The full title is "The Praeexistency of the Soul, added as an Appendix to this third Part of the Song of the Soul." In these 104 stanzas Henry More is at his most fantastic, collecting tales of the occult to illustrate the immateriality of the soul. "First appended in 1647 to More's The Sleep of the Soul, itself the third part of A Platonical Song of the Soul" William B. Hunter, English Spenserians (1977) 396. In the first stanza, "Ariosto's son" and "Lycian Sage" would seem to refer to Spenser and Sidney (Lycian being Arcadian, after its first king, Lycaon.) Or the Lycian Sage may be Apollo, who had a shrine in Lycia.
Geoffrey Bullough: "Here, in addition to discussing the antenatal state of the soul, he answers a question proposed at the end of the previous poem, as to the vehicle the aerial body, of the free soul. It is in this section that he shows first the interest in spiritualism which led him with his friend Glanvil into the blind-alleys of the supernatural. After an invocation in which he cries 'but Thou, O more than man! | Aread thou sacred Soul of Plotin deare | Tell what we mortals are, tell what of old we were', he sets forth the Plotinian conception of man as 'A spark or ray of the Divinity | Clouded in earthly fogs, yclad in clay, | A precious drop sunk from Aeternitie, | Split on the ground, or rather slunk away |' through self-love, and consequently 'Swallowed Up of earthly life, ne what we were | Of old through ignorance can we detect' (5). He therefore tries to describe the previous life of souls. He imagines myriads of souls awaiting the creation of 'vitall Orbs' or worlds and invading them as soon as made. 'But infinite Myriads undipt as yet | Did still attend each vitall moveing sphear, | And wait their turnes for generation fit | In airy bodies wafted here and there, | As sight and sympathy away did bear' (12). The terrestrial body is only the third chariot of the soul. The first and most etherial are the 'celestiall | Or fiery chariots, wherein with Uranore | The care and thought of all the world they bore' (13); Angels and the daemons of the air possess this kind of body. The second type is the 'light Vehicle of air | Where likewise all sense is in each part pight. | This is more gross, subject to grief and fear | And most what veil'd with bodily delight' (15). Apparently this aerial shape is similar to that taken by ghosts, of which More has much to say (17-22, etc.). That souls come from air, 'Moulding their airy Orb to grosse consistency', and return to a similar vehicle, is proved easily, for 'all things of Air consist | And easly back again return to air' (25), as the wasting of dead bodies, the condensation of clouds into water and even showers of 'bloud, stones, milk, corn, frogs, fire, earth', exemplify. The soul can easily transform air to flesh, and flesh to air, if it has power to mould matter. That it has this power is well attested by such occurrences as birthmarks, Jacob's trick with the peeled rods to obtain spotted lambs, and the misfortune of Cippus who grew horns after watching a bull-fight! 'But th' Airy Vehicle yields more easily', as the behaviour of the six orders of sublunar spirits reveals. Of these the Terrestriall, the Watery, the Subterranean, and the Light-hating ghosts all change their forms to afflict mankind as vampires, succubi, incubi, hags, and hobgoblins, spectres, poltergeists, and the goatish devils of the witches' Sabbath. Many stories of such visitants More tells with gusto, as he does later in the Antidote against Atheism and Immortality of the Soul. The independence of soul is additionally exemplified by instances of possession and of ecstasy (72-83). Erroneous theories as to the soul's origin are next considered. Traducianist notions 'Which say that our souls propagation | Is as when lamp we lighten from a lamp. | Which done withouten diminution | Of the first light shows how the soul of man | Though indivisible may another rear | Imparting life' (88), imply that the soul is merely of the same substance as the 'kindled seed' of generation, i.e. nothing but 'bloud | Or nerves or brains or body modifide', that our animal food is spiritual, that 'grosse Pie-crust will grow wise, | And pickled Cucumbers sans doubt Philosophize' (90). Equally fallacious is the view that the soul is created at the moment of procreation, since this makes God responsible for the products of lawless and unnatural lusts. Truth is, the soul is the result of emanation, 'By flowing forth from that eternall store | Of Lives and souls ycleep'd the World of life' (95). 'And what has once sprout out doth never cease | If it enjoy itself, a spray to be | Distinct and actuall, though if God please | He can command it into th' Ancient tree' (96). Whether the soul exists before birth as an individual or emerges then for the first time from the World-Soul, he hesitates to determine, but he tends to accept 'A prae-existency of souls entire | And due Returns in courses circular'. Our forgetfulness of the prenatal life does not foreshadow a similar oblivion after death; 'For Birth is Death, Death Life and Liberty'. On earth the soul is 'Like to a light fast-lock'd in lanthorn dark, | Whereby, by night our wary steps we guide | In slabby streets' ... 'But when she's gone from hence, | Like naked lamp she is one shining sphear. | And round about has perfect cognoscence. | Whatere in her Horizon doth appear: | She is one Orb of sense, all eye, all airy ear' (101-2)" Philosophical Poems (1931) 248-49.
Of the Souls Praeexistency
Her Orb of Fire and Aire,
Of Ghosts, of Goblins, of Sorcery,
This Canto doth declare.
Rise then Aristo's son! assist my Muse
Let that hie spright which did inrich thy brains
With choice conceits, some worthy thoughts infuse
Worthy thy title and the Readers pains.
And thou, O Lycian Sage! whose pen contains
Treasures of heavenly light with gentle fire,
Give leave a while to warm me at thy flames
That I may also kindle sweet desire
In holy minds that unto highest things aspire.
For I would sing the Praeexistency
Of humane souls, and live once ore again
By recollection and quick memory
All what is past since first we all began,
But all too shallow be my wits to scan
So deep a point and mind too dull to clear
So dark a matter; but Thou, O more then man!
Aread thou sacred Soul of Plotin deare
Tell what we mortalls are, tell what of old we were.
A spark or ray of the Divinity
Clouded in earthy fogs, yclad in clay,
A precious drop sunk from Aeternitie,
Spilt on the ground, or rather slunk away.
For then we fell when we gan first t' essay
By stealth, of our own selves something to been,
Uncentring our selves from our great stay.
Which fondly we new liberty did ween
And from that prank right jolly wights our selves did deem.
For then forthwith some thing beside our God
We did conceive our parted selves to be,
And loosened, first from that simple Good,
Then from great Aeon, then from Psyche free,
We after fell into low phantasie,
And after that into corporeall sense,
And after sense embarkd as in a tree,
(First sown in earthly slime, then sprung from thence)
A fading life we lead in deadly influence.
Thus groping after our own Centres near
And proper substance, we grew dark, contract,
Swallow'd up of earthly life, ne what we were
Of old, through ignorance can we detect.
Like noble babe by fate or friends neglect
Left to the care of sorry salvage wight,
Grown up to manly years cannot conject
His own true parentage, nor read aright
What Father him begot, what womb him brought to light:
So we as stranger Infants elsewhere born
Can not divine from what spring we did flow
Ne dare these base alliances to scorn,
Nor lift our selves a whit from hence below,
Ne strive our Parentage again to know;
Ne dream we once of any other stock,
Since foster'd upon Rheas knees we grow,
In Satyres arms with many a mow and mock
Oft danc'd, and hairy Pan our cradle oft hath rock'd.
But Pan nor Rhea be our Parentage
We been the Of-spring of all-seeing Jove
Though now, whether through our own miscariage
Or secret force of fate, that all doth move
We be cast low; for why? the sportfull love
Of our great Maker (like as mothers dear
In pleasance from them do their children shove
That back again they may recoyl more near)
Shoves of our souls a while, the more them to endear.
Or whether Justice and due Equity
Expects the truth of our affection,
And therefore sets us 'twixt the Deitie
And the created world, that thereupon
We may with a free resignation
Give up our selves to him deserves us best.
That love is none that's by coaction:
Hence he our souls from his own self releast
And left us free to follow what the most us pleas'd.
And for this purpose did enrich our choice
By framing of the outward Universe.
The framing of this world a meet devise
Whereby Gods wisedome thorough all may pierce,
From hight to depth. In depth is vengeance fierce,
Whereby transgressing souls are sorely scourged
And back again are forced to reverse
By Nemesis deep-biting whips well urged,
And in sad sorrows bath well drench'd and soundly purged.
Thus nothing's lost of Gods fecundity.
But stretching out himself in all degrees
His wisedome, goodnesse and due equity
Are rightly rank'd, in all the soul them sees.
O holy lamps of God! O sacred eyes
Filled with love and wonder every where!
Ye wandring tapers to whom God descryes
His secret paths, great Psyches darlings dear!
Behold her works, but see your hearts close not too near.
But they so soon as vitall Orbs were made
That rolled round about each starry fire
Forth-with pursue, and strive them to invade;
Like evening flies that busily conspire
Following a Jade that travail long doth tire,
To seize his nodding head and suck his sweat.
But they suck'd in into the vitall mire
First died and then again reviv'd by heat,
Did people all the Orbs by this audacious feat.
But infinite Myriads undipt as yet
Did still attend each vitall moveing sphear,
And wait their turnes for generation fit
In airy bodies wafted here and there,
As sight and sympathy away did bear.
These corporate with bloud, but the first flight
Of fallen souls, ymeint with slimy gear
Rose from their earth, breaking their filmes slight:
As Storyes say, Nile living shapes sends forth to sight,
Here their third chariot cleep'd terrestiall
Great Psyches brood did enter; for before
They rode more light; first in coelestiall
Or fiery chariots, wherein with Uranore
The care and thought of all the world they bore.
This is the Orb of pure quick life and sense
Which the thrice mighty Mercury of yore
Ascending, held with Angels conference,
And of their comely shapes had perfect cognoscence.
In this the famous Tyanean swain,
Lifted above the deadly charming might
Of the dull Carkasse could discover plain
From seven-hill'd Rome with speedy piercing sight
What they in Egypt did as Stories write.
This is that nimble quick vivacious Orb
All ear, all eye, with rayes round shining bright;
Sphear of pure sense which noe perpessions curb
Nor uncouth shapen Spectres ever can disturb.
Next this is that light Vehicle of air,
Where likewise all sense is in each part pight.
This is more grosse subject to grief and fear
And most what veil'd with bodily delight;
Sometimes with vengeance, envie, anger, spight.
This Orb is ever passive in sensation.
But the third wagon of the soul that hight
The terrene Vehicle, beside this passion
Hath organized sense, distinct by limitation.
These last be but the souls live sepulchres
Where least of all she acts, but afterward
Rose from this tomb, she free and lively fares
And upward goes if she be not debar'd
By Adrastias law nor strength empar'd
By too long bondage, in this Cave below.
The purged souls ascent nought may retard;
But earthly-mindednesse may eath foreslow
Their flight, then near the ground in airy weeds they go;
Awak'd to life more ample then before,
If they their fortune good could then pursue.
But sith unwillingly they were ytore
From their dear carkasses their fate they rue,
And terrene thoughts their troubled minds embue:
So that in languishment they linger near
Their wonted homes and oft themselves they shew;
Sometimes on purpose, sometimes unaware
That wak'd by hasty call they streightway disappear.
For men that wont to wander in their sleep
By the fixt light of inward phantasie,
Though a short fit of death fast bounder keep
Their outward sense and all their Organes tye,
Yet forth they fare steered right steadily
By that internall guide: even so the ghosts
Of men deceas'd bedewed with the sky
And nights cold influence, in sleep yclos'd
Awake within, and walk in their forewonted coast.
In shape they walk much like to what they bore
Upon the earth: For that light Orb of air
Which they inact must yielder evermore
To phansies beck, so when the souls appear
To their own selves alive as once they were,
So cloath'd and conversant in such a place,
The inward eyes of phansie thither steer
Their gliding vehicle, that bears the face
Of him that liv'd, that men may reade what wight it was.
And often ask'd what would they, they descry
Some secret wealth, or hidden injury.
That first they broach that over oft doth ly
Within their minds: but vanish suddenly
Disturb'd by bold mans importunity.
But those that on set purpose do appear
To holden talk with frail mortality
Make longer stay. So that there is no fear
That when we leave this earthly husk we perish clear.
Or what is like to perfect perishing,
That inert deadlinesse our souls shall seize,
That neither sense nor phansies fountains spring,
But ever close in dull unactive ease.
For though that Death our spirits doth release
From this distinguish'd organizate sense,
Yet we may hear and see, what, where we please,
And walk at large when we are gone from hence
And with both men and ghosts hold friendly conference;
And all in virtue of that airy Waine
In which we ride when that of earth is gone,
Unlesse no terrene tinctures do us stein,
For then forthwith to heaven we be yflone,
In our swift fiery chariot thither drawn.
But least men deem me airy notions feigne:
All stories this sure truth do seem to own.
Wherefore my Muse! some few do not disdain,
Of many, to relate, more firm assent to gain.
But first lay out the treasures of the Air
That immense womb from whence all bodies spring;
And then the force of Phantasie declare,
Of Witches wonnes a while then maist thou sing,
Their Stygian rites, and nightly revelling.
Then to the wished port to draw more near
Als tell of the untimely wandering
Of the sad ghosts of men that oft appear,
All which to the hard search of truth, joynt light do bear;
Shew fitly how the praeexistent soul
Inacts and enters bodies here below,
And then entire, unhurt, can leave this moul
And thence her airy Vehicle can draw,
In which by sense and motion they may know
Better then we what things transacted be
Upon the Earth; and when they list, may show
Themselves to friend or foe, their phantasie
Moulding their airy Orb to grosse consistency.
For sooth to sayn, all things of Air consist
And easly back again return to air.
Witnesse the carkases of man and beast
Which wast though teeth of Wolves them never tear,
Nor Crow nor Vulture do their flesh empare,
Yet all is wast and gone, no reliques seen
Of former shape, saving the bones bare,
And the bare bones by Time and Art, I ween,
First into liquour melt to air ychanged been.
Besides experience doth maken plain
How clouds be but the crudling of the air.
Take a round glasse let's nought but air contain,
Close it with Hermes seal, then cover it over
With cinders warm, onely the top discover,
The gentle fire hard at the bottome pight
Thins the low air, which got above doth hover
Like a white fume embodying in the hight
With cooler parts, then turns to drops all crystall bright.
Not much unlike to the experiment
That learned Leech professes to have seen
Amongst the Alps, where the wind violent
Hammered out clouds with his strong blustring, keen
'Gainst a steep rock, which streight themselves did teem
Upon the Earth and wet the verdant Plain,
Dissolved by the sight of Phoebus sheen.
But sometimes clouds afford, not onely rain
But bloud, stones, milk, corn, frogs, fire, earth and all contain.
Wherefore all bodies be of air compos'd
Great Natures all-complying Mercury,
Unto ten thousand shapes and forms dispos'd:
Like nimble quick-silver that doth agree
With gold with brasse or with what ere it be
Amalgamate, but brought unto the fire
Into an airy fume it all doth flie,
Though you before might turn to earth and mire
What into ancient air so quickly doth retire.
Wherefore the soul possest of matter meet
If she hath power to operate thereon
Can eath transform this Vehicle to sight,
Dight with due colour, figuration;
Can speak, can walk, and then dispear anon
Spreading her self in the dispersed air;
Then if she please recall again what's gone.
Those th' uncouth mysteries of phansie are
Then thunder farre more strong, more quick then lightning far.
Some heavings toward this strange activity
We may observe even in this mortall state.
Here health and sicknesse of the phantasie
Often proceed, which working minds create,
And pox and pestilence do malleate,
Their thoughts still beating on those objects ill,
Which doth the mastered bloud contaminate,
And with foul poysonous impressions fill
And last, the precious life with deadly dolour kill.
And if't be true that learned Clerks do sayen
His phantasie whom a mad dog hath bit
With shapes of dogs doth all his Urine stain.
Women with child, if in their longing fit
They be differ'd, their eager appetite
So sharply edges the quick phantasie
That it the Signature doth carve and write
Of what she long'd for, on the Infants body,
Imprinting it so plain that all the world may see.
Those streaked rods plac'd by that Syrian swain
Before the sheep when they receiv'd the ramme,
(Whence the best part of Labans flock became
All spotted or'e, whereby his shepheard wan
The greater wages,) show what phansie can.
And boyes ore night when they went to their rest
By dreams grown up to th' stature of a man;
And bony shapes in mens sad hearts express
Dear image of their love, and wrought by loves unrest:
Things farre more wonderfull then Cippus horn
Who in the field with so much earnestnesse
Viewing the fight of bulls rose in the Morn
With forked front: for though the fight did cease
Amongst th' enraged heards, yet ne're the lesse
His working phansie did the war revive.
Which on the bloud did make so strong impresse
In dewy sleep, that humours did arrive
His knobby head and a fair pair of horns contrive:
All these declare the force of phantasie
Though working here upon this stubborn clay.
But th' airy Vehicle yields more easily,
Unto her beck more nimbly doth obey.
Which truth the joynt confessions bewray
Of damned Hags and Masters of bold skill,
Whose hellish mysteries fully to display
With pitchy darknesse would the Heavens fill
The earth would grone, trees sigh, and horrour all ore spill.
But he that out of darknesse giveth light
He guide my steps in this so uncouth way,
And ill done deeds by children of the Night
Convert to good, while I shall thence assay
The noble souls conditions ope to lay,
And show her empyre on her ayry sphear
By what of sprights and specters Stories say.
For sprights and spectres that by night appear
Be or all one with souls or of a nature near.
Up then renowned Wizard, Hermite sage!
That twice ten years didst in the desert wonne,
Convers'dst with sprights in thy hid Hermitage
Since thou of mortals didst the commerce shun,
Well seen in these bad arts that have foredone
Many a bold wit; Up Marcus! tell again
That story of thy Thrax, who has thee wonne,
To Christian faith, the guise and haunts explain
Of all air-trampling ghosts that in the world remain.
There be six sorts of sprights. Lelurion
Is the first kind, the next are nam'd from Air
The first aloft, yet farre beneath the Moon,
The other in this lower region fare.
The third Terrestriall, the fourth Watery are
The fift be Subterranean, the last
And worst, Light-hating ghosts more cruel farre
Then Bear or Wolf with hunger hard opprest,
But doltish yet and dull like an unwieldy beast.
If this sort once possesse the arteries
Of forlorn man: Madnesse and stupor seize
His salvag'd heart, and death dwels in his eyes.
Ne is there remedy for this sad disease.
For that unworthy guest so senselesse is
And deaf, no Exorcist can make him hear,
But would in vain with Magick words chastise.
Others the thundering threats of Tartar fear,
And the drad names of Angels that this office bear.
For they been all subject to passion.
Some been so grosse they hunger after food,
And send out seed of which worms spring anon
And love to liggen warm in living bloud,
Whence they into the veins do often crowd
Of beasts as well as men; wherein they bathe
Themselves, and sponge-like suck that vitall flood,
As they done also in their aery path
Drink in each unctuous steam, which their dire thirst allayth.
Such be the four last kinds, foul, dull, impure
Whose inward life and phansy's more inert
And therefore usually in one shape endure.
But those of aire can easily convert
Into new forms and then again revert;
One while a man, after a comely maid,
And then all suddenly to make the stert
Like leaping Leopard he'll thee invade,
Then made a man again he'll comfort thee afraid.
Then straight more quick then thought or cast of eye
A snarling Dog, or brisled Boar he'll be;
Anon a jugge of milk if thou be dry,
So easily's turned that aire-consistency
Through inward sport and power of phantasie.
For all things virtually are containd in aire,
And like the sunne, that fiery spirit free
Th' internall soul, at once the seed doth rear
Waken and ripe at once as if full ag'd they were.
Cameleon-like thus they their colour change
And size contract, and then dilate again:
Like the soft earthworm hurt by heedlesse chance
Shrinks in her self to shun or ease her pain.
Nor done they onely thus themselves constrain
Into lesse bulk, but if with courage bold
And flaming brond thou strike these shades in twain,
A sudden smart they feel that cannot hold,
Close quick as cloven aire. So sang that Wizzard old.
And truth he said whatever he has told,
As even this present Age may verifie,
If any lists its stories to unfold
Of Hags, of Hobgoblings, of Incubi,
Abhorred dugs by devils sucken dry,
Of leaping lamps and of fierce-flying stones,
Of living wool, and such like witchery,
Or prov'd by sight or self confessions,
Which things much credence gain to past traditions.
Wherefore with boldnesse we will now relate
Some few in breif, as of th' Astorgan lad,
Whose peevish mother in fell ire and hate
Quite drunk with passion, through quick choler mad
With execrations bold the devil bad,
Take him alive, which mood the boy no'te bear
But quits the room, walks out with spirit sad
Into the court, where, Lo! by night appear
Tall Giants with grim looks, rough limbs, black grizely hair.
These in a moment hoist him into th' air,
Away him bear more swift then bird can fly,
Straight to the destin'd place arrived are
Mongst craggy rocks, and bushy Mountains high,
Where up and down they drag the sorry boy;
His tender skin and goary flesh they tear
Till he gan on his Maker call and cry.
Which forc'd the villains home again him bear,
Where he the story told, restor'd by Parents care.
The walking Skeleton in Bolonia
Laden with rattling chains, that showd his grave
To th' watchfull Student, who without dismay
Bid tell his wants, and speak what he would have:
Thus cleared he the house by courage brave,
Nor may I passe the fair Cerdinian maid
Whose love a jolly swain did kindly crave,
And oft with mutuall solace with her stay'd;
Yet was no jolly swain but a deceitful shade,
More harmlesse mirth may that mad spright commend
Who in an honest widows house did won
At Salamanca, who whole showers would send
Of stones that swifter then a whirlwind come
And yet whereere they hit no hurt is done.
But cursed cruell be those wicked Hags
Whom poysonous spight, envy and hate have won
T' abhorred sorcery, whose writhled bags
Fould feinds oft suck and nestle in their loathsome rags.
Such as the Devil woes in homely form
Of swarthy man, or some black shaggy Curre,
Or vermine base, and in sad case forlorn
Them male-content to evil motions stirre;
Proffer their service, adding a quick spurre
To meditated vengance, and fell teen,
Whose hellish voice they heare without demur,
Abjure God and his Sonne, who did redeem
The world, give up themselves to Satan and foul sinne.
Thus 'bodyed into that Stygian crue
Of damned wights made fast by their own bloud
To their bad Master, do his service due,
Frequent the assemblies, dance as they were wood
Around an huge black Goat, in loansome wood
By shady night, farre from or house or town,
And kisse with driveling lips in frantick mood
His sacred breech. Catch that catch may anon
Each Feind has got his Hag for copulation.
O loathsome law! O filthy fond embrace!
The other root of cursed sorcery,
For if the streams of this bad art we trace
They lead to two foul springs, th' one Venerie
And coarsest Lust, the other near doth lie
And is ycleeped Vengeance, Malice, Hate,
Or restlesse Envy that would all destroy.
But both but from one seed do germinate
Hight uncurb'd Will, or strong Desire inordinate.
Wherefore I needs must humbly here adore
Him whose chaste soul enwombd in Virgin chest.
As chast a body amongst mortals wore,
Who never woman knew, ne once did taste
Of Hymens pleasures while this life did last.
Ah! my dear Lord! dread Sovereigne of souls
Who with thy life and lore so warmed hast
My wounded heart, that when thy Storie's told,
Sweet Love, methinks, in 's silver wings me all infolds.
How do I hang upon thy sacred lips
More sweet then Manna or the hony-dew!
Thy speech, like rosie drops doth cool my wits
And calme my fierce affections untrue,
And winne my heart unto obeisance due.
Blest O thrice blessed be that holy hill
Whereon thou did'st instruct thy faithfull crue
In wayes of peace, of patience and good-will
Forbidding base self-love, revenge and speeches ill.
Meek Lambe of God! the worlds both scourge and scorn!
How done th' infernall feinds thy face envy!
Thou light, they darknesse, they Night, thou the Morn!
Mild chariot of Gods lovely Majesty!
Exalted Throne of the Divinitie!
As thou with thine mak'st through the yielding aire
How do thy frighted foes before thee fly!
And grin and gnash their teeth for spight and fear
To see such awfull strength quite to themselves contraire.
Ho! you vain men that follow filthy lust
And swallow down revenge like pleasant wine,
Base earthly spirits! fly this sinfull dust.
See with what hellish Comrades you combine,
Als see whose lovely friendship you decline.
Even his whose love to you more strong then death
Did death abide, foul shame and evil tine;
But if sweet love your hearts may move uneath
Think how one fatall flame, shall hum all underneath.
Pans pipe shall then be mute, and Satyrs heel
Shall cease to dance ybrent in scorching fire;
For pleasure then each earthly spright shall feel
Deep searching pain; Revenge and base desire
Shall bear due vengeance, reap their worthy hire;
From thee, great Prince of souls! shall be their doome.
Then thou and thy dear Saints ascending higher
Shalt fly the fate, and quit this stinking room
With smouldry smoak, fierce fire, and loathsome stench o'rerun.
Go now you cursed Hags, salute your Goat
Whether with driveling lips or taper end,
Whereby at last you fire his his pide coat,
And then the deadly dust on mischief spend
As your Liege Lord these ashes doth commend
For wicked use, thundring this precept drad,
Revenge, revenge, or I shall on you send
Due vengeance: Thus dismiss th' assembly bad
Hoyst up into the Air, fly home through clammy shade.
Which stories all to us do plainly prove
That airy sprights both speak, and hear, and see.
Why do not then the souls of mortalls move
In airy Chariots but stupid lie
Lock'd up in sloth and senselesse Lethargie.
Certes our soul's as well proportionate
To this aeriall weed as spirits free:
For neither can our souls incorporate
With naked Earth, the Air must ever mediate.
Which that bold Art which Necromancy hight
Doth know too well, and therefore doth prepare
A vap'rous vehicle for th' intended spright
With reek of oyl, meal, milk, and such like gear,
Wine, water, hony; Thus souls fitted are
A grosser Carkas for to reassume.
And though Thessalian Hags their pains do spare
Sometimes they enter without Magick fume
Witnesse ye Cretick wives, who felt their fruitlesse spume.
And therefore to prevent such hellish lust
They did by laws Municipall provide
That he that dar'd to rise out of his dust
And thus infest his wife, a stake should gride
His stubborn heart and 's body burn beside;
Hereto belongs that story of the spright
Of fell Asuitus noted far and wide,
And of his faithfull comrade Asmund hight;
Twixt whom this law was made, as Danish Records write:
Which of them two the other did survive
Must be intomb'd with's fellow in one grave.
Dead Asuit therefore with his friend alive
His dog and horse all in one mighty Cave
Be shut together, yet this care they have,
That faithfull Asmund, be not lost for meat:
Wherefore he was well stor'd his life to save
And liv'd sometime in that infernall seat,
Till Errick King of Sweads the door did open break.
For well he ween'd there was some treasure hid
Which might enrich himself, or's Army pay.
But when he had broke ope the brasen lid
Nought but a very wight they finden may,
Whom out of darknesse brought to open day
The King beheld; dight with most deadly hue,
His cheek all gore, his ear quite bit away.
Then gan the King command the cause to shew
To which Asmundus answers, as doth here ensue:
Why gaze you thus on my sad squalid face,
Th' alive needs languish must amongst the dead,
But this sore wound that further doth deface
My wasted looks, Asuitus (who first fed
On's horse and dog, and then with courage dred,
At me let fly), Asuit this wound me gave,
But well I quit my self, took off his head
With this same blade, his heart nayl'd to the Cave:
Thus I my self by force did from the monster save.
The soul of Naboth lies to Ahab told,
As done the learned Hebrew Doctours write,
His foe in mischief thereby to infold.
Go up to Ramoth Gilead and fight,
Go up and prosper, said the lying spright,
The angry ghost of Naboth whom he slew
Unjustly, and possest his ancient right.
Hence his revengefull soul with speech untrue
Sat on his Prophets lips, and did with lies embue.
Ne may I passe that story sad of Saul
And Samuels ghost, whom he in great distresse
Consulted, was foretold his finall fall
By that old man, whom Endors sorceresse
Awak'd from pleasant vision and sweet ease,
Straitning a while his wonted liberty
By clammy air more close and thick compresse;
Then gan the mantled Sage Sauls destiny
To reade, and thine with his, dear Jonathan! to tye.
That lovely lasse Pausanias did kill
Through ill surmise she ment him treachery;
How did her angry spirit haunt him still
That he could no where rest, nor quiet ly:
Her wronged ghost was ever in his eye.
And he that in his anger slew his wife,
And was exempt by Law from penalty,
Poore sorry man he led a weary life
Each night the Shrow him beat with buffes and boxes rife.
And love as well as hate the dead doth reach,
As may be seen by what Albumaron
Did once befall, that learnd Arabian Leach.
He of a late-deceas'd Physition
Upon his bed by dream or vision
Receiv'd a sovereign salve for his sore eye,
And just Simonides compassion
Unto the dead that did unburied ly
On washed shore, him sav'd from jaws of destinie.
For he had perish'd in th' unruly waves,
And sudden storm, but lo! the thankfull spright
Of the interr'd by timely counsell saves,
Warning him of the danger he would meet
In his intended voyage,
Simonides desists by's counsell won:
The rest for want of faith or due foresight,
A prey to the devouring Seas become,
Their dashed bodies welter in the weedy scum.
In Artick Climes, an Isle that Thule hight
Famous for snowy monts, whose hoary head's
Sure signe of cold, yet from their fiery feet
They strike out burning stones with thunders dread,
And all the Land with smoak, and ashes spread:
Here wandring Ghosts themselves have often shown,
As if it were the region of the dead,
And men departed met with whom they've known,
In seemly sort shake hands, and ancient friendship own.
A world of wonders hither might be thrown,
Of Sprights and spectres, as that frequent noise
Oft heard upon the Plane of Marathon,
Of neighing horses and of Martiall boyes.
The Greek, the Persian, nightly here destroyes
In hot assault, embroyl'd in a long war.
Foure hundred years did last these dreadfull toyes,
As doth by Attick Records plain appear,
The seeds of hate, by death so little slaked are.
Nor lists me speak of Remus Lemures,
Nor haunted house of slain Caligula,
Nor Julius stern Ghost, who will, with ease
May for himself of old or new purvey.
Thousand such stories in mens mouths do stray,
But sith it much perplexeth slower minds
To think our souls unhurt can passe away
From their dear corps, so close thereto confin'd;
From this unwieldy thought let's now their wits unbind.
For if that spirits can possesse our veins
And arteries (as usuall stories tell)
Use all our Organes, act our nerves and brains,
And by our tongue can future things foretell,
And safely yet keep close in this warme cell
For many years, and not themselves impare
Nor lose ymeint with the bloud where they dwel,
But come out clever when they conjured are,
And nimbly passe away soft-gliding through the air:
Why scape not then the souls of men as clear
Since to this body they're no better joyn'd
Then thorough it to feel, to see, to hear
And to impart the passions of the mind?
All which done by th' usurping spright we find.
As witnesse may that maid in Saxony,
Who meanly born of rude unlearned kind,
Not taught to reade, yet Greek and Latine she
Could roundly speak and in those tongues did prophesie.
Timotheus sister down in childbed laid
Disturb, all-phrantick thorough deadly pain
Tearing the clothes, which much her friends dismai'd
Mumbling strange words as confus'd as her brain
At last was prov'd to speak Armenian.
For an old man that was by chance in town
And from his native soyle Armenia came
The woman having heard of his renown
Sent to this aged Sire to this sick wight to come.
Lo! now has entred the Armenian Sage
With scalp all bald, and skin all brown and brent,
The number of his wrinkles told his age:
A naked sword in his dry hand he hent.
Thus standing near her bed strong threats he sent
In his own language, and her fiercely chid.
But she well understanding what he meant
Unto his threats did bold defiance bid
Ne could his vaunts as yet the sturdy spirit rid.
Then gan he sternely speak and heave his hond
And feign'd himself enrag'd with hasty ire
As ready for to strike with flaming brond,
But she for fear shrunk back and did retire
Into her bed and gently did respire,
Muttering few easie words in sleepy wise.
So now whom erst tumultuous thoughts did tire
Compos'd to rest doth sweetly close her eyes,
Then wak'd, what her befell, in sober mood descryes.
Now, Thrax! thy Story adde of Alytas
Who got his freind into a Mountain high
Where he with him the loansome night did passe
In Stygian rites and hellish mystery.
First twiches up an herb that grew thereby,
Gives him to taste, then doth his eyes besmear
With uncouth salves, wherewith all suddenly
Legions of spirits flying here and there
Around their cursed heads do visibly appear.
Lastly into his mouth with filthy spaul
He spot, which done, a spirit like a Daw
His mouth did enter, and possessed all
His inward parts. From that time he gan know
Many secret things, and could events foreshow.
This was his guerdon this his wicked wage
From the inwoning of that Stygian Crow.
But who can think this bird did so engage
With flesh that he no'te scape the ruin of the cage.
No more do souls of men. For stories sayen
Well known 'mongst countrey folk, our spirits fly,
From twixt our lips, and thither back again,
Sometimes like Doves, sometime like to a Bee,
And sometime in their bodyes shape they be;
But all this while their carkase lyes asleep
Drownd in dull rest, son of mortality;
At last these shapes return'd do slily creep
Into their mouth, then the dead clouds away they wipe.
Nor been these stories all but Countrey fictions
For such like things even learned Clerks do write
Of brasen sleep and bodi's derelictions.
That Proconnesian Sage that Atheus hight
Did oft himself of this dull body quit
His soul then wandring in the easie aire.
But as to smoking lamp but lately light
The flame catch'd by the reek descends from farre,
So would his soul at last to his warm blood repair.
And Hermotime the Clazomenian
Would in like sort his body leave alone,
And view with naked soul both Hill and Plain
And secret Groves and every Region,
That he could tell what far and near was done:
But his curs'd foes the fell Cantharidae
Assault his house when he was far from home,
Burn down to ashes his forsaken clay:
So may his wandring ghost for ever freely stray.
And 'tis an art well known to Wizards old
And wily Hags, who oft for fear and shame
Of the coarse halter, do themselves with-hold
From bodily assisting their night game:
Wherefore their carkasses at home retain,
But with their soules at those bad feasts they are
And see their friends and call them by their name,
And dance around the Goat and sing, har, har
And kisse the Devils breech, and taste his deadly chear.
A many stories to this purpose might
Be brought of men that in this Ecstacy
So senselesse ly, that coales laid to their feet
Nor nips nor whips can make them ope their eye.
Then of a sudden when this fit's gone by,
They up and with great confidence declare
What things they heard and saw both far and nie,
Professing that their soules unbodied were,
And roam'd about the earth in Countries here and there.
And to confirm the truth of this strange flight
They oft bring home a letter or a ring
At their return, from some far distant wight
Well known to friends that have the ordering
Of their forsaken corps, that no live thing
Do tread or touch't, so safely may their spright
Spend three whole dayes in airy wandering.
A feat that's often done through Magick might,
By the Norvegian Hags as learned Authors write.
But now well-wearied with our too long stay
In these Cimmerian fogs and hatefull mists
Of Ghosts, of Goblins, and drad sorcery,
From nicer allegations we'll desist.
Enough is said to prove that souls dismiss
From these grosse bodies may be cloth'd in air,
Scape free (although they did not praeexist,)
And in these airy orbs feel, see, and hear
And moven as they list as did by proof appear.
But that in some sort souls do praeexist
Seems to right reason nothing dissonant,
Sith all souls both of trees, of men and beast
Been indivisible; and all do grant
Of humane souls though not of beast and plant:
But I elsewhere, I think, do gainly prove
That souls of beasts, by reasons nothing scant,
Be individuous, ne care to move
This question of a new, mens patiences to prove.
But if mens souls be individuous,
How can they ought from their own substance shed?
In generation there's nought flows from us
Saving grosse sperm yspent in Nuptial bed
Drain'd from all parts throughout the body spred,
And well concocted where me list not name.
But no conveyances there be that lead
To the souls substance, whereby her they drain
Of loosened parts, a young babe-soul from thence to gain.
Wherefore who thinks from souls new souls to bring
The same let presse the Sunne beams in his fist
And squeez out drops of light, or strongly wring
The Rainbow, till it die his hands, well-prest.
Or with uncessant industry persist
Th' intentionall species to mash and bray
In marble morter, till he has express
A sovereigne eye-salve to discern a Fay:
As easily as the first all these effect you may.
Ne may queint similies this fury damp
Which say that our souls propagation
Is as when lamp we lighten from a lamp.
Which done withouten diminution
Of the first light, shows how the soul of man
Though indivisible may another rear,
Imparting life. But if we rightly scan
This argument, it cometh nothing near
To light the lamp's to kindle the sulphurious gear.
No substance new that act doth then produce
Onely the oyly atomes 't doth excite
And wake into a flame, but no such use
There is of humane sperm. For our free sprite
Is not the kindled seed, but substance quite
Distinct therefrom. If not, then bodies may
So changed be by nature and stiff fight
Of hungry stomacks, that what erst was clay
Then herbs, in time itself in sense may well display.
For then our soul can nothing be but bloud
Or nerves or brains, or body modifide.
Whence it will follow that cold stopping crud,
Hard moldy cheese, dry nuts, when they have rid
Due circuits through the heart, at last shall speed
Of life and sense, look thorough our thin eyes
And view the Close wherein the Cow did feed
Whence they were milk'd; grosse Pie-crust will grow wise,
And pickled Cucumbers sans doubt Philosophize.
This all will follow if the soul be nought
But the live body. For mens bodies feed
Of such grosse meat, and if more fine be brought,
Suppose Snipes heads, Larks heels for Ladies meet,
The broth of Barly, or that oily Sweet
Of th' unctious Grape, yet all men must confesse
These be as little capable of wit
And sense, nor can be so transform'd, I wisse:
Therefore no soul of man from seed traducted is.
Ne been they by th' high God then first create
When in this earthly mansion they appear.
For why should he so soon contaminate
So unspotted beauties as mens spirits are,
Flinging them naked into dunghills here?
Soyl them with guilt and foul contagion?
Whenas in his own hand they spotlesse were,
Till by an uncouth strange infusion
He plung'd them in the deep of Malediction.
Besides unworthily he doth surmise
Of Gods pure being and bright Majesty,
Who unto such base offices him ties,
That He must wait on lawlesse Venery;
Not onely by that large Causality
Of generall influence (for Creation
More speciall concourse all men deem to be)
But on set purpose He must come anon,
And ratifie the act which oft men wish undone.
Which is a rash and shamelesse bad conceit,
So might they name the brat Adeodatus,
Whatever they in lawlesse love beget,
Again, what's still far more prodigious
When men are stung with fury poysonous
And burn with flames of lust toward brute beasts,
And overcome into conjunction rush,
He then from that foul act is not releast,
Creates a soul, misplacing the unhappy guest.
Wherefore mans soul's not by Creation,
Nor is it generate, as I prov'd before.
Wherefore let 't be by emanation
(If fully it did not praeexist of yore)
By flowing forth from that eternall store
Of Lives and souls ycleep'd the World of life,
Which was, and shall endure for evermore.
Hence done all bodies vitall fire derive
And matter never lost catch life and still revive.
And what has once sprout out doth never cease
If it enjoy itself, a spray to be
Distinct and actuall, though if God please
He can command it into th' ancient tree.
This immense Orb of wast vitality
With all its Lives and Souls is everywhere,
And do's, where matter right-prepar'd doth lie,
Impart a soul, as done the sunne beams clear
Insinuate themselves, where filth doth not debarre.
Thus may the souls in long succession
Leap out into distinct activity:
But sooth to say though this opinion
May seem right fair and plausible to be
Yet toils it under an hard difficulty.
Each where this Orb of life's with every soul;
Which doth imply the souls ubiquity.
Or if the whole Extent of Nature's full
Of severall souls thick set, what may the furthest pull?
What may engage them to descend so low,
Remov'd farre from the steam of earthly mire?
My wits been here too scant and faith too slow,
Ne longer lists my wearied thoughts to tire.
Let bolder spirits to such hight aspire,
But well I wote, if there admitted were
A praeexistency of souls entire,
And due Returns in courses circular,
This course all difficulties with ease away would bear.
For then suppose they wore an airy sphear
Which choice or Nemesis suck'd lower down,
Thus without doubt they'll leave their carcase clear;
Like dispossessed spright when death doth come
And by rude exorcisme bids quit the room.
Ne let these intricacies perplex our mind,
That we forget that ere we saw the sunne
Before this life. For who can call to mind
Where first he here saw sunne or felt the gentle wind.
Besides what wonder is's, when fierce disease
Can so empair the strongest memory,
That so full change should make our spirits leese
What 'fore they had impress'd in phantasie.
Nor doth it follow thence that when we die
We nought retain of what pass'd in these dayes,
For Birth is Death, Death Life and Liberty.
The soul's not thence contract but there displayes
Her loosened self, doth higher all her powers raise.
Like to a light fast-lock'd in lanthorn dark
Whereby, by night our wary steps we guide
In slabby streets, and dirty channels mark,
Some weaker rayes through the black top do glide,
And flusher streams perhaps from horny side.
But when we've past the perill of the way
Arriv'd at home, and laid that case aside,
The naked light how clearly doth it ray
And spread its joyfull beams as bright as Summers day.
Even so the soul in this contracted state
Confin'd to these strait instruments of sense
More dull and narrowly doth operate.
At this hole hears, the sight must ray from thence,
Here tasts, there smels; But when she's gone from hence,
Like naked lamp she is one shining sphear.
And round about has perfect cognoscence
Whatere in her Horizon doth appear:
She is one Orb of sense, all eye, all airy ear.
Now have I well establish'd the fourth way
The souls of men from stupid sleep to save,
First Light, next Night, the third the soules Self-ray,
Fourth the souls Chariot we named have
Whether moist air or fire all-sparkling brave
Or temper mixt. Now how these foure agree,
And how the soul herself may dip and lave
In each by turns; how no redundancy
Ther's in them, might we tell, nor scant deficiency.
But cease my restlesse Muse be not too free.
Thy chiefest end thou hast accomplished
Long since, shak'd of the Psychopannychie
And rouz'd the soul from her dull drowsiehed.
So nothing now in death is to be dred
Of him that wakes to truth and righteousnesse.
The corps lies here, the soul aloft is fled
Unto the fount of perfect happinesse:
Full freedome, joy and peace, she lively doth possesse.
[Grosart (1878) 119-28]