1612 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Locusts, or Apollyonists. Canto II.

Locustae, vel pietas Iesuitica. Per Phineam Fletcher Collegii Regalis Cantabrigiae.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


In the second canto Apollyon rises to address the council of Devils, declaring how his forces, dispersed in the Reformation, have been renewed by the Jesuit order.

Hugh De Selincourt: "Both the Fletchers [Giles and Phineas] were steeped in Spenser's poetry, and carried on the Spenserian tradition. In their work is to be found Spenser's diffuseness, his use of allegory, many variants of his stanza and the echo, often a beautiful echo, of his music. Moreover, Milton knew the work of the Fletchers as intimately as he, or the Fletchers, knew the work of Spenser" Cambridge History of English Literature (1909) 4:192.

Herbert E. Cory: "Equivocus, a prototype of Milton's wily Belial, rises to speak. Fletcher's readers are fairly launched by this crafty demon's speech into a review of contemporary events. We read a violent attack on the Catholic Church which evidently owes quite as much to the first book of The Faerie Queene as to Fletcher's own animus. Spenser's allegorical vituperation — Duessa, or Falsehood and Catholicism, who leads Holiness away from his love Una, or Truth, to the House of Pride where dwell the Seven Deadly Sins; Kirkrapine, the villain who stalks through the forest to the squalid abode where he lives in lust with Abessa or Superstition, the daughter of Blind Devotion; the giant Orgoglio, who stands for the worldly pride of a corrupt church in temporal power, paramour of Duessa whom he clothes in scarlet and mounts on a misshapen beast like the Whore of Babylon — all this distempered fancy fires Fletcher in his intemperate abuse. Equivocus laments the unmasking of the Church of Rome which is described, as Spenser describes Duessa stripped of her false beauty, in foul language that follows Spenser almost verbatim. When lustful Rome was stripped of her scarlet ornaments, says Equivocus, then her friends fell away from her. Who helped the demons then to make her seem fair again? The Jesuits. Let us employ their aid once more. Let us rush to arms and England will fall. 'With that the bold blacke Spirit invades the Day, | And Heav'n and Light and Lord of both defies. | All Hell run out and sooty flags display,| A foul deformed rout" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 317.



What care, what watch need guard that tot'ring State
Which mighty foes besiege, false friends betray,
Where enemies strong, and subtile swol'ne with hate,
Catch all occasions; wake, watch night and day?
The towne divided, even the wall and gate
Proove traitours, and the Councill' selfe takes pay
Of forraigne States, the Prince is overswai'd
By underminers, puts off friendly aid,
His wit by will, his strength by weakenes over-laid?

Thus men: the never seene, quicke-seeing-fiends:
Feirce, craftie, strong; and world conspire our fall:
And we (worse foes) unto our selves false friends:
Our flesh, and sense a trait'rous gate, and wall:
The spirit, and flesh man in two factions rends:
The inward senses are corrupted all,
The soule weake, wilfull, swai'd with flatteries,
Seekes not his helpe, who works by contraries,
By folly makes him wise, strong by infirmities.

See drousie soule, thy foe ne're shuts his eyes,
See, carelesse soule, thy foe in councell sits:
Thou prayer restrain'st, thy sin for vengeance cries,
Thou laugh'st, vaine soule, while justice vengeance fits.
Wake by his light, with wisedomes selfe advise:
What rigorous Justice damnes, sweet Mercy quits.
Watch, pray, he in one instant helps and heares:
Let him not see thy sins, but through thy teares,
Let him not heare their cries, but through thy groning feares.

As when the angry winds with seas conspire,
The white-plum'd hilles marching in set array
Invade the earth, and seeme with rage on fire,
While waves with thundring drummes whet on the fray,
And blasts with whistling fifes new rage inspire:
Yet soone as breathles ayres their spight allay,
A silent calme insues: the hilly maine
Sinks in it selfe, and drummes unbrac't refraine
Their thundring noyse, while Seas sleep on the even plaine.

All so the raging storme of cursed fiends
Blowne up with sharp reproach, and bitter spight
First rose in loud uprore, then falling, ends,
And ebbes in silence: when a wily spright
To give an answere for the rest intends:
Once Proteus, now Equivocus he hight,
Father of cheaters, spring of cunning lies,
Of slie deceite, and refin'd perjuries,
That hardly hell it selfe can trust his forgeries.

To every shape his changing shape is drest,
Oft seemes a Lambe and bleates, a Wolfe and houles:
Now like a Dove appeares with candide brest,
Then like a Falcon, preyes on weaker foules:
A Badger neat, that flies his 'filed nest:
But most a Fox, with stinke his cabin foules:
A Courtier, Priest, transform'd to thousand fashions,
His matter fram'd of slight equivocations,
His very forme was form'd of mentall reservations.

And now more practicke growne with use and art,
Oft times in heavenly shapes he fooles the sight:
So that his schollers selves have learn't his part,
Though wormes, to glow in dark, like Angels bright.
To sinfull slime such glosse can they impart,
That, like the virgine Mother, crown'd in light,
They glitter faire in glorious purity,
And rayes divine: meane time the cheated eye
Is finely mock't into an heavenly ecstasy.

Now is he Generall of those new stamp't Friers,
Which have their root in that lame souldier Saint,
Who takes his ominous name from Strife, and Fires,
Themselves with idle vaunt that name attaint,
Which all the world adores: These Master lyers
With trueth, Abaddonists, with Jesus paint
Their lying title. Fooles, who think with light
To hide their filth, thus lie they naked quite:
That who loves Jesus most, most hates the Jesuite.

Soone as this Spirit (in hell Apollyon,
On earth Equivocus) stood singled out,
Their Speaker there, but here their Champion,
Whom lesser States, and all the vulgar rout
In dangerous times admire and gaze upon,
The silly Commons circle him about,
And first with loud applause they usher in
Their Oratour, then hushing all their din,
With silence they attend, and wooe him to begin.

Great Monarch, ayers, earths, hells Soveraigne,
True, ah too true you plaine, and we lament,
In vaine our labour, all our art's in vaine;
Our care, watch, darts, assaults are all mispent.
He, whose command we hate, detest, disdaine,
Works all our thoughts and workes to his intent:
Our spight his pleasure makes, our ill his good,
Light out of night he brings, peace out of blood:
What fell which he upheld? what stood which he withstood?

As when from mores some firie constellation
Drawes up wet cloudes with strong attractive ray,
The captiv'd seas forc't from their seat and nation,
Begin to mutinie, put out the day,
And pris'ning close the hot drie exhalation,
Threat earth, and heaven, and steale the Sunne away:
Till th' angry Captive (fir'd with fetters cold)
With thundring Cannons teares the limber mould,
And downe in fruitfull teares the broken vapour's roul'd.

So our rebellion, so our spightfull threat
All molten falls; he (which my heart disdaines)
Waters heavens plants with our hell-flaming heat,
Husband's his graces with our sinfull paines:
When most against him, for him most we sweat,
We in our Kingdome serve, he in it raignes:
Oh blame us not, we strive, mine, wrastle, fight;
He breakes our troopes: yet thus, we still delight,
Though all our spight's in vain, in vain to shew our spight.

Our fogs lie scatt'red by his piercing light,
Our subtilties his wisedome overswaies,
His gracious love weighs downe our ranck'rous spight,
His Word our sleights, his truth our lyes displayes,
Our ill confin'd, his goodnesse infinite,
Our greatest strength his weaknesse overlaies.
He will, and oh he must, be Emperour,
That heaven, and earth's unconquer'd at this houre,
Nor let him thanke, nor do you blame our wil, but pow'r.

Nay, earthly Gods that wont in luxury,
In maskes, and daliance spend their peacefull daies,
Or else invade their neighbours liberty,
And swimme through Christian blood to heathen praise,
Subdue our armes with peace; us bold defie,
Arm'd all with letters, crown'd with learned bayes:
With them whole swarmes of Muses take the field;
And by heavens aide enforce us way to yield;
The Goose lends them a speare, and every ragge a shield.

But are our hearts fal'ne too; shall wee repent,
Sue, pray, with teares wash out our sinfull spot?
Or can our rage with greife, and smart relent?
Shall wee lay downe our armes? Ah, feare us not;
Not such thou found'st us, when with thee we bent
Our armes 'gainst heaven, when scorning that faire lot
Of glorious blisse (when we might still have raign'd)
With him in borrowed light, and joyes unstain'd,
We hated subject crownes, and guiltlesse blisse disdain'd.

Nor are we changelings: finde, oh finde but one,
But one in all thy troopes, whose lofty pride
Begins to stoope with opposition:
But, as when stubborn winds with earth ralli'de
(Their Mother earth) she ayded by her sonne
Confronts the Seas, beates of the angry tide:
The more with curl'd-head waves, the furious maine
Renues his spite, and swells with high disdaine,
Oft broke, and chac't, as oft turnes, and makes head againe:

So rise we by our fall: that divine science
Planted belowe, grafted in humane stocke,
Heavens with frayle earth combines in strong alliance:
While he, their Lion, leads that sheepish flock,
Each sheepe, each lambe dares give us bold defiance:
But yet our forces broken 'gainst the rocke
We strongly reinforce, and every man
Though cannot what he will's, will's what he can,
And where wee cannot hurt, there we can curse, and banne.

See here in broken force, a heart unbroke,
Which neither hell can daunt, nor heaven appease:
See here a heart, which scornes that gentle yoke,
And with it life, and light, and peace, and ease:
A heart not cool'd, but fir'd with thundring stroke,
Which heaven it selfe, but conquer'd cannot please:
To drawe one blessed soule from's heavenly Cell,
Let me in thousand paines and tortures dwell:
Heaven without guilt to me is worse then guilty hell.

Feare then no change: such I, such are we all:
Flaming in vengeance, more then Stygian fire,
When hee shall leave his throne, and starry hall,
Forsake his deare-bought Saints, and Angells quire,
When he from heaven into our hell shall fall,
Our nature take, and for our life expire;
Then we perhaps (as man) may waver light,
Our hatred turne to peace, to love our spight,
Then heaven shall turne to hell, and day shall chaunge to night.

But if with forces new to take the feild
Thou long'st, looke here, we prest, and ready stand:
See all that power, and Wiles that hell can yeeld
Expect no watchword, but thy first command:
Which given, without or feare, or sword, or sheild
Wee'le fly in heaven's face, I and my band
Will draw whole worlds, leave here no rome to dwell.
Stale arts we scorne, our plots become black hell,
Which no heart will beleeve, nor any tongue dare tell.

Nor shall I need to spurre the lazy Monke,
Who never sweats but in his meale, or bed,
Whose forward paunch ushers his uselesse truncke,
He barrels darkenes in his empty head:
To eate, drinke, void what he hath eat and drunke,
Then purge his reines; thus these Saints merited:
They fast with holy fish, and flowing wine
Not common, but (which fits such Saints) Divine:
Poore soules, they dare not soile their hands with precious mine!

While th'earth with night and mists was overswai'd,
And all the world in clouds was laid a steep,
Their sluggish trade did lend us friendly aid,
They rock't and hush't the world in deadly sleep,
Cloyst'red the Sunne, the Moone they overlaid,
And prison'd every starre in dungeon deep.
And when the light put forth his morning ray,
My famous Dominicke tooke the light away,
And let in seas of blood to quench the early day.

But oh, that recreant Frier, who long in night
Had slept, his oath to me his Captaine brake,
Uncloyst'red with himselfe the hated light;
Those piercing beames forc't drowsie earth awake,
Nor could we all resist: our flatt'rie, spight,
Arts, armes, his victorie more famous make.
Down cloysters fall; the Monkes chac't from their sty
Lie ope, and all their loathsome company;
Hypocrisie, rape, blood, theft, whooredome, Sodomy.

Those troupes I soone disband now useles quite;
And with new musters fill my companies;
And presse the crafty wrangling Jesuite:
Nor traine I him as Monks, his squinted eyes
Take in and view ascaunce the hatefull light:
So stores his head with shifts and subtilties.
Thus being arm'd with arts, his turning braines
All overturne. Oh with what easy paines
Light he confounds with light, and truth with truth distaines.

The world is rent in doubt: some gazing stay,
Few step aright, but most goe with the croud.
So when the golden Sun with sparkling ray
Imprints his stamp upon an adverse cloud,
The watry glasse so shines, that's hard to say
Which is the true, which is the falser proud.
The silly people gape, and whisp'ring cry
That some strange innovation is ny,
And fearefull wisard sings of parted tyranny.

These have I train'd to scorne their contraries,
Out-face the truth, out-stare the open light:
And what with seeming truths and cunning lies
Confute they cannot, with a scoffe to sleight.
Then after losse to crowe their victories,
And get by forging what they lost by fight.
And now so well they ply them, that by heart
They all have got my counterfeiting part,
That to my schollers I turne scholler in mine art.

Follow'd by these brave spirits, I nothing feare
To conquer earth, or heaven it selfe assayle,
To shake the starres, as thick from fixed spheare,
As when a rustick arme with stubborne flayle
Beates out his harvest from the swelling eare;
T' eclipse the Moone, and Sun himselfe injayle.
Had all our army such another band,
Nor earth, nor heaven could long unconquer'd stand:
But hell should heaven, and they, I feare, would hell command.

What Country, City, Towne, what family,
In which they have not some intelligence,
And party, some that love their company?
Courts, Councells, hearts of Kings find no defence,
No guard to barre them out: by flattery
They worme and scrue into their conscience;
Or with steel, poyson, dagges dislodge the sprite.
If any quench or dampe this Orient light,
Or foile great Jesus name, it is the Jesuite.

When late our whore of Rome was disaray'd,
Strip't of her pall, and skarlet ornaments,
And all her hidden filth lay broad displayd,
Her putride pendant bagges, her mouth that sents
As this of hell, her hands with scabbes array'd,
Her pust'led skin with ulcer'd excrements;
Her friends fall off; and those that lov'd her best,
Grow sicke to think of such a stinking beast:
And her, and every limbe that touch't her, much detest.

Who help't us then? Who then her case did rue?
These, onely these their care, and art appli'de
To hide her shame with tires, and dressing new:
They blew her bagges, they blanch't her leprous hide,
And on her face a lovely picture drew.
But most the head they pranck't in all his pride
With borrowed plumes, stolne from antiquitie:
Him with blasphemous names they dignifie;
Him they enthrone, adore, they crowne, they deifie.

As when an image gnawne with wormes, hath lost
His beautie, forme, respect, and lofty place,
Some cunning hand new trimmes the rotten post,
Filles up the worme-holes, paints the soyled face
With choicest colours, spares no art, or cost
With precious robes the putride trunck to grace.
Circles the head with golden beames, that shine
Like rising Sun: the Vulgar low incline;
And give away their soules unto the block divine.

So doe these Dedale workmen plaster over,
And smooth that Stale with labour'd polishing;
So her defects with art they finely cover,
Cloth her, dresse, paint with curious colouring:
So every friend againe, and every lover
Returnes, and doates through their neate pandaring:
They fill her cup, on knees drinke healths to th' whore;
The drunken nations pledge it o're and o're;
So spue, and spuing fall, and falling rise no more.

Had not these troopes with their new forged armes
Strook in, even ayre, earth too, and all were lost:
Their fresh assaultes, and importune alarmes
Have truth repell'd, and her full conquest crost:
Or these, or none must recompence our harmes.
If they had fail'd wee must have sought a coast
I'th' Moone (the Florentines new world) to dwell,
And, as from heaven, from earth should now have fell
To hell confin'd, nor could we safe abide in hell.

Nor shall that little Isle (our envy, spight,
His paradise) escape: even there they long
Have shrowded close their heads from dang'rous light,
But now more free dare presse in open throng:
Nor then were idle, but with practicke slight
Crept into houses great: their sugred tongue
Made easy way into the lapsed brest
Of weaker sexe, where lust had built her nest,
There layd they Cuckoe eggs, and hatch't their brood unblest.

There sowe they traytrous seed with wicked hand
'Gainst God, and man; well thinks their silly sonne
To merit heaven by breaking Gods command,
To be a Patriot by rebellion.
And when his hopes are lost, his life and land,
And he, and wife, and child are all undone,
Then calls for heaven and Angells, in step I,
And waft him quick to hel; thus thousands die,
Yet still their children doat: so fine their forgerie.

But now that stormy season's layd, their spring,
And warmer Sunnes call them from wintry cell;
These better times will fruits much better bring,
Their labours soone will fill the barnes of hell
With plenteous store; serpents, if warm'd, will sting:
And even now they meet, and hisse, and swell.
Thinke not of falling, in the name of all
This dare I promise, and make good I shall,
While they thus firmely stand, wee cannot wholly fall.

And shall these mortals creep, fawne, flatter, ly,
Coyne into thousand arts their fruitfull braine,
Venter life, limbe, through earth, and water fly
To winne us Proselytes? Scorne ease, and paine,
To purchase grace in their whore-mistres eye?
Shall they spend, spill their dearest blood, to staine
Romes Calendar, and paint their glorious name
In hers, and our Saint-Rubrick? Get them fame,
Where Saints are fiends, gaine losse, grace disgrace, glory shame?

And shall wee, (Spirits) shall we (whose life and death
Are both immortall) shall we, can we faile?
Great Prince o' th' lower world, in vaine we breath
Our spight in Councell; free us this our jayle:
Wee doe but loose our little time beneath;
All to their charge: why sit we here to waile?
Kindle your darts, and rage; renew your fight:
We are dismist: breake out upon the light,
Fill th' earth with sin, and blood; heaven with stormes, and fright.

With that the bold black Spirit invades the day,
And heav'n, and light, and Lord of both defies.
All hell run out, and sooty flagges display,
A foule deformed rout: heav'n shuts his eyes;
The starres looke pale, and early mornings ray
Layes downe her head againe, and dares not rise:
A second night of Spirits the ayre possest;
The wakefull cocke that late forsooke his nest,
Maz'd how he was deceav'd, flies to his roost, and rest.

So when the South (dipping his sable wings
In humid seas) sweeps with his dropping beard
The ayer, earth, and Ocean, downe he flings
The laden trees, the Plowmans hopes new-eard
Swimme on the playne: his lippes loud thunderings,
And flashing eyes make all the world afeard:
Light with darke cloudes, waters with fires are met,
The Sunne but now is rising, now is set,
And finds West-shades in East, and seas in ayers wet.

[Boas (1908) 1:140-51]

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