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

The Locusts, or Apollyonists. Canto V.

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

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


The concluding canto describes the gunpowder plot and its discovery, the poem ending with a hymn of triumph.

Herbert E. Cory: "Plots are laid, among which the worst is that of tiny Fawkes who has been nursed by Rome on wolfish milk. But God, always watchful, calls an eagle to warn the council at London. Fawkes is seized and Route and Spain lament. The poem ends with an apostrophe and prayer to God" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 318.

William B. Hunter: "Milton seems to imitate the spirit and some of the detail of The Apollyonists in his undergraduate Latin poem on the same subject, 'In Quintum Novembris,' which may have been penned shortly after Fletcher's poem appeared in Cambridge in 1627, although he dates its composition the previous year" English Spenserians (1977) 314.



CANTO V.

Looke as a wayward child would something have,
Yet flings away, wralls, spurn's, his Nurse abuses:
So froward man, what most his longings crave,
(Likenes to God) profer'd by God refuses:
But will be rather sinnes base drudge and slave.
The shade by Satan promis'd greed'ly chuses,
And with it death and hell. Oh wretched state,
Where not the eyes, but feete direct the gate!
So misse what most we wish, and have what most we hate.

Thus will this man of sinne be like to Christ,
A King, yet not in heaven, but earth that raignes;
That murthers, saves not Christians; th' highest Preist,
Yet not to wait his course, (that he disdaines)
But to advaunce aloft his mitred crest;
That Christ himselfe may wait upon his traynes.
Straunge Priest, oft heaven he sells, but never buyes:
Straunge Doctor, hating truth, enforcing lyes:
Thus Satan is indeed, and Christ by contraryes.

And such his Ministers all glist'ring bright
In night and shades, and yet but rotten wood,
And fleshly Devils: such this Jesuite,
Who (Loiol's Ensigne) thirsts for English blood.
He culs choice soules (soules vow'd to th' Prince of night,
And Priest of Rome) sweares them (an English brood,
But hatch't in Rome for Spaine) close to conceale,
And execute what he should then reveale:
Binds them to hell in sin, and makes heavens Lord the seale.

Now are they met; this armed with a spade,
That with a mattocke, voide of shame and feare:
The earth (their Grandame Earth) they fierce invade,
And all her bowels search, and rent, and teare,
Then by her ruines flesh't, much bolder made,
They ply their worke; and now neere hell, they heare
Soft voices, murmurs, doubtfull whisperings:
The fearfull conscience prick't with guilty stings,
A thousand hellish formes into their fancy brings.

This like a statue stands; cold fright congeales
His marble limbes; to th' earth another falling,
Creeping behind a barrell softly steales:
A third into an empty hogshead cralling,
Locks up his eyes, drawes in his stragling heeles:
A fourth, in vaine for succour loudly calling,
Flies through the aire as swift as gliding starre;
Pale, ghastly, like infernall sprites afarre
Each to his fellow seemes: and so, or worse they are.

So when in sleep's soft grave dead senses rest,
An earthly vapour clamb'ring up the braine
Brings in a meagre ghost, whose launched brest
Showres downe his naked corps a bloody raine:
A dull-blue-burning torch about his crest
He ghastly waves; halfe dead with frightfull paine
The leaden foot faine would, but cannot fly;
The gaping mouth faine would, but cannot cry:
And now awake still dreames, nor trusts his open eye:

At length those streames of life, which ebbing low
Were all retir'd into the frighted heart,
Backe to their wonted chanels gan to flow:
So peeping out, yet trembling every part,
And list'ning now with better heed, they know
Those next adjoyning roomes hollow'd by art
To lie for cellerage: which glad they hire,
And cramme with powder, and unkindled fire:
Slacke aged Time with plaints and praires they daily tire.

Slow Time, which every houre grow'st old and young,
Which every minute dy'st, and liv'st againe;
Which mak'st the strong man weak, the weak man strong:
Sad time which fly'st in joy, but creep'st in paine,
Thy steppes uneven are still too short or long:
Devouring Time, who bear'st a fruitfull traine,
And eat'st what er'e thou bear'st, why dost not flee,
Why do'st not post to view a Tragedie,
Which never time yet saw, which never time shall see?

Among them all none so impatient
Of stay, as firy Faux, whose grisly feature
Adorn'd with colours of hells regiment
(Soot black, and fiery red) betrayd his nature.
His frighted Mother, when her time shee went,
Oft dream't she bore a straunge, and monstrous creature,
A brand of hell sweltring in fire and smoke,
Who all, and's Mother's selfe would burne and choke:
So dream't she in her sleep, so found she when she woke.

Rome was his Nurse, and Spaine his Tutour; she
With wolvish milk flesh't him in deadly lyes,
In hate of Truth, and stubborn errour: he
Fats him with humane blood, inures his eyes
Dash't braines, torne guts, and trembling hearts to see,
And tun'de his eare with grones and shrieking cryes.
Thus nurst, bred, growne a Canniball, now prest
To be the leader of this troup, he blest
His bloody maw with thought of such a royall feast.

Meane time the Eye, which needs no light to see,
That wakefull Eye, which never winks or sleepes,
That purest Eye, which hates iniquitie,
That carefull Eye, which safe his Israel keepes,
From which no word, or thought can hidden bee,
Look's from his heaven, and piercing through the deepes,
With hate, and scorne viewes the dire Jesuite
Weary his hand, and quintessentiall wit,
To weave himselfe a snare, and dig himselfe a pit.

That Mounting Eagle, which beneath his throne
(His Saphire throne) fixed on Chrystall base,
Broadly dispreds his heaven-wide pineon,
On whome, when sinfull earth he strikes with 'maze,
He wide displayes his black pavilion,
And thundring, fires high towres with flashing blaze:
Darke waters draw their sable curtaines o're him,
With flaming wings the burning Angels shore him,
The cloudes, and guilty heavens for feare fly fast before him:

That mounting Eagle forth he suddaine calls,
Fly, winged Herald, to that Citie fly,
Whose towres my love, truth, wisedome builds and walls:
There to the Councell this foule plot descry:
And while thy doubtfull writ their wit appalls,
That great Peace-makers sense Ile open, I
Will cleere his mind, and plaine those ridling folds.
So said, so done: no place or time with-holds
His instant course, the towne he thinks, he sees, and holds.

There in another shape to that wise Peer
(That wisest Peer) he gives a darksome spell:
He was the states Treasure, and Treasurer,
Spaines feare, but Englands earthly oracle;
He Patron to my Mother Cambridge, where
Thousand sweet Muses, thousand Graces dwell:
But neither hee, nor humane wit could find
The riddles sense, till that learn'd royall mind,
Lighted from heaven, soone the knot, and plot untwin'd.

And now the fatall Morne approached neare:
The Sunne, and every starre had quench't their light,
Loathing so black a deed: the Articke Beare
Enjoyn'd to stay, trembling at such a sight,
Though drench't in ayrie seas, yet wink't for feare.
But hellish Faux laught at blinde heavens affright.
What? Such a deed not seen? In vaine (saith he)
You drowne your lights; if heaven envious be,
I'le bring hell fires for light, that all the world may see.

So entring in, reviewes th' infernall mines;
Marshals his casks anew, and ord'ring right
The tragicke Scene, his hellish worke refines:
And now return'd, booted, and drest for flight,
A watchfull Swaine the Miner undermines,
Holds, binds, brings out the Plot to view the light;
The world amaz'd, hel yawn'd, earth gap't, heaven star'd,
Rome howl'd to see long hopes so sudden mar'd:
The net was set, the fowle escap't, the fowler snar'd.

Oh thou great Shepheard, Earths, Heavens Soveraigne,
Whom we thy pasture-sheep admire, adore;
See all thy flocks prostrate on Britaine plaine,
Pluck't from the slaughter; fill their mouthes with store
Of incens't praise: oh see, see every swaine
'Maz'd with thy workes; much 'maz'd, but ravish't more:
Powre out their hearts thy glorious name to raise;
Fire thou our zealous lippes with thankfull laies;
Make this sav'd Isle to burne in love, to smoke in praise.

Teach me thy groome, here dull'd in fenny mire,
In these sweet layes, oh teach me beare a part:
Oh thou dread Spirit shed thy heavenly fire,
Thy holy flame into this frozen heart:
Teach thou my creeping Muse to heaven aspire,
Learne my rude brest, learne me that sacred art,
Which once thou taught'st thy Israels shepheard-King:
O raise my soft veine to high thundering;
Tune thou my lofty song, thy glory would I sing.

Thou liv'dst before, beyond, without all time;
Art held in none, yet fillest every place:
Ah, how (alas!) how then shall mortall slime
With sinfull eyes view that eternall space,
Or comprehend thy name in measur'd rime?
To see forth-right the eie was set i' th' face,
Hence, infinite to come I wel descry,
Past infinite no creature sees with eie:
Onely th' Eternall's selfe measures eternitie.

And yet by thee, to thee all live and move;
Thou without place or time giv'st times and places:
The heavens (thy throne) thou liftest all above,
Which folded in their mixt, but pure embraces
Teach us in their conjunctions chastest love,
Next to the Earth the Moone performes her races;
Then Mercury; beyond, the Phosphor bright:
These with their friendly heat, and kindly might,
Warme pallid Cynthia's cold, and draine her watry light.

Farre thou remoov'st slow Saturn's frosty drythe,
And thaw'st his yce with Mars his flaming ire:
Betwixt them Jove by thy appointment fly'th;
Who part's, and temper's well his Sonne and Sire;
His moist flames dull the edge of Saturnes sithe,
And ayry moisture softens Mars his fire.
The Heart of heaven midst of heavens bodie rides,
From whose full sea of light and springing tides
The lesser streames of light fill up their empty sides.

The Virgin Earth, all in green-silken weed
(Embroyder'd fayre with thousand flowres) arrayd:
Whose wombe untill'd knew yet nor plough, nor seed,
Nor midwifry of man, nor heavens ayd,
Amaz'd to see her num'rous Virgin breed,
Her fruit even fruitfull, yet her selfe a mayd:
The earth of all the low'st, yet middle lies;
Nor sinks, though loosely hang'd in liquid skies:
For rising were her fall; and falling were her rise.

Next Earth the Sea a testy neighbour raves,
Which casting mounts, and many a churlish hill,
Discharges 'gainst her walles his thundring waves,
Which all the shores with noyse and tumult fill:
But all in vaine; thou beat'st downe all his braves;
When thee he heares commanding, Peace, be still,
Downe straight he lowly falls, disbands his traynes,
Sinks in himselfe, and all his mountaines playnes,
Soft peace in all the shores, and quiet stillnes raygnes.

Thou mad'st the circling ayre aloft to fly,
And all this Round infold at thy command;
So thinne, it never could be seen with eye,
So grosse, it may be felt with every hand.
Next to the horned Moon and neighbour sky,
The fire thou highest bad'st, but farthest stand.
Straungely thou temper'st their adverse affection:
Though still they hate and fight, by thy direction
Their strife maintaines their owne, and all the worlds perfection.

For Earth's cold arme cold Winter friendly holds;
But with his dry the others wet defies:
The Ayer's warmth detests the Water's colds;
But both a common moisture joyntly ties:
Warme Ayre with mutuall love hot Fire infolds;
As moist, his drythe abhorres: drythe Earth allies
To Fire, but heats with cold new warres addresse:
Thus by their peacefull fight, and fighting peace
All creatures grow, and dye, and dying still increase.

Above them all thou sit'st, who gav'st all being,
All every where, in all, and over all:
Thou their great Umpire, all their strife agreeing,
Bend'st [t]heir stiffe natures to thy soveraigne call:
Thine eye their law: their steppes by overseeing
Thou overrul'st, and keep'st from slipp'ry fall.
Oh if thy steady hand should not maintaine
What first it made, all straight would fall againe,
And nothing of this All, save nothing would remaine.

Thou bid'st the Sunne piece out the ling'ring day,
Glitt'ring in golden fleece: The lovely Spring
Comes dauncing on; the Primrose strewes her way,
And satten Violet: Lambs wantoning
Bound o're the hillocks in their sportfull play:
The wood-musicians chant and cheerely sing;
The World seemes new, yet old by youths accruing.
Ah wretched men, so wretched world pursuing,
Which still growes worse with age, and older by renuing!

At thy command th' Earth travailes of her fruit;
The Sunne yeelds longer labour, shorter sleep;
Out-runnes the Lyon in his hot pursuit;
Then of the golden Crab learnes backe to creep:
Thou Autumne bid'st (drest in straw-yellow suit)
To presse, tunne, hide his grapes in cellars deep:
Thou cloth'st the Earth with freez in stead of grasse,
While keen-breath'd winter steeles her furrow'd face,
And vials rivers up, and seas in Chrystall glasse.

What, but thy love and thou, which feele no change?
Seas fill, and want: their waters fall, and grow;
The windy aire each houre can wildly range;
Earth lives, and dies; heavens lights can ebbe, and flow:
Thy Spowse her selfe, while yet a Pilgrim strange,
Treading this weary world (like Cynthia's bow)
Now full of glorious beames, and sparkling light;
Then soone oppos'd, eclips't with earthly spight
Seemes drown'd in sable clouds, buried in endles night.

See, Lord, ah see thy rancorous enemies
Blowne up with envious spight, but more with hate,
Like boisterous windes, and Seas high-working, rise:
So earthly fires, wrapt up in watry night,
With dire approach invade the glistring skies.
And bid the Sunne put out his sparkling light;
See Lord, unles thy right hand even steares
Oh if thou anchour not these threatning feares,
Thy Ark will sayle as deepe in blood, as now in teares.

That cursed Beast, (which with thy Princely hornes,
With all thy stiles, and high prerogatives
His carrion cor's and Serpents head adornes)
His croaking Frogges to every quarter drives:
See how the key of that deep pit he tournes,
And cluck's his Locusts from their smoky hives:
See how they rise, and with their numerous swarmes
Filling the world with fogges, and fierce alarmes,
Bury the earth with bloodles corps, and bloody armes.

The bastard Sonne of that old Dragon (red
With blood of Saints) and all his petty states;
That triple monster, Geryon, who bred,
Nurs't, flesh't in blood thy servants deadly hates,
And that seduced Prince who hath his head
Eyes, eares, and tongue all in the Jesuite pates;
All these, and hundred Kings, and nations, drunk
With whorish Cup of that dire witch and punk,
Have sworne to see thy Church in death for ever sunk.

Now from those hel-hounds turne thy glorious eyes;
See, see thy fainting Spouse swimme, sinke in teares:
Heare Lord, oh heare her grones, and shrieking cries:
Those eyes long wait for thee: Lord to thine eares
She brings heart, lips, a Turtle sacrifice.
Thy cursed foe that Pro-Christ trophies reares:
How long (just Lord) how long wilt thou delay
That drunken whore with blood and fire to pay?
Thy Saints, thy truth, thy name's blasphem'd; how canst thou stay?

Oh is not this the time, when mounted high
Upon thy Pegasus of heavenly breed,
With bloody armes, white armies, flaming eye,
Thou vow'st in blood to swimme thy snowy steed;
And staine thy bridle with a purple dye?
This, this thy time; come then, oh come with speed,
Such as thy Israel saw thee, when the maine
Pil'd up his waves on heapes; the liquid plaine
Ran up, and with his hill safe wall'd that wandring traine.

Such as we saw thee late, when spanish braves
(Preventing fight with printed victorie)
Full fraught with brands, whips, gyves for English slaves,
Blest by their Lord God Pope, thine enemie,
Turn'd seas to woods; thou arm'd with fires, winds, waves,
Fround'st on their pride: they feare, they faint, they fly:
Some sink in drinking seas, or drunken sand,
Some yeeld, some dash on rocks; the Spanish Grand
Banquets the fish in seas, or foules, and dogs on land.

Oh when wilt thou unlock the seeled eyes
Of those ten hornes, and Kings, which with the Beast
(Yet by thy hand) 'gan first to swell and rise?
How long shall they (charm'd with her drunken feast)
Give her their crownes? Bewitch't with painted lies,
They dreame thy spirit breathes from her sug'red breast,
Thy Sun burnes with her eye-reflected beames,
From her life, light, all grace, and glory streames.
Wake these enchaunted sleepes, shake out these hellish dreames.

Wake lesser Gods, you sacred Deputies
Of heavens King, awake: see, see the light
Bares that foule whore, dispells her sorceries,
Blanch't skin, dead lippes, sowre breath, splay foot, owl-sight.
Ah can you dote on such deformities?
While you will serve in crownes, and beg your right,
Pray, give, fill up her never fill'd desire,
You her white Sonnes: else knives, dags, death your hire.
Scorne this base yoke; strip, eat, and burne her flesh in fire.

But thou, Greate Prince, in whose successefull raigne,
Thy Britanes 'gin renue their Martiall fame,
Our Soveraigne Lord, our joy more Soveraigne,
Our onely Charles, under whose ominous name
Rome wounded first, still pines in ling'ring paine;
Thou who hast seen, and loath'd Romes whorish shame,
Rouse those brave Sparkes, which in thy bosome swell,
Cast downe this second Lucifer to hell:
So shalt thou all thy Sires, so shalt' thy selfe excell.

'Tis not in vaine, that Christ hath girt thy head
With three fayre peacefull Crownes: 'tis not in vaine,
That in thy Realmes such spirits are dayly bred,
Which thirst, and long to tug with Rome, and Spayne:
Thy royall Sire to Kings this lecture red;
This, this deserv'd his pen, and learned veine:
Here, noble Charles, enter thy chevalrie;
The Eagle scornes at lesser game to flie;
Onely this warre's a match worthy thy Realmes, and Thee.

Ah happy man, that lives to see that day!
Ah happy man, who in that warre shall bleed!
Happy who beares the standard in that fray!
Happy who quells that rising Babel seed!
Thrice happy who that whore shall doubly pay!
This (royall Charles) this be thy happy meed.
Mayst thou that triple diademe trample downe,
This shall thy name in earth, and heaven renowne,
And adde to these three here there a thrice triple crowne.

[Boas (1908) 1:175-86]