In Search of Cupid and Psyche: Myth and Legend in Children's Literature
Or, a strange and wonderful relation, shewing, how a Gentleman of a vast Estate in Bristol, had a proud and disobedient Daughter, who because her parents would not support her in all her extravagance, bargained with the Devil to poison them. How an Angel informed her parents of her design. How she lay in a trance four days; and when she was put in the grave, she came to life again, &c, &c.
The Prodigal Daughter
Disobedient lady reclaimed, &c.
No further off than Bristol now of late,
A gentleman liv’d of a vast estate,
And he had but one only daughter fair;
Whom he most tenderly did love so dear.
They kept her cloath’d in costly rich array,
And as the child grew up, for truth they say,
Her heart with pride was lifted up so high,
She fix’d her whole delight in vanity.
Each sinful course to her did pleasant seem,
And of the holy scriptures made a game:
At length her parents did begin to see
Their tender kindness would her ruin be.
Her mother thus to her began to speak,
My child this course you run my heart will break,
The tender love which we to you have shown,
I fear, will cause our tender hearts to groan.
Come, come, my child, this course in time refrain,
And serve the LORD now in your youthful prime,
For if in this your wicked course you run,
Your soul and body both will be undone.
Laughing and scoffing, at her mother, she
Said, pray now, trouble not yourself with me,
Why do you talk to me of heav’ns joy,
My youthful pleasures all for to destroy.
I am not certain what I shall possess,
After I have resign’d my vital breath;
I nothing for another world do care,
Therefore I’ll take my pleasure while I’m here.
The mother said, my child, how do you know,
How soon your pride into the dust will go?
For young as well as old to death bow down,
And you must die, GOD only knows how soon.
She from her mother in a passion went,
Filling her aged heart with discontent:
She rung her hands, and to her husband said,
She’s ruin’d soul and body I’m afraid.
Her father said, her pride I will pull down,
Money to spend of me she shall have none,
I’ll make her humble before I have done,
Or else forever I will her disown.
All night she from her father’s house did stray,
Next morning she came home by break of day,
Her father he did ask her where she’d been?
And straightway answer’d, what was that to him.
He said, your haughty pride I will pull down,
Money to spend no more I’ll give you none,
She said, if you deny me what I crave,
I’ll sell my soul but money I will have.
Her father stript her of her rich array,
And then he cloath’d her in a russet gray,
And to her chamber he did her confine,
With bread and water fed her for some time.
Altho’ their hearts for her did ake full sore,
This course they took her soul for to restore,
But all in vain she wanted Heaven’s grace
And sin within her heart had taken place,
One night as in her room she musing were,
The Devil in her room did then appear,
And seemingly he took her by the hand,
In shape and person like a gentleman.
He said fair creature, why do you lament?
Why is your heart thus fill’d with discontent?
She said, my parents cruel are to me,
And keep me here to starve in misery.
The devil said, if you’ll be rul’d by me,
Reveng’d on them you certainly shall be.
Seem to be humble, tell them you’ll repent,
And soon you’ll find their hearts for to relent.
And when your father he doth use you kind,
An opportunity you soon will find,
Poison your father and your mother too,
There’s none will know who ‘twas the fact did do.
This wicked wretch quite void of grace and shame,
She seem’d to be well pleased at the same:
Said I’m resolv’d your council for to take,
And be reveng’d for what they’ve done of late,
Where do you live, pray tell me where to come,
That I may tell you when the jobb [sic] is done?
He said, my name is Satan, and I dwell
In the dark regions of the burning hell.
At first she seem’d to be somewhat surpriz’d
But want of grace so blinded had her eyes,
She said, well sir, if you the Devil be,
I’ll take the counsel which you gave to me.
But mind what wonders GOD hath every hour,
His mercies are above the Devil’s pow’r,
He will his servants keep both night and day
From the devouring subtle serpent’s prey.
Next day when she her father’s face did see,
She instantly did fall upon her knee,
Saying, father now my wicked heart relents,
And for my sins I heartily repent.
Her father then with tears did her embrace,
Saying I’m blest for this small spark of grace,
That Heaven hath my child bestow’d on thee,
No more I’ll use you with such cruelty.
Unto her mother then straitway [sic] he goes,
And told to her the blest and happy news.
Her mother was rejoic’d then for her part,
Not knowing the mischief that was in her heart,
But the Almighty her designs did know,
And ‘twas his blessed will it should be so,
That other graceless children they might see,
All things are done by Heav’ns great decree.
The poison strong she privately had bought,
And only then the fatal time she sought,
To work the fall of these her parents dear,
Who’d brought her up with tender love and care.
One night her parents sleeping were in bed,
Nothing but troubled dreams run in their heads;
At length an Angel did to them appear,
Saying awake and unto me give ear.
A messenger I’m sent by Heaven kind,
To let you know your deaths are both design’d
Your graceless child whom you do love so dear,
She for your precious lives hath laid a snare.
To poison you the Devil tempts her so,
She hath no power from the snare to go,
But GOD such care doth of his servants take,
Those that believe on him he’ll not forsake.
You must not use her cruel nor severe,
For tho’ these things to you I do declare,
It is to shew you what the LORD can do,
He soon can turn her heart, you’ll find it so.
Pray to the LORD his grace for to send down,
And like the prodigal she will return,
The fatted calf with joy you’ll kill that day,
The Angels shall rejoice in Heaven high.
Because a wretched sinner doth repent,
Who in vice and sin her time had all mispent [sic],
This pious couple then awoke, we hear,
And soon the Angel he did disappear.
Next morning she rose early, as we hear,
And for her parents breakfast did prepare,
And in the same she put the poison strong,
And brought it unto them when she had done,
Her father took the victuals which she brought.
And down the same unto the dog he set,
Who ate the food and instantly did die,
The case was plain she could not it deny.
They call’d her there she sight for to behold,
Which when she saw, her spirits soon ran cold,
She cry’d the Devil hat me now deceiv’d,
I’ve mist my aim for which I’ sorely griev’d.
Her mother cry’d, hard is the fate of me,
I’ve been a tender mother unto thee,
And can you seek to take my life away,
O graceless child! What will become of thee?
With bitter pains my child, I did you bear,
I taught you how the LORD of life to fear
Whole days and nights I did in sorrow spend,
To bring you up now to my discontent.
Quite void of grace you in your sins do run,
You slight my counsel alter all I’ve done,
Instead of obedience which you ought to pay,
Your parents lives you’re seeking to betray
When thus she heart her tender mother speak,
She in a swoon did drop down at her feet,
And all the arts that e’re they could contrive,
They could not bring her spirits to revive.
Four days they kept her, when they did prepare
To lay her body in the dust we hear,
At her funeral a sermon then was preach’d,
All other wicked children for to teach:
How they should fear their tender parents kind,
Their words observe, their counsel for to mind,
And then their days will long be in this land,
All things shall prosper which they take in hand.
So close the reverend divine did lay
This charge, that many wept that there did stay
To hear the sermon, sand her parents dear,
Were over whelm’d with sorrow, grief and care.
The sermon being over and quite done,
To lay her body in the dust they came,
But suddenly they bitter groans did hear,
Which must surpriz’d all that then were there.
At length they did observe the dismal sound
Come from the body just laid in the ground,
The coffin then they did draw up again,
And in a fright they opened the same,
When soon they found that she was yet alive,
Her mother seeing that she did survive,
Did praise the LORD, in hopes she would have time,
And would repent of all her heinous crimes.
She in her coffin then was carried home,
And when unto her father’s house she came,
She in her coffin sat and did admire
Her minding sheet, and then she did desire,
The worthy minister for to sit down,
And she would tell him wonders which was shown
Unto her since her soul had took its flight,
She had seen the regions of eternal night.
She said, when first my soul did hence depart,
For to relate the story grieves my heart,
I handed was to lonesome wild deserts,
And briery woods which dismal were and dark
The briars tore my flesh, the gore did run,
I cry’d for mercy, but I could find none,
I at length a little glimpse of light did spy,
And heart a voice which unto me did cry:
Now sinful soul observe and you shall see,
How precious does that light appear to thee!
But in dark regions of eternal night,
You never must expect for to see light.
Now hasten to that light which does appear,
And there your sentence you will quickly hear;
I hearing this did hasten then along,
At length unto a spacious gate I come.
I knock’d aloud, but [no] one answer made
At length one did to me appear and said,
What want you here? I answer’d to come in,
He ask’d my name, then shut the gate again.
He stay’d a while, then to the door did come,
He said, begone, for you there is no room,
For we have no such graceless wretches here,
That disobey their tender parents dear.
I sorely wept, and to the man thus said,
Am I the first that parents disobey’d?
If I be cast to Hell who thus do sin,
Few at this gate I fear will enter in.
He said, but you have been a sinner wild,
In things besides a disobedient child,
Searing and whoring, sabbath breaking too,
Therefore begone, for here’s no rest for you.
I said, sir hear me, and remember pray,
How holy David he did run astray,
The man whose heart once with the LORD did join,
Adultery and murder was his crime.
He said like David you did not return,
For he in ashes of his sins did mourn,
And GOD is merciful you well do know,
Free to forgive all those that humble so,
I still my case with him pursu’d to plead,
And told him Sir in scripture I do read,
How Mary Magdalene, who here doth rest,
At once by many devils was possest.
Go, silly woman, he did answer then,
Had you so much lamented for your sin,
And mercy at your Saviour’s feet implor’d,
For all your sins, he had your soul restor’d.
I said, in person she her Saviour saw,
He said, you may behold him ev’ry day,
He ne’er leaves those who in his mercy trust,
He’s always with the pious, good and just.
In holy scripture he doth there appear,
Read the appostles [sic] and you’ll find him there,
You must believe, if that you sav’d will be,
That CHRIST, for sinners dy’d upon a tree.
Then save me LORD I to him did reply,
For I believe that CHRIST did for me die.
LORD, let my soul return from whence it came,
And I will honour thy most holy name.
A voice I heard which said to me return,
But first behold the wretched place of doom,
Where the reward of sin is justly paid,
I turn’d about, but sadly was dismay’d.
I saw the burning lake of misery.
I saw the man there that first tempted me
My loving tender parents for to slay,
And he both fierce and grim did look at me.
He told me, he at last was sure of me,
I said my Saviour’s blood ahs set me free;
Then in a hideous manner he did roar,
When GOD my senses did to me restore.
When thus the story she to them had told,
She said put me to bed for I am cold,
And call to me my tender parents dear,
Whom I will love and honour while I’m here.
To take the sacrament she did require,
They gave it her then, as she did desire,
And now she is a christian just and true,
No more he wicked vices does pursue.
I hope this will a good example be,
Children your parents honour and obey,
And then the LORD will bless you here on earth,
And give you a crown of glory after death.