O, what a tangled web we weave

For whatever reason this line has been going through my mind this morning so I looked its provenance up. The main character is trying to manipulate someone into his bed.

This is extracted from the Project Gutenberg eBook

Marmion Canto Sixth

By Sir Walter Scott.

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XVII.

 

‘In brief, my lord, we both descried

(For then I stood by Henry’s side)

The Palmer mount, and outwards ride,

  Upon the Earl’s own favourite steed:

All sheathed he was in armour bright,                    

And much resembled that same knight,

Subdued by you in Cotswold fight:

  Lord Angus wish’d him speed.’–

The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,

A sudden light on Marmion broke;–                       

‘Ah! dastard fool, to reason lost!’

He mutter’d; ‘Twas nor fay nor ghost

I met upon the moonlight wold,

But living man of earthly mould.–

  O dotage blind and gross!                              

Had I but fought as wont, one thrust

Had laid De Wilton in the dust,

  My path no more to cross.–

How stand we now?–he told his tale

To Douglas; and with some avail;                        

  ‘Twas therefore gloom’d his rugged brow.–

Will Surrey dare to entertain,

‘Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain?

Small risk of that, I trow.

Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun;                 

Must separate Constance from the Nun–

O, what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practise to deceive!

A Palmer too!–no wonder why

I felt rebuked beneath his eye:                           

I might have known there was but one,

Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.’