1603 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Eclogue the Fourth.

The Muses Library. [Elizabeth Cooper, ed.]

Edward Fairfax


An allegory of corruption in the Church in 35 ababcc stanzas. Edward Fairfax adapts his beast fable from Spenser's Maye, as a gullible lamb falls victim to the wily fox: "He buskt him Boon, and on his sanded Coat, | He buckled close a slain Kid's hayry Skin, | And wore the Vizzard of a smooth-fac't Goat: | All Saint without, none spi'd the Devill within!" While the primary source is the theological allegory in Spenser's Maye, the catalogue of trees alludes to the the Error episode in the first book of The Faerie Queene.

One of the three surviving eclogues of an original twelve, this pastoral was first published in Elizabeth Cooper's Muses Library (1737); the second eclogue was first published in 1882, the third in 1901. The poem was likely unearthed by Cooper's silent coadjutor, the antiquary William Oldys.

Elizabeth Cooper: "The Eclogues, above quoted, are in Number Twelve; all of them wrote after the Accession of of King James to the Throne of England, on important Subjects, relating to the Manners, Characters, and Incidents of the Times he lived in; They are pointed with many fine Strokes of Satire; dignify'd with wholsome Lessons of Morality, and Policy, to those of the highest Rank; and some modest Hints even to Majesty it self — As far as Poetry is concern'd in them, the very Name of Fairfax is the highest Recommendation, and the Learning they contain, is so various, and extensive, that, according to the Evidence of his Son, (who has written large Annotations on each) No Man's Reading, beside his own, was sufficient to explain his References effectually" Muses Library (1738) 363.

Thomas Campbell: "A more obscurely stupid allegory and fable can hardly be imagined than the fourth eclogue, preserved in Mrs. Cooper’s Muse’s Library: its being an imitation of some of the theological pastorals of Spenser is no apology for its absurdity. When a fox is described as seducing the chastity of a lamb, and when the eclogue writer tells us that “An hundred times her virgin lip he kiss’d, | As oft her maiden finger gently wrung,” who could imagine that either poetry, or ecclesiastical history, or sense or meaning of any kind, was ever meant to be conveyed under such a conundrum?" Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 120.

William Taylor of Norwich: "Fairfax's Tasso has lately been re-printed; it has survived the subsequent versions: but why are not his eclogues sought for, and published? One of them occurs, as a specimen, in the Muses' Library; and the rest, no doubt, remain in manuscript among the papers of the editor of that work" Monthly Magazine 47 (March 1819) 132.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Edward Fairfax, d. 1632, the second son of Sir Thomas Fairfax, of Denton, Yorkshire, passed his days in lettered ease at his seat at Fuyistone. He wrote a poetical history of Edward, the Black Prince, twelve eclogues, a history of Witchcraft, some letters against the Church of Rome, and a translation of Tasso's Recovery of Jerusalem. The letters seem to have been the only one of his compositions which was printed, with the exception of the fourth of his eclogues, which will be found in Cooper's Muses' Library, 1737. The translation of the Recover of Jerusalem was first published in 1600, fol." Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:575.



EGLON and ALEXIS.

Whilst, on the rough, and Heath-strew'd Wilderness,
His tender Flocks the Rasps and Bramble cropp,
Poor Shepherd Eglon, full of sad Distress!
By the small Stream sat, on a Mole-Hill-Topp;
Crown'd with a Wreath of Heban Branches broke:
Whom good Alexis found, and thus bespoke.

ALEXIS.
My Friend, what means this silent Lamentation?
Why on this Field of Mirth, this Realm of Smiles
Doth the fierce War of Griefe make such Invasion?
Witty Timanthes had he seen ere whiles,
What Face of Woe thy Cheek of Sadness bears,
He had not curtain'd Agamemnon's Tears.

The blacke Ox treads not yet upon thy Toe,
Nor thy good Fortune turnes her Wheele awaye;
Thy Flocks increase, and thou increasest so;
Thy stragling Goates now mild and gentle ly;
And that Foole Love thou whip'st away with Rods;
Then what sets thee and Joy so far at ods?

EGLON.
Nor Love, nor Loss of ought that Worldlings love,
Be it Dress, Wealth, Dream, Pleasure, Smoak or Glory,
Can my well-settled Thought to Passion move:
A greater Cause it is that makes me sorry,
But, known to thee it may seem small or none;
Under his Fellow's Burden who needs grone?

ALEXIS.
Yet tell me Eglon, for my Ram shall dy
On the same Altar, where thy Goat doth burn;
Else let these Kids my Olive-Trees lick dry,
And let my Sheep to shag-hayr'd Musmons turn!
All Things with Friends are common; Grief and Sorrow,
Men without Bond or Interest freely borrow.

EGLON.
Sufficeth to each Man his own Mishap;
Yet for our Friends our Eye oft spends more Teares,
Than for our selves; our Neighbour in his Lap;
Sometimes our Grief, our Losses never beares;
Fitter to weep than help when need requires!
So soon the halting Steed of Friendship tires!

Thou know'st I had a tender Lamb; a Cade,
Nourish't with Milk and Morsels from my Table,
That in my Bosom its soft Lodging made,
And cherisht was, and fed as I was able
It was my Child my Darling, and my Queen,
And might for Shape a Passover have been!

I kept it for an Off'ring 'gainst the Day
That the great God of Shepherds Pans shall come,
Not he whose Thousand Lambs did feed and stray
On Sicil-Hills, one such at Night brought Home.
Nor could the Ram, wonne by the Lords of Greece,
Compare his Guilded, with her pearled Fleece.

But when the Sun with his intising Ray
Allur'd her forth, from Quiet of my shed,
Thorow the broken Wall she slipt away,
Behind the Corner-stone, and thence she fled,
Ambling along the Meads and Rivers shrill:
And yet she thought, she knew she did, no Ill.

The Fox, whose Fort Malpardus, border'd nie,
Spied from his Keep the wandring Innocent,
That, weary, in the cooling shade did lye,
Lest the hot Beams her tender Limbs might sheet;
And soon he judged, by her harmless Look,
It was a Fish would eas'ly take the Hook.

He buskt him Boon, and on his sanded Coat,
He buckled close a slain Kid's hayry Skin,
And wore the Vizzard of a smooth-fac't Goat:
All Saint without, none spi'd the Devill within!
With wanton Skips he boards the harmlesse Sheep,
And with sweet Words thus into Grace did creep.

Dear Sister-Lamb! Queen of the fleecy Kind!
That opal Flowers pick'st from these Emral'd-Closes,
Thy Bombace soft in silver Trammels bind,
And crowd thy Lamber Horns with Corall-Roses!
This Sabbath is the Feast-Day of thy birth;
Come be thou Lady of our May, and Mirth!

Break from the Prison of the austere Cell
Of thy strict Master, and his Cynick Diet!
And in sweet Shades of this fat Valley dwell,
In Ease and Wealth! Here we are rich and quiet!
Unty these Bonds of Awe, and Cords of Duty!
They be weake Chains to fetter Youth and Beauty!

With that he kiss'd her [Lip], and strayn'd her Hand,
And softly rays'd her from the tender Grass;
And, squiring her along the flowry Land,
Still made her court, as thro' the Fields they pass:
And that Bawd Love, Factor of shame and sin!
Lent him a Net to catch his Woodcock in.

Close in the Bosom of a bended Hill,
Of faire and fruitful Trees a Forest stood,
Balm, [Myrrh], Bdellium, from their Bark distill
Bay, Smilax, Myrtle, (Cupid's Arrow-Wood)
Grew there, and Cypress with his kiss-sky Tops,
And Ferrea's Tree whence pure Rose-Water drops.

The Golden Bee, buzzing with Tinsell-Wings
Suckt amber Honey from the silken Flower;
The Dove sad Love-Grones on her Sack-But sings,
The Throssell whistles from his Oaken-Tower;
And, sporting, lay the Nymphs of Woods and Hills,
On Beds of Heart's-Ease, Rue, and Daffadills.

Hither the Traytor-Fox his Mistress leads,
Intising her with Sweetness of the Place,
Till on a hidden Net unwares she treads;
[The silken threads their guileless prey embrace,]
Yet hurt her not; the subtile Fouler smil'd;
Nor knew the Dott'rell yet, she was beguil'd.

Not that false Snare, wherewith the Cuckold-Smith
Sham'd his Queen and himself; nor that sly Gin
Astolfo caught the Eat-Man-Giant with,
Nor that Arachne takes her wild Fowle in,
Nor those small Toiles the Morning-Queen doth set
In every Mead, so fine were as that Net.

Thus caught, he bound her in a Chain three-fold,
And led her to a shady Arbour near;
The Chain was Copper, yet it seemed Gold,
And every Link a sundry Name did bear,
Wrath, Sloth, Strife, Envy, Avarice, foul Lust,
And Pride: what Flesh can so strong Fetters bu'st?

An Hundred Times her Virgin-Lip he kiss't,
As oft her Mayden-Finger gently wrung;
Yet what he would, her Child-hood nothing wist;
The bee of love her soft Heart had not stung!
In vain he sigh'd, he glanc'd, be shook his Head,
Those Hierogliphicks were too hard to read!

She did not, nay she would not understand,
Upon what Errand his sweet Smiles were gone;
And in his borrowed Coate some Hole she fond,
Thro' which she spy'd, all was not Gold that shone.
Yet still his Tools the Workman ply'd so fast,
That her speed-Wing his Lime-Twig took at last.

Her Silver-Rug from her soft Hide he clip't,
And on her Body knit a Canvas thin,
With Twenty-Party-Colours ev'nly strip't,
And guarded like the Zebra's Rayne-Bow-Skin.
Such Coats young Tamar, and fayre Rachel's Child
Put off, when He was sold, and She defil'd.

There mourn'd the Blacke, the Purple tyranniz'd,
The Russet hoped: and Green the Wanton play'd;
Yellow spy'd Faults in such as Love disguis'd;
Carnation still desir'd, White lived a Mayd;
Blew kept his Faith unstain'd; Red bled to Death
And forlorn Tawney wore a Willow-Wreath.

All these, and Twenty new-found Colours more,
Were in the Weft of that rich Garment wrought;
And who that charmed Vesture took and wore,
Like it, were changeable in Will and Thought.
What Wonder then, if on so smooth a Plate,
He stamp't a Fiend, where once an Angel sate?

Thus clad, he set her on a Throne of Glass,
And spread a plenteous Table on the Green;
And every Platter of true Porcelan was,
Which had a Thousand Years in temp'ring been,
Yet did the Cates exceed the Substance fine;
So rare the Viands were, so rich the Wine!

Lucullus was a Niggard of his Meat,
And sparefull of his Cups seem'd Anthony;
But in each Morsel, which the Guests should eate,
The cruel Rats-Bane of vile Lust did lye;
Yet at that Board, the little-fearing-Sheep
Eats, till she surfeit, quaffeth, till she sleep.

Then drunk with Folly, to his loather Nest
He brought his Prey; and in a dusky Room,
All Night he crouched on her tender Brest,
Till timely Day-spring with her Morning Broom
Had swept the Silver Motes from Heav'n's Steel-flore,
And at the Key-Hole peeped through theyr Dore.

But such the Issue was of that Embrace,
That deadly Poyson thro' her Body spread,
Rotted her Limbs, and leprous grew her Face;
His Bosom's Touch so dire a Mischief bred,
So venomous was not the poysoned Lip
Of th' Indian King, or Guinea's Cock's Combe-ship.

Pherecides, small, winged Dragonets.
Ferrontine's Gentles, Scilla's Swarm of Lice,
The Boghar-Worm that Joynts asunder frets;
The Plague that scourged wanton Cressed's Vice;
And that great Evill which Viper-Wine makes sound,
Compar'd with hers, are but a Pinn's small Wound.

The gastly Raven, from the blasted Oake,
With deadly Call foreshew'd my Lamb's Mishap;
The Wake-Bird on my Chimney well-nigh spoke;
But I alas! foresaw no After-clap!
Yet crew my Hens, sure Shepherd's Sign of Ill!
But my fond Head in Bird-spell had no Skill.

For Help I sought the Leach, wise Mardophage,
I try'd the English-Bath, and German-Spaw;
To Walsingham I went on Pilgrimage,
And said strong Charmes that kept even Death in Awe!
Yet none of these can her lost Health restore:
Ah no, my Lambs' Recovery costeth more!

ALEXIS.
So vain a Thing is Man; what least we fear
That soonest haps; the Evill we present feel,
Brings greater Anguish than our Souls can bear;
Desp'rate we are in Woe, careless in Weale!
Unfall'n, unfear'd! if Ill betide us, then
Are we past Hope: so vain a Thing is Man!

Great is, I grant, the Danger of thy Sheep!
But yet there is a Salve for every Sore;
That Shepherd, who our Flocks and us doth keep,
To remedy this Sickness long before,
Killed a holy Lamb, clear, spotless, pure;
Whose Blood the Salve is all our Hurts to cure!

Call for that Surgeon good, to dress her Wound!
Bath her in holy-Water, of thy Tears!
Let her in Bands of Faith and Love be bound!
And, while on Earth she spends her Pilgrim-Years,
Thou for thy Charm pray with the Publican!
And so restore thy Lamb to Health again!

Now farewell Eglon! for the Sun stoops low,
And calling Guests before my Sheep-Coat's Dore:
Now clad in White, I see my Porter-Crow,
Great Kings oft want the Blessings of the Poor:
My Board is short, my Kitchen needs no Clerk,
Come Fannius! come! be thou Symposiarke!

[pp. 364-76; emendations from Fairfax, Daemonologia, ed. William Grainge (1882)]