Tales and novels of Jean de La Fontaine

The Husband-Confessor

WHEN Francis (named the first) o’er Frenchmen reign’d,

In Italy young Arthur laurels gained,

And oft such daring valour showed in fight,

With ev’ry honour he was made a knight;

The monarch placed the spur upon his heel,

That all around his proper worth might feel.

Then household deities at home he sought,

Where — not at prayers his beauteous dame he caught:

He’d left her, truly, quite dissolv’d in tears;

But now the belle had bid adieu to fears;

And oft was dancing joyously around,

With all the company that could be found.

GALLANTS in crowds Sir Arthur soon perceived;

At sight of these the knight was sorely grieved;

And, turning in his mind how best to act;

Cried he, Can this be truly held a fact,

That I’ve been worthy while I’d fame in view,

Of cuckoldom at home, and knighthood too?

It ought to be but half:— the truth let’s know;

From constancy the purest blessings flow.

Then like a father-confessor he dressed,

And took his seat where priests their flock confessed.

His lady absolution sought that day,

And on her knees before him ‘gan to pray;

The minor sins were told with downcast eyes,

And then for hearing those of larger size,

The husband-confessor prepared his ears:—

Said she, Good father, (‘mid a flood of tears),

My bed receives, (the fault I fear’s not slight,)

A gentleman, a parson, and a knight.

Still more had followed, but, by rage o’ercome,

Sir Arthur cut the thread, and she was mum;

Though, doubtless, had the fair been let proceed,

Quite long her Litany had been decreed.

THe husband, in a rage, exclaimed, thou jade,

A parson, say’st thou? t’whom dost think thou’st made

This curst confession? — To my spouse, cried she,

I saw you enter here, and came with glee,

Supposing you’d a trick to raise surprise;

Howe’er ’tis strange that one so very wise,

The riddle should not fully comprehend:—

A KNIGHT, the king created you, my friend;

A GENTLEMAN, your rank was long ago;

A PARSON, you have made yourself you know.

Goon heav’ns! exclaimed the knight, ’tis very clear,

And I a blockhead surely must appear.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57