85 Spenserians, with a glossary: the complete title is given as: "The Land of the Muses: a Poem, in the Manner of Spenser; as if to be inserted in the 2d Book of the Fairy Queen, between the 11th and 12th Cantos" — which is to say, after Arthur has defeated Meleager, and before Guyon proceeds to the Bower of Bliss. The inspiration for Hugh Downman's allegory is Shaftsbury's Characteristicks (1711) and especially the allegory of the passions in "Soliloquy, or Advice to an Author." Since the science of aesthetics had been invented since Spenser's time, it makes a degree of sense that Downman would add this new sphere of knowledge to the instruction given to Arthur in Alma's Castle.
The Land of the Muses was written when Downman, studying medicine, was residing in Edinburgh with the blind poet Thomas Blacklock. Downman's obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine relates an amusing if doubtful anecdote to the effect that Blacklock was taken in and mistook the poem for Spenser's. The poem received a long and scathing notice in the Critical Review, quite possibly by Smollett; in response Downman later re-wrote the allegory in couplets.
Preface: "If the author should say, he did not heartily approve of compositions of this kind, or admire the construction of the stanza, or think the more highly of any person for clothing his thoughts in the phraseology of Spenser; it might be asked, what induced him to write the following poem? and how he came to lay it before the public? As to the first question, it owes its birth to accident alone. As to the second, he frankly owns, that he flattered himself some merit would be found in it, independent of the uncouth manner and antiquated dress in which it was to appear: and this only he is sensible can justify the publication of it to a reader of taste and discernment. It may be proper perhaps just to mention the prior part of the fable, at which this is to be supposed a consequence. In the 9th Canto of the 2d Book of the Fairy Queen, Guyon and Arthur journeying together, arrive at the castle of Alma, which they find besieged by Malaeger and his crew, whom they engage, and put to the rout. They are courteously received by Alma, who shews them into her castle. In the chamber of Memory they find two books, one called, The Briton Moniments; the other, The Antiquity of Fairy Lond; an account of these takes up the 10th Canto. In the 11th, Guyon departs on his adventures against the Bower of Bliss, upon which the enemies of Alma, being emboldened, return to the siege. Arthur sallies out against them, and after a severe engagement overcomes their chief, by squeezing him to death. His squire brings him back to the castle covered with wounds: 'Where many grooms and squires reader were, | To take him from his steed full tenderly [...]'."
John Langhorne: "This seems to have been intended as a kind of supplementary canto, that might properly be inserted between the eleventh and twelfth of the second book of the Fairy Queen. Were the intricacies of allegory and the obscurity of obsolete language supportable, or even pardonable in these days, Mr. Downman might be entitled to some indulgence on account of those marks of genius which are to be found in many parts of his poem, entitled, The Land of the Muses: — which is the most considerable piece in this collection" Monthly Review 39 (September 1768) 242.
Critical Review: "In an age when every effort of genius and of learning has been exerted to polish and refine our language, it should seem, from the number of those who ambitiously write upon the model of Spenser's Faery Queen, that it was recommended to imitation by some peculiar excellence of style and manner, by which strength and elegance were at once attained. And indeed, were the fact to be admitted, their conduct is not altogether so absurd: for of every writer the style and manner may be copied, as words will take any form. But surely it requires no uncommon penetration to perceive, that Spenser triumphs not by means of the graces of composition, but in the want of them; that neither strength nor elegance are attained by the use of antiquated diction, which obscures his meaning; or of elliptical construction, which renders it ungrammatical" 26 (September 1768) 191.
European Magazine: "While he was in Scotland, or soon after his return, he published the Land of the Muses, in imitation of Spencer. Hardly any thing so poetical has appeared in the last century; but the public relying chiefly on the account of the Reviewers, the poem was left to make its way, by the influence of taste and judgement in those who perused it. His reputation increased rapidly, and several editions of it have been sold. On this work, his reputation as a poet principally rests, and it is a misfortune it should be in a language not commonly intelligible" 1 (January 1782) 29.
Henry John Todd: "This is a poem of great merit; and might, as the criticks of the time have well observed, be properly inserted between the eleventh and twelfth cantos of the second book of the Faerie Queene" Works of Spenser (1805)1:clxxxv.
Oliver Elton: "This is much the smoothest and neatest exercise prior to Beattie's, although Downman later planed it out into flat couplets: both versions are printed in his Poems, ed. 1790" Survey of English Literature 1730-1780 (1928) 1:411n.
Herbert E. Cory supplies a summary: "The poem opens in the moralizing vein usually borrowed from Spenser's preludes by his Augustan followers, with some reflections on Temperance. Arthur, cured of his wounds, listens with delight to the sage words of Alma and to the sweet music discoursed by the maidens, Praise-Desire and Shamefacedness. One evening he saw a land beyond the river which Alma told him was inhabited by Apollo and the Muses. At Arthur's request they took a gondola steered by Good-Culture. Upon landing, Arthur and Alma met Youth and his spouse Hygeia, leading their son, Content, and bearing a babe, Simplicity. Alma was directed by Youth to Fancy.... Fancy whirled them through the air to her tower, of glass seemingly frail, but outlasting all the works on earth. It was filled with pictures which Fancy saw in her ranging and would tell to a virgin named Description, a cunning painter. A neo-classical, 'reverend Eld,' however, called Judgment, held her pallette. They looked down and saw an enchanting country full of flowers and groves and garrulous books where shepherds, fairies, satyrs, and dryads played and danced. They saw the God of Love on a gentle lamb, on the one side Sincerity, on the other Innocence, then Novelty with Admiration, Friendship with Sans-Self-Love, Youth with Hygeia, and many more. Fancy showed them other visions, but told Arthur that he could not hope to see Apollo and the Muses until he had gone forth and fought many hard battles. Plainly Arthur symbolizes the young poet himself" "Spenser, Thomson, and Romanticism" PMLA 26 (1911) 70-71.
Compare Downman's poem with two recent Scottish allegories of the passions, John Ogilvie's Solitude, and James Beattie's Judgment of Paris (both 1763), and another didactic allegory on the subject of aesthetics, Alexander Thomson's Paradise of Taste (1796), the last canto of which is written in Spenserians.
Fools they who vainly ween that Temperaunce
Her joyous sweet amenities denies
To human kind, or looks with sight ascaunce
Whan they with liberal delights devise
Their ears to feed, or gratify their eyes;
Nothing she bids witholden that behoves
Him to ensue who nould be dempt unwise,
All sports, and rational pleasaunce she loves,
But hateth idle Lust who ay at random roves.
When as the Prince, by fairest Alma's care,
Was nigh recured of his woundez sore,
Which he in hardy conflict had while-e'er
Endur'd, as gainst thilke felon arms he bare,
But him subdued withouten sword or spear;
As prudent Leaches all in this agree,
That mind and body are conjoined near,
Ne one without the other can be free,
She bent her thought to keep his mind in goodly gree.
So seated by his side, unto his ear
She framed her discourse in words most meet,
At times of chevisaunce and warlike geer,
And warrior knights who underneath their feet
Did trample death, immortal fame to greet;
Tho sagely would she change her talk, and ply
His list'ning sense, with speech so honey'd sweet
And moral thews of wise philosophy,
That he was rapt, and inly ravished thereby.
And ever and anon wou'd Praise-Desire
Open her rubin lips, and featly sing
Her pensive notes, but such as mought inspire
Calm moods of tranquil stedfastness, and bring
To truest test, and justest tempering;
Ye would have sworn one of the heav'nly throng,
Was slid to earth upon melodious wing,
Sich silver sounds west the mild air along,
And sich the blandishment of her slow-ditted song.
And eke Shamefacedness with mellow lute,
Her strains harmonious accompanied;
For she her instrument full well could suit,
Ne wanted in well-doing comely pride.
The Prince his secret pleasure ne mought hide,
But smit with love of glorious emprise,
Felt his spright mov'd past utterance, and sigh'd;
The living fire flasht from his gazing eyes,
And drench'd in bliss unknown to vulgar soul he lies.
It chaunced out one evening as these four
Did walk by thilke same river's winding side,
From whence Sir Guyon launch'd, which there did pour
His bounteous stream watering the country wide,
The Prince the coast which them opposed spied,
Woods and fair hills in beautiful array,
And lawns which now the setting Phoebus eyed,
Beaming the last remains of golden day,
He saw, and ask'd what land that was which yonder lay.
That is the land, the gentlest Alma said,
In which Apollo and the Muses dwell,
On which their blessings with great bountihed
They cast abroad: there by the living well
Of Hippocrene they fix their happy sell;
There wonne at distaunce from the profane world,
With whose affairs they never mind to mell,
Als Jovisaunce is there with face unfurl'd,
And care, and grief, and carking pain far off are hurl'd.
And thousand dainty shapes inhabit there,
And unimagin'd forms by common mind,
To every single one of which, a peer
In other place on earth may no man find,
Of purest nature, and aethereal kind,
By the three Graces seemingly bedight;
For in that realm their girdes the Graces bind,
And Liberty ay sporteth in their sight,
And there the Virtues stray yrob'd in stoles of white.
How may, said then the Prince, a straunger gain
Thilke place which thou descriven hast to see?
Perdy most rarely brave is that domain:
(Ne speak I out of vaunting susquedry
And lofty vain conceit), yet is in me
A heart in which good nurture fix'd the thew
And love of seemly liberality;
Not as a faytour false, or spy, I sue
These Bonnibels, and fair depeinten Imps to view.
To me, O Briton Prince, she said, is given
(Alma then smil'd, and smil'd those other twain),
Free enteraunce into that earthly heav'n,
By young Apollo's self, who there doth reign;
Als he to me hath ordered to restrain,
And keepen back by force the rascal rout
Of noisy Riotise his drunken train,
But never the ingenuous mind to flout,
Ne wight of fair demeanour ever shutten out.
But now is well nigh time hence to be gone,
And, supper ended, take ourselves to rest:
Now wakeful man wends by himself alone;
For bird and beast by Somnus are yblest;
All but the beast of prey, which is addrest
To cruel slaughter on the helpless crew,
And Philomela, who with woe imprest
Her dolorous fate wails in sad measure due,
But softer than descent of night's fast-falling dew.
Early the morn we will forth yede yfere,
And in a gondelay to yonder shore
Across the intervening ferry steer,
There on the many delices to pore,
Of which 'twere tedious to recount the store;
Thanks render'd, tho' the Prince in manner'd wise,
For he was skill'd in every courtly lore,
That night did sleep scant close his wakeful eyes,
And in the morn he rose with the bright sun's uprise.
Alma prepared he already found,
For never she indulg'd in slothful bed,
But when the lark soar'd upward from the ground,
She ay wou'd bid adieu to drowsihed;
Tho forth they issued from that goodly sted,
And in due season to the ferry came,
Fast by its brink the gondelay moored
They see, and eke the wight who steer'd the same,
Of most well-looked mien, Good-Culture was his name.
The Knight and Lady he with joy on board
Did take, then pushed with strong arm away,
And launch'd the vessel far into the ford:
Tho he his painted canvas did display,
While kind gales in its swelling bosom play,
With speed they cut the stream as chrystal clear,
Or as the bright-eyed Titan's piercing ray,
For not the smallest stain or spot was there;
But tho' the waves were deep, the bottom did appear.
When as they did that shore approachen near,
Girt with the cestus of eternal spring,
Its ever-virid banks; th' ambrosial air
Odours most exquisitely sweet did bring;
For Zephyrus there ever fann'd his wing,
And there did Flora plentifully strew
The ground with flowers which fragrance round them fling,
Sweet-scented flowers of every various hue,
That whilom in Adonis' happy gardens grew.
How bin they landed in that pleasaunt place,
And now along the lilied shore proceed,
Far as their eyne the wide-stretch'd coast can trace,
The blithsome scenery they in silence read;
The Prince in wonder lost gave fixed heed
At every turn, at every turn amaze
Sat on his cheek, delightsome awe and dreed;
Well might that prospect frailer wight have daz'd;
He gaz'd, and thought that there he could for ay have gaz'd.
His fair conductress bade him cast his eyes,
To waken him from out his rapturous traunce,
To where before the path they took, cross-wise,
Over a velvet meadow, did advaunce
Two beings of most pleasing amenaunce;
Upon their foreheads gayety did sit,
Their joyous girlonds in the wind did daunce,
Their cheeks were blooming red, their feet were flit,
And treading the soft turf did leave no print on it.
The one y-clep'd was Youth, the down began
His features to aguise with decent pride,
Ne mought he older wax, ne grow to man;
Yet was that other giv'n him for his bride:
Of whom he got a son, who by his side
Renning in merry mood for ay did smile:
Hygeia did his spouse the name betide,
With her he took no note of time, the while
It passed by, so well each hour she could beguile.
That tender Imp he guided by the hand
With face speaking his heart so airy light,
He hath benempt Content, tho' he be scann'd
A boy, great power dwelleth with that wight;
For whomsoe'er he looketh on, his spright
Is with complacence fill'd, and jocund glee,
An infant babe, Simplicity behight
The mother bore, of lovely hue to see,
Stretching his little arms, and telling his tale free.
Them Alma gracefully y-bording, said,
Tell me, ye gentle pair, if ye have seen
Where widely your enchaunted feet have stray'd
Emong the mazes of this flowery green,
Where Fancy wonneth now? for well I ween
She hath no certain biding-place of rest;
But now the shade she seeketh, now the sheen,
Now flitteth north, now south, now east, now west,
All pleasure she doth love, variety the best.
To her with count'nance blithe did Youth reply,
(The words from his quick tongue y-dropping fast),
If Fancy you do seek, fair dame, perdy,
In yonder glen with high rocks over-cast,
From whence a tumbling torrent forth hath brast,
I saw her even now: so louting low,
He with his bellamour away did haste;
Right onward Alma, and the Prince did go:
Then why she Fancy sought he fain of her would know.
Without her aid, O Prince, said Alma fair,
To travel thro' this coast were endless stower;
Ne without her direction would I dare
Convoy thee as behoves a single hour:
Besides she builded hath a wond'rous tow'r,
Which hence thou seest high in the air y-pight,
From whence is view'd distinctly dell and bower,
And rock, and stream, and every living wight,
And every goodly thing with which these realms are dight.
Unto the which if thee she will convey,
In portion small of time she can unfold
What else would take up many a weary day,
And many a sleepless night for to behold;
Ne ever so at last you prosper would:
But after muchell labour and sojourn,
Some forest dark your wilder'd feet would hold,
Or ye would sink crossing some roaring bourn,
Or to the whence ye came ye idly would return.
Soon mought they now behold that Maid divine;
Upon a craggy cliff she took her stand,
Above her head spread a broad branching pine,
Which sent a dark shade round; on either hand
Down many a thousand yarde of rising land
From rock to rock a strong stream forc'd its way,
Which there was blent in one accoiled band;
She joyant stood over the foaming bay,
And bath'd her forehead in the floating dewy spray.
When as the tread of stranger feet she heard,
Eftsoons her eyes she thitherwards enhaunc'd,
Which as the glitterand sun-beam bright appear'd,
And quicker than the quivering levin glaunc'd,
And strait toward them with light step advaunc'd;
Her golden-tendrill'd locks down from her head
Hung loosely wav'ring as to them bechaunc'd,
She never them confin'd in tye or brede,
But they most comely seem'd whan most dishevelled.
In thin habiliment she was bedight,
Of cunningly inwoven goss'mer twin'd,
Most curious was that garment to the sight,
And on the lap of the soft dalliaunt wind,
Which it sustain'd, disported far behind;
Its colour was of every various dye,
Which in the glorious bow of heaven we find,
And every intermingled shade the eye
Could ever ken, was there, in vast complexity.
In that retired vale oftimes she sate,
Where Nature strayed wild by Art not found;
But not therein immewed was her state,
Nor yet y-pent in any fixed bound,
Free and at large she raung'd creation round,
Or breaking thro the brazen gyre would steer
Her flight, with cheek not blanch'd, nor heart astound,
The din of Chaos and Confusion hear,
Ne all the ever-bickering elements would fear.
There if she will'd, new worldes of her own
She would create, and them impeople too,
And in the midst upbuild her splendent throne,
Exacting from her subjects homage due:
Tho' in a moment's space these worldes new,
And each thing in them would annihilate,
Her pregnant will she ever would pursue,
For she alone, most wond'rous to relate,
Except high-reigning God, was uncontroul'd by fate.
Oft to the heav'n of heav'ns she would ascend,
And thro th' impenetrable blaze would try
Boldly her peering vision to extend,
And into the mysterious Godhead pry,
Where far above the star-y-flaming sky,
His seat is circled deep with glory bright,
"In his trinal triplicity on high,"
But never could she pass that lustrous light,
High-reigning God alone escap'd her thrillant sight.
Yet sich her sway that she to earth could bring,
From their eternal steds, Angelic Quires,
Who round about her gently hovering,
Tun'd at her will their golden-stringed lyres;
Or maugre dernful Pluto's grisly fires,
Would cleave the earth and rowse to upper air
The Furies with their whips of iron wires,
And snakes loud hissing in their troubled hair,
And Hecate at her call would her dread front uprear.
With them all ills would rise that shun the light,
Stern-look'd Revenge, Hate by wild frenzy torn,
And each abhorred child of ugly Night,
Lust ever restless, Jealousy o'erworn,
Mean Murder, of each generous mind the scorn,
And pining Care, which in her sickly plume
Inshrouds while yet alive the wretch forlorn,
And Woe, whose heart by inches does consume,
Hanging with face all pale o'er her dead lovers tomb.
And she would call th' unbodied Ghosts around
With shrieking note utt'ring their dolorous wail,
And Witchcraft mumbling forth her rites profound,
Might make the stoutest living wight to quail,
And conscious Fear, who secretly doth steal,
Keeping close watch beside the murderer's bed,
And when Sleep gins his tired lids to veil,
And wrap the poppied purfle o'er his head,
Rings her alarum wild, and rends his soul with dread.
Yet nothing was there fearful in her face,
Or terrible to the beholders view,
But in her was an amiable grace,
A lovely, and a modest blushing hue,
Which mingled with respect love's passion drew,
And winning smiles her features freed from scorn,
And ye might read her straying veins quite through
Her alabaster skin, and so adorn,
She looked like the eldest daughter of the Morn.
Now she the gentlest Alma first addrest:
Welcome, fair virgin, to these blissful bowers,
(Then tenderly did clasp her to her breast),
And hail to thee, Sir Knight, can aught the pow'rs
Who here inherit, aught the winged Hours,
The Graces, and the Virtues thee to please?
For thee to please, belov'd of heaven, no stow'rs
They would refuse, Apollo's self would seize
Th' occasion, and myself thy servant am always.
O passing fair, Alma to her replied;
This gentle Knight, (the Knight full low did bend),
No Impe of Riotise, or boastful Pride,
I to thy favour strenuously commend,
My strong deliverer, and stedfast friend,
O bear him to thy tow'r y-pight on high,
Or with him through these dainty regions wend,
That he the deft inhabitants may spy,
And feed with wonderment his knowledge-searching eye.
She answer'd not: but with most sweet aspect,
Taking the Prince and Lady by the honde,
Eftsoons she did them from the ground erect,
And thro the air, swift as the Levin-Bronde,
Or if than it can swifter thing be conn'd,
Darted upright: ne did she stop, ne stay,
Till on her lofty espial they did stonde,
Whence they the girding heavens might survey,
And earth, and ocean wide, which low unneath them lay.
It was a noble work for to behold,
For neither was it built of stone ne lime,
Ne was there ir'n, ne brass, ne lead, ne gold,
Ne Roman cement, ne Asphaltile slime,
To bind the parts, and knit withouten rime;
But it was all one piece of lucent glass,
And edifyed by her in shortest time,
Yet though both thin, and seeming frail it was,
No work on earth could it in lastingness surpass.
With rare imagin'd portraicts it was strow'd,
Landscapes and histories by her design'd,
For what she saw when raunging far abroad,
She took her flight and left thilke tow'r behind,
That from the store-house of her heedful mind,
She would display before a painter fair,
Who every form with skilful hand defin'd,
And fetisely bedight with colours rare,
Description was her name, a virgin debonair.
Her pencil was most delicately fine,
And light and strong the sketches which it drew,
And beautifully did her colours shine,
For the clouds checquer'd tints she in them threw,
And the first drops of pearly morning dew;
Aurora's blush too when she first did wake,
From Venus' smiles, from Cynthia's silver hue,
From Flora's mantle, from the green-sea lake,
And all Dame Nature's works she did her colours take.
A reverend Eld the palat there did hold,
And every colour set in proper place,
His piersent eye his perfect senses told,
The wrinkles did become his auntient face,
And eke his hoary beard hung down with grace;
Judgement he hight: his precept she obey'd,
For he could teach her every stroke to trace;
Full many a time her youthful hand he stay'd,
When wantonly, or when thro carelessness it stray'd.
The Briton Prince, with curious regard,
The labours of these busied twain did see,
Till Fancy, calling him away, debarr'd
His eyne intent on that imagery:
Forthwith to her his step he hasted free:
Tho he and Alma seated by her side
On a high battlement's extremity,
She wav'd her hand; then bid them throwen wide
Their looks toward the right, and see the country's pride.
They looked, and beheld a country rare;
The laughing meadows were with flow'rs bespread,
The rose their shining Queen, the lily fair,
The cowslip drooping down his fainting head,
The pink, and tulip gay embroidered,
Daisies and violets, and all the crew,
Which sweet impunging smells odorous bred,
Or Nature with bright staines did imbrue,
There 'sdaining touch of Art uncultivated grew.
And here and there did murm'ring rivers stray,
Flowing entrailed in meanders clear,
Now all so smoothly making gentle way,
With dimpling surface, that though placed near
The swain their progress onward ne mought hear:
Now broke by mossy stones, did hoarsly brawl,
And prisoner took the willing thralled ear,
Or bounding o'er a ragged rocky wall,
From rift to rift in many a cascade did fall.
And up and down were many tufty groves
Lifting their heads in glory flourishing,
Around whose trunks the honeysuckle roves,
And scented jessamine is wandering,
And purple grapes hung thickly clustering,
And thousand thousand feather'd songsters lay
Concealed, and melodiously did sing,
While every bough and every treeen spray,
Wav'd their consenting leaves, and gladlier seem'd to play.
And on the flowery meads and plains they spy,
Fair flocks of sheep nibbling the tender green,
Or ruminating as adown they lye,
Or wanton sporting in the sunny sheen;
And where or rock or rising hill is seen,
The frisking goats their antick gambols made,
And jolly keepers, both did keep from teen,
Who in the open sun, or secret shade,
Tuning uneven pipes their amorous descants play'd.
Soon did they see, where from a grove issued,
The goat-foot Pan playing a merry fit;
Pleasaunt it was, but rather rustic rude.
Him follow'd dancing trimly to that dit,
A croud of Fawns and Satyrs, who with flit
And active giambeaux beat the hollow ground:
While with them hand in hand their partners knit,
The loosely-robed Dryades rebound,
Their hair with oaken wreaths, and palm and ivy crown'd.
They passed on, and next, most pleasing sight,
The God of Love, borne on a gentle lamb;
Not he who armed dire by savage Spite,
And taught those cursed arts, which sure I am
Have with disgraces shent his cruel Dam,
And als himself; and crouds of wretches slain,
With whose sad carcases the grave to cram,
And crouds of wretches who alive remain,
Have mur'd up with Despair, and ever-gnarring Pain.
This Winged Boy a gentle mind did bear,
As gentle as the beast which him up-bore,
Ne could he see th' unhappy drop a tear
But it would make his breast with pity sore,
And he himself would weep and grieve therefore.
He was not blind; and from his looks did fly
The horrid face of Lust emboss'd with gore,
And groveling mean Deceit, and Calumny,
And by his side did wonne the maid Sincerity.
Before her breast she bore a chrystal vase,
In which her inmost thoughts were all pourtray'd,
That ye each hidden sentiment mought trace:
With this she oft hath Villainy warray'd,
And made him stooping hide his felon head;
Guarded with this she fears no secret harms,
But walks secure as tho she were array'd
In strong defence by force of magick charms,
Or girded firm with coat of mail and scaled arms.
On t' other side, holding a rosy band,
With which that lamb she guided in the way,
Or when his rider list him still to stand,
Did softly check his pace and mildly sway,
Wended fair Innocence; her to survey
The angels would from heav'n on balmy wing
Gliding, in mortal air their limbs embay:
In t' other hand a serpent with fell sting
She held, which lick'd her face, ne any scathe did bring.
The next a nymph her countenaunce display'd,
Blithe was her look, unequal was her air,
Her lineaments mought no one ever read,
Ne yet the colour of her garb declare,
Both of them every moment chaunging were:
That fickle nymph, had Novelty to name,
Of Admiration she the loved feare,
Her frequent chaunge did his light heart inflame,
And looking on her greedily he onward came.
Behind them one twisting with all his might,
A skein of silk, which in his hand he bore,
Yet tho he alway strained it full tight,
No single thread would yield, or break therefore,
A swain who Friendship hight in human lore.
And by his side another goodly swain,
Call'd Sans-Self-love of mind most firm and sure;
For he that other to secure from pain,
Would naked rush on spears, or plunge into the main.
And now advanc'd the wight whom first they met,
And with her babe that spouse so fair to see,
To him full firmly bound in wedlock's net,
And eke that other pledge of mutual gree;
And close behind was virgin Chastity,
Bearing in her cold hands a lump of snow,
Which though the warm west winds around her flee,
Received no impuritie or flaw,
Ne ever lost its white, ne ever would it thaw.
Long time she had betrothed bin I ween,
Unto a comely youth of mickle praise,
Fidelity, full steady was his mien,
His eyes on her engrafted were always,
Yet sich their look they ne mought her displease;
This hand a golden sun-flower did sustain,
Still turning to the sun her constant rays,
That a cameleon in a diamond chain,
Which him in's native hue for ever did restrain.
And many more whom time to tell would fail,
The Prince and Alma from their airy height,
Might see with thilke same bevy fair to sail:
There passed by the sister Graces bright,
And Liberty unveil'd her peerless light,
Benevolence and Gratitude y-fere,
Beauty all over lovely to the sight,
There heart-felt Ease, and Leisure ever dear,
And happy Indolence and Peace brought up the rear.
Then Fancy wav'd her hand: but oh how strange
What at that potent motion ensued!
Alack a day, how suddain was the change!
Black was the sky, the blust'ring wind blew rude,
Instead of company was solitude,
Instead of gladsome sights a doleful glade,
In which no chearful vision might intrude,
For luckless Plaint as it beseemed made;
Ah woe is me, so soon all human glories fade!
Forth came an hundred Nymphs with solemn tread,
And flaming tedes in hand, and then a Queen,
As seemed by the crown upon her head,
Of beaten gold, and her right royal mien,
Her eyes with aweful dignity gave sheen,
Her crimson vestment flow'd in stately pride,
Which likest Scythian Tomyris was seen,
When stain'd with Persian blood the Cyrus eyed,
Or bold Bonduca when in Roman slaughter died.
Her left hand held a bowl with poison fraught,
Which working quick dispatch was sure to kill;
Her right, a dreadful dagger sharply wrought,
Which to the wight who list his blood to spill,
She gave, and bade him execute his will;
Or if the bowl he chose to end his days,
She stoop'd it down, and told him drink his fill;
Impurpled buskins on her legs she wore,
Which with a golden clasp y-clasped were before.
Behind her was a wretch with garments rent,
Hollow his cheeks, and pale his dreary face,
He mov'd as tho with weakness all forespent;
Yet not uncomely was his weary pace;
And his eyes gleamed with a languid grace,
Misfortune hight, him in a brazen chain
Adversity most cruelly did brace,
And tho he seemed faint, and well nigh slain,
She nould him ever spare, but dragg'd him on amain.
And ever and anon her arm on high
She would uplift, which with an iron whip
Adaw'd, and scowl on him with threat'ning eye;
And oftimes would his cloaths with fury strip,
And to the bones the skin therewith would rip,
That he poor man would miserably groan;
Yet not an evil word would he let slip:
His virtue she not heeded, nor his moan;
Her heart had long y-go transmewed bin to stone.
Behind him came, with sweet aspect and bland,
The fairest and the loveliest maid I ween,
That ever yet on earthly mold did stand,
Or ever was by mortal eyesight seen;
When as she view'd that miser's doleful teen,
O God, how did she lift the heavy sigh!
What would she give he mought relieved been!
For him she could almost with pity die,
So feeling was the soul of tender Sympathy.
Her beauty shew'd more lovely for the tears
Which all besprinkled had her face most meek,
As for that wight beset with cruel fears,
In vain they ren down o'er her heav'nly cheek:
And blushing Pudency sat mantling there,
Darting her beams the pearled moisture through,
So seemingly enshrin'd, as does appear
Through a thin cloud Aurora to the view,
Or a sweet rosy bud thro' the clear ambient dew.
Two little Cherubs did afore her fly:
One in his hand a golden censer bare,
Which underneath her face he did apply,
And therein latched every precious tear;
Which fill'd, he gave up to the others care;
Who to the throne of all o'er-swaying Jove,
Plying his purple plumes aloft did steer;
He thilke same offering receiv'd with love,
And shook with gracious sign his nectar'd locks above.
Next came Remorse: his haggard eyes down bent,
In ghastly silence glar'd upon the ground;
But soon inflected, inwardly were sent,
As if to perse into his breast profound;
There, as tho tenting to the quick a wound,
Would wring his hands in agony of pain,
Or wildly toss them in the air around;
Ah! foredone wight, thou but turmoilst in vain!
The sore full deep hath fret, and ever shall remain.
Now Indignation, with his eyen on fire,
Welding a glitterand faulchion o'er his head,
His red cheeks blushing with becoming ire,
His stern brow frowning with a comely dread,
For, ay he was by Reason maistered;
He with that faulchion fain would do to die
A snaky monster foul, ill-favoured,
Guilt, who distraught with fear away did fly,
Nor tho at distaunce got, dar'd turn her craven eye.
Next Horrour: harrows in his hand he bore,
With which he felly harrowed up the soul,
And all her finer senses rent and tore,
So that his ravin she might not controul;
But he there reigned King and Kesar sole.
And Hopeless Love, a shaft quite thro her heart
Had pass'd, the wound she wrapped in her stole,
Still struggling to conceal her deadly smart,
And like a stricken deer pined away apart.
And many more attendant on that Queen,
Their resience in thilke dark glade did keep:
There wonn'd Suspect, her face all sickly green;
Excess of Grief, from whom no tears could creep;
Vengeance, who both his hands in blood did steep;
Envy, to her own mind the kestrel slave;
Dissemblaunce, who like crocodile could weep;
Madness, as wild as the enchauffed wave;
And Melancholy, silent as the midnight grave.
There too was Brave Disdain of deed that's base;
And there of tried spirit, Conscious Pride;
And Emulation, which no second place
Would graunt; and Mercy, to the gods allied;
And Stoic Rigour, which all vice defied;
And Seemly Zeal, by True Religion drest;
And Wedded Love, which death cannot divide;
And Justice, well-spring pure of public rest;
And Filial Piety, with Heav'n's first promise blest.
All that mought rowse the soul of man was there,
All that to goodness mought his bosom sway,
And rescue him from Vice's per'lous meir;
For Virtue marshall'd all in just array:
That Queen herself does her behests obey;
To her from first her origin she owes,
Ne without her could reign a single day;
By her she order from confusion draws,
And all that diverse Croud acts as she gives them laws.
And now at Fancy's bid gan disappear
The darksome dreriness which erst had blent
The sun of heav'n, and hid his beamez clear;
And with it all that foreseen Many went,
While he his chearing rays more clear outsent.
And now a public road before them lay,
It seemed as there was some city near,
For many a goodly troop pass'd by that way,
Some rode, some laughing walk'd, some sung, and some did play.
Close by the road an Archer took his stand,
His low'ring brow announced vengeful ire,
Two female forms were seen on either hand,
Who him restrain'd within a certain gyre,
With sober counsel smothering his fire,
Candour and Truth, but he was Satire hight;
They taught him against whom he war should stire;
And when they pointed out the destin'd wight,
He drew his bow, and him imperst with arrow bright.
Those whom he so amerc'd with rigorous wound,
By an old beldam had been bred a pest,
Y-cleped Vice, some in disguises found,
Others more openly that road t' infest,
And unsuspecting passengers molest:
But now did halt with limping pace along,
While Infamy sat grinning on their crest,
They joined not in daunce or jovial song,
But shun'd, and hated, skulk'd at distaunce from the throng.
Nathless when as his two companions cast
Their eyne aside, he would with motion sly
A shaft from forth his quiver snatch in haste,
And with insatiable cruelty,
At travellers of goodly grace let fly;
Which rueful scathe when as the virgins scann'd,
To their assistance renning hastily,
They pour'd in oil and balm with healing hand,
But him with threats affray'd and bitter reprimand.
Onward a little space there wonn'd a Dame,
Behind a vizor she aguis'd her face,
Socks on her feet she had as her became,
And her loose garb fell down with easy grace.
Always attending constant on her pace
A selcouth hag, a flaming brond who bore,
Her name was Secret Knowledge of Disgrace;
A dwarf hight Ridicule, was plac'd before,
Who a large burnish'd mirrour stead of target wore.
Into thilke mirrour, led by Vanity
And Folly vain, their semblaunces to view,
Most of the silly croud who passed by,
With idle mirth and wantonness nigh drew;
But so deformed did they therein shew,
They nould confess themselves to be the same,
Until that Hag sprong from her hidden mew,
Who dasht into their cheeks her brond of flame,
And they retreated thence all covered with shame.
But, oh! what tongue what language may suffice,
With ample spirit sitly to express
The scenes that Potent Queen now bid arise!
My simple numbers cannot aptly dress
In meet array, ne yet their glory guess,
When she the Briton Prince, and eke his guide,
With liberal kindness bounteously to bless,
Unfolded to their sight (ne yet envied)
The regions where the lofty Epic doth reside.
As though by pow'r past human from his bed,
In nightly sleep a wight should snatched be,
And cross the sounding seas be hurried,
Then waking in the morn with wonder see
Himself in an unknown and strange country,
Afore, the Amazons huge floud late-found,
Beyond, an open realm, uprising free,
By the vast towering Cordilleras bound,
And on the other side th' Atlantic waste profound.
So in amaze the Briton Prince was lost;
For now down deep-sunk vallies rough and steep,
Huge rapid streams rolling his vision cross'd;
Now without meir an ocean wide and deep,
On which the lingering winds did seem to sleep;
But soon with angry mood a whirlwind blew,
No longer mought it now its calmness keep,
But all with foamy wrath enraged grew,
And from the fould'ring clouds the levin gaunt out-flew.
Now on the champion ground he might behold
Castles which seated were in pleasaunt site,
And single Knights armed in glist'ring gold,
With Ladies by their sides of beauty bright,
To whom they told fair tales of love's delight;
Or else for their protection combating,
With monsters fell courageously did fight;
Or in round lists each other conquering,
To them the trophies of their victory did bring.
Now heard he braying trumpets numberless,
(The martial blast did his bold bosom thrill),
Eftsoons two large enraunged armies press
The plain; they shout, they join, they fight, they kill,
And the engorged earth with carnage fill;
Tho saw he where the mountains rose on high,
Striding from rock to rock, from hill to hill,
A giant form, whose head arraught the sky,
Emong the stars empight, his name Sublimity.
These doen away, a cloud of blazing sheen,
Floating upon a forked hill, appear'd,
The brightness well nigh blent his feeble eyen,
And from behind sich music was there heard,
He thought himself to heaven's height uprear'd,
And the great weight of pleasure scarce could bear;
Ne wonder was't that he sich rapture shar'd,
Whan Jove himself would often stoop his ear,
From high Olympus top thilke harmony to hear.
Where the thin edges of that cloud did reach,
He might as 'twere part of a temple see;
But though he strain'd his eyes to th' utmost stretch,
They nould its shape distinguish perfectly,
Yet it most gorgeous seemed for to be.
But thro the middle of that cloud so bright,
From whence issued the dulcet melody,
He could by no means cast at all his sight;
The oftener he look'd, the stronger blaz'd the light.
And now said she, O Prince, what to thy view
I might disclose, thine eyes have briefly seen,
So much was to thy fair conductress due:
To perse that dazling cloud thou see'st I ween,
Thou must all over have besprinkled been,
When thou wert born with dews of Castaly,
And thrice three times been dipp'd in Hippocrene,
There on his throne Apollo now I see,
And there the Muses sit each in their just degree.
Yet even these thou shalt behold in time,
But first thou many hardy fights must wage,
And travel over many various clime,
And with thy country's deadly foes engage,
And curb the Saxons haught with strong menage.
Tho they themselves shall take thee by the hand,
And to that building with safe tutelage
Conducted, thou in Glory's Fane shalt stand,
And thy renowned name be read in every land.
This saying, she a privy door unbarr'd,
Which led a winding passage to the ground;
For though to climb up to that tow'r was hard,
Down to descend was alway easy found;
When they now touch'd the bottom of the mound,
Many great thanks gave Alma to that Dame,
And eke the Prince, with humbless most profound,
She upward shot like to an arrowy flame,
They back returned by the way in which they came.