Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 328 pages of information about Tales.
“Such wert thou once; and now, my child, they say
Thy faith like water runneth fast away,
The prince of devils hath, I fear, beguiled
The ready wit of my backsliding child.” 
   On this, with lofty looks, our Clerk began
His grave rebuke, as he assumed the man. —
   “There is no devil,” said the hopeful youth,
“Nor prince of devils:  that I know for truth. 
Have I not told you how my books describe
The arts of priests, and all the canting tribe? 
Your Bible mentions Egypt, where it seems
Was Joseph found when Pharoah dream’d his dreams: 
Now in that place, in some bewilder’d head,
(The learned write) religious dreams were bred;
Whence through the earth, with various forms combined,
They came to frighten and afflict mankind,
Prone (so I read) to let a priest invade
Their souls with awe, and by his craft be made
Slave to his will, and profit to his trade: 
So say my books, and how the rogues agreed
To blind the victims, to defraud and lead;
When joys above to ready dupes were sold,
And hell was threaten’d to the shy and cold. 
   “Why so amazed, and so prepared to pray? 
As if a Being heard a word we say: 
This may surprise you; I myself began
To feel disturb’d, and to my Bible ran: 
I now am wiser—­yet agree in this,
The book has things that are not much amiss;
It is a fine old work, and I protest
I hate to hear it treated as a jest: 
The book has wisdom in it, if you look
Wisely upon it as another book.” 
   “Oh! wicked! wicked! my unhappy child,
How hast thou been by evil men beguiled!”
   “How! wicked, say you?  You can little guess
The gain of that which you call wickedness;
Why, sins you think it sinful but to name
Have gain’d both wives and widows wealth and fame;
And this because such people never dread
Those threaten’d pains; hell comes not in their head: 
Love is our nature, wealth we all desire,
And what we wish ’tis lawful to acquire;
So say my books—­and what beside they show
’Tis time to let this honest Farmer know. 
Nay, look not grave:  am I commanded down
To feed his cattle and become his clown? 
Is such his purpose?  Then he shall be told
The vulgar insult—­Hold, in mercy hold! —
Father, oh! father! throw the whip away;
I was but jesting; on my knees I pray —
There, hold his arm—­oh! leave us not alone: 
In pity cease, and I will yet atone
For all my sin”—­In vain; stroke after stroke,
On side and shoulder, quick as mill-wheels broke;
Quick as the patient’s pulse, who trembling cried,
And still the parent with a stroke replied;
Till all the medicine he prepared was dealt,
And every bone the precious influence felt;
Till all the panting flesh was red and raw,
And every thought was turn’d to fear and awe;
Till every doubt to due respect gave place. —
Such cures are done when doctors know the case. 
Project Gutenberg
Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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