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Cuddy. Not thy acquaintance and thy friends alone Pity thy close restraint, as friends should do; But some that have but seen thee, for thee moan; Yea, many that did never see thee, too. Some deem thee in a fault, and most in none; So divers ways do divers rumours go ;
And at all meetings where our shepherds be, Now the main news that's extant, is of thee.
Philarete. Why, this is somewhat yet. Had I but kept Sheep on the mountains till the day of doom, My name should in obscurity have slept In brakes, in briars, shrubbed furze and broom : Into the world's wide ear it had not crept, Nor in so many men's thoughts found a room.
But what cause of my sufferings do they know? Good Cuddy! tell me, how doth rumour go?
Cuddy. 'Faith! 'tis uncertain: some speak this, some that; Some dare say nought, yet seem to think a cause, And many an one, prating he knows not what, Comes out with proverbs and old ancient saws, As if he thought thee guiltless, and yet not ; Then doth he speak half sentences, then pause,
That what the most would say we may suppose; But what to say the rumour is, none knows.
Nor care I greatly; for it skills not much
What the unsteady common people deems :
His conscience doth not always feel least touch
That blameless in the sight of others seems.
My cause is honest, and because 'tis such,
I hold it so, and not for men's esteems.
If they speak justly well of me, I'm glad;
If falsely evil, it ne'er makes me sad.
I like that mind; but, shepherd ! you are quite
Beside the matter that I long to hear :
Remember what you promis'd yester-night ;
You'ld put us off with other talk, I fear.
Thou know'st that honest Cuddy's heart's upright,
And none but he, except myself, is near;
Come therefore, and betwixt us two relate
The true occasion of thy present state.
My Friends ! I will. *You know I am a swain
That kept a poor flock on a barren plain;
* The incidents in the part of Wither's life here referred to, are recounted in the Biographical Notice prefixed to the first volume.
Who, though it seems I could do nothing less,
Can make a song, and woo a shepherdess;
And not alone the fairest where I live
Have heard me sing, and favours deign’d to give ;
But, though I say't, the noblest nymph of Thame
Hath grac'd my verse, unto my greater fame.
Yet, being young, and not much seeking praise,
I was not noted out for shepherd's lays,
Nor feeding flocks, as you know others be;
For the delight that most possessed me
Was hunting foxes, wolves, and beasts of
That spoil our folds, and bear our lambs away.
For this, as also for the love I bear
Unto my country, I laid by all care
Of gain, or of preferment, with desire
Only to keep that state I had entire,
And like a true grown huntsman sought to speed
Myself with hounds of rare and choicest breed,
Whose names and natures, ere I further go,
Because you are my friends, I'll let you know.
My first esteemed dog that I did find
Was by descent of old Acteon's kind;
A brache* which, if I do not aim amiss,
For all the world is just like one of his :
She's named Lovet and scarce yet knows her duty;
Her dam's my lady's pretty beagle, Beauty.
* A bitch-hound. + The different passions here enumerated, are those which Wither has personified in his Abuses Stript and Whipt.
I bred her up myself with wondrous charge,
Until she grew to be exceeding large,
And wax'd so wanton, that I did abhor it,
And put her out amongst my neighbours for it.
The next is Lust, a hound that's kept abroad
'Mongst some of mine acquaintance, but a toad
Is not more loathsome : 'tis a cur will range
Extremely, and is ever full of mange;
And cause it is infectious, she's not wont
To come among the rest, but when they hunt.
Hate is the third, a hound both deep and long ;
His sire is True, or else supposed Wrong.
He'll have a snap at all that pass him by,
And yet pursues his game most eagerly.
With him goes Envy coupled, a lean cur,
And yet she'll hold out, hunt we ne'er so far:
She pineth much, and feedeth little too,
Yet stands and snarleth at the rest that do.
Then there's Revenge, a wond'rous deep-mouth'd
So fleet, I'm fain to hunt him with a clog;
Yet many times he'l much out-strip his bounds,
And hunts not closely with the other hounds :
He'll venture on a lion in his ire.
Curst Choler was his dam, and Wrong his sire.
This Choler is a brache that's very old,
And spends her mouth too much to have it hold :
She's very testy, an unpleasing cur,
That bites the very stones if they but stir;
Or when that ought but her displeasure moves,
She'll bite and snap at any one she loves.
But my quick scented’st dog is Jealousy;
The truest of this breed's in Italy.
The dam of mine would hardly fill a glove,
It was a lady's little dog, call’d Love;
The sire, a poor deformed cur, nam'd Fear,
As shagged and as rough as is a bear;
And yet the whelp turn’d after neither kind,
For he is very large, and near-hand blind.
Far-off, he seemeth of a pretty colour,
But doth not prove so when you view him fuller;
A vile suspicious beast, whose looks are bad,
And I do fear in time he will grow mad.
To him I couple Avarice, still poor,
Yet she devours as much as twenty more:
A thousand horse she in her paunch can put,
Yet whine as if she had an empty gut;
And having gorg'd what might a land have found,
She'll catch for more, and hide it in the ground.
Ambition is a hound as greedy full ;
But he for all the daintiest bits doth cull :
He scorns to lick up crumbs beneath the table :
He'll fetch't from boards and shelves, if he be able;