Michael Drayton's beast fable mounts a satirical attack on Cecil's influence at court and corruptions generally. Spenser had recently revived interest in the beast fable genre with Mother Hubberds Tale, though Drayton's poem is based on Chaucer and earlier sources.
Nathaniel Baxter: "Learned Drayton hath told Madge-howlets tale, | In covert verse of sweetest Madrigale" Sir Philip Sydneys Ourania (1606) Sig. H2.
Alexander Chalmers: "he rendered the services and homage of a poet to king James, among the first who congratulated him on his accession to the British throne, and even condescended to praise his majesty's poetical talents in a sonnet of which he was afterwards ashamed. On the same happy occasion, he appeared as one of the squires who attended sir Walter Aston, when he was created a knight of the Bath. His duty to his king, however, was so ill repaid, that he gave up all hopes of rising at court, and his fable of The Owl, published a year after the coronation, is supposed to glance at persons and incidents connected with his disappointment" English Poets (1810) 4:ix-x.
John Payne Collier: "It is from end to end a satirical apologue, and passages might easily be pointed out that possibly gave offence. That it was popular we need not doubt; and it is twice spoken of by N. Baxter, in his Ourania, 1606, (see p. 76,) as 'Madge Howlet's Tale.' 'And every Stationer hath now to sale | Pappe with a Hatchet and Madge Howlet's Tale.' And again afterwards, 'Learned Drayton hath told Madgehowlet's Tale | In covert verse of sweetest madrigale.' It certainly is 'covert verse,' but in ten-syllable couplets, without any lyrics such as madrigals were usually composed in" Bibliographical and Critical Account (1866) 1:283-84.
Oliver Elton: "Thus, while Jonson, Daniel, and so many others, were accepted, he was put aside. The poem called The Owl, 1604, he asserts in its preface, to have been written before this event; but it is full of strain and obscure allegory, behind which we divine an awkward rage ineffectually smouldering. Mother Hubbard's Tale, and the Parliament of Birds, are in some measure his models. The Eagle is the monarch, the Owl, sharp-sighted in the darkness, is the satiric observer of its evil deeds. Attacked by various obscenae volucres, she pleads her case to the Eagle in a long tirade against the lust and jobbing of courts. The poet himself is figured by the ragged and wretched Crane.... This is the only evidence for the figment, which has passed into some biographies, and seems to be first named and refuted by Oldys (1750), that the poet was introduced by Aston to James, and sent to Scotland on some unsuccessful public mission. I can throw no fresh light on the allusion, except that he did actually go, or had been, northwards, before 1606: one of the best of his odes being written from the Peak, and praising 'Buxton's delicious baths'" Introduction to Michael Drayton (1895) 29-30.
Harold H. Child: "The owl, in his satire, is the keen-eyed, disinterested observer. Nagged at by little birds, and attacked by the fear and jealousy of crows, kites, ravens and other marauders, he is rescued by the kingly eagle, to whom he describes the abuses he has seen carried on by evil birds who prey on the commonwealth of fowls. The poem is inspired, doubtless, by The Parlement of Foules; but it imitates neither the metre nor the good qualities of that work" Cambridge History of English Literature (1910) 4:211-12.
Tillotson and Newdigate: "The framework of The Owle is mediaeval; the combined conventions of the spring-time dream, the bird-fable and the debate, as a vehicle for comment on current affairs, derive from Chaucer's Parlement of Foules. This, and some later examples such as the Parlement of Byrdes, were almost certainly in Drayton's mind.... The Owle indeed owes more to these earlier satires than to its Elizabethan predecessors. Mother Hubberds Tale is a beast-fable, but not a dream; it is much more clearly narrative in method, and more concerned with religious controversy. Thomas Cutwode's Caltha Poetarum (1599) is a satirical fable, but so far as its meaning can as yet be discerned its allegory is personal rather than social or political. The other satirists, such as Hall, Marston, Donne, Guilpin and Rowlands, use the more formal classical medium. But although these set the example for most seventeenth-century satirists, The Owle may be partly responsible for a brief revival of the satirical beast-fable, exemplified in T. M.'s Father Hubberds Tales (1604-9), Richard Niccol's The Beggers Ape (written 1607, printed 1627) and The Cuckow (1607), Thomas Scot's Philomythie (1610-16), and William Goddard's Owles Araygnment (c. 1616); all, especially the last, show some indebtedness to Drayton" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:174-75.
William B. Hunter: "The relatively poor reception given his major work, Poly-Olbion, must have reinforced the natural moroseness which finds expression in works like The Owle (1604), a very obscure allegory of contemporary society modeled to some degree upon Spenser's Mother Hubberds Tale" English Spenserians (1977) 198.
Lines 301-16 are noted "Exilij Spen: cf" in a contemporary hand in the B.M. copy; see Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:178.
What time the Sunne by his all-quickning power,
Gives lyfe and birth to every plant and flower,
The strength and fervor of whose pregnant ray,
Buds every branche and blossomes every spray;
As the frim sap the yeerly course assyg'nde
From the full roote, doth swell the plentious rynde:
The vitall spirits long nourisht at the harte,
Flye with fresh fire, to each exterior parte
Which stirres desire in hot and youthfull bloods;
To breath their deare thoughts to the listning woods.
With those light flocks the garish fieldes frequent,
This frolick season luckylie I went,
And as the rest did, did I franckly too,
"Least is he marck'd, that doth as most men doo."
But whether by some casuall defect,
All Flowers a like the time did not respect
Some whose new Rootes ne're saw a former may,
Floorish now fayre, those withered quite away,
Into my thoughts that incidently brings
Th' inconstant passage of all wordly things.
The rarest worke whereat we wonder long,
Obscur'd by time that envie could not wrong.
And what in life can mortall man desier,
That scarsly comm'n, but quickly doth retier:
The Monarchies had time to grow to head,
And at the height their conquered honors fled:
And by their wane those latter kingdomes rose,
That had their age to winne their howrs to lose,
Which with much sorrow brought into my minde,
Their wretched soules so ignorantly blinde,
(When even the great'st things in the World unstable)
Clyme but to fall, and damned for a bable.
Whil'st thus my thoughts were strongly entertain'd,
The greatest lampe of heaven his height had gayn'd;
Seeking some shade to lend content to me,
Loe neere at hand I spy'd a goodly tree;
Under the 'xtensure of whose lordly armes,
The small Birds warbled their harmonious charmes.
Where sitting downe to coole the burning heate,
Through the moyst pores evap'rating by sweate,
Yeelding my pleas'd thought to content (by chance)
I on a suddaine drop't into a trance:
Wherein me thought some God or power devine
Did my cleere knowledge wondrously refine.
For that amongst those sundry varying notes,
Which the Birds sent from their Melodious throats,
Each Silvan sound I truely understood,
Become a perfect Linguist of the Wood:
Their flight, their song, and every other signe,
By which the World did anciently devine:
As the old Tuskans in that skill profound,
Which first great Car, and wise Tyresias found,
To me bequeath'd their knowledge to discry,
The depth and secrets of their Augurie.
One I could heare appointing with his sweeting
A place convenient for their secret meeting.
Others, when Winter shortly should declyne,
How they would couple at Saint Valentine.
Some other Birds that of their Loves forsaken,
To the close deserts had themselves betaken,
And in the darke Groaves where they made aboad,
Sang many a sad and mournfull Palinod.
And every Bird shew'd in his proper kinde,
What vertue, nature had to him assign'de.
The pretty Turtle, and the kissing Dove,
Their faiths in Wedlock, and chast nuptiall Love:
The Hens to Women sanctitie expresse,
Hallowing their Egges: the Swallow clenlinesse,
Sweetning her nest, and purging it of dong
And every howr is picking of her yong.
The Herne by soaring shewes tempestuous showers,
The Princely Cocke distinguisheth the howres.
The Kyte, his traine him guiding in the aire,
Prescribes the helme, instructing how to stere.
The Crane to labour, fearing some rough flawe,
With sand and gravell burthening his craw.
Noted by man, which by the same did finde
To ballast Shippes for steddines in winde.
And by the forme and order in his flight,
To march in warre, and how to watch by night.
The first of house that ere did groundsell lay,
Which then was homely of rude lome and clay;
Learn'd of the Martin, Philomel in spring,
Teaching by art her little one to sing;
By whose cleere voyce sweet musicke first was found,
Before Amphyon ever knew a sound.
Covering with Mosse the deads unclosed eye:
The little Red-breast teacheth charytie.
So many there in sundry things excell,
Time scarse could serve their properties to tell.
I cannot judge if it the place should bee,
That should present this prettie dreame to mee,
That neare the Eaves and shelter of a stacke
(Set to support it) at a Beeches backe
In a stub'd Tree with Ivy over-growne,
On whom the Sunne had scarsly ever shone:
A broade-Fac'd Creature, hanging of the wing,
Was set to sleepe whilst every Bird did sing.
His drowsy head still leaning on his brest,
For all the sweet tunes Philomel exprest:
Noe signe of joy did in his lookes appeere,
Or ever mov'd his melancholy cheere.
Ascallaphus that brought into my hed,
In Ovids changes Metamorphised,
Or very like: but him I read aright,
Solemne of lookes as he was slowe of sight;
And to assure me that it was the same;
The Birds about him strangely woundring came.
Fye quoth the Lennet tripping on the spray;
Rowze thee, thou sluggish Bird this mirthfull May,
For shame come forth and leave thy Luskye nest,
And haunt these Forrests bravely as the best:
Take thy delight in yonder goodly Tree,
Where the sweet Merle, and warbling Mavis bee.
Next, quoth the Titmouse which at hand did sitt,
Shake off this moody melancholy fitt.
See the small brooks as through these groves they travell
Sporting for joy upon the silver gravell,
Mocke the sweet notes the neighboring Silvans sing,
With the smooth cadence of their murmuring.
Each Bee with Hony laden to the thye,
From Palme to Palme (as carelesly they flye)
Catch the soft winde, and him his course bereaves,
To stay and dally with th' inamored leaves.
This while the Owle which well himselfe could beare,
That to their short speech lent a listning eare:
Begins at length to rowse him in the Beech,
And to the rest thus frames his reverend speech.
O all you feath'red Quiresters of nature,
That power which hath distinguish'd every creature;
Gave severall uses unto every one:
As severall seeds and things to live upon;
Some as the Larke that takes delight to build,
Farre from resort, amid the Vastie field.
The Pellican in deserts farre abroad,
Her deare-lov'd issue safely doth unload.
The Sparrow and the Robinet agen,
To live neere to the Mansion place of men;
And nature wisely which hath each thing taught,
This place best fitting my content fore-thought,
Though not presuming in the stately Trees,
Yet where fore-sight lesse threatning danger sees,
The tempest thrilling from the troubled ayre,
Strikes not the shrub the place of my repayre.
The Fowlers snares in Ambush are not lay'd
T' intrap my steps which often you betrayd.
A silent sleepe my gentle fellow Birds,
By day, a calme of sweet content affords;
By night I towre the heaven devoy'd of feare,
Nor dread the Griphon to surprise me theare,
And into many a secret place I peep,
And see strange things while you securelie sleep.
Wounder not Birds although my heavie eies,
By daie seeme dim to see these Vanities.
"Happie's that sight the secret'st things can spye,
By seeming blinde unto communitie;
And blest are they that to their owne content,
See that by night which some by day repent."
Did not mine eyes seeme dimme to others sight,
Without suspect they could not see so right.
"O sillie creatures, happie is the state,
That wayes not pittie, nor respecteth hate:
Better's that place though homely and obscure,
Where we repose in safetie and secure,"
Then where great Birds with Lordly Tallents seaze
Not what they ought but what their fancies please:
And by their power prevailing in this sorte,
To rob the poore, account it but a sporte:
Therefore of two I chose the lesser evill,
"Better sit still, then rise to meet the Devill."
Thus the poore Owle, unhappily could preach.
Some that came neere in compasse of his reach,
Taking this Item, with a generall eare,
"A guilty conscience feeles continuall feare."
Soone to their sorrow secretly doe finde,
"Some that had winck'd not altogether blinde."
And finding now which they before had heard,
"Wisdome not all, in every garish Bird,
Shrewdly suspect that brevyting by night,
Under pretence that he was ill of sight,
Slylie had seene which secretly not kept,
Simply they waked; he subtilly had slept,
The envious Crow that is so full of spight,
The hatefull Buzzard, and the ravenous Kite.
The greedy Raven that for death doth call,
Spoyling poore Lambs as from their Dams they fall,
That picketh out the dying creatures eye;
The theevish Dawe and the dissembling Pye,
That onely live upon the poorers spoyle,
That feede on Dung-hilles by the loathsome soyle.
The Wood-pecker whose hardned beake hath broke,
And pearc'd the hart of many a sollid Oke.
That where the Kingly Eagle wont to pray
In the calme shade in heate of Summers day;
Of thousand of faire Trees there stands not one
For him to pearch or set his foote upon.
And now they see they safely had him here,
T' eschew th' effect of every future feare.
Uppon the suddaine all these murdrous fowle,
Fasten together on the harmeles Owle.
The cruell Kyte because his clawes were keene,
Upon his broad-face wreaks his angry teene.
His weasant next the ravinous Raven plyes,
The Pye and Buzzard tugging at his eyes.
The Crow is digging at his brest amaine;
The sharp-nebd Hecco stabbing at his brayne,
That had the Falcon not by chanse bene neere,
That lov'd the Owle and held him onely deere;
Come to his rescue at the present tyde,
The honest Owle undoubtedly had dyde.
And whilst the gentle Bird doth yet pursue,
The ryot done by this rebellious crue,
The lesser Birds that keep the lower spring,
There-at much greeve with wofull murmuring,
Yet wanting power to remedy his wrongs,
Who tooke their lives restrained not their tongues:
The Larke, the Lennet, and the gentler sorte,
Those sweete Musitions, with whose shrill reporte,
The senceles woods, and the obdurate rocke,
Have oft bene moov'd, the warbling Throstle Cocke,
The Ousell, and the Nightingale among
That charmes the night calme by her powerfull song;
In Phoebus Lawrell that do take delight,
Whom Joves fearce thunder hath no power to smite,
Justice say they, ah whether art thou fled?
Or this vyle world, hast thou abandoned?
O why fayre vertue wer't thou made in vaine?
Freedome is lost and libertie is slayne:
Whylst some whose power restrained not their rage,
Loudly exclaime upon the envyous age
That rockes for pittie doe resume them eares,
The earth so wep'd with plentie of their teares.
But thus it haps in heat of all these things,
"As Kings rule Realms, God rules the harts of Kings,"
The Princely Eagle leaving his abode,
Was from his Court stolne secretly abrode,
And from the covert, closely where he stood,
To finde how things were censured in the wood;
Farre in the thickets might a chattring heare,
To which soone lending an officious eare,
With a still flight his easie course doth make
Towards where the sound he perfectly doth take.
At every stroke (with his Imperiall wings)
The gentle ayre unto his feathers clings;
And through his softe and callow downe doth flowe,
As loath so soone his presence to forgoe,
And being at last arryved at the place
Where the poore Owle in miserable case
(For whome much sorowe every where was heard)
Sadly bemoan'd of many a helples Bird.
But when this Princely Jovyall Foule they sawe,
As now deliv'red from their former awe:
Each little creature lifted up a wing,
With ave Caesar to their soveraigne King.
Who seeing the Owle thus miserablie forlorne,
Spoyld of his feathers, mangled, scratcht and torne;
Wil'd him his name and qualitye to showe,
How and wherefore he suffred all this woe.
Which the Owle hearing, taking hart therby,
Though somewhat daunted with his pearcing eye,
(With a deep sigh) my soveraigne Leidge quoth he,
Though now us poore and wretched as you see,
Athens sometime the Muses Nurcerie,
The source of Science end Philosophie,
Allow'd me freedome in her learned Bowers,
Where I was set in the Cecropian towers;
Armed Bellona (Goddesse of the field)
Honor'd my Portraict in her war-like Sheild.
And for my studie (of all other Fowle)
To wise Minverva chalanged the Owle.
For which, those grave and stil-autentique Sages
Which sought for knowledge in those golden ages,
Of whome we holde the science that we have;
For wisdome, me their Hiroglifique gave.
The frutefull Ceres to great Saturn borne,
That first with Sickle crops the rip'ning Corne,
That bore the swartye Acheron, whose birth
Scarsely yet perfect, loathing of the earth,
And flying all communitie with men,
Thrust his blacke head into the Stigian fen;
Where the Nymph Orphne in th' infernal shade,
As in his streame she carelesly did wade:
The flood Imbracing craftily beguilde,
By whom soone after she conceav'd with childe,
Of her deare sonne Ascallaphus, whose youth
So cherish'd Justice, and respected truth;
As to the Gods he faithfully did tell,
The tasted fruit by Proserpine in hell:
Which an offence imagined so fowle,
Ceres transform'd into the harmles Owle.
To our disgrace though it be urg'd by some,
Our harmeles kinde to Creet doth never come;
The Cretans ever lyars, nor come we thether,
For truth and falshood cannot live together.
And those that spurne at our contented state,
With viperous envie and degenerate hate;
Strive to produce us from that Lesbian bed,
Where with blinde lust the fleshly letcher led
On his owne childe, unnaturally to praye,
(For that fowle fact) transform'd Nyctimene,
But seldome seene unto the publique eye,
The shreeking Litch-Owle that doth never crye,
But boding death and quick her selfe interres,
In darksome graves and hollow sepulchers.
Thus much my Soveraigne whence my fathers came.
Now for the cause of this my present shame,
"Few words may serve a mischiefe to unfolde,
For in short speech long sorrow may be tolde."
But for my freedome that I us'd of late,
To lanch th' infection of a poysoned state,
Wherein my free and uncorrupted tongue,
Lightly gave taste of their injurious wrong.
The Kyte, the Crow, and all the Birds of pray,
That thy Liedge people havock night and day;
Rushing upon me, and with foule despight,
Thus have they drest me in this piteous plight.
The Eagle now a serious eare that lent,
To the religious and devout intent,
Of the good Owle, whom too injurious fate
Had thus rewarded; doth commiserate
The poore distressed Bird, hoping to heare
What all the rest through negligence or feare,
Smothred in silence, and had buried still,
Covering the sore of many a festered ill,
Not onely grants him libertie of speech,
But further dayning kindly to beseech,
The vertuous Bird no longer to refraine.
Who thus emboldned by his Soveraigne,
At length his silence resolutely brake,
And thus the Eagles majestie be-spake.
Mightie, said he, though my plaine homely words,
Have not that grace that eligance affoords.
Truth of it selfe is of sufficient worth,
That needs no glosse of arte to set it forth.
These hoary plumes like mosse upon that Oake,
By seeing much, yet suffring more I tooke.
Long have I seene the worlds unconstant change,
Joy mooves not me, affliction is not strange.
I care not for contempt, I seek not fame,
Knowledge I love, and glory in the same.
Th' ambicious judgement seat I never sought,
Where God is solde for Coyne, the poore for nought.
I am a helples Bird, a harmles wretch,
Wanting the Power that needfull is to teach.
Yet care of your great good and generall weale,
Unlocks my tongue, and with a fervent zeale
Breakes through my lips which otherwise were pent
To that severe Grave Sammites document.
I knowe before my harmles Tale be tolde,
The gripple Vulture argues me to bolde.
The Cormorant (whome spoyle cannot suffise)
Stickes not to charge and slander me with lyes.
The Parrot taxe me to be vainly proud,
And all crye shame the Owle should be allow'd,
Which with this Axiome doth them all confute,
"When Kings bid speake what subject can be mute?"
The latest winter that fore—went our prime,
O mightie Prince, upon a certaine time
I got into thy Pallace on a night,
There to revive my melancholy spright,
And there (for darknes) wayting all alone,
To view (by night) what Lords by day looke on,
Where I beheld so many Candles light,
As they had mock'd the Tapers of the night.
Where for it grew upon the time of rest,
And many, great sinceritie profest,
Expecting prayer should presently proceed;
To aske forgivenes for the dayes misdeed,
There in soft Downe the liquerous Sparow sat,
Pamper'd with meats, proud, insolent and fat.
His Drugs, his drinks, and sirrops doth apply,
To heat his blood and quicken luxury;
Which by his billing female was imbrac'd,
Clasping her wings about his wanton waste.
O God thought I, what's heere? by light within,
Where some in darknes should have fear'd to sin.
The Cormorant set closely to devise
How he might compasse strange Monopolies.
The gawdy Gold-finch and his courtly mate,
The jolly Bunting power-full in the state,
Quickly agreed, and but at little stick;
To share a thousand for a Bishoprick,
And scramble up some feathers from the Larke;
What though a Pastor and a learned Clarke?
And for his reverence though he ware a Cowle,
Yet at his entrance he must pay than towle.
I saw a Buzzard scorning of the blacke,
That but of late did cloath his needy backe
With Ostridge feathers had adorn'd his crest,
As be were bred a Faulcon at the least.
Thus strouts he daily in his borrowed plume
And but for shame he bouldly durst presume,
With Princely Eglets to compare his sight:
Not the proud Iris in her coullers dight,
Could with this base Kyte equally compare,
What Fowle before him stood not humbly bare?
Noe lesse then Lords attending everie beck,
At his commaund his betters brooke his check.
But O my Liedge, the Birds of Noble race,
Knowe whence he is and who affoords him grace,
And inlie greeve to see a servile mate,
Crept up by favour to out-brave a State.
The poore Implumed Birds that by offence,
Or some disgrace have lost preheminence:
Can poynt and say, this Feather once was mine:
Some winck some would, some greeve, and some repine
Besides all this, I saw a Bird did scower,
A Serpents teeth that daily did devoure,
Widdowes and Orphanes, yet th' Egiptian Sawes,
Command this Bird for clensing Serpents Jawes.
For the base Trochyle thinketh it no paine,
To scowre vile Carion for a savorie gaine.
When soone I sawe about the Serpents nest,
Whil'st this slave Bird his nastie grynders drest.
A thousand little Flyes, as many Birds,
Of labouring Bees, a thousand thousand heards,
A thousand sundry Foule, that strangely carp
And cursse that beake that made his goomes so sharp.
Yet in this base Bird I might well discry,
The, prosperous frute of thriving Policy.
Casting mine eye and loking through a glasse,
I saw a Gos-hawke (that in state did passe)
That by faire showes did mens affections feele,
Golde (his attendant) alwayes at his heele.
Whole Mannors did him reverence as he staid,
Whose name (if written) could proffession plead
In any Lordship that adjoyned his:
Lawe was his vassall, he and purchase kis.
Zeale was his foole, and Learning was his jester,
Pride was his page, and Gluttony his taster.
A thousand suters wayted at his hand,
Some call'd his honor Patrone of the Land;
The sole commaunder of the Common-weale,
And unto him they humbly all appeale.
When in a Closset strangely I beheld,
That was adjoyning to a pleasant field,
How every suter when he was rety'rd
Bought out his peace, or his promotion hy'rd;
Yet what he wonne with cursses was rewarded,
When the poore Birds for bribes alone regarded.
To th' secret of all secrets when I came,
Having mine eyes even glewd with griefe and shame,
I tell not how the Vulture sat apart,
Spending the blood and marrow of his hart,
And by all meanes his facultyes t' apply,
To taynt the Phoenix by his surquedry,
That of her kinde had she bene more then one,
(Parent and Infant to her selfe alone)
Thus heavenly Bird (in touching their defame)
Had had her purple soyled with their shame.
And for the Turtle would not be unchaste,
Her did they banish to the barren waste.
I dare not say how every sorte were serch'd,
Nor dare I tell how Avarice was perch'd
Under the pillow of the gravest head,
(That freedome with the golden world is dead)
How age had cast off a religious life,
Humor of late become opinions wife.
Counsaile secure, nor Companies with care,
The wit that woundeth zeale, accounted rare.
But whether wandreth my hye ravish'd Muse?
O pardon Leidge the feirce exclaymes I use;
And let my Barque (through gales of your good grace,
Through these rough Seas) bear sayle a little space.
Scarse had these words found utrance through my lips
But ther-withall a pratling Parrot skips
About the private lodging of his Peeres,
His eyes were watchfull, open were his eares.
He had a tongue for every language fit,
A cheverell Conscience, and a searching wit.
Comming in haste as he had crost the Mayne,
And brought some strange intelligence from Spayne,
Yet even at mid-night (for the Rogue was poore)
I found him knocking at a great mans doore;
And where of course the wise are turnd away,
His errand brooks no dilatorie stay,
But presently concluded (by a light)
Into a Chamber very richly dight,
Where sate the Vulture with a dreadfull frowne;
Proud and ambitious, gaping for renowne:
His Talents red with blood of murthered foules,
His full eye quickly every way controules.
Which when this Parrot stedfastly beheld,
His feathers brisled and his stomack sweld;
And to the Vulture openeth where he sat,
(Whose eares attentive listning still therat)
The state and havior of each private man,
Layd out for searching Avarice to scan.
Whereby strict rule and subtilties in art,
Such traps are set, as not a man can start.
And where th' offenders maintenance was great,
Their working heads they busily doe beat,
By some strange quiddit or some wrested clause,
To finde him guiltie of the breach of lawes,
That he this present injury to shift,
To buye his owne, accounts a Princely guift.
And for a cloake to their corrupt Decrees,
The Vulture with this subtill Bird agrees;
That they that thus convicted are aparte,
Shall be surpriz'd by policy and arte.
Then picke they forth such theeves as hate the light,
The black-ey'd Bat (the watchman of the night)
That to each private family can prie,
And the least slip can easily discrie;
And since his Conscience is both loose and large,
Is onely set to under-goe this charge
Adrest to drinke of every private Cup,
And not a word slips but he takes it up.
To minister occasion of discourse,
And ther-with-all, some dangerous Theame in-force,
To urge a doubtfull speech unto the worst,
To broach newe treasons and disclose them first;
Wher-by him-selfe cleeres: and un-awares
Intraps the Foule, unskilfull of these snares.
And (against Law) he beares his Lords Protection,
As a fit meane and by the Sates direction.
O worthy Birds, prevent this ill in time,
And suffer not this rav'nous Bat to climbe;
That is occasion of the bests offence,
The brat of ryot and of indigence,
The moath and canker of the Common-weale,
Bred by corruption to disquiet zeale.
Holla thou wandring Infant of my brayne,
Whether thus fling'st thou? yet divert thy strayne;
Returne we backe unto our former gate,
From which a little we digres'd of late,
And leave this monster beating of his head,
The honest Owle hath quickly stroke him dead.
And forth againe the Parrot let us finde,
That winning credit so the world doth blinde,
Under protection of so dread a hand,
Spoyles families and ransacketh thy land.
The Pellican that by his fathers teaching,
Hath with devout zeale folowed wholsome preaching
That rent his bosome and inforc'd his toung,
To teach his tender and beloved young,
When now these fauters of all vyle abuse
Have found a stand where they may note his use,
How father-like he gives affliction bread,
Converting soules; through blind-folde error led.
The naked Orphan in his bosome wraps,
With the poore Widowe doth bewaile her haps;
And never reaps his plentious field so cleane,
But leaves his harvest that the poore may gleane;
Steps in this false spye, this promoting wretch,
Closely betrayes him that he gives to each:
And for his deeds of charitie and grace,
Roots up his godly Hospitable place.
Most like to diet sharp-sighted Alcatras,
That beates the aire above the liquid glasse:
The New-worlds Bird, that proud Emperious fowle,
Whose dreadfull presence frights the harmeles Owle:
That on the Land not onely workes his wish,
But on the Ocean killes the flying fish.
Which since the Owle hath truely done his arrant,
O Princely Eagle looke unto this tyrant:
But if my words shall wilfully impung,
Thy peacefull Empyre that hath florish'd long,
Head-long at length shall to confusion runne;
As was this great globe ere the world begunne:
When in an huge heape and unweldie masse,
This All was shut and nature smothered was.
And in this Lumpe end Chaos out of frame,
The contraries convers'd kind one became,
Strictly together th' Elements were clasp'd,
And in their rough hands one the other grasp'd:
That each did others qualitie deface,
Beautie was buried, light could finde no place.
But when th' al-seeing Soveraigne did disperse,
Each to his place upon the universe,
To his owne region and his contrarie;
Envy'd his place, impung'd his qualitie.
Fyer, Aire, Earth, Water, in their Mantion sate,
By that great God to them appropriate.
All is compos'd within this goodly roome;
A perfect shape this Embryon is become:
Which thus dissevered by their friendly jarres,
Contrive the worlds continuance by their warres.
So in confusion members are inclos'd,
To frame a state if orderly dispos'd.
For to the proud malevolent aspect,
Of angry Saturne that would all direct,
The long exiled but Impierous Jove,
When for his regal Soveraigntie he strove,
With god-like state and presence of a King;
Calmes Saturnes rage, his furie limmiting.
But leave we these unto their owne decay,
Other occasions hasten us away:
Let Princes viewe what their poore subjects trye;
"Blinde is that sight, that's with anothers eye;"
It is full time that we should get us hence,
O mightie Sovraigne Oceans of offence,
Stand here opposed in my passing by,
When in a chamber nere thy Majestie
A jetting Jaye accomplished and brave,
That well could speake, well could him selfe behave;
His Conge is Courtly, his demeanor rare,
As strangely fashion'd as his clothes he ware;
Which could each man with complement salute,
And to the Wood-Cocke fram'd a speciall sute.
Who him imbracing like a braineles foole,
Desir'd him sit, commaunding him a stoole.
The jolly Jaye thus graced by a Peere,
Pluckes up his spirits, and with a formall cheere
Breakes ther-with-all into most strange reportes,
Of Flemish newes, surprising Townes and Fortes.
Of troubles rais'd in France against the King,
Spanish Armadoes and embattailing,
Protesting method in Intelligence
To be a thing of mightie consequence;
And pawnes his soule, he can devise a way,
Which put in acte, the Leaguers loose the day.
To frame a Bridge of Bowe-string or'e the Rhine,
Supplant the Alps and lay them smooth and plaine.
And that if all the Princes of the North,
Will with an armye-Royall set him forth,
Before the yere expyr'd that is to come,
He will with Burbon newe be-leaguer Rome.
Then of his knowledge in the Cabalist,
And what pertaines unto an Exorcist.
Then of Philacters what their vertue be,
Homers Nepenthe and of his degree;
Each severall use in practique what it is;
How much he wants that doth these secrets misse,
And by some little pilfer in the place,
To give some Window or some Chymnie grace,
Now to proportion presently doth run,
And talkes of the Collossus of the Sun;
Of Columes the Diameters doth tell,
Even from the base unto the Capitell.
And by the Roofe he something doth allude,
And will demonstrate of the Magnitude.
And what is all this from his addle pate,
But like a Starling that is taught to prate?
And with a lisping garbe (this most rare man)
Speakes French, Dutch, Spanish, and Italian.
No day doth passe, he doth his compasse misse,
To send to that Lord, or to visit this;
And kissing of his clawe, his Cox-combe bare,
Is come to see how their good graces fare.
And presently unto their face reports,
Their rare perfections woundred at in Courts;
Scratching the Ideot by his itching eares;
Heavens spit downe vengeance or dissolve in teares,
And send the Ibis to repulse our shame,
To drive these Locusts to whence first they came.
Woe to these slaves whose shape the devill tooke,
To tempt the holy Esay at his booke.
O morall Mantuan live thy verses long,
Honor attend thee and thy reverend Song.
Who seekes for truth (sayst thou) must tread the path
Of the sweet private life, which envies wrath,
Which poys'ned tongues, which vaine affected praise
Can-not by scorne suppresse, by flattery raise.
For Adulation but if search be made,
His dayly Mansion and his usuall trade,
Is in the Monarchs Court, in Princes Halles,
Where Godly zeale he by contempt inthralles.
There calles he evill good, the good tearmes evill,
And makes a Saint of an incarnate devill.
These boldely censure and care set at nought,
The noblest wit, the most Heroique thought.
This Carion Jaye approaching to the spring
Where the sweet Muses wont to sit and sing,
With filthy ordure so the fame defyl'd,
As they from thence are utterly exyl'd.
Banish their issue, from whose Sacred rage
Flowes the full glory of each plentious age.
Still with the Prophets chalenging their partes,
The sweet Companions of the Liberall Artes.
Those rare Promethii fetching fire from Heaven;
To whome the functions of the Gods are given,
Raysing fraile dust with their redoubled flame,
Mounted with Hymnes upon the wings of Fame;
Ordayn'd by nature (Truch-men for the great)
To fire their Noble harts with glorious heat.
You Sun-bred Ayerie, whose immortall birth
Beares you aloft beyond the sight of earth,
The heaven-tuch'd feathers of whose sprigtly wings,
Strikes (from above) the Pallaces of Kings,
By how much neerer you ascend the Skye,
Doe lessen still to every mortall eye;
Who in this time contemptfull greatnes late
Scorn'd and disgrac'd which earst renown'd her state.
O basterd mindes unto this vylenes brought,
To loath the meanes which first your honors wrought
But who their great profession can protect,
That rob them selves of their owne due respect?
For they whose mindes should be exhal'd and hye,
As free and noble as cleere Poesye,
In the slight favour of some Lord to come,
Basely doe crouch to his attending grome.
Immortall guift that art not brought with golde!
That thou to peasants should be basely solde!
And thus even cloy'd with busines of the Court,
To neighbour Groves invyting my resort,
Where I suppos'd the solitarie Owle
Might live secure unseene of any Fowle;
Loe in a valley peopled thick with trees,
Where the soft day continuall Evening sees,
Where in the moyst and melancholy shade,
The grasse growes rancke, but yeelds a bitter blade,
I found a poore Crane sitting all alone,
That from his breast sent many a throbbing grone;
Groveling he lay, that sometime stood upright;
Maim'd of his joynts in manie a doubtfull fight.
His Ashie coate that bore a glosse so faire,
So often kiss'd of th' enamored aire;
Worne all to ragges and fretted so with rust,
That with his feete he troad it in the dust:
And wanting strength to beare him to the springs,
The spyders wove their webbs even in his wings:
And in his traine their filmie netting cast,
He eate not wormes, wormes eate on him so fast.
His wakefull eies that in proud foes despight,
Had watch'd the walles in many a Winters night,
And never winck'd nor from their object fled,
When heavens dread thunder ratled ore his head,
Now covered over with dimme cloudy kelles,
And shrunken up into their slymie shelles.
Poore Bird that striving to bemoane thy plight,
I cannot do thy miseries their right;
Perceiving well he found me where I stood,
And he alone thus poorely in the Wood:
To him I stept, desiring him to showe
The cause of his calamitie and woe.
Nights-Bird (quoth he) what mak'st thou in this place
To view my wretched miserable case?
Ill Orators are aged men at Armes,
That wont to wreake and not bewayle their harmes:
And repetition where there wants reliefe,
In less'ning sorrow, but redoubleth greefe.
Seaven sundrie Battails serv'd I in the feeld,
Against the Pigmies, in whose battered sheeld,
My prowes stands apparently exprest;
Besides these scarres upon my manly breast,
Along the Mid-land coasts my troupes I led,
And Affrickes pride with feare astonished;
And maym'd I was of this decrepit wing,
When as the fowle from the Proponticke spring,
Fild all Th' Egean with their streaming ores,
And made the Iles even tremble from the shores.
I saw when from the Adriaticke seas;
The crosse-adoring Fowles to Europs praise,
Before Lepanto and Moraea fought,
Where heaven by winde, earths wonder strangely wrought
Weary at length and trusting to my worth,
I tooke my flight into the happie North:
Where nobly bred as I was well ally'd,
I hop'd to have my fortune there supply'd,
But there arryv'd, disgrace was all my gayne,
Experience scorn'd of every scurvye swayne.
Other had got for which I long did serve.
Still fed with wordes whil'st I with wants did sterve.
Having small meanes but yet a mighty hart,
How ere in fame, not honor'd for desart,
That small I had, I forced was to gage,
To cure my wounds and to sustaine mine age;
Whil'st those that scarce did ere beholde a foe,
Exult and triumph in my over-throwe.
And seeing in vayne with miserie I strove,
Retyr'd me to this solitarie Grove;
Where in dispayre (even laothing of my breath)
I long to dwell in the colde armes of death.
Heere sanke downe in a sound and could no more,
And I returne from whence I came before.
Where by the way the countrie Rooke deplor'd,
The grip and hunger of this ravenous Lord.
The cruell Castrell which with devilish clawes,
Scratcheth out of the miserable jawes
Of the poore tennant, to his ruyne bent,
Raysing new Fynes, redoubling aucient rent;
By strong inclosure of olde Common land,
Rackes the deare sweate from his laborious hand,
Whil'st he that digs for breath out of the stones,
Cracks his stiffe Sinewes and consumes his bones;
Yet forc'd to reape continually with strife,
Snarling contention feeding on his life.
Yet hoping Fortune bettered by his heyrs,
He hath their love, his hate made onely theirs;
Laboring to keepe him in his quiet state,
When envie doth his gathered Manors threat:
And being favored of the some higher Peere,
Who not for Love, inforcing by his feare,
Which by their Clownish industrie and art,
Now to the Court reduce him from the Cart,
With slight provision that defrayes his charge,
Whil'st with his graine he ballast manie a Barge;
And so his gripple Avarice he serve,
What recks this rancke-hinde if his Countrie sterve?
"Hell on that wealth is purchased with shame,"
Gold in the Trunck, and in the grave defame:
Yet his clawes blunt and when he can no more,
The needie Rooke is turn'd out of the doore.
And lastly doth his wretchednes bewayle,
A bond-slave to the miserable Jayle.
Thus wearied with the sight of worldly crimes,
The wane of kingdomes, and the change of times;
Betooke my selfe by searching to espye,
What sinnes in secrete did in Cities lye:
For there I deem'd where law had chiefest force,
Strongly to limmit every lewder course,
Things turn'd to nature and disdain'd excesse,
That plaguy foe to humaine happines.
And as I went (with busie search about)
Casting by cunning how to finde them out,
I found the Fesant that the Hauke doth feare,
Seeking for safetie bred his Ayre there:
Yet is accursd through close informing hate,
By lawles lending to offend the state.
Who being Rich, and loving coyne and ease,
Still buyldeth low for feare he should displease,
Yet the Bald-Buzzard beeing appoynted Judge,
To this base, muddy, miserable drudge:
A payre of young ones taking from his nest,
Who gives him thankes his goodnes would so doe,
Might take the Arye and the old one too.
He lived best that most liv'd out of sight:
I dare not say that Birds were all upright;
For some had golden Beaks but brazen clawes,
That held the guildes to minister their lawes:
The Castrell for possession of his heyre,
Is by the Ringtayle offered woundrous faire,
To have a match betwixt their goodly breed,
T' increase their lands, and raise their happie seed.
But the coye Castrell turnes it to a mocke,
And scornes to match in his ignoble flocke;
For which the Ring tayle by a secret plot,
Subbornes the Starling, which hath closely got,
To be the Broker, slylie to seduce
The Castrels Heyre, by giving thriftlesse use.
And in strong Statutes to enthrall him so,
To lyme him sure which way so ere he goe.
For this young Foule (drawne from his fathers eye)
Will with the fond world swimme in vanitye.
The subtil Ring-tayle never thus doth leave,
Till he the Castrel cunningly deceive.
And caught the young one in the Cities snare,
Devoures his Mannors ere he be aware.
Mongst which the Dawe (by giving of a bribe)
Became a Clerke amongst the learned Tribe;
That being a Bankerout, a dis-honest detter;
Can get his living onely by the letter,
Whil'st Arts goe beg, and in a servile weed,
Are mad the slaves of penurie and need.
The Goose exyled, humbly doth appeale
To all the Birds, professing faith and zeale.
And though he proveth by the Roman book,
What care to keep the Capitall he took;
Yet is not heard: The Dove with-out a gall
Is left forsaken, and contemn'd of all.
There growes such difference and such strange confusions,
Twixt old decrees, and latter Institutions:
Yet being inspyr'd, desisteth not to speake,
To edifie the conscience that is weake;
And by approoved arguments of's owne,
By Scriptures, Fathers, and great writers knowne,
Discovereth their abhominable trade;
So that the Storke their umpyre being made,
Judgeth the Dawe should from the Church be driven,
To prate in corners, and to Preach by Even.
And since his art and cunning was so scant,
To have no patron but the Ignorant;
And by his doctrine onely teaching fools,
To be exilde and hiss'd out of the Schools.
Hence like the seed of Thebes-buylder Cadmus throwes,
More armed mischiefes suddainly arose:
The Bittor brings his action 'gainst the Quayle,
And on th' arest allowes him hardly bayle;
Because he durst presume amongst the Reeds,
To let his Lemmon where his female breeds.
And Mistris Titmouse a neate merrie dame,
With her friend Wagtaile, one of speciall name;
Su'de by the Cucco in his proper wronge,
For accusation of a sclanderous tongue.
That to the barre his Advocate doth bring,
That hath by rote the acts of manie a King.
The Lawes, the Statutes, and decrees assignde,
Customes so old, as almost out of minde.
A day of hearing good my Lord cries hee,
For Master Cucco that retaineth me;
Whom the lewd Wagtayle basely hath abus'd,
In so vyle tearmes present here in Courte,
And tis a case that well deserves reporte:
For which a Jury summoned with speed,
And to the tryall presently proceed.
The Braine-bald Coote a formall witlesse Asse,
Must now the fore-man on this matter passe:
The Sottish Dotterill, ignorant and dull;
And next to him the Mawe-cram'd gluttonous Gull.
The Lecherous Mallard cal'd unto the booke,
The squealing Lapwing, the rediculous Rooke,
The witles Woodcocke, and his neighbour Snite,
That will be hyr'd to passe on every rite,
With all the rest empanyled to wayte:
Which when the Jurie fullie was compleyte,
Cald to the Barre, admitted and alow'd:
Up start the Pecocke insolent and prowd;
Of goodly stature and of gratious porte,
In presence of the honorable court.
Thus for the Playntiffe learnedly began,
My Lord (saith he) was never worthy man,
So nobly bred and of so high descent,
Of so faire lively-hood, and so large a rent
As is the Cucco, when our plea shall trye,
His losse sustained by their infamye.
First for the worth and honor of his name,
You may the better censure his defame;
From mightie Birds descended every way,
And by his birth (the messenger to May)
His house still loyall, and his Coate as faire,
His fathers tunes he never did impaire.
His name and nature doe so well agree,
As showes his blood repurifyed to bee.
In frutefull Sparta, it is since now long,
That famous Greece tooke notice of his wrong,
When for her wanton and unchaste desire,
A thousand ships stuf'd with revengefull fire,
To Tenedos the proud Aegean lades,
Whence sprang those high immortall Illiades.
And since the Roman from the Asian broyles,
Return'd with conquest and victorious spoyles.
The Cuci heere continually have beene,
As by the auncient Evidence is seene.
Of Consull Cuccus, from whose mightie name,
These living Cuccos lineally came.
To him, the Auncients, Temples did erect,
Which with great pompe and ornament were deckt.
Th' Italians call him Becco (of a nod)
With all the reverence that belongs a god.
What though in love supposed to be us'd,
What is his vertue need not be excus'd?
The wise man telles (if nature be our guide)
In following her, we sildome slip aside.
And in this Bird (who can her power deny)
If nature fram'd him to communitye?
Then wisely thus considering his profession,
You reverend Judges of this lawfull Session:
As you are patrones of the righteous cause,
Vouchsafe my clyent judgement. Heere doth pause.
Scarce could the Peacocke his conclusion make,
When straight his turne the Turkie-cock doth take
A learned Lawyer (worthy of his gowne)
Of reputation both in Court and towne,
And to the Bench for audience having cry'd,
Thus to the Peacock learnedly reply'd.
Grave reverend fathres of the Law (he said)
The matter that our adversaries plead
Is vaine and idle, we the poynt inforce
Against the Cucco and his lawles course.
The Peacock here a cunning speech hath made,
To help his clyent and upholde his trade;
But strip this maske that doth conceale the cause,
Examine each perticuler and clause
Gainst proofe so poore, so indigent of truth,
The Bastard Cucco bringing from his youth,
First lay'd and hatch'd up in anothers nest:
Such vilenes rayn'd in his base parents breast,
Who since that time they never sought for shame,
Nor but their vice dare for his birth-right claime:
The Hedge-sparrow, (this wicked Bird that bred)
That him so long and diligently fed,
(By her kinde tendance) getting strength and power,
His carefull Nurse doth cruelly devower:
Base as his byrth so baser is his trade,
And to the world a bye-word now is made:
No Nation names the Cucco but in scorne,
And no man heres him, but he feares the horne:
No month regards him but lascivious Maye,
Wherein whil'st youth is dallying with the day;
His song still tends to vanitie and lust:
Amorous deceits; poligamies injust.
But to cut off these tedious allegations,
The Lawe commands these publicke defamations,
Be straightly punish'd in the Noblest men.
Why should you spare the cursed Cucco then?
Who all his life to lewdnes being bent,
Rightly deserves the publick'st punishment.
Then gentle Jurors, good men, and elect,
As you your safeties carefully respect,
If loves sweet Musick and his blisfull cheere,
E're touch'd your harts or mollify'd your eare;
Tender the case, and ever more the wed
Shall praise your Conscience both at borde and bed.
Thus said, he ceas'd, the Jurors step'd aside,
Wisely consulting, warely they tryde
The circumstance of every secret sin;
Thus they return'd and brought the verdict in.
Cast is the Cucco guilty of the deede,
And for a fine, his deserved meed,
Alowes to Mistres Titmouse for her charge,
That she shall after have her tayle at large:
And when she Revells as she did before,
T' exclude the Cucco freely out of dore:
And such offendors as they could present,
Likewise adjudg'd deserved punishment.
The Ringdove plagu'd with Maggots in the Mawe,
The Woodcocke gets the swelling of the crawe,
The Crowe with dropsie (whil'st yet living) rotts,
The Quayle a Leaper fild with lothsome spotts.
The Buzzard of the Letergie is sicke,
The Kyte with Fevors falleth Lunaticke,
The Epilepsy grew upon the Jaye,
And of a sweat the Bunting drops away:
When now the Owle that with a vigelent eye,
All these demensions perfectly could trye:
Fore-sawe the perrill threatned unto all,
Apt by their loose credulitie to fall,
And whose prevention if they did fore-slowe,
The utter spoyle immediately should grow.
My friends (quoth he) looke warily about,
Many the daungers which you are to doubt;
This gallant Oke wherein so oft you play,
Perhaps (at length) your safetie may betray.
And though his shade be delicate and sweet,
His truncke beares lyme that may intrap your feet.
If, fearing what is requisite and fitt,
You like my judgement and allowe my wit;
Yours is the good, but if you fondly deeme,
Things be within, as outwardly they seeme;
Head-long runne on, and fall into the snare,
And say a freind once warn'd you to beware.
Thus spake the Owle, whose talke could not be heard,
"So little, fooles good counsell doth regard,"
But thinking frensy him his witts beguylde,
The honest Bird despightfully revilde.
But marke their end who set advice at nought,
"Fooles still too deare have found experience brought;"
The Husband-man surveying of his ground,
Mong'st all the trees this Oke had quickly found:
And by all signes and likely-hood of trade,
The Birds therein there nightly roofing made.
And by the lyme that issued from the tree,
They all entangled easily might bee.
Taking the same, he spreads it on the sprays,
And through the thicket closely creepes his wayes.
When the sad arndern shutting in the light,
Wan-sighted Cynthia (Lady of the night)
Proudly ascending the aetherial state,
Whence the bright Phoebus but dismounted late,
The dull-ey'd evening his moyst vapours threwe,
Strewing the still earth with sweet fhowers of deawe,
When every Bird replenished with food,
Clapping his stretch'd wings lively from the wood,
And on each small branch of this large-lymb'd Oke
Their prettie lodgings carelessly they tooke,
No ill suspecting, fondly unawares,
Quickly entangled in the Fowlers snares.
Whose mournfull chirping and their chattering cryes,
Incites the Owle before his hower to ryse.
And hearing from his melancholy seate,
The Birds them-selves thus wofully to beate,
(The deed discovered with the mornings light)
Flewe from his pearch: though greeved at the sight,
Yet with a smile; his wisdome that became,
Which mok'd their folly, though bemoan'd their shame,
Quoth he, you foolish Burgers of the field,
That in contempt my counsailes lewdly held
That, where at late you did but laugh and jeere,
Now to your ruyne plainly doth appeere
The greatest thing you lightly are to lose,
Onely your plumes that fortune are to lose,
"Tis yet a comfort in the depth of smart;
Envye but seazeth on the outward part.
But present perill in a thing of price,
Rather craves action then doth stay advice."
Therefore to help you will my power assay:
Where-with his wing doth presently display,
And with his clawes, the birds of every kinde
Pluckes from the lyme, that left their plumes behinde.
The lttle Robin featherles and free,
Regreets the Owle with many a cap and knee.
The warbling Mavis mirth-ful Peans sung,
The Nightingale with her melodious tongue
Gave him such musicke (to declare their thanks)
That springes and rivers dance above their banks;
That (with the repercussion of the Ayre)
Shooke the great Eagle sitting in his Chayre:
Which from the mountaine (with a radient eye)
Brav'd the bright Cressit of the glorious skye;
Mooving this applause so sodainly should bee,
Whose sinewed wings (in their resistles course)
Beat the thinne Ayre, with such a vyolent forse,
That the light Birds drip't head-long from the skyes,
The rocks and forrests trembling with the noyes,
Some-what amaz'd at this un-usuall sight,
To see his people in this piteous plight:
His soveraigne eare doth presently addresse,
Willing to heare the cause of their distresse,
To whom the poore Owle (his obedience done)
Thus to his Liedge Lord, reverently begon.
Monarche of all that beat the ayre with wings,
Thou Bird of Jove, beloved amongst kings:
Here stands an Oke well tymbred, largely spred,
That many a day hath borne his curled head,
Above his fellowes dwelling farre and neare,
That in the Forrest never found his peere;
Whose root well-fastned in the frutefull ground,
His barke so lovely and his heart so sound,
(Through his great wealth) grew insolent and proud,
Because the Birds that in his boughs did shrowd,
Unto his praise continually did sing,
And kept their vigils to th' enamored spring.
The virgin-huntresse sworne to Dians Bowe,
Here in this shade her quarries did bestow,
And for their Nimphals building amorous Bowers,
Oft drest this tree with Anadems of flowers;
And Flora chose her Nurcery here to shield,
Her tender buds the Infants of the field.
By which, this tree grewe arrogant in time,
In his ranck sap hath bred a loathsome slyme,
Whose nature and vyle qualitie is such,
Strongly to holde what ever it doth tuch,
And not content to minister this meane,
Which in short time might have undone us cleane;
But even his boughs the Birds have honoured so,
Lastly imploy'd unto their generall woe,
That when thy subjects dreading no deceit,
Came to this Tree as to their safe retreit
Falsely betrai'd, and he that sped the best,
Hardly escap'd, with feathers at the least.
Those that I could as I had power and might,
Though with much paine, yet lastly did acquight.
The rest, whose freedome doth exceed my reach,
O King of Birds I humly thee beseech
In mercy, let thy mightines purvay,
To ransome from this eminent decay.
When now the Eagle cutting off his tale,
And even for sorrowe wexing wan and pale;
At which sad sight, this poore implumed crew,
Stand faintly trembling in their Soveraigns view:
And having stretch'd his Lordly tallant forth,
To show th' acceptance of this deed of worth;
You sillye Birds, you wretched Foules (quoth he)
Hence-forth let this a freindly warning be.
Had you (as nature and our lawes admit)
Built where your noble Auncestors did sit,
Wisely providing to maintaine their state,
Whose names and freedomes you participate,
You had not thus bene spoyled of your goods,
For subtiltie now dwelleth in the woods.
For if too high and haughtily you soare,
Those see your falles that hover neere the shoare.
If in the Cedar you your nests dispose,
The dreafull lightning ever threatneth those.
If in the lowe earth (in the flattering shade)
The Foulers snares there secretly are laide.
Then my deere subjects, as you wish my good,
Or have respect to your succeeding brood,
Let your wise fathers an example give,
And by their rules learne thriftily to live.
Let these weake Birds, that want wher-with to fight,
Submit to those that are of grip and might.
Let those of power, the weaker still protect,
So none shall need his safetie to suspect;
Suppressing those enormities that are,
Whose cure belongs unto our Soveraigne care.
For when wealth growes into a fewe mens hands,
And to the great, the poore in many bands;
The pride in Court doth make the Countrie leane,
The abject rich holdes auncient honor meane.
Mens wits employ'd to base and servyle shifts,
And Lay-men taught, by learn'd mens subtill drifts;
Ill with this state 't must incidently fare.
For even as from th' infection of the ayre,
Sundry contagious sicknesses proceed,
These mischiefes more continually do breed.
Shun beastly lust (you young well feathered Foule)
That wounds the body, and confounds the soule.
That as the subtil'st of the Syrens brood,
Bindes all the spirits and over-comes the blood;
Darkning the purenes of the inward light,
Weakneth the sense and murd'reth reason quite.
And you that sit as Judges of the Lawe,
Let not vyle gaine your equall Ballance drawe.
O! still retaine the Ethiopians guise,
(As just and upright, as select and wise)
That in their judgements (sacred and profound)
Dispos'd them ever meekely on the ground;
To showe, the Angels (sitting over head)
Them were to judge, as they had censured.
Thus spake the Eagle, when with muttering noyse
The rest attentive to his power-full voyce;
Giving a signall of their admiration,
The Owle this while in serious contemplation
Softly replyes: O mightie soveraigne!
With all the Synod of thy winged traine,
Th' aboundant joyes that in my hart do throng,
Require more organs then the onely tongue.
O blessed Brids! how sweet is your subjection
Under the safe and absolute protection?
Of so exact and excellent a King,
So sole and perfect in his governing:
The reason this (my grave selected Peeres)
Because tis known that in these latter yeeres,
The peacefull state prepost'rously disturb'd,
By such whose power the great have hardly curb'd.
The jocond Thostle for his varying note,
Clad by the Eagle in a speckled coate;
Because his voyce had judgement for the Palme,
Supposed him selfe sole patrone of our calme.
All say, for singing he had never peere:
But there were some that did his vertue feare.
Why should'st thou then ambitiously dispise
The manly Falcon? on whose courage lyes
The Kingdomes safetie, which abroad doth rome,
By forraigne warres to keepe us safe at home.
I knowe, the straine of an alluring tongue
Can tye the full eare and detaine it long,
But other fortunes, and the altred place,
Crave new directions and an active grace.
The former vertue may consist alone,
But better two (if firmly joyn'd in one)
Experience once (by service in the warres)
Did quote his strong Authorityes in scarres;
But in this latter time, it hath beene said,
The tongue doth all contemning th' others aid.
Virtue whose chiefe praise in the act doth stand,
Could wish the tongue still coupled with the hand.
But in the Cocke which death untimely wrack't,
In him was both the elegance and act.
O when that Bird was ravish'd from our sight,
(Intombing him) the world intomb'd delight.
Let never accent passe my mournfull pen,
That leaves his fame unregistred to men.
The Muses vayled with sad Cyrpes tree;
Upon his grave, shall powre their teares with mee.
O! if the world can weep so many teares
As his losse craves, or if in Heaven appeares
More plentious sorow; let them both agree
T' lament that hower that reft the earth of thee.
O! thought I not some spirit could give thee more
Then this small portion of my scantled store!
I would not leave (I first would leave to live)
To give thee fame: O who can greater give?
This said: sunk downe, as growing faint with speaking
Sighing withall, as though his hart were breaking,
The Princely Eagle pittying of his plight,
To cheere the poore Owle doing all he might.
The Birds applauding with a free consent,
Followed the Eagle (with devout intent)
To the great mountaine, to have all amended:
Thus I awak'd, and heere my Dreame was ended.