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For that proud giant's force he wisely knew, Not to be meanly dreaded, nor defied
With rash presumption; and with courage true, Rather than step from Virtue's paths aside, Oft had he singly scorn'd his all-dismaying pride.
And now, disdaining parle, his courser hot He fiercely prick'd, and couch'd his vengeful spear;
Wherewith the giant he so rudely smot,
That him perforce constrain'd to wend arrear4°. Who, much abash'd at such rebuke severe, Yet his accustom'd pride recovering soon, Forthwith his massy sceptre 'gan uprear; For other warlike weapon he had none, Ne other him behoved to quell his boldest fone11.
With that enormous mace the fairy knight So sore he bet42, that all his armour bray'd43, To pieces well nigh riven with the might Of so tempestuous strokes; but he was stay'd, And ever with deliberate valour weigh'd The sudden changes of the doubtful fray; From cautious prudence oft deriving aid, When force unequal did him hard assay: So lightly from his steed he leap'd upon the lay.
Then swiftly drawing forth his trenchant blade44, High o'er his head he held his fenceful shield; And warily forecasting to evade
The giant's furious arm about him wheel'd,
40 Wend arrear, move backwards.
41 Fone, foes.
42 Bet, beat.
43 Bray'd, resounded.
14 Trenchant, cutting.
With restless steps aye traversing the field.
Through rage defenceless, mote advantage yield, With his sharp sword so oft he did him gride 45, That his gold-sandal'd feet in crimson floods were dyed.
His baser parts he maim'd with many a wound; But far above his utmost reach were pight 46 The forts of life: ne never to confound With utter ruin, and abolish quite A power so puissant by his single might Did he presume to hope: himself alone From lawless force to free, in bloody fight He stood content to bow to Custom's throne, So Reason mote not blush his sovran rule to own. So well he warded, and so fiercely press'd His foe, that weary wax'd he of the fray; Yet nould he algates 47 lower his haughty crest But masking in contempt his sore dismay, Disdainfully released the trembling prey, As one unworthy of his princely care; Then proudly casting on the warlike fay 48 A smile of scorn and pity, through the air 'Gan blow the shrilling horn; the blast was heard afar.
Eftsoons astonish'd at the' alarming sound, The signal of distress and hostile wrong, Confusedly trooping from all quarters round Came pouring o'er the plain a numerous throng Of every sex and order, old and
45 Gride, cut, hack.
46 Pight, placed.
47 Nould he algates, would not by any means.
48 Fay, fairy.
The vassals of great Custom's wide domain, Who to his lore inured by usage long,
His every summons heard with pleasure fain, And felt his every wound with sympathetic pain.
They, when their bleeding king they did behold, And saw an armed knight him standing near, Attended by that palmer sage and bold;
Whose venturous search of devious truth while
Spread through the realms of learning horrors drear,
Y-seized were at first with terrors great;
And innovations strange in Custom's peaceful state.
But when they saw the knight his falchion
And climbing to his steed march thence
Thereat the multitude, that stood around,
Of boisterous joy: the sudden-bursting sound,
49 Welkin, sky.
Then turning towards the knight, with scoffings lewd,
Heart-piercing insults, and revilings sore,
Loud bursts of laughter vain, and hisses rude, As through the throng he pass'd, his parting steps pursued.
Alse from that forked hill, the boasted seat
Sharp, secret arrows shot, and aim'd his back to wound.
But the brave fairy knight, no whit dismay'd, Held on his peaceful journey o'er the plain; With curious eye observing, as he stray'd Through the wide provinces of Custom's reign, What mote afresh admonish him remain Fast by his virtuous purpose; all around So many objects moved his just disdain; Him seem'd that nothing serious, nothing sound, In city, village, bower, or castle, mote be found. In village, city, castle, bower, and hall, Each sex, each age, each order, and degree, To vice and idle sport abandon'd all, Kept one perpetual general jubilee. Ne suffer'd ought disturb their merry glee ; Ne sense of private loss, ne public woes, Restraint of law, Religion's drad decree,
Intestine desolation, foreign foes,
Nor heaven's tempestuous threats, nor earth's convulsive throes.
But chiefly they whom Heaven's disposing hand
And as they mount, enlighten every age
With the bright influence of fair Virtue's rays; Which from the awful heights of grandeur brighter blaze.
They (O perverse and base ingratitude!)
Abused the means of pleasures more refined,
And, fettering on her throne the' immortal mind, The guidance of her realm to passions wild resign'd.
Hence thoughtless, shameless, reckless, spiritless,
Nought worthy of their kind did they essay;
50 Hests, behests, precepts, commands.