1615 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Purple Island. Canto VIII.

The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man: Together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies. By P. F.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


Canto VIII continues the catalogue of vices with the companions of "Cosmos," son of Satan: Fearfulness, Foolhardiness, Arrogance, Prodigalitie, Covetousness, Feeblemindedness, Ambition, Flatterie, Baseness of minde, Morositie, Mad Laughter, Rusticitie, and Impudence.

Henry Headley: "Compare Fletcher's Deilos. Can. viii. St. 10. with Spenser's Fear. B. 3. Can. xii. St. 12. There seems to me more nature and real poetry in Fletcher's describing him as but starting at the sight of his arms, than in Spenser, who on the same occasion represents him as absolutely 'flying fast away'; but perhaps Spenser has heightened the image by making him equally terrified with the sound of them as the sight; this is omitted in Fletcher" Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry (1787; 1810) 2:152.

Robert Anderson: "Let the reader compare Fletcher's Atimus, Canto VIII. Stanza 42. with Spenser's Idleness, Book I. Canto IV. Stanza 18; compare Fletcher's Pleconectes, Canto VIII. Stanza 24. with Spenser's Avarice, Book I. Canto IV. Stanza 30; likewise with another description, Book V. Canto XII. Stanza 31; compare Fletcher's Deilos, Canto VIII. stanza 10. with Spenser's Fear, Book. III. Canto XII. Stanza 12" British Poets (1795) 4:379.

Herbert E. Cory: "it is evident that Fletcher used the denizens of the House of Pride to some extent and found material elsewhere in The Faerie Queene for other Vices. Thus Caro, the Flesh, is another one of his morbid imitations of Duessa unmasked. But when the last jeer has been cast by the painful seeker of parallel passages, one can but admire the bold strokes of originality that flash out capriciously in many places. Parthenia (Chastity in the single life) is, to be sure, derived from Spenser's Belphoebe and Britomart" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 322-23.



The Sunne began to slack his bended bow,
And more obliquely dart his milder ray;
When cooler ayers gently 'gan to blow,
And fanne the fields parcht with the scorching day:
The shepherds to their wonted seats repair;
Thirsil, refresht with this soft-breathing aire,
Thus 'gan renew his task, and broken song repair:

What watchfull care must fence that weary state,
Which deadly foes begirt with cruell siege;
And frailest wall of glasse, and trait'rous gate
Strive which should first yeeld up their wofull leige?
By enemies assail'd, by friends betray'd;
When others hurt, himself refuses aid:
By weaknesse self his strength is foil'd and overlay'd.

How comes it then that in so neare decay
We deadly sleep in deep securitie,
When every houre is ready to betray
Our lives to that still-watching enemie?
Wake then thy soul that deadly slumbereth:
For when thy foe hath seiz'd thy captive breath,
Too late to wish past life, too late to wish for death.

Caro the Vantguard with the Dragon led,
Cosmos the battell guides, with loud alarms;
Cosmos, the first sonne to the Dragon red,
Shining in seeming gold, and glitt'ring arms:
Well might he seem a strong and gentle Knight,
As e're was clad in steel and armour bright;
But was a recreant base, a foul, false, cheating sprite.

And as himself, such were his arms; appearing
Bright burnisht gold, indeed base alchymie,
Dimme beetle eyes, and greedy worldlings blearing:
His shield was drest in nights sad liverie,
Where man-like Apes a Gloworm compasse round,
Glad that in wintrie night they fire had found;
Busie they puffe and blow: the word, Mistake the ground.

Mistake points all his darts; his sunshines bright
(Mistaken) light appeare, sad lightning prove:
His clouds (mistook) seem lightnings, turn to light;
His love true hatred is, his hatred love;
His shop, a Pedlers pack of apish fashion;
His honours, pleasures, joyes are all vexation:
His wages, glorious care, sweet surfets, woo'd damnation.

His lib'rall favours, complementall arts;
His high advancements, Alpine slipp'ry straits;
His smiling glances, deaths most pleasing darts;
And (what he vaunts) his gifts are gilded baits:
Indeed he nothing is, yet all appeares.
Haplesse earths happy fools, that know no tears!
Who bathes in worldly joyes, swimmes in a world of fears.

Pure Essence, who hast made a stone descrie
'Twixt natures hid, and check that metals pride
That dares aspire to golds high soveraigntie;
Ah leave some touch-stone erring eyes to guide,
And judge dissemblance; see by what devices
Sinne with fair glosse our mole-ey'd sight entises,
That vices vertues seem to most; and vertues, vices.

Strip thou their meretricious seemlinesse,
And tinfold glitt'ring bare to every sight,
That we may loath their inward uglinesse;
Or else uncloud the soul, whose shadie light
Addes a fair lustre to false earthly blisse:
Thine and their beauty differs but in this;
Theirs what it is not, seems; thine seems not what it is.

Next to the Captain coward Deilos far'd;
Him right before he as his shield projected,
And following troops to back him as his guard;
Yet both his shield and guard (faint heart) suspected:
And sending often back his doubtfull eye,
By fearing taught unthought of treacherie;
So made him enemies, by fearing enmitie.

Still did he look for some ensuing crosse,
Fearing such hap as never man befell:
No mean he knows, but dreads each little losse
(With tyrannie of fear distraught) as hell.
His sense he dare not trust, (nor eyes, nor eares)
And when no other cause of fright appeares,
Himself he much suspects, and fears his causelesse fears.

Harnest with massie steel, for fence, not fight;
His sword unseemly long he ready drew:
At sudden shine of his own armour bright
He started oft, and star'd with ghastly hue:
He shrieks at every danger that appeares,
Shaming the knightly arms he goodly bears:
His word, Safer that all, then he that nothing fears.

With him went Doubt, stagg'ring with steps unsure,
That every way, and neither way enclin'd;
And fond Distrust, whom nothing could secure;
Suspicion lean, as if he never din'd:
He keeps intelligence by thousand spies;
Argus to him bequeath'd his hundred eyes:
So waking still he sleeps, and sleeping wakefull lies.

Fond Deilos all, Tolmetes nothing fears;
Just frights he laughs, all terrours counteth base;
And when of danger, or sad news he heares,
He meets the thund'ring fortune face to face:
Yet oft in words he spends his boistrous threat;
That his hot bloud, driv'n from the native seat,
Leaves his faint coward heart empty of lively heat.

Himself (weak help!) was all his confidence;
He scorns low ebs, but swimmes in highest rises:
His limbes with arms or shield he would not fence;
Such coward fashion (fool!) he much despises:
Ev'n for his single sword the world seems scant;
For hundred worlds his conqu'ring arm could dant:
Much would he boldly do, but much more boldly vant.

With him went self-admiring Arrogance,
And Bragge, his deeds without an helper praising:
Blinde Carelesnesse before would lead the dance;
Fear stole behinde, those vaunts in balance peysing,
Which farre their deeds outweigh'd; their violence,
'Fore danger spent with lavish diffluence,
Was none, or weak in time of greatest exigence.

As when a fierie courser readie bent,
Puts forth himself at first with swiftest pace;
Till with too sudden flash his spirits spent,
Alreadie fails now in the middle race:
His hanging crest farre from his wonted pride,
No longer now obeyes his angrie guide;
Rivers of sweat and bloud flow from his gored side:

Thus ran the rash Tolmetes, never viewing
The fearfull fiends that duly him attended;
Destruction close his steps in poast pursuing,
And certain ruines heavie weights depended
Over his cursed head, and smooth-fac'd guile,
That with him oft would loosly play and smile;
Till in his snare he lockt his feet with treach'rous wile.

Next marcht Asotus, carelesse-spending Swain;
Who with a fork went spreading all around,
Which his old sire with sweating toil and pain
Long time was raking from his racked ground:
In giving he observ'd nor form, nor matter,
But best reward he got, that best could flatter;
Thus what he thought to give, he did not give, but scatter.

Before aray'd in sumptuous braverie,
Deckt court-like in the choice and newest guise;
But all behinde like drudging slaverie,
With ragged patches, rent, and bared thighs:
His shamefull parts, that shunne the hated light,
Were naked left; (ah foul unhonest sight!)
Yet neither could he see, nor feel his wretched plight.

His shield presents to life deaths latest rites,
A sad black herse born up with sable swains;
Which many idle grooms with hundred lights
(Tapers, lamps, torches) usher through the plains
To endlesse darknesse; while the Sunnes bright brow
With fierie beams quenches their smoaking tow,
And wastes their idle cost: the word, Not need, but show.

A vagrant rout (a shoal of tatling daws)
Strow him with vain-spent prayers, and idle layes;
And flatt'rie to his sinne close curtains draws,
Clawing his itching eare with tickling praise:
Behinde, fond pitie much his fall lamented,
And miserie, that former waste repented:
The usurer for his goods, jayl for his bones indented.

His steward was his kinsman, Vain-expence,
Who proudly strove in matters light to shew
Heroick minde in braggard affluence;
So lost his treasure, getting nought in liew,
But ostentation of a foolish pride;
While women fond, and boyes stood gaping wide;
But wise men all his waste and needlesse cost deride.

Next Pleonectes went, his gold admiring,
His servants drudge, slave to his basest slave;
Never enough, and still too much desiring:
His gold his god, yet in an iron grave
Himself protects his god from noysome rusting;
Much fears to keep, much more to loose his lusting;
Himself, and golden god, and every god mistrusting.

Age on his hairs the winter snow had spread;
That silver badge his neare end plainly proves:
Yet as to earth he nearer bowes his head,
So loves it more; for Like his like still loves.
Deep from the ground he digs his sweetest gain,
And deep into the earth digs back with pain:
From hell his gold he brings, and hoords in hell again.

His clothes all patcht with more then honest thrift,
And clouted shoon were nail'd for fear of wasting;
Fasting he prais'd, but sparing was his drift;
And when he eats, his food is worse then fasting:
Thus starves in store, thus doth in plentie pine,
Thus wallowing on his god, his heap of Mine,
He feeds his famisht soul with that deceiving shine.

Oh hungrie metall, false deceitfull ray,
Well laid'st thou dark, prest in th' earths hidden wombe;
Yet through our mothers entrails cutting way,
We dragge thy buried coarse from hellish tombe:
The merchant from his wife and home departs,
Nor at the swelling ocean ever starts;
While death and life a wall of thinne planks onely parts.

Who was it first, that from thy deepest cell,
With so much costly toil and painfull sweat
Durst rob thy palace, bord'ring next to hell?
Well mayst thou come from that infernall seat;
Thou all the world with hell-black deeps dost fill.
Fond men, that with such pain do wooe your ill!
Needlesse to send for grief, for he is next us still.

His arms were light, and cheap, as made to save
His purse, not limbes; the money, not the man:
Rather he dies, then spends: his helmet brave,
An old brasse pot; breast-plate a dripping-pan:
His spear a spit, a pot-lid broad his shield,
Whose smokie plain a chalkt Impresa fill'd,
A bagge sure seal'd: his word, Much better sav'd, then spill'd.

By Pleonectes shamelesse Sparing went,
Who whines and weeps to beg a longer day,
Yet with a thundring voice claims tardie rent;
Quick to receive, but hard and slow to pay:
His care's to lessen cost with cunning base;
But when he's forc't beyond his bounded space,
Loud would he crie, and howl, while others laugh apace.

Long after went Pusillus, weakest heart,
Able to serve, and able to command,
But thought himself unfit for either part;
And now full loth, amidst the warlike band
Was hither drawn by force from quiet cell:
Lonenesse his heav'n, and bus'nesse was his hell.
A weak distrustfull heart is vertues aguish spell.

His goodly arms, eaten with shamefull rust,
Bewray'd their masters ease, and want of using;
Such was his minde, tainted with idle must,
His goodly gifts with little use abusing:
Upon his shield was drawn that noble Swain
That loth to change his love and quiet reigne
For glorious warlike deeds, did craftie madnesse feigne.

Finely the workman fram'd the toilsome plough
Drawn with an ox and asse, unequall pair;
While he with busie hand his salt did sow,
And at the furrows end his dearest heir
Did helplesse lie, and Greek lords watching still
Observ'd his hand guided with carefull will:
About was wrote, Who nothing doth, doth nothing ill.

By him went Idlenesse, his loved friend,
And Shame with both; with all, ragg'd Povertie:
Behinde sure Punishment did close attend,
Waiting a while fit opportunitie;
And taking count of houres mispent in vain,
And graces lent without returning gain,
Pour'd on his guiltie corse late grief, and helplesse pain.

This dull cold earth with standing water froze;
At ease he lies to coyn pretence for ease;
His soul like Ahaz diall, while it goes
Not forward, poasteth backward ten degrees:
In's couch he's pliant wax for fiends to seal;
He never sweats, but in his bed, or meal:
He'd rather steal then work, and beg then strive to steal.

All opposite, though he his brother were,
Was Chaunus, that too high himself esteem'd:
All things he undertook, nor could he fear
His power too weak, or boasted strength misdeem'd,
With his own praise like windie bladder blown:
His eyes too little, or too much his own;
For known to all men weak, was to himself unknown.

Fondly himself with praising he disprais'd,
Vaunting his deeds and worth with idle breath;
So raz'd himself, what he himself had rais'd:
On's shield a boy threatens high Phoebus death,
Aiming his arrow at his purest light;
But soon the thinne reed, fir'd with lightning bright,
Fell idlely on the strond: his word, Yet high, and right.

Next brave Philotimus in poast did ride:
Like rising ladders was his climbing minde;
His high-flown thoughts had wings of courtly pride,
Which by foul rise to greatest height enclin'd;
His heart aspiring swell'd untill it burst:
But when he gain'd the top, with spite accurst
Down would he fling the steps by which he clamb'red first.

His head's a shop furnisht with looms of state:
His brain the weaver, thoughts are shuttles light,
With which in spite of heav'n he weaves his fate;
Honour his web: thus works he day and night,
Till fates cut off his threed; so heapeth sinnes
And plagues, nor once enjoyes the place he winnes;
But where his old race ends, there his new race begins.

Ah silly man, who dream'st that honour stands
In ruling others, not thy self! thy slaves
Serve thee, and thou thy slaves: in iron bands
Thy servile spirit prest with wilde passions raves.
Would'st thou live honour'd? clip ambitions wing;
To reasons yoke thy furious passions bring.
Thrice noble is the man, who of himself is King.

Upon his shield was fram'd that vent'rous lad,
That durst assay the Sunnes bright-flaming team;
Spite of his feeble hands, the horses mad
Fling down on burning earth the scorching beam;
So made the flame in which himself was fir'd;
The world the bonefire was, where he expir'd:
His motto written thus, Yet had what he desir'd.

But Atimus, a carelesse idle swain,
Though Glory off'red him her sweet embrace,
And fair Occasion with little pain
Reacht him her ivory hand, yet (lozel base!)
Rather his way, and her fair self declin'd;
Well did he thence prove his degenerous minde:
Base were his restie thoughts, base was his dunghill kinde.

And now by force dragg'd from the monkish cell,
(Where teeth he onely us'd, nor hands, nor brains,
But in smooth streams swam down through ease to hell;
His work to eat, drink, sleep, and purge his reins)
He left his heart behinde him with his feast:
His target with a flying dart was drest,
Poasting unto his mark: the word, I move to rest.

Next Colax all his words with sugar spices;
His servile tongue, base slave to greatnesse name,
Runnes nimble descant on the plainest vices;
He lets his tongue to sinne, takes rent of shame:
He temp'ring lies, porter to th' eare resides,
Like Indian apple, which with painted sides,
More dangerous within his lurking poyson hides.

So Echo, to the voice her voice conforming,
From hollow breast for one will two repay;
So, like the rock it holds, it self transforming,
That subtil fish hunts for her heedlesse prey:
So crafty fowlers with their fair deceits
Allure the hungrie bird; so fisher waits
To bait himself with fish, his hook and fish with baits.

His art is but to hide, not heal a sore,
To nourish pride, to strangle conscience;
To drain the rich, his own drie pits to store,
To spoil the precious soul, to please vile sense:
A carrion crow he is, a gaping grave,
The rich coats moth, the courts bane, trenchers slave;
Sinnes and hells winning baud, the devils fact'ring knave.

A mist he casts before his patrons sight,
That blackest vices never once appeare;
But greater then it is, seems vertues light;
His Lords displeasure is his onely fear:
His clawing lies, tickling the senses frail
To death, make open way where force would fail.
Lesse hurts the lions paw, then foxes softest tail.

His arms with hundred tongues were poud'red gay,
(The mint of lies) gilt, fil'd, the sense to please;
His sword which in his mouth close sheathed lay,
Sharper then death, and fram'd to kill with ease.
Ah cursed weapon, life with pleasure spilling!
The Sardoin herb with many branches filling
His shield, was his device: the word, I please in killing.

Base slave! how crawl'st thou from thy dunghill nest,
Where thou wast hatcht by shame and beggerie,
And pearchest in the learn'd and noble breast?
Nobles of thee their courtship learn, of thee
Arts learn new art their learning to adorn:
(Ah wretched mindes!) He is not nobly born,
Nor learn'd, that doth not thy ignoble learning scorn.

Close to him Pleasing went, with painted face,
And Honour, by some hidden cunning made;
Not Honours self, but Honours semblance base,
For soon it vanisht like an emptie shade:
Behinde, his parents duely him attend;
With them he forced is his age to spend:
Shame his beginning was, and shame must be his end.

Next follow'd Dyscolus, a froward wight;
His lips all swoln, and eyebrows ever bent,
With sootie locks, swart looks, and scouling sight,
His face a tell-tale to his foul intent:
He nothing lik't, or prais'd; but reprehended
What every one beside himself commended.
Humours of tongues impostum'd, purg'd with shame, are mended.

His mouth a pois'nous quiver, where he hides
Sharp venom'd arrows, which his bitter tongue
With squibs, carps, jests, unto their object guides;
Nor fears he gods on earth, or heav'n to wrong:
Upon his shield was fairly drawn to sight
A raging dog, foaming out wrath and spite:
The word to his device, Impartiall all I bite.

Geloios next ensu'd, a merrie Greek,
Whose life was laughter vain, and mirth misplac't;
His speeches broad, to shame the modest cheek;
Ne car'd he whom, or when, or how disgrac't.
Salt round about he flung upon the sand;
If in his way his friend or father stand,
His father and his friend he spreads with carelesse hand.

His foul jests steep'd and drown'd in laughter vain,
And rotten speech, (ah!) was not mirth, but madnesse:
His armour crackling thorns all flaming stain
With golden fires, (embleme of foppish gladnesse)
Upon his shield two laughing fools you see,
(In number he the third, first in degree)
At which himself would laugh, and fleer: his word, We three.

And after, Agrios, a sullen swain,
All mirth that in himself and others hated;
Dull, dead, and leaden was his cheerlesse vein:
His weary sense he never recreated;
And now he marcht as if he somewhat dream'd:
All honest joy but madnesse he esteem'd,
Refreshings idlenesse, but sport he folly deem'd.

In's arms his minde the workman fit exprest,
Which all with quenched lamps, but smoking yet,
And foully stinking, were full queintly drest;
To blinde, not light the eyes, to choke, not heat:
Upon his shield an heap of fennie mire
In flagges and turfs (with sunnes yet never drier)
Did smoth'ring lie, not burn: his word, Smoke without fire.

Last Impudence, whose never-changing face
Knew but one colour; with some brasse-brow'd lie,
And laughing loud she drowns her just disgrace:
About her all the fiends in armies flie:
Her feather'd beaver sidelong cockt, in guise
Of roaring boyes; set look with fixed eyes
Out-looks all shamefac't forms, all modestie defies.

And as her thoughts, so arms all black as hell:
Her brasen shield two sable dogs adorn,
Who each at other stare, and snarle, and swell:
Beneath the word was set, All change I scorn.
But if I all this rout and foul aray
Should muster up, and place in battell ray,
Too long your selves and flocks my tedious song would stay.

The aged day growes dimme, and-homeward calls:
The parting Sunne (mans state describing well)
Falls when he rises, rises when he falls:
So we by falling rose, by rising fell.
The shadie cloud of night 'gins softly creep,
And all our world with sable tincture steep:
Home now ye shepherd-swains; home now my loved sheep.

[Boas (1909) 2:105-18]

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