The Metamorphosis of Tabacco.

The Metamorphosis of Tabacco.

Sir John Beaumont

A burlesque encomium dedicated to my "loving friend Master Michael Drayton." Sir John Beaumont, an Inns-of-Court man writing anonymously, displays his powers of invention in a thousand lines of hyperbole on the discovery of tobacco. The Ovidian "metamorphosis" which gives the poem its title is but a small portion of a satirical essay that owes more to Drayton than to Spenser. The Metamorphosis, published while the author was still in his teens, was ushered into the world with a flotilla of commendatory verses by fellow Templers.

Among other matters, the Metamorphosis of Tabacco makes an ancients-moderns argument suggesting the new plant will help to establish a new English poetry: "The venome Ate on the earth did place, | Till Aesculapius great Apolloes sonne ... | Descri'd this herbe to our new golden age, | And did devise a pipe, which should asswage | The wounds, which sorrow in our hearts did fixe, | More then the sound of flutes, and fiddle-sticks" Sig. D3-D3v. (In "To His Late Majesty" Beaumont calls for "A language not affecting ancient times, | Nor Latine shreds, by which the pedant climes" Chalmers's English Poets (1810) 6:30.)

Edmund Gosse: "The versification of Beaumont is remarkably polished. No one, indeed, was in 1602 writing the heroic couplet so 'correctly' as the author of The Metamorphosis. This mock-heroic piece, which has been underestimated, is full of most charming fancies, and promises more than Sir John Beaumont ever quite carried out" The Jacobean Poets (1894) 107.

W. J. Courthope: "While Drummond was elaborating his metrical experiments north of the Tweed, Sir John Beaumont was developing the same poetical ideal in the Court of St. James. In many respects the latter, in genius, rank, and character, closely resembed the Scottish poet. Like him he was a landed proprietor; like him he preferred a life of studious retirement to the life of courts; yet, still like him, much of his art was devoted to the manufacture of courtly compliment. He was the second son of Francis Beaumont, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas, by his wife, Anne Pierrepoint, being therefore elder brother to Francis Beaumont, the dramatist. Born in 1582 or 1583, he was educated at Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College,) Oxford, where he was entered as a gentleman commoner in February 1596-97, but left the university without taking a degree. In November 1600 he was admitted to the Inner Temple, and five years afterwards, through the death of his eldest brother, Henry, succeeded to the possession of the estate of Grace Dieu in Leicestershire, which, being originally a priory, had been conveyed to his grandfather, John Beaumont, in 1539. His earliest poem, The Metamorphosis of Tobacco, was published in 1602, and must therefore have been written while he was in residence at the Inner Temple. It shows evident signs of the influence of Drayton, with whom we know that the author was on terms of intimacy. To the same influence may be not unreasonably ascribed the conception of Beaumont's narrative poem, Bosworth Field; but as this was not published till after his death, there is no evidence as to the date of its composition.... The Metamorphosis of Tobacco is written in the light didactic manner invented by the author of Orchestra [Sir John Davies], but the metrical vehicle is the heroic couplet, which Beaumont, using it in the style of Drayton's Heroical Epistles, manages with an ease only inferior to that of Dryden" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:193-95.

Harold V. Routh: "He sings of the elements gathering in a council to create a herb of almost Promethean virtue, which Jupiter, fearing for his sovereignty, banishes to an unknown land. But the graces discover the plant and remain so constant to its charms that mortals, who would win their favour, must follow their example" Cambridge History of English Literature (1910) 4:399.

The poem is discussed at some length in the third dialogue of John Payne Collier's Poetical Decameron (1820).

I sing the loves of the superiour powers,
With the faire mother of all fragrant flowers:
From which first love a glorious Simple springs,
Belov'd of heav'nly Gods, and earthly Kings.
Let others in their wanton verses chaunt
A beautious face that doth their senses daunt,
And on their Muses wings lift to the skie
The radiant beames of an inchaunting eye.
Me let the sound of great Tabaccoes praise
A pitch above those love-sicke Poets raise:
Let me adore with my thrice-happie pen
The sweete and sole delight of mortall men,
The Cornu-copia of all earthly pleasure,
Where bank-rupt Nature hath consum'd her treasure,
A worthie plant springing from Floraes hand,
The blessed ofspring of an uncouth land.
Breath-giving herbe, none other I invoke
To helpe me paint the praise of sugred smoke:
Not that corrupted artificiall drug,
Which every Gull as his owne soule doth hug,
And in the sweete composture of a docke
Drinkes to his Ladies dog, and Mistresse smocke,
Whose best conceits are broacht of bastard fume,
Whose wittie salt depends on the salt rheume,
Which first like Vapours doe ascend on high,
But quickly vanish ere they touch the skie,
Which like to Meteors for a while amaze
The simple soules which wondring stand at gaze:
But being knowne from whence they first were fir'd
Are counted base, and cease to be admir'd.
Avant base Hypocrite, I call not thee,
But thou great God of Indian melodie,
Which at the Caribes banquet govern'st all,
And gently rul'st the sturdiest Caniball:
Which at their bloodie feasts dost crowned sit,
And smok'st their barking jawes at ev'ry bit:
Which lead'st the Circle of a savage round
With jarring songs, and homely musicks sound:
Which to fond mirth their cruell minds dost frame,
And after with a pleasing sleepe dost tame:
By whom the Indian Priests inspired be,
When they presage in barbrous Poetrie:
Infume my braine, make my soules powers subtile,
Give nimble cadence to my harsher stile:
Inspire me with thy flame, which doth excell
The purest streames of the Castalian well,
That I on thy ascensive wings may flie
By thine ethereall vapours borne on high,
And with thy feathers added to my quill
May pitch thy tents on the Parnassian hill,
Teach me what power thee on earth did place,
What God was bounteous to the humane race,
On what occasion, and by whom it stood,
That the blest world receiv'd so great a good.

Before the earth and heav'n were create,
When the rude Chaos lay disconsolate,
When this great All, and wondrous worke we see
Had neither forme, nor part, nor qualitie,
Blind Nature did her Atomi disperse
Over the large confused universe,
And heav'nly powers all out of order plac't,
Were buried in the bowels of the Vast.
Then did these seedes, which yet unpolisht were,
Wage warre against the seedes of single-beere,
And smotherd in that topsi-turvie trance,
Nourisht some smacke of mirth and jovisance:
But when this massie lumpe had chang'd her face,
And ev'ry thing possest his proper place,
Yet did this plant in darke oblivion lurke,
Small travaile could not bring forth such a worke:
(Like to Alcmenaes sonne the God of might,
Whom to beget Jove made a treble night)
Till wise Prometheus, which compos'd a creature
Excelling all the world in forme and feature,
When he that rare immortall worke had done,
Stole fire from the bright chariot of the Sunne:
Which farre-fetcht fire had serv'd him to no end,
But that the Earth her chiefest powers did lend:
For seeing how great Phoebus was beguil'd
To make a God of her beloved child,
And alwaies envying at the Gods above,
(As her Viperean brood of Giants prove:
And totall ruine of her stubborne race,
For whom in teares she washt her watrie face)
She call'd her Herald-winds, and charg'd them all,
That they a councell of her subjects call:
Out goes her Pursevant the blustring gale,
And summons ev'ry hill, and every dale;
Curles ev'ry river with a sliding touch
From Titans rising to his Westerne couch,
And with the whiffing Trumpet it doth beare
Commaunds each earthly subject to appeare,
And on a high Embassage doth repaire
To Earths three sisters, Water, Fire, and Aire:
(These foure are joynt copartners, and coheires
Of all that lies below the starrie spheres:
Who for their kingdomes bounds have been at ods,
But now they by the sentence of the Gods,
And their dread umpires, Hot, Drie, Moist, and Cold
In common, and without division hold)
The day was comen, when on a stately pile
Foure seates were plac't on the Americk Ile,
Where these great Princes and their portly traines
Made enterview on the Atlantick plaines.

After Pandora had made evident
The cause of this so sudden Parlement,
Tearing her flowrie locks, and furrowed face,
She gan lament the poore Prometheus case.
Stand out (quoth she) thou that art thus distrest,
Declare thy case, for here thou maist be blest.
Then stept out he as a condemned man
Clothed in blacke, and thus his speech began.
Know most dread Soveraignes of the lower globe,
I am a dead man, and this guiltie robe
Shewes that by colour of the Gods contemn'd
I to a Vulturs mercie am condemn'd,
On Caucasus amid the Scythian grove,
By the fear'd sentence of almightie Jove,
There to be tide in everlasting chaines,
Plung'd in the horrour of eternall paines:
Yet this torments me not, this must be borne,
(And patience comes perforce to men forlorne)
But that my worke which I have erst begun,
For all my labour should remaine undone,
That's my vexation, that's my only griefe,
And only rests in you to give reliefe:
For Jove envies the beautie of the frame,
And seekes all meanes how to deface the same,
Looking on me with a suspitious eye,
As a corrivall of his dignitie;
When he may well remember (if he please)
How little I deserve such lookes as these,
When I with counsell of an aged head
Did stay his youthfull thoughts from Thetis bed,
And told him there he should beget a sonne
Should him depose, as he before had done
His father Saturne: then he thankt me faire,
(But words are quickly turn'd to fleeting aire)
Now hates he me, and doth my worke detest,
Which must unlesse you helpe unperfect rest,
For all my sharpe inventions cannot find
How life unto this trunke may be combin'd.
Here grandame Ops her grieved head did shake,
And made the massie earths foundations quake,
Then gusht cleere fountaines from her hollow eyes,
(Floods from the earths strange motions often rise)
And at the last her lips did part in two,
(As after Earth-quakes they are wont to doe)
Is't not enough (quoth she) that tyrant Jove
Hath my sonne Saturne from his kingdome drove?
And me his mother hath confin'd below,
Because I wept as partner of his woe?
Is't not enough my middle part doth frie,
While head and feete benumd with cold doth lie?
That alwaies halfe my Realme the Sunne doth lack,
And for his absence mourne in gloomie black?
Or that my loving subjects never see,
But halfe the heaven wheresoere they be?
Is not all this enough, and more then this
To be secluded from all heav'nly blisse?
Bound in a dungeon, us'd as though I were
A beast ordain'd laborious waights to beare?
Each massie thing, and the worlds waightiest part
Pressing unto my center, to my hart,
Where he hath made huge caves, and darksome holes,
Places of torture for offending soules,
Whose howling yells, cries, curses, grones and teares
Are pois'ned objects to mine eyes and eares:
And is not this enough, but must he still
Crosse the good purpose of my harmlesse will?
Hindring the project of our gen'rall care,
Our sonne whose wished fruite we hope to share,
Nor shall too sweete an expectation mocke
Us happie beldames of a blessed stocke:
Only it resteth that we now devise
To seate our darling in the starrie skies,
Which purpose that we to effect may bring,
A plant shall from my wrinkled forehead spring,
And ev'ry Ladie shall that herbe endow
With the best gemmes that deck her glorious brow,
Which once inflam'd with the stolne heav'nly fire,
Shall breath into this livelesse corse inspire.
Scarse had she spoke, but by unite consent
It was allowed by ev'ry element,
Each mountaine nodded, and each river sleeke
Approv'd the sentence with a dimpled cheeke,
And ev'ry thing in dauncing measure sprung,
As erst they did, when gentle Orpheus sung:
As when the Actors of some Enterlude,
Which please the senses of the multitude,
Are backt by the Spectators of the play
With a wisht laughter, or a Plaudite:
So with unperfect voyces all the rout
Grace this opinion with a loftie shout.
(Like Bacchus priests whom Strymons banks rebound,
Whom the shrill Ecchoes of fleete Hebrus sound)
Till Fire the eldest sister up did stand,
(And silence made with her imperiall hand)
Praising the project swore to grace the same
With active powers of her eternall flame.
Aire likewise promist she would rarefie
The earthly drosse to simple puritie,
And caus'd her skipping Meteors to addresse
Their gifts of light, and jocund nimblenesse,
Her cloudes from heav'nly flood-gates manuring
The ground, where this expected herb should spring.
Water refus'd her vertues to inspire,
Least she should quench the hope of future fire,
Yet did the servants of her excellence
Offer each one their best parts quintessence:
The Icy waves were all with Christall fraught:
The Magellanick sea her unions brought:
Tagus with golden gifts doth proudly rise,
And doth the famous Indian rills despise:
Eridanus his pearl'd Electrum gave:
Euripus the swift fluxure of his wave:
From British seas doth holesome Corall come:
The Danish gulfe doth send her Succinum:
And each this hoped embryon dignifies
With offring of a sev'rall sacrifice.
The earth her selfe at last did procreate
This herbe composed in despite of fate,
And charged ev'ry countrie, and each hill
A speciall power into this leafe distill,
Which thus adorn'd, by holy fire inflam'd
Sweete life and breath within that carkasse fram'd:
And had not Tellus temper'd too much mud,
Too much terrene corruption in the bud,
The man that tasted it should never die,
But stand in records of eternitie:
And as the ashes of the Phoenix burn'd
Into another living bird are turn'd,
So should the man, that takes this sacred fume,
Another life within himselfe resume:
So Iolaus, when his first was done,
His second life was of Tabacco spunne.
Some say for this Jove vexed at the heart
Did hide it long from the worlds better part:
Hence came that former ages never knew
The goods, that by this seeming weede accrue.
Till as the Graces travail'd through the earth,
Giving to men their gifts of heav'nly mirth,
At last when they into Americk came,
Drawne by the strange delights, and countries fame,
They in the palace of great Mutezume
Were entertain'd with this celestiall fume:
Where they forgetting all their wonted pleasure,
Imbrac't with joy this truest Indian treasure,
And there remaining did no more respect
Our petie world with nought but trifles deckt.
So the faire Graces, which were wont to sport
Amid our loving feasts, and sweete resort,
Were now secluded from our lucklesse eyes,
And in their place did braules and quarrels rise,
All friendship banisht from false Europes sight,
Where flattring lurkt in stead of deare delight.
Till we poore soules in many troubles tost,
Seeking the Graces which we erst had lost,
When we had often sought them farre and neere,
After great paine and travaile found them there.

Others doe tell a long and serious tale
Of a faire Nymph that sported in the vale,
Where Cipo with his silver streames doth goe
Along the valleyes of Wingandekoe,
(Which now a farre more glorious name doth beare,
Since a more beautious Nymph was worshipt there)
There in a greene bowre did this Maiden dwell,
Where pretie waves of a delicious well
Leapt at her sight, and with a faint rebound
Bubbled sweete Musicke with a daintie sound.
(This fountaine as a Nymph did whilome range,
Till by her prayers the Gods her forme did change,
When Cipo sought her chastities abuse,
As Alpheus did to virgin Arethuse)
There dwelt this Nymph, which with her feature daunted
The soveraigne Gods, and mortall men inchaunted.
So full she was of most delightfull grace,
That by the modell of her beautious face
Jove was about to build the heav'n anew,
And change the azure to a ruddie hew,
And pull the starrie lights from out the skies,
Leaving but two in likenes of her eyes:
But when the Fates so great a change forbade,
In imitation of her red he made
A ruddie night before a joyfull day,
And by her white he fram'd the milk-white way:
Her golden threeds were so inchaunting faire,
Men scorn'd the Sunne to gaze upon her haire,
Phoebus asham'd of this immur'd his beames
Within the cincture of the Ocean streames:
Whereat Jove angrie sent swift Mercurie,
Who to the palace of the Sunne did hie.
Now the Sunnes Court was glorious to behold,
Supported with strong pillers of bright gold,
The top of Iv'ry was, the doores of plate,
Where Vulcan did so lively imitate
The heav'n, the earth, the sea, the ayre, the flame,
That heav'n, and earth, and sea envi'd the frame.
Thither came Hermes, and with lowring cheare
Cited the Sunne in person to appeare
Before the Gods to tell his cause of stay,
Why he so long did dallie with the sea.
Phoebus obey'd, and when the Gods were met,
And ev'ry one in wonted order set,
A way was made by the fierce God of warre,
And Pluto brought the pris'ner to the barre,
Whom Suada Joves Sollicitour accus'd,
That he his light and vertue had abus'd,
That whereas he had sworne by feared Styx,
When Jove the seale did to his patent fixe,
That he would never in one place be found,
But restlesse runne about the massie round:
This solemne oth he had not duly kept,
But in his strumpet Thetis lap had slept.
Here Jove did Suadaes accusation breake,
And beckning gave Apollo leave to speake.
You Gods (quoth he) that here as Judges sit,
I seeke not to defend my cause by wit,
My chiefest plea is speechlesse eloquence,
Grounded upon my spotlesse innocence:
Yet if I pleas'd to winne eternall glorie
By the sweete cadence of mine Oratorie,
I could revive the dead, and heale the sick
By fluence of celestiall Rhetorick:
The pleasant Musick of the heav'nly spheres
Should pleade my cause to your attentive eares:
But with plaine termes shall my just act be tride.
(Who laies on colours doth the substance hide)
I doe not make a night as long as three
To dallie with my love in jollitie,
(And yet I might as well such dalliance prove,
As Jove at Thebes for his Alcmenaes love)
Nor my bright face in liquid teares doe steepe,
Though my sonnes fall have giv'n me cause to weep:
But on the earth there is a greater light,
Which with her raies doth equall day and night:
Once from my couch I was about to rise,
But straight this brighter lampe strooke blind mine eyes:
My sister Luna when the night drew nie,
Hath been as loth to shew her light as I:
Nor can our splendent glorious lamps compare
With her two lamps that farre more glorious are:
And my Aurora hides her face away,
Sleeping with her Tithonus all the day,
And when she once beheld this radiant face,
Hath ever since blusht at her owne disgrace:
The Sphaeres of Planets with a sudden chaunge
Make her the center of their circled raunge:
And all the heav'nly Orbes doe disagree
What part should oft'st in her Horizon bee:
And mortall men colour and light despise,
Esteeming her the object of the eyes:
While she (as women be) proud of her honour,
Makes the night day that men may gaze upon her:
Jove hearing this dismist the Court in hast,
And in a sillie shepheards weedes debas't,
Shrowded with clowdes downe from the heav'n did slide,
And piping sate upon a mountaines side:
(Which Occams rolling current over-peares,
Descending from a faire Pastoraes teares,
Who now a marble stone, yet weepeth still
To see her lover changed to a hill,
Whom jealous Phoebus did by force remove,
Brooking no rivall in his fervent love,
Framing high pines of his inticing locks,
Changing his teeth to Adamantine rocks)
Thither from heav'n great Jove did hie apace,
And sate on the transformed shepheards face.
So sweetly sounded his melodious notes,
That sheepe and shepheards in their homely cotes
Daunc't to his layes, and following the sound
Did clime the steepe hill with a solemne round:
Among those flocks the beautious Nymph did pace,
Whose snowy neck vied beauties with her face,
(Nor would it in so sweete a combat yield,
Had not her ample forehead wonne the field)
And on that pole doth stand the orbe of love,
Where Cupid in eccentrick rounds doth move,
And now from her faire eyes his shafts doth dart,
Then from her lips, and straight from every part:
Sweet roseall lips, doores to those sacred places,
The gorgeous temples of the glorious graces,
Which gates of Rubie, when they op'ned were,
A shrine of pearle and christall did appeare,
From whence delicious Oracles were spoken,
Which pleasing wonders did to all betoken,
Nor is the murmure of Cecropian Bees,
Nor songs of birds upon the ayrie trees,
Nor the swift river falling downe the steepe,
Lulling poore shepheards with a carelesse sleepe,
(Where Nature with her melodie amazeth
The sillie flocke that on the greene bankes grazeth)
Equivalent with that celestiall sound,
From whence they say Musicke receiv'd her ground:
And first from her did Linus learne to sing,
And with the sweete touch of a pleasing string
Did imitate the playing of the aire
With golden wires of her disheveled haire:
Her countenance was so Angelike bright,
That the pure starres were blinded at her sight,
And ever since their lights so dazled were,
That they were forc't to twinkle in their Sphere:
Her hands were framed like a pretie gin
Ordain'd to catch, and hold all pleasure in:
And every part a fervent love did teach,
Yet she her selfe above loves wanton reach:
A Coronet she wore, she whilome wonne
Striving for beautie with the radiant Sunne,
Which mightie Phoebus caus'd the Houres to make
With cunning labour for Leucothoes sake,
This curious worke with Indian pearles was grac't,
Wherein the loves of Gods and men were plac't:
There Neptune in a pretious Margarite
Did woe and winne the beautious Amphitrite:
There Iphis did in humble sort obey
The cruell frownes of Anaxarete:
And Princes loves in arts affections clad,
Excell'd the passions they by nature had.
Thus deckt by art and nature did she come,
Whose feature strook the seeming shepheard dumbe,
Nor could his wav'ring thoughts themselves containe,
But now left off, and straightway pip'd againe:
Sometimes his notes he with shrill tunes did raise
To chaunt aloud the skipping Roundelaies:
And then againe his lowly voyce did fall
To sing a pleasant homely Pastorall:
And ev'ry song to the Nymphs honour was
Like shepheards musicke to a countrey Lasse:
Lik'ning her eyes unto the glimsing light,
That guides poore heardsmen to their home at night:
Her haire unto the golden flowres that grow
Along the fragrant banks of silver Po:
Her lips to waxe by curious workmanship
Form'd as a paterne to each other lip:
Thus sung he, till the black and shadie night
With ugly forme did feare away the light,
And Hesperus, that stands as evening scout,
Began to leade the starrie ring about,
(Which durst not in her spangled suite appeare,
As long as mightie Titans light was neere,
By reason of some everlasting jarres,
That did arise twixt Phoebus and the starres)
Then all the Shepheards wearie of the Sunne,
And glad that the laborious day was done,
Began to drive their tender flocks away,
But Jove did force this sillie maide to stay,
Telling her stories how the force of love
Had bow'd the hearts of Gods that dwelt above:
How Jove orecome by this celestiall power,
Deceiv'd poore Danae in a golden shower:
How with laments and teares Apollo rued
Faire Daphnes change, whom he so fast pursued:
Hereat she blusht and to depart she strove;
But all in vaine against the force of Jove.
This saw the night and glad she was to see
So fit revenge for the great injurie,
Wherewith Jove wrong'd her at Alcides birth,
Making her watch three daies upon the earth:
Therefore in hast the darke malicious night
To jealous Juno doth relate this sight:
Juno enrag'd with threatning speeches storm'd,
And the poore maide into an herbe transform'd:
Which Jove perceiving by a vaine embrace
The infant herbe with heav'nly powers did grace,
And on the night he did inflict this paine,
That while the pleasant Summer did remaine,
The lucklesse night should have but small command,
But in the frostie winter longest stand.
Yet could not Jove forget his former love,
But joyning earthly powers, and powers above,
Therewith he did adorne this glorious bud,
And fram'd it as a Micro-cosme of good,
Making the ground where this sweet plant did spring
To be a cordiall gainst each noysome thing,
Endu'd with force all evils to asswage,
And now began the famous golden age.
No publike bond of law, no private oth
Was needfull to the simple faith and troth:
Each had a censure in his owne consent
Without the feare of death or punishment:
Nor did the busie Client feare his cause,
Nor in strong brasse did they engrave their lawes,
Nor did the doubtfull parties faintly tremble,
While the brib'd Judge did dreadful looks dissemble:
Then safe from harme the vaunting Pine did stand,
And had no triall of of the Shipwrights hand,
But stood upon the hill where first it grew,
Nor yet was forc'd another world to view:
Nor unto greedie Merchants yet were knowne
The shores of any land beyond their owne:
Ev'ry defencelesse Citie then was sure,
Nor could deepe ditches make it more secure:
The harmelesse thoughts of that blest age did beare
No warlike Trumpet, Cornet, Sword, or Speare,
No furious Souldier needed to defend
The carelesse folke, which quiet lives did spend,
Nor did ambitious Captaines know the way
To passe the cliffie shores of their owne sea:
The earth yet free from any forc'd abuse
Brought forth all things fit for each creatures use,
Without the helpe of any humane care,
Untoucht by harrow, and uncut by share,
And mortall men upon those meates did feede,
Which of themselves did from the earth proceede,
The mountaine Strawberie, and bitter Sloe,
And Mulberies which on rough boughs doe grow,
And homely Akornes, which did whilom fall
From the high trees, which Jove his owne doth call:
The pleasant yeare was an eternall spring,
Where Westerne winds continual flowres did bring:
The fertile earth unmanur'd and untild,
The bounteous gift of plenteous corne did yeeld:
Nor did the field renew'd each sev'rall yeare
Make windy sounds with many a waightie eare:
Brookes did with Milke, and pleasant Nectar goe,
And yellow hony from the trees did flow:
Al good without constraint, heav'n, sea, men, ground,
No gold, no ship, no law, no plough, no bound.
Till Proserpine by this abused flame,
(Striving to purchase an immortall name)
Reveng'd with raging fire her ancient spite
On Tellus and the scornefull Amphitrite:
(Which oft had mockt her mansion place of hell,
And call'd it darksome hole, and duskie cell)
Therefore the Furies she in hast commands
To burne the fruitfull earth with fierie brands,
And when their hands such instruments did want,
She made them torches of this sacred plant:
By which they fir'd the world, and that once done,
About the earth in raging sort they runne,
And ever since they by these flames did cause
Famine, dissention, plagues, and breach of lawes.
(Yet was the hellish Queene with feare distract,
Least Jove should know and punish this foule fact:
Therefore she hir'd the Poets long agone
To cast the fault upon poore Phaeton)
Now when this honour'd herbe was once abus'd,
All paines, all plagues were on the world infus'd,
And then the wicked iron age began,
Shame, truth, and faith from earthly mansions ran,
And in their place came fraud, and cloked vice,
Treason, and force, and impious avarice:
The Mariner whom hope of lucre blinds,
Hasts to the sea unexpert in the winds,
And trees that long had stood on mountaines high,
As ships upon the uncouth waves doe lie:
The Merchant then the boistrous sea did plow,
Spite of the frowne of Neptunes angrie brow,
Nor could the horrour of one journeyes paine
Feare greedie thoughts from ventring so againe:
Neptune then grieved with the wounds and dints,
Which in his face this curious worke emprints,
(And mov'd with Cybels outcries, which did frowne
To see her hils defac'd, and Pines puld downe,
And Natures plaints, whose lawes it had beguil'd)
Made the Sea stormie, which before was mild:
Since which the ribs of broken ships doe show,
What hurts and dangers by this engine grow,
Which makes each fertile countrie want the more,
By seeming Steward of each countries store.
Now did the warie reaper with long bounds
Devide to portions the united grounds,
Which erst were common to each mortall wight,
As is the liquide ayre, or pleasant light:
Nor did they onely take the needfull corne,
And daily food, which from the earth was borne,
But to the bowels of their mother sought,
And cursed riches from the center brought,
Which the wise earth had cover'd unespide,
And neere unto the Stygian waves did hide.
First then began the phrases, Mine, and Thine:
Pure water turn'd to artificiall wine:
Pleasure unknowne, and more then simple mirth
Start up with gold from out the mangled earth:
Then bounds, then contracts at a racking price,
And from those bounds sprung boundlesse avarice:
Then hurtfull steele the workmans hand did feele,
And gold more hurtfull then the hurtfull steele:
And when both these were comen to perfect growth,
Fro thence came warre, that fights with help of both:
Then did the souldier, which in battell stands,
Shake glittring weapons with his bloodie hands:
All liv'd by wrong: each friend his friend did feare,
And brethren seldome linkt in friendship were:
The husband seekes the death of his owne wife,
And she againe grieves at her husbands life:
The angrie stepdames fearfull poysons make,
Which their new husbands hated child may take:
And the sonne wearie of his fathers stay,
Longs for his death before his fatall day.
White Pieties dispersed reliques lie
Conquer'd, and spoil'd of earthly dignitie,
And then Astraea last of heav'nly powers
Forsooke the earth reeking with bloodie showers.
Yet was not vice ascended to the height:
Yet might our pond'rous soules endure the weight
Of our corrupted flesh: yet might we say
The growth of sinnes perfection wants a day:
Till the fierce Giants of Viperean birth
Made loftie heav'n no more secure then earth,
Seeking Joves kingdome by presumptuous warres,
Building high mountaines to the trembling starres:
But Jove the hils did from Olympus tosse,
And cast great Pelion from the top of Osse:
And when the furious Giants thus were kild,
By the great weight which their own hads did build,
The earth gave life unto her childrens blood,
And fram'd them living bodies of her mud,
And (least no signe should of her stocke remaine)
She chang'd them to the formes of men againe,
Who not degen'rate from their bloodie birth,
Defi'd the heaven, and defil'd the earth.
Then first ambitious mortals gan to rise,
And with vaine pride did the great Gods despise,
Still warr'd they with the Gods, still had the worst,
And when their hands could do no more, they curst:
Nor could the flood that inward spot deface,
Still it continued in the humane race,
Creeping unseene, subjecting ev'ry part,
Till it possest our chiefest towre, our hart:
Which thus infected did a battell wage
Gainst the remainders of the golden age.
Then cursed Ate first began her raigne,
And plac't her throne upon the fluent maine,
Joying to see the billowes in their pride
Tosse totter'd ships with perill on each side:
Yet sorie Neptune should so largely sup,
And glad againe, when ought he vomits up.
By her hath ev'ry thing corrupted beene
From the earths center to the heav'nly Queene:
(Which stands above the reach of earthly feares,
The lowest of the pure celestiall sphaeres)
The fertile earth corrupted by these seedes
Brought forth unholesome plants, and fruitlesse weeds:
The water not content with her owne bounds,
Usurpt upon the neere adjacent grounds:
The ayre infected did infect the breath,
From whence arose the instruments of death:
The fire so hid her selfe, that none could see
Where her abode or proper place should bee:
Then sicknesse came on the infected earth,
Some fell in youth, some perisht in their birth,
And whereas mortals never died before,
Till spent with age their lights could burne no more,
Now fathers eyes were made a watrie sourse,
To wash their sonnes graves in prepost'rous course.
And had not the immortall Gods at last,
Pitying the sorrowes sillie men had past,
Cherisht poore soules with their eternall love,
And sent Apollo Paean from above,
To crosse the purpose which the hag intended,
Long since her malice all the world had ended:
Yet could not carefull Phoebus quite deface
The venome Ate on the earth did place,
Till Aesculapius great Apolloes sonne
(Envying the glorie shepheard Pan had wonne,
When of his love transform'd he did invent
The pleasure of a Musicke instrument)
Descri'd this herbe to our new golden age,
And did devise a pipe, which should asswage
The wounds, which sorrow in our hearts did fixe,
More then the sound of flutes, and fiddle-sticks,
And by the force thereof (as Poets faine)
Brought torne Hippolytus to life againe,
And watchmen set, and them Phisitians call'd
Men, whom the Muses had before enstall'd,
Whose carefull soules were by this potion fir'd,
And by the power of this sweete herbe inspir'd,
Which by the vertue of their sacred hands
Deliver'd men from death, and sicknes bands.

Others affirme the Gods were ignorant
Of the confection of so sweet a plant:
For had they knowne this smokes delicious smack,
The vault of heav'n ere this time had been black,
And by the operation of this fume
Been purg'd for ever of her clowdie rheume:
Daintie Ambrosia with a loth'd disdaine
Had been made meate for each milk-pottage-braine:
Joves Ganymede had never smelt of drinke,
The heav'nly Mazers flowing ore the brinke,
Nor fixen Juno ever broke his head
For spilling Nectar on the gorgeous bed:
Gods would have reveld at their feasts of mirth
With the pure distillation of the earth,
The marrow of the world, starre of the West,
The pearle, whereby this lower Orbe is blest,
The joy of mortals, umpire of all strife,
Delight of nature, Mithridate of life,
The daintiest dish of a delicious feast,
By taking which man differs from a beast.
Thrice happie Isles, which steale the worlds delight,
And doe produce so rich a Margarite:
Had but the old Heroick spirits knowne
The newes, which fame unto our eares hath blowne,
Colchis, and the remote Hesperides
Had not been sought for halfe so much as these:
Nor had the fluent wits of ancient Greece
Prais'd the rich apples, or the golden fleece:
Nor had Apolloes garland been of bayes,
Nor Homer writ of sweete Nepenthes praise:
Nor had Anacreon with a sugred glose
Extold the vertues of the fragrant Rose:
Nor needed Hermes with his fluent tongue
Have join'd in one a rude uncivill throng,
And by perswasions made that companie
An order'd Politike societie,
When this dumbe Oratour would more perswade,
Then all the speeches Mercurie had made:
Nor honour'd Ceres been create divine,
And worshipt so at curious Eleusine,
Whom blinder ages did so much adorne
For the invention of the use of corne:
Nor Saturnes feast had been the joyfull day,
Wherein the Romanes washt their cares away,
But in the honour of great Trinidade
A new Tabacconalia had been made:
Had watrie Neptune knowne the force of this
He had prevail'd, and Athens had been his,
His gift the Olive would as farre exceed,
As Pallas gift excell'd his trampling steed:
Immortall Chiron had he knowne this leafe,
(Hurt by an arrow of Alcides sheafe)
Had never wisht the troden mortall way,
But might have well been cur'd, and liv'd for aye:
Had foule Thersites with his spitefull hart,
Crook'd in each inward, and each outward part,
By this Elixir been but once refin'd,
He would have chang'd his bodie, and his mind:
Or had the Bees that Platoes lips did grace,
Suckt hony from this sweete Tabacco-place,
He had surpast, and stain'd himselfe as farre,
As others by his stile obscured are:
With this had Circe in her pleasant cave
Temper'd the potion she Ulysses gave,
He never would have wisht, that his blest eyes
Might once behold his countries smoke arise:
Had ancient Heralds knowne this sacred plant,
Of which their lucklesse age was ignorant,
When they did give the worlds most worthie things,
As glorious ensignes to victorious Kings,
Tabacco had been richer armorie,
Then Lions, Crosses, or spread Eaglets be:
Did the French Druids live, and were obey'd,
Nicot (that first this herbe to France convey'd)
Should be the God of pleasures and delights,
Worshipt with pompe on Bacchanalian nights,
And in his praise the barb'rous Priests would sing
Untuned numbers in a jarring string,
Carving harsh rimes on ev'ry knottie tree,
More crookt and rugged, then the booke could bee,
Sounding in ev'ry homely verse they frame
The treble accent of God Nicots name:
Had the sage Chaldees which did name the stars,
And were the first, and best Astronomers,
Seene the great wonders, which our eyes have seene,
This plant had then a constellation beene.
Nor had the honour'd Ramme begun the yeare;
Nor the high Northerne pole adorn'd the Beare;
Nor Jove disgrac'd, nor with his Minions fild
Th' engraven vault, which first his hands did build:
Our herbe had been a Planet, and indu'd
With light above the greatest magnitude,
And when this starre had stood in good aspect
With happie Planets of the best effect,
He, whom the proud world them to light should bring,
Had been a Poet, or at least a King:
Saturne had never brag'd his chariot went
The next unto the azure firmament:
Nor had the Sunne in his Majestick pride
Been thron'd with equall Planets on each side:
Nor for high births had the Astrologer
Markt the conjunction of great Jupiter.
Were my quaint polisht tongue my soules best hopes,
And grac't with figures, colours, schemes, and tropes,
This herbe would surpasse in excellence
The great'st Hyperboles of eloquence:
Yet this sweete simple by misordred use
Death or some dang'rous sicknesse may induce,
Should we not for our sustentation eate,
Because a surfet comes from too much meate?
Should we not thirst with mod'rate drinke represse,
Because a dropsie springs from such excesse?
Should we not take some holesome exercise
To chafe our vaines, and stretch our arteries,
Because abus'd in a laborious kind
It hurts the bodie, and amates the mind?
So our faire plant, that doth as needfull stand,
As heav'n, or fire, or aire, or sea, or land,
As Moone, or Starres, that rule the gloomie night,
Or Tullies friendship, or the Sunnie light,
Her sacred vertue in her selfe enroules,
And leaves the evill in vaine-glorious soules,
And yet who dyes cloid with celestiall breath,
Shall dye with joy a Diagorian death.
All goods, all pleasures it in one doth linke,
Tis Phisick, clothing, Musick, meate and drinke:
It makes the hungrie soules forget their wants,
And nimbly daunce like skipping Corybants:
By force of this Timon that odious beast
Would have turn'd jester at each solemne feast,
And by one draught of this Americk grape
Have been Laberius or Sarmentus ape:
Nor would the Cynick in his homely tunne
Have askt the shining of the gen'rall Sunne,
But had he then this herbes great vertues knowne,
He would have beg'd it of the Macedone.
The Faunes and Satyres which doe lightly praunce,
The beasts that after Orpheus musick daunce,
At sight of this would have forgot the sound,
The Ecchoes would no more the voice rebound,
Orpheus himselfe would have forsooke his Lute,
And altogether stood amaz'd, and mute.
The lumpish Stoicks, which did thus decree,
A mortall man might without passion bee,
Had they once cast their carelesse eyes on this,
Would soone have showne what humane nature is:
The Epicureans, whose chiefe good was plac't
In earthly pleasures vaine voluptuous tast,
Had our Tabacco in their daies been found,
Had built their frame on a more likely ground.
Pyrrho that held all by opinion stood,
Would have affirm'd this were by nature good:
The rude Laconians, whom Lycurgus care
Barr'd from the traffick of exotick ware,
Had Malea been with such a treasure fraught,
Would have esteem'd their strictest acts at nought,
And with a slight pretence, or fained cause,
Have crackt the credit of their cobweb lawes.
When eloquent Hegesias caus'd men die
With disputation of lives miserie,
Had this life-giving pleasant potion then
Been once imparted to those desp'rate men,
It would have sooner forced them to live,
Then the commaunds great Ptolomie could give:
Had Phoebus Hyacinth, or faire Narcissus,
Venus Adonis, or sweete Cyparissus,
By the propitious Gods been turn'd to this,
Happie had been their Metamorphosis:
Yet it may be to this they were not turn'd,
Because their lovers griev'd to see them burn'd:
This is the Opium, which the Turks doe take,
When they their hearts would light and jocund make:
By this Medea did her drinke compose,
Which Aeson did from aged bonds unlose:
You finde not a diviner herbe then this,
In all Albertus de miraculis:
Or the huge Herbals, which vaine fooles obey,
In Porta, Fuchsius, and great Dodoney:
In it Phisitians have no skill at all,
It is an essence Metaphysicall,
Nor is a thing so exquisite, so pure,
Compos'd of any common temp'rature:
Nor can the Scepticks, or Empiricks see
This herbs great vertue, nature and degree:
Who takes this med'cine need not greatly care,
Who Galenists, who Paracelsians are:
Nor need he seeke their Rosaries, their Summes,
Their Secrets, their Dispensatoriums:
Nor fill his pocket with their costly bils,
Nor stuffe his maw with their unsav'ry pils,
Nor make huge pitfals in his tender vaines,
With thousand other more then hellish paines,
But by this herbes celestiall qualitie
May keepe his health in mirth and jollitie:
It is the fountaine whence all pleasure springs,
A potion for imperiall crowned Kings:
He that is master of so rich a store,
May laugh at Croesus, and esteeme him poore,
And with his smokie scepter in his fist
Securely flout the toyling Alchymist,
Who daily labours with a vaine expence
In distillations of the quint-essence,
Not knowing, that this golden herbe alone
Is the Philosophers admired stone:
It is your gallants med'cine singular,
As Possets to the wearied Ploughman are:
Alcinous trees, nor the Isles fortunate
Cannot afford so sweet a delicate:
Teucer had never purg'd his cares with wine,
Had he but dream't of Phisick so divine:
Nor Bacchus had been Patrone of delight,
Nor govern'd Tigers with his princely might,
Nor conquer'd all the nations of the earth,
Because he tam'd their savage minds with mirth:
Nor had Mercuriall, or herbe Gentiane
The glorious names of Gods, or Princes tane:
Moly of which the Prince of Poets wrote,
Spaines Triacle, or the strongest Antidote,
Is not so good against a Magicke spell,
Nor deadly poyson from th' heart t' expell,
As our most glorious plant: which had it beene
In ancient times, and famous ages seene,
The fruitfull Olive, and sweet-smelling Bayes
Had never been the signes of peace, and praise:
Long since the blessed Thistle, and Herbe-grace
Had lost their names, and been accounted base,
Had great Tabacco pleas'd to shew her powers,
As now she doth in this blest age of ours,
Blest age, wherein the Indian Sunne had shin'd,
Whereby all Arts, all tongues have been refin'd:
Learning long buried in the darke abysme
Of dunsticall, and monkish barbarisme,
When once this herbe by carefull paines was found,
Sprung up like Cadmus followers from the ground,
Which Muses visitation bindeth us,
More to great Cortez, and Vespucius,
Then to our wittie Mores immortall name,
To Valla, or the learned Rott'rodame:
And our poore tongue, which long had barren laine,
Wanting the fall of sweete Parnassian raine,
Was lightned by this Planets radiant beames,
Which rising from the Westerne ocean streames,
Melteth the drie clowdes to celestiall showres,
And on our heads those heav'nly fountaines powres:
Had the Castalian Muses knowne the place,
Which this Ambrosia did with honour grace,
They would have left Parnassus long agoe,
And chang'd their Phocis for Wingandekoe;
Yet it may be the people voide of sense,
With savage rites, and manners fear'd them thence:
But our more glorious Nymph, our moderne Muse,
Which life and light doth to the North infuse,
Which doth with joint and mutuall honour grace
Her place with learning, learning with her place:
In whose respect the Muses barb'rous are,
The Graces rude, nor is the Phoenix rare:
Which farre exceedes her predecessours facts,
Nor are their wondrous acts, now wondrous acts:
Which by her wisdome, and her Princely powers
Defends the walles of Albions cliffie towers,
Hath uncontrol'd stretcht out her mightie hand
Over Virginia, and the New-found-land,
And spread the Colours of our English Rose
In the farre countries, where Tabacco growes,
And tam'd the savage nations of the West,
Which of this jewell were in vaine possest:
Nor is it marvaile that this pretious gem
Is thus beset with beasts, and kept by them,
When it is likely, that almightie Jove,
By such fierce keepers to obscure it strove,
Bearing against it an immortall hate,
As the gainsayer of eternall fate:
Besides a thousand dangers circle round,
What ever good within this world is found,
Least mortals should no worke, nor trade professe,
But spend their daies in lust, and idlenesse:
And least their fickle thoughts should soone disdaine
The things they got but with a little paine:
Therefore best fruites are cover'd with hard shels,
The sweetest water is in deepest wels,
And Indian Ants as big as Mastives hold
A place most fertile of desired gold,
Sicile the garner of the earth, her pride
Hath Scylla and Charybdis on each side,
And in times past had a plague worse then these,
Of the fierce Cyclops and Laestrygones,
The horride Dragon, which did never sleepe,
The Orchard of the golden fruite did keepe,
And in the countries, which be hot and drie,
The dreadfull beasts about the fountaines lie,
And Gotthish Spaniards have the royaltie,
Where glorious gold, and rich Tabacco be,
A nation worse then the Laestrygones,
And farre more savage then the Savages:
Yet doth not this divine Tabacco soile,
Which shines like a bright Diamond in a foile,
And doth as farre excell the golden graines,
As gold the brasse, or silver pewter staines,
Although the Chymists say, our mother beares
Gold in her wombe so many thousand yeares,
Ere she can perfect what she hath begunne,
And bring to full growth that terrestriall Sunne:
And though the Theban Lyrick crown'd with bayes
Begins his Odes with that sweet mettals praise,
Yet countervailes it not this herbs desart,
But only shares a yonger brothers part:
For this our praised plant on high doth sore
Above the baser drosse of earthly ore,
Like the brave spirit, and ambitious mind,
Whose Eaglets eyes the Sunne-beames cannot blind,
Nor can the clog of povertie depresse
Such soules in base, and native lowlinesse,
But proudly scorning to behold the earth,
They leape at Crownes, and reach above their birth:
Despised mud sinkes to the center straight,
But worthie things will strive to get on height:
So our sweete herbe all earthly drosse doth hate,
Though in the earth both nourisht, and create,
And as the nature is of smoke, and fire
Leaves this low orbe, and labours to aspire
Wrapt in the cincture of her smokie shroudes,
Mixing her vapours with the ayrie cloudes,
And from these fumes ascending to the skies,
Some say the dewes, and gentle showres arise,
And from the fire thereof the Cyclops strove
To frame the mightie thunderbolts of Jove:
This is a savour which the Gods doth please,
If they doe feed on smoke (as Lucian sayes)
Therefore the cause that the bright Sunne doth rest
At the low point of the declining West,
When his oft-wearied horses breathlesse pant,
Is to refresh himselfe with this sweet plant,
Which wanton Thetis from the West doth bring,
To joy her love after his toilesome ring:
For 'tis a cordiall for an inward smart,
As is Dictamnum to the wounded Hart:
It is the sponge that wipes out all our woe;
'Tis like the thorne that doth on Pelion grow,
With which who-ere his frostie limbes anoints,
Shall feele no cold in his benummed joints;
'Tis like the river, which who ere doth tast,
Forgets his present griefes and sorrowes past:
Musick, which causeth vexed thoughts retire,
And for a while cease their tormenting fire:
Musick the prize, which when the eares have stole,
They doe convey it to th' attentive soule:
Musick, which forceth beasts to stand at gaze,
And doth the rude and senselesse soules amaze:
Compar'd to this, is like delicious strings,
Which sound but harshly while Apollo sings:
The braine with this infum'd all quarrell ends,
Tullie and Clodius will be faithfull friends,
And like another Crassus one carouse
Will linke againe Pompey, and Caesars house,
And quickly stint the inhumane designes
Of furious Guelphes, and warlike Gibellines.
The man that shall this smokie Magick prove,
Shall need no Philters to obtaine his love,
But shall be deckt with farre more pleasing grace,
Then ere was Nireus or Narcissus face.
Here could I tell you, how upon the seas
Some men have fasted with it fortie daies:
How those, to whom Plinie no mouths did give,
Doe only on divine Tabacco live:
How Andron, which did passe the Lybian sands
Unto the place where Hammons Temple stands,
And never dranke, nor was he ever dry,
Supprest the heate of raging thirst thereby:
How a dull Cynick by the force of it
Hath got a pleasing gesture, and good wit:
How sparing Demea whom the Comick chaung'd,
By this was from his former selfe estraung'd:
How many Cowards base and recreant,
By one pipes draught were turned valiant,
And after in an artificiall mist
Have overthrowne their foes before they wist:
How one that dreamt of a Tabacco roll,
Though sick before, was straight made perfect whole.
Peace pratling Muse, offend sage eares no more,
Die in the seas which canst not get the shore,
And sinke, as overwhelm'd with too much matter,
Least telling all the world should thinke thee flatter:
Doe not, like curious Plinie, seeke to know,
Whence the earths smoke, and secret flames do grow,
Least this immortall fire, and sacred fume,
Like to Vesuvius doe thy powers consume:
But clok'd with vapours of a duskie hue,
Bid both the world and thy sweet herbe Adue.

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