Constantia: or, The Man of Law's Tale, Modernized from Chaucer - Part 9

The Dame, from whom his birth the Prince derived,
Imperial Dowager, had yet survived:
Ambitious, greedy of supreme controul,
And born with all the tyrant in her soul,
At filial government she long repined,
Nor yet the reins of secret rule resigned.
Her savage sentiments her sex belied,
And versed in wiles with deepest statesmen vied;
Yet o'er her softning tongue, and soothing face,
The subtle varnish spread with easy grace:
The Sage discern'd, but still confest her sway;
And whom their hearts detest, their fears obey.
Tenacious zeal her Prophet's lore revered,
The practice scorn'd, but to the text adhered;
And far as faith with fury could inflame,
She was indeed a most religious dame.

When she her Son's determin'd bent perceived,
Her breast with cruel agitation heaved;
Her call, each hoary, each experienced friend,
In haste, and midnight privacy, attend;
When dire, amid the dusky throng she rose,
And from her tongue contagious poison flows.

" Ye peers, ye pillars of our falling state!
" Too faithful subjects of a Prince ingrate;
" A Son, whom these detesting breasts have fed,
" A serpent grown, to your destruction bred!
" Say, shall a single hand such patriots awe?
" Insult your Prophet, and supplant your Law?
" First, Heaven! be all the bonds of nature broke,
" E'er I assume the curs'd, the Christian yoke:
" For, what import these innovating rites,
" But here a living death of all delights?
" Such threats as penitence can ne'er appease,
" The body's penance, and the mind's disease? —
" Yet, were I of some faithful hearts secure,
" Not such the malady, but we can cure. "
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