In this canto the passions, in open rebellion, persuade Queen Psyche to capitulate to their demand for liberty; the negotiations transparently allude to events in the reign of Charles I. The description of Psyche's coach is adapted from the allegory of the Seven Deadly Sins in Faerie Queene 1:1.16ff.
Alexander Pope seems to have drawn hints for The Rape of the Lock from this canto — the Cave of Spleen from Beaumont's Disdain and Philauty, and the "Rites of Pride" from the episode where Psyche bedecked by Love.
Herbert E. Cory: "Phylax and Charis are nowhere to be seen. Only Thelema (Will), is left. She sallies forth in vengeful mood, but the Passions, by fawning homage and by deceit, lure her to their side. The Passions then send Love, their most subtle champion to treat with Pscyhe. He wins her over to their lawlessness. Pride arranges Psyche in gorgeous apparel and the unhappy maid revels and rides far and wide in a coach of vanities. Syneidesis protests but Psyche shrouds her in a black veil" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 337-38.
Love on the Rebel's part with Psyche treats,
Whose fair Tale Thelema and Agenor back:
And she deluded by their fauning cheats
Makes league with them, and huggs her own mistake.
Then muffling up Syneidesis at home,
In wanton pride she joys abroad to rome.
What boots it Man, that Nature's Courtesy
Lifting his awful Looks high towards Heav'n,
Hath built his Temples up with Majesty,
And into's Hand imperial Power given?
What royal Nonsence is a Diadem
Abroad, for One who's not at home supreme?
How do's this wide world mock him, when it lays
Its universal Homage at his feet;
Whom whilst the Air, the Earth, the Sea obeys,
A saucy pack of Passions dare to meet
With plain defiance; and presume to hope
His Empire shall go down, their Pleasure up.
How miserably fond's the Vaunt, that He
On every Monstrous Thing his Conquests builds;
That Tigres, Lions, Dragons, forced be
By Him to learn submission; That he wields
Art's moving Mountains, and through widest Seas
Commands his Ships to reach what World he please:
If his own Vessel's helm unruly grow,
And fling him into fatal Tempest's jaws;
If his domestic Slaves disdain to bow
Their worthless necks to his most equal Laws;
And fill his Court with more outrageous Beasts
Than are the Salvage Desert's wildest guests:
Alas poor Prince, whose feeble Royalty
Becomes the game and Scoff of vilest Things!
How much are Worms, who of themselves can be
Intire Commanders, more substantial Kings!
Intestine Rebels never trouble Worms,
But Psyche's toss'd and torn with civil Storms.
So toss'd, so torn; that sadly now at last
She finds the most unreasonable Dress,
Which can a reasonable Soul invest,
To be the light loose garb of Carelesness;
Whose gently-looking beauties only do
Inamour Ruin, and Destruction wo.
She from her Palace-window saw her Grief
Muster'd in terrible battalia:
In vain within she hunted for relief
Where only empty Desolation lay:
Logos and Thelema were absent, He
To violence Pris'ner, to Enchantment she.
At home indeed Syneidesis stay'd still,
But by her stay made Tortures do so too;
For she the guilt of this Rebellion full
In wounded Psyche's face fear'd not to throw.
Blame not the Passions, said she, if they
Revolt; You to their Treason op'd the way.
Had you been careful how your Might to wield,
And in due time approv'd your self a Queen;
Your royal Chariot's reins strait had you held,
And resolutely driv'n; your Beasts had been
Themselves, as loyal still to you and mild,
As now they traiterous are become and wild.
When in a stealing preface to the flood
The first Streams slily creep; with ease may we
Reduce the Straglers to their proper road:
But if we slight what seems so weak to be,
They grow upon us strait; disdaining more
Our strength, than we their weakness did before.
Your Greatness scorn'd those breeding Garboils; you
Forsooth on Safety's wings sate mounted high.
And what's that silly Rivulet come to now?
What wants it of a Sea's immensity?
A Sea it is; which though perhaps it may
Not cleanse your Crime, can wash your Life away.
How many a foul Repulse did I Digest
And still with faithful constancy pursue
My Dutie's part I how often have I prest
For timely Justice on that mutinous Crew!
But in my Counsels I was too severe
Yes, doubtless; witness all those Rebels there.
And where is Charis, where is Phylax Now?
O you were too secure their aid to need;
And well could spare them for poor Heav'n, since you
In your own Realm a Sovereign are indeed.
The ease is plain; See how your Subjects stand
With ready duty waiting your Command.
Unhappy Psyche stung by these reproaches
Profoundly feels the wound dive in her heart
Which with her blood her lamentations broaches,
And thus she streameth out her double smart:
Nay then I pardon them without, if Thou
Upon my heavy Griefs more load dost throw.
Cruel Syneidesis, why stayd'st thou here
To grinde my dying Soul with nearer rage?
More mannerly's Their Crime who vex me there
At distance: Must my bosom be the stage
Of thy more dangerous undermining Wrath
Which from my very heart digs out my Death?
Are these thy thanks to me; whose favour kept
Thee next myself, and hugg'd the in my breast?
How little dream'd I that a Viper slept
In this my nearest and my dearest Nest!
Yet be assur'd, by knawing thy out way
That thou thyself no less than me shalt slay.
The Privilege of other Vipers Thou,
More barbarous far, in vain expect'st; for they
To their fell Dames that decent Vengeance ow
Which by sage Nature's righteous Law they pay.
But surely Thou art of a kinder breed;
Thy Matricide all pardon must exceed.
Yet what gain I by seeing Thee undone,
Or those thy fellow-Elves who there rebel?
Unfortunate me, who cannot die alone
But in my single Death all yours must feel
Thus Miserie's prodigious Riddle, I
Am now betrayed oft at once to die.
But this is all the pity Princes find
When Rebels once are grown as strong as bold:
All faults and all miscarriages are joyn'd
Into one cruel odious Mass, and roll'd
Upon their Sovereigns' Backs; although their sin
Hath nothing but their too much Goodness been.
Here stern Syneidesis, who knew full well
She on irrefragable Truth did lay
The ground of all her actions, 'gan to swell
With confident Scorn; and yet a while gave way
Since she her sharp but loyal part had done
To see what Psyche meant: who thus went on:
O Charis! would'st not thou bid me adieu
But by discourteous parting, leave my heart
Unarm'd, because unwarned? Grant it true
That thou no reason read'st in my desert
To stay thee here; my misery at least
Might woo thy Charity to be my Guest.
Wilt thou abandon me, O Phylax too,
Who hast so oft 'twixt me and danger spread
Thy Wing's impenetrable Shield? That Foe
On whom thy Conquest in the Grove did tread
Was but a single fiend: why then shall thy
Brave Hand not reap this fairer victory?
How shall I grapple with this armed crew
Confederate against my desolate head,
Whom one smug Cheater did so soon subdue?
What reason then soever wing'd thy speed
To my Relief, is multiplied here:
What lames thy pity now, what deafs thine ear?
O Prince of this my consecrated breast,
O thou whose Majesty did not disdain
A suit to worthless me, but oft profess
By thy Ambassador thy amorous pain
And sweet-tormenting longings for my Love:
What makes thy tender Heart forgetful prove?
Hadst thou for ever not remembred me,
I had not mocked been with Tasts of Bliss.
Why did not Aphrodisius's Treachery
Prevent the worse extremity of this?
That soft and single death why dy'd not I
But am reserv'd a thousand times to die?
Some happiness of misery it were
Might I be murder'd by my barbarous foes:
But must my homebred Powers the Standard rear
Against my Life? Must I be slain by those
Who by my influence live, and who must die
Unless I scape their mad Conspiracy.
What gain accrues to my Soul's Treasury
That I so long did Fast, so often Pray?
What brake that Bottle wont of old to be
The Store-house of Devotion's tears? what Pay
Have all my faithful amorous groans and sighs,
If I must prove mine own slave's sacrifice?
What meant this Token, which did gird my heart
So close to thee, who casts me now away!
Was this the farewel thou didst me impart
When thou some other Love hadst chose, which may
Monopolize thy constant favors, and
In banish'd Psyche's place for ever stand?
No wonder if my Passions mutinous prove,
Breaking that yoke which bound their Faith to me;
If blessed Jesus can unty his Love
Knit in this spousal-knot of Chastity.
How can I longer be displeas'd with them,
Unless I could and dar'd fall out with Him?
Am I unworthy? so I was before:
Yet he vouchsaf'd my Nothing to accept.
Sure then, I now am sunk beneath the poor
Region of vilest nothing, and have kept
But what is worse than nullity, a mere
Capacity, Calamities to bear.
O all my Joys, take Psyche's long adieu,
And find some dwelling where you may have room:
My tumid Griefs have left no place for you,
But made my whole usurped heart their home;
And more than so; far must you get you hence
To 'scape my Sorrows' vast circumference.
And you, poor Hopes, your time no longer loose
In hankering here in my despairing breast:
Away, away unhappy things, and choose
In any place but this a fortunate Nest.
Be confident your choice can never err,
For all Misfortunes are collected here.
But rage, rage on, O my Disconsolations,
For I resign myself your total Prey:
Some ease 'tis to defy Woe's Insultations,
When still to look, and look in vain, for Joy,
Doubles self-torment: why should I alone,
When all things hate me else, my self bemoan?
Whilst thus she fries in desolate vexations,
The Rebels at their Council busy were:
Where tir'd with hard and knotty Consultations
Which way their traiterous design to steer;
Up rose Suspicion, and first looking over
Each shoulder, thus her judgment did discover:
Princely Agenor, in Truth's sober scale
Weighty and great's the work we have in hand;
Let not our caution then be light or small:
Haste may be good, when once we understand
The way is clear; if otherwise, to run,
Is only with more speed to be undone.
Hope's Arguments are plausible; but yet
She, flitting She, alone is their foundation:
I doubt our Enterprize's base will not
Stand sure on any thing but Demonstration.
I should be loth to fight, but where I may
Do something more than hope to win the day.
Anger's Advice is sound, if Psyche were
So weak a Prince as her opinion makes her:
But on what Rocks shall we our Vessel steer,
By this untried Card, if she mistakes her?
Fear, would she speak, could shew you such a List
Of Psyche's Powers, as soon would cool our haste.
Alas, how can we force her hold, if She
Deny to yield when we our Battery make?
Are not those Walls and Gates apparently
Of pure immortal Metal? We may break
Our Engins and our plots and fury too,
And sooner our own selves than her undo.
A lingering Leaguer, what can that effect,
Unless we dream at length to starve her out?
But she long since to throw secure neglect
On all the Dainties of the world was taught,
Her Prayers and her Heaven her diet were,
And now she's strait besieg'd, she best doth fare.
But as for us who at the siege must lie,
We, fed with hope of Victory, must starve
Before we get it: for with what supply,
Or whence shall we provided be to serve
So many mouths; which Psyche fill'd till now;
And if she up be shut, they must be too.
The Senses true and trusty are; but these
Can lend us no assistance here, so narrow
And difficult are all the passages
Which hither lead: Besides, could they march thorough,
They by our hands must fight, not by their own,
And do no more than we may act alone.
I could be confident, were but the Queen
Divorc'd from all her friends: but well I know
That she her Tell-truth keepeth still within
And by her Oracle perhaps may grow
Too wise for us; for sage Syneidesis,
In all her Councils deep and sober is.
Nay who can tell but some of her Allies
Phylax or Charis, or some other friend
May rush upon our backs, and by surprize
Both our Design and us in pieces rend?
Fresh is the Lesson in the Grove we read;
Can you forget how Aphrodisius sped?
Besides, y' have heard of Heaven's immortal Son
Whose sovereign hand holds fate's and power's rein:
That hand which when great Lucifer begun
To let his eyes but glimmer with disdain;
Tumbled him headlong into Death and Hell
I tell you friends, that Christ loves Psyche well.
Since then apparent hazards close attend
Our rightdown force; I cannot find how we
Shall answer Wisdom's scruples, if we bend
Against her castle our Artillery.
Should we at first be worsted, what Recruit
Can heal our Army, or our crack'd Repute?
Fear not that we should prove too wary, I
For my part judge the safest way the best:
And this is by a present Embassy
With humble Lies and Oaths and Glozings drest;
To cheat her from her strength, and wisely gain
Our ends, yet seem to 'scape Rebellion's stain.
But let a vow of Perseverance first
Seal us all sure to our Conspiracy;
That they aforehand may be self-accurst
Whoe'r shall faint or false Apostates be.
If one should basely fail, why may not two?
If two, why may the sum not higher grow?
This said: An eye of learing Doubt she cast
Upon Agenor, to observe how He
Relish'd her words: But soon she saw their taste
In's palate welcome found, for instantly,
I like her Council best he cries, and you
Shall strengthen your Adventure by a vow.
Thus shall my might avoid, what most I fear'd,
The vile encountre with a Woman; and
No less to you my Pity be declar'd,
Whilst in your front my Majesty doth stand
And strike such terror, ev'n without a blow
As to your Plot shall make your Empress bow.
Then calling for a Bason and a Pin
He pricks his annular finger, and lets fall
Three drops of blood: strait, what he thus begun
As solemnly reacted was by all
The Company; which done, again he takes
The Bason, and three elevations makes.
And may the total streams of blood behind
Be forc'd to follow these three drops, he cry'd;
If ever I unbend my resolute Mind,
Or from this War's stout prosecution slide.
May this my present poison be (and here
He dipp'd his tongue) if I be not sincere.
Then sprinkling on the back of his right hand
Another drop: this martial mark, said he,
Shall for a badge and memorandum stand
Of our resolv'd and sacred Unity.
You see our Covenant's Rites: Now every One
Do what your willing General has done.
No jolly Health more chearly walk'd its round
When lusty Wine and Mirth the boul had fill'd;
Than did this bloody barbarous Bason, crown'd
With Rage and madness. Their Rebellion seal'd
Thus by this desperate Ceremony, they
To Psyche, speed the Messenger away.
And this was Love, on whose quaint tongue although
There dwelt perpetual fallacies and sleights;
Yet with industrious Deceptions now
And study'd flatteries her mouth she baits:
She knew the Queen was wise and would
With common known Delusions not be fool'd.
Thus to the gate demurely come, she try'd
It with a modest knock, and paus'd a while:
Then dropping a more timorous stroke, she hid
In this soft Preface her meek-insolent guile.
The gentle Knocks bad Psyche courage take
To come and see what they would further speak.
No sooner had she op'd a wicket, and
Reach'd out her doubtful Eye the News to know;
But she beheld the Maiden trembling stand
With weeping eyes, and with dejected brow.
She lik'd the posture; yet demanded why
She thither came, a false and fauning Spy?
Love by that word alarm'd, to skrew her art,
Fell on her knees, and smote her bowed breast;
And, Wo is me, she cry'd, whose loyal heart
By most dear, though ireful Sovereign's thrust
Quite thro' and thro'! What strange mischance doth throw
This wrong on Me, and that mistake on You?
If thus to visit you in humblest guise
Who here immured dwell in Desolation;
If to discover where the Error lies
Whose secret Venom breeds this Perturbation
Of your whole Realm, deserve the name of Spy,
I well can bear this glorious Infamy.
But if Suspicion so deludes your eyes,
That, looking with a jealous glance on me,
They in my Count'nance read an Enemy's,
Just leave I crave to tell your Majesty
(For it concerns my essence,) you forget
Your Creature, and take Love itself for Hate.
Yet your mistake shall force no change in me;
Use your vast pow'r wherever else you please.
I still am Love, and so resolve to be,
Not fearing that false envious witnesses
Can swear me from myself: Heav'n cannot frame
What I had rather be than what I am.
Sure I with that right genuine Love which you
Hug next your soul, have some affinity;
Adulterate can that virgin Passion grow,
And stain its spotless self with Treachery?
Can Odours stinking, Honey bitter be,
Silk harsh, Down hard, that thus you judge of me?
Can hatred-hating Lambs imployed be
The message of blood-thirsty wolves to bear;
And that, (with self-destroying villany)
To their own best-deserving Shepherd's ear?
Can mildest Doves upon an errand from
Rapacious Kites, and salvage Vultures come?
O no, misdeeming Sovereign; I am sent
The soft Ambassador of Peace to you:
Nor of my Office must it me repent
What wrath soe'r stands bent in your stern brow:
And though I know not what will hence ensue,
I to my native sweetness must be true.
I see you fear'd your Members there had bent
Some trait'rous force against their royal Head:
And is't not likely they would all consent
Their own heart-blood and life in yours to shed.
Madam believe't, Self's not a dearer Name
To noble You, than to the worst of Them.
Might I be bold to judge, (and may I speak
Under your favor's shelter,) I should swear
Your Highness now is only pleas'd to take
Suspicion's mask, and try how they will bear
A forg'd imaginary guilt; since in
Their faithful breasts, you find no real sin.
'Tis true, a piece of Discontent has put
Them in that posture of Defence: but by
Heav'n, and more heav'nly You, they brew no plot
But what becomes true Subjects' modesty.
Were mischief their Design, what Power's charms
Now dead their hands and damp their glittering arms?
If strong-embattel'd injur'd Patience be
A sign of Treason; they are Traytors all:
But surely this self-bridling Treachery
Doth more for thanks and praise, than anger call.
O never be it said, that you alone
Could in arm'd meekness read Rebellion.
Though Heav'n's Angelic Army ranged stand
In fair array, their martial order does
Not tempt their Sovereign's wise thoughts to brand
Them with the odious character of Foes.
Let then, that Copy, justify their fact,
Who armed are to Bear, and not to Act.
Else their full Torrent hither flowed had,
And made a Deluge of what's now a Drop,
What shift could your craft's or strength's banks have made
So fierce a Tide of Violence to stop?
But now their Faith and Truth their Power aw,
And only Duty is their martial Law.
For they by me their Homage send, and pray
Your Highness would with it their Suit embrace;
Changing their tedious Nights into their Day,
Their only Day which riseth from your face;
And deigning to go forth and see how they
Their panting souls, before your feet will lay.
Here breaking off in deep deceitful sighs,
With cunning tears she all her face bedew'd.
But toss'd and rack'd in ambiguities,
Ten thousand several thoughts poor Psyche chew'd:
Weeping at length, O that those Tears of thine,
She cry'd, were as sincere and true as mine!
If those Dissemblers now would Suters be
What mean proud Arms and warlike Preparation?
Petitions sure should from the bended knee
Not from the Bow be shot: this sullen fashion
Stout Rogues brought up, who begging with one hand,
A stone bear in the other to command.
In front why is that burly Stranger set
As General against your Sovereign?
He whose heav'n-daring Looks proclaim him fit
Not to request and sue, but to disdain.
If I were longer to be trusted, why
Chose you his Banner for security?
Yet that the Progress of your Treason may
Want all presence, as its Commencement did;
I'l condescend to hear you say your say,
Provided you yourselves in quiet spread
Before my window: I must parley there;
You know how you have us'd my messenger.
Love stung by that last Word, and with fresh tears
Dissembling their true cause, took humble leave.
Then to her Complices the News she bears,
Who it with doubtful countenance receive
And boulting every Circumstance, conclude
That still the same Device must be pursu'd.
Agenor strait vouchaf'd himself to shew
In all his pomp, and more than was his own;
That Psyche might those vast Temptations new
Which only swell'd so high to throw Her down.
But none of all the Passions knew from whence
He beck'ned, in his strange Magnificence.
The glorious furniture's full flowing Stream
Follow'd his nod with like facility;
As in a dreaming brain light figures swim
Into a Sudden Masque of Bravery.
The Sight the Passions struck with joyful fear
And made ev'n Thelema with reverence stare.
Yet crafty He, though glad and proud to read
Their admiration of his gorgeous Ly;
Told them they wrong'd his Honor, if they did
Count this poor flash, his total Majesty.
Which said, his Train he to the Castle drew,
And there prepared for the Interview.
At length six golden Trumpets' mouths affirm'd
Their Master's Highness was at hand to treat.
To her balcony Psyche thus alarm'd,
Started; and found the Noise was not so great
As strange the Sight She never, though a Queen,
Such prodigality of State had seen.
An half-ope Tent a appear'd, whose Covering was
Sumptuously rugged with Embroidery
Of Pearls and Jewels; in which various Glass,
Titan, who needs would peep, had lost his Eye:
But yet ten thousand He receiv'd for one;
For every Gem return'd him back a Sun.
A fearful Texture of fierce Tapestry
Paved the awful Floor with costly pride;
Where slaughter'd Lyons, Boars, and Bears did lie;
Confessing by whose martial Hand they dy'd:
For every one had great Agenor's dart
Deep sticking in his head, or in his heart.
The Walls hung thick with War; the noblest stories
Whose valiant Actors e'r had honor'd Bays;
Were glistering there, not in unworthy glories:
What Gold, and richer Stones could do to raise
Them to their life again, being freely tried;
Whilst Art as liberally her wealth supplied.
Th' obedient Sun rein'd in his posting Hours
On heav'n's steep side, at Joshua's strict Command;
Where to attend and to admire his Powers,
This glorious Witness with fix'd Eye did stand.
The Moon pull'd in her horns, nor dared they
Push forth the Night, till He had got the Day.
Close by, five Kings all prostrate gnaw'd the ground,
Feeling his Captain's feet upon their necks:
And in a stately-miserable Round
Were ranged other Princes, twenty six;
Whose Crowns lay all before his Helmet broke;
Whose lopped Sceptres ru'd his faulchion's stroke.
There boistrous Samson with his Asse's Jaw
(A wretched weapon could his Sinews not
Mend his weak Tool by his most potent Blow,)
A thousand Enemies devoured: But
With statlier Might, his brawny shoulders here
Did Gaza's gates up Hebron mountain wear.
And yet his last Exploit crown'd all the rest,
When to the Prince's fatal Sport he shew'd;
Turning their Banquet to their funeral Feast,
When with their Wine their blood and brains he brew'd.
As down he tears the mighty Theatre,
The Hangings full of their own ruins were.
Next him, a young and ruddy Champion flings
Into Goliah's brow a shameful Death.
There Terror's train vast Ishbibenob brings
Upon the Scene, shaking with monstrous wrath
His barbarous spear; tell Abishai's brave Steel
Hew'd down this Mount, — whose fall forc'd Gath to reel.
There Sibbechai on Saph's enormous Pride
Stout vengeance takes. There mighty Eihanan
Drowns storming Lahmi in his own blood's tide.
And there th' undaunted Blade of Jonathan
Prunes the sixfinger'd Gyant: and requites
The bold defiance he on Israel spites.
An army to himself, Adino there
Musters his Powers against eight hundred foes:
Glad this great harvest he alone may share,
About his daring work the Champion goes;
Nor stops his conquest till he quite has mown
This total field of matchless Honor down.
There Dodo's Son; there Shammah keep their ground,
Nor yield one inch to all Philistia's host:
The more shame spurr'd them on, the more they found
They ventur'd only to their deadly cost;
For obstinate Victory attended here
On Shammah's Sword, on Eleazer's there.
Benaiah from th' Egyptian Heroe here
Tears both his Spear and Life: He there divides
Destruction twixt a Lyon-faced Pair
Of Moabites: His faulchion here he guides
Into a real Lyon's heart, whose cave
Where him he found, he left to he his grave.
To Bethlehem there the danger-scorning Three
Through all Philistia's guards slash ope their way,
Fir'd with a stronger thirst of Victory,
Then was their King's of Water: Of their Prey
They scorn'd to fail, although they through a flood,
—Advancing and retreating, — wade of blood.
The other Work, the vaunting stories wore
Of what He pleas'd about himself to he:
How many Gyants gasping in their gore
Yielded Agenor, strange-form'd Victory!
How many Palms and Bays about him threw
Themselves, ambitious of his Hand and Brow.
What throngs of meek Ambassadors were there
From every quarter of the awed Earth,
Begging the favor of his royal ear
Upon their Sutes for Peace; and pouring forth
The richest Gifts their Countries could afford
In earnest of their homage to their Lord!
Above his Scutcheon hung, In Azure field
A Lyon Or, with lightning in his Paw;
The crest was Fame, with cheeks and trumpet swell'd
And wings display'd. His throne of Pearl below
With sparkling earnestness strove to exceed
The beams of those six Steps which to it led.
The first was Plutus, of substantial price;
The next Eugenia, in fancy high;
Callos the third, the ravisher of eyes;
The fourth Andria, swell'd with majesty;
The fift Paedia, quainter than the rest;
Eusebia the sixt, of all the best.
There sate the Gallant: one whole Diamond made
His radiant Helmet; and in wanton pride
A gorgeous flood of Plumes about it play'd,
Yet scorn'd the kiss of any Wind; aside
They wav'd their heads and coyly seem'd to say,
To every Blast: Your breath offends; away.
A stately Mantle's large expansion reach'd
Down from his wide-spread shoulders to his feet;
And cloth'd him with all splendors that are fetch'd,
From eastern shores, the western Pearls to meet;
And by a rich conspiracy of beams
Epitomize the World's estate of Gems.
His Sword look'd lightning through its crystal sheath,
Whose round Hilt crown'd its victorious Blade:
His mighty Sceptre, circled with a Wreath
Of bloody Bays, right dreadfully he sway'd.
The Ball in's hand was swell'd to that degree
As if it meant indeed the World to be.
At's right hand stood Disdain: tumid was her Head
Over her shoulder; with contemptuous Eye
Through gloomy frowns, her sullen mind she spread,
And seeing, scorn'd to see, the Company:
Nor did she mend or mollify her brow,
But when her Master's growing rough, she saw.
At's left stood spruce and gaudy Philauty,
Whose thoughts dwelt on a crystal book she held
Eternally, to her admiring Eye;
In which her foolish self she read, and smil'd
On her fair Lesson; though the brittle Glass
Admonish'd her how vain her Beauty was.
Before Him, on a golden pillar, — at
Whose massy foot a Palm and Laurel grew,—
Upon the back of Triumph, Glory sate;
From whose full robes more dazling Lustre flew
Than breaks from Phoebus' furniture, when he
Through Cancer rides, in June's high gallantry.
About him round his whole Retinue was
Dispos'd in royal equipage: His own
Attendants had the credit of the place
Which glitter'd nearest his illustrious throne;
Then with their cheated Leader Thelema
Stood all the Passions in battalia.
Crafty Agenor having paus'd a while
To give respect to his own state, and let
Psyche have time to swallow down the guile
Which with such winning baits he had beset;
By soft and proud degrees vouchaf'd to stir,
And being risen, thus accosted Her.
Did Pity's generous and Sovereign Law
All specious points of Honor not forbid;
Agenor must not have descended now
To stand at Psyche's gate; but I am led
Below myself by Virtue, that my Might
May help these wronged Passions to their Right.
'Tis Fortune's pleasure that thus casts me, on
These merciful Designs, and I'm content;
Fame, fame's my Trade: this noble Pay alone
My Pains expect: Indeed the common Rent
By which my most renowned self I keep
Are those Revenues, I from Glory reap.
And since these silly Souls mistook my Worth,
And deem'd me but some single errant Knight
I let this glimpse of what I am break forth,
To teach their Error my authentic might
Needs no supplies from them: This Part of my
Ne'r-conquer'd Train dares Heav'n and Earth defy.
How easily this Sword's devouring flame
Might Sacrifice you to my Wrath! but you
Being a Female Thing, I hold it shame
To make my Conquest's Honor stoop so low:
I'm loth the World should say, Agenor drew
His Sword, and, like a Man, a Woman slew.
In Woman's blood my Weapon never yet
Blush'd for its base Exploit; nor will it now
By sordid Victory discredit get
Unless inforc'd by fortune, fate, and you.
And then I hope the justice of the Fight
Will cover that dishonor of my Might.
But I through Courtesy myself forget
In lavishing thus far my royal breath:
Precious are Princes' Words, nor is it fit
Their Tongue should flow, whose nod or finger hath
More decent Eloquence. Thus having spoken,
He took his throne, and nodded Love her token.
She knew her cue, and stepping gently forth
Thus 'gan her Tale: Great Queen, since I must be
My suppliant Sister's mouth; O may this Earth
Ope her's to close up mine, if falsity
Break from my lips, or any fraud conceal
What they, and truth, and justice bid me tell.
What Heav'n has made us, 'tis our bliss to be,
And that's your Subjects: though cross Error now
A confident blot throws on our Loyalty
The least of treacherous thoughts we disavow.
What should the fond boughs gain, should they combine
Their desperate arms their root to undermine?
Yet your wise Majesty full well doth know
That as yourself a free Prince are, so we
Are freeborn Subjects: Nature's Laws allow
In our sweet Commonwealth no Tyranny:
She knew this mutual Liberty would bless
Both Prince and People, with joint happiness.
When did a Realm of slaves unto their Prince
The trusty sweetness of Love's homage pay?
When did a Tyrant with safe confidence
Rely upon his Vassals? None but they
Can fairly Rule, and fairly Ruled be,
Whom freedom's bonds ty up in Monarchy.
But what broad Innovations of late
Rush'd in, and justled out our Liberty
O that we could not feel! Had it been fate
Which thrust on us this boistrous Misery
We had been silent: but we know what Hands
Have stol'n our freedom, and by whose commands.
Nor I, nor any of my Sisters were
Suffer'd ourselves in quiet to possess:
We might not Love, nor Hate, nor Hope, nor Fear,
We might not taste Revenge or Joyfulness,
Or any thing which pleas'd not them who had
A Prey of all our Privileges made.
Surely we all had legal Title to
What ours by reverend Nature's bounty was;
Yet snatch'd from thence, poor we were press'd to go
And serve abroad we knew not where, alas!
Nor e'r shall know; for how should we comprise
Mysterious Things and Matters of the Skies!
Nor is this sad case only Ours, who are
Inlanders here: Your Subjects too abroad,
Who at your Cinque-ports with perpetual care
In-gathering your royal customs stood,
Are gall'd with like Oppressions: and they
Pray'd us, with ours, their Grievance to display.
They have not leave, (poor leave) to hear, or see,
Or smell, or taste, or feel, what is their own;
But chain'd in deep unnatural slavery
Of their starv'd lives and selves are weary grown:
Yet more than all this Grief their hearts doth break,
That Piety itself must prove their Rack.
They must a new Devotion learn, and be
Tortur'd with Watchings, Prayers and Prostrations;
With Ceremonies of pale sanctity,
With Fastings and severe Mortifications:
Or if this superstition they refuse
Some mulct, the poor Confessors' backs must bruise.
Had they been temper'd to the purity
Of brisk and active Angels, they might all
Manage spiritual Tasks, and weaned be
From every gross Material Breast: but shall
Matter's own off-spring be Delinquents made,
Because in their own native sphere they trade?
And by what Law must honest They or We
Under this Arbitrary power lie?
Where is your freeborn Subjects' Liberty
Who have no freedom left, unless to die?
And surely Death a greater blessing were
Than such a Life as we all die in here.
Mistake not, gracious Sovereign, what I speak,
As if I charg'd the guilt of this our Wrong
On your just Soul: No; let my heartstrings crack
With their own torments load, before my Tongue
Grow black with such a stander: you, alas!
Involved, a sufferer are in our sad case.
A sufferer in that which nearest lies
And dearest unto every Prince's bears:
Your royal Honor in our Miseries
Is rack'd and tortur'd, and torn part from part.
Ask not, by whom? 'tis too notorious what
Bold Charmers in your Court command had got.
Logos, that wiley fox, screw'd all his skill
Daily to make both you and us his prey:
Some handsome Tale or other he would tell
Which fairly might to your mistake betray
Your unheard Subjects: from your highness thus
He stole your ear, our Liberty from us.
His Majors, Minors, Maxims, Demonstrations,
With most profound deceit he gravely drest;
And by these sage and reverend Conjurations
Pour'd Cruelty into your clement breast.
His mischief-hatching Plots seem'd sober Reason,
Which in the Passions must have gone for Treason.
Hence issu'd those Commands which day by day
Illegal Burdens on our backs did throw;
And to this sad necessity betray
Our loth loth Souls, observing Gall to flow
From Honey's hive: for though all warrants came
From his fell hand, they wore your gentle Name.
Some woful comfort it had been if we
Had to that single Tyranny been damn'd:
But we at home in forein slavery
Were yoak'd; A Grievance we would not have nam'd
In reverence to your Credit, could the thing
Have easy grown by our long suffering.
For what's that Charis unto us, that She
In our Free State such arrogant sway must bear?
Or what, and why are royal you, if we
Must he commanded by a Foreigner?
We grant she's brave and princely; yet we know
We owe allegiance to no Queen but you.
She came from heav'n, if we her word may take;
But what should woo her from so fair a place
To dwell in this ignoble World, and make
Her high self stoop to such profound Disgrace?
I would be loth to wrong her; yet I fear
There's something in't, why Heav'n get rid of Her.
And was't a heav'nly trade which here she drove
In plotting how to barbarize your breast
With strange Austerity; and to remove
Us from your love, with which we once were blest?
Your smiles she all monopoliz'd, and left
Us quite of all things but your Hate bereft.
Surely our Patience was our Crime, and she
Only because we were content to bear
Increas'd the burden of our Misery:
And then, to seal our Torture with a Jear,
She prais'd our Woes' deep hell, as if by it
In heav'n's high-way we had been fairly set.
If this Devotion be, and heav'nly Zeal
What, what is Savageness! Alas that we
None but destructive Piety must feel
And by Religion consumed be!
Alas that Heav'n and Godliness must thus
Be mock'd and wrested and abus'd with us!
Nor has proud Phylax us'd less dangerous art
To cozen you into this Tyranny:
Soft are his Wings, but cruel is his heart
Sweets in his Looks, stings in his bosom lie;
Fair do's he speak you, for that Bait's the cheapest;
His Streams run smoothest where the Chanel's deepest.
Were you a youngling, and devoid of Friends
Whose riper arms might help your tender hand
To sway the Sceptre's load; what he pretends,
With tolerable sense perhaps might stand;
But must your Nonage know no bounds; and He
For evermore the Lord Protector be?
Now by your Honor, mighty Queen, 'tis time
For you no more to think yourself a Child.
Know, know your own authentic Power, and Him
Who has your Love and it too long beguil'd:
Tis no discredit for a Prince to throw
Away an Error, and with it a Foe.
Your Confidence in Him, which flames so high
Was kindled by his service in the Grove.
Yet what if that were but a Mystery
Of envious fraud, and no Exploit of Love?
If Phylax, and not Aphrodisius were
In all that scene of Charms the Conjurer?
Who but the noble Aphrodisius there
His own dear life right generously forgot.
And from fierce Death wide-gaping in the Boar
Rescu'd your helpless soul? And O, from what
Did Phylax snatch you, but from his Embrace
Who your Deliverer and Lover was.
And then inrag'd with shameless spight to see
You to another your protection owe,
He on the courteous stranger's Piety
Blush'd not the dregs of magic Power to throw:
How much more Monster was your Phylax there,
Who made the goodly Knight so foul appear.
Long since we could have told you this, but we
Dar'd not ev'n necessary Truth profess
Till Arms had sheltred us; least cruel he
Should both our tongues and lives by force suppress:
For well he knows, he must no more be known
Where once he's into open knowledge grown.
Yet we could brook it, would he only try
His charms on Aphrodisius, and forbear
To exercise on us his Witchery;
But we alas so metamorphos'd are
With that rough-cast of shapes he on us cleaves
That you in your own Subjects he deceives.
We too like Fiends (for Rebels sure are so)
Presented are to your abused eye:
Although ev'n Phylax in his heart doth know
Our Lives are not so dear as Loyalty
To honest-meaning us: And whose was this
Desp'rate Enchantment, if it were not His?
Tis true, he talks of Love; and needs will be
The Paranymphus of the heavenly Spouse:
But surely I should ken as well as he
All Mysteries of Love: your Highness knows
That my Creation only aims at this:
And is my natural Art less mine than His?
That Love's own glorious Prince makes love to you
As to the dearest she that treads his earth;
I dare not question, since so well I know
Your Majestie's incomparable worth.
But heav'n forbid that I should Him esteem
So strange a Spouse as Phylax makes of Him.
Sure he is King of Sweetness and Delight
And with more zeal abhors all Tyranny
Than Phylax loves it: Sure His gentle Might
Desires a correspondent victory.
Not all the world shall make me think that He
Will ever woo his Spouse by Cruelty.
Lents, Embers, Vigils, Groans, Humicubations
Tears, Pensiveness, disconsolate Privacy;
Sad silence, Sourness, and self-abnegations;
Are not conditions required by
An earthly suiter; and can heav'nly He
Imbitter thus his suit's dear suavity?
Can he expect his tender Spouse should prove
Her loyalty to pant with pure affection,
By nothing but Self-hatred? Can his Love
Find no security but your destruction?
Pardon my fear, great Queen, you love not him
Whom such a spightful Lover you can deem.
But far be such black omens hence: Had I,
Or this wide world, one Glass, which could present
Your total Self to your considering eye;
The gallant sight would make your heart repent
This dangerous heresy, that Heaven's gentle King
Would use so harshly such a lovely Thing.
What was there of Serene, of Bright, of Sweet,
Of Soft, of Beauteous, in this world below,
Or that above; which did escape the great
Creator's studious fingers, when on you
Himself he wrote, and bad your Person be
The Universe's rich Epitome?
But Phylax brews this cruel-flattering Plot,
Because it is his rack, and hell, to see
Fortune or Fate so rare a Bride allot
To any Spouse but him: Hence, hence is he
So subtly active in his secret Art
How he may you and your great Suiter part.
Part you he will, if he can thus intice
Your thoughts and judgment to be Traytors, and
Charm you your Lord's affections to despise
By scorning Us; who, had not his dear Hand
Bestow'd Us on you, had not now liv'd here
This Mass of cruel Injuries to bear.
O then, O, first for your own royal sake,
And next for ours, wrapp'd up in you, beware
Of his Designs in time: Just courage take,
In what deserves your speediest, stoutest care.
Nor you nor we can be secure, till he
Both from your Court and Favor banish'd be.
Nor can your Palace be a dwelling-place
For Safety, whilst pragmatic Logos, or
Sly Charis revel in your Princely Grace.
One Edict may dispatch them all, and far
From this their stage of holy treachery
Pack their incurable Hypocrisy.
So shall your Sovereign Self securely dwell,
And your impartial undeceived Hand
Sway its own Sceptre: So shall we dispel
By low obedience to your high Command
That groundless Error, which hath stamped thus
Rebellion's ugly brand on faithful Us.
So shall our rescu'd Liberties appear
In their own looks, when We by love shall do
More of your Will than disingenuous fear
And lawless Tyranny e'r hal'd us to.
So you for Rigor shall not dreaded be,
But reign acknowledg'd Queen of Clemency.
So shall your sweetned Countenance proclaim
That Love's dear trade sincerely you profess:
So shall your eyes court with their answering flame
Your Spouse's beams; so shall His tenderness
Meet due capacity in your soft heart
Of his destroying, yet enlivening Dart.
Here, with a kiss upon the ground, her stop
The crafty Pleader made. But thousand Doubts
Hurry'd and toss'd uncertain Psyche up
From one side to another of her thoughts.
Three times she op'd her mouth; but jealous fears
Would suffer her to speak by nought but tears.
'Tis true, Syneidesis had prick'd her on
With faithful importunity; yet still
She found her feeble self too much alone;
For though she had Desires, she had no Will.
O no! her Will was with the Rebels, and
She now in arms against her self did stand.
Which when Agenor spy'd, he with his eye
Gave Thelema commission to succeed.
She, marching forth in portly policy,
Spun out the rest of Love's deceitful thread:
And, Well I know, great Queen, said she, that you
Much wonder I should come a Treater now.
I grant you sent me with express Command
To force your seeming Rebels back again,
And make them feel that your illustrious Hand
Is moderatrix of the regal Rein:
And I believed them for Rebels too;
So much your Error on my faith could do.
But when I found their Loyalty as clear
As blurr'd it seem'd, in Misconstruction's glass;
I, who was but th' intrusted Officer
Of Right and Justice, had no power to pass
My strict Commission; and what need I prove
What was so solidly confirm'd by Love?
I must confess, when well I mark'd that store
Of honest bravery of which poor They
Were, with the Senses robb'd, I could no more
To their provok'd Impatience Treason lay,
Than to the Earth's, when her chink'd mouth she opes
At Sirius, who burns up her flowry hopes.
Yet wronged They were generous, and to Me
The choice of all their choicest Wealth did proffer
That by my hand it might commended be
To wait on you; and here their Gift I offer.
If it and them you scorn, yet must not I
Be guilty of such proud Discourtesy.
Forthwith she op'd the Scene, whence streamed out
The Confluence of that gorgeous fallacy.
Which on her heedless soul before had wrought.
Strait, as the sweetly-rolling Tide grew high,
The stream bore Psyche down; as sudden Light
Seizeth, by too much day, the eyes with night.
Agenor, glad to see her dazell'd by
The flash of those varieties, arose;
And, while she rubb'd and questioned her eye,
Seald that Imposture with this specious Close:
Wonder not Madam, but repent, that you
Your Subject's goodly Homage scorn'd till now.
To gratify the Weakness of your sex
Let that be your excuse; I am content
If now you ease your galled Subjects' necks
And crown their just Demands with your Assent.
That Pity to their Wrongs you see me lend,
To your repented Error shall extend.
The love which to mine own Queen glues my heart
Makes it to every other Lady kind.
For her dear sake I will to you impart
Rich Testimonies of my tender mind.
I know she'l thank me when I come at home
That in my mercy I have made you room.
Behold my Mine of Wealth: from hence will I
This Peace with precious Tokens consecrate
And your, howe'r unequal, Majesty
As my Confederate own: Though potent fate
Makes me a Martial Prince, I'd rather win
By sweetness, than by churlish Force, a Queen.
Though Heav'n above sometimes by Thunder frights
And breaks its foes; yet by mild Patience
And bounteous favors oftner it delights
The heart of Opposition to convince.
And, for this once, I hope 'twill not disgrace
My might, that I Heav'n's gentle Conquests trace.
Ope then your Gates: Or, if my Kindness be
A price too mean to buy your Acceptation
Tell me but so: I can more easily
Force than Intreat: This warlike Preparation
With greater pains wins on it self to make
This pause, than it will cost your Fort to take.
What help for Psyche now, whom Power hurries
And Charms allure into Destruction's pit!
With heart-misgiving Thoughts a while she worries
And struggles not to fear the one, nor yet
Imbrace the other: but away at last
Her Resolution and her self she cast.
Pull down thy foolish crest, vain Son of Dust,
And in this Glass thy feeble Wormship see.
What other pledge can to thy wavering trust
Committed be, when by self-treachery
Thou yieldest up thy wretched heart a prize
To them whose Pow'r in thy Concession lies.
I like the Terms, right noble Sir, she cries
And in my high esteem for ever must
Inshrine and reverence these Courtesies
Of your Magnificence. Which said, in haste
Her Safety she unbars, and to begin
Her thanks, flings ope her Gate and calls Him in.
Agenor sheath'd his mighty Sword, and bid
The Passions put up theirs, and march before.
In modest order they thus entered:
He with his swelling Train approach'd the Door;
But seem'd to cast a surly look aside,
Because it was not more sublime and wide.
With princely slowness thus arrived, Her
He sternly wills her royal Seal to put
To those Conditions which agreed were,
And in a gilded parchment ready writ.
She ran them over with a smiling eye,
And strait set Seal to her own Slavery.
Which done: To Thelema the Instrument
She gave, with full Commission close to shut
Her Ports, when Charis, or when Phylax bent
Their marches, or their projects thither.
For Logos, she consented He should still
Remain a Pris'ner at the Passions' will.
With that, Agenor cries, this friendly Kiss
Shall be my Seal to this Pacification.
The Passions then, though venturing not to press
Her lips, salute her ears with Acclamation:
And she, fond she, rejoyc'd their Noise to hear,
Which did in pieces all her freedom tear.
By name she kindly welcom'd them; but on
Agenor dwelt her solemne Complement.
And sure, said she, what you to day have done
Proves you to be of that sublime Descent
From which my Spouse was said alone to spring;
For now I see you too are Peace's King.
Heav'n was too large and loose a Word, when you
Profest to trace its gentle Conquests; He
If only was your glorious Copy now,
Who is the Master of my heart and me:
He who deserveth to be follow'd by
Such royal Scholars as your Majesty.
His Hand's Power's highest throne; the Armory
Of heav'n, where thundering Ammunition lies
In dreadful store, is His; yet tender He
By sweetness loves to gain his victories.
And so do you, who for his sake, to me
The noblest Prince and dearest are, but He.
Agenor smil'd: and who I am, said He,
Virtue permits me not to let you know:
More than by this blest Peace, and, what you see,
That Token of my princely love to you:
For, somewhere else the World may need, and I
Must not by loitering here, my help deny.
Yet if my Aid you should hereafter want,
Send and enquire at any Prince's Court.
Those are the Hosts and Inns to which I grant
The favour of my always-begg'd Resort:
Where, from my Coming and Departing they
Reckon the Morn and Evening of their Joy.
This said, and tendring, in two Cabinets
His present, from her lips he took his leave;
Through which he breath'd and kiss'd in new Deceits,
Which her unwary heart did not perceive;
Sly Spirits of SeIf-love, and foolish Pride,
And many mystic swelling things beside.
With earnest Courtesy she woo'd his stay;
But now his deep Design was compass'd, He
With all his proud Retinue hastes away,
And leaves her more a Pris'ner, than when she
Was in her castle barred up by fear
Of them, who now all play the Tyrants there.
Each Passion takes her swindge, and makes appeal
To Thelema when any Doubts arise;
Boldly provoking to the Scroll and Seal,
Which did this publick Freedom authorize.
Thus Noise and Tumult all the Palace fills,
Which now with lawful lawless Revels swells.
So when fond Phoebus, doting on his Son
Resign'd his Reins into his childish hand;
Quite cross the road th' impatient Coursers ran,
And neither kept their way, nor his Command,
But in unbridled madness with their wheels
Drew on the World's confusion at their heels.
The Senses too, first Sticklers in the Treason,
Reaped of its licentious fruit their share;
Perceiving quickly, that imprison'd Reason
Must his stern Discipline malgre forbear:
And proudly smiling, what tame fools were we,
They cry'd, who did no sooner mutiny!
What strange and hideous monsters Kingdoms grow,
Where Law and Sovereignty, the life and health
Of every heav'n-descended State must bow
To vile plebeians' wills! What Commonwealth
Can justify its Name, where Subjects may
Command, and Princes dare not but obey!
Where Freedom's Name being thus deflowred, must
Turn Licence's bold bawd, and make it free
Only to be outrageous and injust!
Where Desolation's Dame, foul Ataxy,
As beauteous Mother of establish'd Bliss
And public Happiness, admired is.
No Hydra's shape so shapeless is as this
Which throws the world back to its breeding Heap;
The hideous Chaos of Preposterousness
That tumbles all Things in one monstrous Deep,
And, envying the fairly-form'd Creation
Disjoints and scatters it quite out of fashion.
Yet retchless Psyche is content to see
This horrid Solaecism in her own breast;
And thinks her Sceptre and her self more free
Then when Obedience did her Subjects cast
Low at the feet of all her Mandates, and
Her Empire's helm knew none but her own hand.
The silly Rose delighteth thus to be
Drest in her fairest looks and best attire
When round about a churlish company
Of Thorns against her tenderness conspire:
That dangerous siege of pikes with smiles she greets
Ne'r dreaming they design to choke her sweets.
Psyche's as jolly, as the Passions wild,
And longs her joys with that rich Feast to feed
With which Agenor's Cabinets were filld:
Proud Expectation prompts her there to read
The lines of Fate against her self, for she
In opening them, broach'd her own Mysery.
(With such unfortunate Curiosity
The fair-fac'd Box rash Epimetheus op'd
The trembling Lid forewarn'd his hand to be
Better advis'd; yet still the Fondling hop'd
For mighty Matters; but the Prize he found
Himself, and all the world in sorrows drown'd.)
The first was stuff'd with Bracelets, Networks, Tires
Rings, Ear-rings, Tablets, Wimples Hoods Vails, Laces,
Lawns, Crisping-pins, Chains, Bonnets, golden Wires,
Vermilion, Pencils, Smiles, Youth, blooming Faces,
Gloves, Sandals, Girdles, Busks, Gowns, Mantles, Clokes,
New-fashions, Powders, Coronets, High-looks.
Silks, Satins, Purples, Sables, Ermins: Gold
And Silver, by the Loom and Needle taught
To wed and dwell with Silk, which feels no cold.
The bottom too was sumptuously fraught
With ready Coin, to pave and dress the floor
Fit for the feet of that ambitious Store.
A stately Mirror's all- enameld Case
The second was; No crystal ever yet
Smil'd with such pureness: Never Ladie's Glass
Its owner flatter'd with so smooth a cheat.
Nor could Narcissus' fount with such delight
Into his fair Destruction Him invite.
For He in that, and Self-love, being drown'd,
Agenor from him pluck'd his doting Eyes;
And shuffled in her fragments; having found
Old Jezabel's, he stole the Dog's due prize.
Goliah's staring Bacins too he got,
Which he with Pharaoh's all together put.
But not content with these; from Phaeton,
From Joab, Icarus, Nebuchadnezzer,
From Philip and his world-devouring Son,
From Scylla, Catiline, Tully, Pompey, Cesar
From Herod, Cleopatra, and Sejanus
From Agrippina and Domitianus.
And many surly Stoics, their's he pull'd;
Whose proudest Humors, having drained out,
He blended in a large and polish'd mould;
Which up he fill'd, with what from heav'n he brought
In Extract of those Looks of Lucifer
In which against his God he breathed war.
Then to the North, that glassy Kingdom, where
Establish'd Frost and Ice for ever reign;
He sped his course, and meeting Boreas there,
Pray'd him this liquid mixture to restrain.
When lo, as Boreas op'd his mouth and blew
For his Command, the Slime all solid grew.
Thus was the Mirror forged, and contain'd
The vigor of those self-admiring Eyes
Ageror's witchcraft into it had strain'd:
A dangerous juncture of proud fallacies;
Whose fair looks so inamored Him, that He
Thrice having kiss'd it, nam'd it Philauty.
Inchanted Psyche ravish'd was to see
The Glass her self upon her self reflect
With trebled Majesty. The Sun when He
Is by Aurora's roseal fingers deckt,
Views not his repercussed self so fair
Upon the Eastern Main, as she did here.
New flames were kindled in her sprightful eye,
New Roses on her smiling lips were strow'd,
New Loves and Graces dainty Luxury
Down with her golden streaming Tresses flow'd,
New Lilies trim'd her hands' and fingers' feature,
New Goodliness aggrandized her stature.
Her cheated Soul sprung through her Eye, and dwelt
So long upon the Glass, that it grew new:
Such mighty thoughts till now she never felt
As all about his highswol'n fancy flew;
Which breaking from her mouth, at length, she cries,
How long have I been strange to mine own eyes!
Am I that Worm, whom Phylax put in mind
So oft of Dust and Vileness! Could this face,
These Eyes, these Looks, these Hands, this Person find
No better Parallels? I see the case
Is plain how Aphrodisius came to be
So hideous: Phylax made the like of Me.
Fool that I was to dream it could be true
Which proud He daily preach'd to my disgrace!
Who could believe I ne'r till now should view
The wonders of mine own accomplish'd face?
O most ingenuous Glass, which tells me more
Than Phylax, or than Charis did before!
I see what cause there was to guard each Port
Whose key doth hither any way unlock,
That such ingrateful envious Guests' resort
No more may Me, and all my favors mock:
'Tis just that they should hence exiled be,
Whose spightful Fraud did banish Me from Me.
No marvel now if Heav'n's apparent Heir
Disdains all Beauties that he finds above,
And, doing right to what's supremely fair,
By stooping down to me exalts his Love.
I little thought I could so much have shown
Why this my Head should fit an heav'nly Crown.
O pardon me, bright Eyes, that ignorant I
With briny tears so oft have sully'd you:
Had not your Flames by their Divinity
Secured been, they had been quench'd e'r now.
And pardon me, sweet Cheeks! I will no more
Blubber and scald your roses as before.
And you, all-lovely Lips, no more shall kiss
The Dust, which foolish I took for your Mother;
The tribe of oriental Rubies is
Your precious Kindred: nor must any other
Your soft and living Nectar hope to sip,
But my Dear Spouse's correspondent Lip.
Nor shall rude usage rob thee of thy due,
My glorious Body: all hair-clothes farewel,
My liberal Tresses yield me hair enough;
And by this Girdle, Heav'n did plainly tell
What other Furniture would sute me best,
When with this siege of Gems it girt my waste.
And since thy Casket's Wardrobe challenges
My proudest choice, I wish thy self wert here,
Royal Agenor, to admire how these
Fair Limbs of mine would quit themselves, and wear
In worthy triumph thy best Jewels, which
Shall by my purer beams their own enrich.
This said; Love, who stood fawning by her side,
Her delicate Quaintness sets on work to dress
Her high-conceited Queen in equal pride.
A purple Mantle, fring'd with Stateliness,
Embroidered with Ambition, laced round
With Vanity, she in the Casket found.
About her this she plants: then for her neck
And wrists, three gaudy strings of Gems she chose;
A sparkling Coronet her head to deck;
To trim her feet a pair of silver shoes;
A crisping Pin to multiply her hair;
Spruce Lawn to make her breast, though clothed, bare.
Whilst she with these, and other Rarities
Builds up her pomp; the swelling Queen delights
To see by what rich steps her Beauties rise:
For to the Glass, whose multiplying sleights
Flatter'd her Error to so proud a pitch,
Her joyous folly still her eyes did reach.
And, that Vermilion, you, said she, may spare,
Whose pretty Looks it pities me to see,
Which though they Beautie's pure complexion wear,
Can add no commendation to Me.
They may relieve your needy Cheeks: but mine
Already any help of Art outshine.
Then rising in slow state, as she before
Had mark'd Agenor moving from his throne;
She traversed, but scorn'd to see, the floor,
Or any of the Passions who look'd on.
Only she turned her vain-glorious Head
Back to the Glass her walking self to read.
Which Lesson pleas'd her pride so well, that she
Gat it by heart, and yet must read again;
Insatiably coveting to see
The Pomp in which her Looks and Clothes did reign:
And, tickled with her self, she wish'd that now
Her Spouse a Visit would on her bestow.
The cunning Passions seeing her inhance
Her gate and aspect, thought it fit to bow,
And at the feet of her new Arrogance
Themselves and their insidious homage throw:
Which though she liked, yet she sleighted too,
And taught Acceptance with Disdain to go.
But judging now her Home too narrow to
Contain her Greatness, she abroad must ride,
That unto hers all Eyes might reverence do
Who now could prove her self reverence worthy Bride;
And Justly might display her beams in this
Low world, as in the upper he did his.
An open Chariot she calls for; and
That with due state and speed her wheels might run,
Eight tall stout Passions, at her command
Bow'd down their necks, and put the harness on;
Being pricked with as strong an itch to be
Abroad, and trot about the world, as she.
When lo Syneidesis, who all this while
Her Queen had in a silent corner watch'd
Accosts her in an unexpected stile
For, strict hold on her shoulder having catch'd
What means this haste? here is another Glass
Said she, for you to view before you pass.
Behold these Eyes of mine; a Mirror where
Lurks no Deceit, nor Charm, nor flattery:
True Psyche you are here, and only here
In this Reflection of Verity.
I never yet abused You: and why
Must that false Glass he trusted, and not I?
With indignation Psyche turn'd her head
And left scorn for Syneidesis; but she
Who knew not to be daunted, followed
Her eye with loyal importunity,
And made her see, in spight of her Disdain
That Conscience never shews her face in vain.
The Passions wonder'd at her boldness: but
She is a Witch, impatient Psyche cries,
And all inchantment's powers and tricks are met
In those inroad Mirrors of her monstrous eyes;
Which so environ mine, that there's no gap
Where from their conjuring Circles I may scape.
Behold how gross a Ly of Ugliness
They on my face have threaped, to outface
The truth of all those beauteous lines which dress
My royal Looks with prince-becoming grace.
Surely myself I would upon myself
Revenge, were I indeed so foul an Elf.
Was eye e'r frighted with so dire an heap
Of angry blisters as those Starers make
O'r all my skin! I challenge any Deep
On whose wide face the Winds most freedom take
To shew so many billows, as in me:
O no! as in this lying shape, you see.
Improvident Witch, why didst thou not as well
Enchant my Touch, as thou hast charm'd mine eyes?
Why didst thou leave these fingers power to feel
The horrid Author of these forgeries?
Their tumors are not yet so sore, but still
Thy witchery they can restrain, and will.
Upon her throat forthwith her left hand flew,
With furious vengeance having arm'd her right;
With which upon the Maiden's eyes she threw
The vehemence of her inflamed spight.
Hoping to break her Glasses, that their crack
Might let those blisters out they seem'd to make.
But stout Syneidesis composed was
Of Metal as secure and brave as she:
Her eyes, though clothed in the looks of Glass
Yet borrow'd nothing but its Purity:
Had they been brittle too, they had been broke,
But now they bore, and smiled at the stroak.
This fetch'd a secret sigh from Psyche, who
Call'd for a vail as thick and black as night;
And this at least, said she, the deed shall do,
And bury those bold Monsters from my sight.
Then on the Virgin's face she cast it, and
Fast ty'd it on with an hard-hearted hand.
O miserable Privilege, that Man
Should able be to muffle up that light
Which shews him to himself, and only can
Through rocks and shelves point out his Course aright!
Unhappy strength! what Weakness is so weak
As those mad Powers which their own ruin seek!
But thus the frantic crazy-brained Wight
Whom deep Distempers make his own Disease,
Preposterously tries his wretched might
Upon his Physic; and although he sees
The Potion mixed for his health, alas
Throws that, and this both in his Doctor's face.
Proud of this self-confounding Conquest, to
Her chariot Psyche hasts; whose Coursers from
Her scornful eyes their own inflam'd, and through
The air with haughty fervor flung their foam.
With bended necks and sparkling looks they ran
Disdaining all the ground they bode upon.
Thus swimming over hills, and dales, and plains,
She spy'd at length a simple Eremite's Cell;
And plucking in her fierce Teem's looser reins,
To see what Worm in that poor hole did dwell;
An hoary homespun Man she there descry'd
Deeply about his Roots and Herbs imploy'd.
To whom she cries, Ah fondly-wretched Thing,
Is this a time for thee to cultivate?
What makes thy Winter in the work of Spring,
Who art already bowing to thy fate?
Ev'n delve no more for Roots; that labor save;
And for thy other foot go dig thy grave.
The sober Eremite having wisely view'd
Her scornful Pity, thus replyed: I
For your Commiseration would have su'd,
Had I these Pains accounted misery.
But I can spare you all your pomp and ease;
Whom poverty and labor better please.
A Coach (my moving House, my Home abroad)
Once waited on my Idleness; but now
I am content with Nature's comelier mode:
That stately Shift (which vainly tickles you)
Of borrowing legs of Beasts, to me is grown
Needless, who have far nobler of mine own.
These Vanities, and all the rest, which are
Superfluous Wealth's care-breeding Train, I threw
Away with it; and that in time, for fear
'Twould so have served me; for well I knew
That Riches were but glorious vexations;
Sin's catching fuel, Plunder's Invitations.
Then took I sanctuary in that Cell,
Which has more room to spare for Heav'n and God,
Than my vast Palace; which was thronged full
With secular burly Things. In this abode
I find my Heav'n, where undisturbed I
Far from the World's loud storms at anchor lie.
This spot of ground, the Scoff of your high eyes,
By pleasant pains I make restore to me
What heedless Sloth had lost, — sweet Paradise.
No Bait smiles here on forbidden Tree;
Nor in these Herbs doth any Serpent Sneak,
Them to invenom, or my Safety check.
My serious Labor and my rigid fare,
Fright hence those tender Sons of Luxury
Distempers and Diseases; guests which are
Fed at the board of Superfluity.
In health and vigor I can night and day
Trade with my Maker, and both watch and pray.
He, though no wanton Bathes have softened
My careless skin (which tann'd and rough you see,)
Though all my weeds be of a rural thread
Spun by neglect, and by Simplicity;
Esteems not me nor my Condition poor,
Who build my Hopes upon His only store.
I His royal store, which (since this World below
Could not contain't,) fills Heav'n's vast Treasury:
And till Dust's Sons by Humbleness can grow
As high as that, in vain they strive to be
True Riches' heirs. But there's a way by which
We Dwarfs, to that sublimity may reach.
A strange cross Way, which by Descension's wings
Learns us to soar: For Grace such strength as this
Into the field no less than Nature brings,
With Opposite Cures encountring Maladies.
Pride through us down when we were perch'd too high;
Our ladder to get up's Humility.
Humility, that Art ennobled by
His own profession whom the Heav'ns adore.
Himself he made the Lowest of Most High,
And of the Richest, most despis'dly Poor:
By his own Pattern teaching us that we
Shall surest by Rebound exalted be.
With Coach and Horses never any yet
But great Elias unto heav'n was born;
He, who on foot march'd through the lowest pit
Of Poverty, of Peril, and of Scorn;
And they who to this honor would aspire
Must be such Heroes as can ride in fire.
Psyche with great contention deign'd to hear
Him hitherto; but could endure no more.
What pity 'tis, said she, that though thy bear
Thus long hath waited for thee at thy door,
Th' art grown no wiser yet! this sign doth shew
Thy Dotage is past help: poor Wretch, adieu.
Then with relaxed rein admonishing
Her smoking steeds; they snatch'd her coach away,
With sparkling foaming fervor, copying
Her hasty Indignation; till they
Drew near a goodly City: where their pace.
They chang'd, and stalked in with princely grace.
The gazing People stopp'd, as on she past,
And fill'd the street with Wonder; every Eye
Full in her way its foolish homage cast;
And by admiring, higher rais'd her high
And tumid Looks; who had the more to scorn,
The more Spectators did her way adorn.
For whilst some prais'd the Coach, and some the steeds,
And all her Person who their worth inhanc'd;
With careless looks Contempt about she spreads:
For though she lov'd whate'r her pomp advanc'd
Yet lov'd she too in public to despise
What in her private thoughts was her best prize.
So when a burly Tempest rolls his pride
About the world, though mighty Cedars bow,
Though Seas give way to his far vaster Tide,
Though Mountains lay their proudest heads full low
Before his feet; he counts that homage vain,
And rusheth on in blustring disdain.
On many Palaces her eye she cast,
Which yet could not vouchsafe to view them long:
At last abhorring all she saw, she prest
With insolent fierceness through the staring Throng,
Crying: These Cottages can yield no room
For Psyche's entertainment; I must home.
[1702; Grosart (1880) 1:79-96]