Quand de ton corps la force decliner
T'apparoisoit & tes sentz definer,
N'estoit ce pas chose a toy bien certaine
Que ie venoye et estois fort prochaine
Ouy pour tout vray pourtant estime & croy
Que ie n'auray en riens pitié de toy
Ains te feray mourir presentement
Malgré ton veul & ton consentement."
"La fable nous peult demonstrer
Qu' ayons a viure en telle sorte
Que nous estimons rencontrer
Tousiours la mort en nostre porte."
We have two metrical versions in English of "Death's Messengers": (1) in Arwaker's Select Fables, xiv. bk. iv. (1708), based on Abstemius; and (2) in Mr. Piozzi's Autobiography (1785), probably suggested by La Fontaine's fable already referred to.
"The Old Man Loth to Die,
Consider your Latter-end.
"A Wretch, that on the World's uneasy Stage
Had acted long, ev'n to decrepit Age,
At the last Scene, thought he too soon had done ;
And when Death call'd him, begg'd he might stay on.
He said, His greatest Bus'ness was to do
And hop'd the Fates wou'd not surprise him so;
But spare him, that he might provision make
For that long Journey which he was to take.
Death ask'd him why he had that Work deferr'd.
Since he had warn'd him oft' to be prepared.
He answer'd, He had never seen his Eace,
And hop'd he would allow him Days of Grace.
But Death reply'd ; You often saw me near,
My Face in sev'ral Objects did appear;
I have not only your Coevals slain,
'Till but a few, a very few remain;
But Young men, Children, New-born infants too,
And all to caution and admonish you: