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There was a man of stature big,

And big withall in mind; For serve he would, yet one than whom

He greater none might find.

He, hearing that the emperor

Was in the world most great, Came to his court, was entertain'd,

And, serving him at meat,

It chanced the devil was named—whereat The emperor

him blest; When as, until he knew the cause,

The Pagan would not rest.

But when he heard his lord to fear

The devil, his ghostly foe, He left his service, and to seek

And serve the devil did go.

Of heav'n or hell, God or the devil,

He erst nor heard nor cared; Alone he sought to serve the same

That would by none be dared.

He met (who soon is met) the devil ;

Was entertain'd: they walk, Till, coming to a cross, the devil

Did fearfully it balk :

The servant, musing, questioned

His master of his fear: “ One Christ (quoth he) with dread I mind,

" When doth a cross appear."

“ Then serve thyself! (the Giant said)

66 That Christ to serve I'll seek !” For him he ask'd a hermit, who

Advis'd him to be meek:

By which, by faith, and works of alms,

Would sought-for Christ be found ; And how, and where to practise these

He gave directions sound.

Then he, that scorn'd his service late,

To greatest potentates,
Even at a common ferry, now,

all awaits.

To carry


Quoth he, not long since was a man,

That did his devoir give, .
To kill the passions of his flesh,

And did in penance live.

And though beloved by the king,

He lived by his sweat:
Affirming men that would not work

Unworthy for to eat.

He told the erring their amiss,

And taught them to amend ; He counselled the comfortless,

And all his days did spend

In prayer

and in poverty : Amongst his doings well, High-ways he mended; doing which

This accident befell:

A dozen thieves, to have been hang'd

Were led this hermit by ;
To whom he went, exhorting them

Like Christian men to die.

So penitent they were, and he

So pitiful, good man,
As to the king for pardon of

The prisoners he ran :

Which got, he gave it them : but this

Proviso did he add,
That they should ever work as he:

They grant, poor souls, and glad.

He got them gowns of country grey,

And hoods for rain and cold,
And hempen girdles, which (besides

Themselves) might burthens hold;

Pick-ax, and spade : and hard to work

The convent fell together; With robes, and ropes, and ev'ry tool

For every work and weather.

So did they toil, as thereabout

No causey was unwrought; Wherefore new labours for his men

The holy hermit sought.

But, at departure, prayed them

To fast, to watch, and pray,

And live remote from worldly men;

And goeth so his way.

The holy thieves, (for now in them

Had custom wrought content,) Could much of Scripture; and indeed,

Did heartily repent.

Now when the country-folk did hear

Of these same men devout, Religiously they haunt their cells;

And lastly, brought about

That, from the woods, to buildings brave,

They won the hermit's crew, Who was from found-out work return'd,

And their aposta knew.

He, going to their stately place,

Did find, in every dish,
Fat beef, and brewis; and great store

Of dainty fowl and fish.

Who seeing their saturity,

And practising to win
His pupils thence, “ Excess (he said)

“ Doth work access to sin.

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