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ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Psyche. Canto VIII. The Pilgrimage.

Psyche: or Loves Mysterie. In XX. Canto's: displaying the Intercourse betwixt Christ, and the Soule. By Joseph Beaumont, Mr. in Arts and ejected Fellow of S. Peters College in Cambridge.

Rev. Joseph Beaumont


In Canto VII Phylax shows Psyche the Flight into Egypt, affording several opportunities for spectacular description. Joseph Beaumont's allegorical characters of Suspicion and Sickness are among the very best in the Spenserian tradition.



THE ARGUMENT.
Love's Presentation solemnized; He
To Egypt through the dismal Desert flies;
Where, by the dint of true Divinity,
He dasheth down the forged Deities:
And thence, when Herod had the Infants slain,
And Justice Him, returneth home again.

Sage Nature, how profound is thy discretion,
Inamelling thy sober Courtesies
By seasonable useful Intermission!
Thou lett'st us feel the Want, to learn the Price;
Thou checkerest every thing with such wise Art,
That Ease proves constant successor to Smart.

When Night's blind foot hath smear'd Heav'n's face, the Day
With lovely beauty all the welkin gilds;
When Winter's churlish Months are thawn away,
The lively Spring with youth cheers up the fields;
When Clouds have wep't their bottles out, 'tis fair;
When Winds are out of breath, Thou still'st the air:

When aestuating in her mighty toil
The Sea has wrought up to her highest shore,
Her weary Floods Thou teachest to recoil
Back to that Rest wherein they swum before,
And to all great and swelling Labours Thou
As sure an Eb dost constantly allow.

Yet Sleep the Gentlest of thy Blessings is,
With which Thou sweaty Pains dost gratify:
When Phebus through all heav'n has speeded his
Long smoaking course, Thou giv'st him leave to lie
Down on the pillows of the watery Main,
Till brisk Aurora wakens him again.

When Trees all Summer have been labouring hard
Their blossoms, leaves, and fruit in bringing forth;
The Night of Winter Thou dost them afford,
And bidst their Vigor go to bed in earth;
Down to the Root strait sinks the tired Sap,
And sleeps close and secure in Tellus's lap.

When Rivers many tedious months have run
Through cragged rocks, and crooked peevish waies;
Thou mak'st stern Boreas pitiful, who on
Their necks a friendly-rigid bridle lays:
This locks them up in glass, and makes them rest
Till they are wak'd by Summer's southern Blast.

When Man has travell'd with his hand, or mind,
(For this both toils and sweats, as well as that,)
Thou in a tender misty Vail dost bind
His heavy head, and teach his eyes to shut
Out grief and pain, that so reposed He
May hug'd in Sleep's all-downy bosom be.

Yet other Creatures little find in Sleep
But that dull pleasure of a gloomy Rest,
Which they themselves perceive not when they reap:
Men by this fuller privilege is blest,
That Sleep it self can be awake to him,
And entertain him with some courteous Dream.

He, when his Touch, his Tongue, his Eye, his Ear
His Nose, in Sleep's thick night are muffled up;
Can feel, can taste, can smell, can see, can hear,
And in his quick Dispatches meet less stop
Than when he wakes; for now his Soul alone
Can through his mystick business freely run.

O sweet Prerogative! by which we may
Upon our pillows travel round about
The Universe, and turn our work to play;
Whilst every journy is no more but thought,
And every thought flies with as quick a pace
Quite through its longest, as its shortest race.

No outward Objects' importuning Rout
Intrudes on sprightful fancie's operations;
Who, Queen in her own orb, atchieves with stout
Freedom her strange extemporal Creations;
And scorning Contradiction's laws, at ease
Of nothing, makes what Worlds her self doth please.

Nor is the Body more befriended than
The Soul, in sound Digestion's work, by Sleep:
This is the undisturbed Season when
The Mind has leasure to concoct that heap
Of crude unsetled Notions, which fill
The troubled brain's surcharged ventricle.

In this soft Calm, when all alone the Heart
Walks through the shades of its own silent breast,
Heav'n takes delight to meet it, and impart
Those blessed Visions which pose the best
Of waking eyes; whose day is quench'd with night
At all spiritual Appiration's sight.

By this time Psyche having sailed through
The Infant-story, whilst her Dream did steer
Her Soul's trim nimble bark; She felt her brow
Eas'd of its cloudy weight, and growing clear.
Strait Phylax spy'd her looking up, and cry'd,
'Tis well thou hast thy Spouse's lodging try'd.

Marvel not how this Manger could agree
With that most tender Infant's dainty head:
For by this copy He commends to thee
The scorn of Wantonesse's plumy bed.
Thou seest sweet Sleep is possible upon
A cold and churlish couch of board or stone.

'Tis not the flatt'ry of fine things without,
Which can with genuine softness cloth thy Rest.
Down proves but precious thorns, and silk doth flout
His hopes of quiet sleep; whose treacherous breast,
Though with external unguents sleek, within
Is harsh and rugged, being lin'd with Sin.

The honest Plowman in the simple straw,
Which furnish'd his first board, and now his bed;
Reaps solid savory Rest, and steeps his brow
In deepest Ease: whilst though the Tyrants head
Be laid in Delicacy's softest lap,
By knawing fears and cares 'tis plowed up.

If Vice and Vengeance had not us prevented,
We to the Temple now our way should take:
But they have revell'd there; and those lamented
Ruins, too late a sad confession make.
Fire, and the Roman rage on it have prey'd
And all its Glories' flames in ashes laid.

Whilst yet it stood, the Virgin-mother, when
The Law's time cited to Purification;
Hastes thither with her early-pious Son
To pay obedience to that needless fashion:
Needless to Her, who of no human seed
Had ever been the spotted sinful Bed.

Dare Ceremonies think themselves so clean
As to presume to wash the Mornings face
When she hath brought forth Glory's Sun, and been
New-gilded by that birth with brighter grace!
How shall the virgin Crystal purer grow!
What legal Rites can purge and whiten Snow!

Yet was the gallant Morn content to go;
So was the spotless Crystal, and the Snow,
And own Pollution, rather than not do
Their ready homage to the reverend Law.
Which yet was by a stronger back'd, for She
Went summon'd by her own humility.

And there arriv'd, the Substance to the shade
She join'd, and clear Truth to the misty Type,
Broad Day She of a glimmering Twylight made;
Long-breeding and crude Hopes she turn'd to ripe
Fruition; and to conquer all example,
A fairer Temple brought into the Temple.

A Temple, where not one, but every Gate
Was Beautiful: a Temple where each part
Most holy was; a Temple where, though State
Shin'd not without, Heav'n's Monarch kept his court;
A Temple which its strange foundation had
Above; a Temple which was Man and God.

When he drew near, the Walls and pavement smil'd.
The Roof would fain have bow'd to kiss his feet;
The pious incense smelt the sweeter Child
And chang'd its usual path, with Him to meet:
It soard not up, but to the door inclin'd,
To heav'n the shortest passage so to find.

The Cherubs which dwelt close behind the Vail
Had much ado to keep themselves within;
Knowing that from their secret Oracle
The outward Temple now the Glory won;
In which a higher Priest appear'd than He
For whom alone their Privacy was free.

O how the second Temple's strange Renown
Dazell'd the First! That fabrick reared by
David's wise Son, bow'd long aforehand down
To this young Temple's following Majesty;
And kiss'd the dust, surrendring thus its place,
Since Jesu's Presence was this House to grace.

And now the Mother on her bended knee
Presents to Heav'n her Son before the Priest;
Whose Priesthood O how far transcendeth She
Who offers God! into her bosom's Nest
Th' Eternal Father having sent him down,
Right noble she thus yields Him back his own.

When reverend Johazar received the Child,
Through all his breast a secret gladness ran:
Much he admired how his heart came fill'd
With more than usual devotion;
Not yet aware that in his arms far more
Than Paradise, or Heav'n it self, he bore.

For wise, and most severely humble She
Her tongue would never licence to unfold,
What might an argument of honour be
To her all-glory-shunning Self: nor could
Or durst she think, but her great Infant knew
Himself, when best it was himself to shew.

But then (admonish'd by the courteous Law)
She with five shekels buyeth back her Son.
Were thousand Worlds her own, She would bestow
Them, and her self, for his Redemption:
But this poor Price serv'd her to ransom Him
Who Her, and all the world, was to Redeem.

Two milky Pidgeons (her own Emblems) She
Then pays as duties of Purification:
The gentle Birds a mourning fell to see
How they had lost their dearer habitation:
Less sweet they thought the Altar, and would fain
Be nestling in her breast or lap, again.

But holy Simeon, whose stout Expectation
Grounded on Heav'n's high Credit, did sustain
His aged life; by potent inspiration
Forgot his leaden pace, and flew amain
Into the Temple: for the nimble Blast
Of God's own Spirit lent him youthful haste.

O how his greedy Soul did work and beat,
And think the time an age, till he was come
To his dear Blisse's shore! where, in the heat
Of hasty zeal, he snatch'd his Saviour home
Into his longing arms, and heart, which broke
Out at his lips, and thus its passion spoke:

O Life, thou now art out of debt to my
Long-stretch'd Attendance, and canst nothing show
Of further worth to gratify mine eye,
And charm it still to hanker here below.
No; I have seen, what I did live to see,
The World's Hopes, and mine own, and here they be.

Dear Lord of Truth, here, here's that hop'd-for He
In whom lie treasur'd Power and Salvation,
Which now thy Love exposed has to be
The blessed Theme of humane Contemplation.
All Eyes may see this Face, as well as I,
And clearly read their own felicity.

This noble Pace; by whose soul-piercing raies
The Gentiles, quite dam'd up till now in night,
Admonish'd are to understand their waies,
And tread the open paths of highnoon Light;
This Face, whose more than golden beauties be
The glorious Crown of Jacob's Progeny.

Death, if thou dar'st draw near Life's blooming King,
O take possession of my willing heart!
That I, a swarthy and unworthy thing,
From his too-radiant presence may depart.
Too blest am I to live, and cannot bear
The burden of this heav'nly Lustre here.

The good old Man thus eas'd his pious Zeal;
And having sacrific'd a Kiss upon
The Infant's royal foot, began to feel
His Prayers were heard, and Death now drawing on:
Which He to meet, went home, and order gave
With sweet and hasty Joy, about his grave.

As his Devotion's faithful Echo, lo
The venerable Matron Anna came;
She whose prophetick heart advis'd her to
Attend upon and magnify the same
Young Son of Wonders; that her Sex in Her
As his in Him, its duty might prefer.

And soon she met a full reward of all
Those nights and days her fervor here had spent:
Her Fasts were crown'd with Blisse's festival;
Her longing Prayers which hence to heav'n she sent
To pull it down, now found it ready here;
For in the Infant's face it shined clear.

So clear, that truth admiring she could not
Restrain her tongue from being Trumpet to
The Dawn of such convincing Brightness, but
Through Salem's longest streets resolv'd to go,
Spreading her Proclamation to each ear
And heart, which long'd that heav'nly News to hear.

This call'd so many wondring eyes to gaze
On that pure Mother and her fairer Son,
That from the glory of that populous Place
To poor and private Nazareth she ran;
Where, in her lowly house she hop'd to hide
Her humbler self from Honor's growing tide.

But Honor scorns the zealous cunning chase
Of most ambitious eager Hunters; and
Persues those modest Souls from place to place
By whom she sees her orient Presence shun'd:
Nor is she e'r out run, or fails to raise
Their Names with Trophies, and their brows with Bays.

But when in Salem this great News grew hot
And flam'd to Herod's court; the Tyrant's Breast
Boil'd high with rage, and vext suspicion that
This fire might reach his Throne: which made him cast
Deep, desperate counsels in his restless mind,
For this bold Danger some stout Curb to find.

Mean while the Virgin, and her Husband, who
In holy Innocence inmured were,
Attended their great Charge, and feared no
Troublous assaults, or ambushes of fear.
No Peril's so presumptious as to come
Into their house, who had their God at home.

In this weak-wall'd but mighty Garrison
They mean to rest, till sent by Heav'n away;
On Heav'n's ingaged Providence alone
Dependeth both their Journy and their Stay:
This Sentinel his watch exactly keep'd,
And wak'd for them both when they wak'd and sleep'd.

Now therefore as in Slumber's arms they lay
(For 'twas high midnight) Joseph's winged friend
Rouzing his soul up by a mistic ray
Bids him his speedy flight to Egypt rend;
For Herod's spight contrives to slay, said he,
The Infant, and in him thy Wife and Thee.

O that my wings might be his Chariot! but
This noble Favour Heav'n reserves for thee,
Fly then; but see thy self thou trouble not
With thy Return; for when the Storm shall be
Blown clearly over, I'l not fail to come,
And from thy God's own mouth recal thee home.

This said; his nearest way the Angel took
Homewards, loud fluttering as he mounted up:
The noise made Joseph start; who strait awoke;
But his wing'd Monitor had gain'd the top
Of heav'n, and in the spheres inclosed was
E'r Joseph's following eye could thither press.

Yet by his blessed influence left behind
Th' instructed Saint the Spring intirely knew.
The privileg'd eyes of his religious mind
Had long acquainted been with Him, and now
He doubts not but 'twas his dear Guardian, who
Had taught him oft in straits what he should do.

Whilst by her sable curtains Night as yet
Muffled up Heav'n, and kept the World in bed;
Into his cloths he leap'd, and made all fit
For his long journy: On the Ass he spread
His Coverlet, and his best Pillow (sweet
And cleanly hay) afforded him to eat.

The Beast thus baited; He his Axe, and Saws,
His Planes, Rules, Mallets, and his other Store
Of busy honest Implements bestows
Close in his Bag, the treasury of his poor
Industrious subsistence; which he ties
Fast to his staff, and on his shoulder tries.

Which done; two bottles (all the good man had)
Fresh fill'd at a neighbour fountain, he
Hangs on his girdle, with his pouch of bread
With all things thus accouter'd, reverently
He stepped to the bed where Mary lay,
Crying, Arise; Heav'n calleth us away.

When She the business heard, and saw how he,
Had all his honest sumpture ready made;
Far be it, she reply'd, that I should be
At any hour to follow Heaven afraid:
Or loitering for the morning's light should tary,
Who in my arms my fairer Day shall carry.

I can be no where lost, dear Babe, while I
Travel with Thee, who never canst depart
From thine own home: so far thou canst not flie,
But thine own Land will meet thee still, who art,
By thine eternal Right, the Prince as well
Of Ham, and Egypt, as of Israel.

This untouch'd sacred bank for thy expence
Th' Arabian Devotion meant not; but
Thy Purveyor was thine own Providence:
Thou knew'st what Charge this Journy would beget,
And hast laid in Provision e'r we
Could dream of any such Necessity.

And yet Necessity is no such thing
To mighty Thee, whose all-commanding hand
Governs the reins of Fate: the bloody King
Musters his wrath in vain, would'st Thou withstand
His spight in open field: but thou know'st why
It will be now more glorious to Fly.

This Journy's but a step to Thee, who from
The pinnacle of all Sublimity
In my first Pilgrimage wert pleas'd to come
And take up thy abode in worthless Me:
Me, who from heav'n much further distant am
Then Memphis is from fair Jerusalem.

This said; her nimble self she quickly drest,
And by no Glasses, but her Son's pure eyes:
Whose furniture strait in a bundle truss't
Whilst to the Ass her careful Husband ties,
She her own little All (and what was that,
But one spare vail?) into her pocket put.

Then having wrap'd the Infant close, she took
Her dull steed's back: whom leading by the rein
Joseph, before the drowsy Town awoke
Conducted out into the quiet Plain:
Darkness and Silence cringed round about,
Barring Discovery and Suspicion out.

This early Master thus the noble Art
Of Patience 'gan to teach his world below;
To sanctify all Persecution's Smart,
And make it by his owning glorious grow:
Who but new-born, designed is to die,
And long e'r he can go, is fain to fly.

Aurora now the Porter of the day,
Gat up and op'd her portal to the Sun;
Who peeping out with an abased ray
Beheld how far these Travellers had gone
E'r he awoke, and doubted whither he
Should in that day's horizon needed be.

For when he spy'd the Babe abroad, the sight
Cost him a deeper blush than that which dyes
His morning cheeks: yet up he cheer'd his light,
And venturing on, resolv'd to try his eyes
Upon that Infant-face of Splendidness,
As Eaglets us'd to do their own at his.

Now loyal Love forbid that coily thou
My Psyche shouldst disdain to trace their way,
Since I so fair a Convoy thee allow
Which neither dangers feareth nor delay:
Thy God was glad of that poor Asse's back,
But gives thee leave this Chariot to take.

That leave's too noble, she reply'd, for me,
A meaner thing than what he rode upon;
Might I on foot, or rather on my knee
Crawle in his royal path, no Prince's Throne,
Could tempt me from my greater honor: — 'tis
Enough said Phylax, now no more of this.

And here he snatch'd her up and shook the Reins:
Which item strait the greedy coursers caught,
And scouring through her soft aerial plains
The fields of Nazareth to their prospect brought:
Whose sudden face when Psyche view'd, she cry'd,
How much thy steeds my swiftest thoughts outride!

O pity then thy Lord, said he, who though
Spurr'd on by fear, was forc'd to use a pace
Below the name of speed; whilst Joseph, who
Himself was laden, leads the heavy Ass.
He led him, and although he made no stay,
Alas his very going was Delay.

For on his breast a thousand massy Cares
More sadly sate, than on his back the load
Of all his Tools: what thoughts of Herod's fears!
What studies how to scape the ful-ey'd Road!
What tenderness to keep the Mother warm!
What dainty dread that God should take no harm!

For though he knew that Safety was ambitious
In all their way to bear them company
Yet still he could not banish those delicious
Assaults of tender loyal jealousy:
And Love, when it has nothing else to fear,
Suspects defect in its most careful care.

See'st thou that private Path, which ever since
With Lilies and with Violets hath smil'd,
Sweetly acknowledging the influence
Both of the passant Mother and the Child?
The Country wonder'd at the beauteous list,
But from whose feet it sprung, they little wist.

As to the Sea the Silver River through
A thousand bypathes steals its secret way;
So doth this floury Tract to Egypt flow
Declining all things that its course might stay.
Doubt not the windings, but securely ride,
For now the Way it self's thy fragrant guide.

Look how the Galilean Villages
Their distance keep, and give the Path free leave
To reach it self through these blind Privacies:
Look how the friendly Trees all interweave
Their arms, and offer close protection to
Whoever here in secresy would go.

There did the careful Mother light, to give
Her Son his diner from her lovely breast;
Whom with right seemly welcome to receive
Kind Earth those sweetly-swelling Cushions drest.
Where'r you see th' officious flowers meet
In such a junto, know it was her seat.

Mark yon neglected stable which is shut
Quite out of town, and stand alone; with plain
Yet courteous hospitable Litter, that
Did these benighted Pilgrims entertain.
They with such Lodging old acquaintance had;
Remember what thy Lord his cradle made.

Joseph such wary Inns did duly chuse,
And scap'd observance all the way he went:
No eye of Galileans, or of Jews
Discovering his provident intent.
His way he stole with painful holy theft,
And on his back at length Judea left.

He left Judea; but first left by it,
Since to surprize his Charge, the bloody Prince
His cunning tenter'd. Thus thy Spouse thought fit
To teach his future Exiles, that the sense
Of their sad suffrings sate full near his heart
Who bore in Banishment so deep a part.

For this his Part he freely deign'd to bear,
Not for his own, but for their dearer sake.
Why then should they whose feeble Natures are
Unable to resist, think much to make
Necessity their Virtue, and be by
Their Exile banish'd into Piety?

The freedom of the Reins here Phylax threw
Upon his coursers' backs: who cheered by
That liberty, with sprightful fervor flew
And scorn'd the Towns they saw beneath them lie.
Their gallant foam they flung about the air,
And with brave neighings heartned their carrier.

The Clouds took notice of their resolute haste
And stepp'd aside to make their passage clear;
Through which their smoking wheels whirl'd on as fast
As Titan's down his glibbest steepest sphere:
Which instantly so tir'd the Northern Wind,
That puffing he and lagging came behind.

Thus having lost Judea in a mist
Of far-removed air, they rush'd into
The famous Desert's unperceived List;
Where their impatient fire still spurr'd them so,
That thrice was Phylax forc'd to check them, e'r
Their vehemence would yield his hand to hear.

And then; Consider Psyche well, said he,
This squallid scene of churlish Desolation,
This proper Region of Perplexity,
This horrid Nursery of Desperation,
This Storehouse of a thousand famins, this
Fountain of Droughts, this Realm of Wretchedness.

This Country, whose ill-looking Neighborhood
To Canaan (that widespred chanel where
Honey and Milk conspir'd into a flood
Of costless but incomparable cheer,)
Doubles the value of that blessed soil,
And its own Vileness aggravates the while.

Thus sticks black Night as foil to beauteous Day,
And by its blackness lends it fairer beams:
Thus sorrow's stings inhance the sweets of Joy;
Thus floods of Gall commend the Honey streams;
Thus Darkness cleaved close on Mirrours' backs,
The most perspicuous Glass more lightsome makes.

Well knew wise Heav'n Men would not understand
Its royal bounty, in affording them
The gentle Riches of a fertile Land,
Were they not tutor'd by some dreadful Clime
Of bordering woes, and forced to confess
A Garden's blessing by a Wilderness.

The prudent Lover to confirm the price
Of her Affection thus sometimes is fain
To run to cruel Art, and barbarize
Her gentle Count'nance with severe Disdain;
For she her wooer wooeth by this scorn,
And only whipps him thus to make him learn.

Behold these needless Ranks of sand, which have
No Sea to limit but this Ocean
Of Barrenness; where when the Winds conceive
Highswoll'n displeasure, and to battle run
Bandying their mutual Blasts a thousand ways,
A storm of dry and parching rain they raise.

For this wild soil, impatient to be plow'd
At Aeolous' beck, in's face most madly flies,
And climbing up into a tawny cloud
With smoaking rage torments the stifeled skies.
Whilst blinded Passengers amazed stand,
And all the Air is nothing else but sand.

This frighted gentler Nature far from hence,
Who with her snatch'd her blessings all away;
Her teeming Spring's delicious influence,
Her Summer's beauties, and her Autumn's joy;
And all the best of Winter too; for here
This sandy Mischief scorcheth all the year.

The Trees, you see, are all dispers'd and fled
For fear of proving only fuel here,
And that before the Axe had summoned
Them to the hearth. The cheerly Birds which were
Their boughs' Inhabitants, with doleful cry
After their exil'd home were fain to fly.

These churlish Plains no entertainment keep
Wherewith to welcome tame and honest Beasts;
Goats, Asses, Camels, Horses, Oxen, Sheep
Can at their wretched Table be no Guests.
No; this is only Mischief's cursed Stage,
Where Beasts of prey, and Monsters act their rage.

Observe that pair of couchant Tigres, who
In cruel ambush lie to watch their prey;
What boots the Traveller's one Life, when two
Such wild and hungry Deaths beset his way!
There runs a Lyon with his hideous note
Tearing for want of meat his greedy throat.

At which dread business there's a female Bear
In meat and drink two days and nights behind,
Whose pined Whelps all yelling in her ear
Chode her abroad some bootie's help to find.
A headlong foaming Boar there makes his path
White with the scum of his intemperate wrath.

But mark that Cave, before whose nasty door
A heap of Excremental Poisons lies;
Next which a Quakemire of congealed Gore
Rail'd round with naked staring Bones, descries
What part fell Fury there hath plaid, and who
Dwells in that House whose Porch is trim'd with woe.

That gloomy Cloud which dams the Den's black throat,
Is but the Tenant's breath which dwells within.
Our talk has wak'd his Rage, and made it hot
With hopes of prey: hearst thou not him begin
To rouse himself? the fire he spits before,
Is but the Porter to unlock his door.

Here Psyche though she now had cheer'd her heart
Beyond the pitch of female courage, yet
Could not her trembling curb, but 'gan to start
At that dire flame the belching Monster spit:
When Phylax, smiling on her horror, cry'd,
Fear not, for Heav'n and I am at thy side.

He of his coming, by his hideous Hiss
Fierce warning gives; that stream of cole-black blood
He spews so thick, his wonted Usher is:
Thus when choice Furies break from hell, a flood
Of stinking Sulphure paves their dismal way,
Abashing all the Air, and pois'ning Day.

Lo how his Eyes, like two bright firebrands placed
In cakes of blood, their fatal beams display;
For thus, with flakes of glaring Rays enchased,
To Heav'n's high Anger Comets light the way;
Pointing with every beam, to Cities, or
To Realms and Countries, Famine, Plague, and War.

His Mouth, which foams with venome, is the Gate
Of helpless Misery; his Jaws, the Mill
Of deplorable and untimely Fate;
His Tongue, an Engine on whose forks there dwell
A thousand Deaths; his Throat, so black and broad,
To his unhappy Prey's the beaten Road.

His leathern Wings are those which lend its speed
To dire Destruction: his iron Paws
Are Spight's and Rage's hands; his cursed Head
The Oracle whence Tyrants fetch their Laws;
His scaly skin, the thick Embroidery
Of proud and most remorsless cruelty.

His knotty Tail pointed with stinging fire,
Which on his back in sullen scorn he throws,
Is Death's dread Chain; that unrelenting ire
Which sits so high on his large craggy brows,
Is an aforehand bloody doom to all
Beasts, Birds, or Men that in his clutches fall.

Hark how the brused Air complains, now he
Threshes her with the Flails of his huge wings:
For that soft Nymph elsewhere was us'd to be
Beaten with Feathers, or melodious strings:
Look in what horrid port he cuts the Clouds;
The flame before, the smoke behind him crowds.

As when the martial Griffen hovers near,
The greedy Kite forgets his chased prey,
And turning partner in the Sparrow's fear
Is glad as fast as she to sneak away:
So here all other Monsters grant that this
Their Sovereign in Rage and Terror is.

Thou now seest neither Lyon, Boar, nor Bear,
This Dragon's presence frights them all away
Into their closest Dens and Caverns, where
They trembling lie, and durst not peep on Day.
So do all other strange portentous things
Hence stormed by the thunder of his wings.

For else thou here hadst troops of Centaurs seen
A mad composure of Horse-infantry:
Else Sphinx and his ambiguous Brood, had been
Abroad in all their forefront bravery,
Indeavoring to excuse with Maiden-faces
Their Beastly bodies' horrible disgraces.

Else had insatiable Harpies, their
Near Cosen Portents in the winged crew,
Boldly about this correspondent spbere
With Virgin's looks, and Vulture's tallons flew:
Frolick falacious Fauns had else been skipping,
And Satyrs dallying here, and Silvans tripping.

Else had that Riddle of foul Ataxies
Whose every part is placed out of place,
Who by a Goat's intruded belly ties
A Dragon's vast tail to a Lyon's face;
Ranged about these Sands, and sought what Prey
It's equal monstrous hunger might allay.

Hast thou not heard, when Abraham's Off-spring through
The wholesome Tryals of this Wilderness
Went to the well-deserving Promise, how
They fondly murmured because Success
Posted not on as fast as their desire,
And though the way were short yet needs would tire?

They tir'd: though to encourage to the best
Of patient strength their privileged hearts,
Such Miracles combin'd as never blest
The World till then: Heav'n's kindest stoutest Arts
They by more obstinate shameless scorn neglected,
And their obtruding Happiness rejected.

This forc'd the just Creator's strict Commission
To Vengeance, his most trusty Factress; She
Straight mounting on the back of Expedition,
The World's black bottom plumm'd; where terribly
The choicest Dens of Horror having ey'd,
Into Erinnys grot she turn'd aside.

The Fury started; on her quaking head
Right up stood every Snake: She ne'r till now
Had seen a sight so full of fatal Dread,
Though oft she view'd the deepest Deeps, and though
She daily used for her looking-glasses
Her correspondent Sisters' monstrous faces.

For in the Stranger's furrow'd brows were sown
The seeds of everlasting Indignation;
Her eyes were constant Lightning, flashing down
Her fiery Cheeks, and with their sprightful motion
Glancing a more than highnoon Day upon
The frighted Night of that black Region.

Her sturdy breast was fram'd of burning brass;
Her massy arms of sparkling steel; her more
Than adamantine hands brandish'd a Mace
Of red-hot iron; at her back she wore
A quiver stuff'd with forked bolts of thunder
Well-skill'd in tearing clouds and rocks in sunder.

Pain, Anguish, Groans, Astonishment, Despair,
Dissention, Tumult, War, Plague, famin, Drought,
Confusion, Poisnous and Tempestuous Air,
Eversion, Desolation, Crying out,
Gnashing of teeth, eternal-dying fear,
Soule-knawing Worms, her dismal followers were.

And so was Schism, and flinty Obduration,
With Pride, and Impudence in villany;
And she who through her fairer garb and fashion
Seem'd more to sute with lovely company,
Was yet as rank a curse as they, for she
Was blind and false though zealous Sanctity.

But Vengeance spying her Eryinnys quake,
Constrain'd her dreadful Aspect to remit
Its awfulnesse's dint; and try'd to speak
As mild as feirce she look'd: yet when she set
Her Mouth's hot furnace ope, to all the Cave
Loud Thunder notice of her speaking gave.

Fear not, said she, I on an errand come
Which well will suit with thy revengeful thought:
The Sons of Israel thou know'st with whom
My Sovereign's Patience long, ah long, hath fought.
'Tis true he leads them through a barren Earth,
Yet makes heav'n bring them bread of Angels forth.

But peevish they force Him by murmuring, to
Repent his Kindness: wherefore thou must spare
Some of thy Locks, which I am sent to throw
About that Desert's now devoted Air;
Where they shall lash the Rebels, till they see
What 'tis to kick at God, and waken Me.

Me, whom soft Mercy long had stretched kept
Upon a bed which she of Patience made:
Me, who for ever might in peace have slept,
Did Mortals not take pleasure in this trade
Of sending up their shameless Sins, to tear
By daring Crys my most unwilling ear.

Me, who ne'r mov'd this challeng'd Hand in vain,
Nor knew what 'twas or stroke or aim to loose;
Me, whom no Tune can charm asleep again,
But dying Groans of those my head-strong Foes;
Me, whose sure Power it self could deeply seal
On Lucifer, and ram him down to hell.

Erinnys glad to hear this Message, tore
Her hissing Hair by handfuls from her head:
Which hasty Vengeance to this Desert bore
And through the trembling air their volumes spread;
First having breathed on them warlike fire,
Which kindled in their breasts mischievous Ire.

Th' amazed Element would fain have fled
From all its Regions, to avoid this fight:
The boldest Winds that ever bluster'd Dread
About the World, were now a prey to fright;
And to their furthest dens blowing themselves,
Gave way to these far more tempestuous Elves.

Which were no sooner tossed up, but they
Their scantness felt increased round about;
Their Tails reach'd back their stings an hideous way,
And from their sides wide-threshing Wings burst out,
Whose boistrous stroak provok'd the vexed flames,
Which from their eyes and mouths pour'd out their streams.

Their own instinct taught them the readiest way
To find the causeless-rebel Multitude:
Where seizing strait upon their helpless Prey
Their fiery Poison's shot so thick they spew'd,
That all the Camp had their Burnt offring been.
Had seasonable Mercy not step'd in.

In Mercy step'd, and by a Contreplot
A brasen Serpent reared up to heal
Their burning Wounds whose faith had strength to put
Trust in that typick Med'cin's Spectacle.
They gaz'd, and saw their help, but could not pry
Into the bottom of that Mystery.

That crucifyed Serpent represented
Thy Spouse, when on his Cross he reign'd, and by
His potent Dying gallantly prevented
The Plot of Death which more than He did die.
Who crush'd the old red Dragon which had hurl'd
His deadly venome all about the World.

And now thou know'st the pedigree of this Feirce
Portent which inflames and taints the air,
Whose fiery looks and smoaking flight confess
Of what Progenitors he is the Heir.
Think now how sad a Pilgrimage it was
When thy young Lord did through such Monsters pass.

Yet shall this hideous Region appear
So precious unto future Saints, that they
Will seek their harbour no where else but here,
And make these Sands the shore where they will lay
Their Vessels safe from all those Storms, whose rage
Revels on secular Life's unfaithful stage.

His Piigrimage they'l judge a Dedication
Of all this Tract to holy Privacy;
Where in serene and heav'nly Contemplation
They shall both sweetly live, and sweetlyer die:
Dreading no longer other Monsters, when
They once have rescued themselves from Men.

Men, Men, those Portents are, whom wiser fear
More dangerously pois'nous will esteem
Than that fire-breathing Brood who in the sphere
Of this vast desert move like Mars his flame.
Men are those Dragons whose profounder art
Stings not the body, yet can bane the heart.

Here they their Cels will build so strongly mean
That they shall Tempest scorn, and laugh at Plunder;
Here they as fresh and strong, as pale and lean,
Will raise their souls and keep their bodies under.
Here they will importuned Earth intreat
With Herbs or Roots to gratify their Sweat.

For neither stubborn flint nor sapless Sand
Their Barrennesses' privilege will dare
Strictly to urge against the painful Hand
Of pious Poverty: such Charters are
Of Nature's granting, and must needs give place
Unto the grand Prerogative of Grace.

Here will their Eyes not interrupted be
With fond Allurements of the newest fashions;
Whose Commendation speaks their Vanity,
Their Worth being only built upon Mutations.
Their simple Sackcloth in one cut and guise
To hide their Dust and Ashes will suffice.

Here shall no Noise of chincking Money be
Rebounded by their Heart's inchanted strings;
That Noise which with melodious Witchery
Through all the World's unhappy Quarters rings,
And gains more Altars for vile Mammon than
To glorious Heav'n will be allow'd by Men.

Here shall no glancing Eye, no mincing Pace,
No sporting Locks, no smiling Red and White,
No wanton Dress, no Tongue's Sirenian Grace,
No bidding Coyness, no inviting flight;
Prevail upon their manly hearts to brook
The tickling Slavery of a Woman's yoke.

Here no Ambition's Puff shall swell their breast
And in their soul a foolish Dropsy raise;
Who by themselves are freely dispossess
Of all those gardens which can bring forth bays;
And live upon a Soil which nothing bears
But Poverty, and Roots, and Sighs, and Tears.

No terrible Alarm of War shall here
Ravish the sweetness of their virgin Quiet:
Heer none of Mars his boistrous Crew shall swear
Themselves into authority to riot;
Nor make the Lords of these poor houses be
The subjects of free-quarter's Slavery.

Here shall no specious Care of Wife and Child
Call them away in conscience from their Prayers:
By Virtue's daily Progress they shall build
Up to the gate of Bliss their mystick stayers;
And thus a second time the World shall leave,
Nobly to Heav'n rebounding from their grave.

But now this long Discourse devoured had
The longer Way, and Egypt's face drew near;
Thebai's Meads and Woods and Towns were glad
That to the Desert they next neighbours were;
And privileg'd these Strangers first to meet
And with kind seasonable Welcome greet.

When, Lo said Phylax, now the World grows tame,
And mild and hospitable Prospects yields:
These are the outmost skirts of populous Ham
Lufted with Woods, and lac'd with floury fields:
A dear-earn'd harbour to those Pilgrims who
Have labour'd through this Desert's Sea of Woe.

Thus at the headland's close wish'd Rest attends
And home the weary Plowman gently leads.
Thus hang the Garlands at the Race's ends
Ready to crown the Runners' sweaty heads.
Thus Summer cheers the pined Earth, when she
Has pass'd through Winter's total Tyranny.

The second Joseph hither came, and brought
Far more Salvation than the First; although
From Famin's Jaws He snatched Egypt out,
And fatned up seav'n starved years; for now
To famish'd Memphis this convey'd the bread
By which the World eternally is fed.

O how he triumph'd that his Charge was here
Arrived safe through all those perillous ways!
Upon the Child he look'd, but through a Tear
Of passionate Joy, and pay'd their Safetie's praise
To Him, whose Providence had in that wide
Kingdom of Dangers to his Guides been Guide.

And thus advancing to that City there,
Surnam'd Hermopolis in compliment
To ancient Herme's Lasting honor; near
That fairly-tall religious Tree he went:
The Natives call it Persea, and with high
Esteem its Leaves and Apples magnify.

Observe them well: each leaf presents the true
Shape of a Tongue; whose secret whispers treat
With every Wind: the dangling Apples shew
The feature of a panting Heart.
O that The World would learn this lesson of the Tree,
That with the Tongue the Heart should joyned be!

Blind Superstition's Rites had hallow'd it
To Isi's honor; but the honest Tree
Made bold that fond Relation to forget
When thy great Spouse approach'd: for instantly
With orthodox devotion pliant grown
Low on the earth her head she bowed down.

Where she with all her hearts the Babe ador'd,
And did her best with all her tongues to sound
His praise, who is of hearts and tongues the Cord:
Then having with her boughs clean swept the ground,
She rose and gave him way; yet out she stretch'd
Her neck, and after him her arms she reach'd.

When lo, as near the City gate he drew,
Isis, (of stupid marble made, and there
Fix'd wisely on a Base which was as true
And as divine a Stone as she;) with fear
And awe surprised, gan at first to quake
And then to bend, and then right down to break.

Poor Idol! who had never Sense till now,
And now feels only her own ruin: down
Tumbles the long-adored Goddess Cow;
Resigning that high worship to her own
True Lord, which she had long usurped by
The help of Egypt's mad Idolatry.

Her fair-spred Horns are shatter'd, bruis'd her brow,
Her broken neck mix'd with her crumbled feet:
The Deity advanc'd to Rubbish now
Has power to help the Country, if in thick
And mirey ways dispos'd: which sure is more
Assistance than it e'r could lend before.

Thus when the reverend Ark of God was set
In Dagon's temple, down the Idol fell,
And at the door too hasty out to get,
Quite broke his Godship on the stronger Sell;
Where his amaz'd Devotos entring, found
The wretched fish in its own ruins crown'd.

But in the City's (and the People's) heart
Upon a golden column mounted high
And deck'd with all the wit and pride of Art
Serapis stood; the Ox of Majesty;
Whose consecrated Crown about his wide
And mighty Horns wreath'd its triumphant pride.

Through that Piazza as these Pilgrims went
Seeking their Inn, the guilty trembling Beast
His steely knees and brazen body bent,
And by his massy weight so strongly cast
Himself down headlong, that into an heap
Of fragments from his Godhead he did leap.

The dismal Crack of this strange ruin's thunder
Alarm'd all Ears and Bosoms of the town;
Quite shattering their brittle souls in sunder,
Who thought the next fall needs must be their own.
For now alas it was their deepest dread
That they themselves should like their God be made.

But though blind They could not the truth descry,
Wise Joseph and his virgin Consort knew
To what more powerful Divinity
The Idol his obeisance prostrate threw:
What pointed out by Essay's Pen had been
To entertain Faith's prospect, they had seen.

There had they seen, how into Egypt, on
A speedy Cloud thy spouse should ride; and how
Th' ashamed Idols into dust should run
From his dread Presence: and they plainly now
Found that his Mother's bosom was the Cloud
Where in his flight he pleas'd himself to shroud.

Good Joseph therefore posted up and down
The ruin of Idolatry to spread
Through every populous superstitious Town
Which deify'd the horned Statues: Sad
And troubled was his righteous Soul to see
That men should more than marble stupid be.

And wheresoe'r on Zeal's stout wings he flew
Equal Success still bore him company:
Th' infernal Spirits still their Lodgings threw
In pieces, as thy mighty Lord drew nigh.
Thou shalt no further go; but I will tell
Thee here, what Wonders afterward befell.

The heart of Egypt melting down her breast,
As from their Pillars her vain Gods had done;
The Priests and sage Magicians broke their rest
To find this Prodigy's occasion:
And all at common Council met one night,
Resolv'd to try their Spell's profoundest might.

Jannes, a wretch both of his race and name
Who vainly tugg'd with Moses' strength, began:
'Twas in a vault where Day's looks never came;
A vault untroad by any mortal Man
Who was not full as black as they, and made
Solemnly free of their accursed Trade.

The Door of Iron once, but now of Rust,
With nine huge barrs he fortifies; yet still
Unwilling nine Securities to trust,
Each barr he fastens with a charmed Seal.
Fond Wizzard! who by every one of them
Either his fear lays open, or his shame.

In this deep Temple of Infernal Arts
Lighting a Taper temper'd with the fat
Which grew about his Predecessors' hearts,
It in a dead Man's Mossy skull he set.
The Mists and Stincks long wrestled with the flame
Before the vault laid ope its naked shame.

Then gaping wide both with his mouth and eyes
He spew'd seav'n solemn Curses on Day-light
Which though it saw the broken Deities,
Would not detect what sacrilegious Might
That ruin wrought: and then those Gods he blest
Whose luck it was in gloomy holes to rest.

For on a shrine still-standing there appear'd
Serapis, Isis, and a smoaky rout
Of lesser Gods: the altar was besmear'd
With bloody gore; and scatter'd round about
In reeking fragments lay Cheeks, Noses, Eyes,
Hearts, Shoulders, Livers, Legs, Arms, Bowels, Thighs.

These hideous dainties was the breakfast for
A Crocodile, whose sacred den was there
But fam'd by strong enchantments, durst not stir
When in their Magick bus'nesses carreer
The Priests were hot: no Monster but compar'd
With raving Them, serene and mild appear'd.

The Walls with Leeks and Onyons garnish'd were
For courteous Egypt Gods had made of these,
And from her well-dung'd soil reap'd every year
A worthy Crop of young fresh Deities.
Nile on the roof by Paint was taught to flow,
That God whose bounty makes those other grow.

But Jannes having now thrice wash'd his Hand
And stain'd with it that Stygian Ink which stunk
In his black Laver; up he takes his Wand,
That Wand which once liv'd on a cypress Trunk
Planted on Acheron's bank, but now was made
The deadly Scepter of their conjuring Trade.

A Scepter unto which the Moon, the Sun,
The Stars, had often stoop'd, and Nature bow'd:
Oft had it turn'd the course of Phlegeton
Oft had it troubled Hell, and forc'd the proud
Tyrant, for all his Iron Mace, to be
Obedient to its wooden Witchery.

With that a Circle on the floor he draws
(Spred thick with ashes stoll'n from funeral piles)
Which with strange Lines, and Hooks, and Forks, and Claws,
And scrambling frantick shapeless shapes he fills:
Wild Hieroglyphicks, stark-mad Characters
A jumbled Rout of snarl'd illfavor'd Jars.

Into this hell of scratches in step'd He
(A seemly Actor for that scene,) and there
Three groans he gave; three times he bow'd his knee;
He thrice with blood besprinkled his left ear
Three times he mumbled over those profound
Monsters his Wand had written on the ground.

As oft he spit, as oft his lips he bit;
And every time chew'd sullen detestation
And silent blasphemy against the great
Monarch of heav'n; whose jealous indignation
Of Rival Powers made him suspect that He
Was guilty of the Gods' Calamity.

Then lifting up his hollow voice he cry'd,
By Jannes, Jambres, (our renown'd Sires,)
And Pharoh's adamantine Soul, which try'd
A fall with Israel's God; by all those Fires
We on your Altars kindled have, and them
Which with black Styx or Erebus mingled swim.

By these profound mysterious Notes which I
Have figur'd here; by dread Tisiphone
By stern Alecto, and Megera: by
Huge Cerberus his head's triplicity;
By Hell's wide Gates; and by the most divine
Scepters of Pluto and of Proserpine:

By your own Heads, who here alone have your
Safe sanctuary found: I you conjure
Serapis, Isis, and each lesser Power
No longer your Dishonour to indure.
What boots it here to be a standing God
And in Scorn's publick eye fall down abroad?

For from Hermopolis's unfortunate gate
Ruin advanc'd, and boldly made her prey
On every Deity whose cursed fate
It was to stand in her devouring way.
Whence comes this Downfal of Religion? what
Has spread amongst the Gods this deadly Rot?

Let me but know, and Heav'n I'l force to bow
And kiss the feet of Hell: the Center I
Will in the face of scornful Phebus throw
And at high-noon with Midnight choak the sky:
But I your Quarrel will revenge, and make
Your secret theevish foe in public quake.

His mouth the coal-black foam here sloping, He
With grezly ghastly face, with staring eyes,
With breast tormented by anxiety,
With languid arms and hands, with quivering thighs;
Expects his mighty Charm's Result to see,
And what his Oracle's Reply would be.

When lo (for then thy Spouse was drawing nigh,
That very place,) a groaning horror shak'd
The mourning Vault, which was rebounded by
So strong an earthquake, that the Idols crack'd,
And by their prostrate fragments in the Cave
Turn'd their own Temple to their fitter Grave.

Scarcely had Jannes and his frighted Crew
Time to escape the Ruin of their Gods:
But being out, their Indignation threw
Their Books away, and brake their fruitless Rods;
And having nothing else whereon to pour
Their spight, their flesh they rent, their hair they tore.

His secret Vengeance thus thy little Lord
Sheath'd in the bowels of Idolatry;
Whilst puzled Egypt felt the conquering Sword,
But could not its mysterious Victor see.
The Angel thus of old their First-born slew,
When undiscerned through that Land he flew.

Mean while fell Herod rack'd his busy brain
About his Master-piece of Tyranny:
The dull-ey'd Vulgar never could attain
To read its Hatching and Nativity,
For it was bread as low as hell: but I
To thee will ope this blackest Mystery.

Mischievous were that Prince's Counsels: but
Proud Lucifer had deeper plots than He,
More jealous of his Crown than Herod, at
The new-born King's high-fam'd Discovery:
For in his ears the Shepherd's Story rung,
And that stronge musick of the Christmas Song.

The angry mouth of thunder never spoke
Such terror to his Soul as those soft Notes;
Which tun'd to Joy's mild key, divinely broke
Out from the nests of those sweet Angels' throats,
Nor was this Omen all: for he had spy'd
That eastern Star, the Wisemen's wiser Guide.

No light did ever fright him so, but that
Whose Darts down headlong shot him from the top
Of heav'n's sublimest pinnacle, and shut
Him up in deepest Night, that damned shop,
Where 'twas his trade Sin's cheating Wares to sell
To those who with their Souls would purchase hell.

But now he fear'd this trade would never thrive,
And that few Chapmen would delight to buy,
So long as that great Infant was alive;
With whose more profitable Deity
Shepherds and Kings to traffick had begun,
And taught the World which way for Gains to run.

Especially since his dear Egypt now
Was likely to revolt, and pay no longer
Homage to any gilded Ox or Cow:
Since valiant Jannes yielding to a stronger
Charm than his own, had forfeited the fame
Of Hell, and quite betrayed Magick's name.

Ten thousand spawns of his perplexed brain
He tumbles o'r, yet none could please his eye;
Again he chooses and dislikes again;
But vows at last howe'r, thy Spouse shall die.
He vows by his own head, and seeks some Fiend
To whom the desperate work he might commend.

A Rock there stands on dire Cocytus's bank
Which to the River opes its monstrous Jaws,
Content to suck no breath but what the rank
And sulphury Vapour of that water throws
Into its Mouth; which far more venomous makes
The steaming Poisons that from thence it takes.

In winding holes and ragged corners there
Whole Families of Adders, Vipers, Snakes,
Asps, Basilisks, and Dragons dwelling are;
Whose constant and confounding Hissing makes
The language of that Mouth dreadfully tell
What Prodigies in Hell redouble Hell.

The Throat sticks thick with bones of legs and arms,
Which ravenous Haste left stinking by the way.
The Stomack (Murder's Sink and Dungeon) swarms
With heaps on which Digestion could not prey:
At whose unfadomable Bottom reeks
Young guiltless Blood in Vengeance-daring Lakes.

But at the Cavern where the Heart should lie
Was hung a sevenfold Gate of massy brass,
Plated with Adamant, and conjur'd by
A thousand bolts and locks, to let no cross
Mischance peep in; besides, as many Seals
Treading on one another's crowded heels.

High in the Tower above, at windows close
Lattis'd with Steel, stood Lynxes night and day:
An hundred Dogs lay at the threshold, whose
Quick ears no Sleep could ever steal away.
Next them as many Cocks; and next to these
A vigilant Company of trusty Geese.

Within lurk'd dark Meanders, dammed up
By frequent doors, and Porters too, whose chief
Office it was to keep them lock'd, and stop
Ev'n Thought it self from playing there the thief.
Their lights they oft put out, for fear some sly
And cunning Beam a cranny might espy.

The Walls were circled by a mighty Moat,
The Palace far from Danger to divide:
No bridge it knew, and but one single Boat
In which no more than one at once could ride;
And this the timorous Shores close Pris'ner was,
Under a chain of steel and lock of brass.

On all which Shore in due array were set
With weapons ready drawn, three careful Watches,
That no Disturbance might presume to put
Its finger forth, or touch the jealous Latches:
For with a loud alarm they roused were
If but the Image of a Noise came there.

But in that House, so dark and so profound,
That fair and high it made the rest of Hell;
A Thing O how much more than Monster, crown'd
Yet deeper in self-torturings, chose to dwell.
One who espous'd Disquiet for her Rest,
One who all furies is to her own breast.

Suspicion's her just name; thick set's her head
With thoughtful Eyes, which always learing seem,
And always ghastly; for they trust no Lid
To interpose twixt Lassitude and them.
On Sleep they look as on some treacherous thing
Hatching blind Dangers under his black wing.

But principally they at one another
Their anxious and misgiving glances throw;
And if no grounds of fear they thence can gather,
Of deeper Dangers therefore fearful grow,
Yet whilst they all thus mutually stare,
Each bids his brother of himself beware.

Her sharp thin ears stand always prick'd upright
To catch all Sounds and Whispers that come near,
Sometimes as her own Fancy took its flight
But through her head, she thought some Noise was there.
Her hollow Cheeks had gaped long for meat,
But doubts and fears forbad her still to eat.

She dream'd in every Dish and Cup she saw
Some slie and deadly Poison's Ambushment.
Alas, and how could any venome grow
So venomous as she, who might have lent
New power to Dragons' stings, and taught each field
Of Thessaly crops of surer bane to yield.

Impenetrable Steel her Garments were,
All of the temper of great Satan's shield:
Her hands allarmed by perpetual fear
A mighty Sword and brazen Buckler held:
Weapons with which she never durst intend
To fight, but only her own head defend.

Fast stood her Chair on forty iron feet,
And to the ground all double nail'd; yet she
Could not believe but underneath her seat
Some treasonable Mine might lurking be.
This made her seldom sit; and when she did,
Over her shoulder still she turn'd her head.

No morning pass'd but some on work she set
New Keys to make her; being jealous still
Her foes might patterns of her old ones get;
And twenty times as much she chang'd her Seal:
As her own self she would have done, had she
Known how to alter her Deformity.

With contradicting thoughts her brain was beat,
Which were no sooner liked but rejected:
She weigh'd and boulted every Counsel, yet
What surest seem'd to be she most suspected,
Oh would she skip, and fling about, and start,
And meerly at the motion of her heart.

Ten times an hour her Pulse she duly try'd,
Doubting as often what its working meet:
Sometimes she thought she felt too high a Tide,
Sometimes too low an Ebb of blood:
Content She never was, yet sought no Physick's aid,
Of Sickness and of Cure alike afraid.

An Oath of strict Allegiance thrice a day
She forced on her numerous Family;
And weekly chang'd their Offices, that they
Might have no time to ripen Treachery.
Strange Officers, yet fitting to attend
So sovereignly-odious a Fiend.

The first was tall and big-bon'd Cowardize
Whose lazy Neck on her fat shoulders lay;
Her gross head screen'd by both her hands; her eyes
Horribly winking, at the dint of Day;
Her ears as flat as dread could lay its prize;
Her sneaking tail hid 'twixt her shivering thighs.

The next, stern Cruelty supported by
Advantage and Revenge; prime Enginere
To all the Generals of Tyranny.
What Whips, what Racks, her fell Inventions were,
What broad Perfidiousness, what groundless Wars,
What Insultations, and what Massacres!

Close in the corner stood pale Thoughtfulness,
Seald on whose lips regardless Silence sate:
Her business was a thousand things to guess;
She stamp'd, her head she scratch'd, her breast she beat,
Her wearied eyes she nailed to the ground,
And in her endless self her self she crown'd.

About the room ran furious Discontent,
And when all other scap'd her causeless war,
She wag'd it with her self; her cloaths she rent,
Her cheeks she gash'd, and madly tore her hair.
But Malice slyly crept, and dealt her spight
To friends and foes in a concealed fight.

Yet slippery Guile was nimbler then the rest,
Whose quaint attire was of Chamelions' skins;
Who in two minutes could become at least
An hundred Virtues, and as many Sins:
She Polypus in feet outvy'd, and was
Fortune's true Echo, Proteus' Looking-glass.

Her mate was complemental flattery,
Whose mouth's rich mine bred more than golden words;
Her hand she always kiss'd, and bent her knee,
Whilst in her mantle lurk'd two pois'ned swords.
These were the courtiers, and of their condition
A thousand more who waited on Suspicion.

When Lucifer had raked many Dens
And found no fury who so furious was
As his new-bru'd Design; at last he runs
To this foul sink: where when his sulphury face
The flashing Tokens of his presence threw,
The rouzed Grot its awful Sultan knew.

The Boat flew from its chain to meet his feet,
And waft him over to the privy Watch;
Whose swords fell down, whose hands went up, to greet
Their Sovereign's coming and to draw the latch.
Suspicion started as they op'd the door,
Wondring her Mastiffs barked not before.

But dread and awe had stopp'd their mouths; as now
They sealed Hers, to see grim Lucifer:
She fear'd the worst, and thought that in his brow
She read some deep-writ lines of spight to her.
But from his face he wip'd the fire and smoke,
And with a Kiss's preface, thus he spoke.

Madam, be not afraid, for well I know
My friends, and thee as best of them esteem;
Witness that precious trust my love will now
Treasure in thee; it is my Diadem:
My Diadem is lost if thou dost not
Procure Destruction to Mary's Brat.

Herod will do his best, I ken him well,
If aided by thy desperate Inspiration:
There's not a heart that lives, where more of Hell
Hath taken up its earthly habitation.
O had I store of such Viceroys as He
To rule my Earth, how Heav'n would baffled be!

Yet Herod's but a Man; and should he stand
On foolish points of nice Humanity,
That Brat, by being such, might scape his hand.
But if his strength with thine thou backest, He
Will quickly grow most salvagely complete,
And bravely venture on the barbarous feat.

Nor need'st thou any Maid but Cruelty
To dress thy Project; take her then and go:
Fetch but that Baby-God's heartblood for me,
And with a Crown I'l raise thy worthy brow,
Mounting thee on an everburning throne
Where thou shalt reign Queen of Perdition.

Glad was the Hagg to hear the business, and
Promis'd her Lord all develish faith and care:
Who clapping on her head his sooty hand,
Cry'd, take Hell's blessing with thee; O my Dear
Success attend thy Loyalty, and may
Heav'n's envious Tyrant not disturb thy way.

Forthwith her path through Asphaltite's Lake
She tore, and in the middle boyled up:
The sulphure trembled, and the banks did shake,
Down to the bottom fled the frighted top;
That most victorious Stink which till to day
Dwelt there, her stronger Breath blew quite away.

Deep Horror all the Elements did seize,
And taught the rest, as well as Earth, to quake,
Blasting deflour'd the Meadows and the Trees;
Her noise made Ghosts of thousand Witches wake,
Ill-boding Nightrav'ns croke, shrill Scritchowls squeak,
Hogs whine, dogs hour, Snakes hiss, and mandrakes shriek.

Men, Beasts, and Birds fled from her frightful face;
And Heav'n it self would fain have run away
Had it but known to what retiring place
Its now too vast Expansions to convey.
Yet Phebus made a shift to lurk and croud
His eyes behind the curtain of a cloud.

But when she mark'd how Nature fear'd her look,
So to be seen she was as much afraid;
For in Invisibilitie's sly cloke
Stealing to Herod's Court (where Care had laid
The Tyrant fast asleep) into his breast
Her Consort and her damned self she thrust.

As when a viper squeas'd into his wine
By Treason's hand deceives an heedless King,
About his Soul the poison's powers twine,
And with a war of Pangs his entrails wring:
So did these Monsters with tempestuous smart
Rage in the bowels of fell Herod's heart.

Dark dreadful fancies, and self-thwarting Cares
Worry'd his breast, and chas'd sleep from his eyes:
For up he starts, his grezly beard he tears,
And round about his chamber cursing flies:
He curs'd himself, and Heav'n, and all its Stars,
But chiefly that which pointed out his fears.

Squander'd have I, said he, my time till now
On petty bus'ness, whilst my Crown and Head
Lie at the stake! have I let treason grow
And gather strength, upon my Life to tread!
Fy Herod, fy I wert thou that wary He
Whom fame extoll'd for sharp-ey'd Policy.

What stupor made thee suffer those bold Kings
Who blaz'd the Birth of that Jessean Prince,
To prate in Salem of such dangerous things?
Hadst thou not fire and sword to chase them thence?
Could not that flaming Steel have shined far
More potently than their enchanting Star.

And could thy Kingdom, and thy larger wit
With other Messengers not furnish thee,
Whose loyal Cruelty might have been fit
To hear a death-designing Embassy;
But on thy errand thou thy foes must send;
And whilst thou hat'st thy Rival, him befriend?

But due to thee is every fury's sting
For trusting their bare word for their Return.
Ar't Herod still, both Crafts' and Jewries' King,
Who by thy Brain didst for thy Temples earn
The Crown they ware! and canst thou cosen'd be
By three old doting Men's poor subtility!

See now how well thy credulous Courtesy
Repayed is: Those Kings the News have spread
Through all the Regions of wide Araby;
Which joyn'd in Zeal's bold League, have made an head
To tear fool'd Herod from his throne, and set
That Infant, as a wiser Prince, on it.

Me thinks I smell the Battel drawing near,
And Vengeance aiming at my careless Brain;
Me thinks the thunder of their Arms I hear,
And see the Lightning flashing on the plain;
Loud in mine ears, me thinks, the name doth ring,
The shouted Name, of Israel's newborn King.

The Priests' falsehearted pack will strait comply
With those new Powers against despised Me;
And triumph that their reverend Prophesy
In my dethroning they fulfilled see.
My Idumean Stock too well they know,
And much ado I had to make them bow.

As for the giddy Multitude, whom I
Have squeas'd with my oppressing Taxes' load;
All change to them will seem felicity,
But most, if baited with the Name of God,
And when Religion calls to Innovation,
What banks can curb a popular Inundation!

The Cause, the Cause, however causeless, will
Fire them to such a prodigality
Ev'n of their blood, that they their lives will spill
In hopes that Dying, yet they shall not die;
And turning Superstition's maddest slaves,
Trust They shall prove immortal in their Graves.

My Nobles all will this advantage take
Longing to serve some gentler Prince than I;
Good Lands have They to loose, for whose dear sake
Bidding farewel to costly Loyalty,
They'l to the stronger Eastern Armies run,
And idolize with them the Rising Sun.

'Tis true, Heav'n's over all; but I confess
'T has often vex'd me that it should be so;
And since my stomach thus against it rise,
What hopes from thence of friendly succours to
Distressed Herod! No the case is plain:
Write him for foe, on whom y' have thrown Disdain.

Much Gold, I grant, I on the Temple spent;
But in devotion solely to my own
Adored Ends; (the only true Intent
Of Politicians' zeal:) And well 'tis known,
For all my mask of Jewish Piety,
My aim was always mine own God to be.

None have I left to trust, but only Thee,
O thou my high, and once heroick Heart!
Why may not some Exploit of Cruelty
Above example rais'd, force fate to start?
Why may not Herod's Sword cut out that leaf
Of Destiny which has enroll'd his Grief.

It must, and shall be so: I will not own
A Tyrant's Name for nothing, Let the Head
Of Cesar wear the World's Imperial Crown
With love and gentleness embellished:
It shall my manly Glory be, to write
Sovereign of Rage, and Emperour of spight.

And let Heav'n's Monarch thank himself, if I
Torment him with a stronger Sin than yet
Earth in his scorned face e'r taught to fly,
Who bid Him wake my fears? who bid him set
An ominous Comet to outstare my Rest,
And light War's journy hither from the East?

From two years old, and under, every Brat
That sucks in Bethlehem, and its confines, breath,
Upon the altar of my royal Hate
Shall sacrificed be: and if no Death
Amongst all those can find my Rival's heart,
Then let him scape; I shall have done my part.

But sure it cannot miss: and then I wonder,
What can the vain Arabian forces do!
If their foundation once be split in sunder,
Their Building needs must stoop to ruin too,
If I their Infant in his bud can crop,
Surely the dangerous Weed will ne'r grow up.

'Twill never grow to taint the Paradise
Of my Content; which cheer'd and fatned by
This hostile blood, may venture to despise
Earth's strongest cunningest Conspiracy;
And laugh at frustrate Heav'n; no Star from whence
Shall dazel any more my Confidence.

This said; he nods his special Secretary;
(An Engine rarely qualify'd to stand
At fiercest Satan's elbow,) who right merry
To hear his barbarous Sovereign's sad Command,
The black Commission writ, which was to he
In blood transcribed by the Soldiery.

For Herod kept an armed Crew, which He
With cruel care and cost had pick'd and chose
From Idumea, Scythia, Barbary;
Men ruder than their Homes; professed foes
To all humanity; their looks of Brass,
Their hands of steel, their heart of marble was.

As practis'd Tigres in the Theatre
Let loose to their own keen and hungry spight,
With dreadful joy haste to their wished War;
Where with their murderous looks the slaves they fright
Out of their lives, then with their teeth they tear
And slay again what first they kill'd by fear.

These bloodier Caytiffs so to Bethlehem ran
With swords and faulchions arm'd, and with their more
Inhumane weapon, their Commission,
Counting Delay their torture: with a Roar
The Town they enter'd, which alarming Thunder
With Dread smote all the People's hearts in sunder.

Strait in the Name of awful Herod they
Proclaim'd their office was, a List to take
Of all the Infants which from such a Day
In Bethlehem and its coasts were born; for lack
Of punctual appearance, threatning wrath
To every Mother, to each Infant death.

These Summons through the Town and Country flew;
And when the next Day's Sun had reach'd his height
Into the Market every Mother drew,
Who in her bosom lagg'd her sucking weight:
A sight which might all Beasts unbarbarize,
Yet mov'd no pity in these Soldiers' eyes:

Who guards at every corner having set,
With all extremities of salvage rage
Their monstrous Charge in execution put,
Great Titan's eye ne'r yet beheld a stage
So red with Tragedies, nor Hell set forth
In Pageants so portentuous on earth.

In vain the lamentable Mothers' Cries,
And Tears, and Prayers, and shrill Expostulations,
Mix'd with their Infants' shrieks; in vain the skies
And stones they rent with ruful Exclamations
For still the unrelenting Soldiers' ear
Nothing but Herod's fell Command would hear.

Their preys they by the arm, or leg, or head,
From their soft native Sanctuaries tore;
Whose blood as in that barbarous strife they shed,
They daub'd the Mothers with the Children's gore;
And in their face their bowels threw, and sware,
And curs'd, and hollow'd, and amaz'd the air.

The Townsmen, who this Massacre beheld
Could lend no aid to Babes' or Mothers' Cry;
By stiff astonishment some being kill'd,
Others by cruel fear inforc'd to fly;
Not knowing but the Soldiers' dire Commission
Might add the Fathers to the Child's perdition.

Here Sarah kiss'd an arm, Rebecca there
A leg; all that was left of either's Son:
Rachel's impatient lamentation here
Defy'd all powers of Consolation,
She having but two mangled hands to show
Of those sweet Twins which suck'd her breast but now.

Thus this most harmless flock of tender Lambs
An heap of fragments suddenly became;
Their milky fleeces, and their whiter Names
Being dyed deep in ruby Martyrdom.
Thus fruitful Rama now made childless, mourn'd;
Thus all the Market was to shambles turn'd.

One Nurse was there, who when the Soldier caught
Her precious Charge's throat, cry'd out, Beware,
'Tis Herod's, Herod's Son; and if you doubt,
An hundred Witnesses are ready here,
She cry'd; but e'r she had pronounc'd that word,
The Infant's heart was bleeding on the sword.

Talk not of Herod's Son, but Herod's Will,
Reply'd the Ruffian: though your tale were true,
And no fond tender-hearted Lye; yet still
This wound to that babe's heart I'm sure was due.
The King shall answer't: 'tis sufficient that
He knows why He his Son excepted not.

Thus provident Vengeance met the Tyrant in
The forefront of his Crime, whilst blinded by
His hasty fears, his fury he began
At his own bowels: Herod's Son must die,
And Heav'n's escape, although for him the Net
Of that wide-spred Destruction was set.

And this, when fame at Rome the Slaughter toll'd
And Cesar's ear with just amazement fill'd;
Made him cry out, O how much rather would
I be the Hog of Herod than the Child.
But Cesar dream'd not what that Infant gain'd,
Nor that more than himself thenceforth he reign'd.

These roseal Buds of early Martyrdom
Transplanted were to Paradise; and there
Beyond the reach of Herod's rage, became
Flowers of Eternal bliss, whose Temples are
Imbrac'd with crowns of joy, whose hands with palms,
Whose eyes with beams, whose tongues are fill'd with Psalms.

Nor do they only live and flourish there,
But gloriously verdant are below:
For in the Church's sacred Garden, where
In Festival's fair bed's Renown doth grow,
Their annual Memory revives, and in
December's whitest frost is fresh and green.

But when the Bloodhounds back to Herod went,
And brandish'd on their stained Swords the sign
Of their own guilt: the sight with high content
Tickled their Sovereign's hopes that his divine
Rival was now dispatch'd, and that his Crown
In spight of all Arabia was his own.

Yet sure to make't (for in damn'd Tytius' breast
More restlessly his Vulture ne'r could knew
Than torturing Doubts in Tyrants' bosoms feast:)
The Jews he summons by a rigid Law
Without the least exception to swear
Allegiance both to Him and to his Heir.

Alas he little thought his slaughter'd Son
Was now a stronger foe than all the Bands
Of Araby, his own Suspition
Had arm'd against himself; or that his bands
And brains were both too weak to stand a fight
With Bethlehem's massacred Infants' Might.

For now their Blood to righteous Heav'n sent up
A louder Cry than their sad Mothers' Moan:
Nor doth the great Creator's Justice ope
A readyer ear to any Plaintiff's Groan,
Than unto this; Though sure Mortality
On Man attends, Man's Blood can never die.

Next neighbour to the Dead Sea's pois'nous shore
Frowneth a gloomy Grove, where cheerly Day
Could ne'r find room to shew her face, such store
Of Cypress, Box, and Yew, damm'd up her way;
Whose fatal boughs impeopled were with fowles
Of nature sutable, Batts, Ravens, and Owles.

Besides, a Mist of Stincks makes bold to stick
Close on the wretched Air, and her defloure;
Unwholsome Vapours gathering black and thick
Drop morn and even into a venomous show'r;
Which by the womb of that adulterous Earth
Drunk up, brings bastard Weeds and Poisons forth.

Amidst these dismal shades, is sunk a Grot
Through whose black door pass endless Cries and Groans;
In mourning curtains all the Windows shut
Their joyless eyes; the Walls lament; the Stones
Hang thick with tears, and their compassion to
Their Habitation's doleful Genius show.

The Mistress of the house her weary bed
Perpetually loads; which hedg'd about
With melancholick screens, aforehand led
Her thoughts in to her grave, and nearer brought
Her Coffin's blackness to her mind, though it
Already by her couche's side was set.

Her Pillows were of softest Down, but yet
On churlish thorns and stones she seem'd to lie:
Off did she toss, and turn, and tumble, but
Could never shift her sturdy Grief; which by
That Motion only wakened was the more,
And made her Weakness stronger than before.

Wild Hemicranies raged in her head;
A desperate Quinsey choked up her throat;
The tawny Jaundise in her eyes was spread;
Strange arrows through her jaws the Toothach shot;
Stark raving Madness sate upon her tongue;
Ten thousand Cramps her shrivell'd body wrung.

The Fever, Pleurisy, Collick, Strangury
Gout, Apoplexy, Scurvy, Pestilence,
Stone, Rupture, Phthisick, Dropsy, Tympany,
Flux, Surfeit, Asthma, and the confluence
Of all divided Deaths, united were
In one sad Mass, and learn'd to live in her.

The odious Scab, the everknawing Itch,
The stinging Bile, the wasting Leprosy,
The baneful Pocks, the Wolf and Canker (which
Fatned on her their dreadful Luxury)
Conspir'd with every sort of boiling Sore
To cloth her round with most infectious Gore.

Pots, Papers, Glasses, sweet and stinking Things,
Were marshall'd on a Cupboard standing by;
Which Artists brought to mitigate her pangs,
Or work some cure or their own Poverty,
Costly Additions unto pain were these,
And only eas'd her Purse's Pleurisies.

For though full many a dear Doctor there
Talk'd words as strange as her Diseases, yet
Her pertinacious Torments would not hear
Either their Drugs of Nature or of Wit,
Or mind their stories, or regard at all
Their Oracles out of the Urinal.

Her whining Kindred round besieg'd her bed,
And though alas her case were too too plain,
With tedious love still ask'd her How she did,
Heaping that Crambe on her other pain:
Their fond Remembrances would never let
Her any one of all her Woes forget.

Down to this loathsome She, stern Justice came;
Tall was her Person and her Looks as high;
Strength in her martial sinews made its home;
Darts of keen fire stream'd out from either eye;
For Men at length that She has eyes will find:
Alas Earth's Justice and not Heavn's is blind.

Her right hand rul'd a sword of two-edg'd flame,
Her left a Ballance; in one scale was thrown
A mighty Mass inscrib'd with Herod's Name,
A Mass of Pride and Blood, which press'd it down
To gaping Hell, the other hover'd high
Bubbling with light and vain Vacuity.

When Sickness spy'd (so named was the Elf)
Her sovereign Queen, she rais'd her heavy head,
And to obeysance forc'd her crazy self:
Forthwith black streams of vexed Poison fled
Out from her sores, and with outrageous stink
Ran down into her bed's contagious sink.

But as her boiling lips she op'd (from whence
A cloud of steaming Plagues broke with her breath,
To ask what cause brought her immortal Prince
Down to this baneful Porch of cruel death:
Talk not said Justice, but get up and dress;
My bus'ness now for speedyest speed doth press.

Though weak thou art, yet thou canst potent prove
Whene'r on Mischief's errand thou art sent:
Time was when thou a tedious way didst rove
Invidious Hell and Satan to content;
Though bold Usurpers they: and sure's will thee
Befit to do as much for Heav'n and Me.

Into the land of Uzz They made thee trudge,
And poure the bottom of thy worst despight
Upon the best of Men, if Heav'n can judge
Of pure celestial Sanctity aright.
More beautiful was Job in Heav'n's esteem
Than thou to Earth didst make him horrid seem.

He heap'd this Scale as full of Virtue, as
Fell Herod has replenish'd it with Vice:
That other, which mounts up so lightly, was
His score of Slips, his empty Vanities,
Thin as the Air; which though sometimes it be
Dusky with clouds, regains its purity.

See, see thou recompence that Injury
By righteous Vengeance upon Herod: here
My leave unbridles thy Extremity
To run in full and uncontroll'd carreer.
Run then, and make the Tyrant feel that now
The Mistress of his health and life art Thou.

So spake the Queen of everlasting Dread,
And in her black Cloud mounted home again.
When Sickness leaping from her nasty bed,
And in fierce haste forgetting her own pain,
Furnish'd her self with every choicest sting
To execute the now condemned King.

Then to her gloomy Chariot she went,
A Chariot framed of a pois'nous Steam:
Her Speed was headlong, so was her Intent,
And soon to Herod's royal Den she came:
By no slowpaced Coursers thether drawn,
But by a pestilential Tempest blown.

Unseen she came, and with such cunning guided
Her stealing Chariot's silent wheels, that she
Quite down the Tyrant's throat as slyly glided
As do's his unsuspected Breath, which he
Lets in to fan his heart: and thus, alas,
He swallow'd what his own Devourer was.

For now the Fury's work it was to fry
His black soul in the furnace of his breast;
Forthwith his entrails sing'd and scalded by
An hidden fire, frighted away his Rest:
He'd fain have risen, but he felt his Pains
Had mix'd with their light firebrand's heavy Chains.

His strength deceives him, and his bed remains
His only Throne, where he the worthy King
Of mighty Torments miserably reigns;
For flaming Pangs his ulcer'd bowels wring,
And Water swelling underneath his skin
Adds scoffing torture to the fire within.

His shameful Parts become more odious by
Right down Corruption, which proves fertile there
With monstrous Vermin; whose impatient fry
In righteous rage their Prey aforehand tear;
The leisure of his grave they scorn to stay,
But undermine his heart, and eat their way.

And yet a deadlyer Worm than those was got
Thither before, his Conscience deeply knawing;
To stifle which he long had struggled, but
The trusty Torment more resolved growing
Woun'd round about his guilty soul so close
That no Invention's power could get it loose.

His Sinews shrunk and all his Joints forgot
The ready service of their wonted motions.
The Air, which he had long defil'd, would not
Wait on his Lungs; but frequent Suffocations
Forc'd him to pay those Deaths for which his great
Riot in Blood had ran him deep in debt.

His Friends he often call'd; but neither they
Nor his Physitians durst come near his bed:
For his hell-breathing stink damm'd up the way
To Physick and to friendship. Never did
Damn'd Dives more for Pitie's influence cry,
Nor find less drop down on his Misery.

The dismal Scene of Bethlehem-slaughter now
Displayed was before his burning soul;
The Mother's Fright with greater Dread he saw,
And felt the Blood of all the Infants rowl
Into his bosom in a violent stream;
Yet not to quench, but higher raise the flame.

An hundred Furies at hot contestation
He spies, which first should seize his bloody heart;
And Hell's wide mouth, and mighty Preparation
To entertain him with most sumptuous Smart;
He hears all Ages poure whole seas of shame
And cursing detestations on his Name.

And what shall now tormented Herod do?
To Heav'n he will not, and he cannot sue,
Since he had giv'n such proud Defiance to
That God, whose Son in his desires he slew:
And since the World below abhors him too,
He 'gins to hate himself, and love his Woe.

Ingulfed deep in this dire Agony,
He wildly gives the reins to Desperation:
And now resolv'd in spight of life to die,
Contrives how he may his own murder fashion,
And once at least be righteously cruel,
Making himself his Tyrannie's last fuel.

He thought of Poison; but could move no friend
To lend him that destroying Courtesy.
Besides; he fear'd no Venome durst contend
With his all-bane-transcending Malady.
At length, by woful fortune, he espy'd
His faulchion hanging by his couche's side.

Which as he snatch'd, a venturous Page ran in
And stopp'd the stroak; but could not stop his throat,
Which strait he opened to a broader Sin,
And in the face of Heav'n spew'd out his hot
Impatient blasphemies: with which, he threw
His curses upon all the World he knew.

Mean while to prison, where his Son in chains
The Tyrant kept, his Death's false news was spread;
Which whilst Antipater gladly entertains,
His smiles became the forfeit of his head.
'Twas basely told to Herod: who in mad
Spight shows that Worms his bowels eaten had.

Yet shall that Villain know that I, said He,
Have life and rage enough him to destroy:
Now by these dying spirits, which pant in me,
I swear his life shall answer for his joy.
Fetch me his head, that with these Vermin here
Their Fellow-Traytor I all torn may tear.

Their Fellow-Traytor, and their Fellow-Son,
For from my body sprung troth He and They;
Nor breeds their knawing more vexation
To generous Herod, than his Smiles: away,
Fetch me his head, that having bless'd mine eye
With that Revenge, I may the chearlyer die.

Yet not content with this sole Sacrifice
To his vast fury; he a way contrives
How all his Nobles to his Obsequies
By sudden massacre might pay their lives:
That so his Hearse might follow'd be with tears
If not for his own sake, at least for theirs.

But Heav'n prevented this fell Plot; and He
Now having five days liv'd, and felt his death,
In stead of Prayers, his wonted Blasphemy
Repeated, and blew out his final breath.
So aged Dragons, when their Spirits flit,
Breathe their last poison, and their Life with it.

When at his Coming, lo, th' infernal Pit
Was mov'd; where every damned Prince arose
From his sulphureous throne of pangs, and met
This more deserving Tyrant, unto whose
Incomparable Salvageness they knew
Damnation's Prerogative was due.

Hell had his Soul no sooner swallowed,
But pious Joseph's Guardian hither came;
To whom, reposed on his sober bed,
The mighty News he painted in a Dream:
Bidding him now return to Jewry, where
The storm was over, and the coast grown clear.

The Angel thus at once both justify'd
His own word, and the Prophet's Vision;
For great Hosea had of old descry'd
That out of Egypt God would call his Son.
Joseph awakes, and strait to Mary shews
The long-expected, and now welcome News.

Then packing up his thrifty household-Stuff,
And tenderly Providing for his dear
And double Charge; he shakes Doubt's counsells off
And scorning all objections offear,
In humble Faith's assured valor sets
Onward his way before the Day permits.

For now the Morn lay long before she rose,
And dull Aquarius made it late e'r he
Would wake the Sun: thus did thy hardy Spouse
Take his long journy when the Day we see
Is short and sad; to teach Thee what to do
At any time when Heav'n shall bid thee go.

This Winter was the ninth which seal'd the Earth
With Ice, and covered his seal with Snow,
Since by his own, to wonders He gave Birth
Who in a soil no less congealed grew:
Bate but the cold and churlish qualities,
And what's a Virgin's Womb, but Snow and Ice?

This age had ripened Him with strength to bear
A speedy journy, and did much allay
The former scruples of his Parents' Care,
Who now with greater haste devour'd their way,
Then when they into Egypt pick'd their path;
And thus in peace they reach'd their Nazareth.

Their Nasareth; for sacred Prophesies
By adamantine chains are surely ty'd
To their Effects: the fire shall sooner frieze,
The truth of Gold in banks of Snow be try'd,
The Sun because of Night, of Drought the Rain,
Than falsehood any Prophet's tongue can stain.

Those Heav'n-Blown Trumpets, (though mysteriously
That Blast resounded) long ago foretold
His humble Title Nazareen should be:
A Name of holy Dignity of old,
And sitting fair on pious heads until
It was outshined by the Christian stile.

And Psyche, what should we do longer here?
Love bids thee follow their dear steps, to see
Some further Marvels of thy Spouse, and where
He prosecuted Love's sweet Mystery.
This said; he gave his Steeds the reins; and they
Together with the wind snuff'd up their way.

[1702; Grosart (1880) 1:141-62]

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