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" Cervius hfec inter vicinus garrit aniles
Ex re fabellas."

Horat. Serm. lib. ii. 6.




London :

Spottiswoodes and Shaw,







Once in old days, in the same village, dwelt
Two woodcutters, who neighbours were, and felt
Each in his strength of arm a conscious pride ;
In friendship's bonds they firmly were allied ;
From morn to eve their hours in labour spent,
And were, though poor, yet honest and content.
For man, condemned on earth by urgent toil
To reap the harvest of a thorny soil,
Yet labour finds a healing virtue bears,

Strength it imparts, and softens anxious cares,




Gives to the appetite a keener zest,
More lull enjoyment to the hours of rest ;
And nature's simple charms can hence excite
Within the mind pure feelings of delight.
But mark the rich whom sated pleasures cloy,
And dash with gall their flowing cup of joy :
Fortune, malicious goddess, still prepares
Against the seeming hlest her subtlest snares ;
With false allurements, tinsel charms assails,
Foe to their peace, alas ! too oft prevails.
Ambition, spleen, o'er these exert their sway,
Their minds to baneful passions fall the prey ;
By ease and luxury to sickness nursed,
Possessed of wealth, and yet most deeply cursed,
The lowly cot they oft with envy view,
Ami sons of toil who nature's laws pursue.

But to our heroes. Each a mule possest,
Of greatest service found, and much carest ;
For pasture these by day the forest roam,
Loaded at eve their masters guide them home.


This life of toil and innocence they led

For many a year, and thus they gained their bread.

By holy chain of wedlock bound was one,

To whom was born a daughter and a son.

The father unto school his children sent,

Part of his earnings in this way he spent ;

And for his wife and offspring to provide,

More earnestly unto his work applied.

Bright unto some appears the white-walled cot,
Where dwells the peasant, favoured seems his lot :
He in the morn wakes with the rising sun,
And home returns at eve, his labour done ;
Content earth's lowly denizen he lives ;
His frugal fare no surfeit ever gives ;
Unknown to him what ills from wealth may spring ;
Blighted ambition leaves no torturing sting ;
Such idle fears and doubts his mind ne'er vex,
As subtler spirits torture and perplex.
Say if thou wilt that heaven the poor doth bless
With greatest portion of true happiness ;


But, ah! reversed the picture we must paint,
Though weak our drawing, and our colours faint.
Soon a hard winter came, and far around
A fleecy covering was spread o'er the ground ;
By cold compelled, and blindly drifting snow,
He for a time his labour must forego.
No money in his purse, bread was there none
For his loved household now to feed upon.
Sleepless for care, he with his Mend next day
Set forth and to the forest took the way ;
But piercing was the wind, so sharp the hail,
His comrade's courage soon is found to fail.
Home he returns. But on the father went,
Fixed to his aim, resolved in his intent.
He gains the forest, and the hatchet plies,
The fierce intemperance of heaven defies ;
But fate forbade, his fingers, numbed with cold,
Powerless become, nor can the hatchet hold.
Then all the father's spirit in him burns,
In bitterness of soul his lot he mourns :


Condemned from birth to pass his life in grief,
No pause from toil, from misery no relief;
To find that God in heaven beholds his woes
With eye unpitying, nor will grant repose.
What can he do ? what will of him become ?
How empty-handed dare he venture home,
To meet his hapless wife's imploring eye,
Bread for her children asking lest they die ?
His mind o'erspent wild he uproots his hair,
And loudly calls on death in his despair.
Then from a lowly shrub a voice arose,
What cause he had for sorrow bade disclose.
" I am a wretched father," he replied,
" To whom the gifts of fortune are denied,
Accurst of God, nor can from grief refrain,
Though unto heaven or man appeal be vain.
At home for bread my famished children cry,
Death can alone free me from misery."
" And I Titania am, the fairy queen,
Who lead in spring the dance upon the green.


Console thyself, abandon every fear,

Thy future days far brighter shall appear:

Unhoped I grant thy vows." Thus spake the voice.

Then soon he found occasion to rejoice;

For knowledge of a treasure vast concealed

In his small garden has the fay revealed.

She charged him of his wealth good use to make,

And to all others friendly feelings take ;

Kindly to soothe the hearts that suffering grieve,

And the distresses of the poor relieve ;

When more exalt his former lot regard,

And virtue love, which yields its own reward ;

These counsels bids observe with cautious fear,

There thrice twelve months elapsed again appear.

Before the fairy on his knees he fell,

Words scarce suffice his gratitude to tell ;

Then to his home with quickened step he went,

Drunk with his joy, immeasurably content.

Meanwhile his hapless wife and children wait,
Sad, and uncertain of their future fate,


Their eyes fixed on the forest to discern
His coming, anxious his success to learnt
They see him rushing home with eager strides,
Nor axe with him he bore, nor mule he guides;
Loaded with grief, their breasts o'ercharged with
No longer they from tears and sobs refrain, [pain,
His spouse bewailing ran with outstretched hands,
And for herself and children food demands ;
Then, smiling, he replied to her, " Dear wife,
Source of my joy, and solace of my life,
Compose yourself, allay the rising storm,
God in a moment can great works perform."
In order next has he begun to tell
Of his despair, and after what befell ;
How his sad tale the fairy pitying heard,
And of the hidden wealth on him conferred.
Husband and wife then to the garden fly,
Anxious the buried treasure to descry.
With tools they search that deep in earth descend,
And find at length what all their woes will end.


Cautious at first they by no vain display
Their altered fortunes to the world betray ;
Much fearing lest of all their wishes foiled,
And of their treasure they should be despoiled.
Unto the wood at times the husband went,
There as before his hours in labour spent ;
But he of woodcutting full weary grew,
And his trade loathing soon from it withdrew ;
A large estate near to the forest bought,
And former toils to recompense he thought,
By yielding to his own ungoverned will,
And of life's pleasures satiate take his fill.

Three years elapsed, he to the forest hied,
The shrub where erst he stood again descried.
This time the kindly fay bade him declare,
If he was yet content, and free from care.
And he replied, more wealth he not requires,
But to be honoured now alone desires ;
He wished his rank advanced to higher grade,
And of his region to be provost made.


This too she grants, but strictly him enjoined
To fix the rules of virtue on his mind ;
Charged as before, when past some three years'
Again to make return unto that place. [space,

As he desired, for provost him they chose ;
Then soon his vices he began disclose ;
For from that hour he bolder license took,
Nor to be thwarted of his will would brook :
The friend and comrade of his former years,
Vile to his eyes, contemptible appears ;
No aid he grants him, has no kindness shown,
But now regards as one he ne'er had known.
The past appears a dream — no longer poor,
Scarce of his former years he memory bore.

His pride increasing, three years more are spent,
To meet the fairy then again he went.
And now for boon and to complete his vows,
He begs his daughter may a prince espouse ;
And for his son would also grace obtain,
Whom he desires a bishopric to gain.

12 tiie fairy's gift.

These wishes also she consents to grant,
So that might be fulfilled his every want ;
And of her precepts though no use he made,
She for his conduct did not him upbraid,
Alone enjoined on the third following year
Again within her presence to appear.

To wealth allied, the daughter truly fair,
And all that might deserve a parent's care,
Her with such charms a lover's choice to guide,
Sienna's prince selected for his bride.
I lightly pass the pomp and the display
Of jewels worn upon the nuptial day,
The flowers young maidens on her path bestrew,
Who flock with eager joy the bride to view,
The rich attire all who were present wore,
The welcome gifts conferred upon the poor,
The plumes that graceful wave upon the air,
The radiant smiles each face is seen to wear,
The whispers, nods, the thousand courtesies,
The kind inquiries, nor less kind replies,


The electric flash of wit from many a guest,
The exploding laugh that follows mirthful jest,
The splendid banquet, and the sparkling wine,
And various costly meats off which they dine :
Since these all to their minds can picture clear,
Needless at large I should describe them here.

The daughter wedded, it remains to tell
How fared the son, what fortune him befel.
He, it may be remarked, was learn'd and wise,
Pious and humble, — all his virtues prize ;
Both old and young gave blessing to his name,
And of Arezzo bishop he became.

Thus not without amaze mankind have seen
Of him who once a woodcutter had been.
The daughter shared a prince's state and bed,
And the son bore a mitre on his head.
On him and his when showered these bounties new.
Worse from that hour the father's conduct grew ;
Unto his passions he has set no bound,
Nor fitting curb for him could then be found ;


His folly to the height of madness went,
Which he was taught most deeply to repent.
Joining contempt unto ingratitude,
His mind with pride and arrogance imbued,
When now he fully had attained his vows,
Unto his kind protectress scorn he shows.
To her he went with purpose to declare
Such labour for the future he should spare ;
Foe to constraint he can no more endure
By servile prayer new favours to ensure ;
Therefore as well to her to say adieu,
Whom he ne'er wished again to hear or view.
The fairy in return but few words spake,
But warned him she would quickly vengeance take.
Her wrath proved terrible. Ere three days sped,
His wife, his son, and daughter all are dead.
And then each being who observed him saw
His mind was struck with a deep sense of awe ;
Each blow descends with overwhelming force :
Rude as he was he yet could feel remorse.


Unto all eyes he has appeared as one
On the wide earth who felt himself alone,
Thus severed in a moment from the wife
Who faithful shared his good or ill through life.
Of all who loved him or he loved bereft,
Wildly he tore his hair, and loudly wept:
He unto these was bound by firmest ties
Of love, and nature's kindliest sympathies ;
Here vulnerable he felt as if a dart
Archer had aimed, and pierced him to the heart ;
Or long or short his life was doomed to bear
His bitter portion of enduring care.
His home seemed desolate, wrecked was his peace,
Death to his woes alone could grant release.
Most querulous he grew, more obstinate,
And yet a second time would tempt his fate :
When unto him his sovereign lord applied,
For tribute, this to yield has he denied.
Therefore the nobles 'gainst him war proclaim.
Vanquished in battle, and o'ercome with shame,


He of his rich possessions was despoiled,
Outlawed, a time dwelt on the houseless wild.
Of provost then no more he bore the name,
And soon so poor and so contemned became,
His trade of woodcutting again he plies,
While him each human being shuns and flies.
Doomed justly in remorse his days to end,
He died unpitied and without a friend.


London :

SpoTTiswoonr.-i and Shaw,




The fairy's
1 gift

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UCLA-Young Research Library

PR3991.A1 F16


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Online LibraryJ C.The fairy's gift; a tale → online text (page 1 of 1)