At 40,000 lines, Joseph Beaumont's didactic romance is considerably longer than Spenser's Faerie Queene; a revision in 24 cantos was posthumously published in 1702. While chiefly notable for its sheer bulk, in truth Psyche is a much more entertaining poem than Robert Aylett's meditations or Henry More's philosophical verse; the best of the allegorical set pieces rival Spenser's own.
The narrative relates the spiritual biography of a fashionable young woman named Psyche; the early cantos are a psychomachia in which Psyche is overcome by her unruly passions. She is preserved by God's Grace and a rather charming guardian angel named Phylax, who in the central cantos leads her on a long spiritual journey. With Psyche we visit the Holy Land for an adventurous review of theological history. In the final cantos Psyche returns to Albion, now torn by violent political strife. Upon the martyrdom of a Christian friend, Psyche suffers a despair and temptation that even Phylax is unable to resolve. Faith triumphs in the end, and the poem concludes with the ascension of Psyche to Heaven.
Preface: "The Turbulence of these Times having deprived me of my wonted Accommodations of Study; I deliberated, For the avoiding of meer Idleness, what Task I might safeliest presume upon, without the Society of Books: and concluded upon Composing this Poem. In which I endeavour to represent a Soul led by divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel, (in fervent Devotion,) through the difficult Temptations and Assaults of Lust, of Pride, of Heresy, of Persecution, and of Spiritual Dereliction, to a holy and happy Departure from temporal Life, to heavenly Felicity: Displaying by the way, the Magnalia Christi, his Incarnation and Nativity; his Flight into Aegypt, his Fasting and Temptation, his chief Miracles, his being Sold and Betrayed, his Institution of the Holy Eucharist, his Passion, his Resurrection and Ascension; which were his mighty Testimonies of his Love to the Soul.
"I am not ignorant, that very few Men are competent Readers of Poems, the true Genius of Poetry being little regarded, or rather not subject at all to common Capacities: so that a discourse upon this Theam would be to small purpose. I know also, how little Prefacing Apologies use to be credited: Wherefore, though I had much (very much) to say, and justly, in this kind, I will venture to cast my self upon thy Ingenuity, with this only Protestation, that If any thing throughout this whole Poem, happen [against my intention] to prove Discord to the Consent of Christ's Catholick Church, I here Recant it aforehand.
"My Desire is, That this Book may prompt better Wits to believe, that a Divine Theam is as capable and happy a Subject of Poetical Ornament, as any Pagan or Humane Device whatsoever. Which if I can obtain, and (into the Bargain,) Charm my Readers into any true degree of Devotion, I shall be bold to hope that I have partly reached my proposed Mark, and not continued meerly Idle" (1702) Sig. b3.
History of the Works of the Learned: "If this Divine poet is not so smooth and exact in his Numbers, as our Modern Poets are, 'tis to be attributed to his strict following the measures and stanza of the Great Spenser, who was ever accounted an excellent Master of Poetry in his Time, and who has ever since been look'd upon as a Model fit to be imitated by all the succeeding Pretenders to that Art" (1702); quoted in R. M. Cummings, Critical Heritage (1971) 233.
Retrospective Review: "Psyche ... is deserving of notice on various accounts; among others, it possesses the singular distinction of being (to the best of our knowledge) the longest poem in the English language. The number of lines it contains is nearly forty thousand; or rather (to speak with all possible accuracy on so important a point) 38,922, and, including the metrical arguments, 39,066; being considerably longer than the Faerie Queene, nearly four times longer than Paradise Lost, or Henry More's poem; five or six times as long as the Excursion, and reducing the versified novels our modern times to utter insignificance" 11 (1824) 289.
George Gilfillan: "While praising the genius of Beaumont, we are far from commending his Psyche, either as an artistic whole, or as a readable book. It is, sooth to say, a dull allegory, in twenty-four immense cantos, studded with the rarest beauties. It is considerably longer than the Faery Queen, nearly four times the length of the Paradise Lost, and five or six times as long as the Excursion. To read it through now-a-days were to perform a purgatorial penance. But the imagination and fancy are Spenserian, his colouring is often Titianesque in gorgeousness, and his pictures of shadows, abstractions, and all fantastic forms, are so forcible as to seem to start from the canvas" Specimens with Memoirs of the less-known British Poets (1860) 2:309-10.
W. Davenport Adams: "Joseph Beaumont, D.D. (1615-1699), wrote Psyche, or, Love's Mystery (1647-8); and an attack on Henry More's Mystery of Godliness (1665), for which he received the thanks of the University of Cambridge. His Poems in English and Latin were published in 1749" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 64.
J. Bass Mullinger: "Beaumont was neither an Edmund Spenser nor a John Bunyan; and the latter, when, a quarter of a century later, he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress, may unhesitatingly be acquitted of having borrowed anything from the pages of Psyche" Cambridge History of English Literature (1912) 8:324.
Herbert E. Cory: "Beaumont linked to the life of Christ an elaborate allegory of Psyche, the soul of man. In 1648 he published his poem in a version said to have been much milder than the one which is now extant. He then devoted himself to putting an edge on the sectarian passages and, in calm certainty of deathless fame, dauntlessly added four cantos to the leviathan. The Psyche begins with a scene in Hell which may be grouped with those of The Apollyonists, Christ's Victorie, and Paradise Lost. With a speech of fiery scorn Satan fills his henchmen with a new spirit of rebellion and lays plots to beguile Psyche. Lust is first despatched against the unsuspecting maiden. She is found feasting with Phylax, the emissary of Christ, who prepares her for her coming danger by a detailed account of Joseph's life and his temptation by Potiphar's wife" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 336.
A. A. Jack: Psyche "owes its existence much more to Phineas Fletcher's poem on the body than to The Faerie Queene. Of Spenser, Beaumont by no means professes himself a disciple, speaking of him in depreciatory terms as 'manacled in thick and peevish Rhyme,' and adding equivocally: 'Right fairly dress'd were his welfeatured Queen, | Did not her Mask too much her beauties screen," a dictum which perhaps means that the interest of the narrative obscures the moral allegory" Chaucer and Spenser (1920) 312.
Douglas Bush: "Beaumont was ejected from his Cambridge fellowship in 1643-4, along with his friend Crashaw and others, and though he remained an Anglican or Anglo-Catholic, he had a close spiritual affinity with the more intense Crashaw" Oxford History of English Literature (1945) 91.
A copy of the 1702 edition of Psyche appears in the 1859 sale catalogue of Wordsworth's library; see A. N. L. Munby, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons (1971-75) 9:54.
Enrag'd at Heav'n and Psyche, Satan laies
His projects to beguile the tender Maid,
Whilst Phylax proper counter-works doth raise,
And mustereth Joseph's Legend to her aid;
That fortify'd by this chast Pattern, She
To Lust's assaults impregnable might be.
ETERNAL LOVE, of sweetest Poetry
The sweeter King, from thine high Mercies' Throne
Deign to behold my prostrate Vow, and Me:
No Muse, no Gods, but greater Thee alone
I invocate; for both his heads full low
Parnassus to thy Paradise doth bow.
Thy Paradise, thro' whose fair Hills of Joy
Those Springs of everlasting Vigor range,
Which make Souls drunk with Heav'n, which cleanse away
All Earth from Dust, and Flesh to Spirit change.
Wise loyal Springs, whose current to no Sea
Its panting voyage ever steers, but Thee.
Sage Moses first their wondrous might descry'd,
When, by some drops from hence imbraved, he
His triumph sung o'er th' Erythraean Tide.
But Royal David, and his Son, by free
Carrowsing in these nobly-sacred Streams
With Poets' chaplets crown'd their Diadems.
Defiance other Helicons! O may
These precious Founts my Vow and Heart refine!
My task, dear LOVE, art Thou: if ever Bay
Court my poor Muse, I'll hang it on thy shrine.
My Soul untun'd, unstrung, doth wait on Thee
To teach her how to sing thy MYSTERY.
A MYSTERY envelop'd in a cloud
Of charming horror, barricado'd round
With dainty Riddles, guarded by a crowd
Of quiet Contradictions; so profound
A Plain, that Psyche's long-acquainted eye
Stagger'd about its misty Clarity.
A MYSTERY, which other Shades beset;
Substantial Shades, made up of solid Hate;
Born in the Deep, which knows no bottom, yet
Vent'ring to block up Heaven's sublimest gate:
Whilst Belzebub, in blackness damn'd to dwell,
Plots to have all things else as dark as Hell.
For He, th immortal Prince of equal spight,
Abhors all Love in every name and kind;
But chiefly that which burns with flames as bright
As his are swarthy, and as endless find
Their living fuel: These enrage him so,
That all Hell's Furies must to council go.
For (as the wounded Lyon frights his Den
By roaring out his grief;) his shatter'd heart
Vomits a hideous groan, which thundring in
His hollow realm, bellow'd to every part
The frightful summons: all the Peers below
Their King's voice by its sovereign stink did know.
Nor dar'd they stay their tails vast volumes to
Abridge into a knot's Epitome;
Or trim their hoofs foul cleft with iron shoe,
Or their snarl'd snakes' confusion unty:
Only their paws they fill with Page, and bring
That desperate subsidy to their mad King.
Hell's Court is built deep in a gloomy Vale,
High wall'd with strong Damnation, moated round
With flaming Brimstone: full against the Hall
Roars a burnt bridge of brass: the yards abound
With all invenom'd Herbs and Trees, more rank
And fruitless than on Asphaltite's bank.
The Gate, where fire and smoke the Porters be,
Stands always ope with gaping greedy jaws.
Hither flock'd all the States of misery;
As younger snakes, when their old serpent draws
Them by a summoning hiss, hast down her throat
Of patent poison their aw'd selves to shoot.
The Hall was roof'd with everlasting Pride,
Deep paved with Despair, checker'd with Spight,
And hanged round with Torments far and wide:
The front display'd a goodly-dreadful sight,
Great Satan's Arms stamp'd on an iron shield,
A Crowned Dragon Gules in sable field.
There on's immortal throne of Death they see
Their mounted Lord; whose left hand proudly held
His Globe, (for all the world he claims to be
His proper realm,) whose bloody right did wield
His Mace, on which ten thousand serpents knit,
With restless madness gnaws themselves, and it.
His insolent feet all other footstools scorn'd
But what compleatest Scorn to them suggested;
This was a Cross; yet not erect, but turn'd
Peevishly down. The robe which him invested,
In proud embroidery shew'd that envious Feat
By which of Paradise he Man did cheat.
His Diadem was neither brass nor rust,
But monstrous Metal of them both begot;
Which millions of vilest Stones imbost,
Yet precious unto him, since he by that
Artillery his fatal batteries kind
On heav'n-beloved Martyrs' bodies made.
His awful Horns above his crown did rise,
And force his fiends to shrink in theirs: his face
Was triply-plated Impudence: his Eyes
Were Hell reflected in a double glass,
Two Comets staring in their bloody stream,
Two Beacons boyling in their pitch and flame.
His Mouth in breadth vy'd with his palace gate,
And conquer'd it in foot: his tawny Teeth
Were ragged grown by endless gnashing at
The dismal Riddle of his living Death:
His grizly Beard a sing'd confession made
What fiery breath through his black lips did trade.
Which as he op'd, the Center, on whose back
His Chair of ever-fretting Pain was set,
Frighted beside it self began to quake:
Throughout all Hell the barking Hydra's shut
Their awed mouths: the silent Peers in fear
Hung down their tails, and on their Lord did stare.
Three times he shak'd his horns; three times his Mace
He brandish'd towards heav'n; three times he spew'd
Fell sulphur upward: which when on his face
It soused back, foul Blasphemy ensu'd,
So big, so loud, that his huge Mouth was split
To make full passage to his Rage, and it.
I yield not yet; Defiance Heav'n, said He,
And though I cannot reach thee with my fire,
Yet my unconquer'd Brain shall able be
To grapple with thee; nor canst thou be higher
Than my brave Spight: Know, though below I dwell,
Heav'n has no stouter Hearts than strut in Hell.
For all thy vaunting Promise to the seed
Of dust-begotten Man, my head is here
Unbroken still: When thy proud foot did tread
Me down from my own Spheres, my forehead there
Both met and scorn'd the blow: And thou at first
(Whate'r thou talk'st to Man,) didst do thy worst.
Courage my Lords; ye are the same, who once
Ventur'd on that renown'd Design with me
Against the Tyrant call'd Heav'n's righteous Prince.
What though Chance stole from us that Victory?
'Twas the first field we fought; and He being in
His own Dominion, might more easily win.
How oft have We met Him mid-way since then.
And in th' indifferent world not vainly fought!
Forc'd We him not to yield all mortal Men
At once, but simple Eight? though He'd be thought
Then to have shown his pow'r, when he was fain
Basely to drown what he could not maintain.
Poor shift I yet make the best on's, still the odds
Is ours; and that our yelling Captives feel:
Ours is a fiery Deluge, but their God's
A watery flood: His scarce had strength to swell
For some vain months; ours scorns the bounds of age,
And foams and boils with everlasting rage.
And let it boil, whilst to the endless shame
Of our high-bragging Foe, those Pris'ners there
With helpless roars our Victory proclaim:
What nobler Trophies could we wish to rear!
Are they not Men of the same Flesh and Blood
With that frail Christ, who needs would seem a God?
A pretty God, whom I, sole I, of late
Caus'd to be fairly hang'd. 'Tis true he came
By stealth, and help'd by sly Night, forc'd Hell's gate:
But snatch'd he any Captive hence, that Fame
Might speak him valiant? No, he knew too well
That I was King, and you the Peers of Hell.
Yet to patch up his tatter'd credit, He
Sneak'd through that Gulf, to barbarous Abraham's den,
Who for his ready inhumanity
Was dubb'd the Father of all faithful Men.
Less, less my Pilate, was thy Crime; yet Thou
(O righteous Heav'n!) now yellest here below.
His willing prizes thence he won; (but how
Forlorn a Rout, let Lazarus witness be,
Who the late pity of vile dogs, was now
A special Saint:) and this vain victory
Homeward he bore, with banner proudly spread,
As if with his own blood t' had not been red.
Me thinks I could permit him to possess
That pilfer'd honor, did he now forbear
My Subjects from their Loyalty to press,
And lure poor cheated Men his yoke to wear.
But by my Wrath I swear, I'll make him know
That I of Earth and Air am Sovereign too.
Well beat, O my immortal Indignation!
Thou nobly swell'st my belking Soul; and I
Success's Omen feel. Brave Desperation
Doth sneaking fear's objections defy:
Shall we be tamely damn'd, and new ones bear,
Because our old Wrongs unrevenged are?
Was't not enough, against the righteous Law
Of Primogeniture, to throw us down
From that bright Home, which all the World do's know
Was by most clear Inheritance our own:
But, to our shame, Man, that vile Worm must dwell
In our fair Orbs, and Heaven with vermin fill?
What tricks, charms, promises, and mystic Arts,
What blandishments of fained fawning things,
He musters up to woo these silly hearts!
Doubtless God-like into the field he brings
This jugling strength of his Artillery:
Yet, who, forsooth, the Tempters are, but we?
Psyche, a simple thing I wot, and one
Whom I as deeply scorn, as Him I spight,
He seeks to make his prize; Psyche alone
Takes up his amorous Thoughts both day and night.
Were't not our wrong, I could contented be
Heaven's goodly Prince had such a Spouse as she.
But she is ours; I have design'd a place
Due to her vileness in yon brimstone Lake,
Which shall revenge whatever in her face
Do's now her lusty God a Wooer make.
He promis'd her, that with the Angels she
Should live; and so she shall; but those are We.
We, noble We, who true unto our pure
Original, disdained to betray
Our native excellence; and by demure
Baseness, in stead of Ruling, to Obey.
What proof of virtuous bravery could be greater,
Than thus to scorn ev'n God himself to flatter?
But since this God now thinks it fit to fly
From open Force, to his Reserve of Art;
Surely 'twill no dishonour be, if I
Deign to outplay him in his own sly part.
That all th' amazed World may understand
Our gallant Brain's as potent as our Hand.
Lust, thou shalt give the Onset: quickly dress
Thy self with every beauteous charm, which my
Aerial Kingdom yields, and subtly press
Our counterplot: remember but how thy
Sweet guiles did once a mighty King subvert.
However fam'd to be After God's heart.
Then Philanty and Pride shall stretch her Soul
With swelling poison, making her disdain
Heav'ns narrow gate; whilst Wealth it self doth roll
Into her bosom in a golden Rain;
That she may grow too rich to match with one,
Of a poor Carpenter the poorer Son.
Next shall my Secretary Heresy
Right sagely teach her to become too wise
To take up points on trust, and fooled be
By saucy Faith plainly against her eyes.
Then Persecution's flame shall earnest give
Of that full fire which she shall here receive.
If still she tough and stubborn prove, do thou,
My dear Despair, about her sullen heart
Millions of black confusions toss, and through
Her tortur'd thoughts all Hell aforehand dart.
'Tis my Prerogative, that I can dare
To build assured Hope ev'n on Despair.
Nor shall this Service due requital want:
That trusty lucky Fiend who do's the feat,
Shall wear the Prize he wins, and by my Grant
Of Charter Royal be confirm'd the great
Master of Psyche's torments; He, and none
But he, shall order her Damnation.
Nay for his greater honor, every night
With seven full lashes he shall plow the heart
Of Judas and of Cain; nor from my sight
Henceforth on any work shall he depart,
But here at my right hand Attendant be
For ever, and Blaspheme the next to me.
Go then in God's name, but that God am I,
And here my blessing on you all I deal.
Catch but this Wench; and by that Victory
We'll torture Christ more deeply than this Hell
Doth you or Me, and so revenge the pain
To which the Tyrant all brave Us doth chain.
This said; he from his scaly bosom draws
Five Dragons' hides tann'd in the Stygian Pool,
And scratch'd with his own Adamantine Claws.
Then, lo, he cries, here in a several scroll
Each Warrant ready sign'd. Fly, fly; delay
Doth oft he strongliest-founded Plots betray.
His Senate strait with an obsequious roar
Applaud their Prince: and those designed Fiends
Their Snaky-heads thrice bowing to the floor,
Take their damn'd leave. Forthwith a Tempest rends
Hell's wide mouth wider ope, that thro' the gate
They may their march begin in horrid state.
Old Tellus wonder'd what wild Treason 'twas
Which tore her deepest Bowels; for as from
The monstrous Cannon's thundering mouth of Brass
A sudden cloud of Rage and Death doth foam,
So from beneath these hasty Furies broke:
Such was the flashing fire, and such the smoke.
But fouler was the stink: all honest Flowers
Frighted from their own sweets fell sick and dy'd;
Stout Trees which had defy'd all Tempests powers,
From this dire Breath sneak'd their faint heads aside.
Only some venomous Weeds, whose roots from Hell
Suck in their deadly living, lik'd the smell.
Lust falls to work the first: a Spirit as foul
As he's ambitious beautiful to seem;
Uncleanness keeps her Court in's muddy Soul;
Poison's own breath from's rank mouth's grot doth steem;
Black is the fire which burneth in his eye;
Diseases thick in every member lie.
But being cunning in the cheating trade
Of Circe and Medea [who had been
His Prentices,] he soon contrived had
What comely lie his ugly truth should screen;
What goodly Body's spruce hypocrisy
Should to his filthy mind the Pander be.
The purest Air which Virgin sweetness breaths
On Libanus his Cedar-crowned head,
With Magic nimbleness he grasps, and wreaths,
And shrinks, and kneads, and moulds, till worried
From her soft self she is content to wear
The shape of any Fraud he thrusts on her.
And thus the Nymph, tho' week and loose before,
And at the mercy of each busy blast,
Becomes a stiff stout Man: whose face to store
With Beautie's brightest charms, strait to the East
The Spirit flies, and in Aurora's cheeks
The best of Oriental sweetness seeks.
But since his breath still reek'd with stinks, and spoke
The Gulf which spew'd him forth; he slop'd his flight
To blest Arabia's Meads, from whence he took
Each Flower's best Flower, each Spice's sweetest might:
That from th' aromatized double bed
Of his soft lips, he vocal Balm might shed.
Then raking thousand Virgins Tombs, he there
Plunder'd the richest of their Amber tresses;
With which, new curl'd and powdered, his bare
And parched Scalp he amorously dresses:
Then with perfumed Combs instructs them how
To smile, wave, play, and wantonly to flow.
This done; the Silk-worm's wealth, the Ermin's skin,
The tissues in whose pride young Princes shine,
Into one gorgeous suit he crowds; and in
Each seam doth Gold and Pearls and Gems intwine:
For thro' Earth's closets when his way he tore
He wisely pilfer'd all her gaudiest store.
But for the fashion he was fain to run
To Court, and learn how Gallants there were drest
Men of more various transformations, than
In Proteus wit or fiction e'er express:
Chamelion's Apes, who rather than forbear
To change their hue, will choose to live on Air.
An Amoroso here he chanc'd to spy
Devoutly idolizing Her, whom he
Only contriv'd to undermine; and by
That Squire's quaint mode, he did his own decree.
Bravely dissembled thus from head to feet,
He plots where he may Psyche safeliest meet.
That morning she was feasting it at home
Close in the sweets of His dear company,
Who from her Lord, the King of Souls, was come
His restless but delicious Suit to ply,
And with exact attendance see the Maid
Might to no sudden danger be betray'd.
A Mine of beauties in the Symmetry
Of his all-ravishing aspect sweetly smil'd;
Heaven clearly looked out at either eye;
His roseal cheeks ten thousand Graces swell'd
As many little Loves their Nests had made
In the curl'd Amber of his dainty head.
He from the Rain-bow, as he came that way
Borrow'd a Lace of those fair-woven beams
Which clear Heaven's blubber'd face, and gild dull day;
And this he sew'd on all his Mantle's seams,
A Mantle spun of milky down, which had
On Birds of his own Paradise been bred.
Upon his lovely shoulders dwelt a pair
Of correspondent wings: no driven Snow
On Scythian Hills durst vouch its plumes for fair
If questioned by these, which fear no thaw:
Less white, less soft are they, and will at last
With melting tears confess themselves surpass.
Well did his body's nimble vessel suit
With those its gallant Oars; so pliant were
His goodly timber'd Limbs, and yet so stout,
That Wax and Steel seem'd kindly marry'd there.
Hence, tho' he martial were, he lov'd to prove
Himself the Warrior of none but Love.
High is his great Extraction, full as high
As is the loftiest and the purest Sphere:
There reigns his Father, Prince of Majesty,
There millions of his Brethren shining are,
And all as Princes too; that Land alone
Contains innumerable Realms in one.
Yet did this Royalty not puff his heart
Too high to his grand Sovereign's Will to bow
Or count it Earthly work from Heaven to part
And wait on Jesus's business here below.
O brave Obedience, whose wondrous art
Can depth to height, and Earth to Heav'n convert!
At Psyche's birth his guardian Wing he spread
With ready watchful tenderness, that she
Might gently rest in that delicious bed,
To which all other Feathers thorny be:
Great was the Mother's care and love, but yet
The Infant was to Phylax more in debt.
That was his Name; and sure he made it good:
No Tutor ever spent more learned care,
The stoutest Champion never bravelier stood
Affronting Peril, and affrighting Fear;
Than He in Psyche's quarrel, being able
To prove himself as strong as she was feeble.
For Danger never drew its Forces near
His precious Charge, but He was nearer still:
All plots that Envy's cunning aim'd at Her
He counterplotted with profounder skill.
While she was weak and knew not how to go,
About flew He, and joy'd her work to do.
As she grew greater, so his care would grow;
And he must wean her too, and stretch his Art
To damp her relish of vain things below
Which likelier were to cheat and choke the Heart,
Than make it live its proper life, for she
Was born to live unto Eternity.
When she had learn'd to build a word aright,
He taught her Heaven's high Language, and the Song
Which lately in the Quire of Sovereign light
Had been the task and joy of his own Tongue;
Desiring Virtue might be her first growth,
And Hallelujah broach her holy mouth.
To season then and preposses her tender
Unwritten Memory; with Rarities
Cull'd from God's Book he first allur'd her wonder,
And then her pretty study did entice:
Thus she well skill'd in holy Scripture grew,
Before she knew what Book it was she knew.
Her prattle thus was Piety, and she
By her own sport engaged was in Bliss:
Long, long before her Heart could moved be
Her Tongue could fly thro' Love's dear Mysteries;
She having innocently learn'd the way
Thro' both the serious Testaments to play.
But when her Soul could go, and well discern
The way it went; he spread before her eye
Ten goodly Paths; and these you needs must learn,
Says he, to trace, as leading to the high
Gate of pure Rest for God's own finger did
Draw for thy feet these Tracts on Sinai's head.
As for that broad and glaring way wherein
Wild Sinners find full space to wantonize;
It leads but to the guerdon of their sin,
And in the closest Prison ends: but this
Which with strict straitness seems besieg'd, will thee
Convey to everlasting Liberty.
That straitness ne'r was meant to pend or press,
But sure and upright make thy Passage: by
The Nurse's wary hands the Child is thus
Close guarded when he his young feet doth try.
This is the heavenly temper of thy Way,
To yield full room to go, but not to stray.
Room, room enough: the King's High-way is less
Kingly than this: the greatest Heroes who
Have climb'd above the World, wish'd not to press
Beyond these bounds. Be but content to go
Where Saints, and where thy Lord before hath gone,
That thou mayst overtake him at his Throne.
Thus did He gently grave upon her Heart
The Characters of Heaven; thus every day
He reads some Lecture, lest the Tempter's Art
Upon her young and plyant Soul should prey.
But they this morning being private, she
A story begg'd; and thus replyed He:
Know then, my Dear, there liv'd a Youth of old
Almost as young, and no less fair than Thou:
On his rich Head smil'd a soft grove of Gold;
Two small half Heavens were bent in either brow.
Nor were those Hemispheres sham'd by his Eyes,
Which the best Stars above dar'd not despise.
All Roses blush'd when near his lips they came,
Whose purer Crimson, and whose sweeter Breath
They thought (and well they might) their double shame;
No Lilly ever met him in his path,
But dreading his pure hand, in reverent fright
Grew pale to see it self outvy'd in white.
The portly Cedars whose high mounted pitch
O'r all the Trees advanc'd them to be Princes,
Envy'd this stripling's lower stature, which
Degraded their aspiring excellencies:
The tallest lankness shows not half so high
In Beautie's scale, as graceful Symmetry.
Thus tho' compounded all of lovely Charms,
No wanton mixture did his sweets deflower:
With gentle gravity his looks he arms;
And, as the Heaven is Heaven altho' it lour.
So are his graces still themselves, tho' He
Invelop them in serious Chastity.
His noble Sire, renowned Jacob was,
Not by the Wife whose blear and watery eye
Did its dim self bewail, and was the glass
In which the World read her deformity:
But by fair Her, who tho' she cost him twice
Seven years hard service, low he thought the price.
He Rachel's Son, and her best Graces heir
For her dear sake, but much more for his own,
Sate precious next his Father's Soul, whose care
Was bent his own delights in him to crown.
He lov'd his Children all, yet far above
The rest, his Joseph he did love to love.
(Joseph, whose strangely forward Soul would not
Wait the dull leisure of Experience to
Conduct him in the paths of Knowledge, but
Speeded by Heaven did Time's own pace outgo;
Thus proving in his bud maturely sage,
And long in Wisdom, e'er in years of age.)
He hunts about the proudest World to buy
The choice of purest and of brightest Cloth
Brisk in the Tyrian and Sidonian dye,
As due to his fair Darling: seeming loth
That fewer Colors should embrave his Coat
Than all the World in him did Beauties note.
Yet when the starry Peacock doth display
His train's full Orb, the winged People all
Disgraced into anger and dismay
Let their out-sparkled Plumes sullenly fall:
So Joseph's Robes which his sweet self adorn,
His Brethren cloath with shame and ireful scorn.
And is pert He alone, said murmuring They,
His Father's lawfully-begotten Child,
And we By-blows? Or must his Boyship prey
On all our Seniorities? How wild
A Hysteron Proteron's this, which Nature crosses,
And far above the top the bottom tosses!
'Tis true, our partial Father, tho' he were
The puny Brother, yet right slily did
Into that Blessing steal, to which the Heir
Was doubtless born: but yet by craft he sped,
And not by Right: had Isaac had his eyes
As Jacob now, sure he'd have been more wise.
But tho' the old Man loves his lucky cheat
So well, that he upon his younger Son
Throws all his Heart: We hope no want of Meat
Shall force us willingly to be undone;
Nor any Pottage this fond Boy can dress,
Our Birth-right buy of the least He of Us.
Thus they repin'd; (not knowing there was writ
Upon Heaven's Adamantine leaves a Law,
By which this scorn'd Youth was decreed to sit
In first-born Reuben's noble Chair, and grow
Like an imperial Branch, whose teeming Root
Dips in a loving Fount its blessed foot.)
Nor could his Innocencie's gentle charms
Prevent the tempest of their groundless hate:
For Brotherly salutes, with froward storms
Of scornful language they his patience beat:
And what they dar'd not venture with their Swords
Of Steel, they try to do by those of Words.
Yet in the sweetness of simplicity Ingenuous
He tells them his sacred Dream:
From off my Bed by active Fancy I
Hurry'd into the open Field did seem;
And well my journie's pains were paid, for she
With your dear company there blessed me.
To work we fell, and reap'd the Field, and bound
Our Sheafs; which strangely started all upright,
Mine in the midst, yours in a decent round:
Mine fixed stood, yours seiz'd with awful fright
Their reverential heads did all incline,
And render meek obeysance unto mine.
This word his Brethren stung, who stamp'd and bit
Their ireful lips; but yet could not bite in
Their indignation, whose high torrent split
Their foaming Mouths: and must, said they, thy fine
Fancies usurp and reign, and by a trick
Down into vile contempt thy Betters kick?
Proud Brat, know'st thou what meek Obeysance is?
How dares thy upstart Insolence but dream
That we thy Elders must bow down and kiss
Thy Boyish foot, and tremble at thy Name?
Believe it Child, 'tis not thy gewgaw Coat,
(Tho' too too princely for thy back) can do't.
Altho' thus smartly check'd, Heaven-spurred fie
Dreads not his second Dream to represent;
Yet wisely takes the opportunity
Of Jacob's presence, that their Discontent
Aw'd by their Father's looks, might cooler grow,
And civil audience to him allow.
Then, misconstructions to forestall, he thrice
Bows down; and cries, Dread Sire, and Brethren dear,
When this last night had sealed up mine eyes,
And open'd Heaven's, whose countenance now was clear,
And trimm'd with every Star; on his soft wing
A nimble Vision me did thither bring.
Quite thro' the Store-House of the Air I past
Where choice of every Weather treasur'd lies:
Here Rains are bottled up; there Hail is cast
In candy'd heaps; here banks of Snow do rise;
There Furnaces of Lightning burn, and those
Longbearded Stars which light us to our Woes.
Hence towr'd I to a dainty World: the Air
Was sweet and calm, and in my memory
Wak'd my serener Mother's looks: this fair
Canaan now fled from my discerning eye;
The Earth was shrunk so small, methought I read
By that due prospect, what it was indeed.
But then arriving at an Orb whose flames
Like an unbounded Ocean flow'd about;
Fool as I was, I quak'd; till its kind beams
Gave me a harmless kiss. I little thought
Fire could have been so mild; but surely here
It rageth, 'cause we keep it from its Sphere.
There, reverend Sire, it flam'd, but with as sweet
An ardency as in your noble Heart
That Heavenly Zeal doth burn, whose fostering heat
Makes you Heaven's living Holocaust: no part
Of my Dream's tender wing felt any harm;
Our journey, not the fire, did keep us warm.
But here my Guide, his wings soft oars to spare,
On the Moon's lower horn clap'd hold, and whirl'd
Me up into a Region, as far
In splendid worth surmounting this low World,
As in its place: for liquid Crystal here
Was the tralucid matter of each Sphere.
The Moon was kind, and as we scoured by
Shew'd us the Deed, whereby the great Creator
Instated her in that large Monarchy
She holdeth over all the Ocean's water:
To which a Schedule was annex'd, which o'er
All other humid Bodies gives her power.
Now complemental Mercury was come
To the quaint margin of his courtly sphere,
And bid us eloquent welcome to his Home:
Scarce could we pass, so great a crowd was there
Of Points and Lines, and nimble Wit beside
Upon the backs of thousand shapes did ride.
Next Venus's face, heav'n's joy and sweetest pride,
(Which brought again my Mother to my mind,)
Into her Region lur'd my ravish'd Guide:
This strew'd with Youth and Smiles and Love we find,
And those all chast: 'tis this foul World below
Adulterates what from thence doth spotless flow.
Then rapt to Phebus's Orb, all pav'd with gold,
The rich reflection of his own Aspect:
Most gladly there I would have staid and told
How many Crowns and Thrones his Dwelling decks,
What Life, what Verdure, what Heroic Might,
What pearly Spirits, what Sons of active Light.
But I was hurried into Mars his sphere,
Where Envy (O how curs'd was its grim face!)
And Jealousy, and Fear, and Wrath, and War
Quarrel d, although in heaven, about their place.
Yea, Engins there to vomit fire I saw,
Whose flame and thunder Earth at length must know.
Nay in a corner 'twas my hap to spy
Something which look'd but frowardly on Me:
And sure my watchful Guide read in mine ey
My musing troubled sence; for straitway
He Least I should start and wake upon the fright,
Speeded from thence his seasonable flight.
Welcome was Jupiter's Dominion, where
Illustrious Mildness round about did flow
Religion had built her Temple there,
And Sacred Honors on its Walks did grow:
No Mitre ever Priest's grave head shall crown,
Which in those mystic Gardens was not sown.
At length we found old Saturn in his bed;
And much I wonder'd how an He so dull
Could climb thus high; His house was lumpish Lead,
Of dark and solitary corners full;
Where Discontent, and Sickness dwellers be,
Damn'd Melancholy, and dead Lethargy.
Hasting from hence into a boundless field,
Innumerable Starrs we marshall'd found
In fair array: This Earth did never yield
Such choice of floury Pride, when she had crown'd
The plains of Shechem, where the gaudy Spring
Smiles in the beauties of each verdant thing.
This was our journie's end: but here began
A stranger Pageant than all those before:
I, who till now Spectator was, must in
The glorious Masque an Actor be, or more
Than so: I still am pos'd about the case,
But wiser you shall judge; and thus it was:
A knot of Lights constellated into
A radiant Throne, on which my self was set:
When lo, the Sun and Moon themselves did throw
Into obsequious duty at my feet;
And then eleven great Stars thought it no shame
To couch before me who admired them.
But shame I thought it for poor Me to take
Homage of Starrs, who was but Dust and Clay;
Big with excuse I grew, and 'gan to speak,
But then my Dream took wing and fled away.
And fly thou after it, bold Dreamer, cry'd
His Brethren, who in Dreams dost mask thy Pride.
Sage Jacob, though he ponder'd every word
In's own prophetic heart, and judg'd the Dream
Not fram'd by Joseph, but by Joseph's Lord;
Expedient thought it something wroth to seem;
Finding no readier way that Rage to smother
He saw smoke from his Sons against their Brother.
But Child, said He, where is that blush of thine
Which us'd to paint meek Virtue on thy face!
How dar'st thou tell a Dream which doth design
Unto thy puny Self such Sovereign place?
Think'st thou thy Brethren and thy Parents must
Crouch to young thee, and lick thy footsteps' dust?
Or dream no more, or thy fond Dream conceal,
If any fancy rise which may offend:
On this condition I thy pardon seal,
And all thy Brothers shall their quarrel end.
Go you my Sons, be careful of my sheep:
This Boy at home as meek as them I'll keep.
And so he did: for little pains it cost
To tutor Him whom Virtue long ago
Espoused had; the Care he found which most
Busied his loving tenderness, was to
Prevent his being made that Mischiefs prey
Which rankling in his Brothers bosoms lay.
Dear Joseph see thy caution be no less
Than in thine Innocence; take heed how these
Thy Brethrens Anger thou, said he, dost press,
Least its rebound thine own blood out do squeeze.
I know their furies, and from whence they move:
O that their ground of Hate should be my Love!
Hast thou not mark'd how if a flint we lay
Soft on a downy bed, and gently smite;
Its conquer'd stubborness gives willing way:
But harshly used, it defies our might,
And spits its sudden rage in fire, nor shall
The stoutest hammer cool its wrath at all.
Those bosoms of my Sons sure cannot be
More hard than Hardness, and the Flint's stiff heart:
Or if my charity deceiveth me,
Thy Mildness must be temper'd with such art
As may the softness of that Down exceed
Which on the Cygnet's dainty neck is bred.
When they begin to bluster, give them way;
T' has often cost the boldest Cedar dear
To grapple with a Storm; whilst flowr's which lay
Their weak heads low in meek and trembling fear
Waiting the leisure of the Wind, again
Rise up unbruis'd, and see the Cedars slain.
Thus I of late thy furious Unkle met,
Whose Indignation I had kindled by
More than a Dream; and made him vow that great
Affront with no less vengance upon my
Head to return, and in a murderous fit
Tear back his Birthright, and my life with it.
With droves of Presents, the best bribes of wrath,
I meekly block'd up his Revenge's way:
With gentlest phrases I bestrew'd his path;
Seven times before his feet I prostrate lay;
And by submission so superior grew,
That from the jaws of Rage untouch'd I flew.
And now, sweet Child, 'cause many days are gone
Since sullen they went hence; lest they surmise
I treasure all my Joys in thee alone,
Feasting mine own on thy all-lovely eyes;
To morrow thou unto their Folds shalt go,
And in their Father's name see how they do.
The virtuous Youth of this Commission glad
Thought the nocturnal hours all clogg'd with lead;
Fir'd by ingenuous Zeal, such hast he made
That Time seem'd unto him asleep in bed:
And since his thoughts afore were marched, He
No longer patience has behind to be.
Long e'er the Morn her eylids had withdrawn
And op'd the East into its hopes of day,
Up was he got and drest, and by his own
Fair eyes being lighted well on in his way;
Conning Submission's language as he went,
And plotting how his Brethren to content.
But by the various beauties of his Coat
Discerning him from farr, Behold, said they,
The saucy Dreamer comes; and since w' have got
Free help of time and place our foe to slay,
Wisdom commands us to prevent in time
That Tyranny to which his Pride doth climb.
O no, cries Reuben (one in whose mild heart
More genuine drops of Jacob's blood did thrill,)
He is a Child, and acts but his own part:
Dreams are but flitting toys; but if we spill
His harmless blood, the spot upon our head
Will be no Dream, believ't, but Guilt indeed.
O rather give him to yon' gaping pit,
That he from you may only have his grave:
Let Fate's sure wrath, or wild Beast's fury fit
Him with a death, and bury in that Cave
Your less offence: doubtless no Stars will bow
To him whom from the sight of heaven you throw.
Whilst Reuben thus with cruel-looking Love
Him from the worst of rage plots to secure;
The gentle Stripling near was drawn, and strove
With lowly winning gestures to allure
Kind entertainment: but alas in vain;
Desert swells Envy up with more disdain.
As hungry Wolves upon the helpless Lamb,
Upon him strait they rush, who fruitlesly
Ran o'er all blandishments sweet Wit could frame
To tune their harsh Wrath to mild Concord's key:
With loud revilings his meek Prayers they drown,
And stripp'd, into the deep pit throw him down.
Down Joseph sunk; and up went their proud Cry
In Scorn's ignoble triumph: See, said they,
How low our Loyal Sheaves couch down
to thy Imperial Bundle: See how flat we lay
Our twinkling trembling Stars before the bright
Effusions of thy dread and royal Light.
O that the old and crazy Moon and Sun
Should now forgetful of their duties be,
And let their Wheels in any Circle run
But that which might their homage roul to thee!
Thus flouted they, and heartned one another
Lower to plunge their most dejected Brother.
But then a troop of Merchants passing by,
They money of more precious Joseph make:
The thrifty Ishmaelites admired why
For such rich Ware they would so little take:
No new-digg'd Pearl such fair beams ever shot
As beauteous He drawn from his mirey grot.
Yet twenty silver pieces was his price,
Which soon they paid; and now were sure they bore
To Memphis's Mart far richer Merchandise
Than all their swelling Packs of Midian store.
And thus the Saint a slave to strangers is,
As were his Brethren to strange Avarice.
Yet sold they not his Coat: With this said they,
As Jacob vex'd us, We'll vex Him again,
There innocent Brother's pattern then they slay,
A gentle Kid; with whose meek blood they stain
The Robe; which thus unto their Sire was sent
Blushing for them, whose own shame all was spent.
And soon He knew't. O me, the good Man cries,
It is my Joseph's Coat, all wildely rent,
And Bloody too: Be free my weeping eyes,
Y' have nothing now to do but to lament:
That only Day which joy'd and blest your sight,
My Darlings face lies buried in night.
Ah sadly-precious Relict! and were all
Thy glorious Colours not enough without
This fatal too-too-costly Crimson! shall
I by my Joy's choice Livery be taught
Only my Sorrows to remember, and
By the torn fleece my Lamb's death understand!
Dear Coat, behold I rend mine own with thee,
Less, O less worthy to be whole than thou.
Sure some wild beast thy Master tore, and me
Together with him, though I felt not how.
Unrighteous partial Beast, which didst forbear
Me in my old less worthy self to tear.
Sweet Child, I hop'd to have prevented thee
In seeing Rachel thy deceased Mother:
But surely long behind I will not be,
Thy death brings grief enough my life to smother;
I'll come as fast as an old Man can go,
And see you both: Peace Friends, it must be so.
But holy Joseph now to Egypt brought,
Is set to sale; where Potiphar, the head
Of Pharaoh's guard, the goodly Stripling bought;
And in's ingenuous countenance having read
Pure characters of Worth, he doubted not
All freest Trust in his fair Slave to put.
Nor did the issue ever flag below
His expectation; for fidelity,
For care, for prudence, his Example now
The only Rule to all the rest must be:
Each Servant daily is admonished
To mind his charge, as trusty Joseph did.
But how could they keep pace with Him, who through
Successe's paths was led, and hastned by
Heaven's constant prosperous hand, Earth knew not how!
Which when his wondring Master did descry,
With pious Wisdom thus concluded He:
My Servant has some greater Lord than Me.
Contented therefore only with the Name Of Master,
Him he trusts with every key
Of highest charge, impow'ring him to Frame
As he thought best, his whole Oeconomy.
Thus did this unknown Slave the Lord become
Though not of his own Lord, yet of his Home.
Lord of his Home, yet more his Servant still
Than all his numerous Family beside:
High was his Place, but Lowliness did fill
It to the top: Thus He on Honor's tide
Was more securely born, by striving how
Against the envy-breeding stream to row.
But whilst this wonderous Steward doth allure
All other eyes to reverential Love;
His Mistresse's grew sick of an impure
And black disease: which did it self improve
To such foul strength, that now abroad it flies
Like Basilisk's beams, to poison neighbour eyes.
Deep was it bred in that invenom'd Lake,
Which in hell's bottom stinks; from whence a Fiend
It in a red hot vial up did rake,
And by unfelt degrees profoundly blend
With fair Potiphera's blood; whose tainted veins
Were strait made chapels of Lust's boiling pains.
Though Joseph's virtue might aforehand be
Assurance of denial, yet her flame
With such impatient fury burnt, that she
All amorous enchantments brews to tame
His rigid heart. Lust ne'r despairs to try
A duel in Wit's field with Chastity.
What ever word inhanceth Joseph's praise,
Her Echo doubles it, and doth supply
Some more pathetic and transcendent phrase
To raise his Merit to a pitch so high,
That He oblig'd in modesty might seem
To Her to render what she heap'd on Him.
Of partial Fortune she did oft complain
Who with no Crown rewarded Joseph's brow:
Then that Complaint as oft retract again,
And cry Her boons let foolish Fortune throw
On worthless heads; more glorious 'tis by far
A Diadem to merit, than to wear.
With many a courtly wile she pry'd and sifted,
His parentage and family to find:
All which when prudent He more subtly shifted;
In fawning discontent she cry'd, unkind
Can Sweetness prove, and not inform us where
That fair Stock grows whose Branches wonders are!
If any bit were choice, she thought it due
To Joseph's palate more than to her own:
The rarest flowers which in her garden grew
Must out be cull'd, and wreathd into a crown,
Or some quaint posie, which herself invents,
And in a smile each morn to him presents.
Go's He abroad? with longing eye she still
Doth to the furthest prospect him pursue
And sadly counts the tedious minutes till
His wish'd return doth feast her hungry view:
His shadow's bliss she envies, which hath free
Leave his dear Bodie's Follower to be.
Stays he at home? not all the world can call
Her thoughts abroad: some pretty quaint presences
She duly finds to be concern'd in all
Her Steward's business; and with speaking glances
Labors to intimate, that she has more
Delicious work for lovely him in store.
If he be well she dares not but be so:
If he be sick she scorneth to be well;
And yet about him will be busy too,
To hold his head, or hand, his cup to fill,
His meat to dress, but most his bed to warm,
And watch all night that Joseph take no harm.
Creeps Chillness on him? She foments and heats
His flesh, but more profoundly burns her own.
The precious dew, if feaverish he but sweats,
She wipes, and treasures up in amorous lawn.
Thus hot or cold, some way she doth devise
To feast on him her Touch as well's her Eyes.
And more significant that Touch she makes
By odd and sudden pressures, which Design
Taught Chance to counterfeit: deep-laid mistakes
She covers with Solicitude, and in
Wary hypocrisy lets slip her hand
Much farther than she seem'd to understand.
Then by officious carelessness her own
Robe she instructs how to betray her skin;
And strait corrects that error of her gown,
Yet studiously lets it err again;
By this sly dalliance of the crafty bait
Hoping what she could not subdue, to cheat.
O with what thankful hecatombs did she
The Altars load, if from the smallest ache
Joseph were freed: yet that Idolatry
With which her Gods she flattred, could not match
This which at Joseph's shrine she daily paid;
More of his anger, than of Heav'ns afraid.
Whate'r she sees, or sweet, or rich, or rare,
She something in his Person findeth still
To which those precious things must not compare:
And in impatient Lust's bold-boiling zeal
At last she cries, How blessed should I be,
If Potiphar were such an one as Thee!
He ken'd that treacherous Language for a while
No more than do's the Lark the Fowler's pipes.
But when he 'gan to smell her dangerous wile
Now by its stink betrayed; off he wipes
That praise's froth which she so thick did strong,
And by his own Blush taught Her what to do.
But dull to that hard lesson finding Her,
To Heav'n's tuition he commends her heart:
His own sweet Looks then souring with severe
Sternness, against Lust's shaft he throws the dart
Of Continence; and by neglected Dress
Feigns, what he could not make, Unloveliness.
Never did Slovenry more misbecome
Nor more confute its nasty self than here:
The Sun in dusky clouds, in dirt a Gemm
Of Joseph now but faint half-emblemes were;
So stoutly his oppressed Beauty got
The victory o'r its incourag'd Blot.
This forc'd Him virtuously to undermine
His graceful virtue, and grow plainly rude.
Yet Rudeness too in Joseph fair did shine
And by repulses drew what he eschew'd:
She, like the Ball, the stoutlier on the ground
'Tis thrown, with greater zeal doth back rebound.
In's Lady's ear at length right wisely He
High Panegyrics of his Master made
And magnify'd her rare felicity
Who Virtue's own Spouse to her Husband had:
But signally above his other praises
That of his constant Chastity he raises.
This Word of all the rest, most deeply stung
Her unchast heart: She now resolves, no more
To rack her self within, but plainly bring
To light her soul's dark torments,
And before Her Steward's face her wounded bosome ope
That Pity him might force those wounds to stop.
His shyness to surprize industrious she
Having an ambush in her garden laid;
Fortune, the friend of vice, and enemy
Of virtuous Worth, Him to her wish betray'd:
Where, Serpent-like in Paradise, she over
Her foul Design spread this fair-faced cover:
Sweet Sir, said she, though Wit's own Pride you are,
In our Egyptian Hieroglyphics you
Seem yet but little studied; wherefore here
I'm come to be your Tutoress, and bestow
My dearest skill; being grieved much to see
You in the best of Arts unlearn'd should be.
The dialect of that tenderness and praise
I showred thick upon you day by day,
You understood not, though ten thousand-ways
I try'd to speak it plain: And what I pray
Meant all that sweet ado, but only this,
Potiphera in love with Joseph is?
Nay, start not at the word, nor think that thy
Affected sourness can thy sweets imbitter:
Dear Hypocrite, I know thy plot, and by
Love's Powers I swear, thy value grows but greater
By that contraction: Thus heaven's Tapers are
So much the higher as they less appear.
Just, just my Passion is; and hear how I
With solid arguments can make it good:
'Tis sacrilege to let Divinity
Pass by unlov'd: yon banks of Nilus's flood
Did ne'r Serapis half so God-like see
As this more blessed garden's walks do thee.
Which as thou traversest, thou by the way
The choicest flowers instructest with thine eye
How to look brisk and brave, how to display
Some pretty beam of amorous Majesty:
By their steps dainty copy thy fair feet
Teach all the Beds of Spices to grow sweet.
When on yon crystal Fount thou deignst to look
It tickles the soft Nymph to think that she
Is by thy self each evening made the book
Where thy sweet face thou printest. Wo is me,
Why was not I a Fountain too, that thou
Thy dear impression might'st on me bestow!
That Appletree's fresh ruddy Sons, which in
Their mother's arms so delicately smile,
Less approbation from wise judges win
Than thy plump cheeks, which such full graces swell,
That had my soul's best longing leave to choose,
My tast should banquet on no fruits but those.
Right lovely are those arms that courteous Vine
About her strait-embraced Elm doth throw:
But how much, how much pleasanter are thine!
In whose blest bands were I a Pris'ner now,
Not all heav'n's high temptations should on me
Prevail once to accept of liberty.
Wouldst count me wanton, if I long'd to kiss
That youthful Rose, which looks inchantments there?
Yet his soft ruby lips themselves confess
Dusky and harsh, when they with thine compare.
And is't a Crime, to wish that Kiss which poses
The purest complement of virgin Roses?
That Nightingale which hants yon cypress grove
I thought th' Intelligence of Music's sphere;
Till thy more charming Accents did reprove
My monstrous error: And if but to hear
Inamoring thee, such ravishment doth steal
Into my heart, what would it do to feel?
Long did my Husband woo the Gods, to gain
Their blessing on his pining stock; yet he
Did still as needy as devout remain,
Untill he thrived by diviner Thee.
Judge then what reason I have to inshrine
And honor now no Deity but thine.
And sure I'm orthodox in this, and dare
Dispute it with the graveliest-cheating Priest:
For house and home those Gods beholden are
Plainly to Us: but We our selves are blest
With rich subsistence by thy influence: Thus
We keep our Gods, but Thou, Thou keepest Us.
Hath Nature any beauteous Piece to make
On which her credit stands ingaged?
She Distrusting her own fancy's power, doth take
Her copy from Perfection in Thee.
O, wouldst thou fall to work thy self, above
All Rarities must thy Productions prove.
The Morn betimes repaireth to thine eye,
And asks what weather heaven shall have that day:
In vain the Clouds combine to damp the sky,
If thou thy Face's sunshine dost display:
If thou but lowr'st, in vain the foolish Air
Forceth it self to smile, and to look fair.
What fools our Scholars are, their time, and care,
And brains upon the Stars above to spend,
Searching the Seasons which are hatching there!
'Tis Heresy, say I, but to ascend
Above the Orb of thine illustrious Eye,
The fairest book of best Astronomy.
This way no Winds from blest Arabia trade,
But from thy mouth snatch thy more balmy Breath
Into their own; and as they forward speed,
With gallant Odours all perfume their path.
The world admires whence such rich Blasts should fly;
But none the sweet Original know, but I.
For strange ev'n to thy self thou needs wilt be,
And take no notice how all Excellence
In thee alone doth hold its Monarchy.
I tell thee Dear, 'tis but a fond presence
Which thou call'st Modesty, and might undo thee,
If Providence had not sent me unto thee.
Let me be bold, that so I may be loyal;
Duty, not Envy, spurs me now to speak:
And if my Zeal be check'd with a Denyal,
(Which Love forbid!) yet shall thy stern mistake
But whet the edge of my fidelity,
Since none dare tell thee of this fault but I.
Canst dream wise Heaven's strange Bounty ever meant
To plant the best of all its store in thee,
There to ly hid and dy, and not be spent
In their free course of natural Charity?
Let those be Chast, who can no love invite;
'Twere sin in thee, created for delight.
Indeed the other Phoenix knowing none
Of his own feathered kind, is fain to spend
His virgin love upon himself alone,
And hatch his life's beginning by its end:
His amorous flames kill and revive him so,
That to himself he's Son and Father too.
But Thou, as rich and fair a thing as He,
Hast fitter fuel for thy fire: Lo here
I ready dried am with thirst to be
Its sacrifice; and will thy bed prepare
With such life-breeding sweets, as shall contest
With all the spices of the Phoenix nest.
In this dear pile of Aromatic love
We'l burn together and vie flame with flame:
Why may this Bonfire not mount far above
The Phoenix's in more renowned fame;
With much discreeter fervency reprieving
The old, and life to a new Joseph giving?
To my contrivement leave the welcome care
Of making sure that he, and none but he
To Potiphar's estate do prove the heir.
Indeed, plain Justice calls for this; since we
Owe all our wealth to thee, whose child can merit
But only thine, that portion to inherit?
Why stay we then? The good-Man's now from home,
As he is from my heart; which both are thine.
Fear not this glaring Day; I'l make Night come
With one quick twitch, and cloud up our design:
Close are my Curtains, and no tales they tell;
Come then, my dearer self, all shall be well.
So foam'd hot Lust from her hell-kindled heart.
But sober Joseph (though youth's nimble flame
Leap'd in his sanguine breast,) well knew the part
Of cool chast Gravity, and how to tame
If not her fury, yet what ever heat
Could Lust's wild March in his own bosome beat.
Madam, no hast; since you vouchafe, said He,
All love to me, of all love hear me speak:
To travel in Successe's company
Hast has no patience; but delights to make
Her pace so fierce and violently mad
As quite outruns all fortune but the bad.
Chiefly when Passion cheats her of her sight,
Concealing all the dangers of the way;
So that her wildfires flames afford no light
But desperate darkness to her passage. Say,
Say then, can headlong Lust a good end find
When both her self, and her fond God are blind?
Were they not so, how couldst thou me invite
To those strange Joys that must lie sneaking in
Thy guilty curtains, and avoid heav'n's light,
As too too fair a witness for a sin
So foul and hellish. Thus aforehand thou
Ashamed art of what thou fain wouldst do.
Call hither but thy Men or Maids; or walk
With me into the Market-place, and there
Try if thou dar'st that ugly motion make:
O no! Thy Rhetoric's best wardrobe ne'r
Will furnish thee with any dress so spruce
As may in others ears this filth excuse.
Did I those high elogiums merit, thou
Didst gild me with, I could return them back
As arguments against thy suit: For how
Can such bright beauty choose to grow so black!
Such prodigies are past: No more must Evil
Hope of a Lucifer to make a Devil.
True, I a Slave was to my Master brought,
And unto You in him; but not to Lust:
Yet my Desert, or his mistake, hath wrought
So great a change, that in my single trust
He treasures up his numerous Family,
Whereof He Father, I must Ruler be.
Thus gave he me my freedom from the bands
Of Vassallage, but not of Virtue too.
O no; this obligation stricter stands,
And Joseph must more hearty homage do
To Potiphar, than meanest they who lie
Still fetter'd in the sink of slavery.
Trusty obedience is all their debt,
But most ingenuous Loyalty is mine:
Their limbs and labours he did purchase, but
My heart and soul: And O what more divine
Distinction of our duties can you have I
They to his Power, I to his Love am Slave.
Seest that fair Sun, to whom his God hath given
The free dispensing of his stock of Light
To all the starry Family of heaven?
When that high Steward can his Master slight,
Then (nay not then) the copy hope to see
Of that Ingratitude transcrib'd by me.
Himself my Lord ne'r gave into my hand,
Therefore not Thee, who art but one with Him:
Nor could he do it, since so close a band
Do's cement you together, that no limb
Of his own Body Nature's hand did join
Nearer unto himself than is all thine.
O wish me not so barbarous as to tear
Him from himself, and rend you both in sunder.
If needs I must be faithless, be it there
Where I may nothing but his Fortunes plunder.
What Cheat is more inhuman, than to seem
To spare his Goods, and yet imbezil Him?
Except the venerable Temples, what
Place is more reverend than the Nuptial Bed?
Nay heav'n has made a Temple too of that
For Chastitie's most secret Rites: and did
I violate its sanctity, no less
Than sacrilegious, were that wickedness.
In vain thou plead'st, that Potiphar's away:
He's so to none but those who serve his eye;
And therefore all the while they him obey,
Obey not him, but base necessity.
True Duty's Master at her loyal hand
When He's abroad, as well's at home, doth stand.
But grant Him absent: still God's round about,
And in the midst, between ev'n Me and Thee;
His eye needs make no search to spy us out,
Which Us before we were at all, did see.
I would not wrong My Master, but much less
Injure that God, who is my Lord and His.
A Lord whose Indignation is attended
By all heav'n's thundering artillery:
A Lord whom wilful Rebel ne'r offended
With safe and unrevenged villany.
A Lord whom did not Pow'r make awful, yet
His Goodness might our reverence beget.
A Lord so pure, that we may saflier gaze
Upon the burnish'd Sun's meridian beams,
Than he his eye can fasten on God's face;
A face whence such excess of lustre streams,
That He in mercy casts on Us below
A veil, which though We cannot, He looks through.
He looks through that, and through all Curtains too
Which we upon our selves and sins would draw.
Far be that fondness then, that we should go
Seeking some secret hole to break His Law,
And there no less expose to his bright Eye
The foulest of all spots, Adultery.
A Spot which me so black would make, that thou,
Who with such loving fury me dost woo,
For mere deformity wouldst never know
Me more, but scorn'd and hated let me go:
So would I do my self, and never stay
With Joseph, knew I how to run away.
Yet with so much more hideousness that spot,
Madam, in you would stare, as you exceed
In beautie's choicest wealth: We wonder not
When dusky moles in Luna's cheeks we read;
But should Sol's face such foul incroachments wear
Each mole would prove a Mount of blackness there.
O be what happily you are, be what
All other Ladies emulate in vain:
And since your Goodliness admits no blot,
Still let your Virtue too indure no stain:
At least let not your slave that monster be
Who must defile such noble purity.
Ask or command me what you please beside:
If you'l dispatch me to the furthest Sea,
To fetch you Pearls; the Sun shall not out-ride
My restless course, nor any Jewels be
Treasur'd so deep in the profoundest main,
But I will dig them thence and come again.
Or speak the word, and I'l revenge your wrong
On these bold sweets of my inchanting face
Which have abus'd and tempted you so long:
These nails of mine shall those fair charms erase,
And plow such ghastly wounds, as strait shall heal
All those, my beauty made your bosom feel.
I'l soon transform my self into a state
Which more your Pity, than your Love, shall crave:
Or if this truer Love of mine you hate,
Some where or other I shall find a grave;
And there with greater comfort rest my head,
Than if I slept on your delicious bed.
My grave's worst worms can never deeper gnaw
Than this poor flesh: but in thy bed will breed
One so rapacious, as quite through and through
My heart will eat, and on my conscience feed.
Ah Madam — Here, what he had more to say
Sighs cutting off, he sadly turn'd away
As when a mighty Torrent hasting on,
Is by some sturdy Bank check'd in his way;
The waters roar, and foam, and swell upon
Themselves, for spight at their proud journy's stay,
So did Potiphera's heart, whose lustful course
Unshaken, Joseph back again did force.
A thousand Passions boyling in her breast
Raise up a Tempest of rebellious flames;
Whose Tide disdaining what did it resist,
Beats with themselves its unsuccessful streams;
Till miserably wrack'd, most woful she
Quite sinks in this self-torment's monstrous Sea.
Fair Day to her seems nothing but a mist
Through which no hopes can dawn on her desire:
Still Night, which to all others sealeth rest,
Wakes and alarms her heart-consuming fire:
Whether she walks, or sits, or stands, or lies,
Her wretched self still in her self she fries.
She finds no relish in the daintiest meat
But only on distracted fancies feeds:
The spiced wine, to other palates sweet
Mocks her's alone, and odious loathing breeds;
Thick sighs and tears from her sworn mouth and eyes
Echo the storms, which in her bosom rise.
With her most pliant bed of fawning down
No wrath of thorns in sharpness may compare,
Because her husband (now too much her own)
And not her Joseph, her joy's Spouse, is there.
Ah my dear Psyche, where, ah where may we
With Heavenly love a soul thus wounded see!
Oft she renew'd her suit, but su'd in vain:
Till faint and sick, at last she asks him how
He would her murder answer? Such a stain
Will scarce become, said she, thy lovely brow;
Deep in th' unnatural furrows of whose frown
The seeds of my unhappy death are sown.
But finding him still, like the constant Rock
Fix'd firm upon his solid Chastity;
Her final resolution she awoke
And all her passionate strength with it, that she
Might now correct her scorned Love's mishap
By valiant managing her plotted Rape.
Shall squeamish He my Pleasure's harvest, by
Fond superstitious coyness thus prevent?
Since by my softness he grows harder, I
By Toughness now must teach him to relent:
I must, cry'd she; there's now no way but one
Though he will not be woo'd, he shall be won.
Fool as I was, to sigh, and weep, and whine
Out long complaints, and pine my self away.
Just Fate doth Cowards' projects countermine.
Whilst only venturous Courage gets the day.
Love's Bow and Quiver signify that he
Is friend to none but such as warlike be.
Resolved thus, her former withering hope
Into proud forward confidence did flourish;
And perched now upon Presumption's top
Her Lust with fancy she mean while doth nourish
Until the fit and lucky season might
Her freely to the real feast invite.
Which Invitation often chid by her,
And challenged of leaden-pac'd delay
At length appear'd, when tedious Potiphar
And all her tell-tale servants were away.
She welcom'd it, as fierce flames do their fuel
And flew with raging joy unto her duel.
For having caught her Joseph all alone
She Harpie-like clap'd one bold tallon fast
Upon those Cloaths she wish'd had not been on:
Her other Arm about his neck she cast:
Loose was her coat, bewraying more than He
Desir'd to view, or I to tell to thee.
My Pris'ner then she cries, art thou, as I
Have long been thine, though thou didst scorn thy Prize;
But better use of thy Captivity
I vow to make: Thou shalt no more despise
My Prayers, for I Command thee now to be
Whether thou wilt or no, happy with me.
Since you no other Arguments would trust
Of my Love's strength, this Act shall make it plain.
Know that this battel is my first, nor must
You dream that I'l turn Warrier in vain
I but supply your part; 'tis fit that when
The Males will not, the Females play the Men.
Perhaps thy needless maiden modesty
Stay'd by thy Lover to be ravish'd; for
Your nicer Beauties, though they long to be
As kind as love can wish, seem to abhorr
Assent's free plainness, and all tricks devise
How to be Plunder's, not Persuasion's prize.
Lo then, that feat is done; as far at least
As may secure your Credit's Jealousy.
But if my loyal love you still resist;
Behold, I deeply swear by Thee, by Thee
(Whom yet I only worship,) that no blood,
But from thy heart, shall make that damage good.
Not of that lukewarm Mediocrity
You dull-soul'd Men mistake for Virtue, but
Of brave Excess we Women temper'd be:
Our Spirits are all Superlatives; and what
Extremities exalt our Loves, the same
Will blow up our provok'd Revenge's flame.
Loud I'l exclaim, and tell the Houshold how
With lustful force thou here surprizedst Me
This monstrous Crime will cost thy life; for know
My Lye can soon out-face thy verity.
Hadst thou not better take thy pleasure here,
Than be for nothing, judg'd a Ravisher?
Whilst thus her rampant Passion boiled,
He Wisely considered, that no cool Reply
Could slack its rage: the Storm to that degree
Was swollen now so desperately high,
That venturing any longer stay to make,
Was but to run upon a certain wrack.
He therefore through close paths of wary hast,
Hunts his escape; and loosning secretly
His upper garment, which she grasp'd so fast,
Leaves that to her, and out himself doth fly.
The wise and watchful Serpent thus knows when
'Tis fit to stop her ear, and cast her skin.
But she with such an hideous outcry tears
Her throat, that all th' amazed family
Into her Chamber brings their staring fears;
Where on her bed, heaving a woful sigh,
Behold, said she, this garment: which of you
Would think the Hebrew Slave so bold should grow?
He thought, because his Master was from home,
My Faith had been so too: He thought that he
Might as his Lord's Vicegerent freely come
And challenge right ev'n to my chastity.
'Twas time to cry: which I no sooner did,
But he, the guilty hypocrite, was fled.
He fled, but left for fearful hast behind
That pledge of his unfortunate impudence;
For, confident he me should willing find,
Off went the Villain's clothes. Come bear me hence
From this curs'd place: But bring the Vest with me,
That Potiphar his Darling's badge may see.
In desperate Revenge engaged thus,
Her spightful slander she contriveth how
With every odious circumstance to dress,
Which heaviest mischief might on Joseph throw;
And Potiphar's return she covets more
Than for his absence, she had long'd before.
When home he came, she met him with this Lye,
And threw the garment to him for her proof.
He took no sober time the cause to try,
But judg'd that Argument more than enough.
Joseph's to Prison sent; a place less warm
To him, but sweeter than his Lady's arm.
Yet long he lay not loaded with his chains,
But ev'n the Jaylor's heart the Pris'ner takes:
Such potent sweetness still in Virtue reigns,
That her Commanders She her Subjects makes
Heav'n would not suffer other bonds to yoke
Him, who through all Lust's chains and charms had broke.
The Keeper now keeps nothing but his Name:
The keys at Joseph's girdle hang, and he
Is in this closer Stewardship the same
He was in Potiphar's free Family;
Nay more than so, no Mistress being here
To make his Jayl as bad's his freedom there.
At length the guerdon of his worth drew near,
And Dreams, th' occasions of his low estate,
Assist him now in climbing Glory's sphere.
The great Events ripe uncontrolled Fate
Was into Egypt suddenly to bring,
Are in a mystic Vision shew'd the King.
Their curious brains the old Magicians beat
About the Riddle, but were all too weak
To pierce that mighty cloud wherein the great
Secret inshrined lay: The King must seek
Some wiser head; and who d' y' think was he?
Joseph alone his Oracle could be.
Joseph, whose wisdom's strangely-searching beams
Rose in the dazled Court's horizon, by
Clearing the Butler's and the Baker's Dreams
From mists of most profound obscurity:
Joseph, who now from Prison's freed, that He
May set the hamper'd thought of Pharaoh free.
And soon he taught Him what the Kine did mean
Heaven shew'd him feeding upon Nilus's shore:
Why seven were wondrous Fat, and seven as Lean;
Which did portend the Famin, which the store;
What sign grew in both hinds of Corn; What Cares
Were requisite against the following Years.
Such full Conviction seiz'd th' astonish'd King,
As left no entrance for the least Demurr:
So plain, so consonant was every thing,
That as on Heavn's sole Privy-Counseller
He looks on Joseph; and thenceforth detests
The dull-ey'd Magic of his cheating Priests.
First thanks to Heav'n, he cries, then thanks to thee
In whom its spirit so clearly I descry.
And who can better my assistant be
Than Thou, who hold'st all Wisdom's Monarchy?
The Throne and Sceptre shall continue mine;
All Egypt else, and justly, shall be thine.
Which said; his royal Ring, his love to seal,
On Joseph's hand he puts, and him invests
With purest Linen: on his neck, which steel
Had lately gall'd, a golden chain he casts;
And then to him his second Chariot gave,
Who lately into Egypt trudg'd a Slave.
What he had been to Potiphar before,
What to the Jaylor; now he's to the King:
The soverein Steward and Vicegovernor
Of his whole Realm. And here true Heav'n did bring
About full proof to justify his Dream,
Whilst both his Sire and Brethren bow'd to Him.
Thus Chastity's pure King his Champion sees
Amply repaid; who having got Command
Of his own Flesh and Blood, can rule with ease
A Kingdom's reins. Mark well and understand,
Dear Psyche, this Narration's design,
The Case which here was His, may once be Thine.
So spake the blessed Guardian, and then
His own on Psyche's lips clos'd with a Kiss,
She strait her reverent thanks return'd him in
Low-bowed Modesty: and, warn'd by his,
And by Time's Item, kindly took the hint
And to her wonted task of Prayers went.
[1702; Grosart (1880) 1:11-28]