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WHILOM the sisters nine were vestal maides,
And held their temple in the secret shades
Of fair Parnassus, that two-headed hill,
Whose auncient fame the southern world did fill;
And in the stead of their eternal fame,
Was the cool stream that took his endless name,
From out the fertile hoof of winged steed:
There did they sit and do their holy deed,
That pleas'd both Heav'n and Earth-till that of late
Whom should I fault? or the most righteous fate,
Or Heav'n, or men, or feinds, or ought beside,
That ever made that foul mischance betide?
Some of the sisters in securer shades
And ever since, disdaining sacred shame,
Done ought that might their heav'nly stock defame.
Now is Parnassus turned to a stewes,
And on bay stocks the wanton myrtle grewes;
Cytheron hill's become a brothrel-bed,
And Pyrene sweet turn'd to a poison'd head
Of coal-black puddle, whose infectious stain
Corrupteth all the lowly fruitful plain.
Their modest stole, to garish looser weed,
Deck'd with love-favours, their late whoredoms meed:
And where they wont sip of the simple flood,
Now toss they bowls of Bacchus' boiling blood.
I marvell'd much, with doubtful jealousie,
Whence came such litters of new poetrie:
Methought I fear'd, lest the horse-hoofed well
His native banks did proudly over-swell
In some late discontent, thence to ensue
Such wondrous rabblements of rhymesters new:
But since I saw it painted on Fame's wings,
The Muses to be woxen wantonings.
Each bush, each bank, and each base apple-squire
Can serve to sate their beastly lewd desire.
Ye bastard poets, see your pedigree,
From common trulls and loathsome brothelry!
WITH Some pot-fury, ravish'd from their wit,
They sit and muse on some no-vulgar writ:
As frozen dung-hills in a winter's morn,
That void of vapour seemed all beforn,
Soon as the Sun sends out his piercing beams
Exhale out filthy smoak and stinking steams.
So doth the base and the fore-barren brain,
Soon as the raging wine begins to reign.
One higher pitch'd doth set his soaring thought
On crowned kings, that Fortune hath low brought:
Or some upreared, high-aspiring swaine,
As it might be the Turkish Tamberlaine :
Then weeneth he his base drink-drowned spright,
Rapt to the threefold loft of Heaven hight,
When he conceives upon his faigned stage
The stalking steps of his great personage,
Graced with huff-cap terms and thundring threats,
That his poor hearers' hair quite upright sets.
Such soon as some brave-minded hungry youth
Sees fitly frame to his wide-strained mouth,
He vaunts his voyce upon an hired stage,
With high-set steps, and princely carriage;
Now soouping in side robes of royalty,
That erst did skrub in lowsy brokery,
There if he can with terms Italianate
Big-sounding sentences, and words of state,
Fair patch me up his pure iambic verse,
He ravishes the gazing scaffolders:
Then certes was the famous Corduban'
Never but half so high tragedian.
Now, lest such frightful shows of Fortune's fall,
And bloody tyrant's rage, should chance apall
The dead-struck audience, 'midst the silent rout,
Comes leaping in a self-misformed lout,
And laughs, and grins, and frames his mimic face,
And justles straight into the prince's place;
Then doth the theatre echo all aloud,
With gladsome noise of that applauding crowd.
A goodly hotch-potch! when vile russetings
Are match'd with monarchs, and with mighty kings.
A goodly grace to sober tragic Muse,
When each base clown his clumbsy fist doth bruise,
And show his teeth in double rotten row,
For laughter at his self-resembled show.
Meanwhile our poets in high parliament
Sit watching every word and gesturement,
Whispering their verdict in their fellow's ear.
Like curious censors of some doughty gear,
Woe to the word whose margent in their scrole
Is noted with a black condemning coal.
But if each period might the synod please,
Ho!-bring the ivy boughs, and bands of bays.
Now when they part and leave the naked stage,
Gins the bare hearer, in a guilty rage,
To curse and ban, and blame his likerous eye,
That thus hath lavish'd his late half-penny.
Shame that the Muses should be bought and sold,
For every peasant's brass, on each scaffold.
Should paint the stars in center of the Earth,
Could ye forbear some smiles, and taunting mirth?
But let no rebel satyr dare traduce
Th' eternal legends of thy faerie Muse,
Renowned Spencer: whom no earthly wight
Dares once to emulate, much less dares despight.
Salust of France, and Tuscan Ariost,
Yield up the lawrel garland ye have lost:
And let all others willow wear with me,
Or let their undeserving temples bared be.
ANOTHER, Whose more heavy hearted saint
Delights in nought but notes of rueful plaint,
Urgeth his melting Muse with solemn tears
Rhyme of some dreary fates of luckless peers.
Then brings he up some branded whining ghost,
To tell how old misfortunes had him toss'd.
Then must he ban the guiltless fates above,
Or fortune frail, or unrewarded love.
And when he hath parbrak'd his grieved mind,
He sends him down where erst he did him find,
Without one penny to pay Charon's hire,
That waiteth for the wand'ring ghosts retire.
ANOTHER SCorns the home-spun thread of rhymes,
Match'd with the lofty feet of elder times:
Give me the numbred verse that Virgil sung,
And Virgil's self shall speak the English tongue:
Manhood and garboiles shall he chaunt with chaung-
And head-strong dactyls making music meet.
The nimble dactyl striving to out-go,
The drawling spondees pacing it below.
The lingring spondees, labouring to delay,
The breathless dactyls with a sudden stay.
Whoever saw a colt wanton and wild,
Yok'd with a slow-foot ox on fallow field,
Can right areed how handsomely besets
Dull spondees with the English dactylets.
If Jove speak English in a thundring cloud,
"Thwick thwack," and "riffraff," roars he out aloud.
Fie on the forged mint that did create
New coin of words never articulate.
GREAT is the folly of a feeble brain,
O'er-rul'd with love, and tyrannous disdain :
For love, however in the basest breast,
It breeds high thoughts that feed the fancy best,
Yet is he blind, and leads poor fools awry,
While they hang gazing on their mistress' eye.
The love-sick poet, whose importune prayer
Repulsed is with resolute despair,
Hopeth to conquer his disdainful dame,
With public plaints of his conceived flame.
Then pours he forth in patched sonettings,
His love, his lust, and loathsome flatterings:
As though the staring world hang'd on his sleeve,
When once he smiles, to laugh: and when he sighs,
Careth the world, thou love, thou live, or die?
Careth the world how fair thy fair-one be?
Fond wit-wal that wouldst load thy witless head
With timely horus, before thy bridal bed.
Then can he term his dirty ill-fac'd bride
Lady and queen, and virgin deify'd:
Be she all sooty black, or berry brown,
She's white as morrow's milk, or flakes new blown.
And though she be some dunghill drudge at home,
Yet can he her resign some refuse room
Amidst the well known stars: or if not there,
Sure will he saint her in his Kalendere.
HENCE, ye profane! mell not with holy things
That Sion's Muse from Palestina brings.
Parnassus is transform'd to Sion Hill,
And iv'ry-palms her steep ascents done fill.
Now good St. Peter' weeps pure Helicon,
And both the Maries make a music moan:
Yea, and the prophet of the heav'nly lyre,
Great Solomon, sings in the English quire;
And is become a new-found sounetist,
Singing his love, the holy spouse of Christ:
Like as she were some light-skirts of the rest,
In mightiest inkhornisms he can thither wrest.
Ye Sion Muses shall by my dear will,
For this your zeal and far-admired skill,
Be straight transported from Jerusalem,
Unto the holy house of Bethlehem.
ENVY, ye Muses, at your thriving mate,
Cupid hath crowned a new laureat:
I saw his statue gayly 'tir'd in green,
As if he had some second Phoebus been.
His statue trimm'd with the venerean tree,
And shrined fair within your sanctuary.
What, he, that erst to gain the rhyming goal,
The worn recital-post of capitol,
Rhymed in rules of stewish ribaldry,
Teaching experimental bawdery!
Whiles th' itching vulgar, tickled with the song,
Hanged on their unready poet's tongue.
Take this, ye patient Muses; and foul shame
Shall wait upon your once profaned name:
Take this, ye Muses, this so high despite,
And let all hateful luckless birds of night;
Let screeching owls nest in your razed roofs,
And let your floor with horned satyres' hoofs
Be dinted, and defiled every morn:
And let your walls be an eternal scorn.
What if some Shoreditch fury should incite
Some lust-stung lecher: must he needs indite
The beastly rites of hired venery,
The whole world's universal bawd to be?
Did never yet no damned libertine,
Nor elder heathen, nor new Florentine',
• Robert Southwell's St. Peter's Complaint. 7 Peter Aretine.
Though they were famous for lewd liberty,
Venture upon so shameful villany;
Our epigrammatarians, old and late,
Were wont be blam'd for too licentiate.
Chaste men, they did but glance at Lesbia's deed,
And handsomely leave off with cleanly speed.
But arts of whoring, stories of the stews,
Ye Muses will ye bear, and may refuse?
Nay, let the Devil and St. Valentine
Be gossips to those ribald rhymes of thine.
OR been the manes of that Cynic spright,
Cloath'd with some stubborn clay, and led to light?
Or do the relic ashes of his grave
Revive and rise from their forsaken cave?
That so with gall-wet words and speeches rude
Controuls the manners of the multitude.
Envy belike incites his pining heart,
And bids it sate itself with others smart.
Nay, no despight: but angry Nemesis,
Whose scourge doth follow all that done amiss:
That scourge I bear, albe in ruder fist,
And wound, and strike, and pardon whom she list.
Reade in each schoole, in everie margent quoted,
In everie catalogue for an authour noted.
There's happinesse well given and well got,
Lesse gifts, and lesser gaines, I weigh them not.
So may the giant roam and write on high,
Be he a dwarfe that writes not their as I.
But well fare Strabo, which, as stories tell,
Contriv'd all Troy within one walnut shell.
His curious ghost now lately hither came;
Arriving neere the mouth of luckie Tame,
I saw a pismire struggling with the load,
Dragging all Troy home towards her abode.
Now dare we hither, if we durst appeare,
The subtile stithy-man that liv'd while ere:
Such one was once, or once I was mistaught,
A smith at Vulcan's owné forge up brought,
That made an iron chariot so light,
The coach-horse was a flea in trappings dight.
The tamelesse steed could well his waggon wield,
Through downes and dales of the uneven field.
Strive they, laugh we: meane while the black storie
Passes new Strabo, and new Strabo's Troy.
Little for great; and great for good; all one:
For shame! or better write, or Labeo write none.
But who conjur'd this bawdie Poggie's ghost,
From out the stewes of his lewde home-bred coast:
Or wicked Rablais dronken revellings,
To grace the mis-rule of our tavernings?
Or who put bayes into blind Cupid's fist,
That he should crown what laureats him list?
Whose words are those, to remedie the deed,
That cause men stop their noses when they read?
Both good things ill, and ill things well; all one
For shame! write cleanly, Labeo, or write none.
FOR Shame! write better, Labeo, or write none; Or better write, or Labeo write alone: Nay, call the Cynic but a wittie foole, Thence to abjure his handsome drinking bowl; Because the thirstie swaine with hollow hand, Conveied the streame to weet his drie weasand. Write they that can, though they that cannot doe: But who knowes that, but they that do not know. Lo! what it is that makes white rags so deare, That men must give a teston for a queare. Lo! what it is that makes goose wings so scant, That the distressed sempster did them want: So lavish ope-tyde causeth fasting lents, And starveling famine comes of large expense. Might not (so they were pleas'd that beene above) Long paper-abstinence our death remove? Then manie a Lollerd would in forfaitment, Beare paper-faggots o'er the pavement. But now men wager who shall blot the most, And each man writes. There's so much labour lost, That's good, that's great: nay much is seldome well, Of what is bad, a little 's a greate deale. Better is more: but best is nought at all. Lesse is the next, and lesser criminall. Little and good, is greatest good save one, Then, Labeo, or write little, or write none. Tush, but small paines can be but little art, Or lode full drie-fats fro the forren mart, With folio volumes, two to an oxe hide, Or else ye pamphleteer go stand aside;
To what end did our lavish auncestours
Erect of old these stately piles of ours?
For thread-bare clerks, and for the ragged Muse,
Whom better fit some cotes of sad secluse ?
Blush, niggard Age, and be asham'd to see
These monuments of wiser ancestrie.
And ye faire heapes, the Muses sacred shrines,
(In spite of time and envious repines)
Stand still and flourish till the world's last day,
Upbraiding it with former love's decay.
Here may you, Muses, our deare soveraignes,
Scorne each base lordling ever you disdaines;
And every peasant churle, whose smokie roofe
Denied harbour for your deare behoofe.
Scorne ye the world before it do complaine,
And scorne the world that scorneth you againe.
And scorne contempt itselfe that doth incite
Each single-sold 'squire to set you at so light.
What needes me care for anie bookish skill,
To blot white papers with my restlesse quill:
Or pore on painted leaves, or beat my braine
With far-fetch thought; or to consume in vaine
In latter even, or midst of winter nights,
Ill smelling oyles, or some still watching lights?
Let them that meane by bookish businesse
To earne their bread, or hopen to professe
Their hard got skill, let them alone for me,
Busie their braines with deeper brokerie.
Great gaines shall bide you sure, when ye have spent
A thousand lamps, and thousand reames have rent
Of needless papers ; and a thousand nights Have burned out with costly candle lights. Ye palish ghosts of Athens, when at last Your patrimonies spent in witlesse wast, Your friends all wearie, and your spirits spent, Ye may your fortunes seeke, and be forwent Of your kind cousins, and your churlish sires, Left there alone, midst the fast-folding briers. Have not I lands of faire inheritance, Deriv'd by right of long continuance, To first-borne males, so list the law to grace, Nature's first fruits in an eternal race? 2 Let second brothers, and poore nestlings, Whom more injurious nature later brings Into the naked world; let them assaine To get hard pennyworths with so bootlesse paine. Tush! what care I to be Arcesilas, Or some sad Solon, whose deed-furrowed face, And sullen head, and yellow-clouded sight, Still on the stedfast earth are musing pight; Mutt'ring what censures their distracted minde, Of brain-sick paradoxes deeply hath definde: Or of Parmenides, or of darke Heraclite, Whether all be one, or ought be infinite? Long would it be ere thou hast purchase bought, Or welthier wexen by such idle thought. Fond fool! six feet shall serve for all thy store; And he that cares for most shall find no more. We scorne that wealth should be the finall end, Whereto the heavenly Muse her course doth bend; And rather had be pale with learned cares, Than paunched with thy choyce of changed fares. Or doth thy glorie stand in outward glee? A lave-ear'd asse with gold may trapped be. Or if in pleasure? live we as we may, Let swinish Grill delight in dunghill clay.
WHO doubts? the laws fell down from Heaven's height,
Like to some gliding starre in winter's night?
Themis, the scribe of God, did long agone
Engrave them deepe in during marble stone,
And cast them downe on this unruly clay,
That men might know to rule and to obey.
But now their characters depraved bin,
By them that would make gain of others sin.
And now hath wrong so maistered the right,
That they live best that on wrongs offall light.
So loathly flye that lives on galled wound,
And scabby festers inwardly unsound,
Feeds fatter with that poys'nous carrion,
Than they that haunt the healthy limbs alone.
Wo to the weale where many lawyers be,
For there is sure much store of maladie.
"T was truely said, and truely was foreseene
The fat kine are devoured of the leane.
Genus and species long since barefoote went,
Upon their ten-toes in wilde wanderment:
Whiles father Bartoll on his footcloth rode,
Upon high pavement gayly silver-strow'd.
Each home-bred science percheth in the chaire,
While sacred artes grovell on the groundsell bare.
Since pedling barbarismes gan be in request,
Nor classicke tongues, nor learning found no rest.
The crowching client, with low-beuded knee,
And manie worships, and faire flatterie,
Tells on his tale as smoothly as him list,
But still the lawyer's eye squints on his fist;
If that seem lined with a larger fee,
Doubt not the suite, the law is plaine for thee.
Though must he buy his vainer hope with price,
Disclout his crownes, and thanke him for advice.
So have I seene in a tempestuous stowre
Some bryer-bush showing shelter from the showre
Unto the hopefull sheepe, that faine would hide
His fleecie coate from that same angry tide:
The ruthlesse breere, regardlesse of his plight,
Laies holde upon the fleece he should acquite,
And takes advantage of the carelesse prey,
That thought she in securer shelter lay.
The day is faire, the sheepe would far to feede,
The tyrant brier holdes fast his shelters meed,
And claimes it for the fee of his defence:
So robs the sheepe, in favour's faire pretence.
WORTHIE were Galen to be weighed in gold,
Whose help doth sweetest life and health uphold;
Yet by saint Esculape he solemne swore,
That for diseases they were never more,
Fees never lesse, never so little gaine,
Men give a groate, and aske the rest againe.
Groats-worth of health can anie leech allot?
Yet should he have no more that gives a groate.
Should I on each sicke pillow leane my brest,
And grope the pulse of everie mangie wrest;
And spie out marvels in each urinall;
And rumble up the filths that from them fall;
And give a dosse for everie disease,
In prescripts long and tedious recipes,
All for so leane reward of art and me?
No horse-leach but will looke for larger fee.
Meane while if chaunce some desp'rate patient die,
Com'n to the period of his destinie:
(As who can crosse the fatall resolution,
In the decreed day of dissolution :)
Whether ill tendment, or recurelesse paine,
Procure his death; the neighbours all complaine,
Th' unskilfull leech murdered his patient,
By poyson of some foule ingredient.
Hereon the vulgar may as soone be brought
To Socrates his poysoned hemloc drought,
As to the wholsome julap, whose receat
Might his disease's lingring force defeat.
If nor a dramme of triacle soveraigne,
Or aqua vitæ, or sugar candian,
Nor kitchin-cordials can it remedie,
Certes his time is come, needs mought he die.
Were I a leech, as who knowes what may be,
The liberal man should live, and carle should die.
The sickly ladie, and the gowtie peere
Still would I haunt, that love their life so deare.
Where life is deare, who cares for coyned drosse?
That spent is counted gaine, and spared, losse :
Or would conjure the chymic mercurie,
Rise from his horsedung bed, and upwards flie;
And with glasse stills, and sticks of juniper,
Raise the black spright that burnes not with the fire:
And bring quintessence of elixir pale,
Out of sublimed spirits minerall.
Each powdred graine ransometh captive kings,
Purchaseth realmes, and life prolonged brings.
SAW'ST thou ever Siquis patch'd on Paul's church
To seeke some vacant vicarage before? [doore,
Who wants a churchman that can service say,
Read fast and faire his monthly homiley?
And wed and bury, and make christen-soules?
Come to the left-side alley of Saint Poules.
Thou servile foole, why could'st thou not repaire
To buy a benefice at steeple-faire ?
There moughtest thou, for but a slender price,
Advowson thee with some fat benefice:
Or if thee list not waite for dead men's shoon,
Nor pray each morn th' incumbent's daies were done:
A thousand patrons thither ready bring
Their new-faln churches to the chaffering;
Stake three yeares' stipend; no man asketh more :
Go take possession of the church-porch doore,
And ring thy bells; lucke stroken in thy fist:
The parsonage is thine, or ere thou wist.
Saint Fooles of Gotam mought thy parish be
For this thy base and servile symonie.
A GENTLE Squire would gladly entertaine
Into his house some trencher-chaplaine;
Some willing man that might instruct his sons,
And that would stand to good conditions.
First, that he lie upon the truckle-bed,
Whiles his young maister lieth o'er his head.
Second, that he do, on no,default,
Ever presume to sit above the salt.
Third, that he never change his trencher twise.
Fourth, that he use all common courtesies;
Sit bare at meales, and one halfe rise and wait.
Last, that he never his yong maister beat,
But he must aske his mother to define,
His feare or hope, for plentie or for lacke,
Hangs all upon his new-year's almanack.
If chance once in the spring his head should ake,
It was foretold: thus sayes mine almanack.
In th' Heaven's high-street are but dozen roomes,
In which dwells all the world, past and to come.
Twelve goodly innes they are, with twelve fayre
Ever well tended by our star-divines. [signes,
Everie man's head innes at the horned Ramme,
The whiles the necke the black Bull's guest became,
Th' arms, by good hap, meet at the wrastling Twins,
Th' heart in the way, at the blue Lion innes.
The leggs their lodging in Aquarius got;
That is the Bride-streete of the Heaven I wot.
The feet took up the Fish with teeth of gold;
But who with Scorpio lodg'd may not be told.
What office then doth the star-gazer beare?
Or let him be the Heaven's ostelere,
Or tapsters some, or some be chamberlaines,
To waite upon the guests they entertaine.
Hence can they reade, by virtue of their trade,
When any thing is mist, where it was laide.
Hence they divine, and hence they can devise,
If their aim faile, the stars to moralize.
Demon, my friend, once liver-sicke of love,
Thus learn'd I by the signes his griefe remove:
In the blinde Archer first I saw the signe,
When thou receiv'dst that wilful wound of thine;
And now in Virgo is that cruel mayde,
Which hath not yet with love thy love repaide.
But marke when once it comes to Gemini,
Straightway fish-whole shall thy sicke-liver be.
But now (as th' angrie Heavens seeme to threat
Manie hard fortunes, and disastres great)
If chance it come to wanton Capricorne,
And so into the Ram's disgraceful horne,
Then learne thou of the ugly Scorpion,
To hate her for her fowle abusion:
Thy refuge then the balance be of right,
Which shall thee from thy broken bond acquite:
How manie jerkes she would his breech should line. So with the Crab, go back whence thou began,
All these observ'd, he could contented bee,
To give five markes and winter liverie.
From thy first match, and live a single man.
In th' Heaven's universal alphabet
All earthly thinges so surely are foreset,
That who can read those figures, may foreshew
Whatever thing shall afterwards ensue :
Faine would I know (might it our artist please),
Why can his tell-troth Epemerides
Teach him the weather's state so long beforne,
And not foretell him, nor his fatall horne,
Nor his death's-day, nor no such sad event;
Which he mought wisely labour to prevent?
Thou damned mock-art, and thou brainsick tale
Of old astrologie: where did'st thou vaile
Thy cursed head thus long, that so it mist
The black bronds of some sharper satyrist?
Some doting gossip mongst the Chaldee wives,
Did to the credulous world thee first derive;
And Superstition nurs'd thee ever sence,
And publisht in profounder art's pretence:
That now, who pares his nailes, or libs his swine,
But he must first take counsel of the signe.
So that the vulgars count for faire or foule,
For living or for dead, for sick or whole
SOME say my Satyres over loosely flowe,
Nor hide their gall enough from open showe:
Not, riddle like, obscuring their intent;
But, packe-staffe plaine, uttring what thing they
Contrarie to the Roman ancients,
Whose words were short, and darksome was their
Who reades one line of their harsh poesies,
Thrice must he take his winde, and breathe him
My Muse would follow them that have foregone,
But cannot with an English pineon;
For looke how farre the ancient comedie
Past former satyres in her libertie:
So farre must mine yield unto them of olde;
"T is better be too bad, than be too bolde.