« PreviousContinue »
Soon flew this news through Fairy-land,
Which gave queen Mab to understand
The combat that was then in hand
Betwixt those men so mighty :
Which greatly she began to rue,
Perceiving that all fairy knew,
The first occasion from her grew,
Of these affairs so weighty.
Wherefore, attended with her maids,
Through fogs, and mists, and damps she wades,
To Proserpine the queen of shades,
To treat, that it would please her
The cause into her hands to take,
For ancient love and friendship's sake,
And soon thereof an end to make,
Which of much care would ease her.
Awhile there let we Mab alone,
And come we to king Oberon,
Who arm'd to meet his foe is gone,
For proud Pigwiggen crying :
Who sought the fairy king as fast,
And had so well his journies cast,
That he arrived at the last,
His puissant foe espying.
Stout Tomalin came with the king,
Tom Thum doth on Pigwiggen bring,
That perfect were in ev'ry thing
To single fights belonging :
And therefore they themselves engage,
To see them exercise their rage,
With fair and comely equipage,
Not one the other wronging.
So like in arms these champions were,
As they had been a very pair,
So that a man would almost swear
That either had been either:
Their furious steeds began to neigh,
That they were heard a mighty way :
Their staves upon their rests they lay;
Yet ere they flew together,
Their seconds minister an oath,
Which was indifferent to them both,
That on their knightly faith and troth,
No magic them supplied ;
And sought them that they had no charms,
Wherewith to work each other's harms,
But came with simple open arms,
To have their causes tried.
Together furiously they ran,
That to the ground came horse and man;
The blood out of their helmets span,
So sharp were their encounters :
And tho' they to the earth were thrown,
Yet quickly they regain'd their own;
Such nimbleness was never shown:
They were two gallant mounters.
When in a second course again,
They forward came with might and main,
Yet which had better of the twain,
The seconds could not judge yet:
Their shields were into pieces cleft,
Their helmets from their heads were reft,
And to defend them nothing left,
These champions would not budge yet.
Away from them their staves they threw, Their cruel swords they quickly drew, And freshly they the fight renew,
They every stroke redoubled : Which made Proserpina take heed, And make to them the greater speed, For fear lest they too much should bleed,
Which wond'rously her troubled. When to th' infernal Styx she goes, She takes the fogs from thence that rose, And in a bag doth them enclose,
When well she had them blended :
She hies her then to Lethe spring,
A bottle and thereof doth bring,
Wherewith she meant to work the thing
Which only she intended.
Now Proserpine with Mab is gone
Unto the place where Oberon
And proud Pigwiggen, one to one,
Both to be slain were likely:
And there themselves they closely hide,
Because they would not be espy'd ;
For Proserpine meant to decide
The matter very quickly.
And suddenly unties the poke,
Which out of it sent such a smoke,
As ready was them all to choke,
So grie pus was the pother:
So that the knights each other lost,
And stood as still as any post,
Tom Thum nor Tomalin could boast
Themselves of any other.
But when the mist 'gan somewhat cease,
Proserpina commandeth peace,
And that awhile they should release
Each other of their peril :
“ Which here," quoth she, “I do proclaim
To all, in dreadful Pluto's name,
That as ye will eschew his blame,
You let me hear the quarrel.
“ But here yourselves you must engage,
Somewhat to cool your spleenish rage,
Your grievous thirst and to asswage,
That first you drink this liquor ;
Which shall your understandings clear,
As plainly shall to you appear,
Those things from me that you shall hear,
Conceiving much the quicker."
This Lethe water, you must know,
The memory destroyeth so,
That of our weal, or of our woe,
It all remembrance blotted,
Of it nor can you ever think :
For they no sooner took this drink,
But nought into their brains could sink,
Of, what had them besotted.
King Oberon forgotten had,
That he for jealousy ran mad;
But of his queen was wond'rous glad,
And ask'd how they came thither.
Pigwiggen likewise doth forget
That he queen Mab had ever met,
Or that they were so hard beset,
When they were found together.
Nor either of 'em both had thought,
That e'er they had each other sought,
Much less that they a combat fought,
But such a dream were loathing:
Tom Thum had got a little sup,
And Tomalin scarce kiss'd the cup,
Yet had their brains so sure lockt up,
That they remember'd nothing:
Queen Mab and her light maids the while
Amongst themselves do closely smile,
To see the king caught with this wilc,
With one another jesting :
And to the Fairy-court they went,
With mickle joy and merriment,
Which thing was done with good intent;
And thus I left them feasting.
Stultorum plena sunt omnia. “ Help! neighbours, help! for God's sake come
For of your help there never was such need.
Midwives, make haste, and dress ye as ye run ;
Either come quickly, or we're all undone !
The World's in labour, her throws come so thick,
That with the pangs she's waxt stark lunatic.”
“ But whither? whither?” one was heard to cry.
She that call'd thus, doth presently reply,
“ Do ye not see, in ev'ry street and place,
The general World now in a piteous case ?”
Up got the gossips, and for very haste
Some came without shoes, some came all unlac'd,