The Great Assises holden in Parnassus.

The Great Assises holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assesours: at which Session are arraigned Mercurius Britanicus. Mercurius Aulicus. Mercurius Civicus. The Scout. The Writer of Diurnalls. The Intelligencer. The Writer of Occurrences. The Writer of Passages. The Post. The Spye. The Writer of Weekly Accounts. The Scottish Dove, &c

George Wither

A Menippean satire long attributed to George Wither in which the critics of the day (anonymous writers of periodical pamphlets) are tried by Apollo and hauled before a jury of poets. Edmund Spenser appears as "Clerk of the Assises" but does not have a speaking part. The critics and the jurors accuse one another; Apollo almost invariably defends the poets.

As the poem opens, the critic Scaliger makes a complaint before Apollo: "Your Grace well knowes (I need not to relate) | How Typographie doth concerne your state, | Which some pernicious heads have so abus'd, | That many wish it never had been us'd" p. 2. The republic of letters has been gravely disturbed by the publishers of novelties. Apollo dispatches Tasso with a band of heroic poets "to bring in alive, or dead, each one | That had discovered been, or to defile | The Presse with Pamphlets scarrilous, and vile, | Or to have traduc'd with malignant spirits, | Persons of honorable worth, and merits" p. 4. The offenders are cast in irons, and the court is assembled, "Approved Criticks all, did there appeare | On the judiciall Bench with lookes severe" p. 8.

Mercurius Britannicus is called before the bar; "Then Edmund Spenser Clarke of the Assise, | Read the Endictment loud, which did comprise | Matters of scandall, and contempt extreme, | Done 'gainst the Dignitie, and Diademe | Of great Apollo" p. 10. Britannicus objects that he has done no more that had George Wither; Wither is about to protest when Apollo intervenes to declare Wither innocent, or at least soundly punished long ago. The prisoner then accuses George Sandys and Joshua Sylvester of being mere translators, but Apollo defends them with faint praise. The Aulicus vainly presses a charge of ingratitude against the Thomas May, who after being denied the laurel supported Parliament against the King. More prosecutions follow, the prisoners bandying charges with the jurors (the Occurrences accusing Thomas Carew of obscenity, the poet apologizes for "A Rapture" and is forgiven by Apollo; Apollo later delivers a ringing defense of "old Drayton"). The Jury retires, and, having appointed George Wither their foreman, deliver the verdicts. Apollo devises a variety of punishments to fit the several crimes.

Thomas Park: "Mercurius Britannicus had taken exception to Wither as a juryman, but Apollo informs him: 'Engag'd is honest Withers: — for his impartial pen | Did rather gross abuses tax than men.' This is very true, and may have led Mr. Dalrymple, from its candour, to assign the tract itself to Wither, though not registered as such by the poet or his biographers" British Bibliographer 1 (1810) 308-09.

Thomas Campbell: "It is not probable that the works of Wither will ever be published collectively, curious as they are, and occasionally marked by originality of thought; but a detailed list of them is given in the British Bibliographer. From youth to age George continued to pour forth his lucubrations, in prophesy, remonstrance, complaint, and triumph, through good and evil report, through all vicissitudes of fortune: at one time in command among the saints, and at another scrawling his thoughts in jail, when pen and ink were denied him, with red ochre upon a trencher. It is generally allowed that his taste and genius for poetry did not improve in the political contest. Some of his earliest pieces display the native amenity of a poet's imagination; but as he mixed with the turbulent times, his fancy grew muddy with the stream. While Milton in the same cause brought his learning and zeal as a partisan, he left his muse behind him, as a mistress too sacred to be introduced into party brawlings; Wither, on the contrary, took his Muse along with him to the camp and the congregation, and it is little to be wondered at that her cap should have been torn and her voice made hoarse in the confusion" Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1855) 299-300.

Harold V. Routh: "There is a mellower spirit in The Great Assizes holden in Parnassus, at which the scholars of the renaissance acting as judges, the great English poets (including Drayton, Shakespeare, and Massinger) as jury, with Ben Jonson as keeper of the 'Trophonian Denne' and John Taylor as crier of the court, arraign these new-fledged periodicals for perverting the truth, defiling literature, seducing readers from more serious books and disseminating poisonous doctrines. The proceedings are narrated in smooth decasyllabic verse, with many sly touches of humour" Cambridge History of English Literature (1911) 7:439.

J. E. Spingarn: "The Italian poet Caporali, taking a hint from Lucian, had first systematically used mythological allegory for the purpose of literary criticism or satire; and, in Spain, Cervantes had followed his example in the Voyage to Parnassus. But it was the Italian proseman Boccalini who, in this Ragguagli di Parnaso, gave European prestige to this form; his work was translated and imitated in all the languages of Europe; and, in England, beside Suckling [Session of the Poets, 1637?], Sheppard's Socratic Session, or the Arraignment and Conviction of Julius Scaliger (1651) and Wither's (?) Great Assizes holden in Parnassus (1645) illustrate the character of his influence. This framework transfigures the dead bones of the old roll-call, and, in Suckling and others, gives wit and fancy an opportunity to enliven the casual utterances of criticism" Cambridge History of English Literature (1911) 7:310.

There is a long analysis of the work by Joseph Haslewood in British Bibliographer 1 (1810) 513-28.


The Lord VERULAN, Chancellor of Parnassus.
Sir PHILIP SIDNEY, High Constable of Par.
WILLIAM BUDEUS, High Treasurer.
JOHN PICUS, Earle of Mirandula, High Chamberlaine.




Mercurius Britanicus
Mercurias Aulicus
Mercurius Civicus
The Scout
The writer of Diurnals
The Intelligencer
The writer of Occurrences
The writer of Passages
The Poste
The Spye
The writer of weekely Accounts
The Scottish Dove, &c.

JOSEPH SCALIGER, the Censour of manners in Parnassus.
BEN. JOHNSON, Keeper of the Trophonian Denne.
JOHN TAYLOUR, Cryer of the Court.
EDMUND SPENCER, Clerk of the Assises.

Just teares commix'd with streams of guiltless blood
May shew our woes, but not their period;
For this Heaven onely can affixe: Why then,
Trust wee to armes or stratagems of men?
Expecting peace, or any faire accord,
From Counsels wise, or the victorious Sword;
Since Heaven alone these evils can conclude,
Which Sinne first caus'd and on us did obtrude.
Could wee eject this cause, wee might find Peace:
For causes failing, then effects surcease.
Wee need demand no counsell from the Starres,
To know the issue of these bloody Warres:
No Sibylles bookes or Oracles wee need,
To bee inform'd of things that shall succeed:
No Oracle of Delphos, but of Sion,
No booke, but that of God, must wee relie on.
No Starre, but Jacobs Starre, can doe the seate,
To end our woes, and make our joyes compleate.
Could I th' harmonious sorrowes parallel
Of the incested mournfull Philomel:
Or could I imitate that fatall note,
Which is effused from the silver throte
Of that faire Bird, y' cleapt Apollo's Priest,
Who clad in feather'd Albe, with his soft brest
Divides the surface of the crystall stream,
And dying sings his owne sad requiem;
Then might I such sad Elegies devise,
As would become our mournfull tragedies.
But give mee leave a space for to dismisse
Melpomene, and bloudy Nemesis,
And to elect a style which may appeare
More mild to many, though to some severe.

Learn'd Scaliger, the second of the twaine,
Second to none in Arts, did late complaine
To wise Apollo, of some strange abuses,
Committed against him and the Nine Muses
For Scaliger had beene Grave Censour long,
In Learnings Commonwealth, and liv'd among
The people of Parnassus, in such fame,
That all the world tooke notice of his name:
Himselfe hee humbly to his Lord addrest,
And in these termes, his inward thoughts exprest.

(Dread Prince) to whose benevolous aspect
Wee owe our Arts, and Hearts, with all respect
Which may bee due unto a Soveraigne Lord,
Who rules by Love, and Law, not by the Sword;
I, whom your Majesty daign'd to create
Censour of manners, in the Learned State,
Obliged by the dutie of my place,
Humbly presume to importune your Grace,
Unto my votes to adde your royall will,
For a redresse of some abuses ill.
Needs must wee those advantages confesse,
Which wee reape from the literary Presse,
A priviledge which our forefathers wanted,
Although to us Heaven it benignely granted:
This engine of the Muses doth disperse
Arts best achievements, both in Prose and Verse:
It vents with ease, labours of learned braines,
And doth the hand quit from a world of paines:
Those Wonders, of which elder ages boast,
Had almost all forgotten been, and lost,
If this Eighth Wonder had not been contriv'd,
Whereby the other seven have been reviv'd.

Your Grace well knowes (I need not to relate)
How Typographie doth concerne your state,
Which some pernicious heads have so abus'd,
That many wish it never had been us'd:
This instrument of Art, is now possest
By some, who have in Art no interest;
For it is now imploy'd by Paper-wasters,
By mercenary soules, and Poetasters,
Who weekly utter, slanders, libells, lies,
Under the name of specious novelties:
Thus Captaine Rashingham's undone, and lost,
For these his trade and custome have engrost:
And Hee, (for to maintaine an honest port)
Is forc'd t' accept an office in your Court;
Hee in your Graces kitchin plucks the Widgeons,
Geese, Dotterells, and Duckes, and all tame Pidgeons,
And for his labour hee their plums retaines,
Wages, that sute his person, and his paines;
But let not your High Majesty mistake,
And thinke that my complaint is for his sake:
If this abuse touch'd onely such as hee,
It were no grievance, but a remedy:
For Truth, and Morall Vertues injur'd are;
The Muses, and the Graces beare a share,
In these notorious wrongs, with all that love
Parnassus, or the Heliconian Grove:
Therefore (Great Prince) vouchsafe for to apply
Your Soveraigne power, and authority,
To vindicate your subjects, and to curbe
These Varlets, that your government disturbe.
Thus spake the Censour, then Apollo shook
His harnish'd lockes, and with a frowning look,
Declar'd his discontent; but having paus'd,
Hee thus reply'd: Grave Censour I'm amaz'd,
To heare the impudent affronts of these
That thus contemne our Lawes, and our decrees,
But (by this golden Scepter) they shall try
What 'tis to trespasse on our lenity:
If our remisnesse hath made them transgresse,
They shall perceive that wee can make it lesse,
In their sharpe punishment. Thus Phoebus ends,
And then Hee for Torquato Tasso sends;
Under whose charge some Companies were listed
Of that stout Gend'army, which consisted
Of Heroick Poets, whose high valour was,
No meane defense, but a magnifick grace
Unto the Sacred Hill: this Regiment,
On summons short, was ever ready bent
To execute Apollo's just commands,
With hearts couragious, and with armed hands.
Stout Tasso did in sturdy buffe appeare,
And after reverence done, desir'd to heare
His Graces pleasure; who soone gave him orders,
With all his Cavalry, to scoure the borders
Of high Parnassus, and low Helicon,
And to bring in alive, or dead, each one
That had discovered been, or to defile
The Presse with Pamphlets scarrilous, and vile,
Or to have traduc'd with malignant spirits,
Persons of honorable worth, and merits.
Tasso departs with these instructions,
And muster'd up his witty Myrmidons:
The trumpet to the stirrop gives a call:
They bustle to their armes, and mounted all,
Haste to their Rendezvous without delay,
And put in ranke, and file, they march away:
For Tasso no advantage did decline,
To prosecute the better his designe;
Hee into squadrons three his Troopes dissects,
And unto severall quarters them directs,
That traversing the countrey round about,
They might the sooner find these foxes out;
In each suspicious angle Tasso seekes,
And in this inquisition spent some weekes:
Nor did his other parties with neglect
Performe what they injoyn'd were to effect;
The limits of Parnassus they surround,
And Helicon, with verdant Laurells crown'd:
Mount Pindus, and those valleys ever greene
Where pale Pyrene, and pure Hippocrene
In liquid crystall rise, they search'd throughout;
Nor was the Vale of Tempe left unsought:
Nor did their labours misse successe desir'd:
For they, before a moneth was full expir'd,
Had clear'd the coasts, and many pris'ners gain'd;
Which malefactors they in chaines detain'd,
And them convey'd unto Apolloes Court,
Who welcom'd Tasso in most gratious sort:
And for his faithfull service, him hee made
Lieutenant Generall of that proud Brigade
Of the Italian Poets: This reward
Made elder Dante, and Petrarch to regard
His dignitie with ill affected eyes:
And Ariosto discontent likewise:
But Phoebus did brave Tasso's merit weigh
By reason, but in scales of passion they;
And when hee did perceive that they did fret,
To see themselves behind their Junior set,
Hee them assur'd they must expect t' inherit
Parnassus honours not by time, but merit.
But when Apollo with his radiant looke
The Pris'ners had into amazement strooke,
Hee caus'd those guiltie soules to bee convey'd
To the Trophonian denne, there to bee laid
In Irons cold, untill they should bee brought
To tryall for those mischiefs they had wrought.
Apollo then a solemne summons sent
To all those honour'd Peers that did frequent
The Learned Hill, and strictly them injoyn'd,
Him to attend, upon a day assign'd:
For in a full Assise hee did intend
The crimes of these delinquents to perpend:
His loyall Nobles fail'd not, to resort
(Without delay) unto their Soveraignes Court,
And on the day, which was for judgement set,
They all in the Praetorian hall were met:
Where Phoebus, on his high tribunall sate,
With his Assessours, in triumphant state;
Sage Verulam sublim'd for science great,
As Chancellour, next him had the first seat:
And next to him, Budeus did appear,
Hee of Parnassus was High Treasurer:
Sidney tooke place upon the other side,
Who th' office of High Constable supply'd:
But Picus of Mirandula, (who was
High Chamberlaine) assumed the fourth place;
The elder Scaliger his place then tooke
Before Erasmus, who shew'd in his looke
Distaste, for hee (like Pompey) tooke displeasure:
To see himselfe put downe by Julius Cesar.
In cuerpo then did Justus Lipsius sit,
Who more devotion had exprest then wit,
When to an Image hee bequeath'd his gown,
But had hee not been for a Turnecoate known,
His offer'd garment might have found esteeme,
Which fitter for a Frippery did seeme,
Then for her use, to whom it was presented.
Next him sate Barclay, somewhat discontented,
'Cause hee had fail'd in finding that respect,
Which hee from Romes Archflamen did expect.
Bodine, Turnebus, Casaubon, and Grotius,
Mascardus, Heinsius, Selden, Vossius,
Approved Criticks all, did there appeare
On the judiciall Bench with lookes severe.
But when old Camden thought to take his place,
Apollo him repuls'd with some disgrace:
For hee of late receiv'd had a complaint
From hands of credit, which did him attaint
Of misdemeanours, acted in a story,
That did detract from a Great Ladies glory,
Wherein hee was accus'd to have reveal'd
Some things, which better might have been conceal'd
Had they been truths: What madnesse him misled,
T' asperse the ashes of that Phoenix dead,
With notes of infamy, whose fun'rall flame
Ravish'd the world with th' odour of her fame?
Doubtlesse the living hee to flatter knew,
Much better then to give the dead her due.

(The Court thus set) the sturdy Keeper then
Of the unhospitall Trophonian Den,
His trembling Pris'ners brought unto the barre;
For sterne aspect, with Mars hee might compare,
But by his belly, and his double chinne,
Hee look'd like the old Hoste of a New Inne.
Thus when sowre Ben his fetter'd cattell had
Shut up together in the pinfold sad:
John Taylour, then the Courts shrill Chanticleere,
Did summon all the Jurours to appeare:
Hee had the Cryers place: an office fit,
For him that hath a better voyce, then wit.
Hee, who was called first in all the List,
George Withers hight, entitled Satyrist;
Then Cary, May, and Davenant were call'd forth;
Renowned Poets all, and men of worth,
If wit may passe for worth. Then Sylvester,
Sands, Drayton, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger,
Shakespeare, and Heywood, Poets good and free;
Dramatick writers all, but the first three:
These were empanell'd all, and being sworne
A just and perfect verdict to returne,
A Malefactour then receiv'd command,
Before the Barre to elevate his hand;
Mercurius Britanicus by name,
Was hee, who first was call'd to play his game:
Then Edmund Spenser Clarke of the Assise,
Read the Endictment loud, which did comprise
Matters of scandall, and contempt extreme,
Done 'gainst the Dignitie, and Diademe
Of great Apollo, and that legall course,
Which throughout all Parnassus was in force.
For use of Mercury hee was accus'd,
Which weekely hee into his inke infus'd,
Thereby to murther, and destroy the fame
Of many, with strange obloquie, and shame.
Hee likewise was accus'd, to have purloin'd
Some drachmes of wit, with a felonious mind,
From Helicon, which hee in Satyrs mixt,
To make some laugh, and others deepely vext.
Unto his charge they likewise did object,
That when hee saw his lines could not effect
His ends, and aymes, which were his foe to kill,
Or else to make him throw away his quill;
That then hee sought by magick Arts to call
Archilochus his ghost from Pluto's hall,
To teach him how such language to indite,
As might make some even hang themselves for spite.
This was his charge in brief; (which being read)
To his indictment he was call'd to plead:

Not guilty, he replies, and did submit
Himselfe to the integrity and wit
Of twelve sufficient Poets, but entreated,
To heare the Jurours names againe repeated:
(Which done) hee on exceptions did insist,
Asserted against divers of the list.
On confident George Withers first hee fix'd,
As one unfit with others to bee mix'd
In his arraignment, for he did protest,
That Withers was a cruell Satyrist;
And guilty of the same offence and crime,
Whereof hee was accused at this time:
Therefore for him hee thought it fitter farre,
To stand as a Delinquent at the barre,
Then to bee now empanell'd in a Jury.
George Withers then, with a Poetick fury,
Began to bluster, but Apollo's frowne
Made him forbeare, and lay his choler downe.
But Phoebus, thus Britanicus corrects,
Our Majesty (said hee) which still protects
The innocent, but doth offendours scourge,
Ingag'd is honest Withers for to purge
From this offence: for his impartiall pen
Did rather grosse abuses taxe, then men:
Or that hee did transgresse, let us admit;
Since long agoe, hee smarted for his wit.
Nor was Britanicus with this abash'd,
For with his cavils hee sought to have dash'd
Two other able Jurours, and these were
Deserving Sands and gentle Sylvester:
To these opprobious language hee affords,
And them Translators call'd, and men of words,
No Poets, but meer Rhymers, for (said hee)
Invention is the soule of poesie,
And who can say, that such a soule as this,
Is to bee found in their abilities?
For these are bondmen to anothers stile,
And when they have bestow'd much time, and toile,
They doe but what, before, was better done;
For Poemes lose by their translation,
And are deprived of that lustre brave,
Which their originalls are wont to have:
Yea all the workes of these Translators vaine,
Are rather labours of the hand, then braine:
Their asinine endeavours have effected,
That nobler tongues and arts are now neglected;
While they in vulgar language represent
Those notions which from vulgar wits dissent:
This knot of Knaves the Common-wealth afflicts
Of your Parnassus with their jugling tricks;
For Rubies which in gold at first were set,
They into copper put, whereby they cheat
The simpler sort, that want a piercing eye,
The difference of metals to descry.
Thus spake Britanicus: while many smil'd;
But Sands look'd pale, and Sylvester wax'd wild
For anger and disdaine; Apollo then
Thus interpos'd, to vindicate these men,
Britanicus (said hee) we have too long
The language heard of thy traducing tongue,
But Sylvesters, and Sands his worth is such,
That thy reproach cannot their honour touch:
Since Kings for Majesty, and arts renown'd,
Have with receptions kind, their labours crown'd.
Besides, wee are inclin'd by some respects,
Challeng'd from us, by the infirmer sex,
These writers of Parnassus to support,
To please the fancy of that female sort,
Whom want of these translations might spurre on,
For to acquire, and get more tongues then one:
Which if they should accomplish, men might rue
Those mischiefes which would thereupon ensue.
But if nor Sands, nor Sylvester can merit,
The titles of true Poets to inherit,
For what they have perform'd, yet wee relie
So much upon their truth, and loyaltie,
That wee cause them to passe upon thy tryall,
In spite of thy exception or denyall.
Thus spake Apollo: then the Pris'ner was
Injoyn'd to stand aside, and in his place
Did Aulicus succeed, who by command,
In humble sort uprear'd his guilty hand:
Full sadly his indictment he attends,
Which him impeach'd, that hee for wicked ends
Had the Castalian Spring defil'd with gall;
And chang'd by witchcraft, most Satyricall,
The bayes of Helicon, and myrtles mild,
To pricking hauthornes, and to hollyes wild.
Hee was accus'd, that he with slanders false,
With forged fictions, calumnies and tales,
Had sought the Spartane Ephori to shame,
And added fewell to the direfull flame
Of civill discord, and domesticke blowes,
By the incentives of malicious prose.
For whereas, hee should have compos'd his inke
Of liquours, that make flames expire, and shrinke
Into their cinders, it was there objected,
That hee had his of burning oile confected,
Of Naphtha, Gunpowder, Pitch, and Saltpeter,
Which those combustions raised, and made greater.
Hee was accus'd to have unjustly stung
The sage Amphictyons with his venom'd tongue;
And that he like the fierce Albanian curre,
Did stubbornly choose rather to demurre,
And bee dismembred by anothers wit,
Then loose his teeth from those, whom first hee bit.
Hee was accus'd, that he had us'd his skill,
Parnassus with strange heresies to fill,
And that he labour'd had for to bring in,
Th' exploded doctrines of the Florentine,
And taught that to dissemble and to lie,
Were vitall parts of humane policie:
Of his endictment this was the full sense:
To which the Pris'ner pleades his innocence,
And puts himselfe upon a legall tryall,
But he withall exhibites a denyall
Against a Jurour, for his suit it was,
That May on his arraignment might not passe:
For though a Poet hee must him confesse,
Because his writings did attest no lesse;
Yet hee desir'd hee might be set aside,
Because hee durst not in his truth confide:
Of May among twelve moneths he well approv'd,
But May among Twelve men hee never lov'd:
For hee beleev'd that out of private spite
Hee would his conscience straine, t' undoe him quite.
Hee likewise of offences him accus'd,
Whereby his King Apollo was abus'd:
And with malicious arguments attempts
To prove him guilty of sublime contempts,
But chiefly he indeavour'd to conclude,
That hee was guilty of ingratitude:
Which crime Parnassus Lawes doe so oppose,
As in that State, it for high Treason goes.
Then May stept forth, and first implor'd the grace
And leave of Phoebus to maintaine his case:

Then to the Learned Cunsistory sues,
That they would him or censure, or excuse:
Then calls the Gods, and all whom they protect,
The Starres, and all on whom they doe reflect,
The Elements, and what's compos'd of these,
Him to acquit from all disloyalties.
If by just proofes (said hee) thou canst evince,
That I have beene ungratefull to my Prince,
Then let mee from these groves bee now exil'd
To Scythian snowes, or into deserts wild;
Yea, I invoke the Gods that I may feele
The Gyants valour, or Ixions wheele,
If it bee found I have transgressed thus,
As 'tis inform'd by lying Aulicus.
Apollo then darts forth an awfull ray
From his impiercing eye, which silenc'd May.
So Kings (if they bee just) may rule like Gods,
And be observed by their lookes, and nods.
Hee Aulicus rebuk'd, because hee knew
His accusation from meere malice grew:
And him advis'd in peace to stand aside,
If hee desir'd with favour to be try'd.
The Cryer then did summon to the Bar,
The Penman of the Weekely Calendar,
Entituled the new Ephemerides,
Perfect Diurnalls call them, if you please;
But their perfection cannot mee invite,
To thinke they merit such an Epethite,
Except truths now for imperfections passe,
And gold in estimation yeelds to brasse.

Of his endictment the whole summe was this,
That hee had wrong'd th' Athenian Novelists,
By selling them meere aire, in stead of Sack,
And puffes of wind, for strong Frontigniac:
For empty bottles hee was wont to mixe
Among full flasques, and with these cheating trickes
Deceiv'd those Merchants, who were not so wise
To know the full from empty by the poise.
A fourth Delinquent then was called out,
A Second Proteus or the learned Scout:
This wise Chamaeleon was wont to weare
That hue, which was propounded by his feare:
The summe of his indictment this contain'd;
That whereas hee had from Apollo gain'd
A Patent to report true newes abroad,
Without dissimulation, guile, or fraud,
Yet hee adulterated had his ware
With manifold impertinences rare,
Yea from his center swarv'd, and gone astray
Into some matters farre beyond his way:
And that hee with eight Pages undiscreet,
Had toss'd and tax'd high actions in a sheet:
That he prognosticks had presum'd to reare,
On starres above his quadrant, and his spheare:
And that he had presum'd likewise to mixe
With his Avisoes sweet, soure politicks,
Dispersing weekly maximes of State,
As if he chiefly at the helme had sate:
And that he had oft in ambiguous fashions,
Appear'd as one transform'd in his relations,
That it was very difficult to find,
Whether he were a bird, or beast by kind:
He was accus'd, that he with censures bold,
The actions of his betters had controld,
And that he with his mercenary hand,
Had touch'd affaires of weight not to be scann'd
By such as hee: thus was the Scout indited,
But when he was unto his answer cited,
Hee pleads himselfe to be an Innocent,
And humbly crav'd the Bench for to consent
To his impunity, and to dispence
With errours, that arise from indigence:
He further added; since his fate it was
To be referr'd for tryall of his case
Unto twelve mouthes; he crav'd they would admit
Twelve noses too; him to condemne, or quit,
That no defect might be of any sence,
To smell, or to find out his innocence.
Apollo then retorts an irefull glance,
And dash'd the Pris'ner out of countenance:
He told him now 'twas time to lay aside
Impertinent discourse, he should be tryd
By twelve, who were sufficient Men, and fit
Both for integrity, and pregnant wit:
And as for him, whose Vote he did reject,
Upon a cavill against some defect:
Hee him assur'd that all the world might know,
His art was high, although his nose was low:
But Madagascar chiefly did express
His raptures brave, and laur'ate worthiness.
The Scout commanded was then to stand by:
And Civicus held up his hand on high:
Good civill Civicus, who to his booke
Emblemes affix'd, of what he undertooke,
For silly rimes appear'd in the first place,
To which was added some Commanders face,
That in resemblance, did no more comply
With him, whom it was said to signifie,
Then doe some storyes which his books containe,
Resemble truths: But his offences vaine,
In his endictment were declar'd at large,
And this was the full purport of his charge;
He was accus'd that he through science bad,
Or Magick, or Magnetick figures, had
Prefixed to his books; which did enchant
The fancies of the weak, and ignorant,
And caus'd them to bestow more time, and coine,
On such fond Pamphlets, then on books divine:
It was affirm'd, that he was wont to scatter,
Upon his single sheet, more words, then matter,
And that he had with transmarine narrations,
Recruted his domesticall relations,
And from the Danes and Swedes fetch'd cold discourse
To cloy the stomacks of his Auditours;
And with such stuffe his latter pages patch'd,
That they Brittannicus his doctrines match'd,
Who doubts, and satisfactions wont t' invent,
That gave nor satisfaction nor content.
While Civicus did thus his tryall heare;
One comes, and whispers Phoebus in the eare,
And him advertis'd, that a secret friend
Of Civicus, did to his Highness send,
A present of some Sack, and sugar loaves,
And that therewith, the Giver humbly moves,
That the poore Pris'ner might receive such grace,
As might be justly found in such a case.
Apollo then, in choler and disdain,
Did thus break out in termes. What madness vain,
Or impudence (said He) in humane race
Remains? That they should think with bribes t' efface
Our resolutions just, and us divert
From judgement by the law, and by desert;
Then he the Gaoler call'd for (Honest Ben)
The Keeper fat, of the Trophonian Den:
Him he commands to seize upon (in hast)
The bringer of the bribe, and keep him fast;
And since the Tubbe of which he told the tale,
By splitting, had deceiv'd him of his ale;
And since his New-Inne too had got a crack,
He bids him take the Sugar loves, and Sack,
To make his lov'd Magnatick Lady glad,
That still (for want of an applause) was sad.
Then Civicus unto his charge did plead
Not guilty, and was bidden to recede.

Then with a look like to his style submisse,
Stood forth, the Writer of Occurrences:
He was accused to have injur'd Fame,
And to have disguis'd falshood by the name
Of Truth, and with a goodly Frontispeice,
To have procur'd his bookes esteeme, and price:
Which were compar'd unto a painted Inne,
That had nor good wine, nor good cheare within.
He was accus'd, that like a subtile theife,
He had his readers rob'd of their beleife,
And of their wit, and judgment them bereav'd,
That willingly, were with his lies deceiv'd:
But if some truths (by chance) he utter'd had,
These were in such a tedious language clad,
That many actors of renowned jests,
Depriv'd were of their honor'd interests,
By his inglorious penne, and also those
Who did affect true elegance in prose,
Did from his rustick phrase conceive more hate,
Then pleasure from those things he did relate.
It likewise was deliver'd in his charge,
That he had tortur'd, with his letters large,
Ingenious eares, which to plebeian hands
He captives made, in auscultations bands.
And that mens names, on credit he up tooke,
All which he listed to fill up his booke,
And for to make a greater noise, he summes
Both Trumpets, Seargeants, Corporalls, and drums,
Among the numbers of the slain, or taken,
Wherby he did great Officers awaken,
That slep't in honours bed, who did complaine,
To see themselves mixt with that vulgar train

The Pris'ners plea to this indictment was
Flat negative, for in the plainest case,
Al Malefactors hate confession free,
Confesse and hang is still their maxime.
The Pris'ner also crav'd, he might be heard,
While he against a jury-man preferr'd
A just exception, his request was granted,
And fraught with malice, though much wit he wanted,
He gentle Mr. Cary did refuse,
Who pleas'd faire Ladies with his courtly muse:
He said, that he by his luxurious penne,
Deserv'd had better the Trophonian Denne,
Then many now which stood to be arraign'd,
For he the Thespian Fountaine had distain'd,
With foule conceits, and made their waters bright,
Impure, like those of the Hermophrodite,
He said, that he in verse, more loose had bin,
Then old Chaerephanes, or Aretine,
In obscaene portraitures: and that this fellow
In Helicon had reard the first Burdello,
That he had chang'd the chast Castalian spring,
Into a Carian Well, whose waters bring
Effeminate desires, and thoughts uncleane,
To minds that earst were pure, and most serene,
Thus spake the pris'ner, when a furious glance,
Was darted from Apollos countenance,
Which strook him dumb: then Scaliger the wise
Was call'd, to whom Apollo thus aplies
His Speech, Grave Censour of our learned Hill
Whom your owne merit, and our royall will
Hath supervisour made of Arts, and Muses,
I wonder at the noise of these abuses,
For I conceive not yet, that these effects,
Should be th' unhappy fruites of your neglects,
So well you 'ave purg'd the errours of the Times,
That I think not you could permit such crimes,
Our manners to corrupt, since that our springs
Ought to be kept as pure as beds of Kings:
For he that vice, with science doth commixe,
Turnes noble Hippocren' to ugly Styx,
In marriage bonds hoth Heaven and Hell combine
Yet Art may Heaven and earth together joyne:
Thus spake Apollo, then learn'd Scaliger
Shap'd the replye: I have (my Soveraigne deare)
With care intended what concerns my place,
So to conserve your springs from mixtures base,
Yet all my care, and labour is but vaine,
Except Jove will consent t' undoe againe
His worke of Humane nature, and the same
Of such pure stuffe, and perfect temper frame,
As it of no corruption may admit:
For I have try'd my industry and wit,
Both Arts, and Authours to refine, and mend,
As well as times, yet can I not defend,
But some luxuriant witt, will often vent
Lascivious Poems, against my consent:
Of which offence, if Cary guilty be,
Yet may some chaster Songs him render free
From censure sharp, and expiate those crimes
Which are not fully his, but rather Times:
But let your Grace vouchsafe, that he may try
How he can make his own Apology:
Apollo then gave Cary leave to speake,
Who thus in modest sort, did silence breake.

In wisdomes nonage, and unriper yeares,
Some lines slipt from my penne, which since with teares
I labour'd to expunge: This Song of mine
Was not infused by the Virgins nine,
Nor through my dreames divine upon this Hill,
Did this vain Rapture issue from my quill,
No Thespian waters, but a Paphian fire,
Did me with this foule extasie inspire:
I oft have wish'd, that I (like Saturne) might
This Infant of my folly smother quite,
Or that I could retract, what I had done,
Into the bosome of Oblivion.
Thus Cary did conclude: for prest by griefe,
Hee was compell'd to be concise, and briefe:
Phoebus at his contrition did relent,
And Edicts so on through all Parnassus sent,
That none should dare to attribute the shame
Of that fond rapture, unto Caryes name,
But Order'd that the infamy should light
On those, who did the same read, or recite.
Hee further-more the Pris'ner did injoyne,
Against him all exceptions to decline,
And to a legall tryall for to stand,
If Hee expected favour at his hand.

The innocent Scotch Dove did then advance,
Full sober in his wit, and countenance,
And though his books contain'd not mickle sence,
Yet his endictment shew'd no great offence;
Great Wits, to perills great themselves expose
Oft' times; but the Scotch Dove was none of those:
In many words he little matter drest,
And did Laconick brevity detest,
Perspicuous phrase he lov'd, could not endure
To be in stile, or in his life obscure,
But while his Readers did expect some newes,
They found a Sermon, thus did he abuse
Good people, that he rather might have took
A Lapwing, then a Dove to trimme a book:

This was his charge: and being call'd to plead,
Hee cryes not guilty, and petitioned
He might be heard to vindicate his worth
From scandall, and reproach, on him cast forth
By Aulicus, that scoffing Hipponax,
Who with lewd crimes, did him unjustly tax;
His sute was granted, then did he complaine
That Aulicus, his title did disdaine,
And spitefully in stead of Scottish Pigeon,
Had him the nick-name given of Scottish Wigion,
And that he had most falsly him accus'd,
Prestigious Arts, and Magick to have us'd,
Whereby Mens senses were with errours strook,
That firebrands, they for Olive branches took.

Thus spake the Dove: Apollo then reply'd,
Wee might condemne your arrogance, and pride,
'Cause you the name of Venus birds have chose,
When Scotland hath (you know) no birds like those,
Though it abounds with fowle of various kinds;
But errours small provoke not heavenly minds,
I doubt not, but that Aulicus his tongue
Hath injur'd you, but were this all the wrong
Which it hath done, He might our censure scape,
And passe, not for a Serpent, but an Ape.
Thus Phoebus spake; And then the Scottish Dove
Rejoyn'd, as zeale and choler did him move;

I challenge to the duell of the pen
False Aulicus, that Cynick among men,
That enemy of Truth, true honours scourge,
That Officine of lyes, and slanders forge,
Oh let your Grace vouchsafe to turne me loose,
A Scottish Dove, against the Romish Goose.
Apollo then reflects a frowning eye,
Commands him to desist, and to stand by.

The Cryer then did the swift Post command,
At his indictment to hold up his hand:
He was accus'd of these enormities,
First that with Encheridions of lyes,
He had disturb'd the learned Common-weale,
And also in felonious sort did steale
From Euphues, and Arcadia, language gay
Therein his vain relations to array,
Because he knew that lyes in fine attires,
Preferr'd are before truths, by many buyers:
Such was his style, such tales did he endite,
That he no newes, but Romants seem'd to write;
It also strongly was against him urg'd,
That he some Packets had contriv'd, and forg'd,
Which letters did of false reports containe,
And this was meerely done for thirst of gaine:
This was his charge; and because he divin'd
That free confession might some favour find,
Hee guilty pleads, and then was set aside.
Another then was call'd forth to be try'd:
And this was he, who weekly did dispence
A miscellany of intelligence:
Of his endictment, the effect was this,
That he had with his weekly rapsodyes,
The Asses of Parnassus sore annoy'd,
Whom he had fed with many rumours voyd,
And vapours vain. Thus like Chamelions they
Took smoke in stead of provender and hay,
And therby grew in sence so leane, and lame:
That quite unfit for service they became;
It was alleadg'd, that he for lucres sake,
Did false intelligence devise, and make,
And car'd not who he gul'd, or did beguile,
Soe he might reap therby some profit vile.

These were the crimes, wherof he was accus'd
To which he pleads not guilty, but refus'd
By Histriomicke Poets to be try'd,
'Gainst whom, he thus maliciously enveigh'd

Justice (sayd he) and no sinister fury,
Diswades me from a tryall by a jury,
That of worse misdemeanours guilty bee,
Then those which are objected against mee:
These mercinary pen-men of the Stage,
That foster the grand vises of this age,
Should in this Common-wealth no office beare,
But rather stand with us Delinquents here:
Shakespear's a Mimicke, Massinger a Sot,
Heywood for Aganippe takes a plot:
Beamount and Fletcher make one poet, they
Single, dare not adventure on a Play.
These things are all but th' errour of the Muses,
Abortive witts, foul fountains of abuses:
Reptiles, which are equivocally bred,
Under some hedge, not in that geniall bed
Where lovely art with a brave wit conjoyn'd,
Engenders Poets of the noblest kind.
Plato refus'd such creatures to admit
Into his Common-wealth, and is it fit
Parnassus should the exiles entertaine
Of Plato? therefore (my dread Soveraigne)
I crave your Pardon, while I thus presume
To supplicate your Highness, to resume
Your wonted Justice, that this sacred Hill,
No more may suffer by such members ill;
Thus spake the Pris'ner: then among the crowd,
Plautus, and Terence 'gan to mutter loud,
And old Menander was but ill apayd,
While Aristophanes his wrath bewray'd,
With words opprobr'ous; for it gall'd him shrewdly,
To see dramatick Poets tax'd so lewdly:
And while 'mongst these, the murmure did encrease,
The Cryer warn'd them all to hold their peace.

The Court was silent, then Apollo spake:
If thou (said He) chiefly for vertues sake,
Or true affection to the Common-weale,
Didst our Dramatick Poets thus appeale,
We should to thy exception give consent,
But since we are assur'd, 'tis thy intent,
By this refusall, onely to deferre
That censure, which our justice must conferre
Upon thy merits; we must needs decline
From approbation of these pleas of thine,
And are resolv'd that at this time, and place,
They shall as Jurours, on thy tryall passe,
But if our Censour, shall hereafter find,
They have deserved ill, we have design'd
That they likewise shall be to judgement brought,
To suffer for those crimes, which they have wrought,
Thus spake the Soveraign of the two-topp'd Mount,
Another then was call'd to an account,
And this was he, who weekly did pretend,
Accounts of certain news abroad to send.
He was accus'd, that he with Pamphlets vain,
The art of lying had sought to maintain,
Which trade, he and his fellows us'd of late,
With such successe, and profit in the State
Of high Parnassus, that they did conspire,
A Patent from Apollo to acquire:
That they might thus incorporated bee,
Into a Company of Lyers free.
This was his charge: while he no whit relents,
But stood to justifie his innocence.
The Pen-man of the Perfect Passages
Then to his tryall did himselfe addresse,
He was accus'd, that he for love of gain,
Had injur'd Truth, with many stories vain,
And that Hee with his mercenary quill,
Dishonour'd had Apollo's Noble Hill.
That Hee, and his associates had attempted
In a felonious manner, to have empty'd
The Fountaines of the Muses, to fulfill
That appetite which rose from Livers ill.
To this indictment he gave a denyall,
And yeelds himselfe submissively to his tryall.

The subtile Spye then to the barre drew nere,
And with dejected lookes, his hand did reare:
But he in his indictment was accus'd,
Old Galilaeos glasses to have us'd,
Which represented objects to his eye,
Beyond their measure, and just symmetrie,
Whereby the faults of many did appeare,
More and farre greater, then indeed they were:
And that he at a distance did recount,
(Like Lynceus from the Lilybean mount)
Numbers of shipps and men, though he indeed
So blind was, that he did a leader need.
He was accus'd that (like Aglauros) hee
Forbidden objects had presum'd to see,
And therefore merited in law, and sence,
His eares to forfeit, for his eyes offence.

Thus his Indictment rann: It he denies,
And for a tryall, on twelve men relyes;
But this despitefull Spye a cavill rais'd
'Gainst Michael Drayton, whom he much disprais'd
For that great Poly-Olbion which he writ,
This he tearm'd a rude Embrion of wit,
A peice of low esteeme, together layd
Without propicious Pallas, or the ayde
Of the nine Muses, who did much disdaine
The homely features of his Naiad's vaine.

Thus spake the Spye, and still would have proceeded
If that Apollo had not him impeded.
I thinke through th' insolence of these (said hee)
And our remissnesse: we this Barr shall see
Become a stage of the Old Comedye,
How boldly hath this proud traduceing Spye,
And his Comrades, our honest Poets checkt,
Who from the best have ever found respect:
Nor can smooth Drayton scape their censures sharp
But at his workes this busy Spye must carp:
Drayton, whose Sonnets sweet of Love heroicke
May melt th' Essaean, or the rigid Stoicke
To amorous Leanders, and them move
Through Seas of teares, to swim to her they love.
This Swanne of ours, that impure Zoylus blots
With scandalls foule: But as the Ermines spotts
Adde price and estimation to his Furre,
Soe the reproofes of this invective curre
Give light, and lustre unto Draytons worth,
And with advantage set his merit forth:
Drayton, who doth, in such magnificke sort
Delineate Valour in his Agincourte,
That this illustr'ous poeme, doth inspire
Even courages of ice, with warlike fire.
His Tragicke Legends are with force endu'd,
To soften Scythyans, and Tartars rude,
Yea with pathetick Fancies to enchant
Obdurate mindes: and hearts of Adamant,
His vertue's so sublime, that even as soon,
The Savage Negro's darts may peirce the Moone,
As the invectives of this froward Spye,
A drachme of worth, take from his merit high.
Thus spake Apollo: while old Drayton smil'd
To see him curb'd that had him thus revil'd.

Now when the Jurours had distinctly heard
Each Bill, that was against these men preferr'd,
They then commanded were for to recede,
Untill they on their Verdicts had agreed,
Soe positive the testimonies were;
The evidence s' authentique, and soe cleare,
That they requir'd no man of lawes advice,
For to decide some points, or matters nice,
After some time in consultation spent,
Their verdicts to the Court they did present,
George Withers for their Foreman they had chose,
Who confident was, both in verse and prose;
He did not like a Custard, quake and quiver,
When he his verdict came for to deliver:
And first, of him it was enquired, whether
They in their verdict had agreed together:
He answer'd yes: and then he was commanded
The prisoner to behold: then thy demanded
If that Britannicus to them apear'd
Or fit to be condemn'd, or to be clear'd:
The Foreman guilty cryes, then they enquire,
What he can for himselfe speake, or desire,
Whereby he might evade that sentence just,
Which instantly proceed against him must.
He crav'd his book, but that was him deny'd;
It was his book (they said) which him destroyd.
Nor was this Pris'ner onely guilty found,
For all his consorts heard the self-same sound.
Apollo then after a conflict high,
Between his justice, and his clemency,
Not without ebullition of some teares,
Thus sentence gave upon the Prisoners.
Britanicus condemn'd was to be led,
To that place where the Porcupines were fed,
Where to a post fast bound, he must remaine,
Till with their quils, they had him shot and slaine.

But Aulicus, Apollo did condemne,
To be transported to the fatall Denne
Which kept those Vipers, from all parts collected,
Of which Parnassus Treacle was confected.

For when Apollo did long since descry,
That Fortune, and the World did much envy
The learned crew, and them to Limbo sent,
Oft through the poison of deep discontent
Hee through his skill in physick did devise
This Antidote against all maladies;
And for this end he did those vipers cherrish,
Among which now, poore Aulicus must perish:

But the sly Scout, a gentler censure found,
(Apollo with such mildnes did abound)
For he was destin'd to this punishment;
He to the Vale of Hybla must be sent,
There to protect the hives of Thrifty Bees,
From the Invasions and the Larcenies,
Of Waspes and Hornets; but t'was ordered too
That he starke naked, must this service doe,
And he these Robbers only must assaile,
With the long feather of a Capons taile,

The wise Intelligencer then did heare
His sentence, which seem'd somewhat too severe:
For he condemn'd was to a Scullions place,
Within the Kitchen of Appollos grace;
Where he was forc'd his papers to expend,
Piggs, Pyes, and Geese, from burning to defend.
But Civicus was sentenc'd to be gone,
Both from Parnassus and from Helicon,
And to the Fennes of Lerna was confin'd
Where a poore cottage was to him assign'd;
There he a sory lively-hood must make,
By angling Froggs out of a stinking Lake.
The writer also of Diurnalls was
Condemned to a farre remoter place,
For he was banish'd to an uncouth land,
Where only Apes inhabit and command:
And there he was enjoyn'd to instruct these,
In Musicke, and in divers languages;
Yet had he no more languages then tongues,
No other musicke then the Cuckoos songs.
But he who did the Occurrances compile,
Was nor confin'd, nor forc'd to chang his soyle,
But by Apollo's mercy sentenc'd was,
To serve with paper all the Cloaca's,
That did unto Parnassus appertaine,
And if hereafter any should complaine,
He wanted this for necessary use,
Then without bayle and maineprise, or excuse,
He must be carri'd to that prison sad,
Bocardo call'd, whence no releasments had.

The writer of the True Accounts then heares
His grevious censure, with unwilling eares:
He was condem'd unto the Stygian Galley,
Where he was forc'd upon a wooden talley
To keep a true account of all those Ghosts
That daily ferry'd to the further Coasts:
And for his hire, each night receive hee must
Three fillips on the nose, with a browne crust
Of mouldy bread: and hee for seven yeares space
Was judg'd to bee a bond-slave in that place.

The Post receiv'd (as it to some may seeme)
A sentence no way rigid, or extreme,
For hee was not exil'd, nor forc'd to change
His calling, for a place of basenes strange:
Nor was the gallant off-spring of his wit,
Condemned to the Oven, or to the Spitt.
It was decreed he should be still permitted
For to ride poste, but must be ever fitted
With stumbling Jades of such decrepite age,
That they would tire, in riding halfe a stage.

Appollo then, this judgement did expresse,
'Gainst th' Author of the Perfect Passages;
Hee was confin'd unto a gloomy Cave:
Which nor to Sunne, nor Moone admission gave
Here by the glow-wormes blaze, and glimmering light
Of rotten wood, he was injoyn'd to write
The Leaguers, Fights, Advances, and Retreats,
Assaults, Surprisalls, and all martiall feates,
Which in that long, and bloody warre were shew'd
Wherein sly Weasills, noysome Ratts subdu'd
The Spye then hears his censure, which containes
A lesser weight of infamy, then paines.

For whereas Phaebus had receiv'd of late
Petitions meeke, from the Pigmean State,
Which shew'd how the stern Cranes with ireful teen
Opprest had these Epitomes of men,
And with their stratagems, and warlike sleights
Reduc'd that Nation to deplored streights:
For they, arm'd with black bills, in combate fierce,
Had foil'd those foote and halfe-foote Cavaliers:
And with their watchfull Camisades likewise
Did them by night so frequently surprise,
That they were forc'd to crave Appollos aide,
Approching death, and ruine to evade,
Who pitties their estate, and to comply
With their desires, appoints the cunning Spye
To post away to the Pigmaean Land,
To be assistant with his helping hand;
And to discover with his peircing eyes,
The Cranes deepe plotts, and hidden subtilties:
Apollo likewise did injoine the Spye,
To visit Caucasus as he pass'd by,
Cloud-topping Caucasus, where Eagles strong
Their airyes have, the horrid Cliffes among:
With these fierce Birdes, him hee commands to treate,
About the levyes of some Forces great;
Against th' insulting Cranes to bee imploy'd,
Which the Pigmaeans poore had so annoy'd.

In lieu of other punishment, the Spye
Was bound to undertake this Embassye:
And did applaud Apollos mercy strange,
That did his censure to an honour change.

The Scottish Dove then heard this sentence faire:
Hee to his native countrey must repaire,
And was on paine of death prohibited,
To crosse the Seas, or to repasse the the Twede,
But while his guilty fellowes did envye
His easy Mulct, and gentle penaltye;
Hee cry'd his sentence was severe, and hard,
And might with most of theirs, bee well compar'd,
For if they knew the Horne as well as hee,
They'd rather dye, then there imprison'd bee.

When judgement was on all the Pris'ners past,
Appollo to dissolve the Court did hast;
But Aulicus in most submissive wise,
For Mitigation of his censure cryes:
So did Britanicus. Phoebus relents,
And takes the edge off from their punishments,
They were repriv'd. Then all the Court commended
Appollo's mercy: Thus th' Assizes ended.

[sigs A2-Gv]