place;
And see the very way the Snake was bound,
When by the traveller she first was found.’
So to the spot they sallied, and when there,
The Snake again was fastened in the snare;
Thus matters stood exactly as they were.
“Then Reynard gave his judgment: ‘Things are now
Just as before the cause arose below;
And neither party can of triumph boast,
For neither now has won, and neither lost;
And, as the circumstances now appear,
The justice of the case to me seems clear:
If the man please to do so, from the noose
The Snake, upon her oath, he may let loose;
If not, then he can let her hang there still,
And go about his bus’ness if he will.
Such are my views: if better here there be,
Impart them; or, if not, use these with me.’
“Reynard’s decision of this weighty cause
Met at that time with general applause,
From you, my liege, and all who knew the laws.
The man vowed better it could not have been;
It even gained th’ approval of the queen.
“’Twas on all hands agreed that fitter far
Bruin and Is’grim were to serve in war;
For they were known and feared in ev’ry spot,
And gladly went where plunder might be got.
Strong are they, big and bold; that none denies,
Yet are their words more bold and big than wise;
And too much of their strength alone they brag,
While in the field behind they often lag.
At home the bravest of the brave are they;
At home too always they prefer to stay:
In sooth the Bears and Wolves eat up the land;
’Gainst their united force there’s naught can stand.
What matters it to them whose house may burn?
To warm them by the flames will serve their turn.
What matters it to them who pine or starve?
While their own meals they take good care to carve.
They gulp the yolk, and leave the shell, and swear
That the partition is most just and fair.
Reynard the Fox, though, on the other hand,
The rules of justice well doth understand;
And if some evil he perchance have done,
Remember, sire, he is not made of stone.
A wiser counsellor you ne’er shall meet;
Hence am I bold his pardon to entreat.
And the king said: “I must awhile reflect.
The judgment I distinctly recollect;
Justice was done unto the Snake, ’tis plain:
Yet still a rogue is Reynard in the main.
Who trusts in him is deceived beyond all doubt;
No bonds so tight but he will wriggle out.
The Wolf, the Bear, the Cat before; and now
Hath he assailed the Rabbit and the Crow;
One of an eye, another of an ear,
A third of life itself he spoils, you hear;
And yet, though why I cannot comprehend,
You seek the odious monster to defend.”
“Ah! sire, I cannot from myself conceal
The service he hath done the commonweal;”
Thus the Ape answered; “nor will you deny
How num’rous are his friends and family.”
Then rose the King of Beasts and issued straight
To where th’ assembled court his coming wait.
Round that vast circle as he cast his eyes,
A host of Reynard’s relatives he spies;
To vindicate their kinsman’s cause they came,
And in such numbers they were hard to name;
They ranged together close: on th’ other side
The num’rous foes of Reynard he descried;
The court they seemed between them to divide.
And thus began the monarch: “Reynard, hear;
Thyself from this one crime how canst thou clear?
By thee, with Bellyn’s help, the Hare is dead;
And as a despatch thou send’st me back his head.
’Twas done to mock my pow’r, that well I know;
But Bellyn has atoned, and so must thou.”
“Woe’s me! would I were dead!” the Fox replied;
“But as you find the truth, sire, so decide.
If I am guilty, let me die, and shame
Fall as a heritage upon my name.
Bellyn, the traitor vile, hath filched from me
The rarest treasure eye did ever see.
To him and Puss ’twas giv’n; and sure I am,
That Puss was robbed and murdered by the Ram.
Oh! could it be but found; though much I fear
It never more to daylight will appear.”
“Nay,” said the sly she-Ape, “why thus despord?
If ’tis on earth it surely may be found.
Early and late we’ll seek and never tire;
Of priests, as well as laymen, we’ll inquire.
But, that our labor may not be in vain.
What were the jewels like ’twere best explain.”
“Ah, well-a-day!” said Reynard; “but they were
Such wondrous costly things, so rich and rare!
To get them back I have but little hope;
None but an idiot e’er would give them up.
How will it vex poor Ermelyne, my wife;
I fear she’ll not forgive me all her life.
For, doubting Bellyn, if not Pussy too,
She begged me not to let the treasures go.
“I would commence the search this very day;
But these false charges force me here to stay;
I’m bound in honor to defend my right,
By the bold ordeal of judicial fight.
If I succeed,—as sure succeed I must,
Since I am innocent and Heav’n is just,—
Unsought I will not leave one spot of ground,
But these lost jewels shall again be found.”