Herbert E. Cory: "The good fishers of Jordan, now enjoying Heaven's bliss, are supplanted by a crew of idle rascals. For them a great Fisher builds a Babel to Heaven, enlarges his seas and subjects. His tower walls, which are described like Spenser's House of Pride, 'seeme porphyr faire' but are really base The portal seems far off; the lights are false. There sits dull Ignorance, a loathly dame. Beside her sit her two children: he, called Errour, begot by Hate of Truth, she, called Superstition, falsely called Devotion. These two store the world with an incestuous brood. The usher of the vast hall is loosest Liberty, its waiters Lusts, its caterer Vain Expense, its bedmakers Ease, Sloth, and soft, wanton Sense, its steward Gluttonie, its high-chamberlain perfumed Lechery, like the creatures who wait upon Pride in The Faerie Queene. Equivocus poisons the Pope's mind" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 317-18.
Frank S. Kastor: "In Canto III, Fletcher, who presents a reading of contemporary history as the combined work of Jesuits and Devils, depicts the then contemporary evils in Russia, Poland, Scandanavia, Greece, Spain, and Rome.... What follows is a long, bitterly satiric, anti-Catholic history of the rise of 'Popery' and corruption that presents a wide variety of specific people, events, rituals, dogmas, and church practices with elaborate marginal glosses" Giles and Phineas Fletcher (1978) 101.
William B. Hunter: "Except for the third, each canto has forty stanzas, suggesting the biblical period of preparation: the forty years spent by the Israelites in the wilderness or the forty days spent there by Jesus before he began his ministry. It is not clear whether the middle canto lacks one stanza by design or by accident; if the former, the reason is difficult to discover" English Spenserians (1977) 313.
False world how doest thou witch dimme reasons eies?
I see thy painted face, thy changing fashion:
Thy treasures, honours all are vanities,
Thy comforts, pleasures, joyes all are vexation,
Thy words are lyes, thy oaths foule perjuries,
Thy wages, care, greife, begg'ry, death, damnation:
All this I know: I know thou doest deceive me,
Yet cannot as thou art, but seem'st, conceave thee:
I know I should, I must, yet oh I would not leave thee.
Looke as in dreames, where th' idle fancie playes,
One thinkes that fortune high his head advances:
Another spends in woe his weary dayes;
A third see[k]es sport in love, and courtly daunces;
This grones, and weeps, that chants his merry laies;
A sixt to finde some glitt'ring treasure chaunces:
Soon as they wake, they see their thoughts were vaine,
And quite forget, and mocke their idle braine,
This sighs, that laugh's to see how true false dreames can faine.
Such is the world, such lifes short acted play:
This base, and scorn'd; this high in great esteeming,
This poore, and patched seemes, this rich, and gay;
This sick, that strong: yet all is onely seeming:
Soone as their parts are done, all slip away;
So like, that waking, oft wee feare w'are dreaming,
And dreaming hope we wake. Wake, watch mine eies:
What can be in the world, but flatteries,
Dreams, cheats, deceits, whose Prince is King of night and lies?
Whose hellish troopes fill thee with sinne, and blood;
With envie, malice, mischiefs infinite:
Thus now that numerous, black, infernall brood
O're-spread thee round; th'earth struck with trembling fright
Felt their approach, and all-amazed stood,
So suddain got with child, and big with spight.
The damned Spirits fly round, and spread their seede:
Straight hate, pride, strife, warres, and seditions breed,
Get up, grow ripe: How soone prospers the vicious weed!
Soone in the North their hellish poyson shed,
Where seldome warres, dissention never cease:
Where Volga's streames are sail'd with horse and sled,
Pris'ning in Chrystal walls his frozen seas:
Where Tartar, Russe, the Pole, and prospering Swed
Nor know the sweet, nor heare the name of peace:
Where sleeping Sunnes in winter quench their light,
And never shut their eyes in Summer bright;
Where many moneths make up one onely day, and night:
There lie they cloyst'red in their wonted Cell:
The sacred nurseries of the Societie:
They finde them ope, swept, deck't: so there they dwell,
Teaching, and learning more and more impietie.
There blow their fires, and tine another hell,
There make their Magazine, with all varietie
Of fiery darts; the Jesuites helpe their friends:
And hard to say, which in their spightfull ends
More vexe the Christian world, the Jesuites, or the Fiends.
The Fiends finde matter, Jesuites forme; those bring
Into the mint fowle hearts, sear'd conscience,
Lust-wandring eyes, eares fil'd with whispering,
Feet swift to blood, hands gilt with great expence,
Millions of tongues made soft for hammering,
And fit for every stampe, but truths defence:
These (for Romes use, on Spanish anvile) frame
The pliant matter; treasons hence diflame,
Lusts, lies, blood, thousand griefes set all the world on flame.
But none so fits the Polish Jesuite,
As Russia's change, where exil'd Grecian Priest
Late sold his Patriarchal chaire, and right;
That now proud Mosko vants her lofty crest
Equall with Rome: Romes head full swolne with spight,
Scorning a fellow head, or Peer, but Christ,
Straines all his wits, and friends; they worke, they plod
With double yoke the Russian necks to load;
To crowne the Polish Prince their King, the Pope their God.
The fiends, and times yeeld them a fit occasion
To further their designes: for late a Beast
Of salvage breed, of straunge and monsterous fashion,
Before a Fox, an Asse behind, the rest
A ravenous Wolfe, with fierce, but slie invasion
Enters the Russian court, the Lyons nest,
Worries the Lions selfe, and all his brood:
And having gorg'd his mawe with royall blood,
Would sleepe. Ah short the rest, that streames from such a food!
Ah silly man, who dream'st, that honour stands
In ruling others, not thy selfe! Thy slaves
Serve thee, and thou thy slaves: in iron bands
Thy servile spirit prest with wild passions raves.
Base state, where but one Tyrant realmes commands:
Worse, where one single heart serves thousand knaves.
Would'st thou live honoured? Clip ambitious wing,
To reasons yoke thy furious passions bring.
Thrice noble is the man, who of himselfe is King.
With mimicke skill, they trayne a caged beast,
And teach him play a royall Lyons part:
Then in the Lyons hide, and titles drest
They bring him forth: he Master in his art,
Soone winnes the Vulgar Russe, who hopes for rest
In chaunge; and if not ease, yet lesser smart:
All hunt that monster, he soone melts his pride
In abject feare; and life himselfe envi'de:
So whelp't a Fox, a Wolfe he liv'd, an Asse he di'de.
Proud of his easy crowne and straunge successe,
The second beast (sprung of a baser brood)
Comes on the stage, and with great seemelinesse
Acts his first scenes; now strong 'gins chaunge his mood,
And melts in pleasure, lust, and wantonnesse:
Then swimmes in other, sinkes in his owne blood.
With blood, and warres the ice and liquid snowes
Are thaw'd; the earth a red sea overflowes.
Quarrells by falling rise, and strife by cutting growes.
Some fiends to Grece their hellish firebrands bring,
And wake the sleeping sparks of Turkish rage;
Where once the lovely Muses us'd to sing,
And chant th' Heroes of that golden age;
Where since more sacred Graces learn'd to string
That heav'nly lyre, and with their canzons sage
Inspirit flesh, and quicken stinking graves,
There (ah for pitty!) Muses now are slaves,
Graces are fled to heav'n, and hellish Mahomet raves.
But Lucifers proud band in prouder Spaine
Disperse their troopes: some with unquench't ambition
Inflame those Moorish Grandes, and fill their braine
With subtile plots; some learne of th' Inquisition
To finde new torments, and unused paines:
Some traine the Princes with their lewd tuition,
That now of Kings they scorne to be the first,
But onely: deep with Kingly dropsies pierc't
Their thirst drinkes kingdomes downe, their drinking fires their thirst.
Aequivocus, remembring well his taske,
And promise, enters Rome; there soone he eyes
Waters of life tunn'd up in stinking caske
Of deadly errours poyson'd truth with lies:
There that stale purple Whore in glorious maske
Of holy Mother Church he mumming spies,
Dismounted from her seven headed beast,
Inviting all with her bare painted breast,
They suck, steep, swell, and burst with that envenom'd feast.
Nor stayes, till now the stately Court appeares,
Where sits that Priest-King, all the Alls Soveraigne:
Three mitred crownes the proud Impostor weares,
For he in earth, in hell, in heav'n will raigne:
And in his hand two golden keyes he beares,
To open heav'n and hell, and shut againe.
But late his keyes are marr'd, or lost; for hell
He cannot shut, but opes, and enters well:
Nor heav'n can ope, but shut; nor heav'n will buy, but sell.
Say Muses, say; who now in those rich fields
Where silver Tibris swimmes in golden sands,
Who now, ye Muses, that great scepter wields,
Which once sway'd all the earth with servile bands?
Who now those Babel towres, once fallen, builds?
Say, say, how first it fell, how now it stands?
How, and by what degrees that Citie sunk?
Oh are those haughty spirits so basely shrunk?
Cesars to chaunge for Friers, a Monarch for a Monk?
Th' Assyrian Lyon deck't in golden hide,
Once grasp't the Nations in his Lordly paw:
But him the Persian silver Beare defi'd,
Tore, kill'd, and swallowed up with ravenous jaw;
Whom that Greeke Leopard no sooner spi'de,
But slue, devour'd, and fill'd his empty maw:
But with his raven'd prey his bowells broke;
So into foure divides his brasen yoke.
Stol'ne bits, thrust downe in hast, doe seldome feed, but choke.
Meane time in Tybris fen a dreadfull Beast
With monstrous breadth, and length seven hills o're-spreads:
And nurst with dayly spoyles and bloody Feast
Grew up to wondrous strength: with seven heads,
Arm'd all with iron teeth, he rends the rest,
And with proud feet to clay and morter treads.
And now all earth subdu'de, high heav'n he braves,
The head he kills, then 'gainst t[h]e body raves:
With Saintly flesh he swells, with bones his den he paves.
At length five heads were fall'ne; the sixt retir'd
By absence yeelds an easy way of rising
To th' next, and last: who with ambition fir'd,
In humble weeds his haughty pride disguising,
By slow, sly growth unto the top aspir'd:
Unlike the rest he veiles his tyrannising
With that Lambs head, and horns: both which he claimes;
Thence double raigne, within, without hee frames:
His head the Lamb, his tongue the Dragon loud proclames.
Those Fisher Swaynes, whome by full Jordans wave
The Seas great Soveraigne his art had taught,
To still loud stormes when windes and waters rave,
To sink their laden boats with heavenly fraught,
To free the fish with nets, with hookes to save:
For while the fish they catch, themselves were caught:
And as the scaly nation they invade,
Were snar'd themselves. Ah much more blessed trade
That of free Fisher swaines were captive fishes made!
Long since those Fisher swains had chang'd their dwelling;
Their spirits (while bodies slept in honour'd toombes)
Heavens joyes enjoy, all excellence excelling;
And in their stead a crue of idle groomes
By night into the ship with ladders stealing,
Fearles succeed, and fill their empty roomes.
The fishers trade they praise, the paynes deride:
Their narrow bottomes strech they large and wide,
And make broad roomes for pomp, for luxury, and pride.
Some from their skiffs to crownes and scepters creep,
Heavens selfe for earth, and God for man rejecting:
Some snorting in their hulks supinely sleep,
Seasons in vaine recall'd, and winds neglecting:
Some nets, and hookes, and baits in poyson steep,
With deathfull drugges the guiltles seas infecting:
The fish their life and death together drink;
And dead pollute the seas with venom'd stink:
So downe to deepest hell, both fish and fishers sink.
While thus they swimme in ease, with plenty flowe,
Each losel gets a boat, and will to sea:
Some teach to work, but have no hands to rowe;
Some will be lights, but have no eyes to see;
Some will be guides, but have no feete to goe;
Some deafe, yet ears; some dumbe, yet tongues will bee;
Some will bee seasoning salt, yet drown'd in gall:
Dumbe, deafe, blinde, lame, and maime; yet fishers all,
Fit for no other use but 'store an Hospitall.
Mean time the Fisher, which by Tibers bankes
Rul'd leasser boates, casts to enlarge his See:
His ship (even then too great) with stollen plankes
Length'ning, he makes a monstrous Argosie;
And stretches wide the sides with out-growne flankes:
Peter, and Paul his badge, this' sword, that's key
His feyned armes: with these he much prevailes,
To him each fisher boy his bonnet veyles,
And as the Lord of seas adores with strooken sayles:
Nor could all Seas fill up his empty mawe;
For earth he thirsts; the earth invades, subdues:
And now all earthly Gods with servile awe
Are highly grac't to kisse his holy shooes:
Augustus selfe stoops to his soveraigne lawe,
And at his stirrop close to lacky sues:
Then heavens scepter claymes, then hell and all.
Strange turne of chaunges! To be lowe, and thrall
Brings honour, honour strength, strength pride, and pride a fall.
Upon the ruines of those marble towres,
Founded, and rays'd with skill, and great expence
Of auncient Kings, great Lords, and Emperours,
He built his Babel up to heav'n, and thence
Thunders through all the world: On sandy floores
The ground-worke slightly floats, the walls to sense
Seeme Porphyr faire, which blood of Martyrs taints;
But was base lome, mixed with strawy Saints;
Daub'd with untemper'd lime, which glistering tinfoyle paints.
The Portall seemes (farre off) a lightsome frame;
But all the lights are false; the Chrystall glasse
Back't with a thick mud-wall beates off the flame,
Nor suffers any sparke of day to passe.
There sits dull Ignoraunce, a loathly dame,
Two eyes, both blind; two eares, both deafe shee has;
Yet quick of sense they to her selfe appeare.
Oh who can hope to cure that eye, and eare,
Which being blind, and deafe, bragges best to see, and heare!
Close by her children two; of each side one,
A Sonne and Daughter sate: he Errour hight,
A crooked swaine; shee Superstition.
Him Hate of Truth begot in Stygian night;
Her Feare, and falsely call'd, Devotion;
And as in birth, so joyn'd in loose delight,
They store the world with an incestuous breed,
A bastard, foule, deform'd, but num'rous seed;
All monsters; who in parts, or growth, want, or exceed.
Her Sonne invites the wandring passengers
And calls aloud, Ho, every simple swaine
Come, buy crownes, scepters, miters, crosiers,
Buy thefts, blood, incests, oaths, buy all for gaine:
With gold buy out all Purgatory feares,
With gold buy heaven and heavens Soveraigne.
Then through an hundred Labyrinths he leads
The silly soule, and with vaine shadowes feeds:
The poore stray wretch admires old formes, and anticke deeds.
The daughter leads him forth in Pilgrims guise
To visite holy shrines, the Lady Hales;
The Doves, and Gabriels plumes in purple dyes,
Cartloads of Crosse, and straunge-engendring nayles:
The simple man adores the sottish lyes:
Then with false wonders his frayle sense assayles,
Saint Fulbert nurst with milke of Virgine pure,
Saint Dominicks bookes like fish in rivers dure;
Saint Francis birds, and wounds; and Bellarmines breeches cure.
The Hall is vastly built for large dispence;
Where freely ushers loosest Libertie,
The waiters Lusts, the Caterer vaine Expence,
Steward of th' house wide panched Gluttonie;
Bed-makers ease, sloth, and soft wanton sense;
High Chamberlaine perfumed Lecherie:
The outward Courtes with Wrong, and Bribery stink,
That holy Catherine smelt the loathsome sink
From French Avinions towers, to Tuscan Siens brinke.
The stately presence Princely spoyles adorne
Of vassal Kings: there sits the man of pride,
And with his dusty feete (oh hellish scorne!)
Crownes and uncrownes men by God deifi'de.
He is that seeing, and proud-speaking Horne,
Who stiles himselfe Spouse of that glorious Bride;
The Churches Head, and Monarch; Jesses rod;
The precious corner stone; supreame Vice-God;
The Light, the Sunne, the Rock, the Christ, the Lord our God.
There stand the Pillars of the Papacie;
Stout Champions of Romes Almighty power,
Carv'd out as patterns to that holy See.
First was that Boniface, the cheifest flower
In Papal Paradise, who climb'd to bee
First universall Bishop-governour.
Then he, that would be Pope and Emperour too:
And close by them, that monstrous Prelate, who
Trampled great Fredericks necke with his proud durty shooe.
Above the rest stood famous Hildebrand,
The Father of our Popish chastitie:
Who forc't brave Henry with bare feet to stand,
And beg for entrance, and his amitie.
Finely the workman with his Dedal hand
Had drawne disdaine sparkling in's fiery eie,
His face all red with shame and angry scorne,
To heare his sonne lament, his Empresse mourne,
While this chast Father makes poore Asto weare the horn.
There stood Lucretia's Father, Husband, Brother,
The monster Borgia, cas'd in lust and blood:
And he that fil'd his child, and quell'd his Mother:
He, that was borne, liv'd, died in lust: there stood
The female Pope, Romes shame, and many other
Kindled for hell on earth in lustfull flood.
These Saints accurse the married chastity,
A wife defiles: oh deep hypocrisy!
Yet use, reward, and praise twice burning Sodomy.
And with those fleshly stood the spirituall Bauds:
They choose, and frame a goodly stone, or stock,
Then trimme their puppet god with costly gauds.
Ah who can tell which is the verier block,
His god, or he? Such lyes are godly frauds.
Some whips adore, the crosse, the seamelesse frock,
Nayles, speare, reed, spunge; some needing no partaker,
Nor using any help, but of the Baker,
(Oh more then power divine!) make, chew, and voide their Maker.
By these were plac'd those dire incarnate fiends
Studied in that black art, and that alone:
One leagu'd himselfe to hell t' effect his ends,
In Romes Bee-hive to live the Soveraigne Drone:
Another musters all the Divels his friends
To pull his Lord out of his rightfull throne;
And worse then any fiend, with magicke rite
He casts into the fire the Lord of light:
So sacrific'd his God to an infernall spright.
But who can summe this holy rablement?
This prais'd the Gospel as a gainfull tale;
That questions heav'ns reward, hels punishment;
This for his dish in spight of God doth call;
That heaven taints, infects the Sacrament;
The bread, and seale of life perpetuall:
And pois'ning Christ, poisons with him his King;
He life and death in one draught swallowing,
Wash't off his sinfull staines in that Lifes deadly spring.
[Boas (1908) 1:152-63]